AIRWAVES: TC’S RADIOGRAPHY

AIRWAVES: TC’s Radiography (updated 7/22/20)

For lack of a better idea of what to call this section, i’m going to call it my Radiography.

Like everyone, personal tastes are influenced by the environment around you. As a small child, I had no control over the radio, but by age 5 or so my mother had purchased me a small transistor radio (what’s a transistor, daddy?) and I carried it EVERYWHERE with me. That’s how important my music was to me.

What I’m gonna do here is talk a little bit about each of the radio stations I remember shaping my interests and favorites in music. Some of the stations don’t exist anymore, or have changed formats, but for the time when I was listening to the stations, they influenced my tastes all around. I moved around quite a bit as a child and teenager, and some stations from outside my areas were also influential in the formation of my musical psyche. I’m gonna tackle this in sections, and in chronological order; I’ve also updated what each station is (or isn’t) doing now (2020). Ready? HERE WE GO!

CHILDHOOD – 0-6 YEARS (1963-1969)

Obviously, I have more memories of my records than I have of radio stations, but I do remember hearing my mother listen to a variety of stations. I remember she liked KSPO in Spokane for “pop” music – Glen Campbell, Simon And Garfunkel, etc. I know she listened to a station that played a lot of what we now call lounge music – funky sounding instrumentals and such. There was a beautiful music station (possibly KXXR-FM?), and a station – again, may have been KSPO – that played a lot of Broadway stuff – Promises Promises, The Impossible Dream, Camelot, etc. I don’t remember what my father liked if anything – he was rarely home and I don’t remember him ever listening to music around me, although he’d occasionally sit with me to watch American Bandstand on Saturday morning…

GRADE SCHOOL – CENTRAL OHIO (1969-1974)

Ok, now I can get a little more detailed. It was at this time that I started becoming obsessed with radio, as my record collection started in earnest, and I started keeping lists of radio stations around the house – there was one with every radio, listing frequency and call letters wherever possible, so I knew where to tune to. Mom and my stepfather rarely listened and didn’t mind that I did – in fact, if it kept me out of their hair, they were all for it. I lived in several places during this period of time, but they were all within 15 miles of each other, and the stations were pretty much the same. I’ll do the best I can.

WTVN-AM – this was the station Mom usually listened to, your “Full Service” station from Columbus – news, weather, sports, music, and severe weather bulletins, which is why it was on most of the time. They played mostly AC music, even way back when (it remained their format until they dropped music for a news/talk format after I left Ohio). I remember hearing “Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond on the station, but the rest is vague…

WMNI-AM – My granddad’s favorite station – he would sit on the porch swing all day on weekends – starting Saturday morning after he mowed the gigantic lawn they had – drinking his beloved Black Label beer, chain-smoking his Winstons, and listening to WMNI from Columbus. This was Old School Country – what I called hardcore country – Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, and the like. They diversified as the years went on, but they didn’t leave country behind until well after granddad’s passing in the early 90s; he’d long switched to the FM 3WJ (also now defunct) by then… I remember hearing Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr, Charley Pride, Ray Price, Skeeter Davis and others wafting around the yard all day when we were there. While I’m not a HUGE country fan, I have learned to have a deep tolerance for most of it – and a love for certain artists. From that era, it was Tanya Tucker, Jeannie Pruett, Marie Osmond, Tammy Wynette, Lynn Anderson, Donna Fargo, Charley Pride and several other 70s country acts. But keep Hank Williams – my uncle had a band with his school buddies, and they LOVED Hank and played his songs all the time, which would have been fine if they weren’t usually half in the bag when they started, heh heh heh…The station presently runs a “soft’ AC format.

