Archive for September, 2009

More 1979 interviews – Walt Tiburski, Tom O’Brien and Heart on the cover of RMR Magazine

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on September 28, 2009 by John Gorman

Here are more vintage interviews with WMMS staffers from Radio Music Report.

This issue included an interview with Walt Tiburski, who had risen in the Buzzard ranks from Sales Manager to National Sales Manager to Vice President/General Manager of WMMS between the early seventies and mid-eighties.   In late 1984, with the Buzzard’s blessing, Walt and his partners launched WIN Communications and purchased WQAL/Cleveland and a number of other stations in the U.S., which were later sold to M-L Media. At the time of this interview Walt had been GM of WMMS for nine months.

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When Jeff Kinzbach took over hosting the WMMS Morning Show, with Ed “Flash” Ferenc, which later evolved into the Buzzard Morning Zoo, his successor as production director had to be found.   It was a challenging position to fill.  Jeff’s unique, creative production provided WMMS its inimitable sound – as well as some of its most memorable radio commercials and promotional announcements.   After listening to hundreds of demo tapes, we found Tom O’Brien, from WNBC/New York. He joined WMMS in June ’78 – during our year-long 10th Anniversary celebration.  From that time on, Tom provided the unduplicated aural backdrop of WMMS’s sound.

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When we began playing Heart’s first album, Dreamboat Annie in 1975, they were unheard of outside of their native Seattle and Vancouver region.  Promoter Bruce Bird delivered a copy of the album, then a Canadian import on a small independent label, Mushroom Records, which we added immediately.  Within days “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man” became two of our most-requested tracks.  Until the album was officially released in the U.S., the Canadian Mushroom label shipped thousands of copies of Dreamboat Annie to Progress Distributors in Cleveland to stock area stores.   It immediately became a top five selling album. One of Heart’s first dates outside of the Seattle-Vancouver axis was a WMMS sponsored show in Cleveland.

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Brian Chalmers Tribute announced

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on September 24, 2009 by John Gorman

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Just a few short months ago we tragically lost a great friend to us all. Brain Chalmers will always be in our hearts and our memories, his artwork will live on and the stories that made us smile will be repeated over and over between us.

On Saturday October 10, 2009 Teaser would like to invite everyone to come and pay tribute to Brian at the Parma Tavern, raise our glasses and have a toast to our friend and Brother.

Hope to see you all there

Tony Lupica

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Teaser is hosting this event on the west side. Brian’s brother Mark has been their drummer for about 32 years and Brian drew their logo in the 70’s.

Maybe some local NRHS classmates could make it there.

If out of town classmates are going to be nearby and for all the locals who don’t know the address:

Parma Tavern 5680 Broadview Road Parma, Ohio 44134. 216-635-1800

The band usually starts between 9 and 10.

Eric Bruggemeier

More on Brian here, here, and here

The abridged story of the Buzzard from the Cleveland Press, Sept. 29, 1977

Posted in Buzzard on September 20, 2009 by John Gorman

Until June 1982 Cleveland was a two newspaper city.

Both the Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Press featured Friday tabloid-size entertainment magazines.  Jane Scott was the primary music and radio writer for the Plain Dealer’s Friday magazine while Bruno Bornino and Harriet Peters handled those duties for the Press.

The formats of the two Friday supplements were nearly identical.

This Bruno Bornino-written piece appeared in the Friday, September 29, 1977 Cleveland Press.

By this time we already had over a million WMMS Buzzard items in circulation – from bumper stickers to T-shirts and jerseys.   We were also outselling Indians, Browns, and Cavs merchandise.

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BUZZARD BOOK COVER SMALLMore on the birth of the Buzzard can be found in The Buzzard, Chapter 7

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Kid Leo & Jeff Kinzbach interviews from February 1979

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on September 15, 2009 by John Gorman

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Here are a couple of interviews from the weekly national radio station-music business trade magazine Radio Music Report.

