Welcome Back! To a time when rock and roll meant the Beatles, garage bands and Motown, and a 5000 watt AM station in Dearborn, Michigan transformed Detroit radio. Return with us now to experience again the sights, sounds and culture surrounding Detroit's number one '60s rock-radio phenomenon. Explore Keener13.com and celebrate the legend!
“Aircheks”, recordings of DJs with the music cut short. The coin of the realm when jocks were looking to move onward and upward. Originally, airchecks appealed primarily to those of us in the business. “Inside baseball” as it were. But as time passes, the content of these small snippets of history have become touchstones for a generation wanting to remember what life was like back in the day.
Keener13.com has an extensive library of aircheks featuring WKNR personalities, from the earliest days of the station, right up to the very last song Keener ever played. But we’re not the only place where radio’s past is still alive and well. Of the free aircheck sites, airchexx.com is one of the best. You’ll find some Keener stuff there, along with great memories from great talent who plied the trade in other markets.
And if you want to see what it was like to stand behind the microphone and make the magic. Art Vuolo’s amazing VuoloVideo.com website is the place to go. Art is know in the business as “Radio’s Best Friend”. But we like to think of him as the foremost Radio Archivist in broadcast history. Nobody has recorded more DJs at more stations. You get that fly-on-the-wall experience we all wish we could have had when radio was king and everything was Keener.
It was the ultimate dream come true for a Keenerfan. An invitation-only 50th birthday party for our favorite radi0 station at the Red Eye Grille in Manhattan. Many of the WKNR Keymen live here now and those who didn’t came from every other corner of the country to celebrate lifelong friendships and remember Camelot.
That’s what the Keener era was to most of them. It was the best team they ever worked with, creating a product that was so powerful that it overwhelmed Detroit radio even with a pencil thin signal that was one of the market’s weakest. Read more…
When we think about our own relationships with WKNR, they invariably gravitate to the air personalities. Keener emerged from the pack with a carefully crafted playlist, but the real magic were the Keener Keymen of Music. These were the entertainers who ultimately invented the WKNR vibe and elevated it to a high art.
Consultant Mike Joseph crafted the original on-air strategy, but those who were there report that it was quickly modified, with a total focus on connecting with the audience. A culture of “intelligent flexibility” emerged, that empowered the air personalities to take calculated risks, trusting their own sense for what the listener wanted.
The true key, of course, was in the hiring. Frank Maruca pulled together a series of all-star line-ups. Radio pros who were still on their way up the ladder of success, people who had the drive and the desire to learn the market and to create an entertainment and information service that added unique value. Read more…
Here’s a trivia question. When Bob Green came back on the former WKNR airwaves for the 2009 Woodward Dream Cruise, what was the first song he played? You guessed it. “Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful.
During the Keener era, you didn’t need to drive to Cedar Point. Edgewater Park was in the neighborhood. So were Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum (now called simply “The Henry Ford“). And, if you wanted to feel the wind in your hair, watching Detroit dance on your left and Windsor on your right, you could hop on the Bob Lo Boats and cruise to Bob Lo Island.
We were amazed at how the waiters at Lafayette Coney could remember a table full of orders, without writing any of them down, and get each of our dogs prepared exactly to our specifications. We didn’t need casinos to enjoy the magic of Greek Town and the three great concert venues were Cobo Arena, Olympia Stadium and the Masonic Auditorium. Read more…
Happy Memorial Day from all of us at Keener13.com! We regularly place re-creations of the WKNR Music Guide of the Keener Facebook Page. This one, from May 26, 1965 is particularly appropriate. It represents Keener at it’s musical best, with the wide variety of musical styles that typified the years before radio started to fragment. There’s Johnny Rivers’ “Seventh Son” rocketing into the survey at #23. “Mr. Tambourine Man” had the biggest jump, from #26 to #10. And, in the Detroit tradition, there’s a Motown Tune at the top of the heap. Elvis is still making hits and, ironically, there are no major British bands represented. The closest thing, The Beau Brummells, were a San Francisco unit that patterned their sound after what was coming out of England.
Our featured air check comes from May 31, 1965. It’s Jim Jeffries on overnights, proving that even in the wee hours, Keener was rockin. Woodward 3-8925 was jingling off the hook, even at 1AM and Jim attracted callers, talking with listener Byron B. Goodie an delivering on Byron’s “Pick and Play” for “Summer in the City”.
