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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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Jocks and Stations Direct From Studio B

Curtis Wright hosted the morning show on WAAV until August 30, 2012. Curtis started his radio career some 15 years ago as a community commentator on 980 AM WAAV Radio, then later created and hosted the highly successful radio program The Morning Beat, then later Curtis Wright On The Beat, which was southeastern North Carolina’s top rated Talk Radio program. Curtis also created and Hosted Carolina Talk TV on WWAYTV3 in Wilmington.

I have to admit I wasnt too crazy about the idea of becoming the backup producer for On The Beat. I had a feeling Curtis and I wouldnt get along well, but I'm happy to say I couldnt have been more wrong. On the air, Curtis is a very passionate host, but off the air he's as easy going as they come. The first couple of times I produced the show I had a couple of small screwups. Curtis would just wave his hand and tell me not to worry about it. He'd say, "Its only radio. Nobody dies." Curtis always made it a pleasure to fill in. Tyler Cralle took over the morning show on September 4, 2012 and I moved up to full time producer and a new adventure began.

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In 1990 I was working at WPFR in Terre Haute, IN. It was one of the few times in my career that I ever used an air name and the only time I ever used one at a full-time gig. When I took the job, they asked me use an air name because they already had two other Daves on the air. Its a long story I'll save for another time, but I finally settled on the name "Lenny D".

The band Danger Danger was trying to cross over to Top 40 radio. When they released their song "Bang Bang" they recorded personal versions for jock and stations around the country. Back in the day, it was a pretty common practice. This is the Lenny D version.

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John Evans tells the story: One saturday afternoon in 1991 I was working on WCBH. The new management had freelanced a "reporter" to go the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and give us time trial updates throughout the second weekend of quailifaying for the Indy 500.

The first time the reporter called, he stated he was not happy because his wife just left him. That previewed what the rest of the day would be like. We would record his report in the production studio and then play it back on air. Every time he called he kept calling minutes within the time it was supposed to air, so we never had a chance to proof the piece before it hit air. The first reports were not great, but they were not so bad that they should not be aired.

Then came his last report. It was recorded, I cued it up for play back in the production room, and told the jock who came on after me that it was ready. A few minutes later, the phone rang.

The person on the other end informed me that the reporter was smashed drunk, had been passed out all day, and kept bugging them for info on what happened. So, they decided to teach him a lesson about reporting and gave him bogus information. The person calling felt bad for us and only wanted to give us a heads up to check the tape before airing. Too late. It was half way done as I fishished the phone call.

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I swore I'd never do it again. After 20-some years of chasing radio jobs all over the country, I'd finally had enough and left the industry for good. I even went back to school to prepare myself for a new career. But after becoming disillusioned with my major, I was feeling rather depressed and said to my friend Matt Carter, "At least in radio I always knew what to expect." I had a friend working in sales for the local Cumulus group, so I gave him a call to see if they needed anyone. As luck would have it, there was an opening on the #1 station in town, WWQQ. I met with the Program Director, Brian Sims, and just like that, I had myself a weekend gig. I'll admit that I was extremely nervous about going back on the air, but after a few breaks I felt like I'd never been gone. I guess the saying is true; once radio gets in your blood, it never goes away. Heres my show from March 12, 2011.

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I'm not sure he wants to take the blame, but Bob Vizza is the reason I got into radio.

In 1975, Bob was the night guy on WASK-AM in Lafayette, Indiana. I was a 13 year old kid who just got my first radio. WASK didnt play any music I liked, mostly a lot of Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra. I listened anyway, because I wanted to hear what Bob would say during the breaks. It didnt matter what he was talking about, Bob always sounded like he was having a great time. I knew right away I wanted to do that.

Bob and I met when I did a career paper about jobs in radio. Bob came to my junior high so I could interview him and we struck up a friendship. The first time I ever saw the inside of a radio station was when Bob invited me to sit in with him on a Sunday afternoon. A couple of years later, Bob helped me put together an audition tape for my first radio job (I got the gig!).

I had an old Cadillac convertible Bob used to love to ride around in. He always made me put the top down, even the middle of January. Our greatest adventure probably shouldnt be shared here...

Bob has recently returned to the on-air chair at WKOA, where he remains one of the most beloved radio personalities in the market. Enjoy this clip from 1998.

