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Friday, April 26, 2019

Unscoped Radio Aircheck: KMSC 102.1 Clear Lake City, TX August 17, 1968

This is most likely not Ellen, the DJ you hear on the aircheck below (I picked the photo because the studio equipment was period-correct for live operated FM radio stations of 1968...And she looked cool.)
There's a certain indescribable beauty to an unscoped radio aircheck.

Hold up, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself; What's an unscoped radio aircheck?

An unscoped radio aircheck is a complete, unedited recording of an over the air radio or TV broadcast. For example, have you ever popped a blank cassette in your tape deck, hit record and just let the tape roll until it ends, capturing DJ talk, commercials, music, jingles, everything? Congratulations! You just made an unscoped aircheck! Without even knowing what you were doing was even professionally called!

They're like aural snapshots back in time. To a time and/or place we may or may not remember. For however long the tape lasts, you get to virtually relive that time again. But in a non-intrusive way, where you can go about doing other things while enjoying the soundtrack. 

KMSC 102.1 was a "popular, semi-classical, and semi-jazz music and news" (i.e. Easy Listening) radio station in the Houston area. With studios in the pre-fab city of Clear Lake City, TX  (which was annexed into Houston proper in the '70s) It's still home to the Manned Spacecraft Center (which was renamed into the Johnson Space Center in 1973.)

Recorded at around 4:18am on Saturday morning, August 17, 1968. On this tape, you'll hear Ellen play space-age jazz, the kind of stuff you'd probably expect in a master-planned bedroom community full of astronauts and engineers. The DJ, Ellen, is young, groovy, her Texas accent pure and uncompromised. The music is directly from vinyl, as evidenced by the surface noise and occasional skip or stuck groove.

KMSC continued until 1975. 102.1 FM in Houston has been the legendary KMJQ "Majic 102" since 1977.

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