Though former WMMS programming assistant Rhonda Kiefer saved the files that benchmark of much of the station’s history between the early 70s through August 1986, a few unsolved mysteries remain.
Perhaps 90 percent of the programming and promotional decisions made at WMMS were done in two-minute hallway meetings, which were never logged or recorded.
One such incident was when we came up with the limited edition WMMS “Honk if you love Rock & Roll” bumper sticker.
Cleveland media had to work twice as hard for half as much. Greater Cleveland was struggling financially through most of the seventies and the eighties and its radio and TV advertising rates were far less than what she should have been for a market our size. With only so much money to go around, it made Cleveland a highly competitive media market.
I know saying we were a competitive bunch at WMMS is an understatement – but we had major goals to achieve. One was to be the number one radio station in Cleveland. The second was to be the top rock & roll station in America.
It would burn us to see a car a WMMS and M105 bumper sticker. We knew more people listened to us than them – but two bumper stickers for two different radio stations offered them equal billing. At least that’s the way we viewed it.
Every year, as spring approached, we would order our new WMMS bumper stickers. We also appreciated seeing listeners take our bumper stickers and customize them. But those WMMS on one side, M105 on the other car bumpers really pissed us off.
I can’t tell you what year it was because the decision to do a second bumper sticker that spring was never recorded in a note or a memo. It was one of those decisions that went from a quick hallway meeting idea to David Helton to design to a requisition to get them printed. We only did one run of them. I don’t even remember how many we printed.
The “Honk if you love Rock & Roll” was a satire on the “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper stickers that were popular around the same time.
We promoted them on the air with a very, very subtle dig at those who had M105 bumper stickers. We implied that the “Honk” stickers provided an opportunity to cover up a mistake.
The only paperwork I found related to the “Honk” bumper sticker was a script for a promotional spot that I recall was cut – but never ran.
It had controversial shock-jock Gary Dee from our sister station WHK playing the role of Jesus Christ.
Here’s the script:
Sound effect: Donkey bray. Light crowd noise.
First person: JESUS! Hey, that’s a new bumper sticker on your ass!
Dee as Jesus (in Gary Dee character): Blessed are the pure in Buzzard, for they shall hear WMMS. It’s the brand new WMMS “Honk if you love rock & roll” bumper sticker.
First person: Praise be thy Buzzard! That new sticker fills my soul with rock & roll.
Dee as Jesus: Verily say unto you, none will be saved unless they believe in my Buzzard. But those who believe in my Buzzard and display their WMMS bumper sticker, theirs will be the kingdom of Rock & Roll.”
First person: Ayyyyyyyy-men!
Dee as Jesus: That’s Amen and Hallelujah, boy.
Sound effect: Donkey bray
Dee as Jesus: Did you know that eleven out of twelve disciples display both WMMS stickers on their asses?
First person: Which one didn’t?
Dee as Jesus: Judas Iscariot. You can’t trust him. Woe to that man who betrays the Buzzard. It would be better for him if he had not been born.
First person: Hey, Jesus….while you’re at it. You mind turning some more water into wine?
Bash: And, hey, Chrrrrrist. I’ll do a brew.
Dee as Jesus: Hearken to the Buzzard. Display your WMMS Honk if you love Rock & Roll sticker and no one will persecute you, nor will anyone oppress you.
First person: JESUS! I pray I can get one. Where are they at?
TAG: Locations, self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HONK IF YOU LOVE ROCK & ROLL STICKER,” WMMS…..
Needless to say, the promo never ran.
Special thanks to John B. Nicholas for saving the sticker
Ed “Flash” Ferenc will be on WTAM/1100, Cleveland this Friday, March 27 from 3 to 7 PM EST. You can also listen on line, here.