wkkd

READ THE WKKD STORY!!
I know that everyone remembers WKKD radio station! I happened to think that Lynchburg needed a little "SOUL" on the airwaves in 1967 and 1968! After spending the summer of 1966 in Chicago, Ill, my cousin told me to listen to their "Soul" radio station WVON. I was amazed from what I heard! I wished that Lynchburg had one of these....then I said why not? The only time you heard "Soul" music was staying up late and listening to WLAC out of Nashville, Tenn. and falling asleep in class the next day, or listening to far away WPXI on 910kc. from Roanoke! Trying to pick up static filled WPXI ended when WLLL came on the air on 930kc, and you couldn't pick them up anymore! 
 
That is when I started experiments in transmitters and finally got one to work on the AM dial! I noted everything about WVON, what they said, what they played, and even got the name "Mad Lad" from one of their DJ's the late Mr. E. Rodney Jones!  For an interview with the late E. Rodney Jones you can (CLICK HERE) 
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CLICK HERE) And go to a site where you can hear WVON air-checks as well as other "Soul" stations of the era! After a few blown circuits, and smoke filled bedrooms, I found a way to play records and talk over the air....quite a distance.  

My Science teacher, Mr. Clark gave me a few set crystals, but that put my signal on the shortwave band! I started out at 1000kc. on the dial, thanks to a set crystal device that put where you were on the dial, found in a box of army surplus. Mr. Jones my electric shop teacher gave them to me. WKDE radio station in Altavista had this spot on the dial (and still does) so I couldn't broadcast there till the station went off at sunset! It was funny, soon as the Country Music station went off, here I come on the same spot with James Brown!  I used to tell people to tune into WKDE and wait for me to come on! This got old quick when there was a long wait, and really got old when 50,000 watt WCFL (WMVP now) came blasting in from Chicago at night! My time to broadcast wasn't but an hour and a half at the most when 1000kc. was clear! Soon I moved to 540kc, all the way to the left of the dial and called myself "Corner radio!" I told everybody to turn their dial till it stopped in the left hand corner....No one found me there, not everyones radio stopped in the same place at the end of the dial. There was also a station (WSVA) at 550kc. which was in my way!  I finally settled on 630kc, and mail ordered a set crystal for that spot on the dial. There was no station within hundreds of miles on that spot on the dial. I then put up flyers all over the school with the latest records I was playing, and a pictures of a radio dial with a pointer where WKKD was located!

This station was operated from my home then at 15th & Pierce St. I had 15 watts of power near WLVA(590kc.). I covered College Hill and White Rock with no problem! On a good day I could reach all the way to Rivermont and Fairview Hgts. areas of Lynchburg. I got a few calls from the Concord area, for some reason the signal went to the east.  Other stations had a tall tower to broadcast from, I only had a long wire that went from the roof at my window, to a tall tree in my yard! I did have a red light blinking like the big stations that I made from a Christmas light blinker! I cut on the station when I got out of school, usually around 3:30PM till 7:00PM during the week. All afternoon on Saturdays, and my Moms Mahalia Jackson lp's were featured on Sundays! My staff included, Milbert  "Piggy" Megginson, Kenneth "The Androver" Banks, Ronnie "Soul Kid" Rathers, Chris Sharp, Mike "Rico" Harris, George "Speedy"  Walker, Troy "Jimmy Troy" Jones, Clay "Buckshot" James, Sam "Sugar Bear" Stevens, and Leroy "Dr. Soul" Copeland. WKKD was on for almost two years. During that time no DJ ever said a bad word over the air! The closest happened when I found Dad's stash of party Lp's by Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham! I previewed the good clean jokes, and played them between songs, but Redd Foxx didn't make it!! I had to get music the best way I could! One record cost 76cents, which was a lot back then! Leroy then worked in the record dept. at G.C. Murphys. We would push the fact that you could get these songs from Leroy at Murphys. He would let us keep the records to play on the station, as long as we said that you can pick up this song at G.C. Murphys every now and then. Leroy was selling records like hotcakes, featuring songs that were played on the station! I guess that people thought that if you were told to do your shopping someplace on the station that would help the station!? Well that was advertising, and it works like that today! Everyday at 5:00PM, I would have a countdown of the most popular songs...the "Top 5 at 5!" What would be number one today? Listen and find out!  

