MORE FROM JIM WEST:
GM HEAVEN | BAKER STREET
+One of my spots was a spoof spot where my
dog Sunny pees on Klaus Minor of the Scorpions. It played on about six
stations in Akron Canton Market ... and is pretty typical of the wierd stuff
I like to do on the air.
+I am heavily influenced by Shadoe Stevens having lived in LA for many
+The first Sunny now deceased was the national TV Swatch watch dog that aired on MTV
and David letterman for a good 16 month run or so in 1986/1987. The spot showed people
skiing behind jeeps on the sand sailing boarding down sand dunes and my dog with
the swatch shields on looking right in the camera ... the people at Real Productions
of NY loved him because he did most everything on a first take -- I would whisper
in his ear, "this is for the money Sunny," and he performed. Sunny West productions
was born in 1983 at KBLU CHR format as Sunny was on the show for zany skits ... the
premise was he carried a recorder with him, and the skits resulted from that ... a
lot of fun! Sunny 2 is a beautiful White husky/wolf, about 100 pounds and a chick
magnet. The story about the first Sunny and how he met his end soon after shooting
the Swatch commercial is a story written by myself and published in FATE magazine
TRUE RADIO AIR WAVES EXPERIENCES BY Dan Bingman aka Dan West aka Jim West
The year was 1988 and I was program director of KBBQ in Santa Barbara. I had made the
rounds of a lot of the local markets like Santa Maria where I had previously been the
morning man at KBOX and really liked the owner, Cliff Hunter, and also the GM. I also
had just worked for Mike Rhichert whom owned K-lite in Carpenteria and he actually was
the one who suggested that I apply for the job at KBBQ. He also went on to buy Y97 in
Mike Rhichert was one of the most talented owner/GMs I have ever had the pleasure of working
with. He was always encouraging me to send out tapes to major markets as he felt I had
the talent to work the major markets which eventually happened thanks to Mike and a few
others like him. He also introduced me to owners of ad agencies like Linda Mears where I
found myself making a nice on the side income for Voice Over talent.
When I think back on my days in Santa Barbara I sometimes wish I had never left as I now
see it as some of the best days of my life and it seemed like everyday for years was perfect.
A broadcast heaven of sorts. I lived on a ranch right on the edge of the pacific. I had a
beautiful girlfriend who was an AE for a newspaper and then went on to work for one of the
bigger TV stations KADY. So between the two of us we could actually afford our house and
had plenty of cash left for what we needed, although we worked hard for it.
When I was first PD of KBBQ I had for a GM a very effective, meticulous, professional
broadcaster who had previously been the GM of Y97 with the initials AS. He had previously
been a Marine full bird Col. He showed up for work at 5:45am, with gig line straight and
brass on brass. I know that for a fact because I went on the air at 5:00am in those days
and I often met him coming in as I was running in and out of the studio checking the wire
and filling up with coffee.
We had a gorgeous radio station on Coast Village Circle in Monticito. Just about 100 feet
from Tooties coffee shop where you could find movie stars and world famous people just
hanging out with their friends. I still remember the address. 1224 Coast Village Circle
Suite 24 and how SWEET it was. One block from the beach where I took frequent lunch breaks
and lay in the sun so that I had a constant tan and a smile to go with it. Life just
doesn't get much nicer.
However this GM was all business and very good at what he did and if he didn't like
something or heard something he did not like Iwas called in on the carpet
and ordered to report immediatley. If he really got pissed, he turned beat red and I knew
not to stand at ease. I was to stand at attention until he was finished chewing me out.
This was my third gig as a PD. I was much better at it and had learned a great deal, but
the man was an absolute perfectionist. He was even harder on the sales staff, because he
also let me know that he did think that I was the best man for the job. The sales staff
never really got a break. They could never make enough.
Then the day came when all of the sudden the owners were at the station just as I got off
the air. I remembered Karin our office manager acting flustered and she never got flustered.
They had come unannounced. Yikes!! We always knew ahead of time when the owners would arrive.
One owner was a very well known talent-executive from NBC. The other a very class act Corp
lawyer-avocado ranch owner. I was gathering up my stuff and getting out of the studio as
quickly as I could so the mid-day guy could get in the control room and get underway.
