Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hot Spot On Your Dial

If it seems that an inordinate amount of time has been spent on this blog highlighting stations from the Youngstown area, you're right. For whatever reason, most of the submissions to NEO Airchecks have concerned the market's two Top 40 rivals of the 1970's, WHOT/1330 and WFMJ/1390. Your editor has enjoyed these airchecks, as it's been fun and educational to hear the personalities and formatics of the era. That having been said, don't feel as though we're shutting out other areas of the region. Again, any airchecks of northeast Ohio stations from the past or present are welcome here. Be sure to e-mail ideas or sources to

With that in mind, our friend Jerry Coleman brings us another of his high-quality WHOT recordings. This time we travel back to January 1, 1970. Allen Scott is spinning the top 100 tunes of 1969 on this first day of the New Year. Art Jordan, the future news director at WFMJ-TV, provides the headlines.

Allen Scott left WHOT not long after this broadcast. Taking over his slot was K.C. Martin, who came from WHLO/640 in Akron. According to our source, Martin died in an accident several years ago. Your editor has no confirmation of this, but would appreciate any assistance from our readers. As for Scott, longtime WHOT program director Dick Thompson has said that the onetime evening jock eventually became a priest.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rock, Easy Listening and Who Was That, Anyway?

Most of the features presented on NEO Airchecks have thus far focused on the highly energetic, upbeat sounds of some of the region's Top 40 stations of the past. While this week's entry continues that trend, it is in fact a two-fer. The first minute of the recording is a portion of an overnight show hosted by Big Barry on WHLQ/106.9 in Canton (now WRQK) somewhere in late 1971. Our newest contributor Jerry Coleman briefly explains the aircheck's origins:

"A friend and I visited him one evening...He was very good and I had hoped he would make it down to Youngstown and sign on with WFMJ, but it never happened."

This recording dates from shortly after the station was purchased by Susquehanna Radio Corporation, which changed the previous call letters from WNYN to WHLQ, the latter callsign a reflection of the company's ownership of Akron's WHLO/640.
Since this aircheck is from slightly before your editor's time in the business, NEO Airchecks would like to know more about Big Barry. Who was he, and where else did he pop up on the dial? Any background information from our more senior readers would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to drop us a line or two at

The remainder of the recording is a portion of a "Twilight Melodies" program aired during December 1971 on WBBW/1240 in Youngstown. If the WHLQ aircheck is a good example of the youth-oriented sound of Top 40 radio of the era, then WBBW is on the opposite end of the programming spectrum. In short, this was one of the area stations that parents likely listened to more often than not. The full-service/easy listening format of the period is represented here with primarily instrumental music and a relaxed announcing style by the host, who doesn't say his name here. Any help identifying the personality would be appreciated by the editor. [Editor's note: Since this entry's original posting, we've been informed that the announcer is Stan Vitek, an evening personality who was with WBBW from 1971 until 1989. From there, he moved to WQXK/105.1. He remained with the country giant until 2009.]

WBBW was, for many years, the primary competitor for crosstown juggernaut WKBN. What WBBW had going for it in those days was a stable of talented hosts, such as Dan Ryan, Nick Anthony and Dick James, all of whom are mentioned in the aircheck. It would continue to be a thorn in WKBN's side well into the 1980's, when Ryan was lured over to his rival to host a long-running midday talk show. By then, WBBW had transitioned to a news/talk format that stayed in place until the early 90's.

Jerry Coleman again provides the story behind the aircheck:

".. I just happened to hear that You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra was coming up so I punched the buttons on the Ampex to get this short but interesting clip. WBBW was thought of has an "old fogy" station because of the slow music they played... You will note the reference to the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever which came out in '71. "

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy New Year

Just in case you're wondering, NEO Airchecks didn't open its 2011 calendar two months ahead of schedule. However, the title for this post is appropriate for the latest submission to the blog. Jerry Coleman has contributed an aircheck from a station that should be familiar to regular readers; WFMJ/1390 in Youngstown. In this recording, personalities Ted Alexander and Steve Michaels co-host 1390's New Year's Eve program on December 31, 1971. Afternoon man Ron Davidson also makes a brief appearance as the show begins a countdown of the Top 20 songs of '71. Listen for the fun Ted and company have with a certain song from Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Perhaps it's just me, but it seems that an extraordinary amount of airchecking was going on in Youngstown during the waning days of 1971 and the first week of the new year. As regular readers know, a Ron Leader recording from a few days after this broadcast was the first posted on the blog. My personal collection also includes a WHOT aircheck from December 28, 1971.