WBNS-FM – The local “beautiful music” station, this was on my radio every night when I went to sleep – I always had music on when I went to sleep, right up to when I moved to MA. I know people think of it as “elevator music” but I have a fondness for this kind of music, it really IS perfect background noise. And I have developed a love for Mantovani and others of his ilk thanks to stations like this. They would be a big part of my life later on as well, more on that later…

WCLT-AM and WCLT-FM – The local Newark Ohio station. At one point, we lived right behind the station, so close that the stations’ tower…um, towered (sigh) over our home about 1 acre away. AM was only on the air until sunset every day, so they would leave the air at 5:15 during the winter – do any stations still have that kind of license? FM was beautiful music. AM couldn’t make up it’s mind what format it wanted to be – one day it was MOR, with Perry Como and Paul McCartney; the next it would be Steve Miller, Edgar Winter, and the DeFranco Family. And it was WCLT that was TRULY responsible for making me the chart fanatic that I am today…because on Saturday afternoons, I found out when I was in third grade that they carried a little show called American Top 40. When I found AT40…I was in my little slice of heaven…

WHTH-AM – Heath’s little top 40 station. When I was listening to them I think they were 1000 on the dial, now they’re at 790 and play country music. I listened to them every day as well, and they could stay on the air until (gasp!) 9 PM in the summertime! In my “top 40” formative years, WHTH would play a huge part, because they actually played the stuff that Columbus-based WCOL played too, but I couldn’t pick WCOL up, even though I got their survey almost every week (and I wish i’d saved those now…I’ve got a few somewhere, and eventually they – and other printed surveys- will make it onto the site). I got WHTH’s too…and waited with baited breath every time I made a request…which almost never got played…didn’t know how that worked at the time…heh heh heh…

WMVO-FM – Mount Vernon’s FM country station played more recent country than WMNI did, and when my Mom or Frank (my stepdad) would want to listen to country, we listened to WMVO. I actually liked it – they had funny DJs and good clear sound, and I used to crack up because they would edit every instance of even the mildest swear word out of the song, resulting in an awkward sound on the record…”Uneasy Rider” by Charlie Daniels was hilarious – three edits (Damn, Hell, and Damn, I believe) in about 30 seconds time…man was that silly!

CKLW-AM – OK, ok, I lived in Central Ohio – how the hell could I pick up Detroit MI/Windsor ON’s legendary Top 40 station? Truth was, I couldn’t. But my babysitter, Debbie, could. She lived across the street from me in Utica, and her house was up on a hill. And CKLW came in as clear as a bell on their stereo. I spent countless hours with Debbie in front of the stereo, listening to all the latest hits. And she would hear the songs she liked and make a list of what she wanted to get the 45 of, and soon we’d be singing and dancing along with the records. I remember CKLW’s “Weather” jingles, their constant running of what I believe was called the “Captain Ecology” PSA’s, and all the great music – Jackson Five, The Monkees, Eddie Holman, Mungo Jerry, and tons more. Loved CKLW…it was a great top 40 teacher.  Alas, you even lose the greats – the station has been news/talk for a number of years…

GRADE SCHOOL AND 7TH GRADE – CENTRAL AND WESTERN WASHINGTON (1974-75)

We moved back to Washington State in 1974, and lived briefly in Wenatchee before moving to the coast for about a year.

KPQ-FM – The only station in Wenatchee I could get on my little stereo when I briefly lived there, I would also listen to it a lot when I moved east again. This was my beautiful music bedtime station for most of the three months I lived in Wenatchee, and also again later. They ran two hours of news every morning, and it was my first exposure to Earl Nightengale and Paul Harvey, both of whom i’d listen to for years after that. Loved their vocal timbre and their style. These days, they’re a classic rock station…

Now to the coast…

KVI-AM – Seattle equivalent of WTVN above – a “full service” MOR/AC station. They used to run a great MOR countdown show called “Music Scene USA” every Sunday afternoon, hosted by Wink Martindale (anyone have copies on vinyl or burned to CD? Write me if you do – i’d love one for my collection -see my want list for more info). They ran sports – mostly Seattle Soccer, which was brand new at the time (summer 1975). Their car window sticker was a blue soccer ball. They also gave away a new LP every night. Using what I told her to say, Mom won me a copy of the Bee Gees’ album Main Course, which of course was the start of their big comeback. They also played Telly Savalas for some reason…never did figure that one out…heh heh heh. But most of the pop was straight forward – America (“Lonely People” was theme for their nightly dating show LoveLine), Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, Seals And Crofts, Bread, Bee Gees, Telly Savalas, and others. In other words, the exact kind of station my mom had listened to when I was a preschooler…guess she rubbed off on me in that way…heh heh…They have been a news/talk format station since the early 2000s.

