KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR & BBC ROCK HOUR RADIO SHOW REFERENCE WEBSITE
All dates are in mm/dd/yy format
Welcome to the King Biscuit Flower Hour and BBC Rock Hour Radio Show Reference website. This site is intended to be a useful resource to anyone interested in the KBFH or BBC radio shows as produced by the DIR Broadcasting Corporation in the US, or the BBC in the UK and London Wavelength Inc. in the US starting in the early 1970's. These shows were a popular source for pre-recorded concert performances by then current artists and broadcast across the U.S., the U.K. and via affiliated networks around the world.
The impetus for this site was the fact that there does not seem to be any readily available, formal index for KBFH or BBC broadcast radio music concert shows, that is a useful reference tool for those interested in searching for a specific artist's music performances on these syndicated programs, as well as collectors of these shows in the distributed media of the time. Various posted lists on the web have scattered listings of some of these shows by one or more artists, with varying amounts of detail. Most of these lists are focused on a single artist, genre or period of music. Some others focus on those program broadcasts that were done in quadraphonic format. But, nowhere have I found a compiled reference list of all shows as broadcast for these major syndicated radio show series in the U.S. and UK.
I initially wanted to pursue information regarding the King Biscuit Flower Hour and BBC Rock Hour radio shows, because some of their programs had been broadcast in quadraphonic format. I discovered that with limited exceptions, most of these were broadcast in the SQ matrix format. Therefore, a few years ago I initiated a personal project to start to gather information, initially on just both of these two U.S. broadcast radio show series, from the various sources available. As my efforts progressed and I found additional related information, I eventually ended up expanding the scope of the respective indices.
Most of the information included in the linked show series specific indices is differentiated by:
- chronologically by broadcast date
- known venues & performance dates
- what media the show was originally distributed to the subscribing radio station on
- the approximate length of the distributed show, including any imbedded commercials
- audio format (mono, stereo, quadraphonic - discrete 4-channel or encoded SQ matrix)
- what sources of data verification is known
- other show specific information
As verification of much of the information in these indices, I have an inventory of reference images including show advertisements, reel boxes, reel labels, LP/CD disc labels, and cue sheets that I have collected over time. Many have come from eBay listings and other internet sites.
It is important to state that this index is assumed to be neither accurate nor complete, and is an intentionally, perpetual "work in progress" project. While I have spent many hundreds of hours searching and sifting through countless website and hardcopy media, I know that there are inaccuracies contained within these indices.
I want to clearly state that what I am listing is a compilation of information harvested from various sources. Some of it is from fairly reliable sources including show advertisements, box/disc labels, cue sheets and often audio references within the shows I have listened to. But much of this is also from various collector and fans sites that have often conflicting information. In some cases I have had to make a judgment call on some of these and use the most substantiated information I can find.
Part of the challenge in compiling the date information (broadcast & performance dates) is compounded by various known factors. Show date reference errors abound on fan sites, download sites, Wolfgang's Vault (for KBFH/DIR shows), even reel/LP labels, show cue sheets and finally even imbedded in show recordings.
Additionally, over the years fans collecting either off-air captured shows or even sourcing them from a radio station's syndicated original media, would often chose to edit out show DJ intros/outros and commercials, and just retain the music. While being quite logical for the casual fan, it would likely result in the deletion of useful information regarding either the syndication series name, broadcast date and performance venue and dates.
Additionally, the cue sheets for these syndicated radio shows would often grow wings and become permanently separated (i.e. lost), and then cause the remaining media to be without crucial data for my indexing purposes.?
With this approach, I also clearly recognize the risk, that by publishing a list like this, that I could perpetuate and give validity to erroneous information. That is certainly not my intention. Where I do not have a reasonable verification, I have listed information (dates, venues, etc.) followed by a "?", or with highlighted text, meaning that I am looking for verification of what I have listed, or of verified information that refutes or corrects what I have listed.
That is why I am sincerely requesting any feedback in this effort, to help refine this list with any corrections, clarifications, or additions to this data that you can offer. Please be specific regarding which reference you are commenting on, if already listed. Please send me any supporting information, including images or scans of show ads, cue sheets, disc labels, reel box labels, etc., that I can review to substantiate your feedback. I will gladly revise my listings in the hope of improving it for all users.
