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WKIX - The Station that Made Chapel Hill Rock

by Charly Mann

We almost all love the music of the sixties. In fact it still seems to have replaced Muzak as our dominant background music. In Chapel Hill, to hear the music of the sixties usually meant listening to WKIX in Raleigh, because Chapel Hill's only station, WCHL, played only easy listening.

I have several recordings of "KIX" shows from 1961 through 1968, and in hindsight I am amazed by the high percentage of mediocre songs and long commercial breaks we had to endure before we got to hear a worthy song. (Thank you Steve Jobs for the iPod, where we can listen to thousands of great songs without a single commercial.) I’ve included a segment from  a WKIX broadcast in August 1964 with dee-jay Gary Edens. He went to UNC and worked weekends during college at WSSB in Durham. WSSB also played some rock, but was not as hip as WKIX, and its signal was not as easy to pick up on our AM radios. Edens went to work at WKIX after graduating in 1964. This was a pivotal year in rock history, as the British Invasion had started in February with The Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  After this, British acts began to supplant American artists on the airwaves, and more and more acts also began writing their own songs.


Gary Edens at WKIX 1964

Charlie Brown was one of the original WKIX disc jockeys. His show was usually on from 6 to 9 PM weekdays evenings. The legendary, and still thriving, Nomads band from Chapel Hill did the theme song for his program. It precedes the excerpt of the Gary Edens show on our player.


                               WKIX's Charlie Brown - Then and Now

As a brief history lesson, you can study the charts of the top played songs on WKIX from 1961 to 1969 to see how much changed, but also see how much disposable music was still popular. Note particularly the top two songs in 1969, which many consider the pinnacle year of great rock music.

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Comments:

Hune      4:29 AM Mon 9/16/2013

I was there and was thoroughly isepesmrd by the sense of optimism and cooperation in the air. A fun and interesting evening. If nothing else, I met several other citizens like myself who want to see Chapel Hill become an even better place to live.
 

Jon Long      3:46 PM Tue 5/10/2011

I worked at WKIX in 1966, 1967, news, with a little ECU worked in the mix. I have thoroughly enjoyed being in touch with "our alumni" after all these years, love hearing from each & every one ! Thanks Gary & Walter for your efforts. Great stuff ! Eddie still loves that beach music, me too !
 

J H Brown      9:16 PM Sat 4/30/2011

Does anyone remember WSSB's 'Top Top Topper Time' (Tops Drive In) and 'Shoney Show Time' ?
 

Dave Kistler      8:54 AM Fri 9/3/2010

Charly,<br \>Last year The Farm House celebrated it&#39;s 40th anniversary with a party. The Nomads played. Guess who was in attendance, none other than Charlie Brown.<br \><br \>I introduced myself to CB and told him how I remember when the Four Tops released Reach Out - I&#39;ll Be there, he played it back to back. First and only time I remember a DJ doing that.<br \><br \>I also told him how a group of us would go to The Record Bar when he would come to the Chapel HIll store. He told me at that time he was living with the Bergman&#39;s, owners of the Record Bar chain.<br \><br \>He can still be heard on WPCM - 920 AM, Graham, NC from 10:00AM to 2:00PM
 

tommy      6:03 PM Sun 6/6/2010

gopack is both an instigator and a wrong guy.<br \><br \>wkix was never affiliated with state; that would be WKNC-FM
 

GO PACK      5:49 PM Mon 2/22/2010

Sorry you hole fans.<br \><br \>WKIX was in RALEIGH.<br \><br \>You holes had WCHL. WKIX was Wolfpack radio!
 

JohnP      10:38 PM Sat 11/7/2009

I used to get in so much trouble in the 70&#39;s calling WKIX long distance from Chapel Hill to make song requests. My mom &amp; dad would get so mad!
 

Bob Jurgensen      10:08 AM Sun 9/27/2009

Wasn&#39;t Kemp Nye, Jr. the bass guitar player in the Nomads? I recall that he was and they often playered at the Rec Center located behind Zoom Zoom&#39;s, off Columbia? Does anyone know how to reach Kemp Nye, Jr? I understand he is a pilot and instructor for a small charter airline in western NC these days.... if so, please send contact/email info to: tarheelinva@aol.com THANKS!
 

Phil Hawkins      1:23 PM Sat 4/18/2009

Few people remember that Rick Dees did late nights following Charlie Brown for several years while Rick was a student at UNC.
 

garolina      8:43 AM Sat 3/28/2009

Charly,<br \><br \>Thanks for putting up the Charlie Brown theme on this website as well as an old aircheck of mine. As Walter Knox said earlier, there is his excellent site for WKIX www.wkixrewound.com. It is loaded with KIX memorabilia. <br \><br \>One of the pieces he features on the site is a &quot;Tribute to WKIX,&quot; which I wrote and recorded in 1993 when the KIX Alums were having a reunion weekend broadcast on WTRG, Raleigh. The piece was enhanced considerably by Walter&#39;s production skills when he took the original voice only track and added WKIX jingles, airchecks, contests, other sound bites from his KIX vault. This new production was broadcast on the WKIX reunion on Raleigh&#39;s WPTF in September 2001.<br \><br \>If would like to stream or download the &quot;Tribute to WKIX&quot; just go to this link:http://www.4shared.com/account/file/92116075/35564ff6/Tribute_to_WKIX.html<br \><br \>For people who are on Facebook, there is a new group dedicated to fans of WKIX. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=84937265872<br \><br \><br \>Gary Edens<br \>UNC 1964<br \>WKIX 1963-64, 68-69
 

Walter Knox      2:19 PM Wed 3/25/2009

It was great to hear CB&#39;s theme song again and an aircheck from my friend, Gary Edens.<br \><br \>If any of you find the WKIX story fun, you might enjoy our repository of everything WKIX, www.wkixrewound.com<br \><br \>Here you&#39;ll find photos, airchecks from most KX MEN OF MUSIC, newscasts, KIX TUNEDEX and HIT PARADER SURVEYS and more.<br \><br \>Enjoy!<br \><br \>Walter Knox<br \>aka Jack Kane, WKIX 1968-1972<br \><br \>
 

Carolyn      9:20 AM Tue 3/17/2009

Wonderful memories, and I love that my favorite high-school band, The Nomads, did the theme song for Charlie Brown.
 

Keith Prichard      10:43 AM Mon 3/16/2009

Can someone tell me if the Nomads have any CDs?
 

Brad Davis      7:39 PM Sun 3/15/2009

I still smile when I think of the letters W-K-I-X together. They meant so much to me in my formative years.
 

Charly Mann      3:43 PM Sat 3/14/2009

Through the magic of Robert Humphreys we have rectified our oversight, and the Nomads doing Charlie Brown&#39;s theme song can be heard as the first track on our player here.
 

Bert      2:58 PM Sat 3/14/2009

I can&#39;t believe a story about WKIX didn&#39;t mention CHARLIE BROWN! His KIX record hops at Raleigh&#39;s Memorial Auditorium and at the YWCA were where the Nomads got much of its public exposure so that most of the area&#39;s teens became our fans. And of course, recording his theme song, written by Bobby Scott, at Jimmy Capps Studio, was a highlight of our high school days and the only thing we ever recorded that got on the radio. It was pretty exciting to hear at the start of each day&#39;s show. I hope you can add it to this post!
 

Robin Boyd      1:33 PM Sat 3/14/2009

Thanks for this this time capsule. I loved that song &quot;Summertime, Summertime&quot;, and don&#39;t think I&#39;d heard it in more than 30 years.
 

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Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

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Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

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There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

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Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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