Friday, August 11, 2017

Westwood One News Revisits the "Summer of Love"

Westwood One News, winner of the 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Hard News Reporting, will present a special retrospective, Summer of Love; Fall of Innocence 50th Anniversary, a look back at the counter culture revolution that defined the summer of 1967 from a 50-year perspective.

Jim Roope
The half-hour special, airing the weekend of August 18-20, is available to all Westwood One News affiliates, Westwood One music format stations, and Cumulus-owned stations. It will also air in place of The Week in Review during that same weekend.

Hosted by Westwood One News correspondents Jim Roope in L.A. and Steve Kastenbaum in New York, the program features some of the iconic pop and rock music that filled the airwaves that summer, along with extensive use of the Westwood One News archives -- including interviews with prominent pop culture figures of the time, like activist Abbie Hoffman, LSU guru Professor Timothy Leary, rock manager Bill Graham, singer Scott McKenzie; and others.

The archived audio showcased in the special was discovered on a 1987 Summer of Love 20th anniversary cassette tape unearthed during Westwood One News’ recent move to a new facility in Washington, DC. Longtime Westwood One producer George Achaves, who produced the 1987 special and is now based in Nashville, was able to track down the master reels. Westwood One News VP Kevin Delany was set to listen on a reel-to-reel machine he had salvaged but was quickly disappointed when it failed to play. He noticed it was recorded on Ampex 406 stock, which was a high quality tape in the 1980’s but also known for what’s called “sticky shed syndrome,” which clogs tape heads and guides and renders the tape unplayable without treatment.

Undeterred, Delany purchased a food dehydrator, which removes moisture. He “baked” the tape in the dehydrator for five hours at a constant temperature of 130 degrees, turning the tape every half hour. Says Delaney, “After letting it cool for another 18 hours, I rewound the tape, letting it pass through two cotton balls, one on each side of the tape, to remove any remaining loose oxide particles. Finally, I attached cotton balls to the tape guides to reduce tape friction as much as possible, leaving the tape to touch only the heads of the machine. After hooking two separate digital recorders to the outputs of the machine, we were ready for playback.  And it worked! The tape played successfully and history was saved.”

Steve Kastenbaum
Adds Achaves, “We captured the moment in time and it sounds as good to me today as it did then. This was done before digital editing, on reel-to-reel tape and news carts, edited with razor blades and splicing tape.”

Achaves also shared a memory about interviewing singer Scott McKenzie for the show. ”I read an interview with his mother in the Washington Post. She happened to live in an apartment building a block away from our office at the time. I looked her up in the phone book, called her out of the blue, and she put me in touch with her son, who was living in Lake Tahoe. Before she hung up, she said to me ‘If you speak with him, please tell him to call his mother once in a while.’ McKenzie gave me great stories about the Monterey Pop Festival and his hit song ‘San Francisco: Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair.’"

Westwood One News and Cumulus stations interested in the Summer of Love; Fall of Innocence 50th Anniversary special can contact Jim Jones at or (202) 895-2339.

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