Anchorage Coke Show Memories
Do you remember the Coke Show with Ron Moore? Did you ever go to the Bun Drive-In to listen to the Coke Show? Did you call in to the Coke Show? Check out these fun Coke Show memories right now.
Anchorage DJ Ron Moore, “The Royal Coachman” signing autographs for Anchorage teens.
On Christmas Eve, 1959, a small booth sitting on the roof of the Bun Drive-In, a burger place in Anchorage, became the place to be for Anchorage teens.
Long before cell phones, Anchorage teens picked up their rotary dial phones and called in their dedications and song requests to Ron Moore who would often talk with the teens live on Anchorage radio before playing the songs they requested.
Listen to The Coke Show
Turn up your sound, listen to The Coke Show and remember when.
The “Royal Roost” or the Chicken Coop
A group of Anchorage teens pose for the picture above in front of the small booth that was the home of the Coke Show and where Ron Moore brought his young, dedicated radio audience together each night for music and fun.
A Word from Ron Moore
The following is from Coke Show Memories on Anchorage Memories.com
“I have often felt that the Coke Show was successful largely because of all the various ingredients it had going at one time or the other.
Sometimes it felt like there were too many things happening at once.
Being live from the roof of a Drive In Restaurant, having dozens of cars in the parking lot honking their horns and being identified by names such as GTO Joe, T-Bird Tommy, etc.
Having a live mike way out over the intersection so I could pick up the sound of dual exhausts and tires peeling out.
Having local bands as guest in the "Chicken Coop" to answer phones, putting popular bands on either side of the roof on weekends and my spot ended up on the top of the chicken coop, playing all oldies on Sunday afternoon, etc.
So I felt it would be fun to give the kids at home a chance to be heard on the air by making requests and dedications.
This resulted in many of them having nicknames. Later when one of the few audience surveys that were taken back then was released, it gave yours truly the highest rating of my 37 year career. 72% of the people listening to radio were tuning in to The Coke Show" and more than 40% were above 18 which really shocked some folks back at the radio station that thought the only listeners were Teeny Boppers.
But it turned out a lot of parents and others were tuning in to find out what their kids or siblings were doing by listening to them on the air and discovering there was a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
So it really paid off and the advertisers like Coca-Cola, Sears, and Alaska Sales and Service were happy.”
Check out the entire interview, Ron Moore the Coke Show right now.
Anchorage Teens Loved it
For Anchorage teens, the Coke Show was the place to be.
Besides listening to the show from home and calling in song requests and dedications, some listened to the show while driving around town.
Others would show up in the parking lot in front of the Bun where they could enjoy a burger and a coke while listening to the show on their car radio.
And Ron had fun with the Bun Drive-In parking lot crowd.
Naming them “Honker-Bonkers”, Ron would look out over the parking lot and ask “how are you doing down there?” and everyone would honk their horns in response.
The KENI radio engineers even put a microphone over Northern Lights Blvd so they could hear cars as the gunned their engines and squealed their tires during the show.
And you may remember that after Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh’s hit Wooly Bully, Ron would often call it Northern Lights “Wooly Bullyvard”.
Ron Moore Remembers
“I had two turntables, a Bogen sound mixer, a reel to reel for playing the Coke jingles, two phone lines, with one for the broadcast signal.
The first show from the Bun took place on a cold Christmas Eve and everything was frozen from the big window looking out over the parking lot to the turntables. I had to take the portable heater and warm the turntables and they still sounded less than 45rpm.
But there were cars in the parking lot and eventually they built a new Bun across the street with parking for many more cars and a new broadcast booth, again on the roof.
There was a microphone strung out all the way to the intersection so I could bring up the sound of the hot rods as they peeled out. Even when the music was playing. On at least one occasion the police were monitoring the show and pulled the car over down the road on Northern Lights Blvd.
I also installed a loud air horn just outside the broadcast booth and it could be heard for blocks.
It also allowed me to open the mike when I cued the cars to honk their horns while the car hops were bringing an armful of orders out to the cars. More than one car hop lost her tray because it could be very loud.
The Bun was the first location in Anchorage for speed bumps to slow down the Chevy 396’s from picking off a car hop.
