The popular radio station from yesteryear finds new life on the web

by: FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT/PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Kicking off KISN Radios reincarnation as in February 2012 are (from left, background) DJ/historian Craig Adams, technician Scott Young and Dirty Dave the Record Slave, and (front, from left) DJs Roger Hart and Dave Rogoway.It's back, that familiar sing-song jingle: “KISN, 91-derful!” Suddenly it’s the 1960s all over again, as though you had turned the dial on your old transistor radio to 910 so you could hear “Twist and Shout” and “Stop! In the Name of Love” and other hits played on what was arguably Portland’s most popular top 40 station of all time.

That’s what KISN was in those days, the king of Portland-Vancouver AM rock ‘n’ roll radio. It was on the air from 1959 to 1976, finally silenced after wrangling with the Federal Communications Commission (more on that later).

But KISN has returned, thanks to a group of former station disc jockeys — the old “KISN good guys” — who have brought it back to life as a web station.

The new station — KISN Good Guys, online at www.good — made its debut in February 2012. Several personalities from the station’s heyday have returned to play golden oldies, along with station jingles, vintage radio commercials and “news flashbacks.”

Listeners can make e-quests for songs and sign up to join the KISN Good Guy Club. They can find KISN on Facebook and take the station along with them on their Droids or iPhones by downloading a free app.

The KISN good guys all donate their time, so this venture isn’t making anybody rich. “It’s a labor of love,” says Roger Hart, a former KISN DJ (1962-65) who is part of the web station’s lineup.

“It’s just a fun venture,” Hart says. “It’s interesting the responses that we get on the Facebook page, people always writing things and requesting things.”

Hart credits former DJ Dave Rogoway with coming up with the idea of reviving KISN as an Internet station.

Rogoway — known on the air as Dave “Records” Stone — started working at KISN in 1971, when he was 18 years old. He’s the one who played the final song — “Someday We’ll be Together” by the Supremes — when KISN went off the air in 1976.

“Radio is really lagging due to three companies owning 80 percent of the stations nationwide,” Rogoway says. “No station would put a wide music format on, so we did this for the love of oldies and KISN.”

KISN started in 1959 when KVAN radio — then a country music station — switched formats along with the call letters. Though KISN was licensed in Vancouver, the studio was at Southwest 10th and Burnside in downtown Portland, which caused some complications with the FCC. KISN and the FCC also tangled over alleged elections bias, and the federal agency finally pulled the plug on the station.

Fast-forward to the digital era: The new KISN plays songs converted into computer files, thanks to the work of Scott Young, KOIN 6 operations technician. The music comes from the vast library of record collector “Dirty Dave the Record Slave,” who owns more than 90,000 discs.

“We have a full-blown studio,” Hart says. “It’s in a basement in what we call a secret location because we don’t want people to come and visit.”

In a way, there are several studios — some of the DJs live out of state, so they work remotely. “With computers you can produce your own show and zip it in,” Hart says.

Morning guy Roger W. Morgan, on the air from 6-9 a.m. weekdays, lives in New Mexico. “Tiger” Tom Murphy, who follows in the 9 a.m. to noon slot, is in Los Angeles. Locally there’s Hart in Vancouver (noon to 3 p.m.), Dave “Records” Stone in Beaverton (3-7 p.m.) and Pat Pattee in Gresham (midnight to 6 a.m., “the slot he always had,” Hart notes).

Major Logan, in the 7 p.m. to midnight slot, rounds out the weekday lineup. Weekends feature Jimmy Cassidy, Steve Randall and Craig Adams. There’s also William Hatch, delivering “news flashbacks” from KISN’s golden years, and — from London — a DJ known as James Bond, who plays the best of the British Invasion (“When is Bond on the air? When he wants to be!” the station website announces).

So log on, and you might catch the 1964 original version of "Do-Wah-Diddy” by the Exciters, followed by Manfred Mann’s popular cover of the song from the same year. Or a forgotten oldie such as “Tear Drops” from 1957 by Lee Andrews and the Hearts, after which the music slips forward into the '70s with Badfinger’s 1972 “Baby Blue.”

“We’re doing fine,” Hart says. “You have to reinvent yourself every once in a while.”