Here's the guy who started it all for me...a raving madman that I would listen to religiously after school. Don was the king of 93KHJ in the sixties, and with good reason...even with the short amount of time Bill Drake gave his Boss Jocks to yak, Don made every second count...then he had his dance party show on Channel 9 and seeing The Real Don Steele in action was even more amazing! Seeing him throw kids into the middle of the dance floor while Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels' "Devil With A Blue Dress On" wailed was pure heaven!
In 1971 Los Angeles, NOTHING was more dangerous than Dr. Demento. Every Sunday night, Doctor D would play the most amazing comedy records every recorded. Oh sure, you might have just thought that he was playing goofy records. What he was actually doing was opening the door of musical exploration...never again would I have to be satisfied with standard radio fare...No, now I had a whole NEW world of crap to explore...Pico & Sepulveda, Shaving Cream, Derby Town and Bounce Your Boobies...my mom was so proud...
Rodney...the only Radio Hero of mine that I have actually met. Every weekend I would listen to Rodney on the then-new KROQ, and every week I would have some new bit of Rock and Roll magic that I would have to find. His vocal skills are not the reason I listened...I listen to Rodney because he loved Rock and Roll more than anybody else I had ever heard on the radio. And he played it all: Rockabilly, Sixties Punk, Sixties Pop, Seventies Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, Ska, and of course Girls Girls Girls! Back in the late 1970's, Rodney made a personal appearance at Noah's Ark, an alcohol-free teen disco in my hometown of Long Beach. Of course I was there, and that's when I first met him. I listened to him spin amazing stuff for about two hours while I worked up the nerve to say hello to him. I knew Rodney loved the ladies, and I didn't want to take up too much of his time, but I just had to tell him how much I dug his show. When I did, he smiled and said thanks, and I felt much cooler. I didn't see him again until 1999 at Club Makeup, and when I did, I think I said just about the same thing I said last time I met him. Yeah, I get star-struck around Rodney, but then he is one of the big reasons I love radio.
A STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME! CONGRATULATIONS RODNEY!
OTHER RADIO HEROES
The OIDAR Wavelength
Blend a 1970's Top 40 radio show with Philip K. Dick and The Firesign Theater and you just might end up with one of my favorite radio programs from the early seventies...The OIDAR Wavelength! A typical song would be playing on your typical 1970's radio station, when all of a sudden, it would sound like your radio was tuning up and down the dial, and then up and down the shortwave dial! Then, the soothing voice of Programmer #9 would appear and explain that you were listening to a radio station from the future that happened to play "oldies" from the 20th century! Between songs, there were news stories from the future, usually with an ironic twist ending. For a young radio geek like me, this was mind blowing! I even joined the OIDAR Wavelength fanclub, and they sent me a computer card from the future, with holes punched into it and everything. It kinda looked like the image above, not exactly. Hell, I even wrote a report on the Oidar Wavelength in Jr. High! Even got an "A"!
Not only did they sing with The Turtles, Frank Zappa & The Mothers and Strawberry Shortcake, but these two overachievers had one of the strangest Rock & Roll programs ever. Coming on right after Dr. Demento on KMET, they never EVER played a song all the way through...at least I never heard them do it! They would just play a song until you got the idea of it, then they would switch to another! One always had to be on ones toes while listening to Flo & Eddie.
Did I call the Real Don Steele a raving madman? Scratch that. THIS guy was out of his freaking mind! He would come on right after Rodney Bingenheimer, like a horror movie host on bennies, and play great music, and then between songs he would expound on everything under the sun and then dive into the music again. There really is no explaining the Young Marquis, other than he's insane and plays great music, so click on his face an visit "The Vault of The Young Marquis & Stanley". You'll get the idea...
I don't know where she is, but everybody should know the name Jane Hamburger. I heard her on KNAC in the late seventies. This was between the years the station was dinosaur rock station and a hair metal station. KNAC's format at the time (1979) was oldies and new wave, a format that made the station really fun and adventurous. Jane worked the night shift, and she mixed it up perfectly. Rodney was only on once a week, so Jane made every weeknight worthwhile. I even bought her a bottle of champagne as a thank you gift for Christmas. Jane, you are missed!
