Archive for December, 2009

Boom!

Posted in Buzzard on December 28, 2009 by John Gorman

I’m involved in a new project as consultant to Cleveland’s newest radio station – Boom! 107.3. It’s locally owned, operated, and programmed.

Over the next week or two you’ll hear some familiar local voices on Boom! Its format is what the industry calls Triple A – Adult Album Alternative.

Boom! has a short but interesting history.  It started as an Internet radio station. Boom! made its debut at 12noon, Monday.

You can also hear Boom! on line by clicking here.

The First WMMS “End of the Decade” special – the Seventies!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on December 26, 2009 by John Gorman

A WMMS print ad by David Helton from early 1975

Since we’re commemorating the end of a tumultuous decade this week, it’s only fitting that we turn back the clock thirty years ago this week and present a review of an equally tumultuous decade – the seventies!

Though decades actually end on their tenth year, which end in 00, following World War II media began to review the prior ten years and observe the new decade a year earlier – so we did the same.

For weeks leading up to the end of 1979, the WMMS staff collected and compiled the music, the pop culture, and the newsworthy events of the seventies for a special presentation, which we ran at the end of the year.

Ed “Flash” Ferenc, Denny Sanders, Betty Korvan, and Al “The Bear” Koski provide the commentary.

Though the original masters of the 1979 decade review were lost, we owe special thanks to one of our WMMS listeners, who prefers to remain anonymous, for taping and saving the original broadcast.

The original special ran commercial-free for twelve hours on  Sunday, December 30, 1979.

Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we cannot feature the music played during the special.

Here it is for your downloading pleasure:

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 1 -20 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 21-40 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 41-62 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, track 63 – click here.

The WMMS Christmas Carol – 34th Anniversary!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on December 23, 2009 by John Gorman

We closed out 1975 with a project that became one of our crowning achievements, a contemporary version of A Christmas Carol.

Denny Sanders and promotion and marketing director Dan Garfinkel scripted the adaptation from Charles Dickens. Murray Saul was Iggy Scrooge, and he played it to the hilt.  David Spero was his ghostly partner, steel magnate David MarleyKid Leo was Little Leo, Matt the Cat played Matt the Crachit, and Shelley Stile was Mrs. Cratchit, with Betty Korvan as daughter Martha.

The three spirits – of Christmas past, present, and future – were Len “Boom” Goldberg, Charlie Kendall, and Steve Lushbaugh. Our “world’s greatest” receptionist for WMMS, WHK, and Malrite corporate Verdelle Warren played Scrooge’s fianceeSteve Lushbaugh, Jeff Kinzbach, and Ed “Flash” Ferenc were various men about town.    Denny Sanders narrated. Guests from outside the staff included Michael Stanley and Alex Bevan.  It was directed and produced by Jeff Kinzbach and Steve Lushbaugh.

We recorded it during the busiest production time of the year and its recording and production had to be  worked around the commercial production schedule, which, during the Christmas season, was limited to late Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Since we hadn’t budgeted in advance for the project, no one could claim overtime for participating. It was a true labor of love.

The entire production was done with antiquated equipment and recording tape at our decrepit studios at 50th and Euclid, and took hundreds of hand-made tape splices to complete.

We called it a production of the Buzzard Theater of the Air, a satirical take-off on Orson Wells’ 1930s radio series, the Mercury Theater of the Air.


Murray Saul on A Christmas Carol

My first thought is how much the production reflects the mood we’ve been talking about of all being on the SAME TEAM and enjoying it.  From the Dan Garfinkel script to Jeff Kinzbach in the control room.  Denny Sanders keeping his eye on the whole project. To call it a labor of love is not hype.  Me, being Scrooge was a great kick.  It was very much like being in your high school play Buzzard-style.

Denny Sanders on A Christmas Carol

I remember that it was taped over two consecutive weekends in December, and edited on the third in time for broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1975.  It was all manual cuts, and fly-in dubs from second and third machines.  Here’s a story:  In the final scene before Murray wakes up everything went quiet.  There was a pause and then the next taped segment (waking up) was to be inserted.  Because it was dead quiet, you heard the electronic relay click of the tape machine starting.  I remember that this drove me crazy, so either Steve Lushbaugh or Jeff Kinzbach (I forget who) backed the tape way up, timed the insert, and rolled it early so that the click was buried in the music bridge just before it went quiet.  When working manual and with old gear, you just had to be resourceful!

