Who, What, Why, When - Historical Rumblings
The Great Carpet Sweep, A Noisy Party and fund raiser for KRAB - The Northwest's First Light Show - Nov 5, 1966
. . . . .The genesis of the Union Light Company, as in Let there be light.....and projectors.....and film.....and music. From the upstairs windows light was scattered across Kirkland's Market Street. The Great Excelsior Jazz Band performed downstairs and a wild time was had by all. I was there. Were you? If you can remember anything of it, we would like to hear from you. What we have been able to reconstruct of The Great Carpet Sweep is on its own page - Click here or on the poster
Poster courtesy Scott McDougall
Oct 26, 2016 - Raymond Carver, Tess Gallagher, and Alfredo Arreguín
In mid-October David Rowland, former KRAB engineer, announcer, and programmer from Donut Shop days, who later went to Portland and managed KBOO, sent me an email asking if I knew that Raymond Carver, the poet, essayist, and short story writer from Oregon, Yakima, and other places Pacific NW had honored KRAB in a poem. I did not know, but since David included a link, I know now. The poem, "My Boat", is shared below. Note: Use the scroll bars on the far right of your browser, not in the poem's window (the scroll function is a little fussy, so if you lose your way, the best thing to do is to refresh your browser).
The story continues: As I was puzzling over the many names of Carver's friends and the wonderful time they would all have at sea, the artist Alfredo Arreguín, with no prompting, shared a photograph of a painting he was just completing. . . . . a portrait of Raymond Carver. An odd coincidence? Here is Alfredo's new portrait of Raymond Carver. Click to open in a larger window.
Raymond Carver died in 1988 at the age of fifty. He and Tess Gallagher, his wife, were close friends of the Arreguíns, and Alfredo has painted several portraits of him. And, all were listeners to KRAB, as Tess writes "What an amazing station that was!! and Ray and I loved it and listened."
About Alfredo Arreguín: He moved from Mexico to Seattle in the 1960s to study art at the University of Washington, evolving a style of painting incorporating patterns with portrait and images of nature. His work is now featured in major collections throughout the United States and Mexico (Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery, White House, etc). The biography by Lauro Flores, "Patterns of Dreams and Nature / Disenos, Suenos y Naturaleza", is available from University of Washington Press. Alfredo is represented by Linda Hodges Gallery.
We have shared in the archive a couple of other examples of KRAB being evoked or referenced by artists, composers (Henry Leland Clarke's "Puget Sound Cinquain, the KRAB Canon"), or writers (Bruce Greeley's "Novel Novel") in work with other than radio themes. Do you know of any other instances of KRAB popping up in unusual places?
Passing of KRAB benefactor, Nicholas Wickham Oakley, Jr
People that were at the Fire House in 1975 and 1976 might remember seeing a gentleman in his mid-40's in US Navy uniform occasionally stopping by for a visit. He had been transferred to Seattle, was very fond of KRAB, and made some generous contributions to the station. He described himself as a "black sheep", shared a house during law school with a couple of people who would become well known political celebrities, had a signed Steinway, and a large collection of opera recordings. He was teaching himself Cantonese by listening to the Chinese Radio program on KRAB. It was sometime in 1976 that he went to New Orleans. I just looked him up and here is what I found.
Nicholas Wickham Oakley, Jr., (Jul 4, 1930 - Sep 16, 2010), 80, of New Orleans and Memphis, died September 16, 2010, at his home in New Orleans. He was predeceased by his sister Margaret Lemmon Oakley Reed. He grew up in Memphis and attended Memphis State University. He graduated from Law School at the University of Virginia. He had an intense love of music and was an accomplished self-taught classical pianist and organist. At the age of 9 he became the organist at the chapel of the Church of the Holy Communion and served there for 13 years until leaving Memphis for Officer Candidate School in the U. S. Navy. In Washington DC, he gave a solo organ concert at the National Cathedral. He was a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy and for a time was the youngest captain in the Navy. In 1953 the Navy assigned him to a carrier-based nuclear attack squadron operating in the Mediterranean. After 1959, he flew photo reconnaissance missions over Southeast Asia. He was assigned to be the Chief of Staff for Intelligence for Naval Forces in the Pacific during Vietnam. He was instrumental in Operation Freedom, the program for the release and debriefing of all U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam, including John McCain and Jim Stockdale. He was a highly decorated naval officer, and was wounded in combat. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He received the Legion of Merit by the Secretary of Defense for his service in Vietnam. He retired from the Navy after serving as the commander of the Naval Station in New Orleans. He remained in New Orleans where he enjoyed the local culture for many years.
The obit does not reveal his eccentricity. He was something of a character. Here are a couple of letters Nick wrote after leaving Seattle. (Click on image to open PDF) He clearly was not initially enthusiastic about New Orleans, but based on the obit he seems to have eventually adjusted to it and actually ended up spending the next 34 years there.
