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Jack Fox: All right, let's do this thing here. It is the first day of March 2013.

Steve Kirkland: It is.

JF: It's a snowy day, wet and cold but I'm talking to Steve Kirkland who was at one time the youngest employee at WHAS. Steve, let me ask you a question. I remember I was on the air in the late 80s, I guess and I had met you as, I think about the fifth grade and you had a radio station at your house.

SK: I did.

JF: Under the stairway. I remember the basement and you had all kinds of WHAS jingles and signs up and then you would come down to visit me on days off from school. I think you prayed for snow days so you could come down.

SK: I did.

JF: And gradually I would let you run the controls for me and I remember one day in the late 80s I'm on the air and you're doing that and Skip Essick was the program director and Skip walked down the hall and he saw you in there and he did a double take and asked me to come out in the hallway and he said, "Who's the kid?" I said, "Be nice to that kid, he's going to run this place some day." 1:00And you basically did, didn't you?

SK: I did.

JF: You were operations director and making sure everything went on. Well how did you get to that point? Where did this fascination with radio begin and how did that happen?

SK: Jack, I can remember from early, early on. I remember being with my grandmother in her basement and sawing the end off of her broom.

JF: Really?

SK: Yes. And taking a Downy cap and screwing that on and making a microphone.

JF: Oh my gosh. You were really little then.

SK: Yeah, yeah. And then just I've always had a love for audio and radio and the media. When I was in middle school at church I broke into the sound room so I could set microphones up for one of our choir performances, I think. And I 2:00remember the sound tech that was scheduled was trying to figure out how everything was set up and ready to go for him. And I now run the tech team at church.

JF: You do. You run the staff in fact, yeah, that's right.

SK: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JF: Well, now I remember you having basically a radio station in your basement.

SK: I did.

JF: At your parent's house. When I met you in about the fifth grade I think but you'd had it before that.

SK: I did.

JF: When did you start that? You built everything?

SK: Well, just an accumulation of equipment through Christmas presents and Santa Claus and stuff like that. But, yeah. I had WSRK.

JF: Steve.

SK: Stephen Ray Kirkland. And I guess, Jack, I was on the air from about three in the afternoon until I was tired of it at night, but I had taken a Mister Microphone, do you remember those?


JF: Yeah, sure.

SK: All it was an FM transmitter. I'd cut the microphone off of it and I'd put a connector on it so I could plug my mixer into the input of that microphone and ran the wire outside and up a tree. I don't know, I guess I broadcast to about two or three houses in my neighborhood, but I had a full studio, two or three microphones so I could have guests on.

JF: And you did.

SK: I would play music.

JF: As I recall, you recorded it.

SK: I would record the HAS newscast at the top and bottom of the hour and I'd play it back 10 minutes later.

JF: You even had the jingles and things, I think. Didn't you?

SK: I did. Once I started working for HAS we used a music service called TM Century and the current songs that we would get would occasionally have a jingle package on it. So, I became WSRK Kiss FM because they had a jingle package that 4:00didn't mention call letters, but just said Kiss FM. So, I had that.

JF: That's amazing. Do you remember the first microphone that you had that you actually heard your voice or anything like that? Do you remember anything like that?

SK: That was mine? That was probably a Mr. Microphone. I remember I got a whole PA system, it was a Radio Shack amplifier. It was a little 20 watt amplifier, it came with a couple of speakers and a couple really crappy microphones, but that was probably the first one that I remember talking on the most.

JF: Well, you had some support from your parents there, obviously.

SK: Lots of support.

JF: Yeah.

SK: Allowing me to take over underneath the steps and then what was my mother's sewing room, although she never sewed, became my larger studio where...


JF: Expanded.

SK: Yeah.

JF: Okay.

SK: After we got a foreign exchange student, I got kicked out of that, but I got my father's work room, which was another room in the basement that had a high countertop that made kind of an L. So, it was a much nicer studio.

JF: Big time.

SK: In fact, he has stuff in it now and all my equipment, obviously, is not in it anymore. But the WSRK placard he came up with for me is still hanging on the doors. Along with some of the CD covers and stuff that I had on the wall to try to make it look like the real thing.

