Monday, 01 September 2014 13:47

Whatever Happened to David Rhodes?

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I had to wrap it up. An eight year obsession about the beginnings of KSHE had left me stressed, exhausted and on the verge of going off the deep end. Tales, photos and recordings of the station and rock bands in their infancy had dwindled by 2009. Stories about “sex and drugs and rock and roll was very good indeed,” but it had to come to an end. So November of 2009 the book about KSHE was published.
Was that the last of the stories? Not quite. One of the mysteries that plagued me was the disappearance of David Rhodes. For those who don't know who David Rhodes was, he was a young man with an English accent who became a very popular DJ on KSHE in the early 1970s. All I had to go by was that he was from England or Australia. Google didn't help. No one from KSHE had heard from him since the 1970s. Whatever happened to David Rhodes? The answer came in an e-mail months after the book was in stores.

In 1971 while listening to KSHE, David Rhodes Fingland, heard on about an album promotion at a clothing store. At the time, he was on a student visa from the Bahamas majoring in drama at Principia College near Grafton, Illinois. Upon arrival, he spotted a woman carrying albums into the store. After offering to give her a hand, she introduced herself. Her name was Nancy Poole and she worked in advertising at KSHE. Intrigued by his accent, she asked where he was from. David explained he was from the Bahamas and was student at Principia. His parents had sent him to English Boarding School at the age of 8. Later they thought it would be beneficial if he went to the U.S. for his schooling. Poole remarked that he would sound good on the radio and asked for his phone number. 

When Fingland got back to the dormitory that evening, there was a message from her. He called her back and was ultimately offered a job at KSHE. David Fingland became "David Rhodes" on the air and turned into a sensation in those early years at the station. The path to becoming a DJ in the early 1970s usually involved some experience, or at the very least, one apprenticed by digging ditches, emptying the trash in the studio or driving the Grafman kids to and from school. David took the fast track and went straight to the mic.

"He had a great crispy, deep voice," remembered Ron Stevens. "He was taking theater over at [Principia College]. So he was on the air for the very first time and Bob Burch and I are driving around listening to him. We were so proud. We were beaming that this guy was on KSHE and sounded so great. He comes to his very first live commercial and he opens up the mic and starts talking, and we are just smiling because he sounds so great. He gets to a car commercial and he gets to the price, and he never said an American price out loud so he says, ‘And the price is dollar sign, uhh, aww Fuck.’ Bob and I just froze. We were driving down Watson Road and we pulled over and said ‘We’re dead.’ So we went back to the station and had a little workshop with him on the American version of the English language.”

While working at KSHE, David frequently interviewed English rock stars. "I hit it off with Rick Wakeman and wound up interviewing [members of] The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Fleetwood Mac amongst others," said Rhodes. "I went to parties at the Chase and remember going to one that Sly Stone was having and saw huge piles of cocaine on tables. Everyone had cocaine back then, but I had never seen anyone put a pile that high. I played pool at the Playboy Club with members of Led Zeppelin." David also recalls that Poco did a simulcast on Tube Trip, recorded near Carbondale.

Rhodes worked for a few years at KSHE, but his immigration status became an issue. "Technically I should have not been on the air at all," he explained in 2010, "but the management at KSHE skirted the issue by having the engineer sign the program log." After a few years of this, David tried to get a work permit. Unfortunately he was turned down. Management at Century Broadcasting appealed and lost. "They tried to make me out to be an extraordinary person," recalls David. Unfortunately the immigration officials weren't buying it. At that point, David knew the only way he could stay on was to go through the normal immigration process, which could take years. So he gave it up and went back to the Bahamas. He is still there; David owns and operates a jewelry store.

A few weeks ago I updated him on the KSHE book and the desire to share this story. He wrote:
"That really made me chuckle! Memories of the Playboy Club also included 3 Dog Night, Yes & Jethro Tull.  As for the coke thing with Sly, it was always there with everybody but never had anyone placed a pile so high on the table... My mind just flashed on Emerson Lake & Palmer playing at the Fox Theatre. Amazing how you evoke those buried memories in me, because I never talk about those days anymore. Oh my, those were good days and fun times and I feel privileged to have been a part of the history. As far as interviewing the bands you named, perhaps you should just say a lot of the major British Bands because quite honestly it was never the whole group but individuals from those bands as the studio was so small and I can’t specifically remember exactly who was who!!!!
 

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