'KISN' Goodguys bring oldies into digital age with webcast

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Video

Back behind the KISN microphone

Roger Hart records some disc-jockey patter that will become part of a KISN 'oldies' webcast.

Roger Hart records some disc-jockey patter that will become part of a KISN 'oldies' webcast.

Did you know ?

Since goodguyradio.com isn’t an actual radio station, the KISN call letters currently belong to “96.7, Today’s Hottest Music” in Belgrade, Mont.

A longtime Vancouver radio personality and some fellow DJs have a new showcase for the oldies.

Roger Hart is among the broadcast veterans who have reunited (although not necessarily at the same place at the same time) to play decades-old music for an Internet audience.

A quick look at the list of artists names like Tom and Jerry, Dick Dale, and Country Joe and the Fish would have plenty of people saying, “Boy, I haven’t heard THAT for a while.”

In truth, even Hart occasionally has a hard time placing the music.

“I’m hearing stuff and I’m thinking, ‘Do I remember that?’”

Hart does have an excuse, since his musical focus quickly settled on one group. He quit his radio gig to manage Paul Revere and the Raiders.

“There was so much I missed with the Raiders. You don’t get into it like a teenager who is up all night” listening to the radio, Hart said.

The website’s on-air talent goes back to KISN radio, which started out as KVAN and once was housed in a Main Street office in Vancouver. At 910 AM, it became the dominant station in the Portland-area market.

The disc jockeys collectively did business back then as the “KISN Goodguys.” They dusted off the name, gave it a Web-friendly update and rolled it out as http://www.goodguyradio.com. It’s supported by advertising and free to listeners.

A few days ago, Hart drove to a Portland-area residential neighborhood where a behind-the-scenes guy lives. His basement has been converted into the KISN studio, including a library of more than 90,000 records. (Which might be why he just wants to be called Dirty Dave, and prefers that nobody knows where he lives).

‘Oldies’ getting newer

Hart said he and his KISN crew mates are filling a musical void by resurrecting songs that date from the mid-1950s to the early ’70s. It’s baby boomer rock that has been left behind.

As the oldies keeping get newer, Hart said, music programmers cater to younger ears.

“The demographic we appeal to is a demographic nobody wants,” said Scott Young, who works on the production side.

“If you’re over 40, I don’t think anyone cares” what you want to hear, Young said.

Young said he’s 55, so he’s definitely in the over-40 demographic. Still, it’s not like he grew up with all this music … unless you interpret that phrase very broadly.

As Guy Mitchell’s 1956 hit “Singing the Blues” played, Young remarked: “Either this or ‘Party Doll’ was No. 1 the week I was born.”

Some of those artists have faded from memory. Others Elvis, the Beatles and Rod Stewart are still selling lots of albums today. Some acts changed their names: Tom and Jerry, for example. Most people know them better as Simon & Garfunkel.

In less than 30 minutes at the KISN microphone, Hart recorded several vocal tracks along the lines of: “Hi, this is Roger Hart on goodguy radio. The weather is OK, but not as nice as the music!”

Along with commercials and vintage KISN jingles, Hart’s commentary will be woven between songs and programmed into a three-hour segment for his daily noon-to-3 p.m. show.

Some DJs don’t even make it into the studio to create their vocal tracks. Roger W. Morgan, Tom Murphy and Major Logan all live in different states. They record their DJ patter at home and email it to the KISN production team, Dirty Dave said.

Young, who is a TV engineer at KOIN Channel 6, is in charge of translating the music from vinyl singles to digital signals.

“A lot of the masters were thrown out, and you won’t find those songs on CDs,” he said. While there can be some wear on a 50-year-old record, “I have software to de-click.”

Breaking news

It’s a really-oldies format, but the Web-based KISN responded to some breaking news when former Monkees’ singer Davy Jones died. At 3 p.m. Wednesday, KISN played “Daydream Believer” as a tribute.

Dirty Dave said he had to fiddle with the pre-programmed play list a little bit so he could plug in one of Jones’ biggest hits.

… Which got Dirty Dave, Hart and Young thinking about the future. Given the age of their artists, another singer could be joining Davy at any time, and they need to be able to get a tribute on the air quickly.

Their conclusion: “We need to have a game plan for the next one to go.”

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.