Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Pair of 40's


As an admitted radio geek, I have to note a couple of milestones today.

WKRZ FM is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.  I was in college when WBRE-TV sold its all news radio station with the giant signal.  The new owners went top 40 and knocked the market on its arse.  Very few commercials, huge music sweeps, playing things no one else was playing, and great promotion.  The bumper stickers, like the one you see above from my collection, were everywhere.

I did drop off an audition tape shortly after the change.  It was awful. Actually, beyond awful.   I didn't get the job, and it was one of the smartest moves management there ever made.  Oddly, I was later offered two other jobs with the company.  The first was to handle playback of the Wolfman Jack Show very early Sunday mornings.  The second was to do some news, when KRZ's sister AM station at 1340, attempted a short lived all news format.  I said yes both times, only to back out when my employer at the time, WARM, offered more hours and a little boost in pay to keep me.  I felt like a weasel.  I swear, I wasn't attempting to play one station off another.  Staying put was simply a better business deal.  It wasn't personal.

The second anniversary is a little fuzzier, and I'm sure I will get a "correction" email soon.  WEZX went from easy listening to album rock more than 40 years ago because I remember listening to it in high school.  However, it was automated-- no live dj's.  It was just giant reels of tape on an even bigger machine.  I believe Rock 107 considers this year to be its 40th anniversary because it was the year it scrapped automation in favor of live dj's.

Unlike KRZ, I never applied for a job at WEZX.  I think I would have been a decent fit back in the day.  It's format was similar to what I was doing on my college radio station at the time.  Now, not so much.  WEZX still has that classic album rock base, but it's playing some more recent things, and that is clearly out of my wheel house.

I know a few 107 employees.  They're good people and I'm thrilled the station is doing well after a couple of years of the talent revolving door.  The far right button on my car radios has belonged to 107 for decades.

It's amazing how times have changed.  I spent 10.5 years at WARM, 1981 to 1991.  For years, it was *THE* legacy and heritage station in town-- the station with the most years doing the same format.  I believe WARM was in the mid 30's when it went talk.  Now, it's KRZ and 107, with Magic 93 relatively close behind, as the legacy stations in town.

It's no secret that radio around here often disappoints this old man.  There isn't as much "live and local" as there used to be, and that makes me sad.  However, it's amazing that those two stations are still going strong.

Happy birthday!