So I was now being introduced to new music on phonograph records and in person. The one place I was not meeting this kind of music in Portland, Oregon was on the radio. AM radio continued to play 2 1/2 minute songs. Occasionally they would play 2 1/2 minutes of a longer song, but then cut it off. Fortunately, both my brother at college in Ohio and I at college in Massachusetts had been introduced to FM radio. In Cambridge and in Oberlin, the radio to own was this small brown KLH model. Somehow, despite the fact that there was nothing for us to tune into, we convinced our mother to buy one so that she could listen to classical music.
But on Christmas Day, 1968, my brother and I turned on that radio and rejoiced together as station KINK, the underground link, went live. It was the first station in Portland to play the kind of music we had grown accustomed to in college. It played the whole song, not just 2 1/2 minutes of it. Here was the entire “Hey Jude,” not the AM truncated version. Here was the whole baffling “Whiter Shade of Pale.”(As I think about these long songs, I am reminded again that sans drugs I may have been having a less ecstatic experience than some of my friends.)
Car radio was still limited to AM, and most radios still had only an AM band. Even the KLH only tuned in FM, so we needed two radios in the house for other purposes. Still, we felt that Portland had begun to come of age. Hard as it is for the current enormous population of hipsters in Portland today to believe, Portland in 1968 was very much in the music backwater, along with the restaurant backwater and the movie theater backwater. It was still a hamburger and drive-in theater town. But at least we finally had “an underground link.”