JF: Did you work at any other radio stations prior to that time?

SK: I started HAS Radio. Then I worked WMPI in Scottsburg on the weekends. Shortly after I started at HAS.


JF: I had forgotten that. Yeah. First of all, you had school. You were at?

SK: I was at Seneca High School when I started.

JF: You were kind of a celebrity there, weren't you? With the announcements and the...

SK: Yeah, did the morning announcements on the PA system and then my senior year they put in a tele-communications department and I was working at HAS Radio then and Channel 11 was in the same building at that time. They had gotten a new set. Well, we didn't have a set, so I think I called you and you got me in contact with, who was the GM at that time?

JF: I have to think about that. It was Bob Morris, wasn't it?

SK: No, it was not Bob Morris, it was-

JF: My mind's gone blank here.

SK: He was just. Neil Couvan.


JF: Oh, Neil Couvan. Sure.

SK: I met with Neil Couvan, scared to death. Met with Neil Couvan and told him what Seneca was doing and that we really needed a set. They were getting rid of two sets and their mauve action news set that they used at 6:00 they weren't giving to anybody. And he said, "If you'll get a truck and you'll get a crew, we'll give it to you." Well, I thought it would take a couple of hours to get this set. It took all day. All day to get it.

JF: But you got your crew and your truck?

SK: We got it. Yeah.

JF: That's good. Very good. How old were you when you started working at WHAS and how did that actually come about? Skip Essick was the program director, was he? He was the one that hired you?

SK: He was the one who hired me.

JF: How old were you? You were in high school?

SK: I would have been 16. It was 1990. I did not have my driver's license yet. My grades were not where my parents wanted them, so I they would not allow me to get my license. My parents had to petition a judge in order for me to work at 8:00WHAS because it was a 24 hour operation. So, they jumped through all the hoops and I actually was hired to work one hour on Saturday. It was when Fred Wiche was starting to do his Ask Fred talk show.

JF: So you'd be the board operator?

SK: I'd be the board operator. You and I worked together on it and I think I got the job because I annoyed Skip so much by calling him and asking him. I said, "Hey, Skip. I heard the promo for Ask Fred. I can do that. Let me do it." He's like, "Fine. Just come in and do it, we'll work everything else out." The rest is history. I think his exact words were, "We'll you're not going to make any money at this. I'm going to pay you, it was a little bit better than minimum 9:00wage. Just go ahead and put two hours down on your time card so it's at least worth you coming downtown."

JF: That is wild. How long did that continue? So, you were still in high school?

SK: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JF: Did those hours increase some as you were still in high school?

SK: It seemed like I got all the fill in shifts that he could use. I think I proved myself that I could obviously do the task and I wanted to do as much as I could. So, I did a lot of Friday night 7:00 to 1:00 AM.

JF: Was [inaudible 00:09:37] supportive of this?

SK: Absolutely. Yeah. I remember Skip calling me. I was in my parents' laundry room and he said, "Hey, do you want to work Christmas?" "Well, yeah. I want to work Christmas." "Well good, we're going to put you on the air. But oh my gosh, you're going to do..." I said, "You mean I get to talk on the air?" He's like, 10:00"Yeah. We're going to play Christmas music. We're going to play 15 minute blocks. You talk in between the blocks. But it's overnight Christmas, midnight to six. Can you do it?" Yeah, I can do it.

JF: 50,000 watts going around the country and you're 16 years old.

SK: Yeah.

JF: Wow. So, that was quite a step.

SK: Yup.

JF: What did that feel like? You remember that night, obviously.

SK: I remember opening the mic for the first time and reading the forecast and my voice, you could hear the quiver in my voice. I still have the tape somewhere.

JF: I was saying, you must have that recorded somewhere.

SK: High pitched, probably awful. But one of those experiences that are once in a lifetime.

JF: Sure. You bet. Yeah. I was on Facebook the other night and I saw somebody had put the pictures up of the Weekend Warriors. You and Joe Elliott and Terry Dismore and I forget.


SK: Mark Stephen Williams and John Ross.

