Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars

Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars

Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars

Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars

Synopsis

This volume captures the radio scene during the 1970s and 1980s, chronicling how a small FM rock station, WMMS, became the top-rated station in Northeast Ohio and made Cleveland one of the most important radio markets in the world. It includes interviews with radio legends.

Excerpt

The life of a cartoonist is similar to that of a hermit. Jules Feiffer once described how he spent his youth alone in a room, drawing pictures while dreaming of becoming a world-famous cartoonist and how, once he became a world-famous cartoonist, he still spent all of his time alone in a room, drawing pictures.

Having spent a large part of my youth and most of my adult life in a similar fashion, I found that I was saved by two things: First, by the fact that I actually happen to enjoy sitting alone in a room all day long and, second, by my radio. The radio I listened to as a teenager, as a student at Kent State, and later as an adult not only entertained me, it empowered me, informed me, and became a part of the fabric of my life and my work.

Initially it was the wonderfully eclectic AM radio of the early sixties, where you could hear everything from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to Brubeck on WIXY, WHK, and WKYC. The Beatles opened my mind to the endless possibilities before me, Dylan filled it with images, and Brubeck filled it with feeling. But it wasn’t until I became a student at Kent State and FM radio seemingly arrived from nowhere that radio became a political and artistic force to be reckoned with.

A new generation with a new attitude was emerging, and my radio brought it to me. It shaped my attitudes, ambitions, and tastes. Billy Bass, Denny Sanders, and Kid Leo introduced me to new friends like David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mink DeVille, and a guy named Bruce. I wasn’t at the tenth-anniversary concert for WMMS at the Agora; I never made it to a Coffee Break Concert, and I’m the only member of my generation willing to admit that he wasn’t at Woodstock. I was too busy sitting alone in my room, working on becoming a world-famous cartoonist, but thanks to my radio and the personalities and music that it brought into that room, I was a part of it all. For a brief time radio transcended itself and went from being a purveyor of pop tunes to a true artistic form in and of itself.

The bad news is that, like all good things, it didn’t last. The good news is that the book you’re holding brings it all back again with an almost aching nostalgia. Not only that, but it takes you behind the scenes of that radio revolution, revealing the personalities and machinations that helped bring it all about. Along the way it supplies engaging anecdotes and reveals numerous secrets that are only now seeing the light of day, beginning on page one.

TOM BATIUK

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