What I didn’t expect was that The Buzzard and WMMS of that era would also inspire a regional band to write and record a song.
Jerry and lead singer Paul Sheehan grew up in Youngstown, which is on the fringe of the WMMS signal.
I’ll let Jerry tell the story:
When I was a kid growing up in Youngstown in the 70’s, I thought that Cleveland must be a pretty cool place since all of my favorite TV shows (Ghoulardi, Superhost, etc.) were only broadcast on the Cleveland stations.
By 1980, I was a teenager listening to WMMS and was convinced that Cleveland must be the coolest city on earth! The larger than life on-air personalities and the life changing rock-n-roll that emanated from the North Shore became an indelible part of my coming of age years.
So, when my bass player Jerry Camerlengo told me about John Gorman’s book last year, I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. Not only is “The Buzzard…” a great read for those of us who were fans of WMMS in the 70’s and early 80’s, it’s also a snapshot of what radio was like at the height of the rock-n-roll era, before Clear Channel.
While reading John’s book, I was trying to come up with lyrics to put to music that my guitarist Gary Jones had written. As I was listening to a section of the song over and over again, the phrase “You’re a Zero on the Dial / A Part of the Evil Empire” popped into my head during what would become the chorus to “Broken Radio.” I knew immediately that the song had to be about Clear Channel and how that corporation has devalued and homogenized something that meant so much to me and to so many other people as well.
There’s a section in the bridge of the song that we knew would be a perfect spot for a vintage WMMS audio sample. Murray Saul’s “Get Down” was the first thing we tried and it fit perfectly! Not only did the timing match up, but Murray also embodies the spirit of freedom and creativity that, thanks to Clear Channel, can’t be heard on terrestrial radio today. Enjoy!
Here’s a good chunk of the song. I’m not including the full version because it’ll be available on-line from iTunes and Amazon.com on October 31 and I’d like to see the band make a few bucks for their time and effort.