The early 1980s/KFJC/Streetlight/Artist Magazine
Nick Lowe, Martin Belmont, Paul Carrack, and Keith Putney, with Jeff 'Stretch' Rielde crouched in the foreground, at KFJC circa 1982 . Photo by Cathye English, Keith Putney collection.
Photo for my Artist magazine column. Photo by Mike Nellany.
Left to right: Nick Lowe, Martin Belmont, Keith Putney, Paul Carrack, and Jeff "Stretch" Riedle in the KFJC studios, circa 1982.
Backstage interview at the Old Waldorf, 1982.
KFJC stalwarts with Jools Holland: Stretch Riedle, Kevin Hardiman, Jools, and Keith Putney
Keith Putney collection
Courtesy of Donna Volpicella
Martin Tickle photo; Keith Putney collection
Drop Down and Get Me
After moving to Northern Califormia in the fall of 1980, I joined the staff of seminal radio outlet KFJC, 89.7 FM, "the Wave of the West". It was nothing less than a golden era for college radio and the music we championed, and KJFC was indeed "The Top of the Hill". I started working with fellow music fanatic Jeff "Stretch" Reidle, on the bottom rung of the ladder;
Stretch was a DJ on the overnight shift Saturday night from 2 am to 6 am, and I was his assistant jock.
With Stretch's indulgence, I began to join him on the air on occasion, and after a few months I had my own overnight show. I was followed on the air by Slim and Mick,- -with my friend to this day, Mick Gray- - who always seemed to have more fun on the morning show than we had doing overnights. Stretch and I soon graduated to doing a morning show, as "Stretch and Sparks".
We also started doing interviews with touring artists on a steady basis, with the nearby Keystone Palo Alto as one of the main sources we tapped to corral artists for visits to KFJC. We became fixtures at the Keystone, hanging out until after the act finished soundcheck, and dragging them to KFJC.
We were never much for taking photos, but you can see Stretch and I both in the studio and outside the station, with my head blocking the "JC' in the station's sign. On one captured occasion, our guests were Nick Lowe, Martin Belmont, and Paul Carrack. Between Stretch and I, we managed to track down, among others, Fee Waybill, Jools Holland, John Lydon, The Alarm, Translator, Del Shannon, The Call, Billy Idol, Dwight Twilley, Joan Jett, The Romantics, Joe Perry, David Johansen, and two of our favorites-Paul Collins, of the Paul Collins Beat, and Peter Case of the Plimsouls.
In addition to our artist interviews, which we edited into a show called "Feedback", I wanted to do something live on the air each week that took people behind the curtain of the music scene. The show was called "On the Beat". Thanks to JC Clone and Robert Zepernick, who were essential in the station's inclusion in the massive media contingent invited to the "US" Festival-the Coachella of the 80s-, the debut edition of "On The Beat" covered the Festival. The program that resulted was written about in the San Francisco Chronicle, -- in the legendary Herb Caen's column, as well as in Rolling Stone. The coverage was due to an acrimonious on air struggle during the program between Steve Wozniak, the Apple Computer Co founder and US Festival mastermind , and legendary promoter Bill Graham. Yours truly was the less than effective moderator, but on the other hand, it was certainly compelling radio.