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Cynthia Lombard

KFJC in 1964: Experimentation and Guests Galore

Cynthia Lombard   10/15/2019   1960s, KFJC History

In June 1964, KFJC General Manager Ken Clark wrote a report to George Willey about the college radio station’s activities during spring semester. In addition to growing the staff from 5 to 40 participants, KFJC had a breadth of programming, including at least 113 on-air guests.

Those appearing on KFJC in spring 1964 included Buddy Epsen, Wallace Stegner, Melvin Belli, Mel Torme, Barry Goldwater, Jr., The Kingston Trio, Kenneth Kesey, and more.

Partial list of guests appearing on KFJC in spring semester 1964

In his report, Clark writes, “In an effort to make a dramatic and rapid break with the station’s past history, I encouraged the students to try the untried, to experiment with new programming concepts, to dare to search creative avenues that were either foreign or obscure to them.”

June, 1964 report on spring semester activities of KFJC.

One innovative program from 1964 was “Frontiers in Music,” which debuted in May of that year. The show featured “examples of experimental and electronic music,” according to a Foothill Sentinel article that month. Host Yves Troendle told the paper, “Nobody likes the music…because nobody hears it.” KFJC hoped to change that by exposing listeners to new genres.

May 1, 1964 issue of Foothill Sentinel from Foothill-DeAnza Historic Archives

1970s KFJC Memories with Jona Denz-Hamilton

Cynthia Lombard   10/14/2019   1970s, KFJC History

Jona Denz-Hamilton participated in KFJC from 1972 to 1975, serving as Station Manager from 1973 to 1975. During that time, she started the Dead Air Club and ushered in KFJC’s FM stereo broadcasts. Following her stint in college radio, she moved on to a long career in commercial radio and has been at KBAY for the past 23 years. As part of KFJC’s 60th anniversary festivities, Denz-Hamilton will be joining Sir Cumference on the air during his program on Sunday, October 20th from 2pm to 3pm. In advance of her visit, we chatted with her about her time at KFJC.

Thanks to Jona Denz-Hamilton for sharing some KFJC memories and artifacts with us!

KFJC: What prompted you to join KFJC?

Jona: My intense interest in music and loving the changing radio scene of the early ’70s.

KFJC: Tell us about KFJC during your time there in the 1970s.

Jona: I loved to record local bands and to play them on the air. I also began the Dead Air Club in 1974 in order to raise funds to go stereo. We hired popular recording artists to perform and had immediate success. We followed up the initial concert with two other performances that included bands matched to a music-oriented movie. This gave us enough money to equip the other studios with stereo control boards, etc.

1970s KFJC logo courtesy Jona Denz-Hamilton

KFJC: What are some of your favorite KFJC memories?

Jona: Besides those awesome benefit concerts, I have a really exciting memory of when we had begun to get great, regular record company album service. in 1975, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album was shipped to all the local rock stations for a certain release date. Most records shipped from San Francisco; ours shipped from New York…and arrived a day EARLY! What a surprise to open that box. We immediately made a big deal of it on the air and promoted playing the entire album that evening. It was huge. Only one station complained–LOL–the one in San Francisco. KOME and KSJO just rolled with it.

A SECOND memory was when I started interning at KOME while still at KFJC and was in charge of collecting and tabulating their record store radio preference surveys. The stores were from San Jose to San Mateo. KFJC consistently showed up as the #2 or #3 favorite station. I was so proud!

KFJC staff 1975. Photo credit Phil Hildenbrand.

KFJC: What was KFJC’s air sound like when you were there?

Jona: We gave the station more structure in that it had been kind of a mish mash of top 40, multicultural, rock, and dead air slots. No-shows were no longer tolerated, the format became basically Progressive rock, the multicultural and other specialty shows were slotted where they made the best sense. And we picked certain KFJC-centric new music to differentiate ourselves from the commercial stations.

KFJC: Is there a record/band that you discovered at KFJC or that defined your time at KFJC?

Jona: We had a relationship with Timbercreek, friends of the Grateful Dead. We also were friends with England’s the Man Band and the North Bay’s Sons of Champlin. We played the very first albums from bands like Blondie and the Ramones and had a lot of fun with that emerging punk genre while enjoying other forms of rock of the ’70s like glam, spacey, art, folk, jazz fusion, and country rock.

KFJC: What were some of your favorite shows, on-air personalities at KFJC during your time there?

Jona: I loved the Karl Jay-Sistah Kate Aloha Nookie Nookie News–hahaha! Kate went on to become Sully on KFAT, one of the many of that time to go on to radio success. We have a number of radio personalities, station owners, managers, program directors, engineers, newspeople, record company reps, TV folks and professional musicians who shared KFJC with me between ’72 and ’75.

KFJC T-shirt designed by Jona Denz-Hamilton.

KFJC: Do you have any dramatic tales to share?

Jona: FranK Milatzo’s Marijuanathon in 1974 or ’75 go us in some hot water!!

KFJC: How did KFJC change during your time there?

Jona: It went from being a rather run-down mono station with sporadic single (45s) record service to a super-popular, stereo, respected station that was able to compete with the big guys with its choice of music and fun/cool/unusual/hilarious personalities. We still had the 2-year rule, which I begged to stretch to 2.5 years so that I could have airchecks and move up to on-air on KOME.

KFJC: How has KFJC changed your life?

