By Roberta Glick 
July 1983 – Newsreal. Page 11

A local non-profit community radio station has been officially recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and has adopted the call letters KXCI. The station operates at 91.7 FM and will be on the air sometime in August, said John Cannon, director of development for the Tucson-based Foundation for Creative Broadcasting. [1]

Station Manager Frank C. Milan said the station will fill a void in Tucson radio. “The idea is not to compete with other stations but to complement them by programming things which aren’t being addressed,” he added. Since KXCI will have a wide variety of music ranging from morning meditation music to punk rock, a program guide for listeners will be printed and will be distributed at 7-Eleven stores and local record shops. Programs will move incrementally from one musical format to another to avoid unnaturally abrupt changes in format. For example, the station may start out with classical music, then move to jazz and gradually go down the line to rock and roll or more progressive forms of music.

Milan said KXCI already has an extensive jazz collection donated by the wife of Tucson resident John MacBride after he died. The collection is said to contain nearly every jazz album released between 1940 and 1965. In addition to music, the station will broadcast public affairs shows and old radio programs such as “The Shadow,” which was also donated by a Tucson resident.

The station is especially interested in producing opinionated and controversial programs. Commentaries will be no longer than eight minutes and will often include music relevant to particular issues. KXCI also encourages musicians in town to perform live concerts on the air.

“Anyone who wants to be on the air, live or on tape, must come to the station and fill out a program motivation sheet,” Cannon explained. “The Community Advisory Committee will then consider it and ask whether or not the community needs this.” Cannon said if enough musicians come to the studio and do the paper work there is a possibility of having a live rock and roll show aired regularly. “There is a lot of responsibility on these bands to take the initiative,” expressed Cannon. “If there is a big request for this type of show, it is evident there is a need in the community for it.” Milan said KXCI will feature personality shows in which disc jockeys can relax and “be themselves.” They will be encouraged not to copy the voice of disc jockeys on commercial stations.

“We want our DJs to talk as if they are in your living room instead of talking to 500 people in a studio. We are not interested in voice training,” he added. In addition to radio broadcasting KXCI will run a radio production school. Volunteers who want to work for the station will receive a free training session that will total 10 to 40 hours. This training session begins sometime in July. Funds for KXCI have been obtained primarily through benefit concerts, donations, and grants. The station recently received a $75,000 grant from the City of Tucson in order to train low-to-moderate income people in radio production.

KXCI will use production equipment donated by easy-listening station KJOY (95 FM). The rest of the equipment, that Cannon said totals about $65,000, was purchased with money from fund drives and donations. The station hopes to have all the equipment paid off in five years, he said. KXCI’s station building is located at 265 E. Congress St in Downtown Tucson.

Radio Free America

July 15-August 12, 1983 – Newsreal. Page 10

The previous claim that the alternatives of KXCI and Virgin Vinyl are both concrete and symbolic extensions of democracy beyond the confines of the radio dial rests on the fulfillment of community responsibilities. There are responsibilities attached to the privilege of making a profit from radio– whether it’s advertisers or station owners– responsibilities that extend far beyond a few late-night public service announcements.

KXCI and Virgin Vinyl are examples of those responsibilities being taken seriously after years of neglect and/or condescending arrogance on the part of certain radio station owners and other powers that be, an arrogance that continues today in some circles. To preserve these alternatives to corporate rock radio is an act extending and rooting basic freedoms and rights as citizens of this nation. Freedom of speech, the pursuit of happiness, the right to know and freedom of expression.

Radio was so exciting in the ‘60s– with Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Desmond Dekker, the Supremes, Dylan and the Who all airing in the same show– not because the programmers were more public minded than those today; but because the possibility of such narrowly defined programming as Arbitron and the other computerized formats hadn’t been realized. Now, with new developments and possibilities in data processing and profit making comes the need to review and debate accompanying responsibilities.

And, if established, most often conservative stations can’t “justify” some specialty programming among their many broadcast hours (as with Virgin Vinyl), the community has a right to expect - and in many cases has received - other forms of cooperation and access, financially, or with the donation of equipment, or the sharing of expertise to help secure the “amazing variety” and diversity of KXCI.

Several stations have taken up this challenge, and the response is often more than a simple expression of good will. On commercial radio KLPX broadcasts a fine example of the rewards to be reaped by opening things up for new and local– “non-commercial”– talent to be heard by the public. The experiment has been so successful that they’ve repeatedly expanded the Virgin Vinyl show. Wonder of wonders, the target of the corporate advertisers– young, white males– more than tolerates listening to something new, and different from what we’re told they enjoy. There’s a lesson here that only the most jaded corporate heads should have trouble learning.

The Golden Age of early Tucson Radio

When rock and roll itself was more diversely represented on the radio, listeners could hear what turned on other people. Tolerance for the music of others was bred. More open-minded attitudes tended to educate everyone in more healthy social relations. A perfect example is Aretha Franklin’s “Think”– “think what you’re trying to do to me.” (Atlantic) Consider the effects of “Do right woman/do right man” or “Try a little tenderness.”