KJR-AM – legendary Seattle Top 40 station, home to American Top 40 every Sunday night at 7 PM, when I could barely pick it up, but where I was every week, writing down the top 40 every week – still couldn’t find Billboard at any newsstand, but then again, I lived way out in the boonies on the peninsula, and I was only 11 and 12 at the time. I remember that they misplayed the first hour once, and about a half hour into the show, the sound faded, an announcer came on and apologies to the “chart fans” for playing the wrong show. They then played the correct show in it’s entirety – that was cool. AT40 was always preceded by “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (why they did this on a CHR station is beyond me – why did Boston’s Kiss FM still play “Wishing On A Star” by Rose Royce every Saturday at noon for DECADES?). The station went all sports in the late 1980s, ending it’s grand decades-long top 40 run….

KTAC-AM – Tacoma’s top rated top 40 station, I was turned on to this by a friend of the family, and it was my station of choice until I left the coast except for AT40 every Sunday night. KTAC played a LOT of KC & The Sunshine Band, Dickie Goodman’s Mr Jaws was on every other song (or so it seemed). KTAC is long defunct in Tacoma; the call letters are now in the small western Washington town of Ephrata and simulcasts religious talk from parent station KSPO from Spokane.

KIXI-FM – Seattle’s beautiful music station – always good for bedtime…presently, they have been relegated to their AM station, which broadcasts early pop or “nostalgia” music

JUNIOR HIGH THROUGH GRADUATION – EASTERN WASHINGTON (1976-1981)

After a year, we moved from the coast and back to a small farming town called Harrington, Washington, 50 miles from Spokane; we had lived here twice before, once when I was a baby, and again when I was going to kindergarten for a few months. Obviously, both of those times I was too young to be into records, but not this time. My music collection began in earnest while here..and I listened to a ton of stations during my junior high and high school years, and not all from Spokane, either…

KPQ-FM – Back in my life, it was easy to pick it up from Wenatchee, and so I went back to the familiarity of this station for my bedtime again for a couple years, well, for most of the time. And I always listened to the late, great Paul Harvey while home for lunch…

KHQ-AM – Spokane’s “fullservice” station, they went off the air at 10 PM until 1979, when they went 24 hours. They played classical music every night from 8 PM until sign off, and also played a little bit of everything under the sun. When they went 24 hours, they dropped the classical music except for Sunday evenings, and became an AC station., although they still played “The Back to God Hour” (which for the record was NOT an hour, it was only 30 minutes) and “The Hour of Decision” (once again, only a 30 minute program) from 9-10 PM on Sunday evenings. The only station I ever remember hearing “Answering Machine” by Rupert Holmes on, and I swear the station was positively obsessed with the 1959 hit “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” by Laurie London – they played it at least 10 times a week.. I would occasionally leave it on all night – it was 50,000 watts and it’s signal was always clear. In the mid-1990s a new owner took over and changed the call letters, which have actually changed several times since; presently they are news/talk format KQNT.

KHQ-FM – the first FM station I knew of that played regular music and not beautiful music. They played pop, and it was an automated station, though it wasn’t as “canned” sounding as the several times they parodied such stations on the long running sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati”. They would play two currents, followed by a canned announcer, saying “That was (song) by (artist)…and before that..(song) by (artist)”, then they would segue into two oldies, usually stuff from the sixties, and whose artists and titles were left unannounced. Then a jingle (“Rock 98…Q..FM!”) and a block of commercials. Boring but serviceable especially in the evenings. They were the first station I heard that played “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” by Queen back to back, which most stations were to do in the future. They changed their call letters to KISC-FM in 1985, and presently airs AC format music.

