Archive for March, 2008

A message from Ed “Flash” Ferenc

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on March 28, 2008 by John Gorman

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WMMS was a big part of my life, over 21 years.  Now the rest of my life will be about MS–Multiple Sclerosis.

I really didn’t know very much about this disease until one of my daughters, Stephanie, started complaining about a numbness in her arms and legs.  The doctor said it could be MS and sure enough, after a number of tests, which included a spinal tap, his diagnosis was correct. Just to be sure, we asked for more opinions and all agreed–it’s MS.   

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The good news is we caught it very early.  MS is treatable and so far Stephanie is reacting fairly well to the medicine, Avonex.  That’s another story all by itself.  This drug costs $1,800/month and I am very fortunate to have wonderful health coverage, but what happens when she’s on her own?  And what about others with poor coverage or none at all?  It’s sad, it’s scary, and it’s very real.

I also need to tell you Stephanie has a twin sister, Rachael, and the odds are she has a 50% chance of developing MS in her lifetime.  Needless to say, all this, which hit us like a ton of bricks in the past 2 months, has left our heads spinning.

But we’re also remaining very supportive of Stephanie and very optimistic for what the future holds.
 

There is a lot of research being done and much of it right here in Cleveland.  We just need to keep moving and the best way to start is to get involved in the MSOhio Walk, which takes place in downtown Cleveland Saturday, April 26th. 

You can find out more at www.msohiowalk.org or better yet, join my team–MS for “Motivate Stephanie”  

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/Flash 

Sincerely,

Ed “Flash” Ferenc

More WMMS IDs from Peter Wolf, David Lee Roth, and Ted Nugent

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on March 24, 2008 by John Gorman

In our earlier days, most acts were willing to do endorsements using some variation of “whenever I’m in Cleveland, I listen to WMMS.”  That changed when M-105, G98, and other stations threatened not to play certain artists that endorsed us.   

The labels swiftly created a politically correct way for their artists to do what amounted to a generic ID for every station: “I’m (name) and you’re listening to (station).” 

Some labels tried to make this standard operating procedure – and label guys would try to be around our production studio when their artists cut IDs. So we had to get creative.   If the artist knew the station or knew of the station – we’d distract the label guy while the artist cut an ID.  We’d then encourage the artist to do their IDs in whatever style they’d prefer – and encouraged that the more off-beat it was the more often it would get played.    If we had time to spare, we’d try to get the artist to cut seasonal IDs….Christmas, New Year’s – anything.

peter-wolf.jpgPeter Wolf had a lengthy history with WMMS (even longer with me – going back to when we lived in the same apartment building in Cambridge, Mass.).   In the late sixties, Peter Wolf also moonlighted as an all-night announcer on WBCN/Boston, where he an incredible blend of fifties and sixties rhythm and blues – so he had his radio chops down (I must add that Wolf is my second favorite all-night radio announcer of all time). Over the years Wolf cut many IDs for WMMS – all in his trademark Woofer-Goofer-Mama-Toofer style.   This one, the first one of his found so far, was cut in 1984, not long after he left the J. Geils Band.  He had just released his first solo album, Lights Out, when he recorded this ID.

david-lee-roth.jpgDavid Lee Roth had cut this ID at WMMS back in the late seventies.  When he parted ways with Van Halen, we edited out the “…of Van Halen” from the ID.

 ted-nugent.jpgAnd there is only one Ted Nugent.  Cleveland was the first city outside of his home base Detroit where his 1973 and 1974 version Amboy Dukes material received airplay.   His albums Call of the Wild and Tooth, Fang and Claw received respectable airplay on WMMS – and the band played Cleveland often.  When his first solo album (Ted Nugent) was released in 1975, which broke him nationally, he was already deep-rooted in these parts.

WMMS ID: Peter Wolf

Posted in Buzzard Audio on March 21, 2008 by Chris

WMMS ID: David Lee Roth

Posted in Buzzard Audio on March 21, 2008 by Chris

WMMS ID: Ted Nugent

Posted in Buzzard Audio on March 21, 2008 by Chris

In search of “Dave, W. Blvd.”

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on March 17, 2008 by John Gorman

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The story of the Buzzard becoming the mascot/icon of WMMS is a long one.  That’s why I wrote the book (hint). 

What isn’t in the book is the angry letter David Helton sent to WMMS in the form of a comic strip.David’s complaint was one of many we received from listeners that believed we had censored the second half-hour of the syndicated National Lampoon Radio Hour. 

It had been cut to a weekly half-hour show following the pull-out of 7-Up, one of the show’s major sponsors, following the Lampoon Hour’s “Richard Nixon Impeachment Special.”

