Monday, September 21, 2020

Al French and Candlelight Cameos

Hey all! During my recent quick trip to the west side of the state, I added to my private issue cover collection, with this LP from Al French, Candlelight A Quiet Quarter Hour, found in a Cortez thrift store. The label showed KCMS (the Manitou Springs radio station and prolific local recording studio), so I knew it had to be something from the Colorado Springs area.

Upon getting back to my turntable, I discovered that the disc, which shows AUDITION ONLY on the label, was apparently a vinyl demo for a proposed national syndicated, locally-produced radio show, originating from KVOR / KFMH, in Colorado Springs. The LP is introduced by George Beatty, a popular local announcer. 

 "I worked for George at KFMH the last half of my high school senior year, and then some," said James House. "He had a wonderful radio voice and recorded announcements at Alexander Film once a year, the most he could do without joining the union."

Listen to the introduction of the demo (3:04).

"Al French was a teacher at Widefield High School in the 1960s," according to former student, Bobby Kiess. "He did late night radio shows on KVOR. His shows were very smooth and casual."

"Mr French was a new teacher my senior year. He was about six-feet tall and about 180 lbs., with black hair, and the shoulders of a football player," said former student Thomas Rieves. "Every girl in class swooned. He was a great teacher."

Widefield High School yearbook (1964)

Mr. French would often enlist his Widefield students, to assist with the show.  "For those of us who were in his speech class, we could go down to the station and help with the production," said former student Thomas Rieves. "He would read poetry and play mood music. I spent three or four nights at the studio."

 Listen to a sample of Candlelight Cameos (4:00)

Interestingly, I could find nothing on the show Candlelight Cameos, which apparently was never heard beyond the Colorado Springs market (not to be confused with the 1950s Davenport, IA WOC-TV show of the same name). No idea how many of these vinyl demos were made, as I can only assume they were discarded if a station wasn't interested in the idea. Or, is it possible only one of these records was made?  Either way, I'm guessing this is a very rare piece of recorded Pikes Peak radio memorabilia. Amazed it survived.

As always, if you have anything to add, please contact me. 

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