Archive for the Buzzard Audio Category

The Buzzard Theater of the Air presents Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 20, 2008 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.

wmms-archives-print-ads-articles-1975-0561Murray 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-sandersDenny 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

AUDIO IS BACK ON LINE.  Also, enjoy Murray’s Christmas Get Down, below.

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

Murray Saul’s weekend-before-Christmas Get Down from December 19, 1975

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 20, 2008 by John Gorman


Thirty-three years before our economic meltdown and Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme – there was the Slave Driver’s Christmas.

Here’s some Cleveland Christmas CheerMurray Saul’s weekend-before-Christmas Get Down from Friday, December 19, 1975.    How did we get away with this stuff?

Click here (QuickTime)

Chapter 9 tells the implausible story of Murray Saul and the Get Downs in The Buzzard

murray-saul-cdGive the gift of Getting’ Down this Christmas with Murray Saul’s The Get Downs, Vol.1 CD. Click on the CD cover for more info. Distributed by Traditions Alive, Lakewood, OH 216.226.6200

WFMU/New York’s  Aircheck ran a one-hour show on Murray Saul in 2005. You can hear the show in its entirety here (RealAudio).

The Who: Pete Townshend interview, 12/14/82. The first “Farewell Tour”

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 3, 2008 by John Gorman


One of our biggest events in 1982 was buying out the Who’s two Richfield Coliseum concerts on December 13 and 14.  The tour was billed as the band’s farewell – as every subsequent Who reunion tour has been – and we got exclusive local ownership by putting up the guarantee and all costs in advance.

The two Cleveland shows were the final U.S. dates of their North American tour.  Schlitz Beer was the tour’s national sponsor.

Over the years, the Who, especially Pete Townshend, made many friends in the Greater Cleveland area. Among them was Joe Walsh, who he met when Walsh was guitarist for the locally-based James Gang.

the-who-face-dances1  the-who-the-end1

The Who was touring in support of their Face Dances album, billed as their final studio album. In reality, it would be their last studio album for twenty-four years.

Earlier that year, we premiered the entire Face Dances album on-air over a week before its official release, which landed us a cease and desist telegram from their label, Warner Bros.

The two concerts sold out in record time, and surveys at a number of ticket sales locations showed that more than 99 percent of the ti9cket buyers heard the concert announcement on WMMS. 

The official tour name, which had to be used on all advertising, was WMMS 100.7 FM presents The Who

We allowed other radio stations to buy tickets for giveaways, but they all had WMMS imprinted on them, and any alteration, such as running a marker streak over our call letters, made them null and void.  Best of all, anyone using a check to buy tickets had to make it out to WMMS.


Pete Townshend did two interviews with WMMS.  The first, before the first show, with Dia, and the second, after-concert, with Kid Leo.  Both Dia’s and Kid Leo’s interviews were lost in the WMMS archives purge – but thanks to J.D. Kunes, we have an on-air broadcast copy of Pete Townshend’s interview with Leo. 

According to notes I have, with the exception of WGCL, we did allow other radio stations access to the band for interviews – but no IDs.

Three nights after the second show, WGCL picked up the “farewell” broadcast of the Who’s final North American show in Toronto that we passed on, because it would’ve cost us $2,000 that I couldn’t justify. Instead, we did another Friday Night Live feature – where we played eight hours of excerpts from our WMMS concert archives – and also threw in a previously unreleased concert Led Zeppelin did for the BBC.  It blew away WGCL’s Who concert broadcast, which was riddled with unexpected engineering problems from a hastily put-together ad hoc network of U.S. and Canadian stations.

More on the Who’s 1982 Farewell Concert can be found on Chapter 22 in The Buzzard

Special thanks to radio historian Jim Davison for the music editing.

