When I made the long journey back to Oklahoma City a few years ago, as soon as I was somewhat within the city limits, I immediately turned the radio dial to 107.7 KRXO for some of that panty-droppin’ classic rock that I grew up on.
Sadly—as probably many of you already know—once the commercials for male enhancements ended and two blustery dudes started arguing about the Thunder with a caller, it became wholly apparent to me that the Edgar Winter Group, Black Oak Arkansas and even Foghat had outworn their stay on the local airwaves, replaced by something called “The Franchise.”
As a teen in Oklahoma City during the personally tumultuous early ‘90s, there were seemingly only two radio stations that my peers listened hypnotically to: the pop-till-you-drop of KJ103 and the headbanging metal-hits of the KATT. The Harding Middle School bus—route number seven—sometimes had an overhead radio and was usually turned to one of those stations; hidden in my backpack however, beyond the textbooks, pencils and college-ruled paper, was my own pair of cheap FM/AM headphones.
And, just like Tom Scholz wailed to me a time or two, I would strap on those cans and “just close my eyes and I’d slip away,” listening to the pure classic rock joy that was KRXO.
There was a period of time where, from when I woke up in the morning to as I laid down for bed at night, that rock and roll radio was being remembered routinely in my room; it would always start getting ready for school with Shannon and the Eggman, which I’ve written endearingly about a few times before. There was even a short period of time where I became a small-time character on the show; I was known as the “Portland Laffer” for a couple of weeks, where I would call in and just guffaw at their comical insults towards me.
You had to be there, I suppose.
In a time before cell phones, I would tie up the landline, routinely calling in and winning contests, usually beating out the much older folks when it came to something like rock trivia; it wasn’t uncommon for my mailbox to be stuffed with Jethro Tull live albums, Mannheim Steamroller tickets and, of course, the ever present KRXO t-shirt, their triangular shield emblazoned on a heather-grey background. I wore the shirt just about everywhere for two or three years and it showed.
As soon as I got my car a few years later, friends would always try to change the channel to something like the “new” alternative outlet 95X, but I always kept it locked in to KRXO, losing lovers as I listened to Rick Caldwell and so many others—there was a guy named Kelso there too, right?—making out in the backseat of my Delta ’88 to the King Biscuit Flower Hour on the weekends, the hot ‘n heavy teen-friction moving in time to live cuts from Mountain or the Doobie Brothers.
But, you know, times change; the classic rock playlist was replaced with sports talk a few years ago and, even though they moved to 104.5, when I turned them on ready to get down to that rock sound, all that came out was Pearl Jam and a couple of other groups from the ‘90s, the same bands that I was trying to get away from in the first place, so many years ago.
I guess that’s where satellite radio (or Spotify) might come into play, but there’s something that feels like a real letdown when, in the city you live and work and love in, there’s not a single deejay that’s playing a tune just for you, even if it is a back-to-back double-shot of Grand Funk Railroad.