In the late ‘70s through the mid ‘80s we had over a dozen trade papers serving the record and radio industries.  One of them, Radio Music Report, was run by Chuck Dunaway, the renowned top 40 programmer from the 60s and early 70s.  Chuck programmed WIXY-1260/Cleveland during its peak years.  As radio evolved to FM, Chuck moved into publishing and created RMR.

We were coming off of an extraordinary year – 1978. It was our celebrated 10th Anniversary and our staff worked around the clock – at times seven days a week – to create a solid 12 months of innovative radio programming that could never be imitated or duplicated.   Though 1978 will always be known for that Bruce Springsteen concert broadcast at the Agora, we’d also broken new ground with our first Buzzard Beatles Blitz production (the second ran in 1980 with additional material).  We had not only achieved – we went well beyond the goals we set for our 10th Anniversary – and now, in 1979, we were faced with one vital question – What do we do for an encore?

Little did we know that in 1978 we were just warming up.

This is from the February 19, 1979 issue of RMR featuring interviews with Kid Leo and Jeff Kinzbach.

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When the rock classics were current

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media on September 10, 2009 by John Gorman

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Each week we’d call and survey dozens of record stores – both independently owned and operated businesses and regional and national chains throughout the Greater Cleveland, Akron, and Canton.

You may remember some of the names: Record Revolution, Camelot, Record Theater, Quonset Hut, Record Rendezvous, Melody Lane, Music Grotto, and Cosmic Records.

We compiled the sales of albums we were playing and produced this chart and song list based on both sales and airplay.  This list was then made available to our staff, all stores participating in the research, along with the record labels, and radio and record business trade papers and magazines.

The Adds were new albums we added that week and Up and Coming were previously added albums that were beginning to get response on-air, at retail, or both.

The second page incorporated our top ten most popular tracks for the week, which typically – but not always corresponded with the artist’s current single release.

We also played a noteworthy number of imports – albums and singles that were released outside – but not in the U.S. On Sunday nights at midnight, we featured a long-running Import Hour, which highlighted the best of the new releases.

Rediscoveries were usually from albums that had been released anywhere from nine months to a year ago – but occasionally included artists whose earlier works had been “rediscovered” and requested because of a new release sparking memories of previously released material.

Advance releases were new tracks we were playing from albums, which hadn’t been officially released.  Often labels would release an advance track or two ahead of an official album debut.

This list features the current music we were playing thirty years ago this past July.  Programming assistant Rhonda Kiefer was in charge of the survey.  This particular one was compiled by Lori Marcus.

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How the Rock Hall was won.

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on September 8, 2009 by John Gorman

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Though it’s extensively covered in Chapter 29 in The Buzzard as well as here, and what started the campaign in the first place, here, a friend recently found a piece from a May 9,  1986 issue of Radio & Records, which announced Cleveland winning (contingent upon raising $20 million from the public and private sector) the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Anyone living in Cleveland at that time remembers how the entire region was galvanized to bring the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to this city.

What made the campaign successful was that it was presented to both the government and the citizens of Greater Cleveland simultaneously.

Had we presented it to only one or the other, the Rock Hall campaign would’ve been buried alive by the political morass that habitually beats new proposals to death in this region before they’re even formally introduced. Page through Tech Czar Michael DeAloia’s Cool History of Cleveland for specifics.

It gave our regional constituency the voice to make their opinions known to elected officials that this was a project that Cleveland had to fulfill.

Cleveland was the most competitive radio market in America in the 70s and 80s – much of it having to do with a limited number of advertising dollars.   The television market was always undervalued – and stations charged far less than they should have for advertising.  This, in turn, devalued radio advertising.  To win the Rock Hall everyone radio station – no matter how deep the hatred – had to bury the hatchet and work collectively to bringing it here.

At the time of this announcement, the proposed site for the Rock Hall was to be part of the Tower City complex, along with a Neiman-Marcus department store.

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With only a minor skirmish here and there, local radio was unified in bringing the Rock Hall to Cleveland.

This piece from Radio & Records shows how the project was covered nationally to the radio and record industry.

