The Power of Power 1490

Think back to music of the early '90s, and the work of Coolio, Da Brat, Warren G and TLC. If you were a Tucson teen during that time, you were probably listening to these artists on Power 1490 AM.

More than 16 years after the disappearance of Power 1490, a new film about the groundbreaking hip-hop station, A.M. Mayhem: The Untold Story of Tucson's Power 1490, will debut.

The movie will be screened at the Fox Tucson Theatre on one night only, at 6 p.m., Saturday, July 23. The film is produced, directed and edited by Randy Williams, aka, R Dub.

R Dub was a teenager when he was a disc jockey at the station. He said that the mission of the film is to explain the station's genre switch, and to let the station's DJs say a few words to their former listeners.

"The reason we made the movie is to give a proper and respectful goodbye to all of the Power 1490 listeners," R Dub said.

The radio station's employees prided themselves on being a part of Tucson's first hip-hop and R&B station—before it went off the air on June 12, 1995, at 5 p.m. R Dub said he was called in for a late meeting that day and handed a memo that said the station would be switched from hip-hop to alternative music.

"I felt like my life had ended. I mean, that was my identity. That's all I knew," R Dub said.

During the 4 1/2 years that the station was on the air, the DJs held numerous events and concerts. Despite the poor sound quality on the right side of the AM dial, the radio station managed to become Tucson's No. 1 station for teens. R Dub said the station was popular in part because the DJs would spin at high school lunches, play basketball against schoolteachers, and drive down Sixth Avenue on Saturday nights.

The station's Keith Duncan, aka Killer Keith, reminisced fondly about spending time with the teen community of Tucson.

"We gave the listeners of Tucson something that wasn't available anywhere else," Killer Keith said.

Both DJs agreed that the film will let the community know about the huge impact that listeners had on Power 1490's staff. The film includes interviews with many Power 1490 employees, some surprise guests and the people who made the decision to change the station's format. It also features audio from DJs, pictures from staff members and posters from concerts.

"I had fun tracking down the people from Power for the film—and some are still DJs," R Dub said.

After the format switch, some DJs moved on to other stations, while others got out of the business. R Dub worked at KRQQ FM 93.7 for two years after Power 1490 stopped broadcasting. The irony is that during Power 1490's best years, the station constantly competed with KRQ, which was the top adult and teen radio station at the time. Power 1490's management made it a mission to force KRQ's owners to decide between adult or teen radio.

"We were the thorn in KRQ's side," R Dub said.

The screening is a free event, but attendees must RSVP beforehand at DVDs of the film are available for purchase at the site, and will be on sale at Saturday's event as well.

Much of the Power 1490 on-air staff will be at the movie screening.

"We were there, because we loved people, and we love Tucson, and that's what the station was for," R Dub said.