For Release: March 6, 2019
Originally edited and posted by
The University of Memphis Alumni Association
(inactive links included for research)
Please note: Some links to the University of Memphis and WUMR are inactive.
Original links may be accessed through internet archives:
I was invited by University of Memphis
and Communication Arts faculty and staff to air
broadcast hours of WUMR 91.7 FM.
Along with my long-time friend and fellow broadcaster, Clay Yeager,
we said goodbye to all as WUMR's fifty thousand watt transmitter was
powered down at 6:00 P.M. Central Standard Time, Monday March 30th 2020,
WUMR's final broadcast day and,
ironically, my 50th, golden, anniversary year
service to the University of Memphis of which I had
myself, and loyally, to many thousands of broadcast hours and decades of
special events, special interviews and interesting conversation covering the arts,
science, literature, law, sports, medicine,
philosophy, great music and more.
I closed the door to the studio that I built with station managers
John DeCleux and Richard Hiller in the 1970's and WUMR was gone forever.
The "Memphis State University" bumper sticker that I stuck in the
window in the mid 1970's was the last thing that
the door, asked God to love and protect all who had been there,
goodbye, and walked the theater complex passageway from WUMR for the last time.
30th 2020 was the day that one of the greatest radio stations
the history of collegiate broadcasting became silent.
The pandemic began. Life was disrupted and destroyed.
Throughout the entire world millions
of people were dying.
Killed by a marauding enemy 50 nanometers in size,
50 billionths of a meter, a deadly predator the size of 150 atoms.
Colleges and universities
were in chaos.
Slamming shut the doors to the world's classrooms.
Unable to pay faculty and staff.
Colleges, universities and their students came face to face with catastrophic
and to this day seek the fiscal recovery
of many billions of dollars.
It was reported that the University of Memphis sold WUMR's station license
for more than a million dollars to pay bills.
Widely considered to have a been a critical mistake,
and among the worst decisions ever made by the administration
of the University of Memphis, the university earned an
"F" on it's report card
which, in this case, stands
for "foolish" rather than "failure".
The University of Memphis administration and faculty with classic arrogance, irreverence,
ingratitude, filthy elitism, authoritarian hypocrisy and typical U of M faculty
bothered to offer a small thank you note
for decades of volunteerism, loyalty and service.
I never requested one.
The University did, however, give me the opportunity to make sure
that the lights were out in the broadcast studio, and to ensure that WUMR
silent forever at six o'clock the evening of March 30th 2020.
Later that evening I began to feel more like an accomplice to murder
rather than a collegiate broadcast pioneer as the University of Memphis
had used me to kill the WUMR transmitter.
Yet, I still love the campus. And I always will.
The University of Memphis was a better place in a better time.
A time that is no more as the world
is at war.
I'll always find a way to laugh
with you when you're laughing at me,
because I have a sense
The Unedited Interview
What years did you attend the U of M?
began as a volunteer at The University of Memphis' (formerly Memphis State University) campus
radio station, WTGR (TGR for Tiger Radio) in 1969 just prior to the beginning of my senior year in
My first classes at
Memphis State University were in the summer of 1970. I was a music major.
My elected minor was psychology and I worked as an assistant in the psychology labs
along with Drs. Middleton, Lupfer, Kenny, and others. I've had the great privilege and honor to conduct
research with the late Dr. Joseph Krisak (March
14th 1950 - January 25, 2021). I was enrolled from 1970 until I left for the Middle East
in 1974 to serve in Israel with students from throughout the world.
I lived in the Middle East in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Jordanian
/ Israeli border as an American volunteer in 1974. I spent a couple of months in Scotland
and England before returning to the United States.
How did you get your start
in radio ?
Radio and the associative technological aspect of it has always fascinated me.
I began as a shortwave listener
at the age of six and had one of the first callsigns for my hobby radio station issued by Popular
Electronics to their readers in the early 1960's. WPE4IVK (the "PE" in the prefix stood
for Popular Electronics).
