KDKB Alum Dennis McBroom Remembers When Radio Still Had Tubes and The Tubes Had Radio Airplay

Categories: Interview

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Courtesy KDKB.com
Vintage KDKB "carrot" shirts on display.
This weekend, 93.3 KDKB, the "Sixth Longest-Running FM Rock Station in Nation," enters into its fourth decade of existence with a Saturday, August 13 celebratory performance by The Tubes at Foundry on First, one of the countless bands that got its first big radio boost on the heritage rock station (as we profiled in this week's music feature).

The show also doubles as a KDKB Alumni Reunion weekend, where many of the veteran jocks and on-air personalities are brought back to reminisce with the fans, something hard to imagine happening with post-millennium radio. Among those present will be Dennis McBroom, a 42-year on-air personality who has clocked over 20 years in three different stints at KDKB and still does traffic there with Sludge every morning.

We asked him about the halcyon days of freeform radio, when deejays were actually instructed to pick their own music and eclectic bands like The Tubes could cut across all formats and win airplay at the whim of a jock.

Up on The Sun: When you started at KDKB, could you seriously play any type of music? Were there ever any records you were encouraged not to play? Berlitz: Basic German for Travelers? Tibetan yak field recordings? Lothar and the Hand People?

Dennis McBroom: When Bill Compton, the station's first program director hired me, what he told me and repeated to everyone he hired, he said 'Your job was to do the best show you possibly can.' When I started, there was a 10,000-album library. When I left in '76, it was over 14,000. You went to the wall, you picked your music and did your show. Country, classic, soft rock, hard rock, bluegrass, comedy, everything. If it sounded good and worked well together in a set it was cool. Your job was to know all that so you didn't do the bad mix.

When did the marketing groups come in and KDKB and start bringing in playlists?

They brought in the Burkhart-Abrams Superstars format in 1977 and by the time you hit the mid-eighties, it didn't sound at all like it did in the day. In 1986, the Sandusky family hired Chuck Artigue to bring it back to the rock heritage station it should be and still is. I came back with him in 1987 and we've been rockin' ever since.

A band like The Tubes that could parody punk, country, disco, glam rock or Journey-style formulaic rock was hard for radio to categorize. The early incarnation of the band could seemingly only exist on a free form radio station.

Back then you had Top 40 stations, you didn't have any alternates. Freeform radio was fairly new; people who got into it loved it. So in the markets where stations like KDKB existed, The Tubes did well. [The band didn't do as well in] places that only had Top 40 stations...because there was nobody who would play their records in that kind of market. Whereas at KDKB you could get airplay, get help promoting concerts, and The Tubes just one of many bands who benefited. Charlie Daniels-- country stations didn't really dig his music cause he was too rock, Top 40 stations wouldn't play him because he wasn't Top 40. So again Charlie Daniels made his early success on KDKB and other stations like it across the country.

The Tubes got a ton of airplay and they did a bunch of shows with us. All the guys in The Tubes went to Camelback High except Vince Welnik the keyboard player. He and I went to West High together.

Sadly, Welnik left the band and became yet another of the many Grateful Dead keyboard players to die too soon, but it just shows you what versatile players they all were.

They're all phenomenal musicians.

Was Phoenix initially resistant to their over-the-top theatrics?

The Tubes went to the Bay Area in 1969 so when they came back here in 1975 they had already developed the theatrics. It was an established show, they already had a first album record out, they were getting solid airplay on KDKB and we promoted their first shows here. They were amazing and we had the good fortune to say they were a hometown band and we're going to play the hell out of them. They were a show band and really the only other show out there [like that] was Alice Cooper. KISS hadn't even come along yet. Alice had a very specific theatrical element and The Tubes wasn't the same but it was just as theatrical, just as show.


Location Info

Map

Foundry on First - CLOSED

402 S. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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9 comments
Surfvwib
Surfvwib

I remember Vince in the Next Of Kin as the clean cut guy who's parents wouldn't let him grow his hair out. Rick was in a great band called the Caravelles. Their only rivals were the Spiders. I remember the Yardbirds playing at the VIP Club with Jeff and Jimmy, and Jeff kicked a hole in the Caravelles guitarists amp.Those were the days before KCAC and Little Willy Sunshine.

Leyla Forrest
Leyla Forrest

D MC B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i still miss the small chats from saturday mornings after the HoH! my favorite memory is winning the go green for st. patty's day contest when i got to be on the air with you for an hour and gaube for an hour!!!!!!

20gauge
20gauge

Two words:WONDERFUL RUSS

Marty Manning
Marty Manning

Dennis & I get to take over the studio 4-6pm Saturday and do a little "free-form".  Should be fun!  Also that day, Bill Andres 10-Noon, Carol springer Noon - 2, and Linda Clayton 2-4.  May not be the same without turntables  ...Marty Manning

20gauge
20gauge

KDKB used to play Firesign Theater. I mean they would drop the needle and LET IT RUN!As Steely Dan said: "Those days are gone for ever".

helentroy4
helentroy4

I'm married to a former KDKAYBee jock. Loved the story.

Talben Meyers
Talben Meyers

Thank You ..a BIG one to everyone's who's making this celebration a memorable one!  Very proud to be a part.

-Talben

Mike Gaube
Mike Gaube

WOW!!! Thanks for remembering me!!!!

AzIrishguy
AzIrishguy

How many times have I heard that before?

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