We all took turns with no pay to play "Soul" music on the station! Dawson "Sweetcake" Smith would bring over the latest from "the Jivers", Robert Tanner,  Joe Bradshaw, and others for me to play! If you would like to hear these songs, I have posted a few on my "the bands" page! I had people come by my house and donate money because they liked what I was doing! My sister took requests on the phone downstairs, even though we didn't  dare give out our telephone number on the air! Mom would get mad because while I was on the air my station produced static in the tv set and she couldn't watch "Edge of Night!"  

I had been on the air for months before my parents knew what I was doing!  A friend of my Dad's told him "You know that boy of yours is going to jail if he keeps broadcasting like that!" My Dad said "Broadcasting?...What do you mean, broadcasting??" Dad didn't come in my room at all....he might step on a live wire or something! 
 
Mr. Charles Mangum, running for Lynchburg City Council at the time, did a speech on my station! We did a voter registration project at the suggestion of Mr. Mangum for everybody not registered to vote to call in! We then would turn in the name, and that person was personally walked through the voteing process! Mr. Mangum lost the election, but he made a great showing which he credited to me and WKKD! 
 
The following is a true story as told by a trusted student who was there, and led to sports on WKKD! There was an incident where a loaded gun was brought to Dunbar in 1966. A group of students were playing with the gun when it was kicked out of a students hand. The gun went off, hitting a student in the leg. The Lynchburg newspaper found out about the story and sent a reporter and photographer to the scene behind the gym. Physical Education teachers Mr. Pinn and Mr. Cofield, not wanting any bad publicity for Dunbar, didn't want any pictures taken. When the photographer tried to push past Cofield to take the picture, Cofield pushed back with his hand over the lens of the camera. The cameraman ended up sprawled on the steps. The other cameraman took blow by blow pictures of the confrontation that ended up as a full page spread in the newspaper! Funny, no pictures of the injured student were taken! After refusal of any action against the teachers, the newspaper banned publishing anything from Dunbar! This ban was going on when I started WKKD. I started a 5:30PM Sports program on the station featuring Dunbar, who won the game, stats, ect! This was the only place you could get Dunbar information besides the bulletin boards around school! On the other hand, E.C.Glass got full page spreads and pictures of all their games....even if they lost! Below is the newspaper article:

 

I advertised the fact that you can go to the Hunton Y dance, the Whitehall School dance...ect. You couldn't find this coverage anywhere in the local community!  I would ride my bike to certain places in the city to see how the station was coming in. My radio had a strength meter on it to tell me how strong the signal was at a certain location!  

While out one day, I rode over to Va. College. I heard WKKD blasting out of one of the dorm rooms. There was a group of guys gathered around the radio. I found out they were from Philly, and missing the sounds of their home stations WDAS & WHAT! They were looking for a little music when they discovered WKKD. I asked the college kids "Well how do you like my station?" "Your station...kid on a bike...you're kidding right?" "I said keep listening...I'll be right back!" I went home and said..."This is for the Philly crew at Va. Seminary, thanks for listening!" 
I rode back to the college, and was treated to handshakes and compliments about WKKD! They helped me out by telling me what their Philly stations were doing, and giving me the latest music sheets from the station! I learned about dj's like Georgie Woods, Butterball and others! Butterball passed away, still at WDAS, in July 2012! I had people to come into range of the station, park, listen, and have dance gatherings right on the side of the street! I didn't need my radio sometimes, because you could walk down the street and hear one house after another...rockin! 

