In 1979, Community Radio KRCL 90.9 FM started out in a tiny studio above the now-closed Blue Mouse Theater, next to Cosmic Aeroplane’s final location on First South.
This station continues to broadcast eclectic music and public affairs programs throughout the Wasatch Front in the Twenty First Century.
KRCL 90.9 FM put out a wide-ranging signal throughout Northern Utah from a transmitter on the high ridges of the Oquirrh Mountains, overlooking the Great Salt Lake. It is a matter of record exactly how often that site was affected by thunderstorms and wildlife, sometimes to the detriment of KRCL’s signal actually being on the air.
It might take a while to discover or report on a signal outage, so KRCL’s various shows could still be going on because nobody in the station itself knew that they were off the air. Of course, the best-remembered stories are from Radiothon, like “Sparky,” an unfortunate squirrel, who got the blame for a sudden power failure in the mid-80’s, or David’s enthusiastic two hour Sunday Grateful Dead Retrospective, of which only the first ten minutes were heard. Long-time Jazz DJ Steve Williams’ last show in the early days of KRCL was also lost in a transmitter failure, and Williams is repeatedly teased about “finishing” that final show of his.
Cosmic Aeroplane staffers who were Disc Jockeys on KRCL include Brad Collins, Smokey Koelsch, Sherm Clow, Michael Hatsis, and Julie Leuders. Ebay Hamilton reintroduced Soul Music Fridays, a tradition introduced by Larry Ficks early-on in KRCL’s saga. Other noteworthy DJs include professionals from other stations like Michael G. Kavanagh, Steve Williams, Barb Guy, and Lara Jones, plus musicians Curt Setzer, Dale Carlson, and Bad Brad Wheeler. Long-running programs include “Red White and Blues” from Brian Kelm, and “Smile Jamaica,” featuring Reggae from Myron Fairbanks, Michael Hatsis, John Reese, and carried on into the present by Robert Nelson.
Salt Lake’s Punk-Rock pioneer and urban gardener Aldine Strichnine invited Michael Evans to speak on KRCL 90.9 FM during RadioACTive in 2016 about the Cosmic Aeroplane as a creative incubator of Salt Lake City’s Alternative Scene. Al was interested in Michael’s historical work, like this web site, and also the theatrical memoir he’d recently published. These Cosmic conversations resumed over the air later in the year and continued into 2018, thanks to RadioACTive host Lara Jones and the support of KRCL’s staff and volunteers.
KRCL May 27, 2016
The RadioACTive gang and their guests on May 27, 2016
(L to R) Co-host Aldine Strychnine; Singer Shanin Blake; Michael Evans; Urban farmers Holiday Dalgleish and Tyler Montague; Producers Lara Jones and Emily Means.
Our conversation on RadioACTive covered the Cosmic Aeroplane itself; the Cosmic Archival Site; Stew Ellington’s Cosmic Aeroplane/Blue Mouse Facebook page; my own book The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools; plus Salt Lake’s Dance Scene, past and present, which spawned those intercontinental adventures between the covers.
KRCL December 16, 2016
The show’s theme was “Music Meets Activism — Then and Now,” with Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books reading challenging poetry by Charles Bowden and part of “A Writer’s Credo” by Edward Abbey; Michael Evans, speaking about Hal Sparck and Draft Resistance at the Cosmic Aeroplane on 369 West Temple, Steve Jones’ wiretapped pay phone, and Cosmic spin-off businesses; PLUS beautiful live music from Kate MacLeod.
KRCL December 23, 2016
(Standing Left to Right) Kate’s visiting daughter, Jonathan K, Aldine Strychnine, Michael Evans, and Lara Jones, with Kate MacLeod (Sitting), and various members of Badfeather sitting and standing all over the studio.
The First Annual Punk Rock Farmer Christmas Music and Cookie Social featured: Rose Park’s urban farmer Jonathan K; Felecia Maxfield-Barrett of the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy; A tribute to recently-departed Cosmic Aeroplane founder Steve Jones with Michael Evans; and live music from the band Badfeather.
The highlight of this show is special musical guest Kate MacLeod singing the full version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” and telling the story of its painfully anti-war lyrics.
(L to R) Scotty Hayes, Madelana’s visiting friend, Lara Jones, Madelena McNeil, Smokey, Michael Evans, and Aldine Strychnine, KRCL’s Punk Rock Farmer. (Inset) John “Smokey” Koelsch. Co-producer Billy Palmer is missing from the photo.
