Growing up, I relied on radio for most of my music, our family didn’t have a lot of money, so I could not afford to buy very many records or tapes as a kid, so radio was an important resource. I first started listening to radio avidly at the age of 6. Believe it or not, the first station I got into, just because it was the one my parents listened to was 610 AM WDAF in Kansas City, 61 Country. So this rocker actually got started with Waylon and Willie. Not necessarily a bad thing, country was still old school back then and some of it was pretty damn good. I soon discovered stations such as KYYS-FM in Kansas City, “KY-102”, so it was out of the fire of classic country and into the frying pan of what was termed “album rock” at the time and groups such as Boston, Jay Ferguson, Supertramp, and of course the big names of “classic rock”, The Who, Zeppelin, The Stones, The Beatles, etc. When you are a kid and hearing this music for the first time, it is still “fresh” and exciting because it is new to you. It would take a few years before the constant repetition of classic rock staples would begin to bore me and force me to seek new sounds to listen to.
My first foray into more adventurous territory came from listening to “Lazer 106” KLZR-FM in Lawrence, Kansas. “Lazer Rock” consisted of a mix of hits, quite a bit of early 80s “new wave”, and some of what was called “college rock” at the time (prior to the music receiving the dreaded “modern rock” or “alternative” labels). I won’t tell you that KLZR was totally underground or revolutionary, it wasn’t, however, I heard groups frequently on the station that I could not hear on the Kansas City “album rock” stations such as KY-102, groups I recall fondly from the Lazer include such groups as Cruzados, The dbs, Marshall Crenshaw, Graham Parker, Hoodoo Gurus, Big Audio Dynamite, and others. KLZR was also the first station I remember turning me onto U2 and REM, well before they started to even sniff at any kind of mainstream popularity. Another station I liked in the early to mid-80s was the old “96X” out of Ottawa, Kansas. The station had a format that was called “hot hits”, was much edgier than other top 40 stations in the area and generally had a cool mix at the time. During the early 80s, I also stumbled across 90.7 KJHK in Lawrence, Kansas, a low-powered college station that is still going strong. KJHK was the first place I heard punk on the radio. I also continued to listen to some of the “album rock” stations during the 80s out of Kansas City. I still liked KY-102 during the noon hour and the 6pm hour weekdays as they featured shows called The Electric Lunch and Psychedelic Supper respectively and would play some deeper album cuts during these hours that you usually did not hear in their regular rotation. The current big “classic rock” station in Kansas City, 101 The Fox, actually began in the early 80s as “Stereo 101” and I remember them trying to be sort of an “adult alternative” to KY, in other words, they would play Genesis, Steely Dan, Hall and Oates, etc., but eschew glam bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, Twisted Sister, that KY would include in their mix. Eventually Stereo 101 morphed into 101 The Fox. When 101 The Fox started, I enjoyed them quite a bit as they would play the typical album rock but also play a lot of 60s garage punk and 60s soul like Junior Walker & The All-Stars, Sam & Dave, etc. Over time they became more conservative and less adventurous, however, for a few years, they were actually quite good. Another KC station that I enjoyed listening to some in the early to mid-80s was KKCI-FM aka “106.5 KCI”. I like to recall this station as having a slant toward slick melodic, hard rock groups, what some of us called “pop metal” back in the day, stuff like Aldo Nova, Steve Walsh’s post-Kansas band Streets, etc. These stations were my main influences throughout most of the 80s. As you can see, I had eclectic tastes even back then, would listen to a variety of genres and radio stations, that remains true to this day – Calvin