November 15th, 2008

iAm iSaid

40 Years of KINK FM, and media-inspired thoughts

Happy Media Geek time!

I've been a listener to KINK FM (101.9) since the mid-1990s. In fact it was the first Portland radio station I was drawn to. It was Adult Contemporary by the time I started listening to it, but with eccentric touches you're honestly less likely to get with commercial radio nowadays. Turns out that's for a good reason: KINK started on Christmas Day 1968 as "KINK The Underground Link," one of the few stations on Portland's FM band in those days, and in its first few years it did its own thing. It's kept quite a bit of its independent spirit, even though it's now part of a corporate radio family (CBS Radio, same as KUFO where Cort and Fatboy are). KINK shares a fancy building with NBC affiliate KGW television, a vestige of its origin as a sister station to what used to be KGW Radio. CBS Radio's Rick Emerson gently teases the KINK staff, but it's a loving kind of teasing: he's a fan.

KINK's stayed a force in Portland (heck, West Coast) radio for 40 years without a name change or format whiplash, where a station is one thing one day and something completely different the next. It's evolved, instead, surviving a bunch of ownership changes and keeping its personality in the process. Heck, even its logo's been around since the early '70s. KINK seems to be especially well-liked by musicians; dozens visit each year to perform in its Live Performance Lounge, and many of those songs get released on the for-charity KINK Live CDs. (The station's done 11 so far, all sold out. I have all of them. Good stuff.) It's also where Mike Rich worked in radio news before becoming a screenwriter; he often discussed his film career in the lead-up to his first film Finding Forrester coming out in 2000. He's one of several good, interesting media people who've passed through KINK in the past 40 years.

And here's how the station's making me additionally happy: Yesterday the station began its "KINK XL" celebration of its upcoming 40th anniversary by spotlighting one year of its history each day. Friday was nothing but 1968's music; today is nothing but 1969's songs (with a brief detour into a Live Performance Lounge set by David Wilcox, which I cite to be complete). Some of today's songs probably haven't been on the radio since 1969; they're kind of like deep cuts. And when it comes to songs, I'm a deep-cut kind of buff.

The station's website (also home to several music streams: the main station stream, an acoustic station, a blues stream and a "Lights Out" stream of gently-going-to-sleep music) has posted a history of each decade at KINK: the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, the Nineties, and whatever the heck this decade is called (the Oughts?). There are lots of audio clips of the station's staffers reminiscing, plus videos of its frequent (and often eccentric) television campaigns. (An APE??!)

I like radio. I like its potential intimacy, and its potential depth: interesting DJs presenting interesting music and making interesting events happen. Had I been born 20 years earlier, I would've been one of the people tuning into some far-flung AM radio station in the middle of the night when the AM signals could go farther. I'd've been one of the people clamoring for the book I, Libertine before it existed, as part of Jean Shepherd's radio stunt that I read about in Something in the Air. Automated stations, generic playlists, crank calls and other wacky morning zoo-ey antics*: these have been scourges on radio for decades, not just this era, and my favorite radio people have kept doing something closer to handcrafted radio. The Internet helps the intimacy, too: I correspond with DJs via e-mail. DJs like to know we're listening, much like we in the audience like to know the DJs are listening.

KINK's kept giving me something interesting to listen to.
* The greatness of Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara when they had the morning zoo on Washington, D.C.'s WAVA FM was that they did those sorts of stunts much more knowingly, and put a more personal spin on them -- like their recurring wake-up calls to D.C. media people they were friends with (like Katie Couric, who was pretty game to play along) -- and let their show evolve into something much like a soap opera. They had a storyteller's sense of drama that was behind their antics, so there was more going on than antics, unlike a lot of DJs. Plus they were ultimately nice guys, as opposed to Doug "The Greaseman" Tracht, who just made me feel icky. (Want to feel icky? Go to that link. You've been warned.)
Me 1

All in a name

Via kradical:

WITNESS PROTECTION NAME (father's & mother's middle names)
Munroe Jean.

NASCAR NAME (first name of your father's dad, mother's dad)
Irvin Robert.

STAR WARS NAME (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name)
Wachri. (I'd pronounce that "WAH-kree.")

DETECTIVE NAME (fave color, fave animal)
Red Whale.

SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you live)
Michael Portland. Or, if I use my neighborhood, Michael Brooklyn. (My brother would be Munroe Chantilly.)

SUPERHERO NAME (2nd fav color, fav alcoholic drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Green Whiskey. (Please let there be no green whiskey for real. Not even for St. Patrick's Day. Green should only GO SO FAR.)

FLY NAME (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)
Chwa. (Man, that's ugly.)

GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, fave cookie)
Mint Snickerdoodle. (I have snickerdoodles on the mind and in my apartment! Not always my favorite, but they're my favorite now.)

ROCK STAR NAME (current pet's name, current street name)
Nada Boise. (No pet. The little spiders in this building don't count.)

PORN NAME (1st pet, street you grew up on)
Sophie Palacio.


Relaxing dinner with the folks tonight: seafood grill, mood lighting, amusing conversation. They showed up at my place (announced, this was planned) at about 5 o'clock, laptop in tow so Dad could show photos from their Virginia trip. They celebrated Halloween with their grandsons/my nephews, who were very into the whole Halloween thing. (Robbie was SpongeBob SquarePants. Hyperactive Eric, dressed as a skeleton, showed the skill and inclination to stand perfectly still next to the front door so that he could suddenly jump, scaring people. He now wants to do that next Halloween instead of trick-or-treating!) They also went to Great Falls National Park, the Virginia side of the waterfall, on Election Day. The boys found the falls soothing and a kayaker below the rapids fascinating. They also visited the increasingly neat Air & Space Museum annex, walking around an F-14 Tomcat and the space shuttle Enterprise. (I need to get back there.) All sorts of neatness, photo-documented.

After showing me the photos, Mom and Dad gave me presents: a D.C. t-shirt, snickerdoodles and a gift card to Fred Meyer. They like to be sure I'm getting fed.

Then there was dinner, at the Newport Grill next to Lloyd Center. I had salmon stuffed with two other types of seafood, like a delicious kind of nested doll. This all was a belated birthday present, because Mom and Dad were 3,000 miles from me when I turned 35 two weeks ago.

More treating later: we didn't eat from the dessert menu -- hey, do this sometime: eat dinner somewhere that has good dinners and desserts, pay for dinner, go for a walk around the neighborhood, come back, THEN buy dessert -- but I assured the folks I'd be fine. "I bought Ben & Jerry's today," I said.