I found a website that pressed all sorts of nostalgia buttons from my youth: the KIMN tribute. It turned up in a search on "Niles Lishness," who was one of the cassette-based voices Jay Mack used to use on his show. It was Mack I was hoping to find. He had a large cast that included Lishness and his friend Farley McClute, and their soundbites -- simple cliches on the printed page -- came alive on the radio under Mack's able guidance. I first heard "How about Betty Joe Biolofski?" via Niles, and "'Adios, muchachos, caballeros' 'Would you guys get Out of here?'" and other tidbits that turned out to be culled from the Firesign Theatre and Stan Freberg and other giants who would occupy many of my waking hours later on. (I actually think I heard my first Firesign on the lamented KMYR, but that's another story for another bedtime.)
Google was very helpful. First off, it corrected my spelling: "Lishnezz." "Did You Mean LISHNESS?" I was happy to agree, and I got a screen full of hits. One was an Amazon review of The DaVinci Code by Niles Lishness in McClouth, CA. Hmmmmm. Other links showed that Mack wasn't the only one using Niles and Farley (they seem to have come from someone named Eddie Lawrence, but more research is in order here). The important thing was, it linked me to the tribute site, and a magazine article on Jay Mack himself.
Last time I'd heard 'from' him, it was a news item that he'd had a heart attack while manning the night shift of a Denver radio station, and a listener, alarmed by the dead air, had called the station... long story short, life-saving medical help was brought in. That was some years back -- three or four, anyway -- and I hoped to find something about it in the article. I was doubly disappointed, because the article turned out to have been written in 1986. Worse, there was a note at the bottom that Jay Mack had died on March 2, 2002.
Sad news. I still kept looking through the posted pages, and read more about the classic DJs on this aggressive teen station of my youth. I used to love them, but in high school I started getting tired of the one-hour cycle and the overly emphatic attitude. I learned from the tribute pages that it wasn't just another bubblegum station, but one of the most successful in the country, which had defended its number one status for a long time against six local rivals. (One possible cause: when a KIMN rep talked to my radio-tv production class, he said that their position on the dial -- 950 kHz -- was somehow an advantage in propagation; that it could be received farther away than a transmitter with the same power at a different frequency. They were also pretty much of a clear channel for a long way around.) There were pages of KIMN Hit Parades (thanks to my sister, I have a respectable pile of these from the early 60s), and there was a page of announcer photos (taken from the Hit Parades, so they looked really familiar) and a page of sound files.
I was particularly eager to hear the sound files, and a bit disappointed that (a) they were all from a later period -- though there was a Jay Mack retrospective that looked good, but (b) the file never downloaded, but just kept grinding and grinding and grinding with no result. I'll try it again some time.
My sister still has a KIMN Gold album, which has some great tunes on it (like "Hey Joe" by the Leaves, and "Hey Little Girl" by the Syndicate of Sound -- kind of hostile stuff!) and is indispensable for the "Beach Boys" sounding station promo to the tune of "Little Deuce Coupe." I have made an mp3 of this, and it's on my iPod now. If the iPod had a built-in cheesy speaker, I could walk around holding it up to my head, and completely reproduce the six-transistor KIMN experience for a half a minute. "In mile-high Denver, it's the sound that's in / This is tiger radio, this is Fabulous KIMN / it's the sound of success... (tiger roar) ...this is Fabulous KIMN / Number one in the West!"
Repeat to fade.