Therefore, as part of the requested feedback from viewers of this site, I would greatly appreciate receiving any additional images (.jpg, .pdf, .bmp, etc.) at 200 - 400 dpi, if possible.?Please send any that you can offer to me at my mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org address. Please use a subject line of 'Radio Show Info' in your messages, so as to help me sort out your real messages from the inevitable spam. Or if you wish, you can send me photocopies or images on disc at Radio Show Index, P.O. Box 501, Noblesville, IN 46061, USA.
I especially would like to receive copies of radio show cue sheets from King Biscuit Flower Hour and BBC Rock Hour shows. Not only are they a great help in identifying show specifics, but they are often missing from the reels, LPs, and CDs that collectors obtain. My future objective is to create a companion site to offer an 'exchange' for cue sheets of these two series, to help other collectors 'fill in the blanks' in their collections.
King Biscuit Flower Hour Reel Shows vs. BBC Rock Hour Reel Show 'Format' Confusion
I need to take a moment and explain a common misunderstanding of the difference in how KBFH & BBC RH transmitted quadraphonic radio show content to the subscribing stations vs. the format they were broadcast in.
Over the years there has been significant confusion amongst commentators and collectors as to whether or which shows of these two series distributed on reel, were in fact in quad. Often this has been driven by the perception of the aural presentation and channel discreteness of the different shows as heard. Part of this is simply due to the nature of the original multi-track recordings and that becomes the limiter in the final mixing capabilities. [The old adage of 'garbage in, garbage out' applies here.]
Some shows are more discrete than others due to the limitations of the performance source recordings. These could be influenced by a variety of issues like venue size, design and acoustics, recording mic placements, artist configuration (i.e. solo artist vs. a group) and audience size. In addition to the individual instrument microphones or pickups, if the setting did not allow for sufficient microphone placement to pick up either the side to side or front to back spatial characteristics, then the final 4 channel quadraphonic mix would likely be compromised.
Additionally, early on in the series life, DIR had an arrangement that allowed the artists to mix the show recordings themselves to meet their desires. This put some bias into the show mixes and the resulting discrete nature of the quad broadcasts. The result would be a show that possibly evidences more limited quad separation to the listener.
My particular confusion had been further compounded by the fact that beyond commercially released quadraphonic media, I had begun to collect 'quad' radio program reels from both KBFH and BBC Rock Hour programs. At the time I had seen cue sheets from BBC Rock Hour reels that clearly stated that the radio reels so indentified, were SQ encoded recordings. Additionally, I had seen the numerous show ads in Rolling Stone and statements on other sites, that many of the early King Biscuit Flower Hour shows were also broadcast in SQ quadraphonic format.
Therefore, I initially made the erroneous assumption (as had most others) that the radio show media (reels) distributed to subscribing radio stations for both series were SQ encoded.
It appears that over the years, that a good number of people, including noted quad collectors have had the same fundamental confusion, when referring to the KBFH radio reels and their usage. DIR/KBFH's ads and imbedded commercials within early shows loudly proclaimed that the shows were broadcast in 'SQ quadraphonic'. The subtle but potentially confusing distinction actually was?between the reference to the radio broadcasts as being SQ matrix encoded quadraphonic transmissions to the listener, versus the actual format that these radio reels were mastered in and the process used for their transmission.
I then discovered, and have since verified through other knowledgeable individuals, that the KBFH reels are fully discrete, 4-channel quadraphonic tapes. When played on a 1970's era 4-channel R-R recorder, they reveal 4 discrete channels of information. All four channels are playable in the same direction, as opposed to a stereo reel, where 2 tracks would play in one direction and the other 2 tracks, if listened to, would appear to be recorded 'backwards' on a 4-channel recorder.
It now appears clear that DIR Broadcasting (for KBFH) and London Wavelength (for BBC Rock Hour) chose to go different paths for presenting quadraphonic radio broadcasts. The known quadraphonic shows on BBC Rock Hour had the radio reels SQ matrix encoded for direct stereo broadcast to the listeners. [Their cue sheets clearly state that they are SQ encoded.]
But DIR chose to send their subscribers discrete 4-channel, quadraphonic reels. The encoding was then done at each station as the 4 channel tapes were played for broadcast. The stations were required to play the tapes on a quad reel to reel player and then feed the output through an SQ encoder (like a Sony SQE-2000) to produce the SQ matrix encoded signal for direct stereo broadcast to the listeners.
The result was that for both radio series, the listeners obviously would then receive the SQ encoded transmissions and decode them through their quad receivers to hear the 4 channel program.