KJRB-AM – sister station of Seattle’s KJR, and using the same logos (with a B added, of course) and programming, they were the top rated top 40 station. I used to get their top 30 playlist mailed to me every week – still trying to find them for the site as well. Played all the usual stuff, including the more disco-oriented hits, played some local stuff also. They were the only station I heard “Oh Honey” by Delegation on, and also “I Don’t Like Your Face” by Seattle-based The Heats. Plus all the usual stuff. But they didn’t play some harder-edged hits. I toured the station and met several of the jocks when I interviewed then-PD Gary Daniels for a school project in 1979 – it was a blast!  They now run a classic rock format.

KREM-AM – KJRB’s main competitor, I used to get their playlist mailed to me every week as well. Top 40 with a slightly harder edge, they eschewed Barry Manilow for Journey, was the only station to be playing “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me” by Karla Bonoff (one of my all time faves), and occasionally would throw in a classic Beatles song. Summer of 78, one of the best musical summers EVERRRRRR, was spent mostly on KREM-AM. After several formats and call letter changes since I’ve been gone, they became KTTO in 2005, airing Catholic-related programming.

KMBI-FM – On Sunday afternoons when in junior high, during the first year after we moved to Harrington, I frequently came home from church, went to my room, hung out doing stuff, and played KMBI, our local religious music station. Not “contemporary christian”, but hardcore praise music – old fashioned hymms and such. Yes, you heard the same songs at the same time every week – and I’m at a loss as to why I listened…um…religiously (oh, Owtch!), but I did… It remains virtually the same today, now part of the Moody Bible Institute radio network.

KEZE-FM – Spokane’s newest “beautiful music” station, I had this on every night after I got tired of KPQ. They ran Mutual News at the bottom of every hour, and I heard the news bulletin about Erik Estrada’s near-fatal motorcycle crash in the middle of the night thanks to this station. They abruptly went country in 1980 and I had a conniption fit…  (UPDATE 8/12/18: I originally had this station as KXXR-FM, but research now leads me to believe it was actually KEZE…I remembered their slogan was…um… cute…”KEZE-FM…Key-Zee Listening…”). They presently run the CHR/R format.

KXLY-AM – two different periods of listening to this AC station, from 1976-77 and again from 1979-81; they played a lot of MOR acts, but this was the only station in the area that played Orsa Lia’s #1 AC hit “I Never Said I Love You” (another all time fave) and Leif Garrett’s ballad “When I Think Of You” (too slow for KREM or KJRB, I guess), both in the spring of 1979. They also had the CBS Mystery Theater and the Sears Hour Of Adventure on every night from 9-11, and those were fun too…Presently a news/talk format station.

KSXT-FM, Walla Walla, WA – I didn’t remember the call letters or the frequency for the longest time (see update below), but from late 1978 on I was glued to this Walla Walla station on Sundays from 5-9 PM, because they ran “The Great American Music Show with Mike Harrison” (a show that took me weeks to research and find the name of, it’s that hard to find -anyone with a vinyl copy of one PLEASE get in touch with me), which was a top 20 AOR Countdown show – my introduction to AOR music (see below), followed by Dr Demento, which I was a huge fan of. But the station was hard to get, and would occasionally fritz out when the weather was bad. But I tried to listen every week. On 8.12.18, after over a decade of searching and going crazy trying to remember this station, I FINALLY tracked down the call letters, thanks to the kind Dr. Demento, Barry Hansen, himself! After finding an email address for him last week, I sent a quick note to him on Friday about this station and he just shot me a quick note back that the station was KSXT-FM in Walla Walla! THANK YOU, DR DEMENTO!!! The call letters are no longer in Walla Walla, so I assume that the station – which I believe was attached to one of the local colleges there – has likely changed to a different name. The call letters are now assigned to a station in Smiley, TX.

KREM-FM – after the Walla Walla station helped introduce me to the format known as “Album Rock”, KREM-FM was my home for a lot of the time. Because of KREM-FM, I have been a LepHead from day one, when they broke “Hello America” from Def Leppard’s first album, “On Through The Night” – I’ve remained a loyal fan ever since. They were my first exposure to the full album “The Age Of Plastic” by The Buggles, my new wave baptism (AT40 had introed me to “Video Killed The Radio Star“), and my musical tastes expanded beyond pop, disco, and a little country thanks to KREM-FM. It became KZZU-FM in 1984, and is presently a Top 40 station.