I started experimenting
as a seven year old child by placing two tube receivers together, given to me by my great grandmother,
and I listened for heterodynes, a method of combining a radio frequency wave with a locally generated
wave of a different frequency to produce a new frequency equal to the sum or the difference between
the two from spurious local emissions generated by each receiver. After combining radio frequency
waves with locally generated waves of a different frequency produced by the faint emissions of the
adjacent receiver, I could produce new frequencies equal to the sum or difference between the
combined frequencies. The adjacent differing tuning capacitors and the emissions from
them served as a window to an emission form known as single side band with the harmonics generated
from the chassis of each receiver. When I discovered heterodyning from the local oscillations of the
two receivers it opened the world of Morse code and amateur radio to me. I had created what would
be known as a crude beat frequency oscillator with the two receivers.
I was an Explorer Scout with emphasis on amateur radio as a young teenager. I began
receiving Morse code training from the Navy at the age of thirteen in a special class
for Scouts in 1965 located at the Naval Reserve Facility on Avery Road in Memphis. I was
awarded a merit badge by the Chickasaw Council of The Boy Scouts of America for being the fastest
code receiver in my class. They clocked me at over thirty words a minute before my fourteenth birthday.
It helped being a musician because timing is everything with Morse code. My amateur radio license,
WK2B, is still active and I'm licensed as "Extra Class" with the Federal Communications
I've also had the great privilege
and honor of serving as a civilian trustee for the Millington Naval Air Stations' Amateur Radio Station,
W4ODR, and I've flown with general aviation and military pilots at the Millington Naval Air Station
I completed three years of
ROTC and served as a lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol. In addition to flying search and rescue missions,
I attended the United States Air Force Leadership Training Academy in the 1980's while working for a general aviation flight
school at Memphis International Airport as an airframe and powerplant student. I had a 3rd class recreational and general
aviation student pilots license. I had successfully completed and passed all of my ground school written examinations as mandated
by Federal Aviation Administration in the 1980's.
flight instructor, Ted Martens, was killed flying aerobatics to raise money for charity. I spent the day before the air show
with Ted asissting him with his plane, inspecting all the instruments, fluids, tire pressure, wings and struts, avionics,
lights and electrical system preparing him for the air show. I worked for his flight school.
I remember the day before the air show watching Ted taxi down the runway in front
of me for the last time, saluting me, flying into the sun.
August 8th 1920, Edward "Ted" Martens was a fighter pilot.
Ted died on Sunday June 13th 1982. My dreams
of becoming a pilot also died that day. He treated me like his son. I rememebr how we laughed when he told me that I could
play boogie woogie better than fly.
Can you talk a little about the early days of WUMR/WTGR and how different things are
was the beginning of college radio for me.
We were a ten watt radio station when I arrived in 1969 to work with Richard Hiller,
our engineer, faculty members Dr. David Yellin, Dr. Marvin Bensman, and others long
before Dr. Richard Ranta arrived to supervise what would become a jazz station. I was still
a senior in high school when I arrived.
You had to
park your car under the window of the radio station to hear the show back then. If you lived on the
campus, then we used a transmission principle known as "carrier current," a method of low
power AM radio transmission that uses AC electrical wiring to propagate an AM signal to a small area
such as a college dormitory. You could plug your table top radio into any wall receptacle on the campus
and hear the station clearly.
It all changed
when our station license was approved by the Federal Communications Commission which included an effective
radiating power increase.
We were an all-album
station in 1969 which meant that you could play an album in its entirety rather than just a selected
cut here and there from the vinyl.
equipment was quite primitive by today's standards and consisted of early analog equipment, circuits
and devices having an output proportional to its input as opposed to the digital technology we have
today which, simply put, is a circuit or device representing magnitudes in digits. The fundamental
difference between the analog and today's digital signal is that an analog signal is represented by
sine waves, a wave whose waveform resembles a sine curve, or the ratio of the opposite
side to the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, whereas, the digital signal is represented
by a square wave which we all know to be a plane rectangle with four equal sides and four right angles.
In digital technology, the analog wave is sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers that
are stored in the digital device. On a CD, the sampling rate is 44,000 samples per second. On a CD,
there are 44,000 numbers stored per second of music. This is what we hear today, and even better than
received academic credit for participating. Not so today. I hope that will change for our scholars.
What type of jazz do you play on your WUMR show? Whats your favorite music genre?