Jim came to Detroit via the Knorr operation in Battle Creek. If you listen closely to the Keener sonovox that was part of the WKNR imaging, you’ll hear that it’s pronounced “Keefer”, a reference to WKFR, Keener’s Cereal City Sister.
Need to get in the mood for the holiday? Enjoy this Youtube video of the number one song from Memorial Day weekend, 1965!
On Halloween night, 1963, WKMH, a perennial also-ran in the Detroit radio race, began a transformation that would broadcasting history. It began with 24 hours of halloween programming, followed by “The Battle of the Giants” where listeners literally decided exactly what would be played on the air. What followed was and amazing run from the bottom to the top of the ratings. In 72 days WKNR became the most listened to rock radio station in the Motor City.
To celebrate the birth of Keener 13, former WKNR DJ Greg Innis will be broadcasting a special program on WCXI, AM 1160 in Detroit. Greg says, ” On Friday afternoon, November 1st, I will bring many Keener airchecks, promos and jingles join Jimmy James as we pay tribute to Keener 13. We will also count down the entire 1st-ever Keener music guide. Hopefully we can talk on the air to a couple of former Keener jocks from the 60′s, as well as hear from various listeners as they share their memories of WKNR.
The show will air from 2:PM to 5:PM (EST). If you have a hard time getting the signal, you can hear it on the WCXI web-site. Simply type in WCXI AM 1160 and click on where it says listen live.”
All of us at Keener13.com hope you’ll celebrate here as well. Explore our exclusive air check archive, page through our complete digital library of WKNR Music Guides and share your own Keener memories on our Keener13.com Facebook page.
WKNR’s prime was all too brief, but for so many of us who grew up in Detroit in the 1960s, it was the soundtrack of our lives. And as long as we have memories, Keener Lives!
Scott Regen is alive and well and living in Florida. After a long and fruitful career in broadcasting, the record business and journalism, The Head Burger now writes occasional Op Eds for the Orlando Sentinel, teaches meditation and enjoys his grandchildren. His wisdom fits well in this space, where we celebrate the soundtrack of our young lives, while fully facing the adventures ahead.
Written on August 24, 2011 -
This past Sunday was National Senior Citizens Day. It seems like a good time to reflect on the value our culture places on — youth.
I recently overheard a small boy with his family in a restaurant. An adult asked how old he was. He responded that he was 4.
He was next asked, “When will you be 5?” Everyone laughed when he answered, “When I’m done being 4.”
Unknowingly, he echoed former Harvard professor Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and his 1971 book, “Be Here Now.” And Eckhart Tolle’s 1997 New York Times best-seller, “The Power of Now. Oprah Winfrey brought Tolle’s book to our awareness, as well as “A Course in Miracles,” which Tolle quotes.
All three books advise: We can’t be 5 when we’re 4, 40 when we’re 50, or 50 when we’re 60. We can only be who we are — now.
So the downside of anti-aging is, first: It’s impossible. Second: It guarantees a psychological denial of all we’ve been and done. Third: It denies who we are now.Perhaps it’s a lighter form of anti-aging — hair coloring. Or a harsher form — plastic surgery. Either way, it affirms being or looking younger is better than being or looking older. And because we’re older, we’re somehow not good enough, and must try to look younger.
Why do we do it? Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote: “The birth of a human being is pregnant with meaning, why not death? For twenty years and more the growing man is being prepared for the complete unfolding of his individual nature, why should not the older man prepare himself twenty years and more for his death?”
Jung interprets our anti-aging masquerades: We’ve become a youth-obsessed culture and, of consequence, a death-fearing culture.
Even the young are handcuffed to the double bind, for they, too, will age.
Why have we bought into the competitiveness of being younger? What are we trying to prove and to whom? Why have we become so outer-approval focused? For whose approval, whose love, for whose “I’m OK” do we hunger? What are we not facing and why?
So, what can we do? We can acknowledge the truth of the Byrds’ No. 1 “Book of Ecclesiastes” song: “Turn! Turn! Turn! To everything there is a season.” And, we can become conscious of the unavoidable psychological conflicts anti-aging arouses. In these ways, we encourage gratification, meaning and love, toward all ages — now.
(1956) Elvis Presley's I Want You, I Need You, I Love You becomes his second number one record.
Number one on Keener this week in..
(1964) Where Did Our Love Go, Supremes
(1965) Nobody Knows What's Going On, Chiffons
(1966) See You in September, Happenings
(1967) I Wanna Testify, Parliaments
(1968) Sunshine of Your Love, Cream
(1969) Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones
(1970) Close to You, Carpenters
(1971) How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, Bee Gees