PREACHER - Norah Patterson
My road to KPRI began in 1966 while working at other San Diego radio stations, KITT-FM and KLRO-FM. Like other FM stations at the time their music was a MOR format (middle of the road). B-o-r-i-n-g stuff, but just out of the navy, radio was a more enjoyable job than my first civilian job of selling Colliers encyclopedias. Mantovani, Ray Coniff, Chris Montez, Nancy Sinatra, Julie London, Tijuana Brass were wearing me down so much that when I found an album in our library by a young guy I never heard of named Lou Rawls, (marked DO NOT PLAY by the program director) I decided “what the hell, it’s late and who’s listening”. In a studio there is a secret phone number so only station personnel could call in straight to the on-air disc jockey. While Lou Rawls was singing something about a mean funky woman that line lit up. The PD was listening and yelled, “Get that off the air”. I mentioned something like it’s almost over. “I don’t give a shit, get it off the air!!” Off it came and I went back to the violins. It was about 1967 that a fellow jock at KLRO, Ron Middag, told me about something he’s getting involved with and was soon leaving the station. It was the infant KPRI underground FM rock music experience. I didn’t get it at first, I mean, there was no such thing as rock music and FM in the same sentence. By 1969 I had quit my radio gigs and joined a band called DC Blues to help pay living expenses while earning a college degree in electronics. Broadcasting was still the path I wanted to follow, so after college I began taking classes to get my 1st Class FCC license. I figured engineering was a more secure job than being a disc jockey, because in broadcasting DJ’s and PD’s came and went, but the engineers had longevity. The classes were in the famous El Cortez building. By now KPRI had grown from an infant couple hours of rock-oriented music into 7/24 of hippie heaven static-free stereo radio and concert producing. I became a fan. My band emulated a lot of the same music and KPRI was the soul of the youth culture and shaking up the radio industry in San Diego. My stereo was tuned in 24 hours a day and I was fascinated, by not only the music, but also the artistic ways the DJ’s crafted their shows. Three turntables allowed them to play full-length versions of songs, sometimes whole albums; something unheard of in San Diego. Awesome segues, sound effects, and outtakes delighted listeners. The DJ’s were laid back, unlike that fast Boss Jock delivery heard on AM rock stations. KPRI had moved from that basement studio to the perfect corner location on 7th and Ash Streets—right across the street from the El Cortez where a list of legendary bands stayed when in town and would visit the station. After classes I would sometimes truck over there to meet and hang with the colorfully named DJ’s. One day a DJ walks in and recognized me. It was Ron Middag, now with long hair and bell bottoms. That put a face to the Inor Gaddim I had been listening to. He helped me to get a job by subbing for some guys, and that led to my own midnight to 6:00AM shifts. Great for me because now I had all the up-all-night hippies in my hand to trip out and sometimes plug my band. The full-view window studio was a wall-to-wall decorum of black-light lit glowing posters and flashing lights from electronic gear. Such a sight to behold that fans driving across town at night would detour through downtown to behold the window view and see the DJ hunched over his mic. A very big revolution to note that KPRI was responsible for this. Back in those days cars were equipped with factory installed AM radios. Fans, not wanting to miss a single moment of KPRI, flooded electronic stores to swoop up FM car radios that were flying off the shelf. The demand for them exceeded expectations of electronic stores. Huge impact on sales for them. Being part of that whole KPRI underground experience was a thrill. I enjoyed the freedom we DJ’s were given, the celebrity, and the office staff. The DJ’s were an awesome group to work with. Sorry that it ended when corporation HQ back east pulled the plug. New staff came in bringing AM style format to FM. I believe Gabriel Wisdom was the only OG to survive the turnover. After that I worked for NBC and CBS affiliate TV stations and had a photography business. These days I’m enjoying life retired and as an active musician. It’s always been about the music for me. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.