JF: John Ross. You were obviously the kid in that bunch.

SK: That's right. I brought the average mean...

JF: Way down.

SK: Way down.

JF: So, hours began to increase then and what happened from there?

SK: We started some midday talk, Doug McKelvin. Instead of playing music, went to a talk format [crosstalk] and I think I lobbied Skip. And he picked me. I was in college at that time and-

JF: So your hours are more flexible? [crosstalk] drivers license by now?

SK: I did have my drivers license. I got after riding the TARC bus downtown and having to be at the station at 9:00 AM. Having to leave home at 6:00 AM to be able to do that, it didn't take me long to bring my grades up. [crosstalk].

JF: Good for the parents though, it's good.

SK: And I got the midday with McKelvin gig and so I was working noon to three, 12:00Monday through Friday, and I think at that time, I had an overnight air shift on Saturday night into Sunday morning I think is what I was doing, so it was great. Doug made me a part of the show character on the show.

JF: So you contributed? No? Yeah?

SK: Yeah.

JF: How about that? Yeah.

SK: I worked with Doug through the time he left. I guess at some point, Rush Limbaugh came on the air.

JF: About '94, somewhere along there.

SK: I board up Limbaugh for a while. Skip one of that to have a smooth start. So I did that and I don't remember if Doug took a little bit of a hiatus. Or if he started immediately, but I know Mets retired around that time into his Metz Here 13:00commentaries. So I've shifted and worked nine to midnight with Doug.

JF: Okay, so you're working, maybe?

SK: Yeah, then when Doug left, I continued to do... I guess I was doing the seven to midnight board op shift at that time, and I guess I continue to do that for a little while. But nights just were my thing and it was getting to be that Wayne needed somebody, so I started producing the morning show.

JF: You'd be there at 5:00? So sometimes you were there by yourself.

SK: Sometimes, I see, yeah. There were a lot of mornings that we played a couple songs before Wayne walked in.

JF: That's good. Well, you had some experiences and do you remember any particular moments or phone calls when let's start with like with Doug showed. Remember any particular phone calls or anything? Any particular incidents or anything? Or you had a screen callers, is what he was doing.


SK: I remember that we had a demographic that we wanted to hear on the air, and at the time talk radio was a lot of older people who would call in so [crosstalk]. Yeah, so it was my job to keep as Skip would refer to it, in musical terms, you got to keep the hits on the air, you don't want the Golden oldies on the air. So I probably tweaked off a lot of bold folks and Skip-

JF: Who's this young [crosstalk].

SK: That's right, I would told a lot of people. I passed their comments on. Whenever Skip would get a call, because I would get to the point where some of them that they would yell at me and not be real nice and want to talk to my boss and I'd gladly give them their number and whenever they would ask for that, my 15:00end response to them would be, "Well tell Skip I said hi, when you talk to him," and he would come to me and he would say, "Well, I got to call on you today and say yeah, they said that you told him to tell him tell me hi," I said, "Yeah." He goes, "Stop doing that but thanks for keeping them off the air." I never stop telling them that.

JF: That is wild. So that improved... What was it like changing with any different changing noon the three to the 9 to midnight, were different callers or anything or the same thing?

SK: A lot of the same folks. We had a lot of regular callers. You know Doug like to row folks up and I remember a great story about Doug. The phones weren't ringing and so he started talking about how this bicycle rider got in his way as he was driving to work and started complaining about bicycle riders. The phone 16:00lines just, I mean lit up. I mean, I couldn't... One would hang up and I'd be screening in the next call. And I remember I had to fill some paperwork out after each show what we talked about for the FCC, licensed stuff that that had to be filled out each year, and he threw the paperwork for me to fill out and he said, "Good show, wasn't it? I said, "Yes, man, you must have really been tweaked." He goes, "Never happened," he said, "I just made it all up." He said, "It was good radio, wasn't it? Have a good weekend. I'll see you later," and walked out. So never happened.

JF: Wow. Were you had a lot of any emergencies, you remember being on the air when emergencies were happening in those times?