To  hear A Christmas Carol, click here

For more info on A Christmas Carol and the Buzzard Theater of the Air – see Chapter 11 of The Buzzard

The WMMS John Cougar Mellencamp Coffee Break Concert

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on December 18, 2009 by John Gorman

Backstage at the Agora following John Mellencamp's Coffee Break Concert. L to R: Matt the Cat, John Gorman, Jim Marchyshyn, Kid Leo, John Mellencamp, Dia Stein

Never give up.

It started with a dinner, months earlier, either sometime 1983 or early 1984 at a restaurant in the Marriott Airport hotel on W 130th, where John Mellencamp was staying.   It could have coincided with a tour date or a promotional appearance.

John Mellencamp, a few of us from the station (Can’t remember who was there. My guess is Kid Leo and Jim Marchyshyn for starters),  a label rep and either his manager or road manager, were discussing artists with songs that sound equally good when performed acoustic or electric.   That conversation led to a discussion about the history of our Coffee Break Concerts – and how they started as acoustic studio affairs and evolved into a weekly afternoon live performance.   Somewhere in that conversation a pitch was made to John and his band to do a Coffee Break Concert show and broadcast.

It was a long shot.  John had been performing for a decade.  He started out playing clubs in Indiana over a decade earlier and was now able to sell out major venues, including the Richfield Coliseum.

We played John’s first album, Chestnut Street Incident in 1976, which was released under the name “Johnny Cougar” – against his better judgement by his mangaer, Tony DeFries, who was best known as David Bowie’s manager during his Ziggy Stardust period.  Though we gave it a fair shot, it didn’t catch on with our listeners. It was also around that time that music director Shelley Stile went to Bloomfield, Ind. to see John in concert.  We also played his second album, The Kid Inside, in 1977, but that album failed to ignite as well.

In early 1978, his third album (as “Johnny Cougar”), A Biography was not released in the U.S. Someone sent us an import copy, and we played the track “I Need A Lover” a few times – but it was up against some stiff domestic-release competition that year – and our listeners were anticipating the long-awaited, long-delayed (due to legal issues) release of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run follow-up album, Darkness at the Edge of Town.

1978 was also our tenth anniversary, which was packed with concerts and special events – and it was also a year filled with superstar album releases – and break-out artists like Meatloaf, Eddie Money, The Cars, Dire Straits, Van Halen, and Bob Welch as a solo artist.

But in 1979, MCA records released the self-titled John Cougar album, which included the “I Need A Lover” track from the import.  We started playing it again and this time it took off becoming one of our most-requested tracks – though it was the only track on the album to catch on.

The following year, John released It Doesn’t Matter and What if it Did – and the tracks “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” and “This Time” became top-requested tracks.

In 1982, when American Fool was released, Cougar went straight to number one on the strength of two tracks – “Hurt So Good” and “Jack and Diane.” It also helped that their radio airplay was augmented by their music videos picking up heavy spins on a new cable channel called MTV. A few weeks after hitting number one in Cleveland sales – it did the same nationally.

In late 1983, when Uh-Huh was released, John went from being an established artist to superstar.  That was also the year he added his real surname, Mellencamp.

It took a few months of heavy lobbying – but John finally agreed to do a Coffee Break Concert – but instead of doing it will a full band – he asked to do it as an acoustic performance – a throwback to the original version of the show.   We agreed to a one-time only broadcast, which was stipulated in the contract – nor were we to play any excerpted songs from the performance, which we often did with our other live broadcasts.

The opportunity of having John Cougar Mellencamp do a special Coffee Break Concert was a major coup for us.   He was now one of the biggest names in rock and roll.  For crowd control purposes, we gave away tickets for his Coffee Break Concert in advance of the show.

John took the stage at the Agora at 1 PM on Wednesday, August 25th and performed a 20-song acoustic set, which included a number of cover tunes, including the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda,” Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,” John Prine’s “Sam Stone,” the Vogues’ “Five O’Clock World,” the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man,” and Elliot Murphy’s “Last of the Rock Stars.”

The show was one of our finest and proudest moments.

The concert broadcast has turned up on occasion at various Bit Torrent and bootleg trading sites.  There are also a couple of bootleg CDs of the show.  One can only hope that this concert sees a legitimate release in the near future.