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Meet the girl my wife refers to as my "Canadian wife". Its hard to know where to even begin telling you about someone I consider one of my dearest friends. Stacey and I have known each other for several years. We've gone through a lot together, both professionally and personally. There are few people I've met in this business whose opinion I value more. Including Stacey on Direct From Studio B is something thats long overdue.

Stacey does the mid day show on CFCA-FM in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Her husband Dan Delorme does afternoons on the station. Stacey also co-hosts on sister station KFUN, while Dan tracks an evening show on the station. I tell them theyre the hardest working couple in show business. Heres a bit of Staceys KOOL FM show from September 2010.

http://www.koolfm.com

http://www.kfun995.com

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Matt Carter showed up at WASK in 1997 as a part-timer who was often late.  We didnt really become friends right way. Over the next year, Matt found his footing as an air talent and became a valuable member of our team. It didnt take him long to outgrow us and he found himself a part time gig at The Bear in Indianapolis. Always up for the next challenge, Matt said goodbye to market #37 to join me in tiny, isolated Gallup, New Mexico and try to save a group of stations that had fallen on hard times. Matt and I have remained close over the years and shared many adventures. I think we're still wanted in a couple of states. He's also given me immeasurable help in building this website. Heres a clip of Matt on The Bear from January 2000.

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In 1986, Kim Wood did the evening show and Kevin Morton did the overnight on WAZY. At the time, Z96 had been the #1 station in town for 3 straight years. The mighty Z would remain #1 for another 3 years. The first clip is an aircheck from each show. The second clip is a full 30 minutes of each show. This a great example of Top 40 radio in the mid-80's.

The full hour

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For the past couple of years I've been doing voice work for training videos for a paper manufacturing company. About once a month I go into the voicebooth at Results Production & Post and cut 30 minutes to an hour of audio. Unfortunately, because of time constraints, I never see the scripts ahead of time. I'm not crazy about doing cold reads, but it is what it is. The clients are very easy to work with and the session producer, Shannon, is awesome.

I dont know much about the manufacturing of paper, so I pretty much have no idea what I'm talking about when I do the sessions. I guess that would qualify me to be a network anchorman, eh? 

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Mysti and I met when she was doing the midday show on WNOU Indianapolis. It was there that she began working on The Pop Culture Countdown in 2004. I thought it was a dynamite show, mixing the top pop culture stories of the week with five hot new songs. It was the perfect show for a Top 40 radio station. A syndication deal was put together and it looked like The PCC was ready to go national. Unfortunately, like too many great ideas, red tape eventually killed it. What a shame.

Mysti moved on to Houston and St. Louis before landing in Raleigh, North Carolina. She had a very promising career until she disappeared into the bowels of christian radio.

Heres The Pop Culture Countdown from October 2, 2004.

http://www.939kissfm.com

 

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In the spring of 1995, John found himself promoted to Program Director of WBOW-AM Terre Haute. WBOW and its sister station WZZQ were owned by Contemporary Media. The place was such a revolving door that we all called it "Temporary Media". I think I worked for seven different Program Directors between the two stations.

John and I are both auto racing fans, so we indulged ourselves in this weekly show. It wasnt much like work though. We got to hang out at all the regional tracks and get to know the drivers. Covering qualifications and practice for the 1995 Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 satisfied another of my dream jobs. The best part of the day after cooking in the heat at the track was stopping at Johns parents house and jumping in the pool.

It wasnt a bad little show. We often had guests in the studio. Tom Sneva gave us a great interview about an electric race car he was testing. We watched Tony Stewart win at the Terre Haute Action track. We hung out with Walter Payton when he was an Indy Car owner. We interviewed Mike Skinner after he won the innaugural Craftsman Truck Race at IRP. We irritated Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan after a rough day of practice.

We even sold it to a sponsor, so it didnt cost the station any money. We had a great time doing it, but we put an awful lot of miles on WBOW News car. Gas was always an issue around that place. For some reason Contemporary Media always seemed to focus on little things that didnt really make much difference. Regardless, I still think of it as one of our greatest adventures.

