Archive for the Buzzard Photos Category

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.

The WMMS Fleetwood Mac Attack!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on December 5, 2009 by John Gorman

It was September 1973. We had just added the Buckingham-Nicks album and the track “Long Distance Winner” was picking up a few curiosity calls and requests.  At that time we did not have a relationship with the Agora, so we called Rodger Bohn at the Smiling Dog Saloon, where we sponsored “nights out” at and mentioned the act as a possible WMMS-sponsored show.   Rodger put in a few calls to see if they were touring.  They were – but their label Polygram, wasn’t really supporting the act because the album was getting only spotty airplay in a couple of cities.  Logistics for a “night out” didn’t work out. We played a couple of other tracks from the album (“Crying in the Night” and “Don’t Let Me Down Again”) before it faded into that limbo land of forgotten albums.

That same month Fleetwood Mac released the album Heroes are Hard to Find, whose title cut ended up being one of the most played and requested tunes on WMMS.  Fleetwood

Fleetwood Mac's mirrors designed and hand-painted by David Helton

Mac formed as British blues-based group that eventually evolved into the mainstream, but suffered from a steady stream of personnel and musical style changes.  Though it got extensive play, the track was largely a turntable hit and never translated into sales.

John Gorman, Mick Fleetwood, Rhonda Kiefer at WMMS

Fast forward to July 1975.  The Fleetwood Mac album is released – and we noted that Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, whom we remembered from that Buckingham-Nicks album, were now band members.

Fan banner at the Coliseum

The band went on tour in support of the album and played Kent State on a Sunday night.  As was customary at the station, our airstaff took turns on m.c’ing WMMS-sponsored concerts – and Kid Leo did Fleetwood Mac. Though I planned to go I had to bow out because of an early Monday morning department head meeting.  Later that day, Leo told me Fleetwood Mac live

Mick Fleetwood just returned from a vacation in Bora Bora and flew to Cleveland to surprise Christine McVie and Bob Welch. Christine was touring with Bob Welch as a surprise guest singer on "Sentimental Lady."

were nothing like the softer version on the album – and that the Buckingham-Nicks material rocked, citing a balls-out version of “Rhiannon” and a reworked “I’m So Afraid” that showed Lindsay as a guitarist to be reckoned with.

Around the same time, The King Biscuit Flower Hour, a syndicated concert show we carried on Sunday nights featured a live Fleetwood Mac performance – and like Leo said – it rocked. We swapped the softer studio versions for the live rock versions – and within days the live “Rhiannon” became our most-requested song on nights and weekends – and the other live Macs from that

All that Jazz: Bruce Ravid (Capitol), Len "Boom" Goldberg, Steve Lushbaugh, Dan Garfinkel, Bob Welch, Denny Sanders, John Gorman, David Helton, Barry Haughin (Capitol), Matt the Cat

concert were also in our requested top 15.

Mick checking out the artwork in my office

That set the stage for Rumours. Shelley Stile was music director and pulled off a daylong exclusive of the album in February 1977. The immediate reaction gave little clue of how huge the album would be.  But we new it was something unique and special – product that would draw more audience from AM to FM, and from other stations to WMMS. We cemented our relationship with the band, getting to know everyone in it and connected to it.  What gave us a solid edge with the band was our airplay of their pet side projects, which

Dan Garfinkel, Jeff Kinzbach, Denny Sanders, Bruce Ravid (Capitol), Mick Fleetwood, Bob Welch

were all gems – but usually neglected in other markets.

Walter Egan, formerly of the cult surf band the Malibooz, had one hit song nationally, “Magnet and Steel,” a duet with Stevie Nicks, off the Not Shy album coproduced by Buckingham and Nicks, who also played on it; in Cleveland he was a superstar, with a half-dozen tracks receiving airplay. Buckingham and Nicks also played on John Stewart’s Bombs Away, Dream Babies, with the song “Gold,” which was a major hit in Cleveland months before it broke nationally.  Rob Grill, the former lead singer of the Grassroots,

Another day, another penguin: John McVie, Cleveland Metropark Zoo official, John Gorman, Rhonda Kiefer

was a fishing buddy of John McVie, who produced his one solo album, Uprooted – with guest appearances by Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. Most successful of all was Bob Welch, a former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, who scored three hit singles off his 1977 album, French KissCleveland was also one of the few markets that supported Welch’s earlier project, Paris, which had a popular track, “Big Town 2061,” in 1975.