Photo courtesy of Jim Marchyshyn.  A few interesting notes about this photo.  When it was first shown, the question was whose clothes were worse?  My shirt or Leo’s pants.  Related to that, a few months earlier I had kicked up my 3-½ packs a day cigarette habit – and gained a ton of weight.   Today, John Mellencamp’s 14-year-old son has a Facebook group campaign to help his father kick the habit.   He says, “I made a deal with my dad that if I get 1,000,000 to join this group he will quit smoking.”   If you’re a Facebook user – find his page, sign up, and help John Mellencamp ditch the smokes.

No video was made of John Mellencamp’s Coffee Break Concert but here’s one featuring John with Johnny Cash from the Concert Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in September, 1995.

For more on the Coffee Break Concerts turn to Chapter 16 in The Buzzard

WMMS TV simulcasts

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on December 13, 2009 by John Gorman

Here are a couple of David Helton ads promoting our stereo simulcasts.

Back in the seventies and much of the eighties, television audio was delivered in monaural sound.

We knew technology would eventually change that – but until then we took full advantage of providing the stereo soundtrack to musically-oriented television shows.

We did a number of network – and even early cable and pay-TV (remember Preview?) – stereo simulcasts.  It was a boon for us since television, which had a much larger audience than radio, would run a crawl on the screen inviting viewers turn to WMMS’s 100.7 frequency to hear the audio in stereo.

Locally, we also did a series of Live at the Agora concerts with WJW-TV, featuring artists from WMMS Nights Out at the club.

Note the hemostat, joints, and talon styled sneakers in the first ad and the two slightly hidden joints in the second.

Here’s Todd Rundgren from a Live at the Agora TV show.

Still more Fleetwood Mac Attack….

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 9, 2009 by John Gorman

L to R; Jules Belkin (Belkin Productions) Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Bob Welch.

Here are more photos from the Bond Court Fleetwood Mac press conference from David Helton. These photos show a panorama view of the press conference, including the ring of penguins David created for it.

The press conference was the result of a last-minute cancellation of Fleetwood Mac’s WMMS World Series of Rock concert at Cleveland Stadium the following day, August 4, 1978.  Lindsey Buckingham hadn’t sufficiently recovered from a spinal tap.  He’d been hospitalized following a collapse on July 30, but was able to play a concert later that night in Philadelphia. At the press conference it was announced that the show was being rescheduled for August 26.

Since all radio and TV stations were invited to cover the press conference, we were not allowed to display any WMMS Buzzards, even though we were co-sponsors of the World Series of Rock. It was understandable – but we asked anyway.

Actually, we didn’t mind since those penguins looked suspiciously like Buzzard cousins.

David Helton remembers:

It was when the band had to postpone the show because of Lindsey’s illness. They decided to have a major press conference in Cleveland to explain the problem. After all, it was a big stadium show and they knew how passionate Cleveland fans were about music and about Fleetwood Mac. They wanted a sincere effort to explain that they would be back when Lindsey had recovered.

I was asked by the show’s promoter, Belkin Productions, to paint and construct some penguins to personalize the band’s dressing room for the show – but when it was postponed, Belkin decided to use the penguins in the press conference.

I remember the guys from our rival station were going to the press conference as well, so when they walked in and saw those penguins that look strangely like our own WMMS Buzzard, they flipped out!  There were all these penguins in front of the band during the conference and it was glorious! It made me very proud.

Later in the summer, when the band returned for the show, my penguins were used to decorate Fleetwood Mac’s dressing rooms.

I used acrylic paint on a somewhat stiff board called foamcore. Each one was hand-painted and cut out individually. It looks like they were about 3 to 4 feet tall. I think I may have done about 8 to 10 of them. They took 2 or 3 with them when they left. I don’t know what happened to the rest.

I received one of them back, all signed with gratitude from the band. It’s one of my prized possessions and I’ll never forget the experience.

Click photos to enlarge

More Mac attacks and Buzzard wars in The Buzzard

More Mac Attack…

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 7, 2009 by John Gorman

Here are a couple of bonus Fleetwood Mac items I came across over the weekend.

The first is what we used to call a “hype sheet;” a one-pager, selling our attributes of advertising on WMMS to prospective clients.

With Fleetwood Mac-mania in full throttle at the time of this piece, we took the Rumours penguins and transformed them into Buzzards.

The second is an additional shot from the Fleetwood Mac press conference at the Bond Court Hotel (see story below), taken by Bob Farrell, who should’ve been Fleetwood Mac’s official photographer.

Click images multiple times to enlarge size.