We even hosted a wedding at the Coke Show. I can’t recall their names but the bride arrived in a white Chevy convertible from Northern Lights side and the groom arrived in a matching convertible from the Fireweed Lane side. They were married on a flatbed trailer. I broadcast the ceremony and when the groom was told he could kiss the bride every horn in the parking lot, and the air horn, sounded off.”
She Said What?
“One night a band that play at all of the shows at The Royal pad, Shindig City, and Carpenters Hall, joined me on the Coke Show to answer phones.
Some of Anchorages most popular bands were included, including The Heartbeats, Arsons, Blue Chip Stock, Proof, Burgundy Rose and others. One night they handed me a phone call to put on the air and this ladies voice said something like:
“Ronnie, quit playing all that rock n roll and lets hear some Englebert Humperdink. This is your Mother calling .”
The horns in the parking lot loved it and went wild for 10 minutes.”
“The late Dick Lobdell was Program Director at KENI Radio which was playing top 40 back then and since I had a trip to the West Coast planned he came up with the idea to stage a kidnapping while I was live on the air at the Coke Show.
Some of The Pacesetters (the group that staged the shows and managed some of the local bands) came barging in and dragged me out of the booth and down the stairs while DJ Jerry Rose was standing by to take over.
Complications arose when members of the RMFC (Ron Moore Fan Club) saw what was going on an tried to prevent my kidnapping.
I was put in the back of a station wagon and the RMFC followed us everywhere we went until they were finally left behind and I was taken to Betty (of Betty’s Record Den) and Pretz’s home on the upper NE part of town.
Several of the RMFC (including a future mayor of Fairbanks) discovered the hiding spot and tried to pull me from the house with Pretz keeping them from succeeding. I stayed over night and left very early the next morning for the airport and a waiting Western Airlines manager who was in on the promotion.
I arrived in Seattle just fine and recorded a message about the kidnapping that included clues as to where I was and that the person correctly identifying (my location) would receive a trip on Western Airlines to the West Coast and Hawaii since they offered a triangle fair back then.
Later that day Lobdell called and said things were getting very raucous back in Anchorage with people, including Coke Show sponsors, hounding the station about the kidnapping. Al Bramstedt Sr., owner of the station was not happy with Dick or yours truly.
So I had to record an announcement that all was OK and not to worry.”
The Arsons in the Chicken Coop
The Coke Show was a very happening place, and local teen bands were often a part of the show.
In a story by Mark Thompson of the local band, the Arsons, Mark talks about being in the Chicken Cook during the Coke Show.
“When the Arsons were beginning to rock around Anchorage, we were invited to take requests at the Bun Drive-In in the Chicken Coop with Ron Moore on occasional Wednesdays.
It was always fun and a good way to get to know our fans and the kind of music they enjoyed.
I really liked girls and there were a lot of calls from giggly girls to the Chicken Coop.”
For the rest of the story, check out The Arsons in the Chicken Coop right now.
The Pulsating Heartbeats
Another very popular local teen band that was featured on The Coke Show, was the Heartbeats.
Right about the time the band came out with their hit record “Anne”, Ron Moore started introducing them as the “Pulsating” Heartbeats.
The following is from an interview with John Apostol of the Heartbeats on Anchorage Memories.com
“The Pulsating Heartbeats came from Ron Moore. He started calling us "The Pulsating Heartbeats" every time he introduced our band on the radio or at dances. It was such a catchy name. We love it! “
Read the rest of “In John’s Own Words - The Pulsating Heartbeats” right now
Jerry Rose and The Coke Show
When Ron wasn’t able to host the Coke Show, he would have other KENI radio DJs stepping for the night.
One of those was a young DJ named Jerry Rose (Peter Bie in real life).
The Coke Show had so many things going on that it made it a hard show to do. So when another DJ was sitting in for Ron… they had their hands full.
Anchorage DJ Jerry Rose remembers taking a microphone into the Bun Drive-In parking lot to talk with teens in their cars.
“We would often take a microphone down into the parking lot to talk with folks (especially those that wanted to make a dedication).
From time to time we’d get them to honk their horns, but that was rare as it was quite noisy.
