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I really regarded my position there as one of not as manager, but more as sort of the group leader as it were, you know, I mean, look at the way we ran meetings, man. We didn't run meetings like I ever saw. Have you ever seen an agenda at a KU&M meeting? I felt that at the time I made some commitments in my own time and direction, which a lot of people don't know about, actually, that I felt it was an important thing that needed to continue in terms of a communications medium. I felt that it was making available to people in a market that otherwise probably wouldn't have heard anything at all. A lot of different viewpoints, a lot of different kinds of viewpoints, not only in, you know, most specifically music, because I think that really has a lot to do with people's thought processes.
I don't think that you have to have, you know, public affairs programs that analyze things and care stuff apart to be able to get different viewpoints. The one thing that I felt strongly about that station is that it had to provide an alternative. I think the people in it were very easily, made that very easily done. It was easy for them to do that. There were a lot of different kinds of talent. There were a lot of different kinds of experience. It's a tremendous knowledge in music with the people who were there and it showed and it showed in the fact that top 40 is not all there is, that, you know, the mainstream classics even is not all there is, that there is just a whole myriad of kinds of music out there and a whole lot of different kinds of thoughts that's reflected in this music. That was the point is to stop this sort of narrow kind of thinking that people so easily fall into.
I felt that was important and I felt that the best thing that I could do was given my own capabilities were principally technical and maybe managerial, though I've never been convinced of that, is just to kind of make that possible and to try to not fall off any edges in the process. I think you have to take a point of view that if you're going to try to fill a gap that exists in a media that is not being filled for whatever reason, that you are going to be by nature a minority broadcaster, okay, I mean minority not in terms of racial or ethnic backgrounds, but rather as a minority in the sense that you're not out there trying to be the top 40. You're not out there trying to get the best rating so you can sell the most commercial with the highest rate. That's not your gig. Shouldn't be. You know one thing I think is important to do it if we talk about all of the KONM's programming is that it dealt with making available material that was not anywhere else.
I mean the operas you heard on KONM weren't the run of the mill operas. The classical music you heard there wasn't the same old stuff. This was the different things. These were things that somebody dredged up and said, hey, this sounds great. How come we've never heard this on a classical station or how come I've never heard this in a concert, and then we would play it? You know, I mean every program that we had had something different unusual and strange for that matter in the way of something new to point out to the audience. Oftentimes, you have to remember that the DJ that's doing these things, since they didn't get paid, had to get off on something. And new music and different stuff and GWiz looked what I found was part of the survival of it all. No, I still feel that there was a great deal of energy in that group. The position that I was in, I felt that what needed to happen is we just needed to be
justifiable, shall we say, in regards to the powers that be. And the position that I was in was to try and give the folks there as much rain as I could as much free rain as I could to do what seemed appropriate and seemed to be creative to the point where it became a danger to the life of the place as all. Well, you know, I think that if we look back at music directors, you know, it's Woody Ben Ernie, then Bo, then Bruce Lundy, you know, what's your name? I can't think of her name. Who went up to Colorado Springs, I think. You know, Rachel? Yes. There was one other one I can't think of the name in there. But that's string of people, that's a lot of years, you're looking at what I just named there.
That's well over a dozen years. And you know, that's very strong talent in terms of knowing what music was going on. Yeah, I remember some funny ones, I remember Bruce Lundy would occasionally, you know, get a pile of records of stuff that he hated and he would make a point out of, you know, throwing them against the wall, you know, and I could understand that given what he said. And I remember Bo, for instance, had a real dislike for reggae early on in the game and I didn't keep any of it. Probably everybody since then is probably unhappy about that. But, you know, we got a lot of weird stuff at various times. The fact that a person can fall into playing the same old stuff they like does happen. So there's always an important thing that there'd be some pressure to try new things. But I don't think the pressure was external. I don't think the pressure was from Walrus or whoever.
What the pressure was from was more internal where we, the characteristic of that place is that there was almost a continuous discussion about music and new stuff and always the feedback loop going on all the time, you know, I mean, we were some of our own best listeners. I think one of the things that was amazing about K&M is the talent that showed up in people's minds that they knew this piece of music and that piece of music and how he would fit together. You know, I remember during one of the riot areas, a guy named Michael Caulvern, I don't know if you're recalling. Yes. But I remember Michael Caulvern put together probably one of the more strongly put revolutionary sentiments on the air and never said a muttering word just by the choice of music that he used and the segues that he put together. It was a tender time in the sense that, you know, K&M was on the air during the time the National Guard had basically closed the campus down in the University of Ghana home.
You know, I remember at one time during one of the riots of coming in to take care of a tech problem and this was in the evening and as I ran across the closed parking lot at the time, having a helicopter go above me and drop something out that promptly made all my eyes water, I was moving very rapidly at the time. So it was an interesting place during an interesting time. There were quite a few things there. I think that the station got a reputation as being an insider that we had the news that the commercial stations didn't have partly because people would talk to us. During the Kent State period and all the upper and the country right after that, we ran what amounted to an ad hoc network where various other campus stations would call us and we would assemble their reports on tape and then feed it back to whoever had called us as a just a collection of cuts.