SK: I can remember severe weather coverage and at that time, we were in glass 17:00room basically. [crosstalk]. Kind in the middle of the building. But we looked out to the lobby, which was all glass, and I guess looking back on it, it didn't make a whole lot of sense while we were sitting in there doing that. But you're doing it to protect people who were listening, and the radio is a lifeline for folks. It's sad now when I listen to HAS radio and we're in severe weather coverage, and we're simulcasting with TV station. We were the authority then and now, they're just a funnel for somebody else. Not that the information is not there, but it's not the same, it is a different approach.

JF: Let's talk about equipment for minutes from the time that you started there, 18:00the time you left equipment changed and that I would think didn't, walk me through a little bit?

SK: Well, I mean, let's-

JF: Were you still using turntables when you first [crosstalk]?

SK: Yeah, well, Joe Donovan was, and from time to time, I play something off turntable, or music bumper or something for Doug. [crosstalk]. But yeah, those turntables were in there, reel to reel, was still in there. Really when I started, we were playing all the music off cart still. I ran across a memo from Doug McKelvin night. I should have written down the date on it but it said the two Denon CD players have been installed in the studio will play everything off of compact disc from this point, so that was fairly soon after I started. I want to say that was probably in '91 when we went to all CD. And I guess as we were downtown, in downtown Louisville, we pretty much stayed cart and CD. And even 19:00reel to reel.

And we recorded Paul Harvey on reel to reel [crosstalk] every day. I remember when Jane Norris started soon after we put a deck machine in the HAS control room where we could record and archive her show on deck because we play that back for some best of shows. And it never worked right. Never, it just never worked right. But then when we moved to Bishop Lane, which I had a pretty major[crosstalk] in moving the station. When we moved, we got a new control board. We went from two studios to three, so the news person had their own studio, the board op producer had their own studio, and then there was the on-air talk studio.

JF: Did you have any input on designing [inaudible 00:19:56]?


SK: I actually helped wire all three for HAS, just you know one of those things that needed extra hands so I jumped in and Charlie Strickland was chief engineer.

JF: Who was the other [crosstalk]?

SK: Harry Sanheim, Larry Baysinger had already retired. But Mark Steven Williams was one. Mark did a lot of the wiring in all of the studios on Bishop Lane there.

JF: But after that take, do you recall how long that process was?

SK: It was a slow process and they moved each station kind of one at a time. And I can remember we moved offices and HAS and AMZ were still on the air from the downtown studio, so I'd start my day downtown and end it just Bishop.

JF: [crosstalk] some long days.

SK: But the biggest technical change came when they put the profit system on the 21:00air, which was all digital audio.

JF: What is the profit system?

SK: Most stations would use it for automation. It played back anything you heard on the air, sound effects, commercials, music, IDs, anything like that were loaded into the digital audio system. And I actually went to Ogallala, Nebraska to be trained on this system for HAS and the other Clear Channel stations. There were several others that went and did that, but I was the first person to play digital audio off of the system, on the air. It happened during Rush Limbaugh and we had loaded up some of the customized liners that Rush had done and that 22:00was the first digital audio.

JF: You remember what year that was?

SK: I don't. It would have been a year or two after we moved out there, it was about... I guess it was along the lines of the time that Jacor and Clear Channel merged together. Because we were slated to get a Scott's studio system and in fact they had Scott Studios on the air on some of the FM stations and then Clear Channel, and Jacor were merged and they realize they were going to do a lot of this talent sharing and everybody needed to be on the same system in order for this to-

JF: Buy talent sharing and happy to be in Cincinnati into a program for overall Nebraska [crosstalk].

SK: Right. Christopher Randolph, who's on AMZ now is good example. He's on AMZ, 23:00on the station in Florida, and I think he's in Cincinnati, but he does that all from-

JF: So [inaudible] made that possible.

SK: Yeah. It's made it very hard for somebody like me who wanted to get involved in radio or have a career in radio, have a place to get their feet wet-

JF: Because they don't need it.

