↑ Return to 2001 – 2003

March 2002

[important]To read in chronological order, start at the bottom and work your way up.[/important]

Eric, Any idea on what ever happened to Lani Daniels? She was on 3WS in the early to mid 1990’s and I have never seen or heard a trace of her since she left. Phil, Pittsburgh (March 31, 2002)

Hi Eric; Great site! This is for Sandy from Long Island. Sandy Mason is alive and well and living in Nashville. She is still a sonwriter. Two years ago, Garth Brooks recorded one of her songs. She is a native of Natrona Heights, Pa. Yes, Miss Janey passed away years ago–I’m not sure of the cause. I, too, grew up watching Paul Shannon, Miss Janey, Ricki & Copper, Joe Negri….ah, the good ole days! Greetings to all…..Adrienne (March 28, 2002)

Eric do you know whatever happened to Dan Siemasko? In the mid-70s when I was Production Manager of CHUM, I heard some of his production stuff. Outstanding. So Bob McMillan, Zeke Zdebiak and I drove to Pittsburgh to spend a couple of days with him. He worked at KQV at the time. We had a great time and learned a lot. I’d like to think we taught him a little too. For many years after that we kept in touch and regularly exchanged tapes of production we were proud of. Cheers WC (March 28, 2002)

Hi Eric….I really appreciate the site. I have been living in Long Island, NY for about 4 years now, but it’s great walk down memory lane with you and all the other folks who post here. A while back, there was a few postings regarding Paul Shannon’s Adventure Time. Do you remember a female sidekick he had on the show named Sandy Mason? Anyone know where she is now? Also, I was a watcher of Romper Room in the late 60’s-early 70’s when the teacher was named Miss Janie. It was rumored that she had passed away in the early 70’s of a heart attack. Is that true? All the best to those in the ‘burg, and thanks again for the great site. Sandy, Long Island, NY (March 26, 2002)

96.1 also was known for a while as WCAE-FM (before it was WRYT-FM). I remember well hearing old-timer Bill Nesbit playing top forty music on that station. It was about as incongruous as could be. Some others at the time were “Henny Penny” aka Dick Blanchard, Jim O’Neill (the same guy that later hosted a national folk music show on TV – Shindig, I think), Tom Schaefer, another person out of his element in top 40. It was an interesting attempt. Paul. (March 25, 2002)

I’ve just uploaded a couple of the original 96KX chants that were done by Parma Productions to my website. There is also a short recap of the first year (1977) of 96KX. You can find it on my WTAE websitehttp://1250wtae.musicpage.com click on the 96KX page link on the menu. Ed Salamon sent me an interesting article from Broadcasting Magazine from April 1973 about the battle between KQV and 13Q. It is available on both the KQV and 13Q websites. http://14kqv.musicpage.com http://13Q.musicpage.com. Jeff Roteman (March 24, 2002)

Hello: Spending a wonderful evening reading every page at PBRTV–what a great site! Though a “Pittsburgher” since 1986, I remember listening to the Pittsburgh stations (and watching the ‘Burgh’s TV stations) way back in the 60’s. What a trot down memory lane! Do you have any information on the radio station WNUF (or was it WMUF?) from Millvale? I remember my parents listening to this station every night, tuning in for the program “The Sound of the Big Bands”. We were able to get this station’s signal once we subscribed to cable TV (I grew up in Punxsutawney, PA) and my father hooked the cable up to the big “stereo”…that long piece of furniture that housed the radio and record player (and took up most of one side of the room). Since reading through your site has brought these memories back, I was wondering if you could tell me any thing about this station? Seems to me that there was some sort of a tie in with the “J. M. Hammond Green Sheet” paper. Thanks for a super site! Joe (March 22, 2002)

Eric’s Response: WNUF was on 100.7 which was and still is licensed to “New Kensington-Pittsburgh.” (But now as WZPT.) The station was indeed in Millvale along North Avenue right about the Lincoln Pharmacy…which is still there. The station was there until roughly 1990 when it was Mix Jamz 100.7. I believe the Green Sheet still comes out of Millvale as well. Seems to me that we’ve had WNUF discussions before and you might want to dig through the mailbag archive.