And I've run into people since that time all across the country who have heard things off of that line and remember it because the one thing about that that I remember is that there was stuff that we were dealing with in this sort of ad hoc news network. If you didn't hear anywhere else, there was a lot of things of that sort that have been used at various times by the commercial folks because of our ability to just walk in there and ask the straight-fire question. We occasionally crossed paths with the minions of the law I recall during the wounded minions that end up there, we were getting feeds from somebody on the inside which we were using on hand. The thing is that we got some good reports there. The FBI was later after Cooper, I don't know if you guys knew that or not. They came by the station and they wanted the recordings of what he had sent us and what I told them is that well, you know, the only thing I could give you in any case would be what we've already broadcast and I'm sure you've already got that.
And I never came back. Okay. So what we dealt with was what made sense with respect to the audience, we were, you know, trying to reach it and the people who were behind us. Now does that mean it's colored? Well, I think that news is always colored. I don't think it can not be. I think that you can make an attempt at presenting various sites and certainly we did make a lot of effort on that. As you recall, we were probably one of the very few stations in the country that had the nerve to do an interview with one of the most right-wing presidential candidates ever done. I don't know if you recall the period of time when we were pursuing a FCC construction permit for constructing our transmitter up on the craft. But we got in a scratching fight with KLD, which opposed our application, but they got lots of lawyers and they got lots of money.
And in this case, the university at least really didn't want to be involved in the fight because I think that the university's attitude was that KU&M was fine where it was, where it could reach to maybe you bank on a good day and leave it alone. And they were a little worried when you could actually hear KU&M and call this or something like that. They figured that the legislature would react. Well, I don't think that's been true and I still don't think that's the case. I think that an intelligently-run source of free speech radio of any kind, free music radio of any kind, is damn hard thing to attack. I mean, there's good reason for the first time that I mean, it makes too much sense. It's not just a right, it's an intelligent thing. But the one thing I recall from that fight was that there was one point there where there was an interview done and I was so completely de-oed about the whole thing at that time, that I finally called them Divine Right Radio.
They had a Divine Right to control everything that came off of the Sandia crest. And it wasn't long after that before they stopped opposing it. And I've always been hopeful that calling them that particular, giving them that particular name may have had some effect on them. Now, recall going to California, LA, with the meat and egg espace out there and take that transmitter down from off the Mount Wolf in there, was a very strange trip. No, this was, this was the low budget kind of deal. I go out there and I meet one of our, I think our chief engineer at the time and we went out to this building up on top of Mount Wilson and here's this five kilowatt column sitting on the second floor of the John Bowel building. And we said, oh, that's nice. How do we get this monster out of here, you know? And so we ended up playing hoist games and what had you getting this thing down from there and driving an 18 foot truck down Mount Wilson about three o'clock in the morning, which was an interesting event by itself.
And then driving it back to New Mexico in the heat of summer from through wonderful places like Blyce and India and other marvelous country there. It was about 98 degrees at four o'clock in the morning. Yeah, I think it paid five grand for that transmitter, that's just absolutely ludicrous to think about paying $5,000 for a transmitter. I think about that place quite a bit and I've always been concerned that it's sort of maintained its independence, that it not get stuck in a rut, things easily get stuck in a rut, bureaucracies aren't necessarily just a function of big corporations and the government they can happen anywhere. When people stay in one place for too long, then you get a narrowing of view and I think that's not what that should be. I think one of the things that was healthy about that place was the turnover, you know, and I felt that way about myself, you know, I could have stayed on its manager, I think
a lot of people was like that, but I don't think that would have been a healthy thing to do. Sometimes when you're in a position I was in, you don't really know what people think of you. Yeah, it's probably, well, sort of, really, as the oldest guy ever involved with the place, I think. You know, at least I got honest credentials when it comes to being a liberal. What am I doing in Seattle, I'm doing audio tech work, I'm the principal audio technician for KCTS Channel 9, which is a PBS affiliate here. And I also do a lot of freelance things, I can write in the middle of it and install of a 56 input console at a major studio, yeah.
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Mike Wolf, KUNM General Manager
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KUNM (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
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Raw Footage Description
Mike Wolf, former KUNM manager, describes the station's early days and some of his memorable experiences while at KUNM, including the student anti-Vietnam protests, transmitters, and competition from KOB. A key theme is the ways in which the station tried to innovate and present an alternative to mainstream media and the working culture at KUNM during his time at the station. He mentions the FBI pursuing a KUNM employee "Cooper" who was percieved to be threatening power. Free speech is also a key theme. Note: this is a compilation of clips from Interview: Jim Wellborn and Mike Wolfe for KUNM 25th Anniversary I, II and III, see KUNM265, KUNM266, and KUNM 267. Wellborn is edited out in this recording.
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Producing Organization: KUNM
Speaker: Wolf, Mike
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Identifier: cpb-aacip-1644abd8a7e (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:15:00
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Chicago: “Mike Wolf, KUNM General Manager,” KUNM, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Mike Wolf, KUNM General Manager.” KUNM, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Mike Wolf, KUNM General Manager. Boston, MA: KUNM, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from