The Cleveland Mayoral Race 1977 continues….. The Ed Feighan Interview

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on December 1, 2008 by John Gorman


It’s 1977.  We’re a three-way race for mayor of Cleveland and WMMS was covering the campaign.  We invited the three candidates – two Democrats, Dennis Kucinich and Ed Feighan, and incumbent Republican mayor Ralph Perk to be interviewed on our afternoon drive public affairs show, We, The People.   Both Kucinich and Feighan accepted our invitation.  Perk did not.

Kucinich and Feighan won the top spots in a non-partisan primary, which ousted incumbent Perk.  In the runoff election, Feighan had the party’s endorsement.

Democrat Ed Feighan’s political career began as a State Representative from Cleveland in 1972. He spent six years in the Ohio Legislature.  He was 30 years old when he ran for mayor as the chosen candidate by the Cleveland Democratic Party but lost the close race to Dennis Kucinich.

Feighan spent four years as a Cuyahoga County Commissioner served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, serving Ohio’s 19th Congressional District, from 1983 to 1993.

Feighan is currently chairman and CEO of  ProCentury Corporation and lives in Columbus, Ohio.


Murray Saul on the interview:

Ed Feighan won the democratic nomination for mayor of ClevelandEd came from a well connected family.  His uncle was a congressman.

The Federal court had just ordered busing, in order to desegregate the Cleveland schools.  By limiting the order to the city, it was pretty obvious it would merely re-segregate the schools, but he didn’t want to hear it.

He lost to Dennis. He wasn’t blue collar enough, or black enough I guess.

He moved to Columbus, and started a new life. 

(The views and opinions of Murray’s comments are his own and do not represent….you know the rest)

Please allow time for the interview to buffer

Dennis Kucinich interview, 1977

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 18, 2008 by John Gorman

Please allow time for the interview to buffer


At WMMS, our newscasts and public affairs programming, and public service announcements were regarded with the same importance as our music programming. 

Our goal was to deliver news and informaton pertinent to our audience.    Ed “Flash” Ferenc, our news director, crafted a newscast that seamlessly segued into our music format.   Our daytime newscasts ran twice an hour between 6 AM and 8 AM and once an hour at 9AM, 12 noon, and 4:20 and 5:20 in the afternoon.   It wasn’t uncommon to break for a bulletin at any time of day or night, provided it was relevant to our listeners.

Our FCC license obligated us to an hour and fifteen minutes per week of public affairs programming. Rather than produce their own, many stations carried non-exclusive public affairs programming; often playbacks from recent City Club events.   We preferred doing our own, in-house.

Jabberwocky was our one-hour Sunday morning public affairs show, anchored by Debbie Ullman, who also hosted our weekday morning drive show.    On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons at 3:25 we carried Student Rights, a five-minute feature hosted by Helen Baker of the ACLU.

In mid-November, 1975, Debbie was seriously injured in an automobile accident. She was hospitalized for more than three weeks; the first week in intensive care.  During her long convalescence, she decided not to return to WMMS.


Murray Saul, who had achieved extraordinary popularity as “the Get Down man” for his Friday night weekend salutes, pitched for the Jabberwocky hosting position.    Murray was the right choice.  He was born, raised, and spent most of his life in Cleveland.   He was salesman and, for a brief period, owner of a men’s clothing store in Collinwood.  Murray was also active in Cleveland politics during Carl Stokes’ mayoral campaign.  

It was also an opportunity to show the versatility of still another WMMS staff member.  Our listeners knew Murray as the weekend party king who railed against the Slavedriver and the monotony of the workday grind. Murray’s popularity had grown and he was in demand for personal appearances at local clubs and WMMS sponsored events.    No one knew that Murray was also a member of the WMMS sales team and spent weekdays calling on clients.

It was also a time to revisit the Student Rights show, which I felt had run its course.  In its place, We, The People – also hosted by Murray – made its debut in the same time period.   Whereas Jabberwocky was a conversational one-hour, unscripted, unedited interview program, We, The People had its guests tightly confined to a fast-moving, forward motion, fifteen-minute on-the-dot interview format, cut into three-five minute segments.  It was this forum where we placed the two 1977 Cleveland Democratic mayoral candidatesDennis Kucinich and Edward Feighan to tell our listeners why they should succeed Republican Ralph Perk.

