Confessions of a Zoo Freak
If you are of a certain age and grew up in or around the Dallas area, you know exactly what the title of this post is all about. For those who didn’t, it’s not what you think.
In the late 60’s, early 70’s Dallas-Fort Worth radio was dominated by Top 40 AM stations. That all changed in 1972 with the introduction of KNUS 99 an FM rock station and followed soon thereafter by KZEW 98 FM, soon followed by the advent of Q102.
Even though KNUS was the pioneer in Dallas album rock format, they were quickly left in the dust by the KZEW marketing juggernaut. Cool window stickers, live broadcast studio performances , hip DJs all conspired to turn “The Zoo” into the top album rock station in Dallas and virtually the only radio station I listened to.
Zoo Freak sticker circa 1973. Later versions said “ZOO FREAK” above and had the legend “Rot Your Mind” below. Of course this made parents nuts. This circa 1976 version below retained the ZOO FREAK moniker but left off the mind rotting part.
“The Zoo” or “The Rock & Roll Zoo” played long album cuts, broadcast live and taped studio concerts from January Sound Studios in Dallas and was the first to station in Dallas to broadcast in Dolby.
My most outstanding memory of KZEW was of a Peter Frampton performance they taped my senior year in high school. Frampton performed a version of “Do You Feel Like We Do?” on KZEW. The song hadn’t been released on any album yet and became the most requested song at the station according to former Zoo Jock, Ira Lipson:
When I programmed KZEW (The ZOO) in Dallas back in the 70’s, we did a lot of live local studio concerts with national acts, and would frequently feature cuts from our concerts in our regular rotation. One song, Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” was the most requested song at the station for MONTHS. No other station in town had it, and it sure had to help our ratings. The celebrated concert version of the tune wasn’t released for another 6 months, as I recall.
As I recall, the released live concert version was vastly inferior to the one recorded here locally. I remember recording most of that concert to cassette tape, but of course that one is lost to the ages.
One last thing in closing, looking up sources for this blog I stumbled on a website run by George Gimarc, another KZEW alum. George rescued boxes of tapes from the trash bin and found a treasure trove of recorded concert and club spots, all recorded locally by station staff. You can hear a sample here.
The fun part was going down the list and marking the events I had attended, or think I attended but might not recollect.
Youth is wasted on the young.