Saturday, July 13, 2024


Harold RASHMUSHER Jr. noshing in the KILLERWATT's commissary on July 13, 1977, the day of the Great Blackout.
July 13, 1977, 9:30 PM. The lights go out big time. Most of New York City loses power. KLW the KILLERWATT's generators kick-in automatically, keeping the transmitter on-air from Signal Hill, Brooklyn, but its Manhattan studio goes dark. The engineering staff hastily activates an auxiliary control room located inside the transmitter building.

Vin CYCLONE c. 1977

vernight disc jockey Vin CYCLONE was the first of the air talent to arrive. He found no records to play. No tapes to cue up. A quick call to “Voice of the KILLERWATT,” Bobby ROBERTO, (yes, phones worked,) and he’s en-route, rowing up the pitch black Gowanus Canal, sitting on crates of records stowed aboard. The recording above chronicles KLW's "journey through a dark, lawless night, the Great Blackout of 1977."

Let's get up-close and personal with a few of the major players in tonight's real life drama!

Bobby ROBERTO c. 1980


He's been the Voice of the KILLERWATT since 1972. Truckers pushing big rigs down the inter-slab hear one syllable of Bobby's voice identifying the station, and they know they are pointed toward New York City. Bobby IS the brand!

Before Mr. Rashmusher Sr. (CEO of Conflamed Media Global, owners of the KILLERWATT, 1921-1974) coaxed ROBERTO to join CMG's flagship station, Bobby was flirting with dozens of stations up and down the Pacific coast. Long hair, psychedelics, living on the beach and getting around on a BSA 650 Lightning motorcycle suited him. But he didn't realize his degenerate music jockey days were about to end. It was during an air-shift at Mexican border-blaster radio station XERB that ROBERTO received a cryptic telegram from Rashmusher: "I can't believe you do not have a phone. Who doesn't have a phone? Who lives on the beach? You're a wild one Mr. Robert. My son said I should hire you." The message ended there. Without thinking twice, Bobby said thanks to Wolfman Jack for giving him his start in the business, then rolled eastward, carrying only a sleeping bag, lashed to his handlebars. Helloooo New York! He's been radiating from Signal Hill, Brooklyn, ever since. 

Dave WASTED c. 1977.

Dave was dabbling in college radio at the time. but never enrolled as a student. He would waltz into various tri-state area college stations at will, and harangue the pot smoking, jazz fusion listening, beige wearing, long-haired college radio jockeys who were too peaceful and soft spoken to kick him out. He was a college radio station urchin. An omnipresent annoyance who was trying to get in front of any microphone. WASTED first acknowledged KLW was "the shit" when he heard it from the back seat of a patrol car during the blackout. An epiphany. In future episodes he'll meet-up with a few KLW staffers and Scottso -- who at the time was working at a different radio station -- at the Cheyenne diner on blackout night.

(top photo)

A mensch. CEO of Conflamed Media Global, owners of the KILLERWATT, CMG’s flagship station. Has longstanding “prostrate” (sic) problems. Rashmusher was attempting to take a leak in the private bathroom behind the record library of KLW’s Manhattan studio (31st St. between Park Ave South and Madison) when the lights went out. Moments later, the building was looted, then burned. He made his way to the transmitter site on Signal Hill Brooklyn, arriving shortly after Bobby ROBERTO.

During the Blackout of ‘77, SCOTTSO was at New York’s progressive rock station, WNEW FM, where he remained until 1998. He then joined WAXQ (Q-104.3) until his death from a stroke in 2004. Shortly thereafter, it is rumored that Rashmusher leveraged associates practiced in dark, mystical arts conjuring Retro SCOTTSO back to the airwaves -- and the saloon.

Chadwicke (Chad) Burger
He's an RF (Radio Frequency) engineer. Kind of a nerd. Sweet guy. Burger's physical configuration doesn’t stop him from climbing antennas to replace beacon lights.

Sid Walker
Chief Engineer, KLW the KILLERWATT. A CMG company man. He's busy, irritated, grizzled. Sid's the boss of Engineering!


Who made the recordings?
Air-check tapes of KLW on the air throughout the blackout were recorded by John R. Brinkley Jr. of Battle Creek, Michigan. The radio hobbyist's recording* documents the KILLERWATT cobbling together an emergency studio at the generator powered transmitter site on Signal Hill, Brooklyn. The station's Manhattan studio (pictured above) was looted then set afire. To this day, both studio and transmitter sites have remained on the tiny islet in the widest section of the Gowanus Canal: "Signal Hill." Hear the first three installments of "The BLACKOUT TAPES" in succession, including commentary from KLW notables.

What about the reverb?
The reverb used at the time by KILLERWATT and other stations, notably WABC, was a large plate reverb (EMT 140, pictured, left) located at the transmitter site. Here is an air-check of WABC, also during the blackout of '77.

*The quality of the audio reflects the off-the-air nature of the recording, that is, a consumer tape recorder's microphone placed in front of a 1960s vintage tube-type Zenith kitchen radio. Also note the recordist was 685 miles away from Signal Hill, Brooklyn, hearing the KILLERWATT's 50,000 watt AM signal via night-time "skip," or "skywave."


 Interested in joining KLW's cracked team of radio fanatics? Info here.

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Saturday, July 6, 2024


NOEL at the Controls, on the road.
NOEL felt the fireworks "weren't loud enough." So in tribute to Steve Albini, RIP, he kicks off At the Controls by unleashing an incredibly heavy Om song. Chant that sacred sound ... loud!

Click to listen.

Interested in joining KLW's cracked team of radio fanatics? Info here.

#ThinLizzy #Om #SolidGoldAndAlexanderLove #MC5 #TheMovingSidewalks

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