Older demographics make ’50s or “doo wop” oldies less viable as a 2002 format, even in Pittsburgh. I think that the great success of WQED’s “doo wop” specials as fund raisers for their pledge periods is the exception that proves that statement. I think that if you look at the type of programming that WQED chooses to feature during their pledge period shows that they get some of their best responses from the 50 years old and up demographic. We candidates for AARP might not be the folks that paid advertisers want to pursue, but we seem to be a prime group for public broadcasting begging. So maybe the best venue for Porky Chedwick/Mad Mike style oldies programming would be a public radio station, not a commercial station. Maybe the PD at WQED-FM should contemplate adding an “old” oldies program to that station’s schedule. George (March 21, 2002)

Eric’s Response: Better make that WYEP…the classical music lovers might get a little upset…

Eric, There seems to be growing interest in 96KX and in Hitradio 96. Perhaps it’s time for me to break out my 96KX Belt Buckle, 96 KX Pyramid and some of the other goodies and add them to the WTAE website. Jeff Roteman (March 20, 2002)

Eric, regarding the call letter carousel on 96.1 that someone asked about, I believe the complete list since the 1970’s would be WTAE-FM, WXKX, WHTX, WVTY, WDRV, WPHH, and WKST-FM. WXKX was the highest-rated of all of these formats, and even with the recent success of Kiss, still holds the record. But let’s give them credit for turning 96.1 into a CHR station again. Regards, Clarke Ingram. (March 20, 2002)

Eric, George hit it right — older demographics make ’50s or “doo wop” oldies less viable as a 2002 format, even in Pittsburgh. Most advertisers don’t want listeners over 50 and that’s who a station like that would draw. That’s why 3WS changed its sound and added so much ’70s material. They’re trying to appeal to younger oldies listeners…On WCBS-FM/New York playing “Kokomo,” they have always had a much wider range of oldies than most stations. They regularly play “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits and “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin, among others…The ratings success of WJAS is not a surprise. It is a well-programmed station with an emphasis on familiar personalities in a market that has a large elderly population. Despite its ratings, it’s tough to sell advertising because its audience is so old. That’s one reason why they’re only live and local for two shifts per day. (March 20, 2002)

Eric, Randy Miller was the morning man at KBEQ in Kansas City until a few months ago. He has not landed anywhere else, to my knowledge. Randy left WXKX when it switched to WHTX, but not because of O’Brien and Garry. OB&G’s move happened months later. When Jack Bogut was hired for mornings at WTAE, OB&G moved to mornings on WHTX, displacing Bob Savage, who moved to afternoons, displacing Rich Anton, who moved to nights, displacing…yours truly. Since I was the odd man out in that particular transaction, I remember it well. Regards, Clarke Ingram. (March 19, 2002)

Re: 96 KX loved those liners…….two letter radio…KX….. ! (March 19, 2002)

Eric, regarding “Kokomo” on 3WS, I hear that a CC -owned Oldies station in North is indeed at WNEM-TV 5, in Bay City, Michigan. They are now the CBS affiliate in that area. WEYI-TV was the long-time CBS affiliate, while WNEM was with NBC. They switched affiliations a few years ago, hence the confusion. JC, South Hills (March 18, 2002)

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but it seems to me that most people define “oldies” as the songs that they listened to as teenagers and twenty-somethings, or else music that sounds like it. And not taking anything away from Porky Chedwick and his accomplishments, I tend to think that the traditional “oldies” music that he made famous from the 1950’s still appeals to the exact same people that have always liked it. Trouble is, those people who were teenagers in the 50’s and 60’s are now in their 50’s and 60’s themselves, and aren’t a real hot market for advertisers like they used to be. Do the math. If you used to listen to Porky Chedwick and Mad Mike when you were 15 years old in 1965, that means you’re 52 years old now. If you were a Porky fan at age 18 in 1958, then you’re 62 today. I happen to be 50 myself, and I’m not real thrilled that I’m no longer considered part of the “hot” market that advertisers make broadcasters cater to. But advertisers figure that I’m pretty much set in my ways regarding what brands I buy and where I shop, so they don’t really care about reaching me, except maybe to sell cemetary plots or laxatives. They’re wrong, but don’t bother wasting your breath trying to convince them of that. Any station that programs the REAL oldies, like what Porky used to play, would probably draw some great numbers with the 50 to 75 year old demographic. And they’d go broke, because they wouldn’t be able to sell enough commercials to make a profit. George (March 18, 2002)

If 3WS is slowly heading back to an AC format , then maybe 98.3 would do better with a real Pittsburgh oldies format with music going back to Porky Chedwick at WAMO. (March 16, 2002)

Sam’s now doing the news for WNEM-TV in Flint. (March 15, 2002)

Eric’s Response: So is it WNEM or WEYI?

