Archive for May, 2009

Murray Saul & Denny Sanders – Time waits for no one: the comic

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on May 26, 2009 by John Gorman


Here’s a slightly embellished true story from the mid-’70s.

This in-house comic by David Helton is about Murray Saul’s problematic alarm clock radio.  The alarm worked but the radio didn’t, which was unacceptable to Murray. He wanted to wake up to WMMS.

Denny Sanders heard of Murray’s quandary. Being a fix-it specialist of broken radios he stopped by Murray’s apartment on Euclid Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights, to make required repairs to this troublesome alarm clock radio.

At the time Denny lived in an apartment building almost directly behind Murray’s on Lancashire Road, which is why Denny enters and exits through the window.

Though Murray did the Friday Get Down and the We, the People and Jabberwocky public affairs programs for the programming side of WMMS, he also doubled as a salesperson for the station.

One the same day Walt Tiburski, the WMMS sales manager, called Murray to inform him of an imperative sales meeting the following morning.

The comic tells the story.

A subsequent visit by Denny to Murray’s confirmed that Denny had fixed the radio – and that Murray had forgotten to reset the alarm.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on May 22, 2009 by John Gorman

Here’s a print ad by David Helton that appeared in the Plain Dealer and Scene magazine in the early eighties.

Memorial Day weekend is when we’d unleash our summer slogans (“the station that reaches the beaches…..”) and sweeps (“time to turn so you won’t burn”).  We’d sprinkle in a number of timeless summertime oldies from the sixties and early seventies.

Most radio stations used Memorial Day weekend and other long holiday weekends to put their programming on automatic pilot.    Some stations would do top 100 song countdowns while others would carry special syndicated programming.  Rarely did a radio station put their full-time staff on during these weekends.  Most radio stations didn’t sound like themselves – or their usual format – on holiday weekends.

We considered long weekends in a different way.  In fact, we viewed our weekend programming – every weekend – to be as equally crucial and promotable as our weekdays.  It’s why we saved our prime giveaways for the weekend.  It’s why we always secured a “world premiere exclusive,” a major album that our competition didn’t have.  We’d commence promoting our weekend programming and Sunday night specials starting on Wednesday.

We believed that the radio station “owning” Memorial Day weekend would be the most listened to radio station of the summer.

It’s true that radio stations generate far more revenue on weekdays than weekends – a reason why some stations measured weekend programming as less significant. We viewed WMMS as this living, breathing 24-hour entity where sleep was out of the question.

Our listeners were different and demanded a rock and roll soundtrack around the clock.   Old Arbitron ratings showed WMMS to have over 60 percent of all people listening to the radio on Saturday night, for example. Day or night, weekday or weekend – if there was an audience obtainable – no matter how large or small – we wanted them listening to us.

For the long three-day summer weekends, we had integral contingency plans, which included the music we’d play, the ID’s and sweeps we’d use, and how we would stage and present the overall soundtrack for our listeners.   We’d gauge whether our listeners were indoors or out, mobile or at home.  It helped outline our music selection. Music for a rainy day, when most were stuck indoors would differ from a hot, sunny, summer day.

The print ads were done a week ahead of time to meet the papers’ early to mid-week deadlines.   This particular weekend we were planning to spotlight some rare live Beatles and Rolling Stones live and studio recordings we’d manage to secure.  We always tried to include music that was not accessible – or at least difficult-to-find in our programming.  It was, to paraphrase Tom Waits, our way or providing our listeners “with a little something they can’t get at home.”

Here’s hoping for a flamethrowin’, hot rockin’, sunny summertime Memorial Day weekend.

Video: Kid Leo on WMMS, November 1985

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Video on May 18, 2009 by John Gorman

Here’s Kid Leo on WMMS in a video aircheck from November 1985.

A sizable number of the current songs we were playing that year came from movie soundtracks.  On this brief aircheck, you’ll hear the intro to two: John Hyatt’s “Snake Charmer” from the soundtrack to White Nights and a now classic James Brown, one of the three soul surviving comeback artists of the year (Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner being the other two) with “Livin’ in America” from the Rocky IV soundtrack.  Leo’s intro to James Brown is worth the price of your Broadband bill.

It was also the year when David Lee Roth vacated Van Halen and anticipation was building on how a radically different style singer, Sammy Hagar, would take over Roth’s roll as lead singer.

It’s the widest variety of rock and roll from that year encapsulated in a two-minute vintage video from Kid Leo on WMMS.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss quick cameos from Matt the Cat and Denny Sanders.

Taurus Party Invitations

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on May 16, 2009 by John Gorman

TAURUS  10_0001_NEW


These confirm that if you were at a Taurus Party and didn’t remember it, you were definitely there.  To correct an earlier post, the eighth – as well as the ninth and tenth Taurus Parties were held at Sachsenheim Hall in Cleveland.

I was going through some old files and came across these original invites to the Taurus Parties with artwork by David Helton.