At the zoo: Jeff Kinzbach, Matt the Cat, Steve Lushbaugh, David Helton, Debbie O'Donnell, Dan Garfinkel, Betty Korvan, Denny Sanders, John Gorman, Dave Lucas (Warner Bros.), John McVie, Christine McVie. Front: Unknown , Rhonda Kiefer

By the time Fleetwood Mac played the Coliseum in September 1977, the band supposedly sold a million copies of Rumours from the Cleveland distribution branch alone.  We launched what we called our “WMMS Fleetwood Mac Attack,” and took full ownership of what had become the biggest act in the world.   We landed exclusive interviews, and we had them cut station IDs. The day after Stevie Nicks flubbed on stage and accidentally thanked Cincinnati instead of Cleveland, she cut a humorous ID, which said, “When I’m not in Cincinnati, I’m in Cleveland, and listening to WMMS.”

John & Christine at the Cleveland Metropark Zoo with the donated penguin

We also landed an exclusive with advance tracks from the Tusk album, early fall 1979. That one came on cassette, from a  New York record executive, whose identity I promised I would never reveal – and never will.  I had to buy a seat for it on a commercial

Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks at the Bond Court Hotel press conference

flight.  When it arrived at Hopkins, I drove it to the station where it was transferred for broadcast and Denny Sanders immediately put it on the air.  We played one cut every half-hour, inserting “WMMS exclusive” in case a rival station tried to tape it.  Warner Bros. was furious because Fleetwood Mac was the label’s most important act, and they worried about Tusk being a somewhat experimental double-album, which sounded nothing like its predecessor.

Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood at Bond Court Hotel press conference

Fleetwood Mac and WMMS donated penguins (the Fleetwood Mac mascot) to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We

At WMMS: Denny Sanders, Marty Schwartz (Elektra), Lindsay Buckingham, John Gorman, Matt the Cat, Murray Saul. On table: Kid Leo

outfitted the band with WMMS merchandise and paraphernalia.  For months to come, it wasn’t usual to see a band member or associate of Fleetwood Mac sporting a WMMS item on national TV.

When a WMMS World Series of Rock concert at Cleveland Stadium was postponed due to a spinal problem suffered by Lindsay Buckingham, the other members of the band, plus Bob Welch, flew to Cleveland to do a press conference at the Bond Court Hotel, we strung up lines and carried it live.

A few weeks later, backstage at the rescheduled WMMS World Series of Rock concert, we presented the band with personalized, hand-painted mirrors individually created by David Helton. By that time they were consuming massive quantities of cocaine.  Christine McVie, who got the first one, commented, “I’m afraid we’ll scrape the mirror down to the paint.”

More on Buzzards and penguins in The Buzzard

Photos by Bob Ferrell except mirror photo by David Helton

Click images multiple times to enlarge size and click on song titles to hear the music.

The Buzzard Blog celebrated its second year.  For those new to the blog, you can use the search engine or reference the archives for hours of audio (including original airchecks and music) and video and hundreds of photos and documents covering WMMS from 1973 to 1986.

Music to keep warm by

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 27, 2009 by John Gorman

With the weather turning colder, here’s an appropriate David Helton WMMS Buzzard print ad from early 1975. After close to a year after his conception, the Buzzard had established himself as the official WMMS mascot – and the Buzzard’s character was slowly evolving.

With the Buzzard, we coveted the idea of going where no station had gone before. How could we take advantage of the identity, how cold we make WMMS greater than the combined respective peaks of WIXY, KYW, and WHK? How could we build the Buzzard into the most recognizable logo in Cleveland since Chief Wahoo? Going beyond the obvious T-shirts and sweatshirts, we felt we could market key chains, belt buckles, roach clips, and jeans – and we did.

This ad appeared in the March 10, 1975 issue of Exit Magazine, Cleveland’s alternative weekly paper at that time.

For more on the Buzzard – see Chapter 7 – Hatching the Buzzard in The Buzzard.

Click on the Buzzard ad multiple times for larger size images

Carl Hirsch and Gil Rosenwald interviews from 1979

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 17, 2009 by John Gorman

interviews continue below

Fish stink from the head.

Loosely translated, the freshness of a fish is judged from the condition of its head.

It also defines leadership gone badly.

A leader carries the definitive accountability of a company’s success or failure.  Strong management and powerful leadership are fundamental functions in any profitable business.

