Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Auld Lang Syne

In the past, the blog has marked the arrival of each New Year with an aircheck from a previous New Year's Eve. 2012 is no different. NEO Airchecks revisits Youngstown Top 40 rivals WHOT/1330 and WFMJ/1390, as heard forty years ago this week. In the two-part recording provided courtesy of friend Jerry Coleman, K.C. Martin spins the big hits of 1971 on WHOT and takes a call from one listener wishing to burn Donny Osmond at the stake. Just listen, and you'll see what we mean. Martin's approach to his show is much more loose than that of his co-workers heard in airchecks from roughly the same period.

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

The New Kid In Town

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.