Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Talk Radio So Hot, It Burns Down the House

"...the girls ride in the front. Little brother rides in the trunk, preferably where you pack the spare tire..."

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.

1 comment:

  1. This brings back memories for one big reason - it's where I started my radio career.

    I started doing morning news in 1989, and later added afternoon talk - the time slot right before Neil's "Sundown Talk".

    WOKG signed off at sunset all year round, even though it had 116 watt night authorization...we had the transmitter, but ownership only programmed it if we sold a high school sports broadcast.

    As a result, I was on in the summer from 3-6 PM, and Neil (as he says in this aircheck) from 6-9 PM. In the winter, I was on 1:30-4 PM, and Neil was on 4-6 PM.

    "A.J." must have been gone by the time I showed up. "Charlie C" was paired by that time with recent YSU graduate Mike Murphy.

    As I said elsewhere, even the "beep" for the phone system strikes up memories. Talk 1570, you're on the air...

    -- Mike Ward (now news reporter/anchor, Rubber City Radio Group, WAKR/WQMX/WONE/, Akron, OH)