As soon as I walked out of the studio the red 'on air' light went on over my head and Karin
motioned me over to her desk. They want to see you right away she said. Just as she said,
"I think it is kind of important." I got this immediate adrenaline rush. My mind started to
scan the ad lib's from that mornings show any staff changes I made full or part time.
OH NO, I thought, I wonder if they are pissed that I fired Dave Garroways son. Dave was the
guy who was one of the first hosts of the NBC Today show and one of the owners asked
me to hire his son. It was a Sunday shift nobody wanted, but I had to drive all the way down
the coast one day when he totally screwed up the entire shift and had to politely let him
go. "Right away" as I heard Karins words in my mind once again. "Jesus Jesus" as I was
thinking to myself. I knew there was only one way to do this. It was like diving into cold
water. You just had to do it all at once. So I straightened myself up. Asked Karin if I
looked Ok. She said ''no you look nervous, just relax and go in there". I took a deep breath
checked my gig line and my brass on brass and with my head held high walked to our plush GM
office where they waited and quietly knocked.
"Come in," said FH the former NBC executive. He was such a nice man, I was surprised to
see that they both were sitting in the plusher than plush Gm's office, without the GM. I
thought nothing of it at the time as as he often made sales calls and was out with clients a
lot. "Sit down" the corp attorney politely requested as it seemed to me they wanted to get
down to business right away. I tried to relax as they ask me about some of our latest
promotions and how happy they were and how happy they were with the comments of some of
their friends who had listened that lived as far south as Oxnard. Then they said that Karin
had told them that I am usually at the station until 5. They then mentioned that they
thought that was a long day since I also hosted the listener appreciation parties before
concerts we sponsored. It was then that I realized they were finding out quite a lot of
the inside goings on by checking in with or office manager Karin whom I always thought was
a beautiful person inside and out.
Within 5 minutes of this discussion I found myself getting a 300-dollar a month raise. I
almost couldn't believe it. The last time I met with them I had just gotten a raise.
The conversation then changed to the topic of the GM. They asked me if I liked him. I went
on a long dissertation about how I thought he was a very precise at what he did and they
let me continue with my commentary for about two minutes before they stopped me and smiled
and sort Laughed a little quiet laugh and said, "What we want to know is if you like him.
Personally?" I thought WOW, what an on the spot question this is. My answer was, "Well, not
really. I was always worried if my shoes were shined enough as I was hurriedly leaving my
house at 3am for my morning show." (I had to drive 64 miles down highway 1 every morning)
they both laughed, as this broke the ice somewhat and they said, "We didn't really like him
What I did not know was that next couple of moments were going to be some of the happiest
couple of minutes of my career. I was finally starting to figure out why the GM was not
there. FH the NBC exec said, "We hired a new GM and he is waiting outside to meet you."
The Corp lawyer went to the intercom and buzzed Karin and very matter-of-factly without
hesitation stated, "Karin will you please show our new GM in."
The very smartly dressed man walked in with a smile like a Cheshire cat. I about fell off
my chair when this vision sunk in. I was stunned. I thought I was seeing a ghost. "DAVID,"
I almost shouted. I burst up out of my chair like you would if your best friend had just
hit a home run in a close game. Without even thinking about it wrapped him in a bear hug
to the point I was really embarrassed when I executed my emotion with no prudence. I was
just so damn glad to see him. It had been years. David Barton. What a terrific person! What
a wonderful moment.
I almost forgot about the owners as we both looked over at the owners and FH said, "You know
each other?" We burst into laughter where I almost cried. I could only wonder what Karin
was thinking outside the door. It had been 6 years since I had seen DB. We had both moved
around so much we had lost touch. Visions of working together in Arizona were going through
my mind. We not only worked together, he also was my boss and we were roommates. If I was
late for work it didn't matter if my bedroom door was locked or not he came in and started
jumping on the bed usually just to see the girl I was with naked. Great guy on the air.
Great guy off the air. We were really going to do something with this station now!! And we
did! It was GM HEAVEN!
TRUE RADIO AIR WAVES EXPERIENCES BY Dan Bingman aka Dan West aka Jim West
Headed to Baker Street today and I have to share this TRUE real life RADIO DRAMA that turned out
to be such a cool thing, that I hope you don t mind if I share.
