Jeff and Flash and the Buzzard Morning Zoo
In 1986, Arista Records regionally released the Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo, featuring highlights and song parodies from our morning show from that year. The Buzzard Morning Zoo carried the largest share of morning drive audience of any station in the history of Cleveland radio. At its peak, one out of every five people listening to morning drive radio in Cleveland listened to the Buzzard Morning Zoo on WMMS.
The Zoo was always sold-out of commercial time well in advance. United Airlines paid $700 for a sixty-second spot to run in the Buzzard Morning Zoo to announce a new flight route. That’s over $1,300 in today’s dollars. Cleveland was market number 23 at the time but we were getting New York ad rates!
Jeff Kinzbach and Ed “Flash” Ferenc were already hitting their stride when John Lanigan, whose long-time morning show on WGAR dominated the market, left in 1984 for an offer-he-couldn’t-refuse from a station in Tampa owned by former WIXY (and later WNCX) owners Norman Wain and Bob Weiss. With Lanigan gone, we started picking up some of his audience – and knew it because we were unexpectedly getting requests for Exile’s “Kiss you all Over” and other mainstream hit songs that Lanigan and WGAR played. We added some of them, but only in morning drive, to attract the disenfranchised Lanigan audience. That audience was also introduced to Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and other WMMS morning show songs. Those familiar with Lanigan’s Flex Club were turned on to Blow Something Up and the Token Jokes.
We borrowed the “Morning Zoo“ moniker from our New York sister station Z-100, which borrowed it from WRBQ in Tampa, which borrowed it from a station in Australia. For us, the Zoo defined Jeff and Flash and their growing supporting cast of characters. Casey Coleman was added to do sports replacing WJW-TV colleague Dan Coughlin who moved to our AM station, WHK. Pat Brady covered traffic; Len “Boom” Goldberg became the official Zoo announcer, and Ruby Cheeks added a woman’s touch to what had been a male-driven show. Spaceman Scott, Astrologer Bruce R. and Captain Kenny Clean – and later, John Rio as Mr. Leonard rounded out the all-star cast.
L to R: Ed “Flash” Ferenc, John Gorman, Jeff Kinzbach, Gov. Dick Celeste, Ruby Cheeks
The Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo has been out of print for over twenty years and its limited release has made it a much sought-after collector’s item. It includes Ohio Governor Dick Celeste’s visit to the Zoo. Here is side one.