Saturday, December 31, 2011
Ted Alexander and Steve "Baby" Michaels are heard doing a similar year-end countdown on WFMJ, and taking repeated shots at WHOT. Later on in the aircheck, personalities from at least one other Youngstown area station pile on, no doubt encouraged by Michaels' poetry concerning WHOT overnight personality "Big Al Knight", otherwise known as longtime PD Dick Thompson. Be sure to listen for cameo appearances by PD Ron Davidson and newsman Gary Gunther.
Friday, December 30, 2011
As NEO Airchecks awaits the entrance of 2012, the humble blog looks back to the end of another year. This time it’s 1976, when a small FM in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania took to the airwaves. WFAR/95.9 was the FM counterpart to WFAR/1470, licensed to Farrell, Pa. Both stations were founded by Sanford Schafitz, doing business as Farrell-Sharon Broadcasting.
In this aircheck, an anonymous announcer presents a commercial-free mixture of mostly lite rock hits of the era. WFAR/95.9 began broadcasting on December 28, 1976. The specific date of this recording is unclear, but it appears to be from the station’s first few days on the air. [Editor’s note: It’s merely my opinion, but WFAR’s format sounds like a sleepy, loosely-executed version of Adult Contemporary.]
After Schafitz’s death in 1979, WFAR/95.9 and 1470 were sold to Broadcast Service Communications. When the new owner couldn’t make either station fly, they were sold to National Communications System in 1982. This buy-sell trend would continue well into the 1990’s, along with a slew of format changes and call letters.
95.9, now sporting the call letters WAKZ, is currently owned by Clear Channel. It broadcasts a rhythmic format branded as “Kiss FM”. 1470 was split from its longtime FM sister in 1999. Vilkie Communications recently announced its plans to purchase the station, now known as WLOA, from Educational Media Foundation.
NEO Airchecks realizes that this article spotlights a Pennsylvania station, but being just across the state line from Youngstown, it is considered part of the Youngstown-Warren market.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Despite the restrictions of being a daytimer, WINW was still riding high in the Canton ratings book a little more than a decade after entering the market. Around the same time as this broadcast, Canton's WQIO/1060 switched to its popular "Q-10" Top 40 format. As a result, a significant number of WINW listeners defected to WQIO. While "Win-Wonderful" would soldier on under PD Keith London, WQIO's success would force WINW to leave the format by 1981. WQIO soon fell victim to the limitations of its daytimer status and emerging FM music formats in the market.
Repeated vandalism at the station's transmitter site knocked WINW off the air in September of 2010. Its urban gospel format briefly returned to the local airwaves, but again fell silent within a few months' time. The station's license was deleted by the Federal Communications Commission in March 2011. Owner Pinebrook pushed for reinstatement, and the request was later granted by the FCC. As of November 4, 2011, the station remains silent.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
The first thing that struck the editor about this aircheck is the utter lack of jingles. None. Nadda. Compare this recording with the aforementioned 'check of Richards, and you'll see what we mean. The cheery jingle packages that had been heard in previous years had clearly fallen out of favor, no doubt a response to the growing power of the more modern FM music formats of the era.
Speaking of FM, you'll probably notice mention of the simulcast of Cannon's show on sister station WHOT/101.1, previously known as WRED and a longtime home to a country format. (NEO Airchecks will have more on that incarnation at another time. )
By this time, FM was seeing a growing number of listeners, though overall listenership in the U.S. wouldn't overtake AM until a few years later. Notice, too, the promotion of Jerry Starr's overnight progressive rock program on 101.1, while the stalwart "Big Al Knight" (otherwise known as PD Dick Thompson) continued to present his brand of Top 40 on 1330.
Special thanks to Brian Gartland of Columbus, Ohio for making this aircheck available to the blog.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
WKYC had lured Armstrong away from market-leading WIXY/1260 in January, even though he was still under contract with WIXY. Despite his success in the evening timeslot, WKYC failed to obtain better overall ratings, and was therefore unable to dethrone its rival. A major stumbling block for its format was the fact that the station was owned and operated by NBC, meaning that it was required to air NBC newscasts and other network programming.
Armstrong ultimately moved on to other radio giants of the era, including WMEX/1510 in Boston and KFI/640 in Los Angeles. His last stop on the airwaves occurred in 2006 on Buffalo's WWKB/1520, over which he had been heard during its Top 40 heyday. Armstrong (born John Larsh) passed away in 2008.
Special thanks to NEO Airchecks friend Jeff Goodridge for providing this aircheck.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
The blog will continue to archive airchecks of northeast Ohio radio stations of the past, no matter the market or the format. As always, drop us a line if you have a tape you'd like to submit for our consideration. We can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
It's in this environment that we find WENZ evening personality Number One Son hosting his final edition of "Cleveland After Dark". Not long before this broadcast, he and the rest of "The End" staff had been informed that Radio One would not be needing their services. As a result, Number One Son decides to spice up the music mix a bit prior to bidding his listeners farewell. Radio One officially took over the station at midnight, just minutes after the conclusion of this aircheck.
