"WCSH - Cave Spring High"

WCSH was a closed-circuit radio station that was operated at Cave Spring High School, Roanoke, VA, in the 1970s. The station "broadcasted" every school day from 11:15 to 2:15 and was "piped" into the school cafeteria, via the intercom system, from its studio in the school's front office. WCSH played contemporary music with occasional country-western and soul hits and provided Cave Spring students with an opportunity to be "radio personalities."

WCSH started sometime in the early 1970s. By early 1974, a lack of money, equipment, and records caused the station to "go dark" for a while. Later that year, with a control board built by CSHS student Andy Askew, they were back on the air bringing music to Cave Spring's lunch crowd. 1974-75 WCSH DJs included Jay Downie, Program Director Bill Zint, Andy Askew, Harry Angel, Tom Hensley, Scott Harrison, Pat Garrett, Cliff Beach, Chip Holdren, Steve Finnegan and Lee Yosafat.

It's important to stop here and note that, at about this same time, Cave Spring High School had just implemented "Modular Scheduling." The year was divided into six-day "cycles" with each day being known as "Day 1", "Day 2", etc. Each "day" was then divided into 15-minute segments called "Modules". Classes consisted of IA's (Inter-Actions, each two modules long, where you were supposed to meet in small groups and discuss that week's material), lectures (usually three) and labs (three or four).

Modular Scheculing. Click it for a larger version.
I = IA, L = Lecture, Q = Lab (because they already
used the 'L'). I think J = "go to the Language Lab".
Areas with nothing = GAIN Time.

This was intended to prepare the high school student for college by making the schedule more closely resemble the typical college scheme. There were periods during each day where nothing was scheduled and this was called "GAIN Time" which stood for "Go Ahead Individually". That was when students were supposed to go to the library to study, do their homework, and work on projects. Instead, most of us used this time to hang out on the "smoking block" smoking Marlboros, sneak off into the woods to get high, or hop into our cars and head off to buy beer and drink. And the other unintended consequece of this was, it allowed us to have free time to run a RADIO STATION!

But, back to WCSH...

One day in 1975, Pat Garrett was on WCSH. Lee Yosafat showed up with a broom. The two of them (obviously under the influence of something or other) said "Here's the newest song by the group 'Pat & Lee and the Electric Broom Band.'" Lee held the broom up to the mic, started strumming it like a guitar, and both started singing "Jingle Bells." About two minutes later, PD Bill Zint came running in and said "You idiots GET OUTTA HERE!" So Bill, officially, was the first guy to ever chase Pat Garrett out of a radio station (there would be many more...Frank Grimes and Russ Brown, among them).

The WCSH Studio with 1975 DJ Jay Downie

Most of the 1975 DJs were seniors and graduated in June. So when WCSH began again for the '75-'76 school year, Senior Pat Garrett became the Program Director. Pat, along with Cliff Beach (who went by "Ron Shore" on the air) were friends with Bart Prater, Rob O'Brady and the rest of the staff of WROV Radio in Roanoke. Pat was Cave Spring's "WROV High School Correspondent" and did weekly CSHS news reports on WROV on Wednesday nights from 1974-1976.

The "WROV Connection" helped WCSH to sound remarkably professional (well, for a bunch of high school guys, anyway) during the 1975-76 school year. Because of this, WCSH was able to stay on top of the music world, playing new hits as soon as they were hitting the national airwaves. Also, several of Pat's WROV friends, including Starr Stevens and Bucky Stover, recorded liners and drops which the station used during its broadcasts.

The Staff of WCSH, 1976
Dave Holtzman, Bill Smith, Pat Garrett, Cliff Beach,
Lee Yosafat, Mike Ditman, and William Taylor

WCSH was home of several "original" hits that weren't heard anywhere else. One was by Johnny's Dance Band and was called "Porcelain Convenience - Ode to a Commode" and was the flip side of their version of the Ricky Nelson tune "I'm Walkin'". It was discovered, accidentally, by DJ Bill Smith who, on the air, went by the name "The Good Doctor."

Another was Garrett's original hit, "School Lunch Blues", which was recorded in the WROV production room and featured bluegrass guitarist Doug Rorrer (who, at the time, was working at WROV under the name of Doug McCloud).

Dave Holtzman & Pat Garrett in WCSH Studio, Spring 1976

The studio was in the intercom room in the Cave Spring High School office, which was adjacent to the office of Principal James Daughtridge. Daughtridge, who looked almost exactly like Jackie Gleason, was always coming into the room, pointing at the VU meter on the intercom board, and chastising the announcers for playing the music "too loud".

Pat Garrett "fixed" this problem by wiring a 10K-ohm resistor across the leads of the meter one day after school. Pat recalls "From that point on, Daughtridge would come in every few days, look at the 'low' level on the meter and say 'Thank you for keeping the volume down' even though we blasting it so loud we were square-waving the lunchroom speakers." For all we know, they still use the same system and if so, that resistor is probably STILL there.

