Seattle Now & Then: KRAB – Listener Supported Free-form Radio

(click to enlarge photos)
NOTE PLEASE:  You may wish to check the comments (at the very bottom) for the growing list of names and ruminations connected with this picture.  Some others were sent to me directly, and I have encouraged those correspondents to also return to the blog and post them here.   I hope that is easy to do.
 

THEN: I have held this subject back for probably twenty years waiting for KRAB radio’s golden anniversary. I confess that I can no longer remember where I got it, but hope that with the wide circulation of the Times the photographer will come forward and be thanked again.
THEN: KRAB had four studios before it close down somewhat “accidentally’ in 1984. With the sale of its valued position at the commercial end of the FM dial (to the right), KRAB hoped to find another spot on the dial’s educational end (to the left.) And it did – but in Everett and with the new call letters KSER. Now you can stream it worldwide, which, of course, includes Seattle – still.
In the spring of 1962 Lorenzo Milam first visited this 32×20 foot hut at the southwest corner of 91st Street and Roosevelt Way. When the real estate agent asked $7,500 for what, he explained, was suitable for a barbershop but formerly a donut shop, Milam, envisioning a broadcasting tower, bought the corner for KRAB. By late December his shed was a FM radio station with a studio, which I remember – perhaps too ideally – was fitted with a single microphone at the center of a round table.
The listener-supported station’s creatively improvised transmitter both heated the place and excited listeners with diverse and “freeform” programing.   Some of those tuned in were quite young, like this feature’s weekly “repeater” Jean Sherrard.  Jean recalls, “I was nine or ten when I first listened to KRAB and it opened to me a world of art and music that I was eager to join.  KRAB was programed with great storytellers, and what was then called ethnic music but now more often world music.  KRAB was a marvel, an education in and of itself.”
Of the mix of twenty-three KRAB engineers, programmers and volunteers draping the station here, I recognize six including two one-time candidates for state offices as Republicans.  While both Tiny Freeman with the bowler hat and waving behind the fence, far right, and Richard Green also behind the fence, far left, and standing on an unseen dumpster, made it on the ballot, both were caricatural candidates running for the laughs. And both were wonderfully funny.
The giant Tiny, with his weekly show of Bluegrass music, also refined the art of “pledge night” so well that many listeners looked forward to those chances to support Tiny and the station.  With Bluegrass musicians crowding the KRAB table Tiny auctioned tunes to be played live for the highest bidders.
From the seed Lorenzo Milam planted with KRAB he ultimately earned the rubric “Johnny Appleseed for freeform radio.”  Milam had a prolific part in starting about forty noncommercial community radio stations across America.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?
[Here’s an addendum received on May Day, 1914.  Virginia Magboo  writes, “I was an announcer on KRAB in the summer of 1968.  It was great.  I was allowed to do anything I wanted, including stories that I especially liked.    . . .And in the photo, I can identify the man on the right behind the fence – busy hair, a beard and glasses.  His name is Andras Furesz.  I don’t know what he did at KRAB since I was there briefly.”  Thanks Virginia, and now I remember Adras too, although I would not have without your help.  I wonder if you have the correct spelling.  I did a Google-search but found nothing.    Paul]
(to read more, please click HERE!)

10 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: KRAB – Listener Supported Free-form Radio”

  1. I think that is Jon Gallant in front of the doorway in the Sherlock Holmes hat.

    Richard AC/DC Green ran for Land Commissioner. He beat a field of lackluster Republican always-rans, possibly because he was the only one the public didn’t know. He promised to go out and fearlessly commission the land, amalgamate the towns of Pysht and Forks into Pyshtforks, and, if elected, turn the office back to the long time Democrat, Burt Cole, because he could continue to do a good job. Green’s campaign had at least two highlights. One was a rally that Gallant and Milam held behind the Great Ape house at the Seattle Zoo. The other almost resulted in Green being shot by secret service agents. As he was doing graduate work at the University of Hawaii, Green campaigned from that state. When Spiro T. Agnew came to campaign for Richard Nixon, Green bounded up on stage after his talk for a photo op. The secret service guys fortunately didn’t shoot him, although they were reportedly startled. A picture was taken, and, I believe, was published in the Helix. I remember liking Green, but I can’t remember if I voted for him.

  2. In today’s Seattle Times article on KRAB you mentioned a golden anniversary party. As an early 1963 listener, I would love to come. Please add me to your announcement list! Among my many fond memories are the KRAB sign-off reading of Norman Corwin’s poem Prayer from “On a Note of Triumph” which celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

  3. Larry
    Gosh I don’t remember making any note of a Golden Anniversary party nor have I heard of such. Perhaps you got that tip somewhere else, if so please find it and share it.
    John
    I remember the Green Campaign well. It was also described in brevis by Jon Gallant in my interview with him for this blog’s weekly application of HELIX – one issue a week. Tomorrow or Tuesday we will be up to no. 13 or 14. Consequently – and following the calendar – our reporting on the 1968 Green Campaign, with the issue that highlighted it and featuring another blog interview with Gallant aka Dr.Phage, won’t come around for another year – about. Meanwhile I’ll do other interviews including one with you soon about – you will remember – the Lighting Hopkins Oct. 1967 concert at Washington Hall, a concert you produced, I believe – or was led to.
    Paul

  4. Thanks so much for the feature on KRAB. I was at Nathan Hale High School in those days and loved to “hang out” at the donut shop studio and sit in on the blue grass show. I remember Joe Vinikow and have a vague memory of the fellow w/ glasses left of the post. In my Hippie days, I lived next door to the KRAB radio engineer of record. My memory is not so good now and can’t recall his name at this moment, so sorry.