KBLU TV 13 and KBLU Radio 56 was owned by Bob Crites in 1977 but he sold the TV station which
remained in the big BLUE building a few streets back off the main drag of 4th avenue in Yuma
Arizona. The broadcasting tower for the TV Station was 56 miles away in California and on top
of black mountain near BLYTHE, California. I should know, I took many a trip out there to do
maintenance on the transmitter years later with Bob Andrade the chief engineer of KYEL-TV 13
as the ownership and call letters were changed almost ten years later, but it was still an NBC
station. Once we were stopped by the DEA plain clothed dudes at 3am them thinking that we were
drug smugglers. That almost ended up badly because I was so amused by having a gun to my head
and up against the truck at 3am that I could not stop laughing. Luckily they believed that Bob
and I were TV engineers for that was the only good reason to be on that dirt road up the mountain --
that we quickly figured out was a well known smuggling route, since from the view on the mountain
you could see Mexico and California and a hint of the lights of Arizona way off in the distance.
But, years earlier, when the Radio Station KBLU split off , I was back to doing 7-12 midnight since
coming back from vacation there was a new guy named Vince Apadaca doing my mid-day show. By some
miracle Vince and I became good friends despite the fact he had my show when I returned from
my well earned two weeks paid vacation that took me two years to earn.
After we changed buildings and I was on duty on my new 7-12 midnight time slot I got a call from
our new engineer who was at the radio transmitter over by B-Street or B-Avenue or whatever it was
called . I had been to the transmitter many times with Lee Poole the PD to check the meters and
such, so was familiar with the location. We had two tall towers for omni directional and directional
power at night.
The engineer called and wanted to sync the studio meter with the actual on site transmitter meters
so that our remote readings from the studio were accurate. But, I had to get the show on the road
first before I could spend time with an engineer that never cared how hard it was to do a live show
playing records on turntables. I told the engineer to stand by and I would call him when I was able
to take the time to sync the meters. He reluctantly agreed. I had the hot line number typed on the
instructions of how to take live remote meter readings.
I called about a half hour later and it rang and rang and rang and then an operator picked up and
said the number was no longer in service. But, to go ahead and try my call again. I tried again,
and got the same operator and explained to her what was up and I could hear our radio station playing
in the background down at the telephone company. Finally after about ten minutes of talking to this
friendly operator that knew that it was me, Dan West the host of the radio show on KBLU said, My
supervisor is giving me that look, try that number again sir, maybe it is just a glitch. I, like an
idiot called the number when the top of the hours news came on at 11:00 pm, and I got the same operator,
only this time she gave me another number to try and she said to try it at 12:15am. What I did not
know was that the number to the transmitter hot line was taken out when the ownership change occurred.
I finished my show at 12 midnight, and headed for the production room to kick out some spots that
came in late while I was on the air.
I dialed the number, it was her, the operator, she was home and had brought four of her girlfriends
from the telephone company home with her. Now there was no phone company supervisor to monitor the
call. She asked me if I could stop by and meet them. I agreed since it was a Friday night and I had
no plans. When I arrived at her home I was surprised to find out that she lived in the house closest
to the radio transmitter that was fenced in. The fence line was in her backyard. I was surprised
by that, but was more surprised by how cute she was and what a bouncy happy person she was just
having moved to Arizona from Oregon and also having transferred her employment in the phone company.
This beautiful operator was about 22, I was 23 and the other four girls there were all in their 20s.
When the telephone operator opened her door, this song Baker Street was playing on our radio station
that she had on. She immediately let me know how much she loved listening to KBLU and that she and
her girlfriends listened every night. I was starting to like the fact, my time slot was changed for
me while on vacation because the incident was paying off in spades that particular Friday
Night/Saturday morning just after midnight. I was immediately smitten with this young operator who
was petite and shapely and smitten with me as well. It was the beginning of something cool that
seemed to only happen in the 1970s.
To make a long story short, within an hour she had ushered out her house guests and if I recall
correctly, I stayed the weekend at her house, with a brief time out to do my Saturday afternoon
show. All the cool things that you can only speculate that happened that night and weekend,
happened - and it was a happy, beautiful and wonderful experience, albeit fleeting, for that is
the way the 70 s were and I love just the way things were way back then, it was all so Zen!
The next morning on the way to my Saturday afternoon show to fulfill my agreement of six airs shifts a
week, the SUN was shining bright, the sky was blue and Baker Street was playing on the radio as I
pulled in to do my show grinning from ear to ear and thanking god for that new engineer.
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