My Anchorage Radio Days
by Michael R Dougherty
The following is an interview with the Anchorage Coke Show's very own, Ron Moore.Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:
Ron, when and how did you first get started in radio?Ron:
My first interest in Radio was in Chicago when as a member of a south side youth group, I was picked to work with one of Chicago's foremost radio DJ's to prepare for the citywide annual banquet.
Howard Miller of WIND at the time was one of the first music radio personalities in the country and had his own weekly TV show where he hosted the popular music stars in person.
His influence on the music scene was heavy and was later one of the first (even before Dick Clark) to be charged with payola.
He was to MC the banquet, so 6 of us brought information about our organizations to him. When the banquet was over he asked me to prepare information weekly about my high school, Fenger High, which had 4800 students.
Later, I got to read the news on the air and though I was frightened silly it started a love for entertaining and communicating with people that never left me.
I met several of the early rock N' roll artists in the early days of that genre, such as The Diamonds, Tommy Sands, Sam Cooke and Howard's wife June Valli. She had numerous hits including Crying in the Chapel.
Shortly afterward I moved to Alaska. A spirited DJ, Robert Louis Fulton, whom they called Steamboat, was an advisor for an Anchorage Teen Club. When we talked about Radio, he could tell I was interested, and I landed a Saturday afternoon show on KBYR called Teen Time.
That was summer 1954, and I played music that nobody else was playing even before Alan Freed coined the term Rock and Roll. The Crew Cuts Sh-Boom, Kay Starr's Rock & Roll Waltz, even some Rhythm and Blues and within a year, Elvis and the rest is History.
Back then, KBYR was a 250-watt station with future legends like Ruben Gaines and Ed Stevens that I was to learn a great deal.
More on KBYR later. But I have to add that I started there as a teenager in 1954 and in 1969, Augie Hiebert of Northern Television, which owned KBYR (along with KNIK and KTVA), hired me as a programming consultant. I eventually became President of the Anchorage Division and KBYR.
Talk about something even my wildest dreams never envisioned.Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:
Ron, how did you get the idea for The Coke Show?Ron:
The original Coke Show originated from the studios of KENI Radio and started in early 1959 when two staff members sold Bob Winslow of Anchorage Cold Storage on the idea of sponsorship by Coke.
The one-hour show was the only outlet for Top 40 type radio playing the hits of the day.
Robert Fogelsong (later married my sister Sondra) and Kay Guthrie (later owned a successful advertising agency) put the sponsorship together along with a one-year contract for me. I will try to detail that later because it was both hard to live up too and a blessing that helped me do many things other announcers couldn't do because they didn't have the sponsorship behind them. And Rock N' Roll was still too new for many stations and sponsors.
I had been discharged from the Army in May 1958 and was hired by KFQD to play their Middle of the Road music (Doris Day, Frank Sinatra) from 6pm to midnight. Except there was a local record shop (Dorn's Den of Music that was in the old Bus Depot) that sponsored playing new music 6 times per night.
By 1958 that included Elvis, The Platters, etc.
During the day the station's phones rang requesting some of this music. It eventually drove the station crazy, and the management decided that was enough. So, I went to KENI in early 1959, which at that time was called the Ivory Tower of radio, but they played the same music as KFQD and aired the old network radio shows such as Gunsmoke.
So, the one-hour Coke Show was all there was for current music and then a survey came out that showed KFQD's largest audience was at night.
Bob and Kay put a big promotion together after KFQD decided they would become a TOP 100 Radio Station and The Royal Coachman would return to QD to do 7pm to midnight, including the Coke Show each evening 7-8pm at the studio.
That took place in late summer but Bob and Kay had other ideas even though they were still working for KENI, and they were representing me on QD. They talked to Coke, Sears, and Ruby and Roy Westin of The Bun Drive about this crazy idea of a Live radio show “inside” the Bun that was originally turned down by KFQD management.
However, as time went by, the dollars that would come to the station convinced the Chief Engineer, Bill Duck, to look at the feasibility of originating everything, turntables, tape decks, etc.; from the Bun.
That's when things got crazy and the next thing I know there's this small building with lots of glass in the front being built atop the Bun, not inside.
It was supposed to be ready in November. But ATU couldn't get the broadcast lines to the Bun forever. Then finally, it was almost Christmas when they came through and Bill said I was going on the air Christmas Eve because it was QD's Christmas Gift to its listeners.Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary
Thank you, Ron, for sharing your fascinating story, and thank you for all the fun we had listening to the Coke Show. Wonderful Anchorage Memories.
BONUSCoke Show Memories
You can hear the Coke Show once again and remember all the fun right now.
Take a look at Coke Show Memories