Garrett, Beach and Finnegan all eventually went on to work for WROV. Later, Garrett worked in radio in Wilmington, Asheville, and Raleigh, NC before becoming a computer programmer. Beach worked in radio in Roanoke and Myrtle Beach, SC before becoming a recording artist. Finnegan worked in radio in Roanoke and later Winston-Salem / Greensboro / High Point, NC. Not too bad for a bunch of guys who started out in "high school" radio.

Would you listen to these DORKS on the radio?
Pat Garrett, Cliff Beach and Steve Finnegan in 1975/1976
Steve kind of looks like Napoleon Dynamite, doesn't he?

After Garrett and Beach graduated in 1976, the station stumbled and soon was no more. Dave Holtzman tried to keep it together but was hampered by the fact that over the summer, somebody ripped off some of the equipment and there was no money to use to replace it. (The staff of WCSH, being the "big stars" that we were, found it below our dignity to sell doughnuts, wash cars or do any of the other things high school clubs did for money. We had our pride, but we were broke. Kind of like REAL radio!!!!)

The station never recovered. Besides the fact that we didn't have a cent to our names, this was, in part, due to a lack of support on the part of the administration of the high school who had apparently begun to see the station, it's rock and roll music, lewd humor, drug references, and some of the DJ's COMPLETE lack of respect for authority (Pat who?) as being somewhat of a problem.

Not to mention the fact that Pat was having regular guests, including Steve Finnegan (who graduated in 1975) and Bucky Stover (who graduated from Andrew Lewis High School in 1975) in the studio, though they were technically trespassing on school property at the time. Pat recalls that "we didn't really care whether we were following the rules or not, all we cared about was having a good time and putting on a good show. As Johnny Carson once told Ed McMahon, 'Who cares what our rules are supposed to be? Let's just go out and entertain the hell out of 'em!!'"

Knight Letter Article - Sept 19, 1975

When this article was printed in the school newspaper, nobody knew that "Ron Shore" was, in reality, Cliff Beach--who coincidentally was also the Knight Letter reporter who wrote the story. Some people actually complained, thinking that Ron Shore was someone from another school who was "sneaking in" to do a show on Cave Spring's station. This article is a classic, insomuch as Pat was truly as full of s*** as a Christmas turkey during this period of his life.

WCSH Playlist - Sept 15, 1975

Remember the MIMEOGRAPH machine? With the big drum that you put the wax "stencil" on, then somebody cranked it around, dipping the stencil in ink and printing it onto a piece of paper on every revolution? Half the time the sheet went through the mimeograph machine crooked (like this one). Freshly printed mimeographs smelled SO GOOD! Actually, smelling the fumes probably caused us permanent brain damage and this web page is ample evidence.

Well, the official WCSH Playlists were printed this way then distributed in the Cave Spring cafeteria. Note the way that Pat, the "S.M." (that's "Station Manager" -- not that other thing you're thinking) included record label info so that they looked just like the ones Chuck Holloway and Bill Jordan did at WROV. Also, WCSH was playing almost the exact same playlist as was WROV (and no, this had NOTHING to do with the fact that Pat hung out with Chuck, then Starr, at WROV several nights each week).

WCSH Pat Garrett Show, April 1976

Pat REALLY wasn't very good back then, but ran a fairly tight board considering he was a dopey high school kid (yes, he did say so himself). In this aircheck you'll hear the "What's So Different" drop, the "Salute to the Sophomore Class" that was done by the 1975 WCSH gang, also various drops by Bucky Stover of WROV. You'll also hear several remarks that--well--let's say they reflected mid-1970s high school society...

Pat Garrett - School Lunch Blues

This song was inspired by the Roanoke County School lunch menus. They couldn't just list the menu items. Oh no. Rather, each item had to be preceded by an adjective, presumably to make the food sound more "yummy." For example, "seasoned green beans", "country style steak", "delicious cherry jello", etc. Pat was inspired to write the song one day while standing in the lunch line watching one of those nice old granny ladies slop a ladle full of chopped collard greens onto his tray while hearing the custodian go driving by outside on the riding mower. Originally, the lyrics said "horse s**t" but we changed it to "goulash" so we could play it at school and not be suspended...

The tune was "borrowed" from Bart Prater's song "Don't Let Them Whip Poor Little Buford" (and that's ok, as Bart apparently "borrowed" the title from the Country Bear Jamboree show at Disney World--proving that if you're going to "borrow" something, "borrow" it from the best!). The guitar was double tracked and was played by Doug Rorrer, today a bluegrass star and studio owner--but at the time he did the all-night show on WROV as "Doug McCloud."

The song was played using Bart's guitar (which, at the time, he was calling his "swinette"). Bucky had the idea to make it sound like it was being performed on stage in the school auditorium, beginning the song with crowd effects and the school bell going off, and he did the introduction. If you listen closely you'll hear him doing "awwws" and other sound effects throughout the song, and heaving after the line "And the slaw made Herbert upchuck in the john." Rumor has it that on one of the song's many playings, some guy in the CSHS lunchroom heard the "upchuck" line, cracked up, and spewed his mouthful of chocolate milk all over his girlfriend. Yessir.