    I was surprised to find that the Wikipedia entry on KRAB is about a station in Texas! There is no reference specifically to KRAB FM in Seattle. You could fix that, I don’t have the references.

    I am so fortunate to have had KRAB when I did. I was introduced to such a variety of music and ideas I’d probably never encountered for years. It really opened horizons for a shy Seattle high school kid. Oh, and thanks to you for giving me a “PressPass” to Sky River Rock, that also opened my eyes!

  5. Do you have a good idea when your “Then” picture was taken?
    My Uncle, Lowell Richards was on KRAB about that time, judging from the styles, but he’s apparently not in the picture. I thought the man second from left with his elbow propped on the fence looked like him, but my father says that’s not Lowell. I believe his show was called, “Jazz Now.” Lowell died in the Spring of 1969 or 1970.

  6. Hey Paul:

    The guy with the big mustache and white t-shirt in front of the fence with the tree stand intersecting his body is Phil Bannon. There was some sort of big KRAB reunion party on a boat in lake union in 1991. I was pulverized, but I know I was there.

    Ray

  7. Paul:
    I was volunteering at KRAB beginning in 1963,often under the names “Captain Baltic”, or “Baltic”, and except for an interruption by the draft board between 64-66, was there for the rest of its years, both as a host and a board member. As board president, I signed off, with Lorenzo Milam and Gary Margason, on the final sale of the frequency and remained on the Board into the 1990s. As to the other comments – I believe the identifications are all correct as noted. Here is a marked up copy of the picture with the names that I can recall. (My mind was often significantly altered in those days, so some faces that are familiar I can’t connect to a name.) Well, it appears that I can’t attach a jpg here, but I do have one if you are interested. Lowell Richards had several shows on KRAB, his longest (and best) was called “Ear To The Ground.” He actually recruited me to do jazz programming after I had been doing some spoken word things in the studio and had a conversation with him, which led to him using some of my record collection on his shows. There is a lot of misinformation on the web surrounding the station, and the current Jack Straw people aren’t very interested in maintaining the history. I do have many of the guides used over the years, and the particular photo was on the cover of the August 1971 guide (number 217). I was there for the photo, but don’t recall who took it. Hey Ray Serebrin – long time no see.

    Nick

    1. Hello Mr. Johnson, my name is Geoff, a beatmaker/producer/DJ here in Seattle. I have something I’d love to share with you related to your record collection. If possible to let me know an email to send to, that would be very much appreciated. Thank you!

  8. Greetings all . . .
    Paul (Richards) as to the “age” of the photo a rough answer comes by way of Michael Wiater (from Pullman now but then program director at KRAB. He is identified above – first to the left of the post at the gate thru the fence. The timing can be estimated from speculating the age of the child in the arms of Joanne. Joanne was Michael’s wife then and the child is their Ezra, who now like this dad is a scientist secure – more or less – in some academy. Michael writes,
    “Hi Paul,
    Peter Hogue forwarded the “then” photo from your new blog on KRAB-FM. The woman next to me is Cathy Palmer and the woman with child is my wife at the time Joanne, with my newborn son Ezra. He was born August 4, 1970 so the photo was taken soon after. Greg was Station Manager and I was Program Director. Greg died a few years ago.
    Part of the photo also appears on this blog:

    http://blatherwatch.blogs.com/talk_radio/2011/12/old-seattle-radio-saturday-krabfm-1962-1984.html

    Paul (Richards) I met your uncle probably early 1967 for he was surely around when we published the first issue of Helix that spring. If on this blog you go to the reprinting of Helix Vol 1 No. 1 you will find that Lowell wrote the paragraph of our intentions on the front cover. My audio commentary also makes mention of him. Lowell was also very helpful in smoothing our music in the parks and at Eagles Aud, because he was then, as you know, the Secretary of the musicians union hereabouts. We all loved Lowell, and his Jazz programs on KRAB are remembered. If you do a key word search for him on the Seattle Times (all you need is a Seattle Library card and you can get access to the Times from 1900 to 1984/5) you will find about five pages on Lowell including listings of some of his KRAB programs, and acts as union secretary. You will also find his obituary Feb.26, 1970. He died two days earlier of a heart attack, age 49. I’ll put a few of these Times clips up as a KRAB Addendum on this blog – but not today. At the end of Michael’s note above is that link, which, I believe, reveals the photographer for the ca.1970-71 shot above. We will try to make contact with him – but, again, not today. Meanwhile onward to note how sweet it is to hear of and from the wit Ray Serebrin again. With the help of many we will, I wager, eventually name everyone in that photo. I think the ones on the roof will be the toughest to “knock down.” Also Paul I think your uncle is correct. That is not Lowell.
    Paul

  9. A year-and-a-half late, here’s a little more about Lowell Richards.

    The notice in the Times can be seen at http://www.krab.fm/images/Lowell-Richards-1970-02-26-Seattle-Times.pdf

    The same day the notice of his death was published (02/26/1970), the Times also printed this: http://www.krab.fm/images/Lowell-Richards-BP-1970-02-26-Seattle-Times.pdf There are a number of KRABers that signed the petition of support.

    Finally, program guide 187 (March 5, 1970) has a poem in honor of Lowell on page 2. I suspect it is by Michael Wiater. http://www.krab.fm/ProgramGuides/KRAB-Guide-187-1970-03.pdf

    Since much of the posting above was prompted by the photo of the crowd outside the doughnut shop, anyone interested can verify the details in guide 217, which has the photo on the cover. http://www.krab.fm/ProgramGuides/KRAB-Guide-217-1971-08.pdf

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