This interview ran long enough for a four-parter and I can’t recall if we ran all four segments. I’m inclined to believe one of them ended up being an unused outake.

Perk was invited to appear on We, The People, but didn’t return our calls.


Cleveland was in terrible shape.  Unlike other cities that metropolitanized after World War II, by annexing surrounding suburbs, Cleveland was one of over an unheard of fifty-plus cities and towns to reside in Cuyahoga CountyCleveland’s middle class moved to the suburbs and  the inner city fell into decline.  Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Cleveland moved elsewhere.

hough-riots cuy-river-fire2

The Hough riots, the Cuyahoga River fire, and an incessant stream of embarrassing blunders from local politicians severely tarnished the city’s reputation.

Dennis Kucinich was 23 when elected to the Cleveland city council and 30 when he announced his candidacy for mayor of Cleveland in 1977.  He was a populist who strongly opposed the city’s plan to sell its then-struggling Muni Light to its competitor, the Illuminating Company.  He also opposed the misuse of tax dollars and the questionable control banking interests had with the city.

This is from a recently-discovered raw, unedited, pre-production master tape of Murray Saul’s no-holes- barred interview with Dennis Kucinich on We, the People.


Murray Saul on the interview:

It’s 1977, Cleveland has been in a long slide down, since the end of World War II 30 years earlier. There was a spark of hope in 1967, with the election of Carl Stokes, but we had the Hough riots, unease in City Hall, and Carl left Cleveland with a very mixed record of accomplishment.

Ralph Perk had been a shitty mayor for 6 years and was running for a 4th term.  Among the quirky strengths of the Buzzard was the ability to break through stereotypes, and I was immersed in all aspects. 

I continued in sales after John and I developed the Get Down on Fridays at 6.  When Debbie Ullman was injured in an automobile accident, I took over hosting the one-hour public affairs show, Jabberwocky on Sunday morning and developed  the weekday afternoon We, The People, which ran Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3:25 PM.

My approach was very broad, and ranged from talking with interesting friends while tokin’ weed in stereo, to the movers and shakers in the news, including the chairman of Sohio, which had just hit oil in Alaska

During the primary, I did We, The People with both candidates who were running to succeed Ralph Perk as Mayor of Cleveland.

Dennis was a brash kid who grew up in ethnic Cleveland, and was stuck in a time warp which ended up with Cleveland in default due to his being a stubborn asshole.  He is still proud of “saving Muni” 

(The views and opinions of Murray’s comments are his own and do not represent….you know the rest)

Learn how Dennis Kucinich helped save the WMMS format in 1972 in Chapter 1 of The Buzzard

The Who: Pete Townshend interview – 12/7/79

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 3, 2008 by John Gorman

I’m proud of and grateful for WMMS having one of the very best teams in radio.

Our airstaff were known for their interviewing skills.  They didn’t ask the predictable “How is the tour going” questions.   Ours were conversational.

We always favored and encouraged one-on-one, live on-the-air with our guests rather than something prerecorded or on the phone. 

Our airplay of new music afforded us another advantage.  Since we interviewed nearly every act coming to town, we developed enduring relationships with many artists early in their careers that allowed us access to artists that had otherwise stopped doing radio and press interviews.  

Nearly every artist that made a mark in rock and roll from the early seventies to the mid-eighties was, at one time or another, interviewed on WMMS – and often, exclusively.

A few notable interviews took place at WMMS, too.  Glenn Frey announced the breakup of the Eagles, which immediately made the international wire services.  On a lighter note, fellow Eagle Joe Walsh announced his candidacy for President of the United States on WMMS.  His campaign slogan: “Free gas for everyone!”

