Photo by Jon Gitchoff
Two KSHE fans of varying notoriety.
KSHE (94.7 FM) first hit the airwaves in 1967 to the sounds of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" — a song that references experimentation with drugs through the lens of Alice in Wonderland
. It served as a fitting start for the station's format change — from a classical station at its inception to St. Louis' premiere purveyor of "Real Rock Radio" — during a time of seismic cultural shift.
A pioneering California disc jockey by the name of Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue had made waves earlier in the year at San Francisco's KMPX station, eschewing radio's popular Top-40 format and creating the nation's first alternative "free-form" station. Tracks were chosen by the station's DJs, and programming leaned heavily toward rock & roll.
St. Louis' Ron Elz, who taught at a local broadcasting school, visited San Francisco around this time, and returned home with a plan. He convinced an associate, Howard Grafman, to adopt Donahue's model for Grafman's recently purchased station on the FM dial. A crop of new DJs was hired to appeal to a younger, counter-culture crowd. The KSHE that we know and love today was born.
That was 49 years ago. In the years since, Donahue has been inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Jefferson Airplane, too, was inducted. Conspicuously absent, though, is a certain St. Louis radio station that has been beaming rock & roll into the ears of the masses for nearly five decades.
Now, a petition launched by KSHE DJ Lauren “Lern” Colvin
aims to rectify that.
"I started at KSHE in 2008, and in my eight years here, I have been hearing many wonderful stories about this radio station," Colvin explains in the petition's "about" section. "One of the great stories I was told by many people I work with is, 'KSHE is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland,' which made my ears perk with hope that one day I may go see our legendary call letters in such an iconic institution of rock history."
Colvin writes that she finally got her chance to do so in October. When she arrived, though, she could not find the station's call letters anywhere in the building. Armed with an old photo of KSHE morning DJ John "U-Man" Ulett posing in front of a wall in the rock hall with KSHE depicted on it
, she spoke with some of hall employees, who gave conflicting stories — among them that the wall had been "temporary" for the hall's opening. When she pressed, saying that another KSHE DJ had seen the wall at a later time, she was told that SIRIUS and XM radio had taken over the building's upper floor, and that the radio room that had existed was taken down.
"I kind of felt like I was wasting everyone’s time, so I handed them a KSHE sticker and I told them about our longevity, etc.," Colvin writes. "They shook it off like we were just ‘any other station.’
"Now, look: I bring all of this up because I am a millennial and a fan of this station, not just an employee of it," she continues. "I cheer on this place and the people in it because it’s the pride of St. Louis (along with your St. Louis Blues, Cardinals and Chuck Berry) and I want to do something about the utter confusion this museum/Hall of Fame has about ‘rock radio’ because honestly, without KSHE — they don’t know squat."
Colvin's petition asks merely that the station be represented within the museum — she stopped short of asking for any kind of official induction ceremony. But there is a good case to be made for such a move, considering the station's influence and staying power.
The people behind the petition's 2000+ signatures are inclined to agree.
"I believe KSHE has shaped rock and roll," writes Renee Obenhaus in the petition's comments. "It's the only radio station that has been around for decades. In my opinion it's part of music history!!!"
"Recognize one of the true epic stations that has been around for decades promoting the very thing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stands for," writes Kevin D. McCarty. "KSHE is
rock and roll."
"KSHE radio station is an icon in presenting rock music," writes Joel Beck. "They have help[ed] promote rock artists from the beginning. They are listened to from all parts of the world. Their on-air people are very knowledgeable in rock music & its history. Definitely, needs to be apart of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!!"
The petition has its goal set at 50,000 signatures. It collected its first thousand within just a day of going live.
"If you agree that KSHE is a legendary station that has helped shape the music, people and world please sign this petition to get our station better represented inside this iconic museum," Colvin writes. "Please share this post and ask your friends and family to do the same. We can make anything happen through social media because people are always on their screens hungry for signing their name to something — only this time, you hopefully won’t have to unfollow anyone for posting this."
Finally, a cause we can all get behind. Add your name to the growing list of signatures here