Then, there was far more appreciation of the responsibilities that accompany freedoms. Today Billy Joel’s “Tell Her About It” and Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money,” are relatively isolated examples of previously more prominent views. Whether or not they’re our favorite style, they teach understanding as they entertain. Many hard rock programmers and DJs promote just the opposite outlook, fostering a closed view that excludes all but the chosen sound. Now, when more and more understanding is necessary between the sexes to chart a pleasurable course through the pitfalls of changing sexual roles; narrow formats breed intolerance and make it harder to find satisfaction … (I, can’t get no ...)

All this is not to say that hard rock is bad. But there is tolerant rock and intolerant rock. Neither is it to say that there is no place of repetition and continuity, nor even a degree of conformity. It is to say that narrow, exclusive radio formats shouldn’t stand alone. And in an ever-changing world, the bottom line can be seriously affected. Though the Arbitron stations were guaranteed their narrow market, other stations have had a chance to expand with creative programming. Experiments in Los Angeles, New York and Detroit with quite varied formats have blown the formula stations right out of the water.

But even if there isn’t a rush to expand formats across the dial, we in Tucson have unique alternatives that deserve our active support. And while the experiments at KXCI and KLPX’s Virgin Vinyl offer a change of pace as true alternatives, they are also supplements to the dominant programming. KXCI and Virgin Vinyl shouldn’t be heard as threats to established programmers as much as they are important parallel elements of our local culture– the new kids in the family of our growing community. Co-existence is fundamental. What makes KWFM or KHYT, or even KXEW popular doesn’t directly affect KXCI, and vice versa. It is the existence of alternatives that makes everyone’s lives fresher and easier, and makes radio listening a creative pleasure.

Other radio stations have a very direct interest in flourishing alternatives. KXCI and Virgin Vinyl are a testing ground for new music. If a tune airs on the alternatives and gets hot locally, such new hits can be picked before the conservative stations, and the national radio network can be influenced.

With the alternative shows staying up to date and a step ahead of the listening audience, established programmers and DJs have another resource from which to draw to enliven their attempts to lead and follow public opinion in the market place. KXCI also trains people in broadcasting skills, and is contributing to the development of an effective local labor pool.

From KXCI’s First Newsletter

KXCI newsletter logo and content, March 1983, The Magazine archives.

The origins of KXCI-FM go back to 1978 when seven community-minded individuals started the Foundation for Creative Broadcasting and began the long process of organization and federal approval. The first breakthrough was in May of 1981 when a new frequency was assigned to Tucson at 91.7 FM. The Construction Permit, for authority to build the station, was approved in October of 1982. Then in January, we moved into our new Downtown studio location at 145 E. Congress Street. We’re on our own!

There is more to the ears than currently meets the airwaves. Radio today is an exercise in minimalism. The rule seems to be minimum overhead, maximum adherence to marketing formulas. Unique music, live performances, drama, children’s programming, comedy, cultural critiques or simple new ideas while easily adapted to radio are almost never used in radio programming. Many of the sounds that add to the listener’s quality of life sounds that lull, inform, excite, thrill, appeal, please or infuriate, never get broadcast. Community Radio KXCI-FM can change all that!

We have room to program everything. Imagine the return of eccentric DJ’s, a locally written and performed radio play, an educational and entertaining hour for your children, cultural news, and airtime for special interest groups that would be otherwise without a forum. The station is engineered to play like a seismograph of its listeners.

The station is a medium. We are the message (and in stereo, too!). We will complement what is currently on Tucson radio.

[1] The Foundation for Creative Broadcasting co-founder Frank Milan was also one of the co-founders of Southwest Alternatives Institute, Inc. in 1977. SAI became a sponsor for the Tucson Teen, Magazine and Entertainment Magazine newspapers in 1982.

2014 © Entertainment Magazine and BZB Publishing, Inc., Robert Zucker and Newsreal, Jonathan L.

All rights are reserved. These are the compiled works of contributed materials from writers and photographers previously published in the Tucson Teen, Magazine, Entertainment Magazine and Newsreal newspapers, and from Entertainment Magazine On Line ( No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher.

Permission is granted to use quotes and cite references to the contents in this book with proper credit noted: “Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades,” © 2014 Entertainment Magazine.”

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Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades
Volume 1

by Robert E. Zucker

The local entertainment scene in Tucson, Arizona during the 1950s through 1985 was vibrant– from the ‘50s rock and roll of the Dearly Beloved to the ‘80s with the Pills, Giant Sandworms and everything in between– classic rock, disco, alternative, punk, hard core, country, swing and Big Band. Hundreds of bands and thousands of entertainers over three decades. Within these pages are the memories and the experiences of those people and places.

These are the original articles and interviews published in several local newspapers that covered the Tucson entertainment scene over the decades. Follow their stories through the years– the big breaks, record releases, hot performances and duds, break ups, tragedies, personal insights and struggles.

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