Not a radio guy, but someone who must be mentioned somewhere on the website. Why not here? In the seventies, Ray was a reporter for KNBC, Channel 4 in Los Angeles. Ray was a "local interest" reporter during a time when most of what appeared on the news was actually shot on film. Each day, Ray would create a two-minute comedy masterpiece that was also a fascinating human interest story. He went all over the city, visiting art galleries, parks, stores, going wherever something was happening in the city. Ray was responsible for showing me good things that happened in the area, and for showing me that these areas existed. There really isn't too much mentioned about Ray on the web, which is a shame, because he was a real original. Ray Duncan showed us all the unique and the wonderful sides of Los Angeles, and for that I thank him.
I forgot to thank a guy named Rocky Principe'. Rocky was the guy who first put me in front of a radio microphone.
It was the mid-seventies, and young Reverend Dan was hating life at Stanford Jr. High in Long Beach, California. I was having a real crappy time, being socially situated only second from the bottom. My group was just above the kids in the short buses. No shit. Math geeks could pick on me. That's right, I was a Drama/Science geek. My salvation? Radio. And thankfully Los Angeles radio was pretty healthy at the time. Dr. Demento, Flo & Eddie and Mangle the Manager made the rock radio stalwart KMET absolutely magical on Sunday evenings. Long Beach's own KNAC was a station where you could sometimes call up the utterly wasted disc jockey and get a request played, but most of the time the phone just rang. KLOS was around, but I never listened to it, being devoted to KMET...I was that kinda kid.
I have always wanted to be on the radio. A few years before the raging inferno of abuse that was Stanford Jr. High, I managed to create the most expensive phone bill in Buhler family history. The reason? I had been calling the KKDJ request line in an effort to be one of those people calling in with an INSTANT REQUEST. I wanted to be on the air, and I called constantly, usually only getting the request line operator, but eventually I did get on the air. After an afternoon of calling, I finally got the DJ on the phone and I knew right then that I would be on the radio. "Wanna do an Instant Request?" the DJ asked. I couldn't believe my luck. "OK, when I say ‘KKDJ request line, who's this?' you say your name, and then when I ask you 'What do you want to hear?' you ask for "Angie Baby" by Helen Reddy, okay?" I was a little disappointed that I couldn't actually request a song, but it didn't matter that much, because I was going to be on the RADIO!
The next day at Prisk Elementary, a few of the kids said that they heard me on the air! Sure, they heard me requesting "Angie Baby", but I didn't care. I was hooked. I needed to be on the radio.
Back to Jr. High. My friends Rich, Dana, Paul and I would record our own radio shows on Dana's combination record player/8-track player-recorder. We called our imaginary radio station KRUD, and had a great time doing it. I was listening to all kinds of radio, just soaking it all in. In my knob twirling , I found a station at the left end of the radio dial...and they were playing rock and roll! "This is KSUL!, 90.1FM, on the campus of Cal State University at Long Beach!", the voice on the radio said. My jaw dropped. I lived about 1000 yards away from the school. Me and my friends had used the place as a playground for years, playing bike ditch-em around the buildings, writing on the chalkboards in the bathroom of the Student Union Building and sometimes making Super-8 movies there, using the various structures on the campus as sets. AND THEY HAD A RADIO STATION! They gave out their phone number, I called, they answered, I requested and THEY PLAYED IT INSTANTLY! I was astonished! I told my friend Rich about the new station I had found and soon we were spending afternoons, calling up requests to KSUL. One day, they played a new record by a band call the RAMONES. Rich and I couldn't stop requesting it. Initially, we requested the Ramones, because it was the funniest thing we had ever heard, later we dug it even more because it was really rockin'! KSUL exposed me to so much good music. And I couldn't belive that a station that cool could be so close to my house. I needed to visit KSUL.
