St. Patrick’s Day, Buzzard-style, 1983

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At WMMS we worked hard, played hard, and we also knew how to throw a party.  And when it came to St. Patrick’s Day, we went all out to be the most visible and most partying radio station in Cleveland.

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It was 1983. I had just gotten back after a week in Jamaica with Jeff and Flash (“We’re going to Ja-mai-ca!”)   and a plane full of listeners-gone-wild. We were planning our 15th Anniversary with a series of free concerts and events. With digital frequency radios becoming commonplace we were officially re-identifying ourselves by our true frequency-100.7 frequency.  We got a tip that David Bowie’s management hired a p.i. to learn how we got an exclusive of Let’s Dance, his first album for EMI Records, over a month before its scheduled release  (they never found out).     We also procured a copy of Pink Floyd’s controversal The Final Cut, which we planned to premiere that weekend, which would put still another label, this time Columbia, in a lather.

WLYT, which changed call letters to WRQC for 92 ROCK and its format to rock had changed again – this time to a cutting-edge modern music format, which shared about 40 percent of our playlist.  To head them off at the pass, programming assistant Rhonda Kiefer suggested using our call letters as an acronym for “We’re your Modern Music Station” on some IDs, which we did. (Other acronyms included “Where Music Means Something” and “Weed Makes Me Smile.”)

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On St. Patrick’s Day, the Buzzard was 100.7-proof Irish.   We opened the top of every hour with an Irish-oriented song.  Among them, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” by Wings; “Come on Eileen and “Celtic Soul Brothers” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Luck of the Irish” by John Lennon, Van Morrison’s “Tura Lura Lura” from the Last Waltz, “Wasn’t that a Party” by the (Irish) Rovers, and, of course, lots of U2.  Their breakthrough album, War, had become one of the top-selling albums in Cleveland – and there was a lot of anticipation for their upcoming sold-out concert at Music Hall a few days after St. Patty’s Day.  

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Even our Len “Boom” Goldberg-voiced top of the hour IDs and sweeps were re-recorded by local Epic Records promoter Joe Carroll, an Irish native, who delivered them with a thick brogue.

(Joe would later become famous in Buzzard history for his “F-you personally” call regarding the lip-synching WGCL Slade concert two years later.)

St. Patty’s Day was on a Thursday that year – and considering the way Cleveland partied on March 17 – we considered it an early kick-off to the weekend.

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It probably started when I pulled out a bottle of Jameson’s Irish whiskey from the bottom draw of my desk that morning and passed it around to others to get into spirit, so to speak.   We had our Buzzard Van in the St. Patty’s Day parade and a number of us would be either be riding or walking along side of it.    For some of us, Boom included, it was their first time in the St. Patty’s Day parade.

From there is gets a bit hazy.  I recall that we almost got thrown out of the parade – en route – when Boom, who had a few shots of Jameson’s before the parade began, started inviting listeners to join us in the van.  Though we weren’t supposed to, a couple hundred Buzzard bumper stickers were passed out along the way.  Some of them ended up on traffic light poles and the sides of buildings.

When we got back to the station at the Statler Office Tower on Euclid and East 12th, the partying continued.  By 4 PM, we had two casualties from the Irish holy water: Boom, following an impromptu strip tease, passed out in the sales department and our production director, a hardy Irishman, Tom O’Brien, was sound asleep on the floor of the production studio with a bottle of Jameson cradled in his arm.  There was more, much more, actually – but I promised never to tell.

Let me put it this way. Not only did we play “Wasn’t that a Party” - we lived its lyrics that St. Patty’s Day, 1983.

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