KHJ-AM – Charlie Tuna – 6:00-7:30 am – January 14, 1972 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
It’s 1972. It’s a big deal because it’s an election year, and you’re going to turn 18 just in time to vote. Maybe your friends don’t think its such a big deal, but you do. That’s because your older brother worked for Robert Kennedy in 1968 and had you passing out leaflets and stuffing mailboxes when you were 14 – and you were the only kid in your Junior High School class who wore a black armband for a month after Kennedy was shot. You’ve been class President since 11th grade – your friends call you “Senator”. You know the names of all the Presidents, AND vice-Presidents. You’re going to organize a Voter registration drive and set up a booth outside of school. You’re into this thing. You’re a joiner. You’ve already been teargassed twice, demonstrating against the War. You’ve made your mind up that you’re going to be a Political Science major when you get to college. It’s a plan and you can’t wait. Your friends think you’re strange though, your parents wonder if you’re really their kid. They’re happy you’re not a dope-addict, but you drive them crazy because they like Nixon and you like McGovern. You’re going to be 18, and 1972 is going to be an interesting year.
And beyond all that, there’s still your radio – and there’s still top-40 and there’s still KHJ. And every morning your alarm blasts Charlie Tuna – he’s the guy who gets you to the bus on time, just like clockwork and the one thing you can count on. Touch wood.
Even though Top-40 was slowly giving way to FM underground and FM Underground was slowly giving way to playlists and formats, radio stations like KHJ were still dependable – they still played music that was short, sharp and to the point – sometimes the familiar was good to lean on, especially when the 70s were getting started.
And to let you know how that went, or to remind you of how many mornings you staggered out of bed to the dulcet tones of Charlie Tuna, here’s 90 minutes worth of wake-up from January 14, 1972. Crank it up and pretend it’s all about Nixon and McGovern.