Monday, March 22, 2010

Almost A Bad Mistake...From KNUS' Mike "Murphy" Erickson

Thanks to Mike "Murphy" Erickson for this blog entry. 

"The KNUS studio originally was in the same building, same floor, as KLIF, at Triangle Point, downtown Dallas. There was a production studio in between the KLIF control room and the KNUS control room, with big glass windows on both sides, so that anyone in the Production room could look into each control room. This is where station tours usually ended up, so that they could see the operation of both stations. One day, I looked up from my control board, into the production room, to see the most beautiful redhead I’d ever seen. I figured she had never met a big radio star like myself before, so I would give her a break and let her go out with me. I walked out of the studio, into the hallway, and opened the door to the Production room, when I came face to face with Roger Smith. I recognized him right away from one of my favorite TV shows 77 Sunset Strip. I paused there for a moment, only to realize that the redhead was his wife. I was going to try to “pick up” Ann Margret. I turned and went back into the KNUS studio and thanked heaven for Roger Smith. Getting laughed at by a pretty girl is bad, but if that girl is Ann Margret, well, it wouldn’t have been a high point in my day...."

Yeah and the redheads. I believe that I worked part time when this happened. Nobody came to the station during the all night shift to see a part time DJ like me. Jesse Jackson did stick his head in the studio one day after the studio was moved to the other side of the building  where it overlooked the parking lot. Do you remember any rock stars that came to KNUS while you were there? Jim

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mike "Murphy"Erickson Remembers When The KNUS Staff Got The "Word" From McLendon

"I recently caught up with my long time friend and former roommate Mike Erickson, AKA "Murphy" from the early daze of KNUS FM. And what daze they were. We reminisced about lots of KNUS lore and urban legends from there and KLIF, The Mighty Eleven Ninety. Mike promised to send me some guest blogs about his memories of KNUS, KLIF, and The Man" Gordon McLendon. So, here goes. 

See if you remember this.

After a couple of years on the air, many of the staff (all of us actually) were getting a little disgruntled about shifts and pay, etc. Rumors of mass walkouts were being whispered about. When KNUS was still at Triangle Point, downtown, the building was shared with McLendon’s National Production. This was a company, co-owned by Pierre Salinger and Gordon McLendon. They mass-produced educational audio tapes. We all walked by the big glass window looking into this business everyday as we walked into the KLIF/KNUS studios. When Gordon got wind of this, he came up with the kind of a plan that only HE could come up with. For 2-3 weeks, equipment started showing up in the window of National Production. Each day it got bigger and bigger, with patch panels, reel-to-reel rack mounted tape decks and cables everywhere. Each day brought more of the design into focus. Most of us had never seen an automated radio station setup, but we knew what it looked like, and it looked just like THIS. Was Gordon planning to fully automate KNUS and fire us all?? First we all shook it off – then we panicked – then we shut the hell up. Magically, after a few weeks, the equipment “disappeared.” I didn’t find out until years later that this was the plan all along, just to put us in our place. It did and once again, the genius of Gordon McLendon reared it’s brilliant head.

Erickson – A.K.A. Mike Murphy" 

Thanks, Mike. 

And, I remember Gordon's edict that everyone had to wear coats and ties while on the air. Most of us didn't even own so much as a tie. So, we all came up with sport coats and ties from a Goodwill store or similar thrift shop, and wore them over our cutoffs and blue jeans. That policy went away. I believe Gordon got a kick out of our response. 

Yes, MIke. And I remember how Gordon had a telephone number that he could use to call to listen to every one of his AM and FM radio stations. This was back in the Dark Ages days before there was an Internet for radio stations to stream on. He could monitor everything going out on the air from anywhere in the world. The McLendon radio lore was that he would sometimes call a radio station hotline at one of the stations he owned out of the blue, without even listening to what was being broadcast and ask the unsuspecting DJ, "Why did you do what you did just a minute ago?" 

The hapless McLendon DJ answering the question sometimes wouldn't have a clue what he was talking about, and didn't dare ask what he meant, but would sometimes confess to something that Gordon had no clue about. What fun!

You and I both had our first radio jobs in Dallas, then about the 10th or so  largest radio market in the country, thanks to McLendon. No one ever told us that we were supposed to start at some podunk small market radio station in the middle of a cow pasture somewhere and work our way up to the big time.

I can't ever complain about the way I was  treated by the McLendon family while I worked for them. They were fine people. And, it was the best boot camp for anyone who was just getting into radio. 

If you are a former KNUS or KLIF staffer who would like to do a guest blog too, please contact me by leaving a comment. I'll get right back to you.