The Arizona Republic, October 4, 1999
|Couple followed his dream|
Buck (his legal name, and the basis for the BUX in the station's call letters) had a long-standing
interest in radio, but his actual radio experience was limited. As a teenager, he built a crystal set
that could pick up one station. But, he added, "I was in a real radio station just once, as a locksmith.
And the only time I ever handled a mike was when I drove a cab in Virginia."
Nonetheless, he pursued his dream. The couple got some initial help from Morris Courtright, then a state legislator for the area, who did initial surveys and put them in touch with a lawyer in Washington, D.C., to start the license acquisition process.
As many have discovered, however, converting the dream to reality takes time. The Burdettes had to wait until 1987 before the FCC granted them a license to operate. In the interim, they bought equipment and music and learned how to run a radio station. And, on Nov. 1, 1988, KBUX went on the air.
Maude Burdette has a vivid recollection of the day.
"Buck was still working for the Bureau of Land Management and had to go out of town for a week," she said with a chuckle. "So that left me, the one who didn't know anything, all alone to run the station. I tell you, it was hands-on training at its best. I took my knitting into the studio and when it was time to eat, I'd put on a 20-minute tape and make a run for the kitchen."
For the first year, the station broadcast only from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., so all the programming was live. Later, after Buck learned the intracacies of transferring 28 hours of music onto large reels, they went round-the-clock. But their music selections remained the samea mix of old songs, the big bands, gospel, love songs, a little light rock, jazz, and anything else they like.
The station has expanded beyond the bedroom originally designated to hold it. What was once a living room has been converted to a music storage area and recording studio, where Buck makes the extended tapes from cassettes, LPs, 45s, and a few old 78s. He bought about 1,000 LPs to get started; his collection is now more than three times that size. Many of the additions have been donated by people who like the KBUX sound.
Buck announces the name of every song, records the ads and programs the station identifications and commercials on the reel-to-reel tapes so the station just about runs itself, a factor that cuts down expenses.
"We're both retired and can live on our retirement income so the advertising money, what there is of it, keeps the station going", he said.
They don't do much live broadcasting. Maude said they tried a live interview once but "the man used some pretty horrible language that we didn't appreciate". So now, whenever there's a need to interview someone, it's done on tape.
And in the winter, she has a live once-a-week show called Grandma's Scrapbook. She talks about local events and reads poems, jokes and homilies she finds in a scrapbook left her by her grandmother.
The couple takes an ocassional break from the job. If it's for more than a few days, they notify the FCC and shut down the operation. For shorter periods, they have friends who know how KBUX works, so they take over.
Shortly after their station hit the airwaves, the Burdettes acquired competition from several others who found ways to penetrate the Quartzsite area. But their advertisers are loyal, so the intrusions go unnoticed.
And KBUX goes on playing the old songs 24 hours a day.
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