1958. It’s a Sunday night in November – you’re not in High School anymore. Maybe you’re going to UCLA, and your first car is either a Volkswagen or an MG, because Detroit makes cars that are too big – and besides, these Foreign jobs have FM radios and they sound different. The Music is better – it’s not loaded with talk and high-pressure; it’s cool and doesn’t wind you up.
And you discovered this station towards the end of the dial – they broadcast out of the Tishman Building on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile. It’s KRHM and it’s located at 94.7 on the FM dial. And the music is all over the place. On this night, you just dialed in to catch the end of Theodore Bikel At Home and his guest was Pete Seeger. Bikel is hardcore Folk and music from other countries. He’s followed by a new show hosted by a guy named Paul Werth and a show called Werth Listening To – he’s all over the place too, but he sticks to what’s going on in L.A. – he talks about Ruth Olay playing The Interlude, the club on Sunset next door to The Crescendo and he has a guest on – a singer by the stage name of Charlene Bartley who just finished up a stay at The Statler Hotel near downtown. It’s a relaxed interview, complete with a record skip.
This was what FM radio was about before the revolution – it was a grab-bag of genres and styles and it was loaded with quirks. Which was probably why Album Rock was such a natural and why stations like KMET (which KRHM would change it’s name and call letters 9 years later) became the vanguard for the change in music from the two minute song to the eighteen minute odyssey.
It’s a huge leap from what we have now – how FM radio eventually became. But FM was still an afterthought and programming was up for grabs. Here is a 45 minute slice of what L.A. FM Radio sounded like in 1958; Cool Jazz, Folk Music and Cresta Blanca Wine.
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