Back by popular demand, completely ignoring KRAB's tradition of avoiding the seasonal music that would ooze from every elevator, public address system and (almost) every radio station in the hemisphere, here's the bass player and raconteur Traff Hubert with a challenge: 24 seasonal sides, some easy to identify, others - who knows? It's your gig to fill in the blanks. If you return the Test with your answers before Christmas he will let you know how many sides you've gotten correct and what your hipness quotient is. Dig it.
Click on the image on the right, or here, to open the form. Fill in the blanks while you listen to Traff's Christmas Collection; and be sure to save it.
Once you've identified all you can, but no later than Dec 24, send the form via email to Traffs-Hipness-Test. Or, print the form and use it to take notes. Or, forget about the form and type your answers into an email.
Here's a little about Traff the tripster in the Seattle Times June 1, 2001.
Artifacts courtesy of George Bigley
According to the Helix of May 9, 1968, this was Larry Van Over's idea, prompted by hearing a program on KRAB that included a piano being demolished with sledge hammers (and axes). . . . .so the story begins.
Pictures and text from Helix, and Stan Stapp of the North Central Outlook.
Cap'n Baltic's Bop Stop
"The Stranger" (Dan Segal) recently published a story about Nick Johnson, former KRAB volunteer, program producer, board member, and host of Captain Baltic's Bop Stop. You can find the story here.
Below is an article that Nick wrote in 1969, and published in KRAB program guide number 184, Jan 1970.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT BOP - provided by Captain Baltic
The music known as 'bop' began in the late 30's and early 40's as a reaction against the stagnation and commercialization of swing (and all jazz in general). Musicians suddenly converged in Harlem, first at the Onyx Club and Minton's Playhouse, and then spread throughout Harlem and up 52nd Street. Originally called 'rebop' and then 'bebop' and finally 'bop', this music gave the artist a step toward the individual freedom to experiment and express; to communicate his song with love and anger, with both passion and intellect. It was and is truly a music of the body and the soul. A list of people involved in the creation of bop must include Benny Carter, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines, Johnny Hodges, Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Charlie Mingus, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Oscar Pettiford, Bud Powell, Chano Pozo, Max Roach, Sarah Vaughan, and Mary Lou Williams.
Even today, with jazz being freed into less restrictive forms by individuals as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins and Randy Weston, all of these artists have been united by the common tradition of the bop root.
Bop began softly but radically: a musician ended a ninth chord with the now-famous 'flatted fifth'; another progressed from tonic to dominant through the use of minor sevenths; 'How High The Moon' became a launching vehicle for the first nine measures of numerous tunes, including Parker's 'Ornithology'.
What, then, is the basic bop? It is primarily loosely arranged 'head' tunes often in the blues structure, which break the four bar beat into a variety of eighth note formulas, and often replaces these with dotted eighths and sixteenths. The use of grace notes, rubato, stacatic, legato, crescendo and diminuendo, sforzando, double time and other effects built the dynamics of bop into an exciting and flexible vehicle, especially for horn players. Although atonality began to ooze into some lines, bop remained basically a 'same key, same register' format built on tonally harmonic concepts and the conventional diatonic major and minor scales. The predominant chords used include the flatted third, flatted seventh, the raised (D flat against a B flat 7th) and flatted (B natural against a B flat seventh) ninths, the 13th and the augmented 11th, better known as the 'flatted fifth' (E natural in the key of B flat).
New times (3/4, 5/4, 6/4) became common, the use of afro-cuban percussion and new (for jazz) instrumentation (flutes, french horns, organs, oboes, strings) made the language of bop unique in its early days.
Critics in the 40's felt bop was dissonant and non-musical, but fortunately, cooler ears prevailed, and what was radical has become the mainstream today. (Dig how many Parker licks are heard behind movie and t.v. backgrounds today).
Bop lives, and keeps the blood of today's jazz flowing a little higher.
Jean Paul Sartre Memorial No Exit Rooming House,
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio sponsored a conference in Washington, DC.
KRAB Chief Engineer and Jack Straw Memorial Foundation board member Ben Dawson was the JSMF representative and reported about the conference in the June program guide - click here
The KRAB Nebula was a loose confederation of the programmatically most adventuresome and financially cliff dwelling stations that seemed to agree on very little except that it might be a good idea to share tapes of their programs. Many, if not all, of these stations also shared having Lorenzo Milam or Jeremy Lansman participate in their conception.
Without actually listing them, various sources, say the Nebula was made up of a dozen stations. Others say it was fourteen. I can identify the following as being participants in Nebula: KBOO (Portland, OR), KCHU (Dallas), KDNA (Saint Louis), KOPN (Columbia, MO), KPOO (San Francisco), KTAO (Los Gatos), KUSP (Santa Cruz), WORT (Madison), and KRAB. I tracked down a bunch of Nebula (KRAB tapes at WYSO (Yellow Springs), so they must have been a Nebula station.