KSEM-AM – Also in the summer of 1979, I discovered we could pick up Moses Lake’s top rated top 40 station, and it would be on my stereo quite frequently from that point on. KSEM played a TON of Hot 100-charting songs that Spokane didn’t touch, including “What’s In A Kiss” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Help Me” by Robin Gibb and Marcy Levy, “Should’ve Never Let You Go” by Neil and Dara Sedaka, “Vengeance” by Carly Simon, “Feel The Need” by Leif Garrett, and a couple dozen more. LOVED KSEM…they were my favorite AM Top 40 station from the moment I found them on…not sure when the call letters changed or what they became, if anything, but those call letters are now registered in Seminole, Texas…heh heh…

KFI-AM – in 1980, I discovered that after 9 PM or so at night, I could pick up Los Angeles’ top rated Top 40 outlet, KFI. I became a huge fan, and frequently listened in the evenings in the winter of 1980 and on through graduation in the spring of 1981. I even managed to get through on a call-in contest and won an album, a pair of KFI Ears, and a teeshirt. They were true top 40 and set the pace for most other top 40 stations around the country. When I was listening, songs that were playing were “Woman In Love” by Barbra Streisand, “Don’t Stop The Music” by Yarborough And Peoples, and other hits of that era. Like most AM Top 40 stations, they abandoned the format in the mid-80s….

KSL-AM – also in the evenings from 1979 on, I got my first exposure to news radio – I could pick up KSL-AM NewsRadio from Salt Lake City. If there was a big story going on – John Lennon’s murder comes to mind – I was instantly upstairs and tuning in. It was my first exposure into becoming a true news junkie in later years. And they’re still at it…all these years later…

Now, if it wasn’t obvious by this point, I was a radio junkie, and was planning to become a DJ when I got out of high school – radio was what I wanted to do. I’d been planning to apply to the usual school for broadcasting in the area, Ron Bailie School Of Broadcast in Spokane, and also to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, because I’d loved the campus in several visits for various projects throughout my high school life. So of course, life intervened…My aunt convinced Mom that Grandma was on her last legs, and I couldn’t afford to go out on my own as yet, so all the radio dreams fell by the wayside as Mom and I moved back to Ohio to be with my “ill” grandmother…

LIFE OUT AND ABOUT – 1981-1993

So anyway, we moved back to Newark, Ohio…my grandmother was FINE…and wouldn’t depart this earth until 1999..so much for being on her last legs at the time. Anyway, my aunt had called local radio stations and tried to get me into interviews, but got nowhere for the most part. Some of them were nice enough to see me, and I did make contacts at a number of the stations in the area, but without schooling, they weren’t interested in hiring me as an on-the-job trainee, so I went back to being just a listener for the time being…

FM was now the hot place to be for music and so most of my listening was on the FM Dial – I think Ohio beat Washington in that area, as when I left Ohio six years earlier, most of the top 40 stations were still AM. And a lot of the stations I’d listened to as a child had changed considerably…

WTVN-AM – Hadn’t changed a bit while I was gone…still your “Full Service” station from Columbus – news, weather, sports, music, and severe weather bulletins, which is why it was again on most of the time when Mom was listening to the radio.

WCLT-FM – The AM side of the local Newark Ohio station was no longer a factor, it was now playing “big band standards”, a format I wasn’t interested in. The FM had become an AC station, and again played a lot of stuff that no one else played, like “Easy” by Florence Warner, a song I have yet to actually purchase. Although they no longer carried American Top 40, they did play Dick Clark’s National Music Survey , and I listened to that every week on Saturday afternoons. Presently the AM runs AC, the FM country.

