Showing posts with label KFAB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KFAB. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

It's April 15, the wind chill is something like 10 degrees, it's snowing and just west of here, there was a hellacious blizzard.

In other words . . . oh, what the hell.

Enjoy this bit of yuletide the way it sounded in the 1960s -- Christmas Day programming on KFAB-FM in Omaha, circa 1969. Alas, this aircheck of "Cloud Nine Stereo" -- 99.9 on every FM dial -- was recorded on a dual-track mono tape recorder back in the day.

In transferring the recording to the digital realm, I did what I could to get the most out of the audio.
I'm a wizard that way.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The neon beacon of Underwood Street

Shining over Underwood Street, July 28, 2017
April 1957
Like the rest of radio today, especially AM radio, the carrot shavings have become pretty shrived and the lettuce gone pretty brown since KFAB's salad days.

Omaha's onetime purveyor of Jerry Vale, Bert Kaempfert, Dean Martin and the most relied-upon school closing reports in the Great White North -- the News Beacon of the Great Midwest -- now trades in right-wing talk radio, gutted by an iHeartMedia filet knife called economies of scale. Or something that sounds better than "gutted."

Nevertheless, the neon KFAB sign that shines over Underwood Street in the Dundee neighborhood is as big and bright as always.

Shine on.

Monday, June 12, 2017

This was the city: Omaha, Nebraska

It was a Saturday — July 3. It was hot and muggy in Omaha, Nebraska.

We got up at the usual time that morning, 7:45. About 8:30, we started to open every window, turn on every fan.

We started to draw the blinds to block the hot sun come afternoon. It was supposed to be almost 90.

While we were doing that, we turned on the radio. My brother’s Winthrop. We call him Stinky. The boss was Dad. My name’s Favog.

GREAT. Mom left the thing on KFAB, not KOWH. Must have been listening to her soap operas. I always preferred Sandy Jackson.

Eight forty-five. What was "Big Mike" selling now? He was talking to the salad dressing guy -- Louis Albert. It seemed strangely interesting.

We sat down to listen. . . .

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As inevitable as the January cold

Two comments and a question about Omaha's mayoral recall election next week:

First off, you knew this was coming, didn't you? The mailer (above) by the people seeking to recall Mayor Jim Suttle, I mean.

It was inevitable the second the supreme idiots in charge of Forward Omaha -- the largest
anti-recall group -- decided it would be a fine idea to bus the homeless to the election commissioner's office to register and engage in a little early voting. Well, that and get paid $5 for "training" as election workers (wink . . . smirk).

Second, I really, really hope the Nebraska State Patrol finds probable cause for arresting these morons for something, that they are prosecuted, that they are convicted, and that the judge throws the book at them . . . though misdemeanors the charges be. Political stupidity of that magnitude -- particularly that which sullies the electoral process -- ought not to go unpunished by the universe.

I'll probably still vote to retain Suttle in office, but it'll be a close call after this fiasco.

The main reason to vote "no" in my book is the threat of a
Mayor Dave Nabity. That eventuality would
soooooooo be deep into "abandon all hope" territory for this fair city.

Still, one must harbor at least a couple of grave doubts about Suttle after he failed to immediately fire --
not just demote -- anyone connected to the bus-the-homeless abomination.

And now the question:
The pro-recall mailer above directs folks to this video on Tom Becka's KFAB-radio web page. How is it, exactly, that some recall-istas came to be staking out the election office from a perfect vantage point for taping the homeless folks come off the buses wanting to know where the hell their $5 was?

Just asking.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Big Mike . . . Big Bad Mike

Long, long ago, this feller named Big Mike ruled the airwaves.

Well, actually, back in 1954, this other feller named Todd Storz was wiping the floor with Big Mike and KFAB in the Omaha ratings . . . but roll with me, here.

Anyway, Big Mike was a big, big radio station in the Midwest Empire, and everybody knew you didn't give no lip to Big Mike.

Big Bad Mike.

Then decades later came a rumble way down in the ground. And the smoke and gas belched out of the broker's office.

Everybody knew it was the end of the line for Big Mike.

Clear Channel.

Now they never reopened that worthless pit; they just put Rush and Beck in front of it. The carnival geeks just rant and rave, paying no mind they stand on a grave.

Because at the bottom of this pit lies a big big man. Big Mike.

