The axe falls

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Amazingly, I had gotten permission to start KFJC, a new radio station at Fullerton College. We were gifted the corner of the student center, a windowed room facing the outdoor quad, once used for ticket sales. It was perfect. With the fake broadcast license framed and proudly mounted to the wall, two turntables, a plywood control board I had built in the family's garage, a 250 watt AM transmitter crafted from a baking pan and a Fender guitar amplifier, two tubes on top, we were rock'n rollin' from 7 in the morning to 6 at night.

The small radio club had now grown. With the choice of live broadcast vs. playing only to the classroom, Professor Richard Thompson's radio announcer course emptied, and the radio club had a waiting list. Dick Thompson was hopping mad.

We had been broadcasting for two weeks, covering most of Fullerton California, and occasionally my home in Anaheim if we stayed after dusk (AM radio waves travel further at night, than in the day). Disc jockeys at KFJC were under strict orders to let only members of the radio club inside the control room. And professor Thompson was not a member. One Friday Mr. Thompson, accompanied by the janitor, demanded entrance. I told him we were under strict orders not to let anyone in. Thompson's blood pressure rocketed as I closed the door in the middle of his tirade. He motioned for the janitor to unlock it, and he marched straight over to the Broadcast license. He gasped, glared at me, then left. My hand shook as I tried to put the needle on the next record.

Monday morning, 8 AM, my family's phone rang. It was Ed Robbie, my partner in crime. I hung the phone up, left the front door open, pressed in the clutch, jammed the stick shift, gripped the massive steering wheel, and raced to school in my 57' red Ford station wagon. In the middle of the outdoor quad, I saw a strange van with an antenna on top, and on the building's roof, two men cutting the wires that formed KFJC's antenna. As I rounded the corner, Ed Robbie stood helpless as his Fender guitar amp, transmitter, and my control board were placed into the open doors of the van.

Dick Thompson stood with arms folded, his smug look told the story, and we all muttered curses that his first name fit him well.

To my surprise not a word was ever said to any of us in the radio club. Administrators apparently steered clear of punishment, choosing instead for the incident to 'just go away'. The school was, after all, in violation of multiple FCC rules (including using call letters of an existing station). Some years later the school applied for, and received, a real broadcast license, for a 19 Watt transmitter, and launched KBFK, at 90.1 FM. The station still broadcasts from Fullerton College today.

But nothing ever again equaled the 250 Watt AM broadcast titan, 95 AM (between 93 KHJ and 98 KFWB), KFJC. While it lived, there wasn't a car in the school's parking lot that didn't blast great rock and roll music played through my homemade mixing board. Not one.

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Paul McGowan

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