Reliving old demo tapes 
“970 WKHM” Jackson, Michigan
By Bob Burnham

The 1980s pretty much saw the end of the first phase of my broadcast career.

As I gradually sift through the remnants of those years, a flood of memories always comes back if the tapes are still playable.

This article is not necessarily about the tape itself, but the memories it brought back.

I worked afternoon drive at WKHM-AM in Jackson, Michigan.  It was a “full service” station with CBS network news, and the sister station to the rocker on FM, WJXQ or Q-106 (which later moved its license to Lansing).  

As much as I can remember, back then, former WDRQ Detroit jock, Jim Ryan was the P.D. for both stations and the AM soon shifted to a satellite-fed news-talk format, but it was “full service” when I was there and I was replaced by a satellite-fed program.    Full service back then meant live talent, a little music, a lot of personality, and short features.  But people like me were not cheap to have on staff at a struggling AM.  Automation technology except for huge mechanical monsters -- that were a nightmare when they malfunctioned – had not arrived or were not desired at this station at that time.

In recent years, I did not think any tapes remained of my WKHM shows, but surprise!  This demo produced in mid-1982 consisted entirely of aircheck excerpts from that station alone.

I even did my own sponsored sports segment on this tape (which was part of the aircheck).  There were no interactive listener bits on this tape and I don’t remember doing any at this station.  

Painting a picture of the studio, I just remember these huge seven foot wire cart carousels in the corner of the studio where all the music and spot libraries were located.  The studio and equipment was fairly nice.  It was a slide-pot board (NOT rotary).  

The AM talent had to take transmitter readings for both the AM and FM, even tho there were always live jocks on the FM.  That always seemed to me to be unfair because the AM log was always much busier than the FM, at least for the daytime hours.  But the FM was the money-maker and the AM was struggling.  So let us higher-priced guys do extra work for the “kids” on the FM rocker.

The AM carried some long form style network programs like CBS Radio Mystery Theater, but for the most part, it was local live talent and music "all night long."   

The two stations were independently owned at that time by the Patten Broadcasting Company, and the building was located toward the back end of a residential area.  The AM site is still there so far as I know.  You had to drive through the city of Jackson to reach the station.  The AM transmitter and towers were on the same site as both the AM and FM studios at that time.

The demo tape itself was nothing special hearing it today, except I noticed I had a “pace” or a patter that was identical to what I used in at WAAM in Ann Arbor.  The music format (Adult Contemporary) was similar as well.  

It is hard to explain what that style was like, how we developed it and after a while, what made it so much fun.  People I worked with and in some cases, trained in the Ann Arbor days were names like Jeff DeFran and Ken Kal were part of some of that “fun” and obviously like me, turned some form of radio into lifelong careers. 

I didn’t really spend enough time on the air in Jackson (at least up to that point)  to develop any friendships at the station. Mike Vaughn was on the FM (formerly of WDRQ), but I didn’t really get to know anyone else.  I plugged “Lynn Essex with music all night long” on WKHM, but sorry Lynn, I don’t remember much about you.  I was still living in Ann Arbor at the time and listened to your show on the way home and that was about it.

For the most part, with that format, you could be yourself and work in your own bits.  That was as long as you wrapped it around everything that was in the log, didn’t forget to take required transmitter reads (required every 3 hours back then), worked in all the live and network news and sports, didn’t miss any sponsor tags, and made sure to plug other features on the station or whomever was on after you.  That plus play lots of music and knew it well enough to nail every post (manually back then usually without count-down clocks), and usually talked over both the ending and the intro of each song.

That was what (as I called my show on this tape) the “Bob Marshall Atrocity” was all about. I was also “The World Famous Bob Marshall” which was a joke in itself, because these were regional radio stations which meant they covered the county and not much beyond and up to that point, had not yet tinkered with syndicating myself or others.  Yet those stations had a substantial and very loyal local audience many years before the internet. 

I had a style that was a compromise between fast-paced like “hit-radio” CKLW-style and WJR style of THAT era. I was not an overly-hyped fake-sounding jock.  What was on the tape sounds pretty natural, but upbeat. Like I said it’s hard to explain, but all of us on the station sounded that way – and similar but “different.”  It’s a style you can’t really teach.  You can only learn it by listening to others and developing your own version, but it is mostly extinct today.