WNKO-FM – the FM side of the above WHTH (now a country station) was AC as well, but they played all the hits I liked, and the PD at the time, Greg Moebius, even took a few suggestions for their “Hit Or Miss” feature from me. I got to know a couple of the jocks as well, and that was cool. And they also played Dr. Demento, which was an automatic in my house, heh heh heh…the call letters were moved in 2009 to New Albany, New York, and AM sister station WHTH now simulcasts their country format on the former frequency.

WNCI-FM – WNCI was the top rated station for much of my time in Ohio – I believe it STILL is, now a part of the iHeartRadio family – and it shows; they were the CHR station for the most part, with their Morning Zoo type shows, and regular features. They didn’t play things to death, though. They went from HOT AC to CHR in 1985, and their ratings shot straight up. They had American Top 40 on Sunday evenings, and when Casey Kasem left to do his own show, they ran it on Sunday morning as well, with Casey’s Top 40 at 9 AM, AT40 with Shadoe Stevens at 7 PM. They had their Top 9 At 9 feature, and I rarely missed it.

WLGN-FM – we moved to Lancaster in 1982, and I lived there for the rest of my time in Ohio. WLGN-FM was a small FM out of Logan, 17 miles southeast of Lancaster. Again, they were AC and sports programming, but again, they played the songs Columbus wasn’t playing – “Words” by FR David and “Land Of Make Believe” by Bucks Fizz were on this station all the time when they were out. The station is still in existence, now with a classic oldies format.

WSNY-FM – “Sunny 95” hit the air in 1984, I believe, and occasionally I listened to it – mostly because The Dr Ruth Show was on Sundays at 10 PM, and it was HILARIOUS. A prototype to what is referred to around here as “Awfully lite FM” (Sheep In The Big City joke), the station was usually TOO light for me (not easy to do, believe me, with my love for the beautiful music format), and more resembled the old, sleepy MOR stations of the 60s than an AC of the 80s. Still, they were ok and their jocks were pretty cool, too. As of a 2011 switch in formats on another station in the market, WSNY is now the only pure AC station left in the Columbus market.

WXGT-FM – Columbus’ “92X” was THE station in the mid-80s, thanks to the wonderful, kick-ass personality of “Stereo Quad” Suzy Waud, the station’s best and most popular jock – she was fun, and hilarious, and most of my mid-80s radio time before WNCI kicked into high gear was spent on 92X. All the great hits of the 80s were here..and again, weren’t played to death either. As the 80s moved on, I moved to WNCI for a long while before returning to 92X when they started playing a harder-edged sound – they were playing “Love And Affection” by Nelson and “Tied Up” by Billy Squier when WNCI wouldn’t touch them…it was a lot like the KJRB/KREM AM rivalry above. Of course, I found something that irritated me about both of them – neither one would touch “Step By Step” by New Kids On The Block – except WNCI played it during the syndicated shows. A year earlier, NKOTB had dominated WNCI…shows how much things can change in the blink of an eye on top 40 radio…

WBNS-FM – The local “beautiful music” station for as long as I could remember, they shifted in 1987 to New Age music. I had become a big New Age fan in the mid-80s after catching Andreas Vollenweider on an episode of Entertainment Tonight. I was playing quite a bit of it while I was working for a local record store chain as well. In the late 80s, I was doing a lot of writing and WBNS-FM became my soundtrack – Ray Lynch, David Arkenstone, David Lanz, and other fantastic new age music, my CD collection of which rapidly began to grow. I rarely turned it off. Then, I wake up one morning in 1991, get set up to do some writing, flip on the stereo, and i’m greeted by a VERY LOUD announcer intoning “OLDIES 97.1 The NEW WBNS-FM!”…I could have cried….I actually may have shed a tear or two…it was the last vestage of what the beautiful music format had evolved into…and it was gone…just like that… NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! DAMN YOU WBNS-FM! (They presently are a Hot AC station.)