Two weeks later, the station was relaunched as "Kiss 107.9", prompting a legal skirmish with Clear Channel over the use of the "Kiss" branding. To avoid any further issues, WENZ switched to the moniker "Z 107.9". The Urban format remains on the air to this day.
Friday, August 12, 2011
At the time of this recording, Richards had recently departed rival WNIO/1540. He was just the latest in a string of personalities and reporters who left WNIO for 1330 in the early 70's, thereby shortcircuiting 1540's attempts to dethrone WHOT as the market's leading music station. Richards would later work at WFAH/1310 and WDJQ/92.5 in Alliance.
As the station i.d's indicate, WHOT was frequently simulcast on its sister station, WRED/101.1. This practice would continue into the mid-70's, when WRED took on the 'HOT call letters before switching to WSRD. WSRD's popular AOR format was broadcast until 1984, when 1330's longrunning Top 40 format migrated to FM and dispatched "The Wizard" from the Mahoning Valley's airwaves. WHOT is now owned by Cumulus Broadcasting. WGFT is owned by Bernard Group.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This submission comes to us courtesy of Salvation Army. No, really. The reel-to-reel tapes that contain the following recordings were recently found at the aforementioned thrift store. Recordings of programs heard on WCLV/95.5 (now found at 104.9) were also retrieved and are being edited for a future post.
What you'll hear here is a representation of WXEN as it was heard during the spring and summer of 1970. Included are portions of two separate programs hosted by Archie Rothman, the first of which is an encore tribute to singer/actress Judy Garland. Also heard are the odd commercial, public service announcement and snippets of ethnic music programs that aired immediately prior to Rothman's shows.
For more details concerning the history of WXEN, go here.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
At the start of this composite aircheck of Warren's WRBP/1440, Continenza, the host of "Valley Sportsline", addresses the impending departure of then-Cleveland Browns head coach Chris Palmer. Next up is a a pre-game segment from a 2001 high school boys basketball broadcast, followed by the opening minutes of the same game featuring Warren Harding and Youngstown-Ursuline.
Larry Miklas started his radio career in the 1970's as an on-air personality at Sharon, Pennsylvania's WPIC/790. He moved on to WGRP/940 in nearby Greenville before eventually returning to the Ohio airwaves at WTCL/1570 in Warren. During the 1980's the former steelworker was on-air at WRRO/1440 in Warren, using the name "Larry Summers". Miklas went on to call thousands of high school football and basketball games, primarily for WBBW/1240, WRTK/1390 and WASN/1330. (At the time of this week's featured aircheck, WRBP/1440 was the sister station of WASN, which was owned by Otter Communications.) Along the way, he would also call a season of games on WHK/1420 for the Cleveland Thunderbolts, the city's first arena football team. Following a brief illness, Larry Miklas passed away in July 2010.
Tim Continenza is no stranger to sports fans in the Mahoning Valley, having spent time as a play-by-play man and host at WRRO/1440 during its sport talk format of the mid/late 1990's. Continenza reappeared at 1440 during its ownership by Otter Comunications. After the station was sold to current owner Salem Communications in 2001, he was occasionally heard calling high school games for the station, then sporting the call letters WHKW. Continenza now fills the same role for the Meadville, Pennsylvania-based Allegheny news/talk sports network, which is heard on WMGW/1490, WTIV/1230 and WFRA/1450.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
WTIG first took to the local airwaves in 1957 as a 250-watt daytimer, but was eventually granted a modest nighttime signal. For a large portion of of its history, the station had a Top 40 format that was commonly known as "Tiger Radio". It currently airs a sports talk format using the positioner "ESPN 990", a nod to its status as an ESPN affiliate. Also heard is a local morning show hosted by owner Ray Jeske, Massillon Tigers football and Cincinnati Reds baseball. Jeske purchased WTIG in the 1980's and later moved its studios from downtown's Massillon Building to the transmitter site in nearby Newman.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
The station started life in 1939 as WFMJ and was owned by the Youngstown Vindicator. When the newspaper decided to get out of the radio business in 1990, the station was sold to the owners of WHOT/1330 and 101.1. The historic WHOT call letters were then transferred to the 1390 frequency for an adult standards format. In 1994, Connoisseur Communications bought WHOT/1390 and The "Real Talk" format debuted the following year under the WRTK banner. The format lasted until 1999, when it was replaced by adult standards and the station took its current call letters WNIO. WNIO is now owned by Clear Channel and broadcasts a sports talk format using the positioner "The Sports Animal." As a result of Clear Channel's maneuvers to buy WRTK, those calls wound up at WNIO's original dial position of 1540, where they remained until last year.
Monday, April 18, 2011
What may come as a surprise to some readers is the fact that Knight's airshift was voicetracked, long before the word and practice was as common as it is in today's radio industry. As you'll find out later, the secret was known among the area's radio folk, and at least one personality at a rival station was happy to fill in the listeners on that fact.
Thompson would stay with WHOT well into the 1980's before a short-lived retirement from the business. He would return to radio at WNIO/1540 in the mid-90s, stay on board through the station's eventual transition to 1390, then depart for WSOM/600 in 2001 with former WHOT and WFMJ personality Johnny Kay. Both retired in 2007.
