MEMORIES


 "Sounds of Summer" by Dave Holmes

My best memory is kicking off "The Sounds of Summer" contest.....in October!


“The Prize Safe” by Bill Bishofberger

One of ideas for a contest was to lock a prize into a safe that had 128 keys, of which only one would open the safe.

The first time this was used was for a Mexico giveaway. The safe opening was held at the new Waterfront Warehouse in Downtown Stockton with a live remote that I hosted. All 128 contestants showed up, keys were passed out, the tickets to Mexico placed in the safe and the safe closed. Problem was that the safe had both the key lock and a tumbler on it. When the safe was closed, someone turned the tumbler. Nobody had the combination. The idea was to lock the safe with the master key and leave the tumbler alone.

The Safe Company had to be called (this was on a weekend). A representative of the company showed up in their van and had to take the safe into his van and break open the safe (with hammer and chisel), but leave the lock in operating order. The process took quite some time, but he did it, and the contest continued with a winner.

Some time later, another contest involving a safe would once again be attempted. This time Program Director Roy Williams and I took 128 listeners out on the Delta Queen to give away a cruise. A new safe was used which only required a key to open. We decided to do two “openings”. The first on the way out of port, the other on the way back. The first went just fine. One the way back, the 128 keys were once again distributed, but after going through EVERY contestant, none opened the safe. By this time we were almost back to the dock. We decided to take the safe off the ship and try again (figuring that someone did not place their key in all the way. It took a lot of extra time, but a winner was found.

Not learning from all of that, a third safe opening contest took place, this time at a Grand Opening of a house development. 128 listeners were lined up and given keys. One by one they came up and the third person (a young child trying to open the safe for his parents) put the key in part way, gave it a turn and it opened. We knew it was not the right key, but had to give him the prize anyway. (Rules read: first person to open the safe wins. We were lucky it was written that way).

That was the last time the safe was used, although it sat in the studio, and later in the basement “prize room” until the closing of the station.


"The Visit" by "Tube Shortwave"


I never got to work for Ort Lofthus, but I do remember getting the tour of the stations when I was a kid and being brought upstairs to his office.  My guide (I forgot who took me for the tour) opened the door and said "This is our General Manager".  Ort was on the phone, but told whoever it was to hold on, and motioned me in.  He was very kind, shook my hand and thanked me for coming by and seeing the stations, and told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call!  Wow, only a kid and already rubbing elbows with the powerful in the industry!  Benefits!! 

KJAX was simply amazing to me.  I would sit down next to the noisy printer and just watch the automation in complete fascination for hours sometimes, when they would let me.  I would take the bus downtown after school and walk in the front door and tell the receptionist that I would like to watch KJAX, please!  She would escort me to the room behind the KJOY studio, hand me a cup of water and let me watch the thing.  I guess there was some benefit, because if the system would burp, I would run around the corner to the KJOY studio and tell the jock about it.  Bill Bishofberger didn't even yell at me when I did it once while the mic was open! 

Years later when I was in high school, I ended up getting the tour again, but this time as part of the school's career faire.  One of the school counselors arranged a visit at an area radio station, that was all I knew.  It ended up being KJOY/KJAX!  I went in and the tour began.  When we got to KJAX, I saw that it was unchanged from what I remember and began describing its operation to my guide.  Boy was he impressed!  Told me if I ever needed a job, I had one!  My guide was Roy Williams.  And he was good to his word.


"The Window" by Rick Thomas

It was the afternoon of July 1, 1981.  I was in downtown Stockton with my parents for an unrelated reason when suddenly our car's radiator began to overheat.  My dad swung off the Crosstown onto El Dorado to find a gas station so he could put water in the radiator.

We went up El Dorado to Channel Street, I believe.  Quick left.  A Chevron station at Channel and Center.  A big parking lot took up the rest of that block.  While we waited for the car to cool down, I could see the "KJOY" sign with a smaller "1280" beyond the expansive parking lot and El Dorado Street.  A couple of KJOY vehicles parked on the other side of the cyclone-mesh fence that separated the parking lot from the gas station, one of them had "The Great 128" painted on it.  Curiosity piqued.  This kid who had already decided on a career in radio HAD to go over there and check out whatever he could.  Parents said OK...I was OFF!!  I must've stood in both Weber and El Dorado windows watching the DJ at the board for what seemed like an eternity, trying to soak in as much as I could visually.  You see, for the next year, I would be a religious listener of KJOY, the Great 128, and everything I was seeing at that moment would have to suffice in memory since we lived an hour away and I was too young to drive down and watch.  All I had to go on visually as I listened to KJOY was what my mind retained as I watched from the sidewalks this summer day.

Not much to see through the Weber Avenue window, the window that the jocks and jockettes faced as they did their shows.  The backsides of some equipment and XLR connectors.  Surprisingly, the El Dorado Street window afforded more of a view of the studio.  In this window, I saw different jocks' name signs both leaning on the end of one counter and lying on the studio floor.  These signs sat in a big block of wood with a groove in the top in the Weber Avenue window as the DJs did their shows.  Quite a few of these signs both stood and laid there.  I remember one in particular and what it read.  "Pat Kelley," I read...hmmm, wonder when he's on the air?  As I look back with a current-day perspective, I'm somewhat amazed that KJOY still did this as late as 1981.  Amazed, but very glad.