Sam Merrill, late of WTAE-TV, has moved on to anchor the evening newscasts at WEYI-TV 25 in Flint, Michigan. (Actually, the station sits in the middle of a beet field midway between Flint and Saginaw). I believe he had worked in that market previously. Having lived there, I can tell you Sam will need a nimble tongue. Since no one community around there is large enough to comprise a decent sized Arbitron ratings point, the station ID guys tend to lump them all together. Stations in that market ID themselves as being in the mythical city of “Baycitysaginawmidlandflint”. Hence the legal ID’s sound something like “WEYI-TV 25, Baycitysaginawmidlandflint” or “WIOG-FM 102, Baycitysaginawmidlandflint”. It’s brutal! JC, South Hills (March 15, 2002)

What happened to Sam Merrill, morning co-anchor on WTAE-TV? (March 14, 2002)

Eric’s Response: I believe he got another position in another market. I don’t remember where though.

Hi Eric ~ I read your collumn on why you chose not to watch the 9/11 special on CBS this past Sunday. I actually didn’t watch it that nite either but did set my old fashioned VCR to record it to watch later. Well I did watch it the next day after work & yes felt alot of the emotions you may have felt. I give CBS credit for showing it because they did it with as much class as they could considering the content & rough language in some scenes. One fact is that CBS did run the program with 3 breaks during the 2 hours. The first one contained a message from Homeland Security officer (And the pride of Erie, Pa.) Tom Ridge. After that, the other 2 breaks contained tributes to Firefighters, EMTs & Law Enforcement personnel from across the country. All were sponsored by Nextel but it was not so that they could make a buck. The program should be viewed by everyone who can realize what these emergency people are up against. Tom L. (March 14, 2002)

Eric, If someone told you the CBS 9/11 show was gory, they were badly misinformed. It was anything but that — a very powerful but very tastefully done show. The 3WS playlist has changed radically with much more ’70s material being added. I’ve heard Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze,” “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, several different Bread hits and the Elton John-Kiki Dee “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” amid the usual Motown stuff. The new stuff is all in regular rotation. Vic (March 13, 2002)

The jury is still out as to why Kokomo has been included in that list however!

Maybe, in a moment of programming madness, they actually made a decision on whether to play a song or not based on what it sounded like, instead of the date of the recording session. I’m sure that was an accident, not to be repeated. What would this world come to if the people who picked what songs to play on the radio were to start listening to what they sounded like, instead of trusting in computer printouts of how the songs did with focus groups! George (March 13, 2002)

Let me prime the pump!!!!! What’s with 3WS?….. On Friday night 3/8 I heard Kokomo- The Beach Boys (1988)?…. Saturday the played Dance With Me Orleans? (1975) Anyone who knows the standard 3WS playlist…..all 150 of them knows this is unusual!!! ANYONE??????? (March 13, 2002)

Eric’s Response: Well, in case you haven’t noticed, 3-W-S is now your place for “Good time hits of the 60’s and 70’s.” The jury is still out as to why Kokomo has been included in that list however!