And that brings us to The Who.

On December 3, 1979, eleven people waiting to see The Who in concert at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati were trampled to death and hundreds were seriously injured.

The concert was set up as a general admission/ “festival seating” event, which theoretically meant “first come, first served.” 

14,000 tickets out of an estimated 18,500 sold were for general admission.  

In a futile attempt to control the crowd of thousands waiting outside the Coliseum, the concert promoter, Electric Factory Concerts of Philadelphia, opened only one or two main doors, which resulted in a mad rush of people funneling into a small entrance. 

It remains the deadliest large venue concert disaster in U.S. history. 

(The worst rock concert disaster was the Great White concert at The Station club, in West Warwick, R.I. on February 20, 2003, which killed 100 and injured over 200.)

The Who were not informed of the tragedy until after the show and immediately closed off all access to the media.

Their media embargo was broken three days later when The Who played the Richfield ColiseumJohn Entwistle called Denny Sanders two hours before the concert, to openly speak to those on the way to the concert and, following the show, Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke to both Entwistle and Kenney Jones, which ran on WMMS the following morning. 

Unfortunately, the interviews by Denny and Flash were lost when the WMMS Archives were dismantled in the early nineties.  

Kid Leo was also backstage and at the right place at the right time when Pete Townshend agreed to do an impromptu interview – or, better put, conversation.

Special thanks to J.D. Kunes for the interview, which he taped off the air just a month or so shy of 29 years ago and Jim Davison for preparing it for inclusion in The Buzzard book blog.


Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on October 20, 2008 by John Gorman

 The infamous WMMS Baboonbuster T-shirt

Though WMMS had a long battle with rivals M-105, WZZP, and 92 Rock from the mid-seventies through the early eighties, we never acknowledged our competitors on-the-air.   

But with WGCL, it was different.  They were dirty, played dirty, and were gaining ground on us. WGCL was a pay-for-play station.  What they reported they played to the trade papers and what they really played were two different lists.  The practice was called “paper adds.” WGCL’s real playlist included much of the WMMS playlist – but they didn’t report those tracks because there was no payoff attach to them.

We had the ratings, but WGCL was what was called a Parallel One Contemporary Hits Radio (top 40) reporter for Radio & Records, the most important of the trade publications, which gave them clout we couldn’t match in the alternate universe of record labels.  Since no technology existed then to monitor stations, trade reports were done on the honor system.  Since WGCL falsely reported the music they were playing, they were getting promotions they didn’t deserve.  Making it worse, we had problems locking up promotions when WGCL warned labels it wouldn’t add music from their company if it was doing a major promotion with WMMS.  When that happened we took our behind-the-scenes war on-air. 

We created an unofficial mascot for the station – a Baboon – which we used in print ads and T-shirts.  The Baboon mascot was accidental.  The German singer Nena had a hit song with 99 Red Balloons,” which we renamed and rerecorded as “98 Dead Baboons.”  WGCL used the moniker “G-98.”  

Taking advantage of the advance hype of the movie Ghostbusters, which was being released at the same time, our staff assumed the name – Baboonbusters.

Our campaign kicked into high gear almost before it started when we learned that the band Slade would be playing a WGCL-sponsored Party in the Park opening Memorial Day Weekend.  We resented that for two reasons. First, the Party in the Park was sponsored by a different station every week in conjunction with the Greater Cleveland Growth AssociationWGCL general manager Kim Colebrook sat on its board, and the station got prime dates for kicking off Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends two years in a row.  WMMS, in turn, was “awarded” the worst weeks.   Second, Slade was a British band we’d played as far back as 1974.  We had just broken their first single in a decade, which we initially played as an import, “My Oh My” and their new album was selling well in Cleveland based solely on our airplay.  But their label, Epic Records, were working a single, which WGCL added, so they station insisted and got Slade to play their event – over one sponsored by us.

