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

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.


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4 Responses to “Jeff and Flash and the Buzzard Morning Zoo”

  1. [...] limited release has made it a much sought-after collector’s item.  Last month we gave you side one – here is side [...]

  2. Marc Baker Says:

    Now that’s what morning radio is suppose to be! They sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore. I blame stuck up feminists, and busy body activists for ruining morning radio! With the exception of ‘Bob & Tom’, and ‘John Boy & Billy’, morning radio has been neutered into nothing more than lame, bland, wussified pap where you either have a celebrity obsessed guy, and girl clucking about how irresistible Brad Pitt is, or two idiots who think they’re the next Howard Stern. Where’s the fun, and zany antics of morning radio? LONG LIVE THE MORNING ZOO!

  3. I grew up with WMMS and was particularly fond of Len Boom-Boom’s Saturday morning show (we listended to it at work). But nothing can ever take the place of Jeff & Flash. I stuck to the “Zoo” for years as a faithful listener. Their timing during the broadcast was so precision, it makes all other shows look like high school projects. Everything that has been captured here and in Gorman’s book brings back many memories, but little has been said about when Flash closed his newscast with a story and there would be a song played right afterward that had something to do with the news story. Either the title, lyrics… something in the song connected back to the story. Little thngs like that made the show what it was. I called in to the station many times and Jeff put me on the air to share a story, a joke, a request. Felt like family… and I miss them. Still today, nothing comes close to the Buzzard Morning Zoo.

  4. [...] is not Baboon Land”) based on popular songs of the time and a weekly radio play on the Buzzard Morning Zoo, which featured their program director Bobby (played by Spaceman Scott) and his assistant Phil [...]

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