(With apologies to the late Jimmy Dean, and with gratitude to the archivist of wonderful old issues of Broadcasting magazine.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The People v. Voorhees . . . and KFAB

It looks like Scott Voorhees wanted some attention for his mid-morning talk show on Omaha's KFAB radio.

Well, he's going to get it.

Why? Because Scott Voorhees is the kind of radio talk host (right wing, naturally) who will go on the air some 36 hours after Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died of brain cancer and say this:

"Had John and Bobby not come along, we don't hear from Ted Kennedy.

"If John and Bobby do not come along, Ted Kennedy is nothing more than a blotchy-face, alcoholic murderer who spends life in prison like anyone else would have had he not had that last name and those familial associations."
OF COURSE, Voorhees was referring Thursday morning to Chappaquiddick and the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969. And what Voorhees takes to the airwaves to state with certainty happens to be something no court ever determined and no prosecutor ever alleged.

In this country, there is a high bar for libel of a public figure. That standard -- "reckless disregard of the truth" -- also happens to describe Voorhees' on-air pronouncements. If Kennedy were not dead, the radio host would be in deep doo.

Have I mentioned the senator was less than two days deceased?

To wit, there are some things, things about basic human decency, that your parents usually impart by the time you're old enough to get in front of the microphone at a 50,000-watt radio station. Apparently, Voorhees missed "human being school" the day Mom and Dad lectured on "How Not to Be a Boorish, Mean-Spirited A-Hole."

Unbelievable. Yet somehow typical of the depths to which radio -- especially talk radio -- has sunk.

I'VE BEEN IN OMAHA for a while now. I'm well aware of the legacy of KFAB, and of the local legends who once took to the airwaves via "The News Beacon for the Great Midwest" -- names like
Walt Kavanagh and Lyell Bremser.

And I think I can say one thing with the same certainty -- and with a certainty that's better placed -- that Voorhees called Teddy Kennedy "a blotchy-face, alcoholic murderer." It's this: If Kavanagh (who ran the news department at KFAB) and Bremser (who ran KFAB itself) had been alive to hear Thursday's shameful misuse of the public airwaves, it likely would have killed them.

It simply would have been inconceivable to giants who built a legendary station over their long careers that someone could go on their airwaves -- the public's airwaves -- and engage in such casual cruelty and verbal bomb-throwing.

And you have to think that, somewhere deep in his subconscious, Voorhees knew what violence he was doing to the legacy of 1110 on Omaha's AM dial . . . and to civilized public discourse.

"I take no pride in making these comments after Sen. Kennedy has passed away," he said toward the end of the program. And a bit later, this:

"Again, I don't feel real good about some of the comments I've personally made this past hour, but for those of you who've E-mailed and said, 'Scott, I'm glad you said 'em,' thank you very much for your listenership and your E-mails."
YEAH, WHAT'S THE USE of behaving really badly atop a really bully pulpit if you can't incite many others to unshackle their Id as well. If I were a postmodern talk-show host, I'd call someone guilty of that a cynical, exhibitionist soul murderer.

Whatever. The final verdict in "The People v. Voorhees" will belong to history, and I fear its final pronouncement will be as straightforward as it is devastating.

Guilty of murder in the first degree.

And the victim?

Oh, I don't know. Civility . . . society . . . the intellect . . . radio . . . take your pick.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Anybody know where I can buy a $40
black-and-white, battery-run digital TV?

Exactly 24 hours ago, I was in our basement at the computer when all hell broke loose outside.

I've always been a night owl, and at about 20 after 2 Sunday morning, I was thinking of turning in after finishing up with some E-mail.

THE MISSUS, who had been dozing in the Big Blue Chair, was getting ready for bed herself. It just so happened that the living-room TV was on Channel 7, and that Channel 7 happened to have meteorologist Chuck McWilliams on duty as a line of storms bore down on the Omaha metro.

And it just so happened that my wife noticed that McWilliams had broken into programming to warn that a storm he'd been eyeing on its trek across eastern Nebraska was about to hit far southwestern Omaha with unexpected violence.

It had suddenly gone tornadic. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 2:22 a.m. The tornado warning followed at 2:26 a.m. The tornado sirens went off just as the tornado -- an EF-2 -- bore down on our neighborhood.

My wife ran downstairs and I ran upstairs -- to grab Molly the Dog, who was trying to hide behind the Big Blue Chair.

WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW as I ran back down to the basement, with Molly the Dog in my arms and with the sirens blaring, was that the tornado was right over our neighborhood, having lifted off the ground about a mile and a half from our house.