Pioneer was the original KBFH sponsor that was promoting the quad format and therefore driving the broadcast format, and they were still one of the show's sponsors, at least though the 7/1/79 show. And even with the slowdown in quadraphonic receiver sales by then, Pioneer and KBFH would have developed a significant anticipating audience around the format. It therefore seems plausible that both parties may have felt committed to continuing the format for broadcast, even if it was not acknowledged within the broadcast or used as a marketing perk, and therefore continued to release shows in discrete 4-channel, quadraphonic format until they transitioned to distributing shows exclusively on vinyl in early 1980.
Although they did not advertise the later shows as being broadcast in quadraphonic, it is clear that all of the reel to reel shows released as part of this series (King Biscuit Flower Hour, BBC Presents, British Biscuit, Conversations With), regardless of show title by DIR from 2/18/73 through 2/10/80, are in 4 channel, quadraphonic format.
The result is that the only SQ encoded tapes/CDRs that exist, would be ones that were recorded off the air by a stereo receiver onto stereo tape during their original broadcast era and not decoded. In these cases, if properly captured, these of course do still possess the original encoded SQ quadraphonic programs and can be played and decoded to produce the original 4-channel, quadraphonic sound today on 1970's era SQ quadraphonic decoding receivers. These receivers are of course pieces of equipment that are aging and dying off rapidly, even in the hands of quad collectors.
The bottom line is that the KBFH radio reels that collectors know as 'quad', are in fact discrete 4-channel quadraphonic tapes, and not SQ encoded quadraphonic tapes.
Unfortunately, over the history of this series, this awareness was not common in the collecting community and as a result most of the early dubs of "pre-FM" KBFH reels done by collectors and audio traders fortunate enough to acquire them, were simply 2 track stereo copies from what in fact were 4-channel quadraphonic radio show tapes. Most people acquiring these reels either only had stereo reel to reel players and recorders or simply were not aware that they had a 4-channel tape in their in their possession. And even if they did, until the last few years they did not have a digital option for capturing all four discrete tracks for eventual playback. The result was that once they had done their transfers, often the source reel was forgotten, lost or even discarded as unnecessary.
It has only been in recent years that technically astute individuals have realized the potential dubbing of 4-channel source material into 4 channel .wav files and then capturing them in DVD-Audio formatted output. DVD-Audio has been a relative new comer in the audio arena and still struggles to find a firm footing. Commercial releases were first issued in mid-2000 and to date I am aware of at least 500 titles that have been issued.
With this technology, it soon was apparent that similar to stereo recording to CDR, if there was a technology to support recording multiple channels in DVD-Audio format, then the capture of 4-channel musical treasures could be preserved in their originally intended configuration and subsequently reproduced for surround sound aural enjoyment. At this point, in addition to numerous commercial 4-channel audio releases from the 1970's, a number of quadraphonic radio show reels have also been dubbed to DVD-Audio format. Of the ones I have heard, they are fantastic and open the door in providing a way to save these historic music artifacts from extinction and allow them to be heard for years to come.
It is also important to note the additional historical importance of all radio show concert series of this era. Radio shows in general and these specific series in particular were not only listened to and enjoyed during their initial broadcasts, but that they were actively recorded by listeners for subsequent enjoyment and then sharing. Along with these off-air dubs, the original radio station distributed media then became popular in the trading circles, but typically only as stereo dubs, and not 4 channel recordings.
Both these dubs and the original media also became the source for a multitude of stereo bootleg releases on vinyl and CD over the subsequent decades and now are commonly available via many download sites.
Fortunately, these original radio reels, off-air recordings, commercial CDs and the official availability of the KBFH shows in stereo via Wolfgang's Vault, today help these classic shows continue to have a prolonged life and that can be enjoyed by listeners now and well into future.
So, what is a radio show? Why collect them? And where do they come from?
[Below is a heavily edited and excerpted article that contained an excellent online answer to these questions, that similarly captured my opinions on the importance and enjoyment of collecting syndicated radio shows. I wish that I had captured the address to now give credit to the original author. I have excised portions, added others and edited it slightly to reflect my feelings on the topic more directly.]
Well, those are good questions, especially if you have never known of them. Radio Shows are syndicated productions by one of several large and small distributors who supply broadcast product to radio stations normally during weekends when the usual air personalities have a break. Many air on Saturday or Sunday evenings or during overnight segments. They often feature some of the best known voices for their genre from across the country, thus the Dick Clark's and Casey Kasem's and Rick Dees and Dick Bartley and so many others. People collect them for various reasons. Some just collect the series because they like it and want them all. Some collect their favorite artists or genre of music. Rather than an album by the artist or a compilation bought at Wal-Mart or wherever, they have a unique presentation of their favorite artist or music not available anywhere else and often with a DJ presentation which is very entertaining. Some collect interviews with their favorite artists, as most shows had interview segments. Believe it or not, some collect commercials, especially old car commercials, but certainly not limited to only those. And, currently these shows are in limited quantity.