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We called it "The Big-Ass Rock Station" and it was the best thing about Gallup, New Mexico.  After a year of beating my head against the wall at Millennium Media, I went up the street to the Clear Channel group. I started out voicetracking Saturday and Sunday mornings on their rhythmic CHR station, KXTC. A few months later, I took over the afternoon show and remained in the slot for the next 5 years.

I loved KXTC, but I really wanted to work on our rock station, Rock 106.1. I'd never worked on a station that literally assaulted your senses. Rock 106.1 was a flamethrowing, straight ahead, no frills hard rock station. Blas was the Program Director and morning guy. He also hosted our Saturday night show, The Metal. Blas totally embodied the rock lifestyle, and the station reflected it. I took over the mid day show when a staffer needed an extended leave. I remained there until 2006 when I moved to North Carolina. As a boss, he was most excellent to work for. Every time I thought maybe I'd crossed the line with a bit, Blas always encouraged me to push the envelope a little further. His attitude was, until we get a complaint from the FCC, do whatever you want.

The Metal was 2 hours of the heaviest rock tracks you were ever going to hear on radio. Blas was the host and it ran Saturday nights from 10 to midnight. Check out this clip from October 2005.

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In 1993 I was working the night show on WCBH. The station was located in Casey, Illinois but they wanted very badly to be a Terre Haute station. They were never able to make much headway in the market, mostly because of their weak signal. You could pick it up fine in the car, but not in the house.

There was another small station down the road in Newton, WIKK that for some reason decided WCBH was their direct competition. Never really understood that, but whatever. They started talking smack about us on the air, so one night John Evans and I decided to have some fun. The night guy on WIKK  had a call in feature during the 10 o'clock hour, so we thought we'd give him a call. Poor guy walked right into it and set me up with one of the best phone pranks I ever pulled. Nothing ever would have come of it if we hadnt called the guy back and played the bit for him. He didnt crack the mic for the rest of his show. He got his panties in a bunch and called his boss, who called my boss, who ordered me write a letter of apology, which I did. "Dear Studmuffin, Sorry I caught you with your pants down. My apologies." My boss failed to see the humor and fired me. It was no big thing really. I mean come on, it was WCBH, which was 3/4 of a radio station at best. No offense to the fine folks who worked there, but I always considered 'CBH a temporary gig until I could find something better. I went straight over to B97 in Bloomington and was back on the air in less than a week. Yes, I know I was wrong. No, I wouldnt do it again. Yes, it was totally worth it.

(btw, i removed the name to avoid any embarrassment)

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Jim and I worked together during my first tour at WBOW/WZZQ. We  reconnected on Facebook last year and I asked Jim if he had any audio we could post on the website. He sent me a few things from his collection along with this note: "Heres a snippet of a 1992 WBOW aircheck, and all I can say is that I'm fortunate that the bar for part-time talent was pretty low in Terre Haute. I managed to snag my "jock open" from BOW on my last day.  My original cart was bollixed somehow, the original reel was lost, so they had Ray Otis re-record my name -- and then they mixed it poorly, all distorted and crappy.  Oh well. Theres also a WZZQ check from 8/28/1994, my last shift before I moved to Indy.  We called ourselves "the Rock" by then. Jack Lawson was PD.  He was the third PD I worked for there.  The first, Mark Savage, had us more alternative during the day and active rock at night, and it got us our best ratings.  (Later, under PD Ben Jacobs) ...we dumped the hard stuff, toned down the alternative, and added some rock-leaning AC.  It was awful, and the ratings tanked.  Then Jack came and we became a straightforward new rock/classic rock station.  He had us sounding the tightest, but the ratings didn't quite reach Mark Savage levels."
You can read Jim's blog here: http://jimgrey.wordpress.com
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I spent 6 1/2 years in Gallup, New Mexico. I spent the last five of those years working for Clear Channel Radio. Our three stations were always the top 3 stations in the market. Millennium Media was the other broadcast group in town. I had originally come to Gallup to work for them, but after a year of battling their backward way of doing radio, I gave up and decided to try my luck at the Clear Channel group in town. Millennium had been #1 for years and years back when they had no real competition. As tends to happen, they became very complacent and eventually, very vulnerable. This recording was made long after MM's glory days were behind them. By 2005, the only local shows were on their Classic Rock station, KXXI 93X. Heres a composite of their mid day, afternoon, and evening shows.

