Radio & Records 1981 on the WMMS Buzzard and other station mascots
WMMS wasn’t the first station to have a mascot.
The earliest one I found was WOLF in Syracuse, NY back in 1961. Theirs was a…well, you know.
WMCA/New York launched the “good guys” in 1963 with a logo that was a precursor to the smiley face. Other stations around the U.S. picked up on calling their air talent “good guys” – minus the logo.
It’s safe to say that no radio station ever had a mascot quite like the Buzzard. It can also be said that it could’ve only happened here (though over the years other stations began using buzzard mascots) The WMMS Buzzard’s origin takes up a full chapter in The Buzzard and there’s even more about its origin, its earliest days, and how we found artist David Helton after he found us – here.
The Buzzard made its initial appearance in a print ad a little over 35 years ago. Just one year after its debut, a group of Case Western Reserve University MBA students did a market study, which proved that the WMMS Buzzard was the most identifiable logo in Greater Cleveland, even beating out the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo and Coca-Cola (Cleveland is one of the few markets where Pepsi outsells Coke).
Our initial plan for having a mascot for WMMS came from sports teams and – of all things – an Indian-head logo used by the former Shawmut Bank of Boston, which was that city’s most identifiable image.
Over the next few years, more stations – especially those playing album rock – implemented mascots. You had a plethora of chickens, frogs, penguins, and bears. Unlike other stations, we did not want a “live mascot” – someone dressed up in a Buzzard costume. Our philosophy was that all WMMS events should be hosted by our airstaff.
This is an article from the national trade magazine Radio & Records from sometime in 1981, which covered the then-emergent trend of radio station mascots.
More on the Buzzard is in The Buzzard, Chapter 11
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