By Richard S. Towne, KUNM General Manager
KUNM listeners and all of us working together at KUNM have lost a radio programmer of gigantic and complex proportions. Barry Lauesen from the Home of Happy Feet died last month at the age of 73. Barry, along with Karl Stalnaker, had been on KUNM since 1973, broadcasting a fantastic variety of music across more than 2,000 Tuesday nights.
Not long after 1973, Barry’s second wife Marilyn Altenbach joined the Home of Happy Feet. The radio broadcasts featured legions of local and touring musicians and has been supported by dozens of talented KUNM volunteers filling-in when the hosts took time off.
If you’ve known the Home of Happy Feet over the years, you already understand how important Barry’s presence was. If you never heard Barry on the Home of Happy Feet, I must confess that I could not fully explain that to you in writing. Not even the great journalist and musicologist Clark Kent could explain Barry’s supernatural powers. Suffice it to say that the Home of Happy Feet broadcasts are delightful, surprising, vast; sometimes a romp, sometimes a thrill ride, sometimes a slow waltz.
Our hearts go out to Karl and Barry’s extended family. They put together a loving retrospective that was published in the Albuquerque Journal on August 19th. We join you in keeping fond memories of what Barry Lauesen gave to us all.
There was an afternoon back on New Year’s Day in 2004 when I opened up the Albuquerque Tribune to a giant, full-color photo of Barry and Karl in KUNM’s control room. The Tribune writers had created an A to Z list of resolutions called “Discovering Duke City - Resolved: This is the year to uncover all of Albuquerque’s charms”. So “A” was about Acoma, “B” about the Bosque, “X” was Xeriscape, “Z” was for Zuzax”; you get the idea.
The feature ran across four pages - really big. I frantically thought that “H” would be for Home of Happy Feet so I flipped through to Page A4 and the letter “H”. Nutso! “H” was for Highland High School. Befuddled yet curious, I continued scanning - past “I” (Irrigation ditches) and “J” (hooray for Jazz Joints) until I found that letter “K”. OH, there we are! “K” is for KUNM. We made the Tribune’s list of Albuquerque “charms” for the many programs we offer. But honestly, it’s that big color photo of Barry and Karl that says so much. I am not sure we would have made it without the Home of Happy Feet.
(The Albuquerque Tribune’s feature was compiled by writers Shea Andersen, Jen Barol, Phill Casaus, Jeff Commings, Joline Gutierrez Krueger, Iliana Limon, Dan Mayfield, Carrie Seidman, Dan Shingler, Tamara
Shope, Bill Slakey, Sue Vorenberg, M.J. Wilde and Frank Zoretich with photographers Michael J Gallegos, Craig Fritz, and Stacia Spragg. We still miss you.)
In other news: The industry news source Inside Radio reports that FEMA will conduct the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on September 20 at 12:18 pm (MDT). “After conducting a first-ever national EAS test in 2011, this test will be the fourth dry run of an infrastructure designed to allow a President to speak to the country in case of a national emergency.
“FEMA will also conduct a simultaneous first-ever national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert or WEA. It will involve sending an 87-character test message to be displayed on mobile handsets. “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” My recommendation? Mark your calendars and remember, it’s only a TEST. We’ll see.