The first time I heard that saying in a leadership context was from my boss of all bosses – Carl Hirsch, who rose in rank to President of Malrite Communications during those “glory days” of WMMS.

I’d never met anyone who possessed a better bullshit meter than Carl. He could size up a person, a plan, or a situation in seconds.

There were moments where he’d be demanding – but always for good reason.  He was a natural born leader – and he brought out everyone’s best leadership skills.

We never spent money frivolously.   Though WMMS became the most visible station in Cleveland – most of it was due to creative promotion and marketing.   Bumper sticker costs were covered by providing clients couponing opportunities on the backs of the stickers.   Our T-shirts – walking billboards, we called them – and other Buzzard merchandise always sold well – and we funneled our profits to various charities.

Nearly everything we did was self-contained and created “in house,” including our TV spots, contesting, and special programming and events.

During those years, we had a championship team – on the air – and behind the scenes.

I didn’t fully appreciate the freedom and independence we shared at WMMS until I started talking with programmers in other markets.   I also realized that Carl made us earn that privilege.

We didn’t have a rulebook of do’s and don’ts.  What mattered was to be at our very best at all times – and to never jeopardize our broadcast license.

Carl transformed Malrite from a mid-size, mostly secondary market radio chain – to what became one of the most respected radio groups in America – headquartered in Cleveland.

He identified a little suburban “chicken jazz” (as we called it) suburban New Jersey licensed station and fashioned it into the most listened to radio station in America as New York’s Z-100. That “worst-to-first” feat was accomplished in thirty days.

Carl joined Malrite in 1974 as Vice President and General Manager of WMMS and WHK.  When Carl was promoted to Executive Vice President of Malrite in 1977, Gil Rosenwald replaced Carl.

We would not have achieved our many successes had it not been for our senior management and corporate support and guidance.  They backed our attack.

These are interviews with Carl Hirsch and Gil Rosenwald by Chuck Dunaway for Radio Music Report, from February 19, 1979.

Robert Gordon sings for his Buzzard

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 10, 2009 by John Gorman

robert-gordon-1 wmms-archives-print-ads-articles-1975-126

Being associated with up-and-coming acts was a tremendous asset for WMMS. We listened to virtually every album release, and we didn’t limit our listening to what the promo guys were hyping.

We strived to to get artists to cut personalized IDs for WMMS – and tried to make them distinctive to stand out from the plain “Hi, this is (artist) and you’re listening to (station).” Generally, prior to or after an on-air interview, we’d invite an artist to our production studio to cut some IDs – including specialty versions for Christmas, New Year’s, and, if time allowed, individual IDs for our airstaff.

We had our motives.  The ID was an endorsement by the artist for WMMS – and served as a station identification bridge between two songs in a music set without interrupting our music flow.

Occasionally, artists come up with something inimitable and original, like Bruce Springsteen’s “I don’t have a radio but Miami Steve does…” Or U2’s Bono and The Edge who heard Springsteen’s and one-upped it with, “I’m the singer, he (Edge) is the guitarist, and we both listen to WMMS.” Then there was Sting’s “I get a buzz out of the Buzzard” and Joe Walsh claiming he listened to WMMS even when the radio wasn’t on. On a few rare occasions we got an artist to sing their WMMS ID. This is one from rockabilly artist Robert Gordon, a WMMS favorite.

The idea actually came from top 40 radio.  It always stuck in my mind that Boston’s WMEX had Eric Burdon of the Animals do one.  When I was fourteen, I thought the Animals were cool, and WMEX was cool for having the Animals say the station was.

Special thanks to Dusty Basmagy for this ID.

MP3 Download here:

…and with the Boss coming to town, here’s the classic Bruce Springsteen WMMS ID, click here

Click images multiple times for a viewing size of your choice

BUZZARD BOOK COVER SMALLMore on bizarre Buzzard programming plans can be found in Chapter 10 of The Buzzard

Radio & Records 1981 on the WMMS Buzzard and other station mascots

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


WMMS wasn’t the first station to have a mascot.

WOLF_1961The 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. WMCA_1963picked up on calling their air talent “good guys” –  minus the logo.

WQAM_1965A few stations had tigers, including WQXI/Atlanta (1964) and WQAM/Miami (1965)

KYNO/Fresno had a kangaroo and KDWB/Minneapolis-St. Paul predictably had twins.KYNO_1963

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 KDWB_1962chapter 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 sc03a176c5University 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).

ShawmutOur 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.


Click article and images multiple times for a readable or viewable size.