They were produced and distributed in a few different media forms just for airplay on syndicated radio stations. Many shows have just a few in circulation. Some of the more popular shows may have as many as a few hundred of each week's show that survived, but think about it. A few hundred for some 200 million Americans and millions of overseas collectors who look for unique presentations of their favorite artists or form of music. And today they are getting increasingly hard to find. They were first distributed on reel to reel tape, if the show goes back that far into the 60's or 70's, then later on LP, later on CD and even later (after 2000 for most shows) on CDR. Now they are not available at all to collectors, since they typically are distributed by digital download much like you get your music from iTunes.
These shows become rarer and rarer every day because the people who buy them hold on to them and the people who sell them, are running out of them. The shows that you get now and hold on to, are likely to only increase in value.
There is nothing ridiculous about treasuring and listening to old radio shows. No one thinks it odd to watch old films, read old books, look at old paintings. It's only the common but misplaced conception of the medium as being a solely ephemeral one - because we listen to it in the car or kitchen or bath while doing other things - that makes us feel we should not 'listen again' that much, because it's an everyday thing we do, and therefore surely can't be very important. Moreover, given the unprecedented originality and exclusive content of the most radio shows, such an activity is by no means wholly nostalgic. Like discovering an unpublished or lost story by a minor author, almost any unheard radio show is likely to include some music and an artist or two even informed listeners may not have heard before.
Finally, these music artifacts are U.S. and UK history at their best. These days, I view them as nearly archeological objects that are disappearing at an alarming rate, due to damage in mis-handling, deterioration with age and manufacture, poor storage conditions or simply being discarded due to the understandable ignorance of those that come across them. As a musical "archeologist" for these two specific radio series, I have been dedicating my efforts to collecting and preserving them for future generations of musical historians to know and hopefully enjoy. The respective indices that are linked above are an extension of my effort to help document their existence for fans and collectors alike.
Whether the show is from the 1960's or 2000's, rock, countdown, oldies, country, classical, religious, jazz or big band, it is unique and home grown. And you just can't find them anywhere. Even record stores that still exist will rarely have any. Radio shows are wonderful representations of the real golden age of radio, at least music wise. And every one you buy is an original, not a copy, not a remake - all limited editions in the hundreds at most and many much fewer.
Most people even enjoy the national commercials that are included on the show because more than 40 years later they sound great and take you back to often better times. On these shows you often will hear vintage ads from Toyota, Pioneer and many others. For me they are a valuable addition to my collection.
Remember, when you collect a radio show, not only will you possess the tunes, but also interspersed between songs is fascinating commentary on the artists and songs. Also, keep in mind that this is but a snapshot in time of the great radio shows that were out there, and it is not just about the music - the music can be found anywhere. It is the mixture of great music and great announcing that makes it so entertaining. As well, it is a piece of radio history. At some point in the near future, you unfortunately just aren't going to be able to find these shows anymore.
Technical Perspective/Challenges For Collectors/Archivists Of Vintage Reel-To-Reel Tape Radio Shows
As a little perspective first, one of the challenges I accept in collecting and playing/archive dubbing of ~40 year old tape reels on similar aged reel to reel equipment, is that their respective ages work against you. So between equipment breakdowns and then trying to find parts, and someone who is skilled enough to fix them, and then the inherent flaws in the condition of the tapes that I acquire (physical damage, poor temperature/humidity storage, and original tape manufacturing deviations), I have to accept the risk that I may not be able to play/retrieve any useful audio from my acquired tapes or my efforts. Therefore, I have learned to set my expectations a bit lower, so that I'm not greatly disappointed when I receive a tape and finally attempt to play it.
Aside from the user handling damage that I find with tapes of this age (broken tape, wrinkled sections with significant audio loss, foreign substances, poor storage conditions), the primary problems with these tapes are from two typical conditions. Both of these are commonly talked about in various audio forums, as they are inherent challenges to R-R collectors.