Here is another gathering with Lorenzo and the ghost of Reginald Fessenden cheering them on. Click on photo below for details.
National Public Radio Conference, Bicentennial edition, Washington, DC. A handful of us met in Tom Thomas's apartment and talked about the need for a presence in DC of an organization that might represent the concerns of non-institutional public stations. On the 17th, Haley, Bader and Potts hosted a reception for their trouble making clients and Mike Bader served green bagels.
Nine years after the adoption of the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act, it seemed to many of us that CPB's and NPR's interpretation of the ACT, instead of encouraging diversity in programming or in voices heard, was resulting in the so-called public stations adopting essentially identical formats. During the same time, one obstacle after another was put in the way of non-institutional stations trying to get a share of the "public" funding. CPB required stations desirous of support to adopt management practices such as minimum staffing and budget sizes and minimum broadcast hours. In addition, it used an allocation formula that rewarded the stations most successful in raising non-federal funding. These combined to mean one thing, if you want funding, increase listener share and become a part of CPB’s monolithic network of don’t-rock-the-boat stations
In mid-1975 I wrote to KRAB’s Washington attorney Michael Bader and to Senator Warren Magnuson, who had introduced the 1967 Public Broadcasting Bill in the Senate, expressing concern regarding the effect CPB was having on small, independent, listener-sponsored radio stations. With Bader’s and Magnuson’s assistance, during my visit I was able to meet with Joseph Fogarty, the Chief Counsel of the Communications Committee, and with several of Magnuson’s aides. Magnuson wrote to CPB forwarding my comments, and CPB wrote back saying I was wrong, and that the station I was associated with, KRAB, was marginal anyway.
Later that year Fogarty was appointed FCC Commissioner.
The National Federation of Community Broadcasters gets a name at its first conference in Telluride, Colorado. The plane from Denver was bouncy. Telluride was hot. And CPB's Clyde Robinson wore a safari suit.
Or, Watch the video by Thomas Lofstrom (31:58), with appearances afterward by Dean Mougianis, Ken Carpenter Sleeman, Hillary Mandell, Patricia Capitolo, John Stark, Tom and Bill Thomas, Terry Clifford, and Nan Rubin.
And for a slightly different view, KPFA was in Telluride too. Here's their report from the Aug 1976 folio.
Tiny passed away June 13, 2013. We've created a separate page in his memory with the Last KRABgrass from April 8, 1984, featuring Dennis Flannigan, Tiny his-self, Bob Mitchell, Shirley Oberg, and Marty. Tiny kibitzed all the while.
Well, it seems the Seattle PI (online only now) got wind of Tiny's departure, and Joel Connelly has done the honors, July 1, 2013. See R.I.P: J.J. “Tiny” Freeman: A “five foot, 18-inch” Republican
Anyone out there like to join a new "AA", Anachronisms Anonymous? Evidently there is something called "old-school Seattle", and it's membership is diminishing quickly. The Stranger reports today (June 19):
"The week continues with the closing of a chapter of old-school Seattle history, as today Tiny Freeman—the humongous man with the humongous personality (and humongous beard) known in the 1970s as the "Mayor of Pioneer Square"—passed away at age 72. Among his many claims to local fame: running for Congress in 1974 using the Central Saloon as his campaign headquarters, DJing a bluegrass radio show on the now- defunct KRAB Radio, and becoming a beloved character in the writings of celebrated Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Emmett Watson. "He is all the things you'd want in a friend," said musician and friend Dan Grinstead to the P-I in 2007. "He is very ethical, returns favors, and does favors without being asked. And I've never met a woman who doesn't think he's wonderful after first thinking he was gross." RIP, Tiny Freeman."
From an entirely different publication, "No Depression", comes a 1996 review of Seldom Scene written by Grant Alden. (Reprinted with permission.):
"This is overdue, and maybe he’ll never see it, but I owe a lot to a long-retired Seattle DJ and (I think, still) Pioneer Square bouncer named Tiny Freeman. He had a Sunday night bluegrass show on KRAB-FM, a community radio station (pre-college radio) that later sold its frequency to a commercial station and segued into a nonprofit foundation that, for some reason, owns a recording studio."
"Anyway, when I was a little boy, Tiny Freeman played downstairs on my dad’s radio just at bedtime Sunday night, and I would go say goodnight just in time to hear whatever new version of “Orange Blossom Special” he’d dug up to begin the show (I don’t think he ever played the same opener twice), and hang out with dad until mom noticed and yelled loud enough to drown out the music. Bluegrass and its rough-hewn mountain harmonies (and, yes, I know Bill Monroe was a flatlander, but still), was never her idea of folk music (she runs more to Oscar Brand and Jean Ritchie), but if there’s a reason I understood punk rock when first I heard it, that’s it."
