Wednesday, May 07, 2008


The AOR radio format was in it's strange ascendancy in the late 1960s. And there were dozens of free-form rock stations popping up around the country. KCAC-AM was an odd transitional station. It was bought by William Compton and it became both regionally important in the time that FM was on the rise. Unlike other stations, there's a decent historical record on KCAC. So we turn our attention there today to understand a broader movement.

Some radio historians write about the big taste-maker stations that made the Free-Form format what it was. They often forget to mention the number of the DJs on those stations that came from KCAC: Dwight Tindle, Hadley Murrell, Ron Wortham, Mike Kollassa, Scott Nicolson.. dozens of others. These guys went on to KSAN, WEBN, KCMD, KMPX etc. I think the station was underrated because Phoenix was a significantly smaller market in that era.

let's start with William Edward Compton. He was born in 1945 in Henderson, Texas and grew up in nearby Tyler. It was in Tyler that he got his first gig as a DJ in 1964. The station was 600 KTBB-AM. He stopped at some other stations in and around Dallas and even Nashville before heading off to Phoenix where the magic started.

In 1969 in Phoenix he scored a job on a free-format radio program on KRUX-AM. He used the
name "Little Willie Sunshine." But the short program just gave him a taste of the good life. He went out and bought a little 500 watt daytimer and well free-form full-time. Hippies ran the station. This was a first. So daring was the format that it's often referred to now as "an experiment"

1010 KCAC was instantly popular with the youth of that area. But within 2 years they fell on dire straits, like many idealistic ideas of the 60s they clashed with the capital requirements. another local station. Bill was working nights at KUPD for money and things were getting bad. Rescue came in the form of Dwight Tindle. He formed Dwight Karma Broadcasting. The calls were changed to KDKB and history rolled on. Compton died in 1977 in a car wreck. Dwight passed only recently.