SK: Because they don't need it, because the small stations or getting a big time jock like Chris Randolph. Because he's primarily on the air in Louisville. But, "Yeah, by the way, we want you to work"

JF: How does that work? How does a person do what go to Chris Randolph do? How would that work? He's going to do something for overall in Nebraska again [crosstalk]?

SK: Well, it depends on the time of day. What I've heard that some of them do still work about 30 minutes ahead, so their shift maybe, let's say it's 9 to noon. They may be doing five stations. Well, they'll do a break for the station 24:00in Louisville that's going to run 30 minutes from now. Then they'll do the same thing for their four other stations. They've got it set up now so that all these phone calls are out to him so they can put phone calls on the air and make it sound very lowly.

JF: He's basically live, is what he is, so it's not going to matter going in and laying down voice tracks and playing him three days later. It's basically-

SK: That can be done, a lot of stuff that you here on the weekends stations are that way.

JF: Interesting. It's a long way from you doing midnight to six and playing music, isn't it?

SK: Yes.

JF: Wow. Well, some other things obviously happened here too as you begin to progress and you assumed more technical duties, how did that happen and when did that start to happen, and not as much on air stuff?

SK: Yeah, I guess Kelly Carls, who still the operations manager at HAS now... 25:00Well let's back out? Skip left, Rick Belcher came in. Rick was not program director for very long.

JF: This should be in middle '90s?

SK: Yeah. When Rick left, I actually applied to be the operations' manager-

JF: What was your program director, what were you doing?

SK: I was executive producer at that time. Rick had promoted me to that, so I was over all the producers, scheduling-

JF: Scheduling, shows and things like.

SK: So I think I was doing all of the scheduling. I did a lot of stuff for Rick because he didn't do a whole lot.

JF: He was Executive producer?

SK: Yes, he was producer and Rick left, and it was right around Derby time, so 26:00they made me interim operations manager. And I actually interviewed with Mark Thomas. Bob Scherer was sick and had not passed away at the time, but Mark was handling most of the day-to-day-

JF: [inaudible] manager.

SK: ... stuff and sat down with Mark and Mark basically told me, he said, "We're going to take care of you during you're stepping up and and keeping us afloat during Derby. And in this interim time here," but he looked at me and said, "You realize, we're not going to make you the operations' manager," and I said, "Well,..." I said, "I guess I kind of realized that, but I still want you to know that this is my end goal and it's to do it at HAS, I don't want to do it anywhere else." So, Kelly Carls was hired as the operations' manager, and I was 27:00promoted to assistant operations' manager when Rick left. And Kelly gave me more and more responsibility. And at the time of the Jacor Clear Channel merger, they made Kelly a regional program director or vice president of programming or some fancy title. He was going a lot.

So at that time, I was still in the studio producing Jane Show so he pulled me aside after he had gotten the promotion and he said, "I'm going to need you to run a lot of the day-to-day station operations. I'm not going to be around that much. I need you to pick up that responsibility. And I need you to come out of 28:00the studio." That was hard for me [crosstalk] because that's my love. But I realized that there are a lot of people who get sick, so it's just kind of a natural thing for me to do the fill in during that time. So I still got to do the parts that I loved and I got to do more of the planning for big events like Derby and we do all kinds of promotes at that time that they don't do a whole lot of anymore. [crosstalk] We used Tailgate party shows for UofL football games.

JF: Other broadcast or other cities, and things like that?

SK: Yeah. We went to Disney some. We'd follow the Cards and the Cats. I went to several bull games and did all the tech for UofL games, that's something else 29:00that I did. I would go with Paul Rogers instead of all this equipment from UofL home football games and home basketball games. And really, Paul was having do all that stuff on his own and I basically did it for free. But now they have some money that goes with it, so it was one of those things.

JF: So have you been promoted to operations manager by this time or is it just assistant?

SK: I was always the assistant, [crosstalk]. In fact the memo, when I left in 2001, Kelly put in the memo thanking me for various things, for helping transition the station from downtown to Bishop Lane, and also basically said even though I have the title of operations manager, Steve really did the 30:00day-to-day operations of the station and would just let me come check in from time to time.

JF: So my prediction just came from there.

SK: Yeah, I may not have had the exact title that I wanted, but I was doing it. I was doing it.

