Description by contributor Pete Salant, former PD at Clear Channel Connecticut – WWYZ, WELI, WPOP and WAVZ…
Nobody can “best” Willie B/Cliff Kenyon, but I thought you might like to hear a higher quality aircheck of WFIF from March 1976. Randy West actually IS my oldest friend in radio. We met at WRNW when it was an 800 watt mono station in Mt. Kisco, NY, above a hardware store; we both had summer jobs there following our freshman year at college, Randy at City College (now City University of NY) and me at Boston University, where Howard Stern was in my class at the School of Public Communications and followed me at WRNW a couple of years later after it had moved to Briarcliff Manor, NY and went stereo. I worked for Randy at WFIF for four months during a year-long self-imposed hiatus from WAVZ.
WFIF had no presunrise operating authority, so the station signed on as early as 7:15AM in December and January. WFIF also had no transmitter remote control, as it had a “critical directional array” and had to have an operator with a first class license on duty at the transmitter. We had no air monitor, just program straight off the board, so we had to call the transmitter on the phone and confirm the carrier was on before starting the broadcast day. At that time, there was a really simple modification that could be done to the Audimax automatic gain controller at the studio to speed it up and make it sound pumpy and compressed (which it was specifically designed NOT to do!), so Randy and I did the mod one evening after signoff, and we rigged a ¼” phone jack in parallel with the phone line to the transmitter so we could aircheck off the Audimax output, the closest we could come to an actual “air” check. The Audimax’s companion peak limiter, the Volumax, lived at the transmitter, so all we were missing on these airchecks was the final peak limiting that kept the transmitter modulating at 99% negative and 125% positive peaks.
On this aircheck, you’ll hear plenty of cue burn because it is right off the board and the Audimax where you could really hear the high end just like an FM station. Randy did some of the most brilliant imaging I’ve ever heard, to this day, with absolutely NOTHING to work with but a mic, a turntable, a cart recorder and a Magnecord reel machine (when it worked). He and the legendary Tom Shovan, who was GM and salesperson (Randy sold too) figured out a niche for WFIF with “The Sound Of America” during the Bicentennial year; it was about half Country and half Pop.
I was “Mike Stone” because I didn’t really want it to be known I was working there; I believe I may have been paid “under the table,” but the statute of limitations has certainly long passed by now!