First, you should understand that "BHS" is my dear old alma mater, Burbank High School.
What we called KBHS, or "Radio Free Burbank," was nothing more than a loudspeaker placed
atop a roof adjacent to the school cafeteria eating area. No electromagnetic waves permeated the
ether and no FCC approval was required. I connected an amp and a phonograph to the speaker,
and we encouraged students to bring in favorite LP's, which we would then play during lunch. It wasn't
much of an idea, but it was somebody's brainchild (I forget whose, exactly) and my involvement with it was the one and only time I ever approached anything like extracurricular high school activity. This happened in early 1974, as I recall.
Somehow the idea got to the student body president. He thought it was a great
idea, and after I secured the approval of the media equipment lady (for whom I worked as an
audio-visual aide), I connected a cheap speaker to a hefty amp and introduced this new concept in
mass communications while students sat eating their lunch one day.
So not only did students get to listen to Todd Rundgren, the Eagles, Elton John and others, Mike McDaniel and I (he was a fellow A-V aide) also aired student body election speeches.
The downfall of the whole project began when I blew out a loudspeaker only a day or two
after the start of our project. I brought it back to the A-V lady, said, "Hey, this one must have
been flawed!" and secured another, with a cautionary note from the keeper of the speakers to the
effect that one more electrical mishap and the whole thing was off - we couldn't afford to replace
speakers. Then, one day during lunch, disaster struck.
It started with a daring experiment in First Amendment rights: playing Alice Cooper's "I Love
the Dead," a quaint song about necrophilia. (This was in 1974, remember. While the subject still
isn't exactly mainstream, back then it was nothing short of scandalous.) A
teacher knocked on the door of the room from which we were broadcasting and strongly suggested we
play something else. Then a jock named Scott Nelson, who was running for something or
another, loudly encouraged students to vote for him,
Scott "Shit" Nelson. We escorted Scott out the door. Later, a loose connection developed on the
wire on the roof. I went out to fix it and, as I reconnected the wire, sent a burst of very loud static
through the speaker that startled a year or two of life from me. Swearing profusely at the people
in the room who didn't follow my instructions regarding turning off the system (they were all laughing uncontrollably), I discovered that another cheap Califone speaker
had, indeed, bought the farm. Then, like a vengeful Valkyrie, and on cue, into the room stomped the A-V Lady. "I know, I know," I said. "It's all over. We fried another speaker."
Thus ended the short broadcast history of KBHS, "Radio Free Burbank." The only remaining
vestige of it is the business card Mike made up in print shop for the project, presented at the top of this page for your inspection.
Being A-V aides was a lot of fun for Mike and me and a major headache for the rest of the school. We were nothing if not creative. For instance, we would deliver projectors singing the hymn from the (then) popular short film Why Man Creates (sung in the film in Gregorian style by an ignorant bunch of medieval chuchmen): "What is the shape of the earth?/Flat!/What happens when you come to the end?/You fall off!/Does the earth move?/Neeeevvveeerrrrrrrrr." The echo from the halls made it very convincing, and provoked merriment from the rest of the student body. We also got very proficient at shooting paper clips from rubber bands, so we fed our paper clip habit by raiding teachers' desks in classrooms. The expended paper clips could be found all over the floors of the halls; I wonder what the janitors muttered under their breath at the end of the day.
I was also responsible for doing the occasional videotaping in the "Media Center," where a lot of the A-V stuff was used. The video equipment of the time was huge and open reel - but we were impressed. Once, an EMR class (Emotionally Mentally Retarded - hard to imagine anyone in a school system using this phrase anymore!) required a videotaping of some of the members reading from books. One of the class members was a rather busty gal. Bob Avery dropped by and asked if he could do the camerawork. "Sure," I replied. We then had a lot of laughs when Bob quickly zoomed in and out on the gal's bust, in the manner of a Sixties psychedelic rock production. Sensing disaster, I erased that sequence, and when the tape was played back for the teachers and students I claimed that the missing scene was a magnetic dropout on the videotape, which (I claimed) happened from time to time with the equipment. Naturally, the woman responsible for the AV equipment (the same one who gave me a hard time about blowing speakers with the KBHS project) asked if there was a problem and should we get the equipment fixed? Trying to avoid ensnaring myself in yet another lie, I assured her without further explanation that this wasn't necessary. It was rather a fidgety moment.
The teacher responsible for monitoring my efforts in A-V wrote the following comment on my last-ever report card: "We really did appreciate most of your efforts!"