All around the area of the Hunton Y, the city was listening to WKKD! Word got around town that if you sat your radio near a hot water pipe, WKKD would really come in! I had a lot of listeners checking out the station in the bathroom! The only flaw in the station from not sounding like the other stations was that it had a bad holding device. In other words if you remember you had to keep tuning it in every twenty minutes or so because it would move suddenly on the dial a little! One listener would use two radios so that when it WKKD moved off a little, the other radio would catch it! The fact that WKKD moved on the dial a little was because I had high voltage on a certain electric tube called a 6L6! This poor tube put out the power on the station! In tec. terms, It wasn't supposed to have no more than 300 volts on it....I had 450+ volts!! That was my greatest expense. They cost $9.00! I was going through 6L6 tubes every few weeks! Electronic Service, on Park Ave. was stocking up the tubes just for me! A few "questionable associates" of mine were finding a stockpile of 6L6's. They didn't tell me where they came from, and I didn't ask! If the  bedroom light was out you could see the 6L6 glowing in beat with the music! I got this brilliant idea to put a container of ice near the tube and have a fan blow down on it! This worked a little and extended the life of the tube maybe another week! Once while I was on one of my bike trips...all of a sudden the station just stopped! I was way crosstown...so after some fast biking, I arrived to find the ice had fallen into the transmitter!! OH NO!! There wasn't too much damage, and I was back on the air the next day! I recently asked my "questionable associates"  where the tubes came from? I now know...but I am not going to put it here in the story!! Next time you see me, ask me...I'll tell you!  

At 7PM when I said goodnight and cut the station off, you could hear cars starting up and leaving throughout the area!! Dj's Jimmy Troy and Sam Stevens started radio stations in their areas of Lynchburg! WBON, and WSAM rebroadcast WKKD where it was weak in certain areas of Lynchburg. They would also program their own music, just like WKKD! In a small area of Lynchburg, you might pick up as many as three "Soul" stations at one time! We were determined to put "Soul music" in Lynchburg...some kind of way!!  

Then  Rock  & Roll station WLLL got mad and turned me in to the FCC (the radio station "police")! I was on one of my bike riding missions when I saw the FCC vehicle parked a block from my house. It was a Dodge stationwagon, sliver and gold in color  with goverment tags on it! I asked him what was he doing, and a lot of questions, and he acted like I wasn't ever there. He just kept taking reading with his device. On the back of his device was marked FCC! A guy that worked in radio told me that the FCC was going to get you....this must be it! That guy really paid attention to me when I asked him if he was looking for an "illegal" radio station! I then showed it to him, somehow hoping that he was going to grant me a license on my effort alone....no such luck! Ronnie "Soul Kid" Rathers was on the air, doing his thing, playing "Respect" by Aretha, when this guy and I came in! I just told him that he wanted to see the station. After a short tour, he told me outside that if I didn't stop broadcasting there would be trouble! THIS WAS A WARNING! When I didn't come on the next day, and I told people what had happened, I even got offers from the DHS football team to guard the station while I broadcast! I just told them "The party's over!"  I was on my front steps crying a few days later when Ron Joseph and Fletcher Hubbard came to my house! I thought this was more trouble....it wasn't!  
 
The station made such an impact in the area that then easy-listening formated WDMS, became WJJS, and hires me and two of my DJ's!  They told me later that they had better go get this kid with the Soul station before he ends up in jail! By the way...I only told Ronnie recently that the guy that came to visit that day was from the FCC! I know that if I had told Ronnie who this guy was back then, he would have left the record spinning and ran home! Anyway..I ended up working at WJJS in the afternoon, and Troy and Sam worked on the weekends. What a turn of events, the rest is history, including the ironic fact that the station that turned me in to the FCC is now owned by Gospel DJ, Fletcher Hubbard! In a note about WJJS, the station was on this new band FM. The only thing there at the time was elevator music, and classical stuff! The mgr. at Pecks department store couldn't give away an FM radio. After WJJS came on, FM sets were flying off the shelf, backordered, lines at the store to get one! It was a while before the store mgr. could explain what happened, and why the run on FM radios! I personally didn't think that FM was going to make it...boy was I wrong!! Now, you couldn't give me an AM station!

