Friday, April 3, 2015

Whatever happened to KCBM?

Whatever happened to KCBM?

Years ago, I heard KCBM, a West Coast pirate that broadcast with an AM-style talk show format that reminded me a lot of WSKY and some of the old New York City AM stations. KCBM broadcast somewhat regularly on Saturday nights for a few hours apiece with the "Barry and Ken Show." I don't know if they were involved in professional radio, but they had a sound like guys who worked in radio, but decided to cut loose and have fun on their own shortwave pirate station on weekends.

In April 2006,  I e-mailed DJ Barry Strange a few times and was asking him a few questions in preparation for an article.  He was always extremely friendly and he never alluded to the fact that something might be wrong with his health. Instead, he mentioned that he was busy working on writing a few books and was planning to try some high-frequency tests.

Five weeks later, I (along with about two dozen other DXers) received this e-mail from his sidekick Ken:

I have some sad information to tell you all. Barry Strange of KCBM has
passed away today at 0600 PST of Mesothelioma. Barry and I knew each other
ever since 1991 when we initially started KCBM on a frequency of 7440 khz at
50 watts. Since that time we grew into a 150 watt station on 6990 khz in the
41 meter broadcast band (USB). First and foremost Barry wanted to thank all
of you for making his dream of running his own radio station. You guys were
the driving force behind KCBM and he and I wanted to sincerely thank you
from the bottom of our hearts. I have the most profound and high respect for
the HAM operators and the regular listeners that we had. Hopefully soon I
will try to get the station back on air and keep it going.

Again, thanks for the years of support!

Barry - We will all miss you!

At the time, I was stunned.

Over the past few years, I've wondered what happened to Ken from KCBM and I wondered if anyone had any additional information about the station. One thing I've wanted to find is old recordings from KCBM around 2005/2006. Also, Ken said that the station started on 7440 kHz (presumably under a different name).

Today, I thought of KCBM again, ran a few Google searches, and looked on YouTube, but turned up very little. Over the past few years, I've wondered what happened to KCBM and I occasionally searched Google, then went back to work after finding very little.

Today, the lightbulb went off and I thought I'd just e-mail everyone who received the bulk e-mail from Ken about Barry's death nine years ago. My guess is that most of these e-mail addresses are no longer functional, but I hoped that with some luck, maybe I'd find some information or maybe a recording from someone.

Within a minute, I had bounceback messages from half of the email addresses that I'd contacted. I thought it was doomed.

But, within about five more minutes of sending the message, I received this message back from Martin Foltz:

I have a QSL from KCBM from 2006 and I think I have a recording of it. I think it was their last broadcast. I had a recent computer failure but I did a back-up of the audio files for 2006. I'll look when I have time. I might have some old emails from back then but that's an old desktop computer and will take some time to get to. I thought the story was that one of the guys was in the hospital but I don't know if this was because the FCC was after them. It would be interesting to know the real story. Guys on the QSL were Ken and Barry, heard on 6990 kHz on 4/30/2006.

Later, I received two more e-mails: one from someone who wished me luck in the search and one from someone who said that Ken passed away a few months after he last heard KCBM. I think he was thinking of Barry who had died.

Martin later said:

I'll send you the file when I find it. It's on a DVD and my new laptop doesn't have a DVD reader so I will need to use another computer to get the file onto a memory stick.  

This alone doesn't get me closer to the story of KCBM, but an audio file of one of the old programs would be great. And maybe Ken or someone else who knew about the station will read this blog entry and I'll hear from them? If anyone from the station would like to contact me, my e-mail address is: ayoder /atsymbol/ hobbybroadcasting /dot/ com

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