We received David’s comic strip letter at the same time Denny Sanders and I were trying to find an artist that could put life into this mythical Buzzard mascot that was inspired by a drive through the desolation row of Euclid Avenue between East 55th and East 105th.   But how do we find someone whose return address is Dave, W.Blvd?

The rest of the story is in The Buzzard, Chapter 7

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on March 14, 2008 by John Gorman

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Buzzard goes NPR!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on March 14, 2008 by John Gorman

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National Public Radio’s All Things Considered  carried a piece on WMMS and Cleveland rock and roll in the seventies and eighties this past Saturday.   The story is here. Audio is here.   

A Len “Boom” Goldberg real-life adventure

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on March 11, 2008 by John Gorman

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Having David Helton on staff allowed us to create artwork in an instant to complement our programming and promotion.

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But not all of our artwork was for outside consumption. 

We had a series of in-house, staff-only comic books, the Buzzard News, which frequently recapped real-life events in a cartoon style.

Inspiration for the Buzzard News was everywhere.

In preparing for an airshift, everyone had their own style. Some, like Denny Sanders, could run in the studio a half-second before his shift and be ready for it. Others like Len “Boom” Goldberg did not like to rush. He preferred showing up fifteen to twenty minutes early to “get into the groove.”

In addition to being the voice of WMMS on all IDs and sweeps, Boom had two regular weekend shifts: Saturday from six to noon and the Solid Gold Sunday Morning oldies show from nine to noon – or as he put it, “…the Boom ‘til noon.”

On occasion, there would be a vacation shift or a sick day to fill – or a last-minute emergency – and Boom would be one of those called into action to fill the shift.

There was one occasion when Boom was asked to fill in for Denny’s evening six to ten shift. Our reception area closed at 5 PM. After that, one had to use a key to enter the facility. We had moved from our uptown windowless bunker at 50th and Euclid to a new facility downtown at the Cleveland Plaza at 12th and Euclid.

The six-story parking garage was located next to the building. To get from the garage to the Plaza one had to take the elevator to the first floor, cross into the building and take Plaza elevator to the 12th floor.

At the time of this story, the Cleveland Plaza was a combination hotel and office building.

The parking lot wasn’t cheap – and the cost of a fixed parking spot was prohibitive for most – so finding a parking space was a chore – especially when the hotel was hosting a convention or special event.

This incident happened exactly as illustrated.

More on the Buzzard News in the photo section and chapter 7 of The Buzzard

Soundwaves bounce back!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on March 6, 2008 by John Gorman

We didn’t have a marketing budget – period.   Existing promotional dollars were funneled to the promotion of WHK’s dreadful “cover hits” format.

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In the fall of 1973 – hallelujah I got approval to run one quarter-page paid print ad – for the National Lampoon Radio Hour’s “Richard Nixon Impeachment Special.”  It ran in Scene’s December 26th issue, promoting the Sunday, December 29th show.  Since it was a throw-away holiday week issue, we got a low-ball rate for the ad.   The ad design came from National Lampoon.  We added the call letters and frequency to the slick using old Letraset sheets we found in a storeroom.

The Lampoon Hour featured a cast, which included Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and Michael O’Donahue, and was the radio precursor to Saturday Night Live.

Around the same period we were pitched by a new alternative bi-weekly, Zeppelin, which guaranteed a full Scene-competitive distribution of the paper throughout Greater Cleveland.  Their debut issue was planned for the second week of January, 1974.   We worked out a trade deal – where we would run a number of radio spots in exchange for a full-page ad.  One problem.  We had to come up with the artwork and design.

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I approached Walt Tiburski, who was sales manager of WMMS at the time, and whose sister Judy designed the “mushroom” logo.  We asked if she could handle artwork for a full-page ad in Zeppelin. 

Due to other commitments, she was unavailable.  Walt suggested Greg Souchik, a staff artist for the Tokyo-Shapiro audio chain.   I didn’t have the means to pay him – but worked out a deal where he’d do it for albums and concert tickets.  Denny Sanders and I designed a full-page ad with the headline YOUR TOWER OF POWER and I sketched-up stick-figure illustrations of a radio tower shooting out lightning bolts.   When we learned the slogan was copyrighted by a religious group, we came up with an alternate, SOUNDWAVES BOUNCE BACK.

I added notations for caricatures of the air staff to be placed in individual circles around the tower and provided Souchik with photos to work from.  

At that time our line up was:

6-10 AM – Debbie Ullman

10 AM – 2 PM – Len Goldberg

2 PM – 6 PM – David Spero

6 PM – 10 PM – Denny Sanders

10 PM – 2 AM – Steve Lushbaugh

2 AM – 6 AM – Kid Leo

Weekend shifts and vacation fill-in:  Matt the Cat

The end result – our first full-page – and pre-Buzzard print ad is here:

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More on the WMMS promotion and marketing history in Chapter 7 of The Buzzard

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