My favorite DJ at KSUL was a cat by the name of Rocky Principe'. He had a cool, deep voice, proudly wore his hometown of Chicago as a medal, and played a great set of rock and roll. I was such a pest on the request line that he soon knew it was me from the sound of my voice. One afternoon, I got up my nerve: "Rocky, could I visit the station?" I suspect he knew I was a radio geek, and he said "Sure", and soon I was frantically pedaling to the location he had told me to go. When I got to the building, the doors were locked. My heart fell. But through some miracle, I actually found that I had a dime in my pocket, enough for a phone call to the station. I called up Rocky, told him my predicament and he told me he would be right downstairs in a moment. I pedaled back to the doors, and soon, I finally met Rocky face to face.
He looked like he sounded...cool. He looked just like a rock and roll disc jockey was supposed to look. He invited me inside and we went up stairs to the station. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Walls of records, reels of tape everywhere, a sound board (complete with dials) and a microphone. Rocky got behind the board, started another record, and then talked with me. I felt like I was talking to the most famous disc jockey in the world, because to me, this little micro-watt station that I couldn't hear at the far end of my block was just as real as any of the big stations in town. And we talked about music, and radio, and I watched him do those things that DJs do. I only stayed a short while, and when I left, Rocky gave me a program guide and told me I could visit again. The next day, I told my friends that I had been inside a REAL RADIO STATION. My Drama/Science geek friends were impressed.
I did visit Rocky at KSUL quite a few more times, usually bringing some cool bootleg I had found in my brother Steve's record collection. One occasion, I brought in Nuggets, Lenny Kaye's classic collection of sixties rock and roll, and Rocky reacted like he had been reunited with an old friend. He immediately put on the Electric Prunes "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night", leaned back into his chair and howled in joy. I felt very proud of myself on that day.
My father is Bill Buhler, and for many years he was the Trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. As a result, there was often a lot of Dodger's swag around the house. At the time of my visits to KSUL, my younger sister Mary had developed a crush on Dodger third baseman Ron Cey. Cey was nicked named, "The Penguin" because of the the way he would waddle around the bases. And ol' Ron fancied himself a singer. One day, my dad brought home a record. Ron Cey had recorded a song called "The Third Base Bag" and had put out as a single, complete with a Dodger blue picture sleeve with Ron's Dodger portrait smiling at you. The record was crap, but it was a special kind of crap. It was crap that needed to be shared. I called the station. "Rocky, could I bring over a record?".
I got to the station lickety-split, and proudly showed Rocky the record. He laughed and said, "I'll play it, but YOU are going to introduce it!". I'm sure my eyes bulged out and my mouth dropped open, just like the Wolf in those Droopy cartoons. He set me up in front of a microphone and put a pair of headphones on my head and prepared to introduce me to the city of Long Beach, at least the part of the city that was able to hear the little 10-watt station known as KSUL. I didn't care. I was going to be on the RADIO! And for real this time, not just being a tool and making some fake Helen Reddy request, nope, I would be playing RON CEY! Just before we went on the air, Rocky told me "Are you ready? Okay, now don't choke!".
He turned on the microphone and spoke.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine who has a record he would like you to hear. I want you you meet, Dan Buhler!".
I looked at the microphone, and for a moment, I lost my voice. Rocky was grinning, and then I knew I would be alright.
"Hi! This is Dan, and my dad works for the L.A. Dodgers and he brought home this record and I think you have to hear it. It's Ron Cey, doing "The Third Base Bag".
Rocky started the single and started laughing with pride. I collapsed in the chair after the exhilarating rush of being on the air. "You almost choked!" Rocky laughed, "But you did a real good job!". I was elated, and seeing Rocky smile at my joy made me feel even better.
I rode my bike home in a haze of euphoria. I had finally gotten on the radio. And it was all because a generous DJ on KSUL gave a geeky little kid in Jr. High a chance.
Thank you Rocky.
RADIO GODS / CLASSIC TELEVISION / LINKS
UPCOMING SHOWS & EVENTS / WHO IS REVEREND DAN?