It had plowed into the Millard area of Omaha nine minutes before the tornado warning went out. The only warning anyone had -- at least apart from that telltale freight-train roar before your roof disappears -- was a two-minute heads up from a junior weatherman pulling an all-nighter at KETV, Channel 7.

The sirens were too late because the tornado formed too suddenly.

Channel 3 was no use because no one was there, no one or nothing but an automated crawl across the bottom of the TV screen. Ditto Channel 6. And multiply Channel 6 by Channels 15 and 42.

You know what 3 times 6 times 15 times 42 equals? Nothing.

Thank God for Channel 7 -- and for Chuck McWilliams drawing the short straw Saturday night.

Just as I got downstairs with Molly the Dog, the cable went out. Remember that, by this time, a 2½-mile stretch of southwest Omaha already was a patchwork of downed trees, arcing power lines, missing roofs and blown-apart houses.

MINDLESS INSTINCT directed me to a battery radio, which I switched on for . . . well, I can't tell you why because I knew what I'd find. Nothing.

On KFAB, Omaha's news-talk leader . . . commercials. On the stripped chassis of news-talk KKAR -- which, if it were a car, surely would be missing its engine, its wheels and would be resting on concrete blocks -- there was something from the satellite.

On all the FMs . . . fugeddaboutit. Wait, I think there might have been a live person on Z-92 reading the weather bulletin after a few minutes had passed.

We went back to the crippled television, changed the channel from cable 9 to over-the-air 7 and watched Chuck McWilliams through the snow.

After a few minutes, KFAB and the rest of Clear Channel's Omaha stations came to life with some sketchy live weather coverage . . . as the storm was getting ready to cross the river into Iowa. KKAR also finally came to life -- well, as much life as KKAR ever comes to, being that it barely has a staff.

By the grace of God, nobody died in Omaha in the wee hours of Sunday morning. A few close calls and a couple of minor injuries -- but no body bags, thank the Lord.

The only carcasses strewn about town in the storm's wake were those of the city's radio and TV stations. Well, all but one.

Then again, the tornado had nothing to do with those fatalities. The storm merely exposed the corpses.

IF YOU WANT to see the death notice for American radio, I think I may have run across it Sunday night on

Deane Johnson isn't a newspaperman, and he doesn't play one on TV. But as a retired Top-40 program director who used to work for the legendary Todd Storz back when radio was IT, the man knows an obit when he hears one in the street after his neighborhood has just been hammered but good:

Saw a group of neighbors out in the street talking. Joined them. What were they talking about? You won't believe it. They were talking about how you couldn't depend on KFAB any more for information and couldn't watch TV because the power was out. If I were running a station like KFAB, these things would scare the bajeezus out of me.
BETRAYED LISTENERS scare today's pilots of the airwaves? Feh!

Now if the neighbors were investment bankers. . . .

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What's wrong with being a hick?

I love Omaha, but one might argue -- contra the theme of the "Eastern Nebraska State Song" -- that one sign of being a "hick" state is going to great and self-conscious lengths to convince the rest of the country that you're not a hick state.

Besides, what the hell is so wrong with living in a hick state? I fell in love with Nebraska a quarter-century ago when I moved to a "hick" town in the "hick" part of the state.

I FELL IN LOVE with the Sandhills and that feeling of complete freedom you get when you look out over the grassy dunes that stretch as far as the horizon . . . and beyond. And I fell in love with living in a town where, if you don't know everybody, soon enough you probably will.

I fell in love with friendly and unpretentious people. And with giving folks a little wave when they were driving one way on a lonely road and you were headed the other.

Finally, during my stay in a hick town in -- yes -- a "hick state," I fell in love. And I married my sweetheart in a hick ceremony, in a hick house, in that wonderful hick town.

And while I'm happy for all of Omaha's growth in the two decades we've lived here -- and while it's exciting to see downtown become more and more hip and cosmopolitan every day -- telling the world Omahans aren't "hicks" and we don't live in a "hick state" ain't gonna convince Blue Staters of anything.

Not that anyone ought to give a rat's ass what they think anyway.

IF YOU LIKE where you live, and if your kids are well educated -- if they master their studies, if they likewise learn to be honest and kind and love God and their fellow man -- and if crime is low and neighborliness is high, isn't that good enough?

Because, after all, a lot of the things we value most when we pick a spot to grow roots come from the better, "hick" angels of our nature. Now, call me a hick, but I think it's high time we embrace the best of who -- and what -- we are.