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Steve and I were good friends. We started at WAZY within a couple of months of each other in late 1982. We were constantly doing things on the air that nearly cost us our jobs (and doing things off the air that nearly got us thrown in jail). Lucky for us, the ratings were on our side. When my first son was born in 1987, we named him after Steve.

Heres a clip from Steves afternoon show from the spring of 1986. You'll hear a newsbreak with JoAnn Klooz who later went to WIBC Indianapolis. We were a tight group both on and off the air. JoAnn lived in an apartment upstairs from Steve, and I lived 1 block over. We used to hold marathon Risk games on Steves back porch with what seemed like an endless rotation of players.

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You can find more pics of Steve and WAZY here in Studio B Photos.

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Dave and I worked together at WCBH in 1994. These days he's doing fill-in work at KJ Country in Effingham, Illinois. Heres a clip from the Sunday Night Live All-Request Christmas Show on December 19, 2010.

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We've all had that one great blooper in our career. I'll let John give you all the details:

Okay, WCBH had a live remote from this bar in Mattoon, Illinois called Broadway Joes. At the time the General Manager was trading remotes for bar tabs. No thought went into this remote either.

We were a Classic Hits station, and they had us there on Country Night. Some band called The Wanderers were on stage. All of our remotes were done on a cell phone, and we only knew we were live if we heard the touch tones hit a few times. Not only did I have to deal with a loud country band, but some "listeners" were  sitting in the parking lot trying to get every free thing I was giving away.

It was very hot in the place. Against my better judgement I took a shot of schnapps that did not sit well with me. As I was trying to listen to the phone so I could go live, the prize-pigs were yelling at me about how unfair I was for not letting them take all the schwag , and I was straining to hear my cue over this loud music. The music ends. I hear the tones, and then my opening remarks....

For a moment I thought I was a goner. All the remotes were taped because the bar owners were out of town. I told the jock back at the station to leave the tape and I would tell the GM as soon as I saw him. When I got back to the station and was playing the tape back, the GM walked in and as usual, was a bit tipsy from the local bar. I told him I needed to talk to him and I played the tape.


Relief came when I saw him laugh so hard he hit the wall.

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I promised myself I wasn't moving to Wilmington, North Carolina for my next radio gig; I was moving here for my LAST radio gig. I'd finally made a promise about radio that I was able to keep. From the instant I arrived in the Tarheel State, I knew I'd found the place I was always meant to live. Didnt take me long to decide that no matter what happened job-wise, I was never leaving.

Rock 104.5 had been a major player with John Boy & Billy in the morning and fewer signals in the market. By the time I arrived, John Boy & Billy had announced they were moving to a brand new station and Rock 104.5 was competing with 3 other stations playing the same music. Corporate gave up and it seemed more and more like I came here to help bury a heritage station. When the ax finally fell, it was no big surprise. As I told my boss at the time "I cleared out my stuff months ago". The gig left such a bad taste in my mouth I decided I never wanted to see the inside of another radio station. That feeling stayed with me for over 3 years until I took a part-time gig at Double-Q 101, a country station here in Wilmington, NC. Today I mostly work in film and video voiceovers, and even some anime' porn here and there just for kicks. I work when I feel like working and make my own schedule. Makes me wish I'd done this years ago.

Rock 104.5 probably could have weathered the storm if there had been any concerted effort to save the station. But with 87 people calling the shots and no one agreeing on anything, it was only a matter of time until it sank itself. The station has changed format and call letters twice since I left.

Here's a clip from spring 2007

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Jack is a fellow Midwest guy, hailing from Peoria, Illinois. Radio is in his blood. His dad was also a broadcaster, so Jack grew up around radio and TV stations. His career has taken him to Tampa Bay, Louisville, and Mobile, before he landed In Nashville several years ago. He was Production Director at legendary WSM before joining 103 WKDF for afternoons.

Jack and I have known each other for years, though we've never actually met. We were introduced by another friend on a social networking site. Jack is one of the best talents working in the industry today and I'm proud to call him a pal.

Heres a clip from Jacks afternoon show on 103 WKDF from April 2009. (a couple of the breaks got clipped as I recorded it from the stations online streaming)

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