It WAS INDEED personality radio and whatever was on my mind that day whether they were in the news or just observations driving to work – they would go on the radio that day.  If you were a “sponge” to everything going on (and I do mean everything), you didn’t have to do as much show prep.  Sometimes, I’d just get lazy and just “wing it” but sometimes it’s those shows that are the ones that represent your best work, because it’s you being YOU.    Yet there are days when NOTHING would be going on, or your mood was a little down.  Show prep in that case, IS a lifesaver and sometimes listener calls responding to that would also turn the show around.

In my case, I had a bit of an alternate radio persona going on, but regular listeners soon figured out I was a regular guy underneath that patter and wouldn’t hesitate to call me up.  I never did a remote for WKHM, but I did many for WAAM, both as the Air Talent and as the Engineer on-site.   And in Jackson, I took many transmitter readings for those guys on the “FM side.”

Before the Jackson days, my most memorable remote was the 4th of July fireworks at the Ann Arbor Airport, from “Rollin’ Radio,” a fully equipped studio built in the back on a GMC motor home.  The back end where the talent sat was all glass with a full sized audio console, the technology of the time, cart machines, etc.  The chair was bolted to the floor.  I remember that very well because it was a little uncomfortable, but we would spend a week in Rollin’ Radio for events like the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

But having fireworks explode in the sky overhead and people come by and say things like, ‘Wow, that’s Bob Marshall in there!” like it was some kind of big deal.  I’d have to step outside and meet some of them as kind of a local mini-celebrity.  At least one other person from the station was on hand.

It really wasn’t a big deal to me at the time, but it actually was.  It was my life at that moment, like it was in Jackson and elsewhere.  The fact I can recall so many details, especially hearing old tapes (after so many years have passed) in itself is significant.  Who doesn’t like “fame” even if it didn’t include fortune much beyond an extra $50 Talent Fee when we were on-site  (That fee was cut in half by the time I ended up getting laid off).

Today, I have much more work to do and much more to accomplish.  I won’t be doing the “Bob Marshall Show” tonight or next week, but you never know.

The tape included sort of a “saying goodbye” which P.D.’s always frown upon and usually take the talent off the air before they can, but I was lucky. 

“Thank you Jackson for being good to me.  Perhaps again our paths will cross. Stick around for Lynn Essex with music all night long right after the news…”

That’s it!  
If management was listening, they didn’t complain.  I had learned long ago to always behave as a professional.  It wasn’t “just a job.”
jim nuznoff
9/30/2009 11:42:40 am

I just came back from a week in the Sarasota, FL area. I took a minimum of FOUR radios with me: Multiband scanner; walkman; multiband portible with shortwave (x2); HD tuner; plus a GPS. Anyway, the AM band in FL is nasty....full scale NOISE on most frequencies. Yes, you do have access to the local stations BUT forget about the class A channels. OK I heard WSB from Atlanta and WWL from New Orleans at night but that was about it. On several frequencies I heard the ubiquitious "Radio Reloj" from Havana 'ditDahdit ditDahdit'. My radio was full of 'full signal' stations without any intelligible audio. Sad.

jim nuznoff
10/1/2009 01:31:57 am

I read the WKHM blog with interest but did I miss something? Is there a link to the referenced aircheck/demo tape?

10/6/2009 08:13:28 am

There is not a link yet, as I didnt have a convenient place to host it, but a pic of the 5" reel box is sitting on facebook!
I will try to fix my old website soon.

11/2/2010 06:49:45 pm

Wherever Everyone has the life,But not everyone understand life, cherish life. Don't understand life people, The life to him, it is a kind of punishment. So we must love our


11/10/2010 11:46:11 am

This is a very good idea! Just want to say thank you for the information, you have to share. Just continue to write such a position. I will be your faithful reader. Thank you again.

2/13/2012 10:26:58 am

Valuable information ..I am delighted to read this article..thank you for giving us this useful information. Great walk-through. I value this post.

