Additional audio found on the WKND Archive page.
WKND was founded in 1988 after Radio Animal wanted to start a shortwave station and was trying to think of a name and saw a Pittsburgh hotel advertising “WKND Rates!” for the weekend. Since the station would run mostly on the weekends, Animal decided to use ‘WKND, Weekend Radio’ as a slogan. After some confusion with a Scottish pirate station called Weekend Music Radio, Eddie Egghead Johnson from Voice of Stench came up with ‘We’re Kanine Dog’, and that became the station’s forever slogan.
WKND had its inaugural broadcast on November 1st 1988 with a 4 hour show that included the musical version of War of the Worlds with Richard Burton, spooky music and IDs, all in a Halloween theme. This was on 1621 KHz, above the mediumwave broadcast band at the time, and reached listeners in the Northeastern US with 60 watts of power from a home made transmitter.
In 1989 the station added a shortwave frequency, 6240 to reach more listeners, and this ran 25 watts from a modified Heathkit transmitter. There was a pretty heavy broadcast schedule of several nights a week, and agents from the FCC lucked out and busted the station when they were in town, early 1990.
All of this enthusiasm for electronics needed an outlet, and so Animal started to help out other stations technically, and moved to Texas to work on ideas with another radio head, Wild Steve, who had lots of imagination about the possibilities of local FM radio. With Animal’s assistance he started a 1/10th watt FM station, WOLF-FM 91.1, which despite covering only one small neighborhood, was discovered by the media and featured on the local TV station and newspaper.
With all of that, Texas was a breeding ground for technical knowledge and innovation, and one of Animal’s side projects was this self-contained AM transmitter, built to add an AM frequency to WOLF’s FM. It had to be small and simple like the FM, just a box to plug in and connect the antenna and audio, making it a radio station.
After some experimentation, Animal found that a similar circuit could be used in the shortwave bands too. That’s where the prototype of the Grenade transmitter was born, and when Animal moved back to Pennsylvania in 1993, the design was further enhanced and improved into a workable unit.
The Grenade’s output was 10 watts of carrier in AM, and it’s patterned after the way the large AM broadcast transmitters like your favorite talk station are built, with a goal of maximum efficiency and simplicity, clean audio and a small size for portable use. Up until the Grenade was introduced, pirate stations had been using old tube transmitters or expensive transceivers, so the Grenade was a new idea in the scene, and it was a hit.
In the late 1990s, Animal was getting into local FM more, with the number of stations that were coming on at that time, and also getting into “being a Dog” more. As Bill O. Rights wrote on the Free Radio Network website, “Just sorry that Animal has dropped out of the Pirate scene and is now convinced that he is in fact a dog! Wish he'd made a few more transmitters before putting on the flea collar.” Actually it was reported by those in the radio hobby that Animal had been a Dog for many years previous to that. Rights attributed and gave full credit to Animal for his ability to make "thousands of broadcasts with the Grenade transmitter" for Radio Free Speech.
That led to radio fans scrambling to find out what made the Grenade work and to reverse engineer it, making similar circuits for pirate use, such as the Corsair transmitter. WKND still uses an original Grenade, and the station has been relayed by other pirates. Animal recently returned to the radio scene after an attempt at a legal name change (to a Dog’s name) got publicity, and former radio friends were highly supportive of it, knowing of Animal’s Canine history.
Animal always signed his QSL's "Thanks for taking the time to listen and write to WKND, We’re KaNine Dog, and perhaps we will meet again on the airwaves."
Radio Animal is also famous as the designer and builder of the Famous Grenade transmitter.