The first is the notorious "sticky shed syndrome", aka SSS, which depending upon the severity, can be fatal to a tape and make it unrecoverable. In these tapes, moisture has been absorbed by the tape emulsion and then becomes a sticky layer. It can stick to the next layer of tape and pull off, or deposit itself onto the tape heads and capstan during playing. Sometimes this will result in the tape being wrapped around the capstan and ruined. The standard remedy for this condition is to actually 'bake' the tape in a specialized, controlled oven or food dehydrator to remove the moisture and allow playing without emulsion loss. This is a very delicate operation and one that typically only stabilizes the tape for a limited period of time.
There are numerous DIY articles around with 'recipes' for baking temperatures and durations. Great care should be exercised when attempting this process.
The other is called "loss of lubricant", aka LOL. And this is not something a collector can "laugh out loud" about. Typically, this is where the original lubricant that is part of the tape emulsion dries out and then does not allow the tape to glide across the recorder heads and guides smoothly. Rather the tape begins to drag on those metal parts, causing an audible squeak. It can get so bad that the tape actually stops moving and you risk either emulsion removal, tape breakage or stretching. A clean break in a tape can usually be fixed with minimal audio loss, but for a section of tape that is stretched, it will be permanently damaged and the audio ruined. Emulsion removal also obviously ruins that section of tape.
Lubricants are normally added to the emulsion binder to reduce the friction of the magnetic topcoat layer of the tape. Over time, the level of the lubricant decreases because it is worn down every time the tape is played.
There are two routes that one can take to make a tape playable again. One is to use tape lubricant to coat the entire tape, inch by inch, to re-infuse the tape with sufficient lubricant to allow normal playing. This is often referred to as "wet playing" and can be a long process to accomplish on a tape by tape basis. Care is required, so that the tape does not become not 'over-saturated' in the process.
The second option is to apply lubricant directly to the tape recorder heads and guides that may then be sufficient to allow for the relatively smooth playing of a 'dry' tape. This approach may require re-application of lubricant during the reel's playing. This is similar to the complimentary R-R equipment maintenance practice that I followed with my equipment after head/guide cleaning with alcohol.
A really great general resource I found for R-R player/recorder maintenance?is from the Council On Library And Information Resources at:
Inspiration & Credits:
Some of the base information and inspiration that was used to start this index came from the excellent The Surround Discography site of Mark Anderson. That site contains a page listing known Quadraphonic Radio Discography that were broadcast specifically in quadraphonic formats. The primary series listed are that of the KBFH and BBC Rock Hour shows. His fabulous site is also a wealth of information regarding various surround sound format discographies, including quadraphonic.
Another helpful quad radio show site is the keepontrackin.webs.com/quadradio.htm site created and maintained by George Butts. It has informative listings of both KBFH and BBC Rock Hour shows, along with historical information on the early days of the KBFH show.
I would highly recommend anyone interested in these series to consider visiting both.
In the creation of the respective indices, I have received invaluable input from many people here in the U.S. and around the world. I would like to thank the following in particular for their generous assistance:
- Jennifer Brown
- Keith and Monika Domone
- Frank Eavey
- Dr. John of the Wishbone Ash Archives
- Jim Goldurs
- Scott Lynn
- Steve Mayo
- Beaver M.....
- Mel Myers
- Michael Thurston
Last, I would like to take the opportunity to give special thanks to the long time quad aficionado Tad Bartel, known on various forums as Quadtrade. He has been a steadfast guide and mentor to me during the creation of this site. He was instrumental in helping me sort through various technical and historical facts, especially regarding the King Biscuit Flower Hour reel to reel era. Many thanks Tad!
The contents of this and the other linked sub-pages are placed here for informational and research purposes only and are not intended to encourage or condone the sale or trading of any of the referenced media.
Further, the contents of this main page and the subsequent linked pages showing general information and the index pages, are the creation and property of the website owner. These pages do not have any formal affiliation with the King Biscuit Flower Hour/Wolfgang's Vault or any British Broadcasting Corporation websites or legal entities. No connections are intended to be implied nor should any be inferred.
Information included in this site was gathered from various sources such as newspaper, magazine and music show release inserts to detail the background of these historic radio show series. This site has no intent to infringe upon any copyrighted material. If any copyright owner feels that their work has been infringed upon, please notify the site owner via the address listed for feedback, and a review for appropriate removal will be made.
Last, this first, rough formatted version of my site pages has been created and posted for the purpose of being a reference tool, and via its content to communicate historical information regarding specific radio shows. If it accomplishes that, then my objective has been met. It is not attempting to win a beauty prize for format and looks. I know that it is very basic, but for now, that's OK with me.
I will be working on reformatting this site into a more presentable version at a later time, but for now I just wanted to get the information initially posted.