Town to Town Up and Down the DialPosted: February 22, 2011
We had an interesting discussion this morning on The Breakfast Club tracing our radio roots. Big Tuna and Rhino were in studio during the 8 o’clock hour and we were glancing back on the origins of our humble college radio station which signed on the air in October of 2009 broadcasting from “high atop the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center”. This was back when you had to climb the stairs 66 steps to the studio from the Lander Caf. I remember the steps partly because I watched Big Tuna trip up them carrying a cup of hot cocoa. We also had to be quiet anytime there was a performance in the auditorium which seemed to be quite frequently. Ah, those were the days.
As the discussion progressed this morning I began to recall some of the AM and FM frequencies that have been part of my radio career. This made me think back to a few of them and I wanted to share some of my radio journey with you…..
WLBH FM 96.9FM – 1170AM – My first radio gig. 50,000 watt torch with transmitters that took up as much room as complete stations I would work for later. My whole blogging experience began with memories of this place. I took the job as a night time disc jockey after good friend and now famous screenwriter Craig Titley and I had visited the station a few times to visit our friend Rick Berg. Berg mentioned that a disc jockey postion was open and suggested I apply. I got the job and began a three year adventure working for the Livesay family at “our studios two miles north of Mattoon”. I have many stories from my time at WLBH which can be found on the old site.
WLKL 89.9FM – This was while I was still working at WLBH. We could do another website with loads of material just about the people I met at Lakeland College. This was a great atmosphere for people who knew absolutely nothing about being on the radio and proved it everyday. HA! This was post Ken Beno, under Station manager Mike Bradd. Poor Mike had a rough crew to try and bleed talent from…. My best memories of Lakeland, other than any encounters with college girls in the production booth were the people.
Wow, what a crew we had there. My years at “90 FM WLKL, The Voice of Lake Land College” featured the likes of Rich Thompson of whom I co-hosted the morning show with twice a week, Brian Goad, Darren Foley, Bub McCullough, Leah Hamilton, April Burry, Todd “the Tater” Fultz, John Schmidt, Michelle Mosely, Phil and Mark (two older burned out hippie dudes), and others I just can’t remember. The library basement studio area was such a cool place to hang out and be young and naive. I loved having the freedom to be creative and experiment on the air. These are great memories especially now that I am overseeing a college radio station. There is something simply magical about college radio for me and I hope someday to read about the experiences of those who are going through our program at Lander U.
WEIC 92.1FM 1270AM – I was hired by a guy named Ed Moore to be the News Director and to co-host the morning show on AM with Steve Stone. No, not the Cubs announcer Steve Stone, but the long red haired, outlaw type guy..Steve Stone. I don’t have too much to say here other than I liked Steve and enjoyed playing golf with him after the show was over. We had a crappy satellite feed that they wanted me to use cuts from in my morning news. I would tape news for the rest of the day on AM and FM. This was the most garbled, static filled satellite feed you have ever heard in your life, and I finally took a stand and told them I wasn’t using it because it sounded horrible. It was embarrassing. A few days later, after not playing the stupid garbled stuff, I got fired. Ed told me that it was because I wasn’t using the feed that they were paying for. I thought that was a crock of $%(#(*. This was my first and last time to be fired from a radio station.
WSAK 106.9 – With great promises, I took the job with Jay Martin at Stereo Country 106 in rural Sullivan, Il. Tom Ohlmstead was also there and did mornings with Jay. I ran the station throughout the day, did news, production and even wrote comedy sketches for them to do on the morning show. WSAK was a paradox walking. They had great equipment since they were owned by media giant Viacom who would use them as a test facility, yet the station was completely nasty. They had a dog named “country” who roamed the studio and cats that also were on the loose inside taking little cat dumps all over. So here I would sit at this great board staring at a computer that ran things (Wow!) and still allowed you to look at other things in these things called Windows, while at the same time I was trying not to puke from the cat-litter box smell of the place. It was amazing. I wasn’t too long before I realized that this was going nowhere. I eventually left the cornfields of Sullivan in search of bigger things….
