AROUND THE STATION
Baseball shirts were a thing. Jed The Fish, Pasadena KROQ control room. There were carts everywhere. Similar to the old 8-track cartridges, these had a continuous loop with a stop tone (to stop the machine the last time someone played it) just before the beginning of each recording. So when you plugged it in to play it, it was always ready. It was quite a reliable system, which is why the cart machines such as ITC existed for 50 years. Hassle recording the cart in the first place, but I did it for the Go-Gos, who gave me a demo lacquer of “Cool Jerk.”
KROQ clock. An hourly guide for when to play commercials (green areas), play jingles, and most importantly, talk. They don’t remain the same for long. Circa 1994. Kevin Weatherly, program director.
I must have met with Richard Butler a half-dozen times, and we always had laughs. One night before a show at the Forum he asked if I had decent seats, and I said, yeah, not bad. When he came onstage and saw me dead center in the front row, his eyes jumped out of his head. Later he said, he remembered me saying I had decent seat, but he never expected me to be right under his nose whilst singing. I explained that, yes, I can always get free seats, but if I really want to see, I always purchase tickets. On this occasion, I actually asked Goldenvoice if I could buy front row center and they let me, knowing I never ask such things. Note long-time Music Director Lisa Worden on right, left below me is Assistant PD Gene Sandbloom, who today runs Roq of the 80s.
He was always such a genteel person. Shortly after this interview in 1982, he led a crowd of people from the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach across PCH into the Pacific Ocean. His last encore song that night was I Go Swimming, to be release the next year. Here, he's like a scraggly-headed vampire.
For a short time in 1978-79, I was actually the KROQ Music Director. I had only heard about the station less than a year before. It was my responsibility to gain the trust of the record company promotion people, wary of giving us product because so much of it had been stolen by former KROQ DJs. Four scoundrels stealing albums meant I needed twenty meetings with promotion people. One of my first “adds” as MD was to begin playing Dire Straits, which I hated but knew would be successful. Devo’s first album was a no brainer.
The ancient Sony CD players on the right, the ponytail — up — and the visor. It was amazing that we had an extra oscilloscope at all, and that it was in the control room a miracle. It told us if the signal was in phase, important to avoid cancellation (bad sound). As in most control rooms, a music log and a program log to keep track of played commercials. Koss headphones. Turntables to the left.
Working at KROQ was fun, and I’m sure it sounded like it on the air. In back of me, albums, below my right elbow 7” 45rpm singles, the rest hundreds of carts, to my right and in front of me, shelved and stacked. The Grace Jones poster, seen in many photos, was directly to my right. We had creepy green carpet and awful green and red curtains which were never open. This control room had soul, the walls were covered with notes, flyers and photos. Ask me about Sly Stone.
Rick Rippey was my producer for 12 years, in my opinion my best years. He encouraged diabolical ideas. Suggests things in just the right way to inspire me. Burbank KROQ control room. Now THIS guy could fix any piece of equipment put in front of him. Note the overbridge, which he and Scott Mason installed. It allowed the cart machines to be places directly over the control board for smoother workflow.
I know, how many photos of me in the Pasadena control room can you stand. But there I was with INXS shortly before the first US Festival in 1982. Great smile on Michael Hutchence.
Debbie Leavitt contact sheet from 1982, KROQ control room in Pasadena. Never a fashion trendsetter, somehow the DJs picked up on the medical scrubs look.
As you see, Fish is my real middle name. I was 17 when I took and passed the exam for the First Class Radiotelephone Certificate. Issued in Long Beach. This enables one to do technical work on TV and radio transmitters. I just got it to exceed the requirement for a Third Class license. As I had no interest in this, I allowed it to expire. I framed the license, and it became a chopping surface for nasty drugs in the KROQ control room in Pasadena on Los Robles Blvd.
One of my true heroes, Zappa wasn't especially kind when I interviewed him. I honestly was not great at it. He insisted I got into radio to get laid, and actually it was because even as often the best qualified journalism graduate, the news stations were obligated to not hire white men. I simply did not know what else to do. When you meet your heroes, you're often let down. This did little to diminish my admiration and enthusuasm.