WHIZ-FM – In my hurt and anger at Quisling WBNS-FM’s STABBING ME IN THE BACK (melodramatic, isn’t it? Hee hee hee), I turned for solstice to Billy Batson’s home station…oh, wait a minute…that was WIZZ in later days, and it was because WHIZ – the REAL one – wasn’t too happy about their call letters being usurped by a comic book. But Zanesville’s WHIZ-FM was everything I was looking for, and even better – they played a wonderfully diverse mix of new age and smooth jazz instrmentals, new age vocals, and pop instrumentals. Not quite beautiful music, but what I wanted for writing, and more. And they introduced me to a number of acts, like The Telling and Basia, that I probably would have never heard otherwise. Their format has been all over the road in the past three decades and I believe they are presently a Top 40 station.

KYW-AM – Blasting out of Philadelphia with a huge signal, I could usually pick KYW up around the clock, but it came in better in the evening. 24 hours of News, and always good to get the top national stories. And still plugging away as Philly’s top news radio station.

WOWO-AM – Out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, I usually turned WOWO on in the background at least if Indiana was having severe weather that would be heading our way. At the time Indiana had no daylight time, so they’d always be giving top of the hours like “It’s 3 o’clock in Indiana, 4 o’clock in Ohio and Michigan, this is WOWO Stereo AM Fort Wayne”. They were Hot AC and had a pretty decent mix of music for an AM radio station in those days. They switched to a news/talk format a number of years back.

WQIO-FM – what had once been WMVO-FM (see above) became Q93 sometime in the 80s, and by 1991, it was playing a mix similar to what KSEM-AM had played during my waning high school days, playing Hot 100-charting songs no one else was playing, like “Moonlight On Water” by Kevin Raleigh, “Bodyguard” by Bee Gees, and “Cruisin’ For Bruisin” by Basia among others. A great way to mix things up. They are presently a “pure” AC station.

WLOH-AM – listened to this most of the time when I was working 3rd shift only because they had switched formats by that point and were simulcasting CNN Headline News. No other interest in the station, for both personal and professional reasons – the one time I visited there the entire place was rude to me, and I never set foot in the place again, nor did I listen to the FM side, WHOK, the top country station in the Columbus market. They became a country station in 2015.

WBZX-FM – “The Blitz” went on the air in 1991, and I rarely looked back – Active Rock was the word, and by this time, I was more and more into it, thanks to friends around me. They were, in a word, a ‘hair metal’ channel, playing Guns N Roses, Hardline, Def Leppard, and the emerging Grunge acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and more. I loved the Blitz. The call letters were later given up, and a station in Michigan is now using them.

In 1993, I saw the prevailing winds…and prepared to move to the city I had always dreamed of: Boston. I was a huge ZOOM fan as a kid, and Boston was where it was produced, and so was The French Chef. But now, I was moving here to be with the woman I loved…and my radio choices would change yet again…

BOSTON AND VICINITY – 1993- PRESENT

This section is far more complicated than the others, and also in many ways simpler. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but in the late 1990s radio changed. Most terrestrial stations became part of feeder services from ClearChannel and their ilk, and in the process, IMHO they’ve destroyed radio as I grew up loving it. There’s still some worth listening to, but not much…as a result, I have listened to very little local radio since around 2000.

There’s also three other factors – in the order they came along, Internet Radio, Satellite Radio, and HD radio. I haven’t tried Satellite radio or HD, but might in the future, if they prove themselves. But internet radio is a whole other story; I’ve been deeply involved with it, as a listener AND as a station employee or owner, and we’ll get into it below as well, at the very end…

But first, the regular radio I occasionally listen to…

WBZ-AM – the only station I regularly listen to locally anymore, WBZ is news in the day and talk at night. They keep me informed.

WMKK-FM – this station has changed formats SEVEN FRIGGIN’ TIMES (and call letters four of those times) in the last 25 years, and I’ve listened to all of them. There was the original WCGY, which was classic rock; then they morphed into WEGQ “Eagle 93.7”, featuring all 70s hits, like Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynard, Peter Frampton, and such; in 1999, they became WQSX, Star 93.7, and played 70s and 80s R&B, and then they became WMKK – Mike-FM, a ‘variety hits’ format which caught on for a while. Now I never listen to them – they’re WEEI, SportsTalk radio…bleah…