About 48 hours before the show, we learned from a spy inside Epic Records that Slade would not be performing live.  They were going to lip sync and pretend to play their instruments.  Everything would be on tape. Battle stations!

(they lip sync on this video, too)

The day of the show Jeff and Flash started firing on the air: This is a live music city, how dare they lip sync?  This is the rock and roll capital of the world, they’re insulting us.  Can you imagine if the national press picked up on this?  What does it make us look like?

Listeners called the station and they were angry – not just kids either – older adults called.  It’s taken a long time for this city to turn around, we can finally say we’re proud to live in Cleveland again, and now somebody does this to make us a laughingstock?

The show became four hours of that.  It culminated with a call to our studio from the Epic promotion guy, Joe Carroll screaming, “Flash?  Fuck you, personally. Fuck Gorman! Fuck your whole fucking station! Put it on the air.  I don’t give a fuck.” A few minutes before 9 o’clock, I got a call from Jeff Kinzbach saying, “You gotta hear this.”  He played the call down the line.  I asked if Tom O’Brien, our production director was there.  He was.  I asked Jeff to give him the tape, bleep out the radio license-threatening profanity, and play it.  By the time O’Brien finished the considerable editing, they were only able to play it once, close to 10 AM,  Kinzbach did his wrap-up, and said no-one called in favor of lip-synching, asked again how WGCL could do such a thing, and said he had one more call.   He played the heavily bleeped tape, said “Okay, Joe,” and explained who it was – adding he was surprised Carroll was able to make the call, considering the number of people flooding the record label’s phone lines (we had given the number of Columbia-Epic’s local branch).  And Jeff closed with, “Oh and by the way that number for Epic Records is….”

The campaign continued through out the day.  David Helton drew a baboon under the circle-slash international “no” symbol – a takeoff on the logo for Ghostbusters.  It wasn’t in the budget and it was expensive, but promotion director Jim Marchyshyn ordered and had printed that day 1,500 T-shirts with that design.

They were ready just in time for the show.  We passed them out to people who were early arrivals on their way to the free Slade concert.  Almost everyone receiving a T-shirt put it on.  We didn’t know it, but WGCL had hired a crew to tape the show as a TV commercial for the station.  That plan fell apart in a sea of Baboonbuster T-shirts.

The show was a poorly produced.  The band’s lip synching was terrible, and the band was booed off the stage after six songs.

And that was the beginning of the summer-long radio war of 1984.  

As WGCL unraveled an interesting maze of deception was exposed that outed some prominent individuals, organizations, and record labels.

Much more on the biggest radio war in Cleveland can be found in Chapter 25 of The Buzzard

Side two of the Buzzard Morning Zoo

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on October 9, 2008 by John Gorman

In 1986, Arista Records released the Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo, featuring highlights, interviews, and song parodies from our morning show.   Profits from the sale of album were donated to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital of Cleveland and Cops for Kids. 

The Buzzard Morning Zoo carried the largest share of morning drive audience of any station in the history of Cleveland radio.  At its peak, one out of every five people listening to morning drive radio in Cleveland listened to it every weekday morning on WMMS.

The Zoo starred Jeff Kinzbach and Ed “Flash” Ferenc along with their growing supporting cast. Casey Coleman was added to do sports replacing WJW-TV colleague Dan Coughlin who moved to our AM station, WHK.  Pat Brady covered traffic; Len “Boom” Goldberg became the official Zoo announcer, and Ruby Cheeks added a woman’s touch to what had been a male-driven show.  Spaceman Scott, Astrologer Bruce R. and Captain Kenny Clean – and later, John Rio as Mr. Leonard rounded out the all-star cast.

This side features more Token Jokes of the Morning and a Blow Something Up feature – plus guests Sam Kinison, Milton Berle, and Lisa Hartman.  The first voice you hear belongs to our long-time, world’s greatest receptionist – our own Lieutenant Uhura, Verdelle Warren. 

The Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo has been out of print for over twenty years and its limited release has made it a much sought-after collector’s item.  Last month we gave you side one – here is side two.

Jeff and Flash and the Buzzard Morning Zoo

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on September 9, 2008 by John Gorman


In 1986, Arista Records regionally released the Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo, featuring highlights and song parodies from our morning show from that year.   The Buzzard Morning Zoo carried the largest share of morning drive audience of any station in the history of Cleveland radio.  At its peak, one out of every five people listening to morning drive radio in Cleveland listened to the Buzzard Morning Zoo on WMMS.

The Zoo was always sold-out of commercial time well in advance.  United Airlines paid $700 for a sixty-second spot to run in the Buzzard Morning Zoo to announce a new flight route.  That’s over $1,300 in today’s dollars.  Cleveland was market number 23 at the time but we were getting New York ad rates!

Jeff Kinzbach and Ed “Flash” Ferenc were already hitting their stride when John Lanigan, whose long-time morning show on WGAR dominated the market, left in 1984 for an offer-he-couldn’t-refuse from a station in Tampa owned by former WIXY (and later WNCX) owners Norman Wain and Bob Weiss.  With Lanigan gone, we started picking up some of his audience – and knew it because we were unexpectedly getting requests for Exile’s “Kiss you all Over” and other mainstream hit songs that Lanigan and WGAR played.   We added some of them, but only in morning drive, to attract the disenfranchised Lanigan audience.   That audience was also introduced to Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and other WMMS morning show songs. Those familiar with Lanigan’s Flex Club were turned on to Blow Something Up and the Token Jokes.

We borrowed the Morning Zoo moniker from our New York sister station Z-100,  which borrowed it from WRBQ in Tampa, which borrowed it from a station in Australia. For us, the Zoo defined  Jeff and Flash and their growing supporting cast of characters. Casey Coleman was added to do sports replacing WJW-TV colleague Dan Coughlin who moved to our AM station, WHK.  Pat Brady covered traffic; Len “Boom” Goldberg became the official Zoo announcer, and Ruby Cheeks added a woman’s touch to what had been a male-driven show.  Spaceman Scott,  Astrologer Bruce R. and Captain Kenny Clean – and later, John Rio as Mr. Leonard rounded out the all-star cast.

L to R; Ed "Flash" Ferenc, John Gorman, Jeff Kinzbach, Gov. Dick Celeste, Ruby Cheeks

L to R: Ed “Flash” Ferenc, John Gorman, Jeff Kinzbach, Gov. Dick Celeste, Ruby Cheeks

The Best of the Buzzard Morning Zoo has been out of print for over twenty years and its limited release has made it a much sought-after collector’s item. It includes Ohio Governor Dick Celeste’s visit to the Zoo.  Here is side one.

Pride of Cleveland

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on August 19, 2008 by John Gorman

We referred to local artists we played on WMMS as the “Pride of Cleveland” – P.O.C., for short.   The name, suggested by Kid Leo in the mid ‘70s, came from the locally-brewed P.O.C. beer, which was headquartered in Cleveland from 1892 to 1962.  The P.O.C. acronym stood for both “Pride of Cleveland,” and “Pilsener of Cleveland,” Outside of Cleveland it was known as “Pilsener on call.”

Both Cleveland and Akron had thriving local music scenes, featuring a diversity of artists performing original music. It was not an easy way to make a living since only a limited number of venues booked local artists performing original music.  

Some local bands were forced to start out as cover bands to get bookings until they could become established with their own material. 

Even Trent Reznor’s  Option 30 performed cover hits by Billy Idol, The Thompson Twins, Falco, and other eighties artists to secure gigs in the region.

With the exception of the Raspberries, no local act made it out of Cleveland on a national echelon.   

The James Gang had regional pockets of popularity throughout the U.S. but couldn’t crack the northeast. They had a strong following in the U.K. and were tapped as the opening act for the Who on a tour there.  Glass Harp‘s strongest following was in the midwest.  National interest in both bands grew in later years.  

