Radio Fink In Tucson

By Bill Kimmey. Saturday April 10 1965, Tucson Daily Citizen

Citizen Photos by Jon Kamman.

 

Julie Ferdon, John Faik and Grant Hafley at work in the FINK studio in the Hafley home.

 

Julie Ferdon provides some 'live' entertainment

Grant Hafley receives phone requests.

Reading for the children's hour is a Hafley 'must.'

Tacy, Tammy, Tad and Ty, the children of the Howard Feldmans, are avid FINK listeners, particularly at story time

 

The station manager of Tucson's smallest radio station dropped a Henry Mancini record on the turntable and began looking through a small pile of well-worn children's books.

It was a few minutes before 7:30 p.m. Nearly story time for the four youngest members of his listening audience.

"This is an informal station," said Grant Hafley, pulling out a book. "That's the way we started and that's the way we've stayed. If someone calls and wants to hear something, we stop whatever is playing to put on their request. It's a service."

Radio FINK has been on the air nine months now. Its adult music programs in stereophonic sound yet emanate from a small, out-of-the-way room in the spacious Hafley home on Grant road. The room looks about like any radio studio, which it is. And the three young people who work in it have the poise of seasoned professional broadcasters, which they are not.

With Hafley in the venture are Julie Ferdon, 14, and John Faick, 15, both freshmen at Catalina High School. Hafley himself is 21. He works in the family-owned Jones Drug Store in Pueblo Plaza and runs the radio station as a hobby.

"Julie and John asked me to help them with some kind of a science project last summer," explained Hafley. "Then we began talking about a neighborhood radio set-up. We talked and planned for about a month, and mustered enough money among ourselves, laid down the wires to the homes and started in."

Four homes were hooked up to start. Three have been added. All seven are in the 2200 block of either Grant road or Juanita Street, a block south of Grant. The homes needed only hi-fi sets; FINK's three promoters did the rest.

"I already had the studio equipment," Hafley said. "We did have to buy a $40 amplifier to push (broadcasts) up the alley. The rest we needed, wiring mostly, cost about $20. We ran two wires side-by-side to each house for stereo, plus a third line in case one of the other two wore out. That's about 3,000 feet of wire."

The studio equipment is worth about $2,500 and was ac-cumulated by Hafley over a four-year period after he became interested in audio engineering. He built much of it himself.

Right from the first, FINK has been a partnership of Hafley and his two young friends. Julie and John each have their own DJ shows after school and on weekends. She is "Julie Don" to listeners and John's radio name is "John Carl." Each spends from 10 to 20 hours a week in the FINK studio and manages to hold up their grades too. In the station's hierarchy, John is assistant manager and Julie, program director.

FINK has not really scrambled to enlarge its listening audience because of the necessity for direct wires to each house. A big audience could be costly to the non-profit operation which has no income from fees, advertising or any other source. Only a few families in the immediate area were contacted when FINK started.

"We got a flat 'no' at two homes where they just didn't care about it," Hafley recalled. "Then we had just the opposite reaction where people thought it was a great thing to make the neighborhood more closely knit.

"In this neighborhood, I think we lack closeness because there are not many kids. We thought FINK could bring the families closer together in addition to giving us some kicks and a lot of good experience."

Probably FINK's most avid listeners are members of the Howard Feldman family, 2215 E. Juanita. At least it's the big-Jest audience in any one house.

In addition to Feldman, an attorney, and his wife, there are Tacy. Tammy, Tad and Ty, the four little Feldman's ranging from 8 months to 4 and 1/2 years old, plus Teal, their Collie dog. All seven in the Feldman household get individual dedications played nearly every evening.

FINK's evening children's stories put on with sound effects and voice characterizations are exclusively for the Feldman youngsters. They are a demanding audience.

"I missed two nights recently when we were taking inventory at the store," Hafley said with a chuckle. "Tacy, the oldest and spokesman for the rest, called me on the carpet because there were no story-times. They look forward to them just before bedtime."

A minimum of talk and a maximum of music describe FINK programs which go out from 3 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 12 noon to midnight on weekends. Occasional news broadcasts are relayed by simply tuning in one of Tucson's commercial stations. One of a dog-eared sheaf of public service "spots" on anything from traffic safety to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum may be read from time-to-time just to break up the music.

Special programs have become a FINK forte too.

Telephone remotes giving the score and highlights have been aired at halftime and at the conclusion of Catalina High athletic events. On Dec. 23, FINK did a remote from Feldman's in which Santa Claus (Julie's father) appeared during a reading of "Twos the Night Before Christmas."

Neighborhood amateur talent has a friend in FINK. One program featured a young folk singer-guitarist in a solo performance, and a couple of times, listeners have been treated to duets with Julie on drums and her older brother, Dick, on guitar.

Despite the youth of its operators, nothing resembling rock 'n roll music goes out over FINK lines. The record library consists mainly of modern jazz, Dixieland, old standards and a few recordings with a Latin beat, mood stuff, mostly instrumentals.

"The mood of FINK follows the clock normally," explained its founder-manager. "Not always of course. Sometimes we don't get on until late and we feel real good. Then we may play lively stuff clear up to 10 o'clock. What we play depends a lot on the mood of whoever is playing it."

Though it started only last July, FINK probably was in Hafley's future long before that. Electricity always has fascinated him. In recent years, his interest has been primarily in the audio or communication field but he still has taken time to make electrical gadgets of all sorts.

"I guess I've been interested in electricity since I stuck a pair of scissors in a wall plug. I was two and a half then." At 8, he made a large scale-model town for his train and lighted it completely even to a light in the church steeple. He fixed his Dad's electric razor in the same year and for his ninth birthday, asked for and got silent switches which he installed in the house.

FINK thus was a new world to conquer. Now he would like to get a radio engineer's license and do commercial recording work on the side. Hafley already has picked up pocket money by recording weddings and other events for clients, and wants more of this Now that he has become a station manager the hard way by starting his own station, would he want to own a commercial radio outlet?

"Sometimes I think I would. Then other times I see the headaches of it and tend to shy away. I do like the technical aspects of it and radio does have a future. Even with television, don't underestimate the value of radio."