101.3 WMCI – I was part of a great team working for the Cromwell Group to help start up this station in the second story studios in uptown Mattoon. I was News Director. The cast here included Chip Douglas in the mornings, Jeff Owens with Sports, Darren Foley, Bub McCullough, and Mark, the slightly wormy station manager. I had a great time working with Jeff and Bub and the gang. J.O. was the sales king. He set a sales record for bringing in the most consecutive orders in a row….it was impressive. I still have air checks from WMCI, including the report of my son Dylan’s birth as announced by Jeff on an October morning show…
104.3 WCBH – Enough rock and roll for two states, this was a pretty cool station and probably was collectively, the most fun I had working for a radio station, even though my personal life at that time was a trainwreck. I was living in Terre Haute, IN at the time and secured a weekend position at this classic rock station based in Casey, IL. The station manager was was an old jock who used to work at one of the powerhouse AM stations in Cleveland, OH. He had great stories and was a funny, animated guy. The program director when I arrived was a guy who went by the on-air name of “the Mighty Quinn”. This guy was a paranoid schizophrenic, manic depressive that was in a bad relationship with a woman that caused him to destroy and tear things up. He was a moody ticking time bomb, until he left us shortly after I got there.
This is the truth. My first regular shift at 104.3 was working from 6pm on Saturday until 6am on Sunday morning. For two weeks straight, I worked a full 24-hour shift from Saturday morning, until Sunday morning. At midnight, we would play the “Saturday Night Six-Pack, which would feature 6 CD’s played back to back. I would introduce them individually, and then sleep on the couch in the lobby with an alarm clock sitting on my chest to wake me up before the CD ended. Only once did I wake up with “dead air”! I worked weekends until the mid-day position opened up, and they offered my the position. One other thing about the weekends…I worked with a guy named Bob who drove down from CHICAGO for a once a week 6-hour air shift. He said that he hoped the experience would help him get a job in the Windy City. I couldn’t get over how far a commute that was for one air shift.
After Chuck the Psycho PD left, Darren Foley took over that position. I had worked with Foley at Lake Land and WMCI and must say that he was a funny, creative morning man and had several of his song parodies picked up by the national radio humor resource people. Afternoon’s featured Shawn Murphy, who was a slightly burned out ramblin’ radio man. He had big pipes, and a good sense of humor but was known to talk a bit too much during his breaks. John Evans was the night time host. We thought he looked like a white Lionel Richie.
WCBH was a party station. We hosted party nights in Terre Haute at least a couple of times a month. I volunteered to sell WCBH because I believed in the product. We genuinely had a great time and I think it came through on the air. Most of the air-staff would come out to the events and it was a family atmosphere most of the time. I recall one night at a club in Terre Haute when Shawn Murphy was there and we were partying down and he brought a ventriloquist dummy into this place and was trying to pick up girls using the dummy. I maybe have never laughed so hard again in my life as I did that night watching him.
WCBH Lowest Moment – I was volunteered to answer the phones on the WTWO (Channel 2 in Terre Haute) Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA telethon. I spent the whole day on camera, and instead of being quiet, I kept egging on the hosts and cracking jokes. They challenged the viewers to pledge a certain amount of money to see ME dance with a giant (man in a suit) Duck. Sure enough, the money came in and I had to dance around the studio floor with a duck. I still have nightmares.
WCBH Best Moment – WTWO news anchor woman Lee Walters and I teamed up to cook in the Terre Haute Chili Cookoff to benifit Altrusa International. We came with a bunson burner looking grill. It wasn’t even a grill, it was just a burner. I had a pot and a stirring spoon and that was it. We used regular old hamburger and a few seasonings. To my surprise, the other teams arrived in these giant motor homes with these massive grills. One team used Filet’ Mignon for their meat. There were 60 other teams some with displays of their “chili award trophies” neatly laid out on tables next to their giant fancy grills. To make a long story short, we won. We beat those other fancy teams with our little loser bunson burner grill and hamburger chili. Our secret ingredient…a half a bottle of Aunt Jemimah Maple Syrup. We split the prize money between us and I got to keep an engraved silver chili bowl for the victory. I have never entered another cooking contest and don’t plan to, and so I will die undefeated.
106.9FM WZEZ/1310 WTTL
This was a great station in Madisonville, Kentucky where I served as both news director and mid-day host. I worked the morning show with broadcast legend Jerry O who was just shy of retirement and is no longer with us today. Jerry did an amazing toy drive each year and had classic radio stories that would blow your mind. EZ 107 had the best studio set-up of any station that I have ever worked for. The FM jock was encased in glass overlooking the main street of Madisonville with a spiral staircase going up to a jock lounge area. I have never seen another studio like that one to this day.
There are a few others I don’t have listed but taking it all in, I think the list reads as follows
1170, 1270, 1310, 1450, 1610
88.9, 89.9, 92.1, 94.1, 96.9, 101.3, 104.3, 106.9 (twice)