A commercial-free FM station has an eclectic playlist and avid fans whose curiosity is spooking the reclusive man behind the music.
By Charles Duhigg
Times Staff Writer
May 1, 2006
TUCSON—The cult of the mysterious KCDX-FM started innocently enough.
Bill Keeling, a 51-year-old respiratory therapist, found the Arizona radio station when his daughter fiddled with his car stereo. Lynn Richeson, a graphic designer, fell in love with it when she heard a song for the first time in 30 years. One man became an acolyte after he rented a car in Phoenix and all the radio buttons were set to 103.1.
The signal, which started broadcasting throughout central Arizona and much of Phoenix in 2002, played an eclectic mix that included hits by Huey Lewis and the News and an obscure 1971 tune about cannibalism by the Buoys. There were no commercials, no DJs, no way the station made money.
Hundreds of e-mails filled KCDX's inbox each week. Who was choosing the playlists? How did the station survive without advertising?
"IF YOU NEED DONATIONS, CONTACT ME, PLEASE," one listener wrote. "A day without KCDX is like a day without sunshine," another said.
The fans found one another online, sharing their frustrations about other stations that played the same songs over and over, and recalling the first time they heard "Pinball Wizard" or a forgotten song by Duran Duran.
They spent hours speculating about who owned KCDX. Richeson, Keeling and others scoured the Internet to identify the person who referred to himself on the station's website only as "The Guru."
But the harder they pressed for answers, the more frightened the Guru became, until he began questioning the wisdom of what he had done.