"Mustard Seed" was broadcast in a long-form version on KFAX (1100 AM) as early as the Summer of 1966, according to newspaper schedules that showed it running on Saturdays, variously, at either noon or 7 p.m. Through 1967, a half-hour version was also heard on KFRC (610 AM and 106.1 FM) as part of the station's Sunday night public affairs programming block, leading into the "Perspective" talk show.
By the Spring of 1968, "Mustard Seed" was no longer shown on KFRC's schedule, but continued to be listed on KFAX at 11 p.m. on Sunday nights; it may have also been carried by KYA (1260 AM) during this timeframe.
The four programs heard here are from the collection of Larry Vanerwegen, who recorded them off the air by way of KFRC's AM signal while at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 250 miles down the California coast from San Francisco. Some of the recordings are of less-than-perfect quality, owing to the distance and the atmospheric conditions during the nighttime broadcasts; some interference may also come from KAVL, also on 610 AM, located only about 100 miles to the east of Vandenberg.
Allan Royal Pierce was born on September 21, 1937. According to some sources, he was an announcer at KFAX, and produced "Mustard Seed" at the station's studios at 1470 Pine Street in the city.
He worked briefly at Oakland's KNEW in the early 1970s, then departed for South Africa, where, in 1979, he founded the landmark pirate station Capital Radio 604, which operated, unlicensed, on both medium- and shortwave until the government forcefully closed it down in 1996. Much revered by South Africa's music industry for his pioneering spirit, Mr. Pierce passed away suddenly on September 8, 2001, nine days short of his 64th birthday.
From a tribute to Mr. Pierce on the 3rd Ear Music website:
Allan Pierce was always the wise ever-slim & thin elder laid-back statesman, even in those early days. Grey sideburns & lengthy thinning hair - sometimes under the braided British golf cap - underscored by a broad constant well-weathered & experience-lined smile... and that voice! That voice that he could wield like a wand regardless of whether he was advising, scolding or charming you, on air or face-to-face; extracting the potential artist & rebels out of us all.
His role on earth seemed to be checking out the good in all humanity; giving people breaks & making us feel good about ourselves, whether we deserved it or not.
SOURCES: Allan Pierce photograph (1983) by Ruphin Coudyzer, used by permission of 3rd Ear Music. Broadcast schedules from the archives of the Oakland Tribune (various dates).