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.............. ABOUT ** MUSIC ** RADIO ** THEMES ** ERAS ** ARTICLES ** INDIE ** SCENES ** MOBILE




The Legend of KZAP
by Alex Cosper

The history of freeform radio (before 1968)
Early KZAP History (late sixties/early seventies)
The Peak of Radio Anarchy (early seventies)
Transition from Freeform to Album Rock (early to mid-seventies)
The Emerging FM Audience (late seventies)
KZAP Rules the Market (early eighties)
The Greatest Rock Battle ...(mid-eighties to early nineties)
Reflecting on the Legend



VIDEOS

1. Jeff Hughson Interview #1: The Dawn of Freeform Radio
2. Jeff Hughson Interview #2: The Birth of KZAP
3. Dennis Newhall Interview: 70s Freeform Radio
4. Robert Williams Interview #1: KZAP Programming
5. Robert Williams Interview #2: 70s Rock Scene



REFLECTING ON THE LEGEND


BOB KELLER (2009): "It was the community campfire where people could join their friends everyday. Plus, the personalities were a lot of fun ... plus, we were all YOUNG!"
Bob is on the air middays at 96.9 The Eagle (KSEG) in Sacramento.

TIM BEDORE (2009): "We had tons of freedom over what we said and how much attitude we had on the air. We came up with bits and pieces to do and fun things to play on the air and I don't even remember asking for permission. Obviously if your goal was to garner audience, you had the right approach and failure was an option."
Tim has appearred on national television as a stand up comedy act. His website
VagueButTrue.com explains his career.

ROBERT WILLIAMS (1998, anniversary party): "Contrary to what even we believed at the time, we DID know what we were doing. We didn't know where it was going, but we knew it had to be done. We set out to use the freedom we had and at the same time, somehow knew to respect that freedom. Credibility with our audience was of prime importance. There was too much music and information out there that needed to be heard. From the beginning in 1968, it was always about the music first. Even when it was about the real news, public affairs, creative promotions, community involvement, and unique sales efforts, it was ultimately about the music. It was about making comments, taking stands, learning, teaching, and growing; much of it done with music. We weren't the musicians, but we were artists and wordsmiths, making the thought provoking statements and nailing that perfect segue often enough. Sometimes the music and information was broadcast as it was created. Sometimes it was a product of pre-production that lasted hours. The cultural, social, and artistic influence KZAP had over Northern California from 1968 through the '70s and '80s was significant. The community was lucky to have KZAP, and we were privileged to be ... FM 98.5, K-Z-A-P, Sacramento." more
Robert has been a Software Analyst for DST Innovis in El Dorado Hills since 1985.

PHIL GLATZ (2004): "The first three years - it was the passion for music and emerging underground culture the staff members had, who were motivated less by money than trying to change the world. We were able to get away with a lot then because of the way FM was looked at by other broadcasters. But as soon as underground radio became profitable, the suits moved in ... Sometimes I wonder how much of it was just the fact that most of the staff were in their twenties; full of energy and looking for a way to do something a little different than the folks before us. At that age, rock music seems very important and a way to make some changes to the world. It does seem as though the world of music was a lot different then, with a lot more possibilities for alternative voices to be heard. Both the radio and music industries have gotten too fat and cautious for something like KZAP to happen again. Fortunately, other technologies (like the internet) are making it possible for people to self publish and get the word out."
Phil is now a web administrator and designer for Glatzland.

MICK MARTIN (2004): "Without KZAP I don't think Sacramento would have had a central information place. If you wanted to know who played at the Fillmore, the Sound Factory or the free concerts at William Land Park, you listened to KZAP. You listened to KZAP for the music, personality and the disc jockey's musical taste. It was experimental, personal, real, it was of the moment. It was Sacramento's youth saying what we felt. The blues was the foundation itself of FM radio. I owe everything I learned about radio to the people I listened to on KZAP." more
Mick now hosts "Mick Martin's Blues Party" on Sacramento jazz station KXJZ. He says the show is the continuation of KZAP. He is also the author of DVD Music Guide.

DENNIS NEWHALL (2004): "The heyday was '69-'74 from a listener standpoint. In the '73-'78 era KZAP was trying to compete and realized it wasn't going to be a bunch of hippies playing records. So there was a little formatting. 1974 was the beginning of its slow move toward corporate rock. People remember their days listening to KZAP because by comparison to anything else on the air it was comfortable. It certainly wasn't loose by structure at the end. It was very structured, but it felt comfortable. They remember the fun announcers who were honest and weren't hyped up. The real structure came in the early '80s with computers."
Dennis now runs his own record label Dig Music and does commercial production work for Ray Nakamoto Productions in Sacramento.

