Muddy Waters 1972 University of Washington Concert
It was 1972 and we had just put KCMU FM , the brand new student run college radio station, on the air. As they say, you do certain things because you’re too ignorant to know you shouldn’t.
The University of Washington only had a classical music programmed radio station KUOW FM. This station had been on the air for years and years. However, they had only hands on student radio on-air positions for an extremely limited number of students. ..like 4 per year max. We wanted to change that.
Our competitive college, Washington State, already had their own student run radio station and had for years. We kept saying, why not the University of Washington? Then the campus protests and demonstrations started across the country in 1970. As a result, students took over KUOW FM and held the employees hostage for 24 hours.
Long story short, we got the University of Washington to agree to let us set up this student run radio station, KCMU FM, at the end of 1971 beginning of 1972. Next challenge was to come up with innovative programming and stay inside of FCC regulations.
Fortunately, our era was the time of all this incredible music and concert opportunities. Sure enough, a buddy of mine noticed the legendary blues artist, Johnny Shines, was doing a show on campus. We attended but didn’t attempt to record or broadcast the concert. This was a time of a great insurgence in enjoying these very famous blues artists at campuses across the US and Canada .Next, we learned that Muddy Waters would be performing at the student union building on the UofW campus. We weren’t set up to do live broadcasts on KCMU yet, so I grabbed our small reel to reel tape recorder and set off for the HUB, the student union building, the evening of the show.
First thing that I did was walk up to Muddy Waters and ask him for permission to record his show. His main question was how powerful and what kind of station was KCMU. I replied that it was a student run radio station with very limited coverage, 10 watts. Knowing of our limited commercial potential, he immediately said go ahead and record the show and we sealed the deal with a handshake. Incidentally, Muddy Waters had huge hands.
Then, it was a matter of turning on the tape machine and sitting back and listening to an incredible show. I believe we just sat on the floor with only the one microphone connected to the recording machine right next to the stage. I’m not sure, but I think the incredible guitarist, Luther Johnson, played lead for the show. Fabulous show experience!!
Next, it was taking the raw tape back to the stage and editing it for broadcast. The production room consisted of one reel to reel tape machine..probably an Ampex. I used the aluminum editing block and razor blades and did the editing to remove extraneous dead air and back ground noise. The show came out great and we broadcast within a few days of the show on KCUM FM under our program block entitled “An Array of Artists”. I might have spread it out over two days of shows. I can’t remember.
I know that I thought it was a very special experience; but, of course, had no idea how special until many years later. It remains one of the highlights of my life. What an incredible time it was for music during the 70’s. I was so lucky!!