"Tower...We'll be at the transmitter!"
The Great Easter Egg Hunt
Jeff March writes:
Many of you remember that KROY’s annual community Easter Egg Hunt at Gibson Ranch County Park in Elverta was a wildly popular tradition. On the morning of Saturday, April 21, 1973, those of us who worked at KROY at the time, along with our family members, met early in the morning at Gibson Ranch and began hiding Easter Eggs throughout an area of several acres. When we were done hiding eggs, those of us from the station enjoyed a picnic lunch, as Sacramento County Sheriff’s officers helped keep the gathering crowd of young parents and children behind rope barriers. At the designated time, the ropes were lifted and the crowd scampered over the park in search of eggs, which they exchanged for various prizes. The crowd swarmed the purple KROY fire truck, where the prizes were being distributed. It was a lot of fun for everyone. Here are some photos I shot that day.
KROY "Rock Island Line" Promotion
The Great Snowman Caper
At a KROY staff meetings, Gene Lane would regularly propose about a hundred ideas for audience promotions — 99 of which would have cost us our broadcast license. At one such meeting in the mid-summer of 1969, Gene’s one idea that stuck was a snowman building contest, right in the middle of August and in front of our 977 Arden Way studios. At the time, Sacramento had been withering under a heat spell, with high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for several consecutive merciless days, and the absurdity of it was magic.
This was the plan: Gene and a pal would drive two dump trucks up Highway 50 one morning, find a remaining patch of snow somewhere near the summit, scoop up as much snow as they could pile into the trucks, and come barreling back down mid-afternoon to unload the snow right in front of the station. Listeners would begin building snow sculptures, and we would “judge” the best creations in the midst of all the chaos. The prizes were tickets to a forthcoming Who concert, LP records and various items from the station’s prize closet.
We underestimated the response from our listeners. Shortly after we announced the contest on the air, several thousand people converged on Arden Way to participate, completely halting traffic in front of the station. While notifying our listeners, we neglected to notify the Sacramento Police Department about our event that unexpectedly resulted in closure of Arden Way, a major traffic artery leading to the state’s Capitol. All was going reasonably well, except for the drivers on Arden Way.
Then California Highway Patrol units showed up to do their duty and unsnarl traffic.
All was still okay until one of our listeners fashioned a snowball and mischievously used it used it to knock the cap off of a CHP officer. They have a notoriously restrained sense of humor. Within minutes a Sacramento Fire Department crew arrived and began using their hoses to wash away our promotion! The good news is that the Sacramento Bee newspaper, television stations and other radio stations dispatched news reporters — to the great dismay of law enforcement officials— to cover the event. The bad news is that the Fire Department’s effective pressure-washing approach not only melted the snow sculptures and piles of snow, but also forced the water under the station’s front doors, flooding the carpeted front lobby.
General Manager Dwight Case’s sense of humor was as muted as that of the CHP.
For the umpteenth time, KROY program director Johnny Hyde ‘fired’ Gene, and we kept him sequestered in a trade-out motel back up highway 50 until Dwight’s anger evaporated, after we reminded him that Gene, like his talented and equally troubling predecessor Brother T. Michael Jordan, delivered 30 to 40 percent of Sacramento’s entire 7-midnight radio audience.
Gene can come home now. The statute of limitations is now up!
(A story inspired by Bob Sherwood)
Memorabilia and Other Stuff
The Great "Herky Hornet" Kidnapping Caper!
Contest material, bumper stickers, station activities and a host of other memorabilia can be found here.
Of all the KROY-AM studio locations, 977 Arden Way may have been the most visible. The large street-side window allowed listeners to interact with the disc jockeys via an intercom speaker. Visitors would often camp out for hours as they sat in their cars with their radios blasting KROY, and return to the window for another song request. This picture window also allowed the Jocks to actually interact with listeners on a personal basis, making KROY one of the most “approachable” radio stations in the area.
While the studios were previously at 1010 11th Street above the Country Maid restaurant, Arden Way remains in the minds of many listeners as THE place to be on a Friday or Saturday night — or BOTH.
The studios were later moved to Old Sacramento, and a new team of disc jockeys and radio station staff began their history with KROY-AM and FM.
Bob Sherwood writes:
It was the first day of a Pulse book [ratings] when the ‘studio-to-transmitter link’ when down
and we had NO signal at 977 Arden Way…1969? Dwight [Case, General Manager] called an
‘All Hands-On Deck’ and Johnny and [Don]Trafton [Chief Engineer] plus others were at the transmitter
trying to hook-up a $5 plastic turntable from the prize closest (!!!) and a hand-held mike to the transmitter so Johnny could broadcast from there. Staff were bringing records from the station to the dump site so we could play music.
I was being driven around various neighborhoods at about 6:30AM by Ron Harrison [Gofer] in the KROY Fire Engine, clanging on the bell and otherwise making a nuisance of myself while yelling for people to wake up and bring records to the dump site while Johnny was broadcasting the same message.
Amazingly a huge number of people responded by bringing their personal records plus donuts and coffee…and trusting that we’d give the records back. There must’ve been several hundred parked all over the dumps and it was a stunning testament to the connection between KROY and our audience. People were talking about it all over and all-day---plus, to the anger of other media in town, it generated enormous print and broadcast coverage.
What started out as a full-fledged disaster turned out to be one of our great rating promotions ever!
For my part, I was threatened with jail by a police man w/o a sense of humor (probably a KFBK listener) for ‘disturbing the peace’ but let off with rather a stern lecture whereupon Ron went to the transmitter where he and I helped Johnny with the donuts!
What a station and…what a staff!