Jona: It springboarded me into my professional career. I went directly to KOME and after 9 years became a program director in Monterey then Sacramento. My latest show has been on KBAY since 1996. Listeners still remember me from KFJC!!

KFJC: What are you up to today?

Jona: Well, during my time as Station Manager of KFJC in 1974, I joined KOME then went to Monterey to program AOR, KLRB then to Sacramento to be Program Director of KROY-FM. I came back to San Jose and did afternoons at KLOK and eventually joined KBAY in 1996. I’ve been at KBAY, now known as 945 Bay FM The Greatest Hits of the ’70s and ’80s, for over 23 years–mainly doing middays. I love that I’m playing many of the tunes that we premiered on KFJC, like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Aerosmith’s Dream On, Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and “new” artists like Blondie, Journey, Buckingham-Nicks, Billy Joel and Springsteen.

Jona Denz-Hamilton

Super8 Film of KFJC Studio in 1981

Cynthia Lombard   10/8/2019   1980s, KFJC History

It’s such a gift to have this Super8 film crafted by DJ Boris Darling back in 1981. Travel back in time to see what the KFJC studio looked like in the early 1980s. Boris writes, “This is a super8 film I made as a homework [assignment] that I never turned in at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills in the summer of 1978. (Correction: Jeff C. and Jeff McC reminded me that it was in 1981.) Boris, Kenny, Rip King, Jeanie and Theresa appear in it. It was filmed in the KFJC studio.”

Look closely at around the :05 mark and you may spot a circa 1981 poster for the free Romeo Void/U2 show at San Jose State that KFJC co-presented along with commercial radio station KSJO and San Jose State University’s Associated Students Program Board. We’ve heard epic tales from this event…

1981 U2 flyer courtesy Alex Pantages

New Leader at KFJC in 1971 and Joan Baez

Cynthia Lombard   10/8/2019   1970s, KFJC History

KFJC Station Supervisor Doc Pelzel and I took a fun field trip to the Foothill-DeAnza Historic Archives in order to take a closer look at KFJC’s early history. While combing through vintage copies of the Foothill College student newspaper, The Sentinel, we found some gems, including an article from 1971, “New Radio Leader.” Accompanying the piece is a photo of Joan Baez speaking with Michael Moran “on a recent visit to the KFJC studios.”

Foothill Sentinel, 1971.

We’ve yet to learn more about the Joan Baez visit (if you were there, drop us a note!), as the article focuses on the new leadership and programming changes at KFJC. Under station manager Stu Campbell, KFJC was implementing “campus and community interest” programming in the mornings and plans were underway to air Los Altos and Palo Alto Council meetings as well as campus events.

KFJC ad in 1971 Foothill College Sentinel

It was hoped that some of this new programming, including airing works of literature, would help the station raise needed funds in order to move into stereo broadcasting. Spoiler alert: KFJC’s stereo dreams would soon become a reality.

Digging into 1980 Program Guide

Cynthia Lombard   10/7/2019   1980s, KFJC History

In 1980, KFJC increased its power from 10 to 250 watts and was mentioned in the pages of Billboard Magazine as a “new wave, new jazz outlet with clout.”

KFJC’s Winter 1980 Program Guide courtesy Alex Pantages

A 1980 KFJC program guide lists programs ranging from live sports broadcasts of Foothill College Owls basketball games, a call-in show with a doctor, and Greek and Portuguese music programs. The bulk of the schedule was made up of rock music in addition to jazz, bluegrass, punk, and more.

Back of Winter 1980 KFJC program guide courtesy Alex Pantages

Thanks to Alex Pantages for sharing the winter 1980 program guide!

KFJC Founder Bob Ballou on the Early Days of KFJC

Cynthia Lombard   10/7/2019   KFJC History

KFJC has Bob Ballou to thank for our very existence. Due to his efforts in 1959, Foothill College built a radio station on its first campus in Mountain View. We caught up with Ballou to learn more about those early days of KFJC.

Ballou writes, “The idea that other JCs in the area had radio stations and there wasn’t one at Foothill moved me and a couple other guys to convince Dr. Flint and others to allow us to start the station at the Mt. View campus if the equipment could be moved to Los Altos Hills when that campus was built.”

At KFJC for its inception, Ballou was involved for a short, but influential period from 1959 to 1960 as the founder, Station Manager and DJ. He recalls that his program was called “Music in the Night or some such silly name,” adding that, “Programing was extremely different in those early years. We had educational and campus news as well as music programs. Very little talk.” Compared with what KFJC sounds like in 2019, Ballou characterizes that first year as “mellow and boring compared to today’s air sound.”

One memorable event during that era was a damaging flood at KFJC. According to Ballou, “The station was located in the basement and one night a pipe that ran overhead broke and flooded the place. We were drying out record albums for days.”

Foothill College Sentinel, October 9, 1959

Celebrating 60 Years of KFJC History

Cynthia Lombard   10/5/2019   KFJC History

Foothill College radio station KFJC first hit the airwaves on October 20, 1959. In honor of the station’s 60th anniversary, we are looking back at its incredible history. With the launch of this new KFJC History Blog, we’ll be sharing tidbits from our past, as well as reflections from KFJC participants past and present. We hope you enjoy the blog and we also invite you to join us at KFJC’s 60th Anniversary Open House on Sunday, October 20, 2019 at Foothill College.

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