Where were you and 62? That tag-line from the 1973 film" American Graffiti" became synonymous with the nostalgic craze that swept the nation. Modesto native George Lucas made the movie based on his own teen years in Modesto in the 60's filled with the love of cars, cruising, drag racing and rock 'n roll music from Modesto's own "1360 - K-5" radio station.
Set in 1962 Modesto, California, American Graffiti was a study of the cruising and rock and roll cultures popular among the post – World War II baby boom generation. The film was a nostalgic portrayal of teenager's life in the early 1960's told in a series of vignettes, depicting teenagers and their adventures within a night. It was about romance, racing and rock 'n roll music, all based in Modesto. Downtown streets were choked on weekends with slow-moving cars with windows down, drivers and passengers chatting or flirting across the lanes, while hoping for a delta breeze to come up and cool things off. Many more cars were parked along the route with teenagers sitting on, near or in their vehicles. All this while their car radio's were blasting 1360 K-5 for the hits of the day.
Modesto celebrates the film, Doo-Wop music performances and more with a tradition yearly month-long graffiti celebration held every June throughout the city. The celebration includes classic car shows, a downtown car parade and more. For the 50th anniversary of the film in 2012, local organizers, led by Chris Murphy, dedicated an historic cruise route (10th & 11th between K and G street) with kiosk markers providing information about George Lucas, Modesto and the Friday night cruising tradition in Modesto. Johnny Walker, Derek Waring, Kenny Roberts, Gail Wax, Tony Townsend, Bob DeLeon, John Chappell , Ron Posey, John Wayne Huey were some of the well known on the air K-5 personalities of the era.
In September of 1966, KMOD was sold to Kilibro broadcasting who quickly changed the call letters to KFIV (K-5) and the doo-wop rock 'n roll music format flowed from its studios in a walnut orchard on Orangeburg Avenue just E. of Oakdale Rd (as depicted by Wolfman Jack in the movie). The change vaulted the station to the top the ratings where it remained many years.
As part of the 50th anniversary of the movie, numerous events were planned throughout the community including several of the former K-5 DJs being invited to re-create the K-5 sound of the era for a weekend. Although K-5 today is an all news and talk station, the current owners, Clear Channel communications, graciously agreed to provide the equipment and airtime to re-create the K-5 sound of the era. 10 former K-5 jocks and Bob Lang, from KTRB, all got together and recorded their segments in the modern studios of K-5 on Lancey Drive in Modesto which were played back on the air during the weekend of June 8–10.
We have captured several of the "air checks" of the various shows . Many are presented here, more will follow.
In the radio industry, an air check tape demonstrates a disk jockey's talent. An air check contains only the segments where the DJ is talking, with a bit of music in the beginning and ending of each break. Disc jockeys make air check tapes to review how they sounded on the air or to audition for a potential job at a radio station.
Now, sit back and relax and enjoy the sounds of K5 of the 60s and 70s re-created by many of the men and women who were there when it happened.