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For more on the how the Rock Hall was won see Chapter 24 in The Buzzard

24 years ago – Labor Day Weekend – The Buzzard/Baboon War ends!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on September 2, 2009 by John Gorman

000_01711We looked forward to our long three-day summer weekends: Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. We’d kick our programming and weekend specials up a few notches to guarantee a solid soundtrack for our listeners.   On Friday nights, we’d do eight hours of live music from the WMMS archives.  It provided us the occasion to dig into our library and find live versions of our most requested tracks.

On Saturdays, it was regular programming with a slight twist.  We’d toss in a few surprises and go off format a bit to pull out what we called “oh wow!” tracks – songs that hadn’t been heard for awhile – and we’d encourage our listeners to call in and request their forgotten favorites.

On Sundays, we’d extend Boom’s Solid Gold Sunday Morning to a full day of rock and R&B oldies from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.  We’d even add a touch of reverb to give the programming a genuine feel.

On Mondays, it was a full “all-request day” with our Sunday night line-up of concerts and specials moved to Monday evening.

When we declared war on WGCL on Memorial Day Weekend 1985, our goal to rid Cleveland of that Baboon-infested radio programming department by Labor Day Weekend.

The backstory on how it started: CLICK HERE.

Our beef with WGCL was not with their airstaff – but their program management.  They reported to trade papers that they were playing songs they weren’t – pop, bubblegum, and dance hits – when they were actually playing a rock and roll hits and going song-to-song against us.  Their music was closer to that of a rock station than top 40, which they claimed they were to the trades. The labels often treated top 40 stations better than rock stations because they played more current music in a higher rotation – and they were getting promotions, like the Slade concert, from labels, which they didn’t deserve.  Other times they would try to block us from getting a Coffee Break Concert or other free appreciation day concert performer by threatening to pull all product from the performer’s label.  The technology to monitor radio stations for accuracy in reporting had not been invented.  Stations were on an honor system and we felt WGCL was anything but honorable.

We took our war on the air and openly attacked WGCL. Our weekly radio play, The Temple of Baboons, was based on real-life events taking place at WGCL, which were being leaked to us by dissatisfied employees at the station and record label promoters who were tiring of the station’s payola policies.

We didn’t schedule the episodes.  Whenever we had enough updated content, we’d produce one up and run it the next morning on the Buzzard Morning Zoo.

The episodes’ gist became too hot to handle for the management of WGCL.  The insinuation of payola and other improprieties began to affect their reputation and sales.

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Through a political connection, WGCL had secured sponsorship for the three long summer holiday weekend parties in the parkThe Labor Day weekend party was scheduled for Burke Lakefront Airport as a kick-off to the weekend’s Cleveland National Air Show.

On that Friday morning before Labor Day, Kim Colebrook, the general manager of WGCL fired program director Bob Travis. We had realized the goal we had set on Memorial Day weekend – to have Travis out of WGCL by the end of the summer.

We presented our final Temple of Baboons episode, the sacking of Bob Travis, on the Wednesday after Labor Day.  In it, we sent Bob Travis to Hell, where he was forced to listen to a tape loop of WGCL playing Slade’s “My Oh My” for eternity.

Though we have not been able to locate the audio of that final episode, we present a free download of the episode that preceded it that ran a couple of day before that fateful Labor Day Friday.

The post-Bob Travis new WGCL debuted almost immediately.  The station hired consultant Randy Michaels (later best known for his association with Clear Channel and Sam Zell’s Tribune Corp. disasters) and C.C. Matthews, his close friend, as program director.  The playlist was slashed to 20 current tracks in high rotation.  From that point on WGCL’s music practices were under close scrutiny.

We had beaten our rivals.  It was our best summer, and we were having a record-breaking year.

Download the Temple of Baboons episode here

BUZZARD BOOK COVER SMALLMuch more on the most vicious radio war in Cleveland can be found in Chapter 25 of The Buzzard

Special thanks to Jim Davison for successfully dubbing the cassette’s contents and Chuck Matthews for housing it.