My pirate station KCRZ  By Dave Pavletich


KCRZ studios, circa 1986, located in my bedroom. Live & automated programming originated from this control room.

    The first question I'm asked when I tell people I've been a radio disc jockey for 17 years is "where did you go to school"? I didn't! Actually, my home was my classroom. When I was 14 my dad gave me a build-it-yourself AM radio transmitter from Radio Shack as a get well present. It was originally intended to broadcast about 100 feet, was powered by a 9 volt battery, and had a small 10' antenna. Soon, I had it hooked up to a CB power supply, and the antenna was roughly 200 feet long, strung between power poles in my backyard. It broadcast approximately 3 city blocks. The station was originally in a small A-frame playhouse next to my parent's house. I was soon hooking up microphones, cassette players and turntables to my new toy, and magically I had a radio station. KPSC were the original call letters, and I broadcasted on 1050khz. The P stands for my last name, while the S & C stood for my friend's first names. It was the summer of 1983, and I was 14 at the time, just ready to enter the 9th grade. It wasn't long before I grew tired of my friends asking why the couldn't hear my station where they lived. One of my older radio friends picked me up a 20 watt AM transmitter in a state auction for $50. It had been used to broadcast road conditions on mountain passes. After building a 100' antenna out of 1/2 inch copper tubing attached to a tree, I was soon broadcasting 5 miles! This was totally illegal, and I sold commercials and printed playlists, and gave out business cards. The station was renamed KCRZ, and operated 24 hours a day. When the station wasn't live, the programming repeated itself every 90 minutes, using an auto reverse cassette deck. Every weekday morning I would get up before school at 5:30AM and run a live morning show until my bus arrived at 7:45am. As soon as I got home from school, I was back on the air!


One of the first KCRZ playlists using our new logo. These were routinely on display at PayLess in Aberdeen. I prided myself on having the most recent releases on the air. Both of the other Top-40 stations in town were automated, and KCRZ routinely beat them by a month on new releases.

The following cuts are the earliest recordings of my radio career, taped in the summer of 1983, age 14. KCRZ was located in an A-frame studio at this time.

Introducing a song
A KCRZ station sign on announcement
A Picadilly Pet Circus commercial
Interviewing my 6 year old sister Amy
My brother Steve announcing between songs
Steve promoting his show "Barry Brock's Top 10"
Commercials featuring my brother Steve followed by my friend Steve.

My friend Steve's parents owned Lincoln Street Grocery across the street from my house. We promoted them constantly. Occasionally we'd help "stock the cooler" which meant we'd snag a few goodies, but it was a good trade off for advertising.

In the spring of 1986 I signed onto a local bulletin board (pre-internet days) and received the following message from my engineer friend Paul Lankow: "The shit is about to hit the fan". This was a warning that our boss at KXRO/KDUX, Steve Levold, was about to fire me for running a pirate radio station. Levold was under the impression that I was operating my pirate station legally, but was presented with information to the contrary after an article about my station appeared in a radio magazine. He was afraid KXRO/KDUX's licenses would be in jeopardy if the FCC found out one of the station's operators was running an illegal pirate station on the side. It was a positive article that explained I was operating a low power AM station with a range of 5 miles, published playlists, ran commercials, and operated 24 hours a day. The article was uncovered by Richard "The Dee" Danneker who was the afternoon disc jockey at KXRO/KDUX. Richard never liked me, I was young and infringed too much on his supposed knowledge of radio. Richard gave the article to Levold, who called me into his office and fired me. He issued an ultimatim, however. Shut down KCRZ, and I'd be re-hired in 60 days. So, I did the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and shut down my favorite toy. I started working again at KXRO in 2 months.

Dave Pavletich's radio page is here!