Madalena McNeil of “Utahns Speak Out” talked about the postponement of a town hall with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-2nd District, UT) to Friday, March 31, 7 p.m. at West High School in Salt Lake City; Wendy Fisher of Utah Open Lands was on the phone about saving Bonanza Flats; John “Smokey” Koelsch — he who put the “Smoke” in Smokey’s Records and Smokey’s Blues Hour “back in the day” on KRCL — talked about local Blues, vinyl records, and retail music before and during the CD revolution. There were a few words from archivist Michael Evans, leading to questions about Smokey’s days at the Cosmic Aeroplane too. Also, live singing from Scotty Haze and recorded music from harmonica player Peter Brandt and the Rocks & Gravel Blues Band circa 1972, thanks to Smokey.
NOTE: All the live music was recorded at the Blind Mule Saloon in Park City, and we try to say so on the air. Peter Brandt’s music was recorded in the rear of the Cosmic Aeroplane when it was located at 369 W. South Temple, and both recordings may be downloaded free from Rev. Willis —
(L to R) Peter Brandt in rehearsal with Smoke Blues Band; Original Cosmic Aeroplane sign at 9th & 9th in 1967, painted by Peter Brandt.
KRCL June 2, 2017
Lara Jones interviewed influential Disk Jockey Michael G. Kavanagh about the Summer of Love in 1967 and other subjects concerning the Nineteen Sixties. An edited version of the interview was played during RadioACTive on June 2, 2017.
Lara Jones also put her COMPLETE interview with Michael G. Kavanagh online:
KRCL July 7, 2017
Lara Jones and Aldine Strychnine interviewed Cosmic Co-Founder Sherm Clow, about the 50th Anniversary of the Cosmic Aeroplane (for a start), the Late Sixties, Radicalism, Poetry, and Punk-Rock — Sherm starts talking early!
KRCL May 7, 2018
RadioACTive’s co-hosts Billy Palmer and Lara Jones interviewed Blogmeister Michael, prior to his book talk and historical lecture for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Chapman Branch Library — Managing Chapman Librarian Mary Anne Heider capably informed the radio audience about the overall Chapman Centennial, and Lara Jones guided the conversation to Michael’s book The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools. We also spoke about Community Radio KRCL-FM sharing the front page of the West View newspaper’s Volunteerism and Service to the Community Issue for Spring 2018, along with Michael’s journalistic coverage of “Chapman 100.”
There were literally a dozen other guests that busy Monday including — a real ton of visiting speakers. Award-winning special education teacher Jason Tackett, backed up mine and Mary Anne’s contention about the importance of teaming Free Public Libraries with Free Public Education; David Heiblim of The Dispensary; Liberty Valentine, Moudi Sbeity, and the Saffron Kitchen Project by the Utah Refugee Education & Training Center, a non-profit space dedicated to helping under-served youth and refugees develop a commercial kitchen skills to take them into the professional culinary world; A.J. Collette of Flourish Bakery; Ana Valdemoros and Tham Soekotjo of Square Kitchen SLC, another culinary “incubator” kitchen freshly open on SLC’s west side, near the Chapman Branch Library.
KRCL May 30, 2018
RadioACTive’s co-hosts Billy Palmer and Lara Jones talked about Jazz with Kelly Salmans and Michael Evans. We especially concentrated on Saxophonist Joe McQueen, honoring him on his ninety-ninth birthday, describing his long life in Jazz, and inviting KRCL’s listeners to McQueen’s free concert in Downtown Salt Lake City the next evening. Salmans works with concert producers Excellence in the Community, and the Gallivan Center, who served over five times ninety-nine pieces of birthday cake to all concert-goers twenty-four hours later. Kelly is involved with other Jazz venues too. We also spoke about the remarkably expanding Jazz Scene along the Wasatch Front, the high quality of college professors teaching the art of Jazz, and their eager and aggressive students.
We mentioned Jazz DJ Steve Williams, whose Jazz-playing father moved his family to Salt Lake in the 1950’s. Steve literally grew up on Jazz, and began his forty-year career on the air by doing one of the very first programs on KRCL 90.9 FM in 1979 as “Mayor of Jazz City.” Besides currently playing Jazz over KCPW 83.3 FM every Sunday, he is also retired from KUER 90.1 FM after three decades of spinning Jazz every weekday evening from the University of Utah’s NPR/PBS station.
Read more at: Cosmic Allies Vol. I — KRCL-FM and Steve Williams
Also on the show were: Courtney McBeth, project director for the U.of U. statewide American Dream Ideas Challenge; Sue Robbins, Utah Pride Center board member; Lucas Fowler, board chair, Transgender Education Advocates of Utah; and Jason Groth, from ACLU of Utah’s Smart Justice Campaign.
We actively request contributions of pictures, memorabilia, and oral histories about the Cosmic Aeroplane and related cultural phenomena — please contact us:
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