Still watching.  The DJ takes a phone call.  As he converses, I look around at the rest of the studio.  To his left, cart racks full of carts, a tiny room with a window that I later learned was a news booth, a big metal box that had a meter and said "AM Monitor," whatever that is.  "Why would they monitor the entire AM band?" I wondered before I knew what an AM modulation monitor was and that it was only tuned to one frequency.  DJ off the phone, and with apparently nothing more to do at that moment, he sits idly as the song plays, elbows on the counter in front of the board, looking around in a supervisory manner, as if to make sure everything's running smoothly, nothing in need of immediate attention.

OK, the view from the sidewalk's great, but now, I need to MEET that guy!  Shake his hand, talk to him!  I need to SEE this stuff up close!  To be in this inner sanctum of broadcasting!  Through the door at 110 N. El Dorado Street, Stockton, California!  The KJOY lobby.  The receptionist, a sweet young lady, greets me.  "Hi," I reply, asking as politely as I know how if I can see the studio and meet the jock in there.  Alas, it was not to be.  I was politely turned down, with the explanation that the DJ "kinda needs to get it together" as she put it.  "OK, thanks anyway."  But I before I turn to leave, I notice a spiral staircase just to her left going downstairs into the ground.  "That's our production studio," she informed me.  "That's where we make our commercials."  "Oh, OK, thanks again," I say as I make my way toward the door to rejoin the rest of humanity.  "Thanks for coming in!" she says cheerfully as I depart the Great 128 to begin a year of devoted listenership from afar.

The DJ I watched on the air that day?  His sign in the Weber Avenue window said: "Roy Williams"


“The Milk Stool” by Bill Bishofberger

A fond memory of mine was having to come into the studio about 30 minutes before your shift began to program KJAX FM, then a Beautiful Music station and automated. It was at the time in the same room as KJOY, but behind sliding glass doors to reduce the clicking of the tape decks turning on and off. This was way before a computer was used to program the station. We had pegs that were slid up and down to grooves corresponding to tape reels or cart machines. The station was not programmed to time, but to events. So a peg would be pushed up or down to a grove marked “1” for Reel-to-Reel #1, then a peg slid in the next row to “3” for Reel-to-Reel #3, etc. A peg for every event that was to happen (each commercial, each station break, etc.) It took some time to do, so there was a milk stool that we could sit on to do this chore.


“Stockton”…the Soap Opera by Bill Bishofberger

One of the fun ideas became a contest event. Pat Kelley created a radio soap opera based on the popular TV series “Dallas”. It was called “Stockton” and instead of the Ewing family, it followed the adventures of the Boozing family.

I remember being “Bobby Boozing” who seemed to have a mayonnaise fetish. The short daily program went on for quite some time and involved almost every employee of the station who recorded voice tracks.

As ideas were finally running out, it was suggested that the program end in a cliff-hanger and that a contest be created around it.

Towards the end, each character teamed up with one other character searching for the cases of “Apple Ripple” that had sunk in the Delta near Bethel Island. The last episode had every character diving into the water to retrieve the cases.

Now the contest began. Callers were to guess which “couple” would come up with the Apple Ripple. A correct guess won an evening cruise on the Delta Queen with the KJOY staff.

Lea Isetti, our receptionist, created Stockton Apple Ripple labels and attached them to Thunderbird Wine bottles. Each contest winner was given a bottle as they left the boat. There were several bottles left over and Lea would hide them amongst the boxwoods in the planters that were in front of the station. The homeless in the area would come by nightly to see if any bottles had grown in the boxwoods that day.

"Stockton's infamous sunken Apple Ripple brought to you by K-JOY"


"April Fools" by Steve Lyle

It was April Fool's Day, 1988, well past the KJOY glory days. The new, please-be-the-Savior morning team, Kelly and Mark, created an on-air prank - a radiation leak from the now-defunct Ranco Seco Nuclear Power Plant, which was roughly 30 miles to the northeast, in Sacramento County. I helped write material that was delivered between music, weather and commercial breaks with a straight face, so to speak. Some of it, if I recall correctly, hinted outright at a spoof, but other segments carried the sheen of authenticity. The "radiation leak" went on for the duration of the show.

In retrospect, it was uninspired and, arguably, highly irresponsible - the type of stunt that has blown up in the faces of countless radio stations over the years. But not KJOY. It seems that nobody noticed. If memory serves, there wasn't a single phone call! I went home that night wondering if it was actually possible that I worked at a station with zero listeners.

***

(Editors note: One April Fool's Day prank that DID work was a "concert" featuring Madonna, Wham and other famous groups at the "Stockton Stadium", just off the Ort Lofthus Freeway. We had live broadcasts from the stadium and from the KJOY helicopter. Of course, there was no concert, stadium, KJOY helicopter, and the Crosstown Freeway was still the "Freeway to Nowhere"...but that did not keep people from calling us...and Tower Records...trying to get tickets).


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