WKKD followed me to Hampton Institute, as a campus radio station and got me in trouble at the school in 1970! Dad had made me quit WJJS and attend college! After not letting me on the campus station WHOV, I got my radio fix by broadcasting from my dorm room on WKKD! After threats from the school, I pointed out in the handbook that there wasn't anything about bringing a radio station on campus! My grades showed that I wasn't interested in College, my Dad made a deal with me. I had a student deferment at the time, and I didn't want to be drafted! Dad said that if my draft number was high enough I could quit school and do what I wanted with my life! My number was 212!! I then took a full time position on WJJS to the dismay of my parents who wanted another teacher in the family!  

WKKD came back briefly as WJOK, "the big joke" in 1971 at 1110kc. on the dial. I was 16 back then, 20 in 1971, and me not wanting to go to jail cut off WKKD for good! I gave my equipment to a friend of mine John Brown who started, and got caught running an illegal Black Gospel station. WHGC at 1606kc. in Charlottesville, Va. was at the top right end of the AM dial broadcasting in 1976! When John got caught by the FCC, he got newspaper coverage! Read the articles right under my picture of WKKD above! 
 
 Recently I have been asked what did WKKD stand for? Usually "Call-letters" either stand for something, or just stand out?? WVON-"voice of the Negro", WWVA-Wheeling, West Virginia, WRVA-Richmond, Virginia, WLAC-"Life and Casualty Insurance Co." WLVA "Lynchburg, Va." Well, I found out later that there was a legit, at the time, WKKD on 1580kc. in Aurora, Ill. At last check, it was out of business! Here is the secret.....ready......are you sure....really really sure...WKKD stood for my number one snack....Krispy-Kreme Donuts!! OK....You can laugh now!!  

Be sure and read my WKKD story in the book "2011 Pirate Radio Annual" by Andrew Yoder! Ask for it on line or at your local book store!  

Thanks for reading and remembering my WKKD story....believe it or not...it was the best time I had in radio!! Yes....I watch the movie "Pirate Radio" a lot!

SPEAKING OF PIRATE RADIO, TUNE IN TO 87.9-FM IF YOU ARE NEAR MY HOUSE IN TIMBERLAKE/LYNCHBURG  FOR A SURPRISE!

DOES HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF? WKKD-AGAIN?

(CLICKHERE)
 
       
Da' Lad! 
 
..note
 I have lost track with my staff member, Clay James. If you know where he is, ask him to please contact me!!  THANKS!

 
REMEMBER MY ILLEGAL, BOOTLEG RADIO STATION WKKD?
HERE IS THE TRUE STORY THAT TELLS HOW I STARTED MY CAREER IN MUSIC AND RADIO!

<(CLICK PLAY)

These two segments are the only known airchecks of me on WKKD! If by some chance someone out there has a tape recording of WKKD, please let me know!!

LISTEN TO MORE WKKD MUSIC ON "YOU TUBE" HERE!! click on the songs below for a lot of great memories!!  

-TELL MAMA-ETTA JAMES

 

-SHOWTIME-THE DETROIT EMERALDS   






-ORGAN GRINDER SWING-JIMMY SMITH










  







I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A COPY OF THE BOOK WHERE I GOT THE ORIGINAL CIRCUIT FOR MY RADIO STATION. I FINALLY FOUND A COPY OF IT RECENTLY ON E-BAY! I GOT THE FIRST BOOK FROM BEN JONES WHOSE FATHER HAD IT IN HIS COLLECTION. THE BOOK WAS FROM THE YEAR 1953! BELOW ARE THE CIRCUITS THAT I HAD TO MODIFY TO PUT VOICE AND MUSIC ON THE AIR AS WKKD!
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