Norman worked for only a few months at KMPX, but not when it was Tom Donahue's pioneering proving ground in the late sixties. His short stint came years later in 1985, after KMPX had gone through several formats post-Donahue and had settled into a fairly comfortable dial position, broadcasting big band swing, hot jazz and other popular music styles of the 20's, 30's and 40's.
KMPX did well with it's big band format until the nemesis of creative radio, Bill Drake, stuck his red Georgia nose into it. Drake, then partnered with Gene Chenault, bought KMPX in 1983 or 1984. He immediately started cutting out all the interesting parts of the format, just as he had at KYA 20 years earlier. Out went the old comedy carts, most made from old 78's or live radio shows. Out went the jazz, out went the historical elements--the old radio shows. Drake replaced them with syrupy ballads from the 50's and '60s, and cut out any big band tracks that weren't genuine hits.
The resulting glop was unlistenable. The big band audience did NOT want to hear Johnny Mathis sing "It's Not For Me To Say" every hour or two. And any Johnny Mathis fans listening sure did not want to hear Stan Kenton. The station's numbers crashed and Drake had to bail out a year or so later. It was right around then that Norman picked up a few weeks work as a summer vacation relief guy.
Ben Thum was the P.D. who hired Norman to do fill-in shifts for several weeks until the axe fell, the sale went through and KMPX became "The Quake." In the meantime, as one ownership was moving out and another waiting, it was pretty loose around the station. There was seldom any office staff around during the evening and weekend shifts. So Norman had his run of the place. There was some kind of "one of these and one of those" formats the jocks were supposed to be running, but nobody was really paying any attention and Norman decided it was just too square to handle.
Instead he found some great swing and jazz albums in a storage room--pulled from the library by Drake or one of his robots. He immediately started integrating these back into the music list. He also found a couple of cartridge racks that held hundreds of rare live performances, bootlegs, 78's and other rare recordings. One rack was all comedy, not from albums but old classics from radio shows by Mel Blanc, Jimmy Durante, Burns & Allen, Amos & Andy and many others.
It was quite an education, hearing all these pearls from the 30's and 40's and it was great fun putting together shows with these rare recordings. The fun lasted only a few weeks until FCC approval came through and KMPX became "The Quake," with grunge and Alex Bennett. Few if any KMPX listeners stayed tuned for any longer than it took them to get to the radio.
On Norman's last shift there were a few Quake'rs around and they generously gave him some great old jazz reference books and several of the old carts which were of no use to them. With these rare tracks, Norman can keep just a tiny bit of the KMPX Big Band era alive.