JF: You ever talk to Skip any?

SK: Skip and I talked a little bit after he left and I was still at the station. I haven't talked to him in a long time. I've talked to McKelvin some especially now, just on Facebook being able to catch up with him. I run into Milton at Papa Murphy's pizza of all places in Saint Matthews from time to time. I still go back and host the overnight portions of crusade for children-

JF: You've been involved with the crusade for a long time because your dad was involved.

SK: Even before I worked at HAS radio, I was involved with the Crusade and I remember... I don't think it was the first year that I was a runner, but it was one of the second or third year, the tornado outbreak, B.J. Thomas was singing 31:00"Raindrops Keep Falling On Your Head" and they had to evacuate the center for tornado warning. Well they threw everything back to studio H, and guess what? All the camera operators went out into the field to cover the tornado coverage for the news. So I'm just sitting in a corner and I guess it was the floor director looked at me and goes, "You think you can run this?" and he pointed to one of those, the big studio cameras at the time, and I said, "Of course. Yeah, course I can run that." And they [crosstalk] I would have been probably 11 or 12 that year. Maybe younger than that.

I know you were supposed to be a certain age to be a runner, but because of my dad's involvement, they let me do it. And it got to the point where I just went down every year and would stay all night and run camera. And I remember one year 32:00but Harbsmeier caught in the lobby and said, "Hey. Can I talk to you?" I'm like, "Yeah, sure." I was doing some remotes on Saturday morning. You were still on the air and we'd go out and we talked to the firefighters and I thought it was something about that. He goes, "We want you to host it overnight part of the Crusade with Van Vance." I said, "Oh my gosh, this is great." So that was my first experience in TV. Yeah.

JF: Wow. When was that? Gosh, that was a long time [crosstalk]?

SK: You know Jack, I tried to, each year, figure out how many years I've been involved with the crusade, and I just I can't.

JF: Yeah. It's been a long [crosstalk].

SK: It's been a lot of years.

JF: And you've done the overnight ever since then, haven't you?

SK: Yeah.

JF: With Van Vance and several other people?

SK: It was Van, then Joe Arnold for several years, then Renee Murphy. Then another radio person from, I can't remember who that was, Jean King, Julian 33:00Dixon, all WHAS TV employees, they usually try to team me up with somebody who works for television now. And last year, it was Brooke Katz, who's fairly new to WHAS TV.

JF: You're the old [inaudible].

SK: Well I joke with them. I said, I'll usually have the same person for a couple years and they realize this staying up all night playing is not is for the birds, but I love doing it. I mean the crusade is just a great organization and a great cause and that the money that's raised for the Crusade for Children here in Kentucky, and southern Indiana, I'm really pleased to be a part of it.

JF: Yeah, good. Very good. Let's talk about Derby a minute. You oversaw several Derby broadcasts out there on the backside and through the week and then Derby 34:00Day itself and all the events too. [crosstalk].

SK: My first Derby, I was with Milton met some millionaires roll and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I did that for several years, still with Milton. Milton Metz out Oaks Day and Derby Day and we usually were working with the TV station who was using Milton, I think Channel 15, a few years and I think channel 32 used Milton for a few years because no number one could get anywhere. It sure showdowns. He could talk his way into the president's suite. I remember we interviewed George Bush, President George Bush Senior.


When he attended the Derby, and Milton works in mysterious ways and all the sudden, he tells me goes, "We're going to the paddock, we have to be there at such and such time. And they're going to give me the president." So I'm telling Skip, "We're getting the president," and I can remember standing watching Milton interviewing John Asher there as well, and we want to get it on as quick as we can. While John's got the remote equipment to get it on, so we take a microphone that hold it up to this old cassette recorder. And play the interview back so that we can get it on the air just almost as it happens.

JF: Special moments.

SK: Yeah, and then, we used Brench Boden who was an HAS employee for a long time. He'd come back and freelance and produced the Derby. And I started running 36:00the board out at Churchill Downs, bringing in all the different sources. And Brench produced and Brench and Kelly, didn't see eye-to-eye on what Brench was being paid. So I was asked to produce the Derby, so for my... I guess I produced three, four, or five, and came back one year and produced it as well. So I guess in 2002 was my last Derby.

