Fred Casanova joined KWFM in 1970 and mostly covered the late night hours.
"I was one of the lucky few guys that got to work on KWFM when one day in May 1970, pretty much the whole crew had an issue and walked out. I was in school at the UofA and worked at KUAT TV, channel 6 as an announcer when we heard KWFM was looking for jocks. 600+ applied and I got one of maybe eight spots. One of those that left was Lou Waters who went on to co-anchor the news at KVOA and then anchored at CNN for years during the 80's.
"I worked the late hours at KWFM for much of 1970 and 1971. These were great hours to have because people, especially students, were really listening to you. I got a lot of calls from all over and even one call from Silver City, New Mexico, saying they loved the music we were playing. But the UA students were the best. They represented a cross section of much of the country and knew radio from some of the big major markets and they really liked what we were doing. That meant a lot."
We were definitely on the forefront back then, playing alternative album rock in a Top-40 world. We were also struggling a bit to stay alive mainly because we were a new station and the jocks were even selling air time for lack of any sales team. One of our small clients was Alpha Graphics, a one shop printer just getting off the ground. I can say we helped launch a giant.
"One memory was getting off the air one night and finding the Pioneer Hotel on fire. I phoned in a report to the station and watched the terrible event unfold. At that time, we were in a small two story building next to the downtown post office. That building no longer exists. But if you worked on Saturdays in that building, you had to make sure you didn't open the mic when the air raid test went off from the post office siren. The first time drove the point home loud and clear.
"For a while after Janis Joplin died, I would play a particular cut of hers as a tribute as the last song of the night before signoff. We also lost Jimi Hendrix while I was at KWFM and I recall Clark Gallagher did an interview with some people that had known him and were very close to him. They came into the station to do the interview. It was very moving and very sad. Two of the most prominent performers of that time dying so close under similar circumstances was very sad and sobering for all of us.
"I stayed in school at the UofA and went on to work at KVOA and KOPO radio when Joe Crystal was the big guy there. I eventually got out of broadcasting, but have a lot of memories about that place. It really was the beginning for KWFM and we all were hoping for success in some way or other.
"I used my real name on the air. Why not? It's a cool name!"
Fred left broadcasting in 1974 and went into computers for several years. He now lives in Northern California and runs a video production business with his brother Frank, also a former Tucson DJ. They have been producing corporate-industrial videos for 20 years and are becoming a major part of the growing independent movie-making community in the region.
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