Sunday, 22 May 2016 09:32

Bob Burch: Providing a Wide Spectrum

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Bob Burch, Summer 1972 Bob Burch, Summer 1972 William Greenblatt

If Prince Knight (Ron Lipe) became a celebrity to a generation during his tenure at KSHE, his replacement became almost immortal. Bob Burch wasn’t born with the baritone voice that emanated from the Prince. Burch’s raspy tone influenced DJ’s long after he left KSHE and recordings of it from time to time surface on KSHE’s airwaves to this day.

The popularity of Bob Burch in those years was no accident. A KSHE engineer named Bobby Cox taught Burch how to use his voice to get the tone he wanted.  Shelley Grafman, KSHE’s General Manager, took a liking to Burch’s selection of music as well as the slogans that he used to create an audio style that attracted anyone less than 30 years of age. The transformation of Burch worked so well that he began to do the many of the commercials for rock concerts as well as other advertisers during the mid-1970s.

The origins of this video goes back a decade, when I talked to Burch about his years at KSHE. Around the same time, I received an envelope in the mail from William Greenblatt, who used to work at KSHE in the 1970s. For the next several months, my spare time was spent within arm’s length of my computer scanning dozens of photos.. If you have seen onstage photos of Kiss at the 1974 KSHE Kite Fly on the Internet, they were more than likely taken by him. Same for Rush and The Charlie Daniel’s Band at the KSHE Kite Fly at Aviation Field in Forest Park a year later.

From there, the painstaking restoration of some of the images began. Many years ago, Greenblatt had them stored under a sink. Unfortunately the sink leaked and fused the negatives with the paper sleeves they were in. The result was that many photos had streaks running through the image, leaving imprints that looked like the texture of sandpaper. Portions of these incredible images were almost unrecognizable.

In the summer of 1972, Greenblatt photographed a number of the KSHE DJs in the studio. Within those photos, a time capsule was displayed on the walls and even on the control board. On a couple toggle switches on that Gates board, a beer can opener was still in place. On the other side a rubber band stretched between three switches made it easier for the DJ to flip. On one panel, promotional stickers for 7up, EZ Wider, Joe Cocker’s latest release were still there. Markered signs for the djs from the management contained everything from instructions for handling albums to Three Dog Night at Kiel. The card on a Rolodex contained an ad for The Spectrum headshop.

When I began this video, I went back and restored as many things as I could on those walls and the counter. Some of those items were almost indecipherable due to the damage. Research and some luck revealed what those pieces were. It became like a game that I took on. A strange one at that, but not much different from digging up old recordings of KSHE ‘s past or hunting down old concert photos. Ultimately very few of those items are visible in this video. So a little tour of KSHE circa 1972 is reserved for the next movie short that I’ll put together.


Bob Burch on KSHE