JF: That so interesting because you're still in your 20s at that time. You're 39-

SK: I'm 39 now. [crosstalk].

JF: ... you've been gone for 11 years, 12 years now. You left there in [crosstalk].

SK: I left there in 2001.

JF: Yeah, 2001. So you were doing all this and you're still in your 20s, and the youngest hired there when you were hired, so it's good. You've packed a lot in there.


SK: And I guess before the Derby got produced, our Thunder over Louisville coverage, which was gosh, I mean we would start at three in the afternoon and go till midnight. So all live from [crosstalk].

JF: Tell me about some of the people you work with. You worked with a lot of people. You worked with Milton. You worked with Doug McKelvin, with Wayne Perky, with Fred Wiche, Jane Norris, gosh, you have a whole bunch of people in there.

SK: Lot of egos.

JF: How's that?

SK: You know Jack, I mean, you learn something, from everybody that you're in contact with. So I can remember Wayne screaming at me one day because I came in and changed something on the remote control that turn the Marty transmitter on, 38:00so that Fred could go to the network. I was a kid to a lot of those people.

JF: You were a kid.

SK: Yeah. But it's interesting, Wayne are great friends. I had been gone from HAS for a while. Wayne had retired and he called me up and he said, "Hey, I know this is a long shot, but I'm going to be on WRKI, I need to board up." He said, "Would you consider coming to do that?" And I was in a good place at Farm Bureau where I was and I said, "Wayne, I can't leave," but gave him some other names of some other people who could help so I feel like I really earned the respect and trust with folks that I worked with. So now I got to work with you.

JF: Yeah. Well a long time ago. Yeah, don't forget that Skip coming out, "Who's 39:00the kid? Be nice to him. He's going to [inaudible]." Well, we had some special time special memories. Well, I was going to ask you, this is kind of backtracking a bit, but you were there when through Clear Channel, you worked with Clear Channel. But when Jacor and Clear Channel merged, was that like that? That surprised you any or did things change any? Because they had a pretty big impact.

SK: Well when we first heard about... Let's go back a little farther. When it was HAS and AMZ, and Bob Scheer was the general manager, we did things a lot different because HAS and AMZ were the cash cows have Clear Channel. So we started buying more stations and the merger happened, I guess we, at the time of the merger, probably had seven or eight radio stations, QMF and 790 AM and 1080 40:00AM. And gosh, just a slew of stations and the Kentucky News Network.

So we all first heard about the Jacor merger, we thought, "Oh my gosh," I mean they had DJX, VEZ and [crosstalk]. They're already in this market, so we thought, "Oh my God, this is going to be great. We're going to hand pick what we want and will keep HAS and AMZ, we'll spin off some of these other lesser stations and will get the bigger stations," and the FCC came in and said, "No. Clear Channel, you're merging with Jacor so you already have your allotment in this market, and that's what you got."

JF: Wow.

SK: So the other stations had to be spun off, that was a little disappointing to us. And then as we learned more about the merger, we realized that Clear Channel had promised Randy Michaels, who was the president of Jacor at the time, that 41:00he'd be over the Radio division, and that was a big step because Jacor did things a lot different than Clear Channel did, it was a lot of top down and not, [crosstalk].

JF: ... has been bottom up because as long as they were producing money, Clear Channel left them alone, and said thank you.

SK: And HAS and AMZ weren't the big dogs anymore, because with the Jacor merger, they got a lot of bigger markets. So, that was real hard to swallow.

JF: Change day-to-day operations [inaudible].

SK: Yeah, you didn't make a decision locally anymore. If you look at what HAS radio is now and AMC radio, that's why.

JF: Not much local influence. Yeah.


