I am very pleased to present an air check of Toronto media legend David Pritchard courtesy of radio super fan Kal Raudoja . I have posted a number of air checks from CHUM FM that I recorded myself. Unfortunately I do not have that much tape from CHUM FM during their peak in the early 1970’s and I was ecstatic when I found out that Kal had quite the collection of these vintage air checks. These are certified radio treasures and I want to thank Kal for sharing them on this site.
This clip consists of various segments that may have been recorded on or around January 4, 1971. David was a fan of experimental electronic music and also an artist in his own right, releasing the album Nocturnal Earthworm Stew in 1976. He sounds way ahead of his time here in 1971 as a DJ performance artist experimenting with tape loops and other techniques.
During the first part of the clip David is playing the debut album by Emerson, Lake and Palmer which had not yet been released in North America. You will hear him first at 15:35 in between album sides and then again at 34:50 after side two is played. After that the clip consists of various segments and David can be heard sporadically throughout. I’m a purist when it comes to air checks and rarely tamper with the original presentation but I had to make some edits to the ELP, Phil Ochs and Pentangle musical selections. All of the other audio comes from the original source tape and the quality improves during the second half. Some of the other music fragments found on the tape which I did not edit in any way include bits and songs by The Jeff Beck Group, Frank Zappa, Muddy Waters and Lenny Breau at the very end with his version of Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
This is the first of what I hope will be several early 70’s CHUM FM air checks from Kal’s collection. I will let Kal give you some background below about his interest in radio and CHUM FM.
What we have here is an example of progressive rock/ free form radio at it’s weirdest, wackiest and best. This was before the “suits” and the still-wet-behind-the-ears MBA’s got their hands on rock radio formats and removed any innovation, spontaneity and personality dj’s. This was when radio dj’s were able to play whatever they pleased, and say whatever they wanted, especially late at night. Frank Zappa made a point of listening to CHUM FM whenever he was in Toronto and even HE was freaked out by the zanyness!
I’ve been lucky to find three large collections of CHUM FM airchecks on reel-to-reel audio tapes, all dating from the early 1970’s. The largest collection came from Dave Pritchard himself. I met him about 20 years ago and, to make a long story short, he lent me his collection of his own air checks for me to log and catalog. Needless to say I did not hesitate to help him out and with his blessing made cassette copies for myself to expedite the logging process using my trusty Sony Walkman.
Another collection was from someone who made a point of recording the British “Goon” shows on CHUM FM. He used extra thin, long 7″ tapes and may have used timers, since he caught regular CHUM FM broadcasts at the end of some shows and even much longer shows when the Goon show was cancelled here and there. Fortunately he didn’t erase anything.
The other collection was from a guy called Steve Buck who was into the late 1960’s and early 1970’s music and radio scene and recorded all kinds of great stuff like Dave Pritchard’s Beatles documentaries, The Ugly Ducklings “live” on CHUM AM , interviews with the Paupers and the Quiet Jungle and many CHUM FM air checks.
Fortunately I’m of the generation that was on board when CHUM AM became Canada’s first 24 hour rock and roll radio station in May 1957 AND was on board when progressive CHUM FM went on air in 1968. I was also lucky to get familiar with reel to reel tape recorders at an early age since my father had bought one in 1955 and I was required to learn how to operate it for various reasons. As well as buying records back then I also started to record songs, and then realized that recording not only songs but also the dj’s, newscasts, jingles etc. (ie air checks) would be neat and nice to keep. I was recording air checks 20 years before I even knew there was such a word as “air check”.
My claim to fame was recording what now appears to be the first known CHUM AM air check from July 1957 and catching the CHUM and CKEY newscasts of the Buddy Holly plane crash from February 1959. The latter has been used in many documentaries.
I distinctly remember in the summer of 1968 word around town of a new radio station playing interesting songs not being played on AM stations. A friend was enthralled about hearing the long version of You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge and I with the long version of Light My Fire by the Doors. I didn’t even know there were long versions of these and many other songs. The only long rock and roll song that I had known until then was Going Home by the Rolling Stones which I still love. Other long songs that I’ve loved since, were things like In A Gadda Da Vida, Time Has Come Today,Black Magic Woman, Magic Carpet Ride, Jump in the Fire, Baby Please Don’t Go ( Beacon Street Union), and my all-time favorite, I Heard it Through the Grapevine by CCR. Anyway, in the summer of 1968 I remember talking to someone on the phone and telling them about all the great music on the new CHUM FM. Hearing the long version of Light My Fire made me an instant fan of CHUM FM!
Since our family didn’t have an FM radio at the time I went out and bought a cheap table model radio with FM on it and had it playing in my room in the background most times. My main interest was to hear songs you wouldn’t hear on AM radio and of course songs with long instrumental breaks.
Anyway, our plan is to post some more CHUM FM air checks here and for me to post some on YouTube and on my own website which is at : http://radio50s60s.com/ . My first YouTube posting may be a great aircheck of WKNR FM (Detroit/Dearborn) from the summer of 1968 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, with dj Jerry Taylor. Great songs and a great ad for the THE Pink Floyd concert July 12 and with the WHO on July 13! Tickets were $2.00 and $4.50 respectively! My main goal is to find any CHUM FM airchecks from 1968 and 1969 and will pay or trade from my vast collection of air checks from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.