Saturday, May 26, 2018

Some Buzz About Buzzy Donahue On KPTZ Radio

Buzzy Donahue ca. 1965 and 2016. Her hair's grown a bit.

I hang out in a lively Facebook group called "San Francisco Remembered" where recently there were some musings about a North Beach institution from the Beat days onward, Clown Alley, noted for peerless charcoal grilled burgers and after hours celebrity crushes. (I once found myself waiting in line for a proletarian priced burger between Flip Wilson and Ahmad Jamal.) For nostalgia's sake, I decided to fish some snapshots taken at Clown Alley 50+ years ago from a shoebox for posting to the group. Among the ones I posted was of a woman in her late teens with a Clown Alley cheeseburger in her hand. There was no notation on the photo, but her identity was etched in my mind, because her girl companion had wasted no time in informing me that she was Buzzy Donahue, daughter of "Big Daddy" Tom Donahue. On the spot I decided I needed to immortalize her and the burger.

Tom Donahue?  If you are too young or unread to know the name or remember the booming voice, you can bet your sweet patootie that you owe him a debt if you listen to popular music today . He is considered nothing less than "The father of Progressive Radio" for it was he who freed pop music from the shackles of Top 40 AM radio and moved it to the greener pastures of FM radio (which also owes him big time), instituting the "album cut format" with accompanying erudite banter. He was also a record producer (the Beau Brummels, Bobby Freeman and the Great Society) and a concert promoter (the Rolling Stones at the Cow Palace and the Beatles at Candlestick Park). If you can find it, read his 1967 Rolling Stone article "AM Radio Is Dead and Its Rotting Corpse Is Stinking Up the Airwaves." He died far too young.  You can read about "Big Daddy" on Wikipedia, or here or here.

I was a little hesitant about posting the picture of Buzzy Donahue. In it she is looking into the camera with a displeased mien, somewhere between teen sullenness and an ur-"Don't bother me, I'm eating" take. Would she be pissed at the posting of the image if she saw it? Au contraire! She saw it, and not only did she not lecture me, she reposted the image on her own Facebook page and "Friended" me. Thanks to her jumping into my news stream, I found out she now hosts a weekly broadcast "The Buzzy Donahue Show" on KPTZ Public Radio in Port Townsend WA, just in time for me to hook into it. I found Buzzy's program a lovely and (mostly) soothing mix of Hawaiian (no, not Aloha Oe), jazz, folk, soft rock, and, for good measure, Buffalo Springfield's anthem for our time (and yours!), For What it's Worth. (Hey, how about a Phil Ochs cut next time, Buzzy?)

Check out Buzzy's sweet voice and sweeter playlists, Fridays from 9:30 to 11:00 on KPTZ-FM.

Port freaking Townsend, Washington, you say?

I once saw a poster on a phone pole about an upcoming "Psychic Fair" in San Francisco, upon which someone had scrawled "You don't have to be there to attend." It's 2018, dude, and so it is with radio. You don't need to be there physically or culturally to listen. For me, it was as simple as "Hey Google, Play KPTZ radio." If  Siri or Alexa don't understand that, fire them and stream Buzzy live from KPTZ's website.

And throw her a posie. It's lonely in a small market FM radio station broadcast booth.