WXKS-FM – Boston’s Kiss FM – when I first moved here, they were a likeable and tolerable CHR station with rhythmic leanings. Now, they’re a ClearChannel “Top Hits” repeater, with the top hits repeating every 45 minutes or so. A woman I work with listens to the station – today, I’ve heard Adam Lambert’s “Whatta Ya Want From Me” EIGHT FRIGGING TIMES between 10:30 and 4 PM! AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH! Is it any wonder WHY Mike-FM has been edging up on KISS the last two years? Only good for listening to AT40 on Sunday morning, although I haven’t listened for years, not since before Ryan Seacrest took over as the current host after Casey Kasem retired…

WMKI-AM – ok, don’t laugh at me…oh what the hell, go ahead…WMKI was Boston’s RadioDisney outlet, and I can’t help it – repetitive that it was, it was the closest thing to old-fashioned, personality-driven Top 40 radio on ANYWHERE anymore. And, dammit anyway, it was fun,  fast paced, and it’s ENTERTAINING! If they moved it to FM I might listen more. I listened a LOT between 1996-1998, when they first went on the air. It’s a great channel, safe for the family. Alas, Boston dumped RD when the station was sold, and now it’s a business news channel…bleah…

WPLM-FM – this station out of Plymouth goes by ‘Easy99.1″ but it’s not overly easy, and they do some great specialty shows as well. Leaning more and more towards regular AC like Magic 106.7 (see below) than “soft ac” these days. The jocks also have a more or less weird sense of humor that reminds me a lot of old time top 40 radio.

WMJX-FM – Magic 106.7 is the Boston market’s AC station of record. They have excellent jocks as well, including the dulcet tones of evening announcer David Allen Bouchet, who hosts “Bedtime Magic”, or at least was hosting the last time I listened to Magic about 5 years ago…

WJIB-AM – known as “The Memories Station”, I only recently discovered this station, and it’s a scream…a one-man operation supported entirely by his loyal listeners, the station (which also simulcasts at 101.3 FM) is a true throwback to the radio of my childhood. Owner Bob Bittner programs everything, hosts everything, and does everything from his Maine home, simulcasting to two other stations up there as well. He plays what he likes, and his listeners like it, everything from big band standards and crooners to 70s country pop (my jaw dropped one day last year when “The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA” by Donna Fargo came on while I was in a cab with a driver who always played the station and helped me discover it), and even some light disco like Meco’s “Star Wars“.  It’s a TOTAL throwback to the days of WCLT-AM in the early 70s (see above)

I like a few of the stations on Cape Cod as well – I will add more on them here in the near future.

INTERNET RADIO – 1998-present

For 2 1/2 years, I was an employee of internet radio pioneer DiscJockey.com. When I started, I was the PD for the entire range of channels, but as we expanded, I slipped into the more comfortable job of Director of Specialty Programming, handling the decades channels, the ethnic channels (Latin and J-pop), the popular Lovebeat channel, and other on-demand programs, plus produced and hosted 7 specialty shows a week.

On my own, i’ve also run a number of specialty channels of my own from time to time, usually with Live365.

Now when I listen to music, it’s more often than not either online through a number of different sources, or our MusicChoice service on our cable system. I don’t listen to a lot of pop channels though – usually I listen to lounge, or lounge like music. And since the pandemic started, I broke down and got a subscription to Sirius/XM – although I rarely use it, it’s nice to fall back on old radio habits. And I also use TuneIn to check out stations across the country and around the world from time to time as well.

OTHER INFLUENCES – RECORD STORES

Although not really “radio”, I thought I’d include them here. Twice in my life, I’ve worked for record store chains. Both are now long defunct, but I learned a lot about successful marketing, playlists and the like. I worked for the local Buzzards Nest Records in 1984-85, and also for Transworld from 1993-1998 in several locations including a RecordTown, a Tape World and a Coconuts. As an assistant manager on most occasions, particularly at Coconuts, I was helping to order product, organize sales, organize other projects we wanted to do that corporate never seemed to let us do because we were not in Boston proper, and so on.

So now you know my influences…and I’d love to hear about yours! Please drop me a line and let me know!