Though the tenth was billed as the final Taurus Party, the tradition, too good to retire, was carried on by others.  Prepare for Taurus XXXV in 2010.

Ed “Flash” Ferenc: Why we fight MS

Posted in Buzzard on May 13, 2009 by John Gorman


Stephanie Ferenc, one year later.

It’s hard to believe over a year has passed since we learned that my daughter Stephanie, at the young age of 18, was diagnosed with MS, Multiple Sclerosis.

Granted, it has been very difficult for her and all of us to accept that she had this disease, but what a trooper she has become! Yes there have been setbacks, but also there’s been progress and with progress, there is hope. Throughout it all, she has held her head high, followed her doctors orders and is doing everything possible to lead her life as normal as possible.

Stephanie is now a student at Ohio State University with a 3.7 GPA. She’s planning a career around her artistic skills, perhaps Art Therapy, so she can help others cope with diseases like MS. This summer she plans to volunteer at a local non-profit organization that helps the grieving through difficult times

Yes, she amazes all of us and will continue to do so.

And that’s why she’s the heart and soul of Motivate Steph, our team that will be in the MS Walk in this Cleveland Saturday, May 16th. Last year we raised over $14,000 — money that went to help find a cure for MS and help others with the disease that do not enjoy the comprehensive medical coverage we have to cover the high costs of the medicines now on the market specifically for MS patients.

Together we can fight MS and yes we can win.

For more information please CLICK HERE and HERE


The Taurus Party

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on May 11, 2009 by John Gorman

Though it was never a formally sanctioned event of WMMS, the annual Taurus Party was directly aligned to the station.

34 years ago, when most of us were in our early-to-mid 20’s, we’d look for any motive to throw a party- and there were many.  Most were impromptu; few had a theme.  The Taurus Party was an exception.

It appeared – and was undeniably exploited – that a large number of those working at or with WMMS were born under the sign of Taurus the Bull – between April 20 and May 20.   Matt the Cat, Betty Korvan, and Murray Saul were among the staff Tauruses.

During that time, Murray Saul lived in a large three-bedroom apartment on Euclid Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights, just a few doors down from the old Heights Art Theater. One of Murray’s two roommates was also a Taurus.

I was also born under the sign of Taurus and Murray, his roommates, and I decided a party should be thrown that would fall on the second Saturday in May. It became an annual event.  The first few Taurus Parties were held at the Euclid Heights Blvd. address. Dan Garfinkel, our promotion and marketing director, and his roommate, lived across the hall in an equally sized mirror-image apartment, which handled spillage from the main party across the hall.

When Murray and his roommates gave up the apartment, the Taurus Party moved to various locations around Cleveland. Jane Scott, also a Taurus, covered the Taurus Parties in her Plain Dealer column.   National radio and music business trade magazines started writing about it as “the place to be.”

TAURUS-PLAIN DEALERThough Murray left WMMS years earlier, he returned every May to deliver an annual Taurus “Get Down” on the Friday night before the party.

The ninth and tenth Taurus Parties had grown so large that they were held in Sachsenheim Hall on the near west side of Cleveland.

After the tenth, Murray and I called it quits and offered the custodianship of the Taurus Party to anyone wanting to carry on the tradition.

Thirty-four years and many custodians later, the Taurus Party tradition continues.


Video: Mr. Leonard on the Buzzard Morning Zoo

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Video on May 5, 2009 by John Gorman

Earlier that September ’85 morning on the Buzzard Morning Zoo, head zookeeper Jeff Kinzbach made mention of an anti-depressant with an unusual side effect.    Some users experienced an orgasm while yawning.   That story was referenced throughout the morning show, including this phone call from assistant public service director Mr. Leonard. 

Mr. Leonard was one of the most popular characters on the Buzzard Morning Zoo. He was billed as the “assistant public service director” of WMMS, never showed up for work, and all of his bits were done on the phone.   The Mr. Leonard character had a high-pitched voice, gave bad advice, and would do virtual interviews in the role of eccentric caller or, ultimately, sidekick.   When he called in during a celebrity interview, he’d always ask, “How much money do you make?”  He was irreverent, smart, and made a lot of wel0-deserved money. 

I first heard Mr. Leonard on John Lander’s top-rated morning show at KKBQ/Houston, a rival station to KSRR (K-Star), which Malrite had recently acquired from Cap Cities/ABC.  The character was the creation of John Carrillo who went by the on-air name of John Rio on KKBQ.   I was impressed enough to steal Rio, who was not under contract at KKBQ, for our station.  Under a separate deal, he was already doing morning show bits for Scott Shannon at Z-100/New York, which Malrite also owned, and this put him firmly in our camp.  Suits and countersuits between KSRR and KKBQ followed and were quickly settled and Rio relocated from Houston to Cleveland in late 1986. 

Also featured in this video: Ed “Flash” Ferenc, Len “Boom” Goldberg, and Captain Kenny Clean.