Monday, June 28, 2010

"You're way above our heads."

1973. Ein sehr kosmische jahr. A very cosmic year. 1973 was extremely busy for me. I did four plays that year, Love Rides The Rails, Nothing Is Sacred, and King Lear with Ford Rainey, all before May, and wound it up with Abelard And Heloise. While all the theatrical stuff was going on, the radio thing was bubbling under.

My Sunday evenings were now being spent accompanying David Ossman and his wife Tiny of the Firesign Theatre to the radio studios of KCSB. As I mentioned earlier, I had met the couple in 1972 while doing Man Of La Mancha and they graciously invited me to hang out with them while doing their radio show at the studios of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Their program was called Rainbow Cafe and featured oddities from the golden age of radio. Wacky songs and bits from the '30s, '40s and '50s, mostly. It was a potpourri of oddness and a lot of fun. David and Tiny would on occasion have celebrated artists as house guests over at their Santa Barbara Riviera home and they would often bring them to the studio for casual, on-air conversation. You would never know who would be sitting next to you around the table for that show. It might be actress Helena Kallianiotes, who had appeared in Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson and Kansas City Bomber with Raquel Welch; Wally Cox, of Mister Peepers fame and former roommate of Marlon Brando. Another time it's famed Disney animator, Ward Kimball and his wife. Kimball, one of the "Nine Old Men" of Disney's animation team, worked on every classic Disney cartoon you can think of. Otherwise, it might be one of the other three Firesign members like Peter Bergman. It was almost like a salon with its mixture of diverse artistes.


When David and Tiny needed to take a break from the show, I filled in the spot with my engineer friend Terry Newton and we did an extension of my old KTBT Garden Grove show, British Underground, now called British Underground, Now Loading. More import records and Beatles Christmas discs. Space Pirate Radio was in its birthing stage.


September 1973...a new freeform station has begun in Santa Barbara on 99.9 FM. It's called KTYD. The station was the former home of KGUD (were those letters prophetic?), a canned oldies station owned by Dick Clark. A program director from San Jose named Larry Johnson has started the ball rolling. David and Tiny have decided to take their Rainbow Cafe show to this new station. They have retitled it Easy Street. It is basically the same show, but it is now broadcasting from the eighth floor of the Granada Theatre building. It is their debut broadcast and they have invited me to tag along. We are going up the elevator to the infamous eighth floor, the top floor. This is my first time in the studio as well. Larry Johnson is a big fan of the Firesign Theatre, and as the doors open up on the studio floor, it appears that Mr. Johnson has not yet met his Firesign Theatre fave. He is a true fan of their work and he looks upon them and their entourage as royalty. We walk down the long hall and into the end studios. It's a rock station, man. And I have a sudden, strange feeling that I am going to be here a lot.