3/9/2012 04:47:29 pm

Xbox guide poker gioco potrebbe tradursi in una assistenza superiore, insieme con interessanti esercizio fisicoVe aveva l'espressione che proprio "fitness" insieme con "videogioco" estremamentescegliere l'uno accanto all'altro? Buona appena rilasciato sviluppo durante MMORPGattività, la risposta è sicuramente innegabile 'sì'. In passato, migliori sistemi di sensoriazioni significherebbe una società partita di monitoraggio che trasformerà completamente alcune delle nostre zone relax verso palestre con moquette movimento /pavimentazione. Ogni associato chiedendo di aiutare il gioco d'azzardo che utilizzal'attività non è in realtà notevolmente diversa. Durante il 1988, Nintendo ha rivelatocreativi uno qualsiasi fonte elettrica Topper, un buon pad utilizzando piedi dimensioniinterruttori creati per lunging

3/11/2012 06:49:10 pm

Persone da una varietà di cornersof il viaggio in terra questo articolo divertirsi con questo splendore sulla zona, oltre ad osservare l'abilità theenchanting oltre al modo di vita in questa posizione filippina.Metropolis possiede ton bene proprio touristswho sono disponibili in questo articolo per l'attività.

3/19/2012 05:24:52 pm

In contrasto con ciò desideri finito per essere bella, la scelta di una casa in modo che è possibile prenotare sembra essere incredibilmente più facile a dirsi rispetto eseguito. Preferibilmente, ho scoperto una serie di progetti per ottenere specifici specialisti casa intorno alle macchie.Io in realtà non poteva preferiscono avere uno stimolo, necessaria a rendere le mie proprie, progetti personali.

3/26/2012 05:37:48 pm

hello, here is the best mbts store, the discounted mbt shoes sale on our offcial website You, our first costome

4/16/2012 06:04:30 pm

A web site selling authentic hand bags will always have a guarantee:Authentic or money back.

4/16/2012 07:08:53 pm

Thank you for taking the time to write this blog post.

4/17/2012 10:56:16 am

as well as reduce the <h1><a href="" title="Coach Outlet Online">Coach Outlet Online</a></h1> of most illness. <h1><a href="" title="Coach Factory Outlet">Coach Factory Outlet</a></h1> therapy is not only proven to <h1><a href="" title="Coach Outlet">Coach Outlet</a></h1> protection against infectious diseases, <h1><a href="" title="Coach Outlet Online">Coach Outlet Online</a></h1> been proven to affect the mood <h1><a href="" title="Coach Factory Online">Coach Factory Online</a></h1> morale of employees. <h1><a href="" title="Coach Factory Outlet">Coach Factory Outlet</a></h1> in an aroma therapy <h1><a href="" title="Coach Outlet">Coach Outlet</a></h1> environment

4/17/2012 04:40:35 pm

Under western culture accomplish of those 3 louis vuitton outlet online store main paths louis vuitton outlet stores will be usage of Charlotte now Rectangle and this eastern is Street Tim Pillow. ewtregdfgsdfg

4/17/2012 05:00:43 pm

louis vuitton outlet store It has prompted the wave inside the division of treating numerous diseases such as countless severe eyesight diseases.fretfdsafdsf

4/17/2012 06:59:54 pm

buy juicy couture oline,Cheap juicy couture sale with free fast shipping and no tax. All juicy couture come in different styles,you will like it.

4/18/2012 05:42:26 pm

The Louis Vuitton piece is sure to make an impression on any travel mates you may have or even just to those sitting next to you in the airport, awaiting their flight.

5/2/2012 06:17:59 pm

Hello,dear friends, nike air max can match with your a lot of products,which can make you more beautiful and fashion.

5/2/2012 06:18:32 pm

We provided wonderful Beats By Dr Dre For Sale with best quality and fashion design. These dr dre beats limited edition are very popular.

5/18/2012 12:15:52 pm

Treat each day. Every day will be happy.

6/6/2012 05:32:59 pm

We will bring you an elegant life, to really improve your quality of life.Wake up your charm

6/20/2012 12:27:01 pm

A school will not give up. Will not be successful.

8/7/2012 04:03:49 pm

thank you for your sharing!

9/10/2012 04:08:08 pm

Coco Before Chanel is a story of Gabrielle Coco Chanel. Louis Vuitton Canada

5/12/2013 04:37:09 pm

All the splendor in the world is not worth a good friend all the time with you,yeah I find .^_^" And i would definitely bookmark the website and recommend to all my pals!


Leave a Reply.