MICHAEL SHEEHY (2004): "KZAP wasn't so much a radio station as it was a cultural event. It was a big counter-culture club to which you were very much a member or you weren't. There was not a lot of middle ground. It was that 'damn hippie station' and one of the early and unfortunately, last bastions of freeform radio. You may remember freeform radio - that was the last time broadcasting gave the audience and, for that matter, the airstaff credit for having an ounce or two of intelligence. Was it subversive, clique-ish, condescending and sometimes boring or overbearing? Hell yes, but it was OURS. And it could also be absolutely enlightening and very entertaining. It's a chunk of my personal experience I wouldn't trade for anything - as a listener or a participant!" more
Michael is now based in Burbank, CA and offers production services at Michael Sheehy Productions.

WILLIAM FULLER (2004): "While jocks might stray a bit into jazz and country, it was definitely a rock station (in the seventies). My show was not for the average KZAP listener, but I was extremely lucky in that I guess there were enough people who liked a bit of experimentation and that some of those people included the Station Manager and Program Director! ... Occasionally I would get phone calls from travelers passing thru Sacramento who happened to accidentally find KZAP on the dial. They were ecstatic and highly complimentary, but there was a common, ominous thread to their comments: they were so surprised the station still existed, because 'there used to be a station like it' wherever they were from, but it had been bought and then turned into some top 40 classic rock or country format. People seemed to think we were the last of a dying breed." more

TRAVUS T. HIPP (2004): "KZAP was still a great experiment in the late sixties and when it was sold to Ed and his gang it remained very creative because they believed in the magic of the time and the new FM revolution. Later it became something less, but still hipper than most of the radio spectrum, and when the Vegas white shoes arrived it was over for both the format and most of the personel ... The FM radio story is simple: capitalism co-opts any successful enterprise, and by doing so drags it into the mainstream where corporate management rapidly purges any non-conformists from the premises ... It is interesting how many of the KZAP gang went on to unusual careers and adventures as opposed to regular jobs. Viola Weinberg, Jok Church, Dennis, Gordo Skyler and several others never really went what you'd call straight. I stayed an outlaw with my version of the 'Poor Hippy's Paul Harvey' and now I can collect social security on top of my miniscule moneys from broadcasting." more
Travus currently voices news and commentary feeds for radio stations KPIG, KPYG KVMR, KMUD and KTHX.

JEFF HUGHSON (2004): "I see KZAP as a reflection of what was going on in society then. But it was our little world, our Sacramento scene. But it was a pure scene, based on pure values. Impractical, perhaps. But you know there's something that resonates with me about a pure philosophy of believing in peace, love. And it was real for a couple of years. We lived that life, we lived that world ... It was a very personal relationship with the audience. The most important thing about KZAP was that of a real sense of community. I'm the disc jockey and you're the listener and we're doing this together. People felt a personal connection with KZAP. They felt involved, engaged, they felt a part of this. I think that's what sustained KZAP's loyalty. I think it was the core that people always connected with until KZAP went off the air." more
Jeff has been selling music, posters and memorabilia since 1975. His website will soon be www.buymymusic.org and his email address is buymymusic@sbcglobal.net.

CARY NOSLER (2004): "In the beginning was a tradition of fascination with music. You'd have a couple of LPs playing at the same time. You were creating a kaleidescope. You were creating a tapestry of sound with a story you were telling. It all depended on whatever mood I felt that day. The culture was about exploration. Music was part of the era and that's where my head was at. But it wasn't just music, it was exploration. People would ask each other back then what are you into? I was into macrobiotics and whole nutrition. We were the voice of the community. It was fun. Nobody ever told me what to play. It was complete artistic freedom." more
Cary has hosted a nutrition show Sunday afternoons on KSTE AM in Sacramento since 1997. He is also the author of Cary Nosler's Everyday Tips For A Healthier Life and Captain Carrot's Book of Good Health.


Thanks to all the contributors of this story (in semi-chronological order): Dennis Newhall, Tom Cale, Richard Dunk, Charlie Weiss, Phil Glatz, Mick Martin, Cary Nosler, Curtiss Johnson, Don Wright, Michael Sheehy, Robert Williams, John Button, Jack Androvich, Helen Meline, Jim Hilsabeck, Travus T. Hipp, Jeff Hughson, Viola Weinberg, Ed Fitzgerald, Jok Church, William Fuller, Cristina Mendonsa, Garry O'Neal. Special thanks to Phil Glatz and Jeff Hughson for all the photos.
May the music and memories live on forever because it's still o.k. to rock and roll !!!


The history of freeform radio (before 1968)
Early KZAP History (late sixties/early seventies)
The Peak of Radio Anarchy (early seventies)
Transition from Freeform to Album Rock (early to mid-seventies)
The Emerging FM Audience (late seventies)
KZAP Rules the Market (early eighties)
The Greatest Rock Battle...(mid-eighties to early nineties)
Reflecting on the Legend


MORE VIDEO ABOUT KZAP

KZAP Returns on KDVS Part 1: Michael Taber
KZAP Returns on KDVS Part 2: Freeform Era
KZAP Returns on KDVS Part 3: College Freeform
KZAP Returns on KDVS Part 4: The 60s
Freeform Radio Survives











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