As mentioned, Big Al's presence on Memorex caught the attention of a crosstown rival. Steve "Baby" Michaels, then holding down overnights at WFMJ/1390, regularly took shots at his competitor. An example of this can be heard on a 1971 aircheck of a New Year's Eve broadcast with morning man Ted Alexander. Michaels' "tribute" to Big Al can be heard beginning at 11:38, followed by a purported reponse from his target.
Special thanks to NEO Airchecks friend and regular contributor Jerry Coleman for providing these airchecks.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
As always, if you have an aircheck of a northeast Ohio radio station you'd like to submit to NEO Airchecks, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
"Viewpoint" was launched by personality Tom Morrison circa 1966. He would continue to host the program until his departure from WHBC in 1970.(Morrison can still be heard hosting "The Reed Musicale" every Sunday morning.) "Viewpoint", which aired weeknights at 11:30, had several other hosts over the years, including Bob Gilligan, Gene Dylan and newsman Bob Bishop. Current 1480 morning show co-host Pam Cook was among its final hosts prior to the the show's termination in the late 1990's.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Taking to the airwaves in 1955 with a stable of personalities that included a young Dick Biondi, WHOT was among the earliest stations in the Midwest to adopt a Top 40 format. Despite the apparent misgivings of some advertisers and the station's daytimer status, the format proved to be a hit. WHOT would reign supreme among young listeners for many years thereafter, helped in part by a move down the dial to 1330 in 1963, which freed it from the constraints of sunrise-to-sunset broadcasting. In 1984 the format would make a successful leap to its FM sister station, where it remains to this day. WHOT/101.1 is now owned by Cumulus Broadcasting. The former WHOT/1330, now sporting the call letters WGFT and broadcasting a talk format, is owned by Bernard Radio.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Featured is a recording of the on-air dedication of WFAH/1310 (now WDPN) in Alliance. This program aired September 9, 1953. Members of the Hoiles and Peterson families, which launched WFAH's FM sister in 1947, are heard here along with other movers and shakers of the worlds of commerce and politics. A snippet of a similar program for WFAH/101.7 (now WDJQ/92.5) is also included near the beginning of this aircheck. Special thanks to the Rodman Public Library and D.A. Peterson, Incorporated for providing access to this recording.
The Peterson family still owns both stations, which may or may not employ a member of this blog's staff. WFAH/1310 became WDPN in 1990. The station currently airs a locally-programmed soft AC format, featuring local news, high school sports and University of Mount Union football and basketball.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Anyone who knows the people behind NEO Airchecks knows how we love the obscure, especially when it comes to airchecks. This week the humble blog features WOKG/1570 in Warren (now WANR). Neil Hagan is heard in this brief aircheck of the station's "Talk 1570" format, which appears to be from mid-summer of 1989. Hagan chats with longtime Warren radio personality "Dr. Rock", otherwise known as then-WRRO/1440 jock Ron Leader. The good doctor provides some tips on cruising that are sure to prompt a chuckle or two.
Neil Hagan's time with WOKG began two years prior to this recording, as he tells NEO Airchecks in an e-mail:
"I had toured the old WTCL studios as a child and was facinated with radio and announcing. I started in early 1987 as a helper to longtime anchorman and commentator Jack Darrow. I then moved to a morning show with an announcer named A.J. We did an early morning show and around 10a.m. A.J. joined Charles Cunningham for a free wheeling local oriented conservative, political talk [show]. After about 3 weeks with A.J., I was offered the night spot called "Sundown Talk". It was a lot of hit and miss and experimenting at first; sometimes I thought no one was listening. After a while I hit on a formula and it was a local hit...Eventually threatening letters and phone calls started comming, around 1989."
WOKG's fortunes took a hit of another kind on March 23, 1990, when a fire destroyed the studios located in Warren Township. The blaze, which occured just a few hours after Hagan signed off for the evening, was later ruled arson by local authorities. The case remains unsolved to this day. Due to the fire, WOKG was knocked off the air for a week. A reconfigured pizza concession trailer parked next to the burnt-out ruins provided temporary studios for the station. Not long after that, WOKG was sold by then-owner Geraldine Taczak.
WOKG began life as WTCL in 1971, broadcasting on the frequency that had been home to Youngstown Top 40 juggernaut WHOT from 1955 to 1963. (WHOT was a daytimer prior to moving down the dial to 1330.) WTCL's ownership changed the call letters to WOKG in 1981. Formats heard on 1570 up to that time ranged from oldies to country to AC. By 1989, WOKG was airing a talk format programmed by once-and-again WRRO PD and WFMJ personality Steve Fine. (For a more detailed history of the station, read this.)
Sporting the calls of WANR since 1990, 1570 is now owned by WhipLash Radio, LLC, led by Chris Lash of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The station has been co-owned with WYCL/1540 since August 2010, when Lash purchased the properties from Beacon Broadcasting. The studios are now located in the former WNIO building in Mineral Ridge. WANR airs a classic hits format, featuring local news and a healthy dose of high school sports.