Even the Michael Stanley Band, which broke concert attendance records at both the Coliseum and Blossom, didn’t break on through to national prominence.

Popular mass appeal bands in Cleveland during the 70s and early 80s included the American Noise, Love Affair, Wild Horses, the Generators, Rapscallion, Flatbush, the Jerry Busch Group, Wild Giraffes, Lucky Pierre, Breathless, System 56, and Raven Slaughter, among others.   

 Cleveland had a nationally respected and admired alternative music scene, which initially centered around the late Peter Laughner in various incarnations with Cinderella Backstreet and Rocket from the Tombs, whose first recording was played on WMMS (Laughner also delivered Patti Smith’s first self-released single, “Hey Joe” and “Piss Factory,” to WMMS, making us the first commercial radio station to play her music).   Rocket from the Tombs in due course broke up into two bands – the Dead Boys, which we did play frequently and Pere Ubu, which we didn’t.

Singer-songwriters playing the circuit at the time included Alex Bevan and John Bassette and humorist Charlie Weiner.

The Euclid Beach Band, a group fashioned by the late Jim Girard of Scene magazine for a charity benefit single with local musician Rich Reising and vocalists Pete Hewitt and John Hart, was an unexpected hit.  The song,  “There’s No Surf in Cleveland”, became one of the most-requested songs on WMMS, which led to Steve Popovich of Cleveland-International records to sign the band.  Their album, produced by Eric Carmen, was released nationally but was poorly supported and promoted by Cleveland-International’s distributor, Epic Records.

Let me apologize here if I left the name of a band or performer off the list.  It wasn’t intentional.

Akron’s local music scene flourished with the Numbers Band, Rubber City Rebels, Devo, Tin Huey, Rachel Sweet, and Chi Pig.

Several of these artists released regionally-released singles, EPs or albums.  Some, like Michael Stanley, American Noise, Molkie Cole, Breathless, and Love Affair from Cleveland and the Rubber City Rebels, Devo, Tin Huey and Rachel Sweet got signed by major labels or subsidiaries and had their albums released nationally.

Rachel Sweet received some national airplay – but did best in the U.K. Devo relocated to L.A. when their album broke nationally.

There wasn’t a “Cleveland sound,” per se.  It was a far more creative and healthy scene, which infused a wide variety of musical influences from mainstream rock to reggae, punk, country, and blues.

In 1980, we released a compilation album, The Pride of Cleveland, which was produced by Denny Sanders, on our own Buzzard Records label, featuring Love Affair, Jerry Busch Group, I-Tal, Don Kriss, Alex Bevan, Wild Horses, American Noise, the Generators, Rapscallion, Wild Giraffes, and Flatbush.

One of these bands, Love Affair, started as a cover-band, Stairway, which played local bar circuit.

In 1979, the band’s original music demo got noticed by – of all people – singer-songwriter Melanie and her husband Peter Schekeryk They helped get the band signed to the Florida-based Radio Records, a boutique label distributed by Atlantic.   Released in 1980,  it was a regionally top ten selling album, and featured “Mama Sez,” which was heavily-requested on WMMS.  Later that year, Love Affair re-recorded the song as “Brian Sez,” in tribute to Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe during their 11-5 season.

Love Affair failed to catch on nationally (due to lack of promotion and marketing from the label) – though they did pick up a following in Canada.

This photo was taken in the 80s, in a production room at WMMS, where the band was cutting station IDs. 
Top row, left to right: Mike Hudak (Love Affair), John Gorman, Rich Spina (Love Affair), John Zdravecky (Love Affair), Matt the Cat, Wes Coolbaugh (Love Affair)
Bottom row, left to right: Wayne Cukras (Love Affair), Denny Sanders 

Chapter 20 in The Buzzard book covers Cleveland’s and Akron’s local music scenes during the 70s and 80s.