Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford 1966-1972
BEAKER STREET Here's a portion of Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford from Late June, 1970.
In the summer of 1968 I was 15 years old and preparing for my sophomore year in High School. I had started riding around in cars with some of my older friends, and we spent a lot of time listening to the radio. I'd been hearing about this radio station in Little Rock that played this new and weird music late at night. They called it "Underground Radio". Finally one night that summer, I was listening to my transistor radio with a "pillow speaker" so my siblings and parents wouldn't wake up. I tuned until I got to 1090 AM and there I heard the strangest music with a disembodied voice, sounding half bored but with authority. It said, "I'm Clyde Clifford and this is Beaker Street - here's Pink Floyd". With that he launched into "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" from Saucer Full of Secrets. Thus was my introduction to Clyde Clifford, Beaker Street, and Pink Floyd.
In the years to come, I would continue to listen to Beaker Street, usually for an hour or two before drifting off to sleep with the radio still on. The Moody Blues, Mason Profit, Yes, Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Prine, Emerson-Lake & Palmer, Cream, Frank Zappa & Mothers of Invention, Janice Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, James Gang, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell are just a small handful of the acts first introduced to me by Clyde Clifford. And there were the Beaker Street staples: Jaime Brockett's "Legend of the USS Titanic", Michael Perlitch's "Pete the Bondage Freak", King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King", Touch's "Seventy-Five", The Animals' "Sky Pilot", and so many more than I'm able to mention here.
It was a very sad day when we turned on KAAY late one Friday night in 1972, and Clyde Clifford was gone, although the show continued for several years after with different hosts. Like many of you, in the years to follow I often wondered what happened to Clyde and fondly remembered the show.
It was the memories of Beaker Street, my longing for the days of "Underground Radio" and my fear that those magical days of FM radio along with its music was being forgotten, that pushed me to creating "Winds of Change" on KKFI in 1989. During that show's run from 89-94, I was constantly referencing Clyde and Beaker Street, and tried my best to imitate the things that touched me back then as a listener.
Until recently Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford was airing in Little Rock Arkansas, Sundays from 7pm-12midnight on station KKPT, 94.1 The Point and could be picked up on web stream. Currently however the program is off the air.
Here are some more recordings of Beaker Street:
Audio posted on this site is for promotional and educational purposes only. If you wish to have any audio removed please contact me. All audio is of low quality and not usefull for commercial purposes.
Click on the link on the right to go to the Beaker Street Facebook page.
Beaker Street with Clyde Clifford was the first underground music program broadcast regularly on a commercial AM radio station in the central US.
Beaker Street began on KAAY late in 1966 and ran through the mid-1970's. The program delivered the music of the late 1960s counterculture to the hinterland of America, to remote places where such music could not otherwise be heard over the air waves. Beaker Street attracted a legion of fans across the Midwest with its pioneering format which featured long album cuts from rock artists who otherwise would not get commercial radio airplay. The show pre-dated the FM radio boom of the mid 1970's and foretold the rise of Album Oriented Rock and Classic Rock formats.
Clyde Clifford was the prototype of the laid-back late-night FM DJ. His on-air comments and music introductions were delivered softly and deliberately over a background of space music and eerie sound effects.
Beaker Street can still be heard today. It airs every Sunday night from 7 p.m. until midnight Central Time, on Magic 105.1 FM KMJX. And it is also streamed live via the internet, from the Beaker street homepage (see External Links below).
Beaker Street Trivia
- The man behind the microphone at Beaker Street was Dale Seidenschwarz, aka Clyde Clifford. The inside joke at KAAY was that the on-air personalities took their stage names from the board of directors of LIN broadcasting, the owners of KAAY. Clyde W. Clifford was the comptroller general of LIN.
- KAAY would not pay for both an overnight broadcast engineer and an announcer so Clyde did double duty and broadcast from the transmitter room. The spacey background music of Beaker Street was used (in part) to mask the noise of the transmitter.
- The original background music came from the dream sequence in the movie Charade, whose soundtrack was composed by Henry Mancini.
- Later the background music was changed when an album by a group called Head was released in 1970. Side 1 of the album contained one track titled "Cannibis Sativa" which became the new background "music". The same background "music" is still in use on the show today.
- The name Beaker Street was an oblique reference to LSD. The program featured Acid rock and its name alluded to the fact that "Acid" ( i.e., LSD ) was created in a laboratory beaker. 
- The station tried to be as mysterious as possible, at one time even running a contest for listeners to try to guess how to spell Beaker, suggesting that it was spelled in some unconventional fashion.