Of course while the DJ was in the parking lot, someone (like Michael Dougherty of Anchorage Memories) would have to be up in the Chicken Coop to answer the phone and spin the records.
Come to think of it, during this pandemic, this would be a perfect way to get people together (staying in their cars) and still be able to have some fun talking with them.”
See the full interview, check out “Anchorage Radio Days - with Jerry Rose” right now.
The View from the Chicken Coop
During The Coke Show, Ron Moore would say “from high atop the Bun Drive-In”.
The small radio booth sat on the roof of the Bun, overlooking the parking lot below. It was sometimes called the Chicken Coop or the “Royal Roost”, in keeping with Ron’s Royal Coachman image. You may recall that Ron’s car was called the “Royal Coach” so of course the studio on top of the roof was the “Royal Roost”.
Ron Moore talks about the radio booth.
“To my best recollection, "The Chicken Coop" was how Ruby Westin referred to the broadcast booth a couple of times and it stuck.
Ruby and Roy Westin built the original Bun Drive in on the SW corner of Northern Lights at Fairbanks Street, facing Northern Lights (Where the Office Lounge was located later).
It was quite small with little parking. The broadcast booth was quite small too.
It didn't take long for it too outgrow the location so a new and much larger Bun was constructed at the NE corner facing Gambell Street but open to Northern Lights looking across to the Sears Mall where parking spilled over from the Bun every so often.
The Westin’s sold to Ken and Bobby Haines and the broadcast booth was new and larger with room for a couple of guests.
The booth was also referred too as “The Royal Roost” (of course).
The Mighty Michael Connection
Yes, that’s me, Michael Dougherty, the author of Anchorage Memories.
I was about 19 when this picture was taken.
During my senior year at East High in Anchorage, I began working on The Varsity Show, Anchorage’s teen TV dance show. Ron was also hosting The Varsity Show at that time.
Here’s my connection with The Coke Show.
“Shortly after auditioning for a Varsity Show Crew position and being accepted to work on the show, Ron invited me and fellow Varsity Show Crew member Bob Martin to work with him during The Coke Show.
Our job was to set up things in the small booth on top of the Bun Drive-in just before show time. We also had to send a sound signal to the main KENI radio studios to make sure The Coke Show program would be heard on the air.
We were also responsible for having records ready to play when Ron introduced them, and starting the records on time. In addition, we answered the phone when Ron was busy and we took requests and dedications.
Ron gave both me and Bob our on-air names. I was "Mighty Michael" and Bob was "Rapid Robert." I worked the show every other night and Bob worked the show when I wasn't there.
On my first night working The Coke Show, I was very nervous as I walked up the stairs and unlocked the "Chicken Coop" which was the name Ron gave to the little booth we worked in. Ron would arrive after I had set things up, then he would tell me a little about that night's show. “
You’re “Mighty Michael?”
I didn’t have a clue that my future wife, Mary Kallander, was out there listening to The Coke Show.
After we had been married for some years, we were talking about The Coke Show one evening and I mentioned that I worked up in the Chicken Coop assisting Ron Moore during The Coke Show and he had given me the name “Mighty Michael”.
Mary looked at me with big eyes and said in amazement, “you’re Mighty Michael?”
She was delighted.
See the whole story, “The Coke Show - A View from the Chicken Coop” right now.
What Was the Song?
At the end of every Coke Show, Ron ended the show with the same song.
Do you remember what it was?
To discover the answer, scroll down to the end of this newsletter.
A Big Thank You
Our thanks from Anchorage Memories to both Ron Moore and Jerry Rose (Peter Bie) for providing a fun look behind the scenes at The Coke Show. Everyone appreciates hearing from you, and for helping us to remember when, all these years later.
This edition of Anchorage Memories VIP has been packed with memories of a time in Anchorage when we (as area teens) were together around radios all over town, listening to Ron Moore, the dedications, music and fun that was The Coke Show.
And some of you were listening from other parts of Alaska too.
Did you enjoy this edition of Anchorage Memories VIP?
You can Contact Us right now - and leave your dedication.
The song Ron Moore played at the end of every Coke Show was “Earth Angel” by the Penguins.
Until Next Time
Mike & Mary