I play music from the period between bebop and the 1960s' and focus on music that blends jazz elements
with other musical styles, such as funk, soul, electronic dance music, and free improvisation. Bebop
is a favorite with it's fast tempo, instrumental virtuosity, improvisation and interesting harmonic
structure that focuses on the melody.
is popular and combines elements of jazz and rock with it's electronic instruments and long, creative
solos. Latin jazz is always in the mix and draws heavily on salsa and merengue influences with its
heavy use of percussion, congas, timbales, bongos, and more. The big bands of the 40's and swing are
There's so much in the jazz spectrum
that I love, but when it comes to my favorite musical style its stride piano.
Stride is nearly a lost art form and very difficult to master. The greatest
of the stride pianists played in a wide range of highly rhythmic tempos with great emphasis
on improvisation. Stride is fantastic!
What other stations have you
I assisted with the construction of WLYX, Southwestern at Memphis, now
Rhodes College, in 1971 along with station manager George McClintock and Mrs. Betty Ruffin from CBC.
WLYX was destroyed by a construction accident in 1991. I was the last person on the
air the day it occurred. An earth mover plowing the field near the transmitter shack ran
over the transmission line and destroyed the transmitter.
CBC and WREC radio, 600AM, donated much of the equipment to Southwestern. As Christian
Brothers is focused on engineering, there were plenty of enthusiastic electrical engineering
students and amateur radio operators ready to lend a hand and equipment.
Christian Brothers College, now Christian Brothers University, operated WCBC at that
time on the AM bands. I filled in during the weekends in addition to my other air shift
responsibilities. WCBC's antenna was a satellite tower for the Military Affiliate Radio Station known
as MARS, passing "good and welfare" traffic to combat soldiers in Viet Nam and elsewhere.
I had my amateur radio license at that time, as I still do, and I'm licensed to pass traffic with
I was employed by WKNO-FM from January
1972 until January 1974 at which time I volunteered to work in Israel and the middle east for a year
with other students. WKNO's now retired chief engineer, Pat Lane, is one of my oldest pals.
I assisted with the construction of WEVL with
engineers Jim Maxwell and Doug Hirsch in 1976, its first year of operation. WEVL was located in an
old house on Court Avenue at the time. WEVL's present location is in an old building in the 500 block
of South Main Street that once belonged to my relatives.
I served Rock 103 from 2002 until 2004. I was part of the Wake Up Crew with Tim Spencer,
Bev Hart and the late, great John "Bad Dog" McCormack. I had been a frequent guest
on their program for several years prior to being invited to become a regular part of the
show. In addition to the great fun of working there, we had a serious mission. The Wake Up Crew raised
millions of dollars for local charities. The most important aspect of radio is its power to do that
which is good for our city, our neighbors and the well-being of all. That was our mission.
What musical instrument do you play?
I'm a pianist.
As musician and composer, two of my songs, "In Memphis" and "One Last Bridge",
were adopted by the Memphis City Council as "Official Songs of Memphis" in 1990 and 1991.
My music manuscripts and works for piano
"Impressions of Memphis" are in the Library of Congress.
Are you still working
in real estate and addressing fair housing and predatory lending?
retired my broker's license in 2015.
the Fair Housing Committee for the Memphis Area Association of Realtors.
dedicated two decades of my life to researching real estate fraud, predatory lending and fair housing.
I researched and reported on real estate
fraud for several years for the real estate community.
Discuss a little
about your stamp collecting and how you came to be honored
first officially cancelled Elvis Presley first-day cover.
began collecting stamps when I was five years old. My grandfather had lived in Pretoria, Johannesburg
and Durban, South Africa. When he arrived in Memphis, in the very early twentieth century, he still
had relatives in South Africa that corresponded with him. I was fascinated by the flora and fauna,
the ships and landscape on the stamps on the envelopes. He removed the stamps from the envelopes and
gave them to me to study. It was a way for me to learn about the world as a child.
I belomg to the Memphis Stamp Collectors
Society. I've been a member of the American Philatelic Society for three decades.
I'm the philatelic crossword puzzle author for Linn's Stamp Weekly magazine and create the philatelic-themed
As for the Elvis Presley
first day of issue cover, I was the first in line to have my envelope cancelled by Graceland. It was
a magical evening and the greatest event in the history of stamp collecting!
I have two letters from Graceland recognizing the January 8, 1993 Elvis
Presley stamp-adorned envelope as the "First to be cancelled by Graceland."
The envelope is signed by dignitaries who attended
the event including Priscilla Presley.