-Geoff Mears

Friday, October 15, 2010

BeatleMania and Cleveland

For the first time since the creation of this blog, we're featuring a station from the great city of Cleveland. KYW/1100 (now WTAM) is highlighted in this Jim Stagg aircheck from 1964. This recording was brough to our attention by "Stevations", who recently posted a link to it on's Cleveland board.
Jim Stagg (a.k.a Jimmy Staggs) had a high-profile career in the radio business, with KYW being just one of several stops along the way. He's probably best-remembered for his later stint at Chicago's WCFL, where he provided firsthand accounts of The Beatles's U.S. tours in 1965 and '66. The influence of BeatleMania can be clearly heard in this aircheck.
A detailed biography of Stagg can be found here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When the Music Stops, That's News

Just to prove that we're not a one-trick pony (and to provide some continuity), we're featuring a sometimes-overlooked member of the stations of yore: the newscaster. Amid the often bigger-than-life personalities that frequented radio stations of the past, it was probably easy to take the news anchor for granted. Most radio stations of that era had a news department, due to regulations that have long since fallen by the wayside.
WHOT's newsmen had a reputation for being among the best in the Mahoning Valley, often scooping more-established stations in the area. In this aircheck from June 3, 1965, WHOT anchor Ed Reddinger (sp?) reports on a riot at Geneva-On-The-Lake. This event was mentioned in modern-day comments included in the previous Jolly Rodger aircheck. This recording is another provided to us courtesy of Edward Woodward.
To provide some context, here's a link to a contemporary Time Magazine story mentioning the riot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Correction and a History Lesson

After publishing the previous update, it occured to yours truly that the post wasn't entirely accurate. Jolly Rodger's aircheck appears to be from June 1964, not '65. The newscast mentioning Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev expected meeting with the then-United Nations Secretary General should have been a giveaway. Khruschev was removed from office in October 1964. Robert Kennedy's trip to Warsaw, Poland also took place in June 1964. As a former history major, I'm a little bummed out that I allowed such an error to slip through the cracks. Heh.
The previous post has been edited to reflect the necessary corrections. The aircheck's visual component will be changed ASAP.

Youngstown Airwaves: Part 1

For the blog's latest installment, we remain in Youngstown, but move across town from WFMJ to its onetime rival, WHOT 1330. Jolly Rodger (a.k.a. Rodger Skinner) is featured in this aircheck from June of 1964. While WHOT would successfully move its Top 40 format to FM in the 1980's, this recording dates from a period when 1330 was the undisputed king of the market.
Skinner came to WHOT after previous stints at WBLF and WPIC in Pennsylvania. At 1330 he was a part-time on-air personality, a position he held until midway through 1966, when he was fired for playing Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35" for four hours straight, sans commercials and news. Skinner then briefly held down mornings at WEEP in Pittsburgh as "Johnny Breit" before moving on to evening gigs at WIRK in West Palm Beach, Florida and WQAM in Miami in 1968. He used the on-air name John Paul Roberts in the latter stop. According to a message posted by Skinner on, he retired in 2000 after selling his low-power television stations and other businesses in Florida.
Special thanks to Ed Woodward of Williamsburg, Virginia for contributing this aircheck, which includes some recent comments interjected by Skinner himself near its conclusion. Additional material from this period of WHOT, including news coverage of the riot at Geneva-On-The-Lake mentioned by Skinner, will be featured in future posts.

Editor's note: Jolly Rodger should not be confused with another Youngstown area radio veteran who used a similar name. "Jolly Roger" (a.k.a. Roger Luscombe) was the longtime program director of WSOM/600 and WSOM/105.1, the latter now known as country powerhouse WQXK/"K-105". After coming out of retirement, he became Johnny Kay's successor at WSOM/600 in 2007. Luscombe's position was one of several that later fell victim to budget cuts implemented by the stations' current owner, Cumulus Broadcasting.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


No, we're not seeking money. Leave your checkbook alone. Just in case there is any doubt, this venture is purely for entertainment purposes.
As your editor-in-chief, I've already explained that this blog is seeking airchecks to help highlight the work of past and present on-air personalities and other people connected to the radio scene in northeast Ohio. If you have recordings you believe are of interest, be sure to drop me a line at
I can't thank you enough for the response I've already received concerning this blog. It appears that this humble enterprise is generating some leads for future posts. I'm looking forward to connecting with you.

-Geoff Mears