The Great Elusive “Get Back” Radio Search: Part V
The WBCN Branch, Chapter 2: Contacts & Brick Walls
So Charles called me from Hawaii and suggested I play him portions of the “Posters” CD over the phone. I did. He immediately recognized the announcer: “That’s Steven Clean!” Bingo. Finally a name at last. Which, looking back, made perfect sense: Andy Beaubien had referred to him specifically as the one who provided BCN with material he had acquired while still at KPPC. I never put 1 + 1 together.
Steven also went by the radio names of “Steven Seagull” and “Obscene Steven Clean.” More obscure sites referred to him as “Steven Segal,” which turned out to be his actual name.
Charles told me that Steven had worked at KPPC in Pasadena in 1967/68 and then left for WBCN just after a radio strike there. Steven had gotten the job for Charles at BCN. The WBCN schedule then, by December 1968, when Charles arrived, was:
6-10 am: Sam Kopper (program director)
10am to 2 PM: Peter Wolf (yeah, that Peter Wolf) – replaced by Charles
2 to 6 PM: Joe Rogers
6 to 10 PM: Steven Clean
(Late-night shifts: unknown or forgotten for now; not crucial)
I read to Charles Andy’s e-mail, in particular this: “I seem to recall that [Steven] used to share some of the un-released stuff that they [KPPC] had acquired.” _That_, Charles emphasized, was 100% true.
Charles himself had no memory of the tape, but he says thatSam Kopper, WBCN’s morning guy might; he was Steven’s boss and the station’s program director. He gave me Sam’s email addys. I asked Charles if he knew where Steve was these days. He had no idea but thought that Joe Rogers might. So he gave me Joe’s address as well.
Bingo again; one door is finally opening another.
Immediately after this phone call, John found a relevant passage from Dr. Demento’s site: in a Q & A, the good doc (nee Barret Hansen, says John) said this:
– “I did not ‘come up with a character.’ Starting in 1969, Steven Clean invited me to be an occasional guest on his show and play records from my collection. These segments were well received and in October 1970 Steven decided to make them a weekly feature.”
Hansen/Demento was referring to his appearances with Steven on KPPC. I subsequently learned that Steve was back at PPC by late ’69; the timeline remained intact.
Post-phone call I e-mailed Sam Kopper and Joe Rogers.
The next day I got a response from Sam, who gave me his phone number. I called him that night.
We talked for over an hour; Sam gave me a history of BCN when it began as an “alternative” FM station. Tons of detail that, as far as I know, has never been accurately portrayed in any of the web sites I’ve found regarding the station’s early history — the relationships between Sam and Steve (when Steve arrived in Boston to begin working at BCN, in the summer of 1968, says
Sam, Sam picked him up at the airport; Steve was carrying nothing but a wad of hash), between Steve and Charles (some “ego problems between the two”), Joe’s historic role (he was the first announcer for the “new” BCN; at midnight, March 15, 1968, Joe segued from Monteverdi to Cream’s “I Feel Free,” with a brief introduction by Frank Zappa’s Jimmy Carl Black), the myth surrounding Maxanne Sartori’s hiring. Again, way off-tangent for the project at hand, but fascinating none the less.
One further tidbit worth mentioning at this point: Sam told me that Steven mentored under Tom Donahue at KMPX in San Francisco and which was KPPC’s sister station. (The details of this
become clear later.)
(Charles didn’t think that Andy was there at the time, but Sam verified Andy’s tenure at the station at that time; Sam said that Andy had come to BCN the summer of ’69, just out of college, matching precisely Andy’s memory of arriving there “the same weekend as Woodstock.”)
To the tape itself, from Sam’s perspective: he wasn’t around for Steve’s show; Sam had done the 6 to 10 am show and usually left the station around 4 or 5 PM. So he was essentially out of the
loop as to particulars regarding tapes coming in from outside. But he likewise suspected it highly likely that the tape came from KPPC.
Any idea where Steve was these days, I asked Sam. “No idea; last I knew, he had done talk radio in Minneapolis in 1992.” Then suggested I contact Joe (done that) and the news director guy at BCN at the time, Norm Winer.
So I e-mailed Norm the next day, Dec. 15. Norm’s now a big shot at CBS. His reply:
– “Don – Actually, this subject came up recently when I was speaking to Joe Rogers. Fact is, neither of us have any idea how to reach Steven, nor where he might be. Last we heard, he’s in Milwaukee, because that’s where his son was living with his mother. But, personally, I’ve not heard from him in several years.”
And no word from Joe.
Flash-forward 2 weeks later, January 6: e-mail from Andy Beaubien:
– “First of all, thank you for the CD of the WBCN broadcast. The announcer is Steven Seagull (aka Steven Clean.) I recognized his voice immediately. This adds additional weight to the supposition that the source of the Beatles “Get Back” recording was KPPC in Pasadena. The broadcast must have been one of Steven’s last shows on WBCN before he departed for KPPC. I seem to recall that before his departure, he had supplied WBCN with one or more bootlegs that had originated from his LA contacts, the most likely of which would have been KPPC.
“Joe Rogers (aka Mississippi Fats) was also at the station at that time and he may recall some additional facts about this recording. I have copied him on this e-mail.”
We’re starting to go in circles now. I feel like Neo running from one subway station to the next, which turns out to be the same as the first. All roads appear to lead to Joe, and he’s not writing back. Steven “Clean” Segal seems to have fallen off the face of the planet. We’re hitting another brick wall. Time to explore the suggested West Coast connection.
On to Part VI