The temperature on Graceland
Plaza was around 30 to 35 degrees with light drizzle from sundown on that day. No one cared about
the bad weather. Something seemed to say that Memphis was awaiting a grand arrival. Elvis couldn't
have gotten a finer reception from his hometown. While the bands were playing and the dignitaries
were making their speeches and presentations, the crowds grew. Nobody appeared to be impatient.
This was a real family show that special evening and the cast of characters was one
of which everyone in attendance could have been proud of.
At every corner of Graceland Plaza, cables twisted and turned, microwave dishes towered
over the heads of the crowds, and nervous production crews checked their lists to make sure
that everything had consistency and coherence with clockwork precision. This would be the grandest
event of the year for Memphis and the grandest event for stamp collecting ever seen. To say that something
like the Elvis stamp event will never occur in my lifetime again would be safe.
Memphis is my home and native soil. The music is the language of many
in my Tennessee town. The river flows through this town like a stream of notes from a guitar on Beale
Street. Two bridges span the muddy water like strings across the bridge of a piano.
That's my Memphis. And on that day, January 7, 1993, it was as though we were all waiting
for Elvis to come home. The rich, the poor, black and white, men, women and children, young and old
alike, all came to Memphis that day for Elvis.
the many busy hours we prepared for this homecoming not fully realizing the impact it would have on
the rest of the world, but at the same time curiously wondering if we would ever do this again.
The countdown to the release of the stamp
began on June 4, 1992 with the unveiling of the Elvis stamp design chosen by his fans. The choice
for the illustration had been made under the leadership of United States Postmaster General Anthony
Frank, who also signed the cover. Postmaster General Frank's tireless efforts to honor Elvis
should never be forgotten as Memphis remains grateful to him.
Plans were also being made for Elvis' fifty eighth birthday celebration to coincide
with the release of the stamp. A gigantic cake with 58 candles on it had been created.
A cake big enough to feed hundreds of fans and stamp collectors! In the Graceland party room on the
south side of the plaza local bakeries were delivering truckloads of beautifully decorated birthday
cakes with confection designs of the Elvis stamp ready to be perforated by the chefs with their bakers'
Balloons were everywhere with
streamers and other colorful decorations adorning the ceilings and walls. The months of preparation
and the hundreds of media hours were about to pay off in a big way.
In the tent across the street from Graceland Mansion national media representatives
from every corner of North America readied the moment to pay homage to the King of
Rock and Roll.
In addition to
our local friends, the English, the Irish, Scottish, the Germans, Austrians, Norwegians, Russians,
Australians, Canadians, Mexicans, Japanese, Israelis, Finns and South Africans made the pilgrimage
to Memphis with their stamp collectors to honor the greatest rock and roller in history.
There was certainly enough cake to go around and
even some peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Elvis' favorite snack.
The celebration went on well through the night and into the wee hours of January
8, 1993 even after all the dignitaries had spoken and all the cake had been eaten.
The lines around the postal station had grown very long, winding around
Graceland Plaza all night. Faithful Elvis fans patiently waited for their stamps which went
on sale at exactly 12:15 A.M. on the early morning of January 8, 1993 at the command
of Graceland's executives.
I stood first
in line and watched my first day cover fly through the cancellation machine on command, when Governor
Ned McWherter finished his address, making my Elvis stamp the very first one to be canceled by the
Graceland contract postal station. One Elvis stamp had been removed from a full sheet of forty stamps
about five minutes prior to midnight. I was dazzled by the surrounding excitement and I recall the
postal clerk asking me if I was going to pay her. I fidgeted nervously for the twenty-nine-cent
cost of the stamp and pulled a quarter and a nickel out of my pocket and handed the
change to the clerk. The clerk took a penny from her cash drawer and gave it to me.
Adrenaline was flowing while we waited for the order from Graceland executives Laura
Ferguson and Shelly Evans standing next to the cancellation machine. I handed Laura
my envelope with stamp on it. She placed it on the machine's tray and at that moment I realized
my stamp would be the first one to be postmarked by Graceland. The fireworks display stopped, and
Shelly gave the order for Laura to postmark my stamp.
honored me with two letters attesting the authenticity of the stamp.
August 12, 2015, I obtained the first Elvis Forever stamp at Graceland, as well.
Stamp collecting is the greatest hobby in the world.
Thank you, David