for anyone who wonders why I’m not doing radio currently…here’s an exerpt from a statement at my site (www.ronchavis.com): Since my first days in radio at ABC’s WDVE FM in Pittsburgh beginning in 1970, I have been dealing succesfully with the public” on a fairly personal basis. I stumbled into professional radio, submitting a demo tape only after much prodding from some pals at the Point Park College station where I spent time smoking grass and reading Carl Jung during long Hendrix records (been writing too-long sentences ever since). These were the days before “the music died.” The Feds had mandated that the Big Three in Detroit begin installing FM radios as standard equipment in all new autos, and the big radio companies who’d been busy gobbling FM frequencies while lobbying for that mandate were now scrambling to find the best niche for their new stereo broadcast capabilities. What they found was “Album Rock,” the mix of everything from Uriah Heap to Carole King to Led Zep that was making waves through WPLJ in New York. In Pittsburgh, WDVE management was looking for announcers who knew that wide array of music, knew the peculiarities of Pittsburgh… what the city wanted to hear, musically and otherwise. We were all in uncharted waters here. So, the false science of “programming” (spoon-feeding the audience with music and jargon according to the dictates of so-called market research) hadn’t yet contaminated FM to the extent that it had AM Top 40 at the time. Believe it or not, the deejays actually had some say in the music we played in those fledgling days of “FM.” Indeed, we were mostly college kids, or of that age, who had some radio experience and who happened to be in touch with what our peers wanted to hear. We were craftspeople, though I doubt any of saw it that way; and we were truly the best at what we did. In 1970, our little staff of radio “nonprofessionals” at the newly staffed WDVE wound up beating the headphones off of our “professionally staffed,” tightly programmed AM sister station, the Top 40 KQV, in the first ratings book after our staff hit the air. Talk about instant fame… and jealousy… and the flames it brings: the seasoned, “ace” announcers from KQV were suddenly not speaking to us newcomers, and even demanding their own bathroom so as to encounter us as little as possible. FM rocked to the top in LA and Boston, Houston, even Toronto. You KNOW the part FM played in that very special era, if you lived there. It made mags like Rolling Stone happen. It made stereo and head shops boom industries. And everywhere that this “freeform” music and personality style of radio prospered, the competition envied it… and competition everywhere tried to replicate it by researching it… and creating new programming to implement deejay compliance to this new “format.” Until, in a few short years, FM had become what it had replaced. Inevitably, sadly, laughably, FM became the ugly giant that AM Top 40 was in the first place: a barren wasteland of repetition that cheats everyone — from music performers who don’t fit the “direction things are going” to the poor, pablum fed listeners whose minds are probed via telephone surveys, “listener song testing” and “buying trends.” If Bob Dylan were to have begun today instead of yesterday, there’s no way you’d hear him on a radio: UN-trendy! And, universally, with the exception of clown morning show hosts, deejays’ lips are kept in closer reign than Julia Roberts’ bra straps. Radio talk artists like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus stand out like surviving pyramids against a skyline of McDonald’s “golden arches” and red and white TGI Friday awnings… shining testimonies that the basis of true craftsmanship doesn’t lie in some ever-evolving formula, but rather a tried and true knowledge of the material at hand and the skill to work with it. And that is artistry. That is craftsmanship. That, like it or not, is the real crowd pleaser, the sine qua non of genuine entertainment. The aborting of craftsmanship is much of the reason why I left radio and is why I vow to never return until Don Imus retires and some genius at the top of the industry decides to give me a turn at freedom behind the mic! (But may Don never retire!) Ps. This is MUST reading for every radio person and every recording artist:http://www.msnbc.com/news/718662.asp.

Eric; Add to the gentleman’s inquiry about past Pittsburgh jocks: Frankie Crocker (“If your radio’s not on Frankie Crocker, your radio’s not ON!”), who went on to great fame in New York City and as one of the first VH-1 jocks, died a couple years ago. His famous closing line–and only he could sound cool saying it: “I hope you all live to be a hundred years old, and me, a hundred, minus a day, so I won’t know that good people like you have to pass away.” I honestly don’t know if he used that line while he was at WZUM. Today, the only local air personality who could use a line like that and sound COOL is Rockin’ Ron Chavis, The Night-Time Dawg (WAMO, WRRK, B-94).. FROST used to form on the microphone when he’d open with, “I was born in the back of steel mill..Baptised in the Monongehela..” Ed Weigle (March 1, 2002)

Message appearing in late February mailbag – R. Liff posted a great list of talent, mostly from KQV in the 1960 era, and Vic had a lot of fine answers. Here is one more reply: Lee Vogel passed away, quite a long time ago, in the late 60s or early 70s. He was a graduate of Carnegie Tech, and the alumni office might have more info on him. Lee replaced Dave Scott on the 9 to midnight shift when Dave moved to afternoons for the top 40 show. Lee’s show was intelligent, and delivered with less faux intensity than most of his peers used. The station never had a theme cut for him, so he used a big band version of “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” at the beginning and end of his airtime – something that would never happen now with all the concern about “synchronization rights” and the Harry Fox Agency. I have a vague memory that Lee might have worked in Minneapolis for a while after leaving KQV. If R. Liff wants to contact me, perhaps we could exchange some tales about radio 40 years ago. Paul. (Bluebox@pobox.com) (March 1, 2002)