In the late 50's and early 60's, many stations tried the exciting new Top 40 format. Among those in Des Moines, KWKY made two attempts, one in 1959 and another in 1961. Taking on the two established Top 40 stations, KIOA and KSO was no easy task and the lower power and less desirable signal coverage of KWKY, due to a tricky directional pattern and poor transmitter location made KWKY no match for the other stations.
One of the most unique things about the KWKY Top 40 era was how they changed the call letters from KWDM to KWKY in 1959. The station had just been purchased by a spin-off of 3M in the Twin Cities. They decided to change the call letters and call it "Quickie." They actually went so far as to have a third party advertising agency try to buy time on KSO and KIOA that said "Quickie's Coming." Former KSO program director Dick Vance said that no "Quickie" spots were run on KSO. We don't know if they got on the air at KIOA. This part may be a little urban legend, but the story keeps surfacing.
For 48 hours prior to 11:50AM on the day of the change, the station played the same novelty record over and over with announcements in between saying "Countdown 150,256, Quickie's Coming." The number represented the seconds counting down to the change.
Earl Brown sings Pachalafaka, the ironic thing is that Pachalafaka was not unlike the normal KWDM music, so when one first tuned in, it didn't seem all that strange until you heard them repeat the song. Twice per hour, they would drop in the KWDM Des Moines legal ID
They followed up with an aerial balloon drop at 11:50AM and attractive ladies standing in various places downtown holding portable radios playing KWKY. The jocks were call the "Quickie Redcoats" and "The Redcoats are coming" was also used. Don Bell was hired to do mornings and Doc Lemon and Skip Nelson were also Quickie Redcoats. The program Director, James Ramsburg used the name "Peter Rabbit." The 1959 jingles have not been found to date.
KWKY was the first station in Des Moines to have cart machines along with several other innovations in their new 1959 state-of-the-art studios.
DesMoinesBroadcasting.com learned that two members of the air staff of KWKY's 1961 Top-40 attempt have passed away. Bob Harper is considered to be the inspiration for the character "Doctor Johnny Fever" used by the creator of the WKRP TV series. Richard Haskey (KWKY airname Barry Lucky) became know as the "engineer's engineer" and had a colorful career building and maintaining stations all over the World.
KWKY Number 1 Song Into Jingle from the 1961 Top 40 attempt
KWKY "ON the Go"" long image jingle - 1961 (Futuresonic Jingles)
KWKY news intro jingle - 1961 (Futuresonic Jingles)
Jingles courtesy of 1961 era KWKY personality Johnny Michaels (raised in Des Moines as Jack Mikesch). The jingles were produced by Futuresonic.
Our special thanks to Bob Ogburn for finding a copy of Pachalafaka. It is a very rare recording.
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