I let Grant know about Tiny's departure, and this was his reply (June 24, 2013):
"Sorry to hear that Tiny Freeman has moved on. He seemed, even in my bare youth, a quintessentially Seattle figure. Seattle being a strange place, I thought, to know about and like bluegrass. Tiny unmistakably a blue collar fellow drinking green death and working tugboats, if memory serves. I still remember, as I've probably said and typed a dozen times, standing at my father's desk listening to his show until mom yelled so loudly she could not be denied, and I scuttled upstairs to bed. There's no straight line between that memory and the creation of No Depression, but it's not an accident, either."
For the remainder of the review: http://archives.nodepression.com/1996/11/seldom-scene-dream-scene/
In July 1970 Lorenzo writing of why the guides should be saved, ".....radio and the transmission of sound and all those wonderful-awful words and musics: it’s all the will-o-the-wisp, just tomorrow a smokey haze in the memory bank and little else. So there has to be something concrete and saved on paper so that we have something to show for all that sweat and drudge of putting things out in the aether.”
Rescuing electrons from indefatigable entropy may be a hopeless enterprise, but we are still going to try. Read about The Affair of Cheap Tape and Sticky Shed.
The Piano Drop had just happened in April, and the debut of the Union Light Company at "The Big Gigantic Noisy Spooky Party Light Show Orgy" in Kirkland a year-and-a-half prior to that, but that didn't stop a group of NorthWest artists from putting together what in my memory was one of the most successful fund raising events ever to benefit KRAB. The Art Grab and Key Party was held in (what looked like) the catacombs of Pioneer Square. There's a gated stairway on Main just off Occidental Mall where the disused trolley no longer stops and the Seattle branch of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park once had displays. Going down those stairs in 1968 you would find hauntingly backlit brick arches, a floor of sand and crushed rock, music coming from strategically placed speakers, and lots of people milling about.
There was a bar. And there was an arrangement of paper lunch sacks, each containing a key. And, oh, let's let the guide describe it:
Were you there? What was your art article? Were you one of the many, many artists that contributed work to make it happen?
Amongst the organizers and sponsors of the event were architect Ralph Anderson, Mrs John H Bowen, Mrs Charles T Michener, Mrs Philip Stewart, Dick White, Tom Robbins, and Lorenzo Milam. The coordinator was Sandy Appleby Heald.
*For more about the "renovated basement" (of the Union Trust Building), see Ralph Anderson
Prior to joining KRAB, Kathy Cain was a producer for Greg Palmer at KTW, where he did a kind of talk show, interviewing people all over the country via the telephone. When KTW changed formats, Greg and Kathy developed a series of programs entitled "Government Inspected" at KRAB funded by the Washington Commission for the Humanities. One of the highlights of that series was a 3-part documentary about the prison at Walla Walla, where Skip Brown took two philosophy instructors from Olympic College (Dick Norton and Jim van Houten) and a Superior Court judge on a visit to the prison.
Kathy produced other programs as well, and, as she alludes in the attached article, about 1976 I asked her to see what could be done to get some new voices into the afternoon programming. The article was written for The Weekly.
Kathy was eventually asked to become a JSMF trustee. Anyone know what she is up to now?
Strictly speaking (do I really need to say that?), this was not a KRAB event. But the cast of characters that put the campaign together were the same ones responsible for the spirit of KRAB, so it is fair to include it here.
According to Lorenzo, during The Last Night broadcast, the transmitter was a Collins model 737, circa 1946, serial number 1. By the time it moved to Couger Mountain it had been substantially modified, but was still ticking, wheezing and generating heat. So far, no photographs of the transmitter have surfaced, but we now have this 1948 brochure describing the Collins model 737. It was almost 7 feet tall and 8 feet wide, and weighed about 4,700 pounds. When I did the morning program, warm up took about 30 minutes and, even then if the morning was a cold one, when the final was powered up it would start to oscillate, and shut itself back down. I found that this could be prevented by ignoring the meters and judicious tuning so that the filaments of the tubes were at the same brightness.
The plate transformer that Lorenzo says "blew up" on the inaugural broadcast is pictured on page 5.
(Posting updated November 12, 2013)
Not long ago, in honor of KRAB's almost 50th anniversary, Paul Dorpat published this photo. Guess what, now we know everybody's name.
Get out your decoder ring and go here.
Photo by Seth Siegal, and courtesy the archival meanderings of Paul Dorpat.
The Last Night has its own page with photos and audio from the Last Night of broadcast and wake in the form of a panel discussion.
If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email email@example.com