WMMS St. Patrick’s Day Parade float, 1986

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on March 13, 2010 by John Gorman

Here’s our Buzzard float in the 1986 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Cleveland.

Other radio stations protested that there was “nothing Irish” about our Buzzard van, which appeared in previous year’s parades.

The parade organizers responded with a new rule – that all participants in the 1986 parade had to carry the theme of “Irish education.”

So David Helton designed a scholarly Irish Buzzard holding a shamrock in one wing and a diploma in the other for “The Rock & Roll History of Cleveland.”

As we explained to the organizers WMMS listeners were provided a continual educational experience into the history of rock & roll in Cleveland, which included Irish artists like U2 and Van Morrison.

We passed the test.

Click photo to enlarge

WMMS music – over 30 years ago!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on January 31, 2010 by John Gorman

Here’s another recently discovered WMMS album chart – this one from November 7, 1979.

The Long Run was the last studio Eagles album the band recorded until Long Road Out of Eden 28 years later.

Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Outdoor was that band’s studio finale, unless you count their cobbled-together outtakes album, Coda, which was released three-years later.

Neil Young was enjoying a major resurgence and recognition for Rust Never Sleeps, an album whose title was provided by two member of the band Devo. They had originally created the slogan for Rust-oleum while working at an Akron ad agency.

Bob Dylan surprised his fans when he converted to Christianity and released an album of original secular songs.

Pat Benatar’s first solo album, In the Heat of the Night, had a prime Cleveland connection with Parma, Ohio native Neil Geraldo’s professional and personal relationship with the artist.

That particular week we began playing a song called “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, which ended up a Cleveland-only hit – until MTV revived it two years later as their opening and signature tune.

Click on the charts to enlarge

WMMS – Like a Rolling Stone

Posted in Buzzard on January 23, 2010 by John Gorman

Here’s a half-page ad that we rushed out for the Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press, and The Scene thirty years ago this week – right after receiving the official word that we won the Rolling Stone magazine readers poll Best Radio Station of the Year award.  During the first few years of the award, Rolling Stone declined to release the exact number of votes that were cast in the poll – and our margin of victory.

It wasn’t until four years later that Rolling Stone released the actual voting numbers – and it was a rude awakening as to how few votes were cast in total.  That year, 1983, WMMS won with 476 votesKLOL/Houston, which did a massive campaign – and had erroneously gone on their air to claim they’d “beaten the Buzzard,” came in second with 345.  WNEW-FM/New York was third with 286, KROQ/Los Angeles, which had adopted a tightly rotated “new wave/modern music” format was fourth with 199, and WMMR/Philadelphia was fifth with 182.

Though stunned by the low number of votes in total, we were victorious over stations in markets with populations far larger than Cleveland.

Walls of the Buzzard!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on January 17, 2010 by John Gorman

L to R: Matt the Cat, Betty Korvan, Joel Frensdorf (WMMS sales), John Gorman, Debbie Ullman, Jeff Kinzbach, Denny Sanders, Kid Leo, Bob Zurich (RCA Records)

In 1974, when our WMMS promotion budget consisted only of our wit and ingenuity, we searched for every opportunity to make our proposed Buzzard logo visible (it had not been officially sanctioned by Malrite corporate at that time).

Our best shot at visibility came from a deal we cut with Shelly Tirk, owner of the Music Grotto record store on Euclid Avenue, across the street from Cleveland State University. He allowed us to add a huge Buzzard on the side of his building.  The record labels took turns in leasing the Music Grotto’s west-facing side wall to paint building-size reproductions of current album covers.  Because WMMS was the only station regularly programming their product – and since we had no promotion budget to speak of, I proposed that the labels pay for the Buzzard art as well.

The deal provided our Buzzard, perched on a mushroom, a permanent roosting place, and gave WMMS its first billboard – a prominent one.

Years later, we continued our search for buildings we could paint our Buzzard logo on.   For a few years, we had the back of a building Triskett, which faced the then-newly completed I-90.

When Cleveland State University expansion caused the urban removal of Music Grotto, we located a new site for a downtown/Cleveland State wall – on the side of a three-story building next to the Holiday Inn on Euclid and East 21st.

Buzzards and a Byrd

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on January 13, 2010 by John Gorman

L to R: Matt the Cat, Jeff Kinzbach, Denny Sanders, Murray Saul, John Gorman, Roger McGuinn, Annette Salvatore (programming asst.), Charlie Kendall

I was a fan Roger McGuinn’s music and managed to see every incarnation of the Byrds (except for the original five – with Gene Clark) from the mid-sixties through the early seventies.   One of the advantages of working at a rock and roll station was getting to meet most of the artists that helped shape our musical tastes.   The final incarnation of the Byrds had broken up prior to my joining WMMS – but Roger McGuinn, now performing as a solo artist, was a frequent visitor to the station.   This photo in the parking lot of our 50th & Euclid building, was taken during a station visit and guest on-air performance from sometime in mid-1975.
While there, I asked him if he ever considered collaborating with Bob Dylan, whose music the Byrds often covered through the years.   He replied something about “Dylan being Dylan” and that he’d been in the business long enough to know that anything was possible.   A few months later, Roger McGuinn did reunite with Bob Dylan – as part of an all-star touring cast, which included a diverse collection of musicians from guitarist Mick Ronson to folk singer Ramblin’ Jack Elliot for his 1975-1976 Rolling Thunder Revue tour.


The Home of the Buzzard meets the House that Hefner built

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on January 4, 2010 by John Gorman

Long before sexting and amateur porn, there was Playboy magazine.  Given that our male demographics matched Playboy’s, we had a solid rapport with the house that Hefner built.

On one instance, we co-sponsored – with Playboy – a special “Girls of Cleveland” photo spread in their August, 1978 issue – using WMMS as the mail and drop-off point for interested participants.  Tough as it was, we agreed to assist in judging.   And we had thousands of entries from interested women from Greater Cleveland submitting sample photos.

When Playboy approached us on the promotion, we asked for a 24 hour window to confirm our co-sponsorship. The following morning Jeff Kinzbach and Ed “Flash” Ferenc opened the phone lines and asked our listeners – particularly women – if they would be offended by WMMS participation in the “Girls of Cleveland” promotion.  The vast majority of callers – over 90 percent – found no problem with it.

When the seven finalists were selected for the “Girls of Cleveland” spread – Jeff Kinzbach drew the lucky straw and accompanied them to dinner.

One of the winners was Nina Blackwood (second from right in photo). She parlayed her Buzzard brush with fame by moving to Los Angeles to study acting at the Lee Stasberg Institute. That led to a few bit parts in TV and film -  and being chosen as one of the original MTV VJs the same year.

Playboy also picked one of our Buzzard jerseys as T-shirt of the month in their June, 1980 issue.

Click photos to enlarge

Boom!

Posted in Buzzard on December 28, 2009 by John Gorman

I’m involved in a new project as consultant to Cleveland’s newest radio station – Boom! 107.3. It’s locally owned, operated, and programmed.

Over the next week or two you’ll hear some familiar local voices on Boom! Its format is what the industry calls Triple A – Adult Album Alternative.

Boom! has a short but interesting history.  It started as an Internet radio station. Boom! made its debut at 12noon, Monday.

You can also hear Boom! on line by clicking here.

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