SK: Yeah. I mean you look at the station like... I remember Kelly telling me when we put the automation system in the digital audio playback. He told me, he said there will always be somebody sitting in the board chair at HAS. I still talk to Kelly on occasion. Specially now working at Wave since our meteorologists provide them their stuff. Then I called him and I said, "Hey, I need you to go... And I need somebody I can't get anybody to answer in the studio. I need somebody to check this line out." So you'll have your interview this afternoon. He said, "Well, it have to be me because there's nobody in the HAS studio," and I came so close to saying, "I thought you told me there'd always be somebody in there."

JF: In a WHAS studio.

SK: Now there's somebody always in the building-

JF: But not in [crosstalk].

SK: But they're not in the studio. I think anytime their syndicated programming on now nobody is in there.

JF: Yeah, that's a big, big change.

SK: Big change.

JF: Well, you had some great times there, didn't you?


SK: Yeah.

JF: And now you're at WAVE Television, WAVE here in Louisville. What are you doing here?

SK: I'm the IT manager. I handle computers and everything. Here is a computer. So any anything you see on the ears being played off of the HD server, from our commercials to our programming to our news content, all comes off of computers. And then Jack, just like when I was at HAS, I'll do anything that they asked me to do, so they found out that I had done some traffic reporting. Well, that's something we have to talk about it. So I'll fill in on the air some here [crosstalk].

JF: ... you did traffic [crosstalk], didn't you?

SK: I did.


SK: When Ron Robertson was still there. They were always looking for somebody to fill in for him. So of course I raised my hand, "I'll try that. I'll try that."

JF: You actually had a [crosstalk]?

SK: We did. We were over the Louisville Zoo, it was just after probably the 7:00 44:00news and I had done a traffic report. And the pilot said to me, "Man, the polar bears are just there really active today. I'm going to put him on your side of the helicopter," and he turned the helicopter and we started spinning out of control over the Louisville Zoo-

JF: Over the polar bears.

SK: Over the polar bears. And then he had kind of gotten a little bit out of control and we were over the lion's den. And then, right outside where the merry-go-round is at the zoo now, there's still the grassy area and that's where the chopper finally rested, broke the skids out from underneath.

JF: Were you injured at all?

SK: No. I was scared to death.

JF: I'm sure you were.

SK: This was before the day of cell phone, and we slapped to the ground. I still had all the equipment on and was still powered up and I hear Wayne say, "Sky 45:00Watch 84, Steve Kirkland. Steve? Boy, don't like when that happens." My mother's listening.

JF: Oh my goodness. And it was he didn't know.

SK: He didn't know, and we walked down to someone's house down the Hill.

JF: Because the zoo wasn't opened at that time.

SK: They had a cell phone. They handed me... We told him who we were. They didn't know who we were. Cable Flying Sky watch. We just crashed up there. Guy says I got a cell phone here. Just take it, bring it back to me when you're done.

JF: Oh my God.

SK: So we got word back to the station that we had crashed. Everybody was okay. It was-

JF: Wild story.

SK: Yeah.

JF: When you're traffic reporting here, Wave is not from now from helicopter [crosstalk 00:45:47].

SK: Not from helicopter, you're in the studio and from the green wall, which has been interesting. You build your maps and the other interesting part of that is from the helicopter, you saw first hand what was going on well. You just have 46:00traffic data that's coming into a computer here and you rely on that. You call the police every 15 or 20 minutes to see if there's anything new. So you build your own maps and then stand up and talk about it.

JF: Great stuff. Well, you're still a young man. What's a head? Your own radio someday?

SK: Maybe I can make it out of here, stay here longer than 11 years. Jack, I love this business. But I also love what I do at church. [inaudible]. Yeah, and so many churches don't have that person who knows or has the knowledge that not only I have, but other people on our tech team have. So part of me would like to 47:00start my own business where I get to go out and help folks like that.

JF: It was becoming more important in that area because more and more churches are using media stuff. Yeah.

SK: So maybe in the next 10 years, I'll have started my own business.

JF: That's good. You know in 10 years, you're still going to be young [crosstalk]. That's good. Well, thanks Steve. It's been very, very interesting, and [inaudible] long time, so it's good to see you come from under your stairs to where you're and all the things [inaudible].

SK: Maybe I'll make it someday.

JF: [inaudible] Thanks very much.

SK: Thank you.