Saturday, November 01, 2008

Larry Lujack on KFXM

In 1963 one of the new jocks on KFXM was Larry Lujack.
A reader sent an excerpt from the Larry Lujack book on how he remembers KFXM

Have you ever read "SuperJock," Larry Lujack's autobiography? It's pretty rare, but I picked one up on eBay a couple years ago. You might be interested in his description of his short time at KFXM:

After a couple of months I got an offer from KFXM in San Bernardino, California. I should have known that I was in for trouble when I learned that KFXM had hired a new program director and was hiring all new jocks. There's something wrong when a station does something like that ­ firing everybody on the air staff. But they were paying about the same as I'd made at KJRB and I thought that maybe since it was 60 miles from L.A., out by the desert, maybe the traffic and smog wouldn't be so bad. Ho, ho, ho! Besides, it was the only decent offer that I'd received and I was getting a little fed up with trying to work with tape and cartridge machines that fell apart every time you looked at them.

I headed south in the T-bird, stopping off at Caldwell to tell my folks that I as on the move again. Driving across the Nevada desert, I counted dead jackrabbits along the highway to help keep me awake. I pulled into San Bernardino at about three o'clock in the morning. The first thing I do when I get to a new town is check out the radio station. I asked an all-night where it was. He told me. After I saw it, I was sorry I'd asked. The station was right at the edge of the desert on the outskirts of the city. It was a ramshackle building that looked like a large version of an old prospector's shack. I got out of the car and walked inside. It was just as cruddy-looking. The jock on the air turned as I came in the door. I nodded and said, "Hi."

"You one of the new guys?""Yeah."

End of conversation. He turned around and went back to work as if I wasn't there. Obviously he was one of the guys who was being replaced.

I walked back outside and stared across the desert. It was just beginning to get light. It was beautiful, but what the fuck was I doing here? I'd been listening to the guy on the way in. I thought he was pretty good and yet he was getting fired. What kind of a mess was this?

I checked into a motel, slept for a while, got up, took a shower, and headed for the station's business office in the center of the city. I wondered why the hell I'd bothered to take a shower. It was so hot, and it was only nine o'clock in the morning! The T-bird didn't have air conditioning, and by the time I got downtown my shirt was soaked.

KFXM's business office wasn't bad. This was where the station's general manager, program director, and salesmen worked. They had air conditioning. Out in the shack where the control room was, there were only a couple of huge fans suspended from the ceiling, lazily blowing the hot air around. They looked like the fans you see in the plantation owner's house in thirties movies filmed in the tropics.

As soon as I met the program director, I knew I was going to hate his guts. It turned out to be an accurate prediction. The format he had drawn up was incredible. The jocks were referred to as the "KFXM-Squad" ­ a take-off on "M-Squad," a TV series that had long been defunct. The new jingles he'd recorded for our "new" sound were the exact same tune as the intro to the Woody Woodpecker jingle: Da Da Da Da DAH Da." He was very very proud of them. I thought they sucked. The whole format seemed defunct to me.

The new jocks were from all over the country and they were good. But we were working under impossible circumstances., the format was hopeless, the station sounded like shit, there was nothing we could do about it, and KMEN, the other rock station in town, was killing us.

I hated it. It was depressing working in that hot, filthy control room with obsolete equipment, and every time I played one of those dumb jingles, I thought, "They sound like he got them for 39 cents apiece at a flashing, blue-light special at K-Mart!"

Three and a half months after they'd fired all the old guys, they started firing the new guys. The P.D. got it first; then, one by one, the new jocks got the ax. And finally, me.

I found out later that, whoever the powers were, they almost decided to keep me. I was only one vote away from remaining, but I lost out. They had to start all over again, get a fresh start. Sure. As the new jocks started arriving from various parts of the country, I looked at them and thought,"You poor bastards."

Now according to the surveys KFXM had just moved into the new studios on Fairway Drive (The Holiday Inn), but this was not mentioned by Larry Lujack. Anyone out there with an answer?


Harley Davidson said...

I first read Lujack's book back when it came out in 1975. That was the first time I'd ever heard of KMEN. Reading that part again still freaks me out.

Kenneth Goodwin said...

According to my research KFXM Moved into the "Showcase Studios" around October of '63. KDUO moved in later.