Friday, May 1, 2009

Oldies But Goodies and Boogie Biggies - KPOI (1972-1975)

Interview with Glen Martin conducted March, 2009

In 1968, Glen Martin got his first break in radio, at powerhouse KHJ in Los Angeles. “I was an off-the-air, part-time employee in the promotion department, hired by Don Berrigan. As a junior in college, I worked three days a week and nights when needed.” But while the experience working with legends like Charlie Tuna and Don Steele was a dream come true for a college kid, the $2.00 an hour gig hauling stage equipment and screening Battle of the Band entries was not what he had in mind for a long-term career. A friend suggested he move to Hawaii, where he got his first full-time job, engineering the board for the morning show, and then working his own nine-noon show at KORL, in Honolulu.

“My first impression was that radio there was lagging several months behind the mainland and couldn’t hold a candle to what I grew up listening to in Los Angeles. But the stations sounded pretty good and grew on you once you got used to the place. KGMB dominated the ratings, and the morning star was the late AKU. One of the Top 40 stations was the legendary KPOI where the Mighty Leader, Mike Hamlin held down mornings and was terrific in the production studio too with some incredible rock concert spots. The other Top 40 was KKUA. Both were good and very competitive with one another, but it was KPOI where I wanted to work. After a few months at cross-town KORL, I got my chance.”

Martin started out as a newscaster and board operator at KPOI. “I ran the board and played the public affairs tapes including the old Powerline show,” he said. Just two months into the job he was offered his own on-air time slot. “I took over 9AM-Noon from mid-1972 into early 1974; did PM drive the rest of 1974 and early 1975, and then AM drive my final three months there.”

Using vinyl as a promotional tool was nothing new for KPOI. In the 1960s the station put out “Twist to Radio” and “Oldies But Goodies.” In the 70s the station decided to revisit the concept.

View song listing and back of album HERE

“The “Oldies But Goodies” series was a twelve volume set and we cooked up a deal to give away individual albums and full sets with the Original Sounds records people. We slapped our own promo piece on the back of each of the albums that featured the air staff at that time.

View song listing and inside of album HERE

“Boogie Biggies” was a similar album promotion done a couple of years later. It was a double LP and we were allowed to use the full inside fold out to promote the station and did so with a photo collage of all the air staff and some of the listeners.”

The station also offered listeners singles, with “Convention Confusion,” playing up on the “break-in” record craze of the era.

“I think General Manager and Program Director Tom Moffatt came up with the idea,” Martin said. “The record was done in the election year of 1972 and was modeled off of a concept that Dickie Goodman had tried with novelty records nationally – and not with much success either until “Mr. Jaws” in 1975. “Convention Confusion” did well on the air in 1972 and we did a similar record in late ’73 early ‘74 called “Gas Lines.” It was centered on the gas shortages and alternate-day rationing that was taking place then. When “Gas Lines” too was well-received, both novelty creations were pressed onto a collector edition single and given away in station promotions.”

The records were produced and recorded at KPOI, with Martin taking over mixing and editing duties on the discs. “The writing was a collaborative effort among Tom Moffatt and a few of the air staff including myself and KC Dennis.” Members of the air staff were featured under pseudonym reporter names on the “Convention Confusion” record, and the “Gas Lines” reporter questions were all voiced by News Director, Don Smith. The records were used as on-air giveaways.

By 1975, KPOI’s management and format changes (going from Top 40 to what Martin called “Chicken Rock”—“A watered-down version of Top 40 but without the edgier rock, and more oldies”) were reasons enough for Martin to leave the islands after five years and head back to the mainland—and KFMB-FM in San Diego. It wouldn’t be the only career change he would make.

“There was already a “Martin” on the air at B-100. Billy Martin was there first and was a good guy. I thought it would be better and respectful to use something different. I had only a few hours to come up with something before my first air shift. (Paul) McCartney was hot then and the name was more showbiz than Martin so I went with it (Glen McCartney). I wound up staying with that as an on-air name for most of the balance of my radio career.”

Martin would stay in San Diego for almost ten years, before heading to Chicago (WFYR and WCLR), and later Seattle (KLTX and KJR). He left radio in 1993 to become a financial planner and investment advisor.

“I think it wasn’t the same passion for me any more. My competitive urge had been greater than other management’s at the last two stations I was at. Programming was also a job only really well done if you committed to staying on it at some level of supervision 168 hours a week. I didn’t have that left in the tank anymore, didn’t want to miss my kids growing up and didn’t really relish leaving Seattle for the next big paycheck. I’m in financial services; connected to the same company I joined in 1993, but essentially working for myself consulting primarily smaller, closely-held businesses on financial, succession and estate planning.”