And if that be "hick," "rube," "hayseed" or "Gomer," so be it.

If Noo Yawk don't like that, it can lump it. 'Cause I don't give a flying cowchip one way or another.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Alone in the night

Terrors, and other dark thoughts, come in the night.

They lurk in the shadows, waiting for the witching hour, consolidating their dark forces for the assault on the lonely human soul. Yes, terrors come in the night.

WEDNESDAY, terror also came in the day to Omaha, my home -- to this stolid yet quirky city on the Missouri River. A tormented, 20-year-old loser screwed up one time too many, then listened yet again to the demon on his shoulder, the one telling him he was human excrement and to do something about it.

The Omaha World-Herald today
quotes what that devil was whispering in Robbie Hawkins' ear, which he faithfully copied onto his suicide note: "I'm a piece of shit, but I'm going to be famous now."

Infamous, actually.

He took his father's old Russian SKS semiautomatic assault rifle. He took a couple of clips and some ammo, too. He taped the clips together, so he could reload in the blink of an eye.

Then he drove his used Jeep Cherokee to Westroads Mall and shot up the Von Maur department store. He blew away eight innocent human beings, then he blew himself to Kingdom Come.

Or somewhere.

BUT THIS POST isn't about young Mr. Hawkins and his Final Solution to a life gone south. This post is about the terrors that come in the dark of the night to a mostly tranquil city of 425,000, where the big news a couple of days ago was the Nebraska Cornhuskers' new football coach.

Well, that was the big news, until. . . .

Nebraska has seen nothing like this since the days of Charles Starkweather, who 50 years ago set out on a killing spree so notorious that it inspired Bruce Springsteen to write an entire gothic, folk-rock masterpiece of an album. But it took Starkweather a whole month to do what he did.

Omaha is reeling as I write this in the wee, dark hours. Christmas trees stand as blinking affronts to bereft families in houses that are one person emptier than they should be.

Spouses are dead. Friends are gone. Children are orphans now, in the black of this December night.

Terrors descend on a bereft, shell-shocked city. And we need someone to talk to. We need the light of a candle -- figurative, literal, metaphorical . . . I really don't give a good g**damn -- because we are just too bloody tired, and heartbroken, to curse the darkness anymore.

BACK IN THE DAY, I remember when one (or more) local radio stations would stand in the gap, helping beat back the terrors for a sleepless city. A city that dares not sleep for fear of what it might dream.

Oldsters like myself remember reassuring voices in the night -- friends as close as the radio on the night table. They were there, in the air, soothing our frayed nerves with good music.

They were there, taking calls from the wide-awake and brokenhearted (and even letting some of us talk it all out over the air and into the ether) when tragedy visited in bygone days.

They. Were. There.

When. We. Needed. Them.

The voices in the night were there when madmen shot the Kennedys.

They were there when a madman shot Martin.

They were there when Elvis died, and when a nut named Chapman killed John Lennon.

They were there through all manner of local calamities, storms and crises. But that was then, in a land called Back in the Day.

TONIGHT, for some unfathomable reason, I turned on the radio. On one of our public stations, the news . . . from the BBC. I switched the wireless to AM and tuned to
KFAB, the blowtorch of the Midwest -- the station generations of Omahans listened to to see if the morning's snow canceled the day's classes . . . back in the day.

I remember back in 1988, when Omaha had been lashed by a line of hellacious storms, including at least one tornado. Much of the city was dark. The wife and I were struggling to salvage the contents of our fridge.

Our light came from wax, a wick and a flame, and our link to the world was a battery radio. It was tuned to 1110 AM. The DJ was informative, the music was middle-of-the-road, and the turntables ran fast . . . then slow . . . then fast . . . then slow, for the emergency generator was a bit hinky.

In these small hours, I sit here trying to make sense of the madness that came to my city Wednesday. And when I tuned to dependable ol' KFAB -- now just another brick in the Clear Channel wall of suck -- hoping against hope to hear a friendly voice in the night, I heard. . . .


THE TRANSMITTER was on, but nobody was home. Not even George Noory, who usually at that hour is chasing the spacemen on Coast to Coast A.M. Nope, at 1:07 a.m., there was complete dead air.

And complete dead air at 1:17. And 1:27. And 1:37, except for the ID and commercials that ran right on schedule at 1:32.

We're on our own. It's just us . . . and those terrors in the night.