Anchorage Radio Days
with Jerry Rose
by Michael R Dougherty
The following is an interview with one-time Anchorage Alaska radio DJ, Jerry Rose (who's real name is Peter Bie).Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
Peter, we'll call you by your Anchorage radio name “Jerry Rose” for this interview, OK? — When did you first get into radio?Jerry Rose:
I had been wanting to do radio since I was 10 years old. It just fascinated me.
In early ‘64, I had recently turned 16 and was a sophomore in high school. It took me two tries at passing the FCC 3rd Class Radio Operator’s license test, but in those days in radio you were required to take transmitter meter readings, so hence the operator’s license. I finally passed it.
And when I received my treasured license, it was stamped with the date March 27, 1964
. It had been processed at the Anchorage office of the FCC on the same day as the Good Friday earthquake!
I spent that summer in Idaho and when I returned I went to KJNO-AM in Juneau and asked for a job. Which I got!
I was spinning the tunes and getting more and more interested in playing the Top 40 records than most of the middle of the road stuff the station played. More than once I was warned that I needed to stick to the MOR (Middle of the Road) format. But, being the know-it-all guy I was, I kept mixing in more and more Top 40, until the station manager decided it was enough, and I could look elsewhere for employment.
So, I promptly went down to the offices of KINY-AM (the only other station in town) and signed on for the 7pm-12midnight shift. By now this was the nearing the summer of ’65 and for the next year I had the time of my life.
How many people can claim to be a senior in high school during the day and doing a Top 40 radio show at night! I was having a ball.Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
How did you make the move to Anchorage and KENI radio?Jerry Rose:
I was graduating from Juneau-Douglas High School in May of ’66 and my mother and sister were moving to Seward in order for my mom to take a new job.
I was working at KINY-AM in Juneau at the time and asked if there might be an opening at KENI (both stations were owned by Midnight Sun Broadcasting). As it turned out, there was a shift available (midnight to 6am) and within a week of graduating from high school, I was at KENI, where I first encountered Ron Moore.
In June, the plane carrying the Beatles to their concerts in Japan was diverted due to a typhoon, and they landed at Anchorage International. (Check out this story Face to Face with John Lennon
about the Beatles in Anchorage – you'll love it).
It didn’t take long for the word to get out and, while the Beatles were sequestered at the Westward Hotel, hundreds of Anchorage kids showed up. I was pulled in to handle the control room while Ron Moore and several other KENI employees were on site broadcasting from the Westward, hoping against hope that the Beatles would be able to come down and meet the fans. It never happened. And their escape from the Anchorage Westward hotel
was worthy of a good caper film.Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
What was it like to do the Coke Show for the first time?Jerry Rose
Doing the Coke Show for the first time was a little nerve wracking, considering you’re playing live to an audience in their cars. But it didn’t take long for me to settle in and just enjoy playing the hits.
It was fun having people come in and out of the booth upstairs; “the chicken coop” as we called it. And taking requests, in some cases with a short dedication, always made somebody in a car in the lot yell out… or hide their face. It was a great way to meet your listeners.
By the way, I first met Mike of Anchorage Memories when Ron Moore offered Mike the position of assisting the DJ during the Coke Show. Ron gave Mike the on-air name of “Mighty Michael”.
Take a look at A Fun View from the Chicken Coop
and remember.Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
Your radio career was interrupted by two tours of duty in Vietnam. What was that like?Jerry Rose
I did end up serving 19 months in Vietnam, the first 12 as a military journalist posted near Saigon (’67-68) and the second 6 months as a door gunner on a helicopter with the 1st CAV (’68-69). I am currently the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218, in Santa Barbara, CA. Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
After you returned from serving in the Army, you moved from KENI radio to KBYR. How did that come about? Jerry Rose
Ron Moore had been in talks with owner Augie Hiebert and eventually cemented a deal in which KBYR would become the rival to KENI.
Ah, nothing like a Top 40 radio war to heat things up.
Ron asked me if I wanted to come over to the station and I took about 10 seconds to say yes. All of us who were involved in that station from 1969 on had a ball… and turned it into the #1 station in the market. Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
You hosted The Varsity Show
the last year it was on the air at KTVA channel 11. What are your memories of doing a weekly teen dance program on live TV?Jerry Rose
One never thinks that what you’re currently doing will just “disappear” from the airwaves.
We always managed to produce a fun show and the kids always had a great time on the Varsity Show. Shoot, I was barely a kid myself. And the Varsity Show crew behind the scenes kept us moving along and focused on what we were doing.
When the Varsity Show was cancelled, the end came with plenty of mixed feelings. But times were changing, sponsors were changing and TV itself was changing. Little did we know what was to come over the next couple of decades.Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
You worked in radio in Hawaii for a time, and while you were there, you auditioned for a part on the original “Hawaii 5-0” television series and got the part. That must have been exciting, can you tell us about that? Did you spend some time with the show?Jerry Rose
Wow, that just brought back a few memories.
Actually, the audition for “5-0” went well, but I never got the part.
However, it was fun just being at the sound stage they had built for the show.Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
What would you like to say to your Anchorage fans that remember listening to Jerry Rose on Anchorage radio?Jerry Rose
Thanks for being part of a wonderful time in radio, when listening for the next hit from the Beatles, the Stones, or any of the artists of the time was just plain exciting.
I was a mere lad of 18 when I came to Anchorage and KENI, later to be heard on KBYR and even later, for a time on KFQD. In that summer of ’66 – and after the Beatles had gone — we auctioned off for charity the sheets, cups, glasses, and anything else the Westward hotel would give us from their room. Who gets to do that anymore?
I remember the first time playing Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Young) and the phones rang off the hook.
Radio today is nothing like it was then. We had fun on the air, we had fun with the listeners, and we felt we were a part of the culture and the generation of the time.
I was lucky enough to come into Top 40 radio in its heyday in 1966 and ride it for many years. We’ll never have that kind of era or programming again. Think about it, playing Frank Sinatra (Strangers In the Night) back-to-back with The Beatles (Paperback Writer) or the Stones.
Here’s to the Boomers!Anchorage Alaska Memories – Mike and Mary:
Wow, thank you for all those Anchorage Alaska Memories Jerry Rose. We always enjoyed listening to you on the radio in Anchorage, and it was wonderful to “remember when” with you.