Radio goes on the air in Los Angeles by
"taking over" K-Lite 100 (KIQQ). Operating
from an abandoned warehouse off Interstate
10, the transmitter is blowing 200,000
watts! Or, so that was the claim.
Scott Shannon and Shadow Steele launch
the wild new station with none other than
"Welcome to the Jungle", the Guns N' Roses
tune that would become their anthem.
The older generation immediately begins
flooding the switchboard, telling the
operators that pirates have taken over the
station and that they can't get their easy
Lending credibility to this "hoax" is the
echo-ey on air sound of the DJs and
repeated announcements that this station
will play NO commercials! (Incredibly, not
ONE was played during the first two weeks
on the air! That first commercial went for
a then record $2,000! Subsequent spots
were $1,000-1,500. And they intentionally
sold only one spot per hour.) (Click here
for an article in Variety
magazine-courtesy Brian Wilson.) They put
down all the other Los Angeles stations,
and invite listeners to call in and
"flush" their former favorite station.
Callers are heard flushing KLOS, KROQ,
KRTH, Power 106, KIIS, KCAL, and tons
more. Even the obligatory top of the hour
call letter announcement is buried in
audio fine print in an attempt to further
the take over theme. The "pirates" begin
to tell older listeners where they can
tune their dial to find easy listening.
(Mistakenly during one of these
announcements, they identify KTWV The Wave
as 97.7---it's actually 94.7).
On the second day of operation, the DJ's
begin keeping track of days on the air, by
saying "Day 2", "Day 3", etc. This goes on
for over a year!
They take caller after caller, putting
them on the air. Each one tells them how
great the station is and says it's about
time something like this hit the air! If
they request a song, the Pirate plays it!
These guys aren't blowing off their
listeners like the other radio stations.
They're talking to them like they're best
buddies, playing whatever they want to
hear, and having as much fun as their
listeners are. This is radio at its
On Day 2 (March 18, 1989), this site's
creator learns of Pirate Radio for the
first time. "My father came to my house in
Lancaster that day to help me load the
U-Haul truck to move to San Diego. He told
me how some pirates had taken over K-Lite.
He was obviously unhappy with the
situation, and wanted me to figure out
what was going on, and to tell the truth,
I think he thought I could fix it! I tuned
in and listened for a couple of hours
while loading the U-Haul. I finally heard
the quick station ID at the top of the
hour and deduced that these pirates had
legally taken over the station, and that
K-Lite was now history.
My old man's former favorite station
instantly became MY favorite station!"
A VERY big thank you to Jim
Duncan and his son Jason Chandler for
creating the KQLZ dot com sweeper now used
on this site! Jim created the original
"The Mothership Has Landed" sweeper back
in 1989 in the Westwood One Studios. He
was given just 15 minutes to come up with
something. He and his engineer whipped up
that now legendary sweeper, and had
another guy drive it to the Pirate Studio.
He got it there just in time for airing!
According to Jason, "He got a call that
morning and he just happened to be at
Westwood One in Culver City, editing a
show....He and his board/op, Jeff Park,
came up with the idea of putting all of
the Los Angeles stations at the beginning
(the opening segment on March 17-ed)
and my dad thought up the "mothership"
Shadow Steele told us this about it: "We
came up with the idea for the sweeper one
day (I stole the basis of it from an old
black jock in Detroit from the 70s,
mentioned it to Scott - and the proverbial
light bulb went off - we knew we had a
winner and had to get it on the air
immediately.) The voice guys we were using
were not based in LA, and pre-internet you
could not get voice tracks faster than 2-3
days - so we asked the guy at Westwood One
if he could do it, and voila!"