A Trip up Frazier Mountain


Joe Snelson

One of the broadcast properties that made up the Faith Broadcasting Network was an FM radio station in Bakersfield, CA, with the call letters of KIFM. KIFM originated some Christian programming locally such as music and the playing of recorded sermons, however, other programming came from KHOF-FM, the FBN radio station in Los Angeles. This story is regarding an experience we had while working on the system used to get programming from KHOF-FM to KIFM.

KIFM was about 100 miles from the KHOF-FM transmitter site and separated by a high mountain range. It was, therefore, necessary to use an intermediate pickup point to receive KHOF-FM then relay it to KIFM. Frazier Mountain was chosen as the intermediate point. Frazier Mountain was located about 60 miles from KHOF-FM and at an elevation of 8000 feet. We picked up the KHOF-FM signal at Frazier Mountain and then used a microwave radio link to “beam” the signal to the KIFM studio on H Street in Bakersfield. From there we would rebroadcast the KHOF-FM programming on KIFM.

We parked our trucks and the man began to unload the snow vehicle for the journey up the snowy and muddy road. We loaded the tools we brought along and quickly realized we could be in for an interesting trip as this man proceeded to load his tools. His tools consisted of a shot gun and a bottle of Kentucky Redeye! And I think he had already been working on the Kentucky Redeye even before we arrived. We all boarded the snow vehicle and began our journey up the mountain.

To the best I can recall there was nothing notable about the trip up or down. At least we didn’t go off the mountain. It did, however, get interesting when we got to the top. The first thing that Bernie, Steve and I did was to inspect the radio gear to ensure everything was working properly, which it was. The next order of business was to check the transmit antenna of the microwave link and visually sight the path to see if there could be a nearby obstruction in the path of the radio link shooting towards Bakersfield . Steve and I climbed the short tower to where the antenna was located and checked it out. Sure enough, there was a branch of a nearby pine tree in the way. We climbed down and between the three of us discussed how we were going to deal with the branch. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring saw with us as part of our tool kit.

As we stood on the ground thinking it over our snow vehicle driver stepped up and said he could help. We looked at him wondering how he could help and noticed that he was holding his shotgun in his hands. I think by now he had pretty much finished off the bottle he brought along with him. We stepped back and watched as he raised the shotgun and fired at the branch in point-blank range. He missed the branch! He reloaded and shot again and finally hit it. Steve and I climbed the tower and took a look and the branch causing the obstruction was gone.

We were fortunate that the Forest lookout station (manned during fire season by this old couple who had an ugly dog with one tooth that stuck straight out of its mouth) was vacant. Otherwise, somebody would have probably been arrested for carrying a firearm, discharging it on government land and doing harm to a pine tree. With our mission accomplished we headed down the mountain with a driver who had an empty bottle and shotgun.

When we got to the bottom we started loading up Bernie’s truck with the tools we had brought along. Bernie was standing at the truck while Steve and I were a few feet away. The snow vehicle driver walked up to Bernie and began to say, “Hey, did you hear the one about the guy…” Steve and I figured what might be coming next so we quickly stepped back and out of the “line of fire” so to speak. Unfortunately, we realized we had left poor Bernie standing there all alone at the truck with this guy. Bernie, in his cool, calm and inimitable way, continued his loading and ignoring anything that guy was saying. When he delivered his “punch line” there was dead silence! You could have heard a pin drop. Bernie just looked at me and Steve and said something like, “Well, okay, I think it’s time to go.” We wasted no time and got into Bernie’s truck and got out of there. It had been an interesting day going up Frazier Mountain and one that all three of us well remember. I doubt that the guy with the snow vehicle remembered anything about it.

Return to main FBN page

© 2011 Joe Snelson

Bernie Marston, FBN Chief Engineer, had been notified that the link had failed. This meant a trip to Frazier Mountain was in order. Bernie called me and Steve Pair to go with him to help in making the necessary repairs. It was around the winter time of the year and it was not at all unusual for there to be snow for extended periods of time on Frazier Mountain. The U.S. Forest service who managed the land had strict requirements for traveling up the road in the winter as they did not want their access road to be scarred with ruts created by a typical tire type of vehicle. In fact, they required the use of a vehicle specifically designed for travel in snow and mud. Bernie contacted a man in Frazier Park that had a snow type vehicle and hired him to transport us to the top of the mountain. I believe we may have met this man at a small coffee shop just west of I-5 at the Frazier Mountain Park exit. The name of the coffee shop was Marks. I remember that as I was given a souvenir money clip from there. We met up with this guy who had his snow vehicle sitting on a trailer hitched to his truck. We then drove to the place where the dirt road began.