Commander Rick pilots the Magic 96.1 Hot Air Balloon!   




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Look, up in the sky!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!  No, it's Commander Rick and the Magic 96.1 Hot Air Balloon!  The balloon made appearances all over the Carolinas and the was a very good way to get Magic's image into the public eye.  The whereabouts of the balloon itself are currently unknown.  We would like to hear from Commander Rick to find out more about the hot air balloon and his many adventures in the wild blue yonder.

  "The only stupid question is the one unasked, or the one already answered on the Tragic96.Com FAQ page!" 

Who owns Tragic96.Com?  We consider this website to belong to the former Magic 96.1 staff, listeners and others with an interest in broadcasting history and envision ourselves temporary volunteer curators.  The website was founded and currently maintained by Flash In The Pan Productions which is the audio production division of Vasser & Associates USA owned by David Vasser who worked at Magic 96.1 Radio as Brother Dave.  The site was founded with no eye toward any reward other than chronicling the station's history.  This website is in no way associated or affiliated with the owners of any radio station or any other entity or corporation, it is an independent not-for-profit archive.  The Tragic96.Com website is managed in our spare time.  Any donations will be used only to defray hosting, search engine indexing and other expenses such as postage to return items sent for inclusion.  All labor on the site is donated free of charge as there is no payroll for Tragic96.Com.  In short, this is a labor of love but we appreciate help with expenses.  There is no requirement that you become a patron or donate anything to visit the site, to access any of the documentation or even to submit content for the site.  Everything is free.  However, enjoy this site with the knowledge that it will only endure indefinitely with a little financial support to keep the site up and functioning. 

What if something happens to you and you can't run the site anymore? Should we become unable to continue to curate the site due any unforeseeable reason such as health issues, we have already made arrangements to turn control of the site, all data and any unspent donations over to another curator who will continue managing the site.  All access codes to data storage and copies of all files have already been detailed to a First Alternate Curator who has agreed to step in and pick up where we leave off.  We welcome our First Alternate Curator, Ric Patterson, Operations Manager and I. T. Director of K-FOX 105 Radio in Alexandria LA who has agreed to maintain the site and keep it online in the event we are physically unable to do so for any reason, so it will go on even without us.  Ric Patterson also maintains other popular and important radio tribute websites which chronicle many different stations so managing the Magic 96.1 tribute site would come second nature to him.  In fact Ric has a tribute page to Magic 96.1 on his "ThatWasRadio.Com" site too. 

Do you need other help to keep the site going?  We welcome those interested in becoming volunteer alternate-curators, volunteer co-editors, correspondents or content contributors to contact us.  It is best if you have some experience with MS FrontPage & FTP so you can assist in maintenance, updating and creating new content to improve & properly maintain the site.  Chris McDonald, a longtime fan of Magic 96.1 and a web design professional is now our First Volunteer Co-editor.  In addition we also will post submitted content of a historical or commentary nature.  Contact us if you feel qualified and interested in joining in the fun.

Why are you doing this?  We feel WWMG Magic 96.1 was an important enough part of the Charlotte community and in fact the Radio Nation at large to have its history chronicled indefinitely.  There is an interest in radio history, even among people who never actually worked in radio.  What happened over the years at Magic 96.1 was indeed historic.  We were initially inspired by other tribute sites including the Z-100 Tribute site and the WTMA Tribute site and believe we now equal or surpass them in content.  Tragic96.com is one of the largest sites, if not the largest site, dedicated exclusively to the history of one single radio station.

What kind of content are you seeking and how do I get it to you?  Send us everything relating to WWMG Magic 96.1, we'll sort out what we can use right away and eventually we'll likely use everything that is submitted at one time or another.  The Smithsonian doesn't put everything they have on display at once and neither will we.  No matter what you have and how insignificant and trivial it seems to you now, in ten or twenty years it is certain to be of historical interest to many.  Below are some ideas of content we are seeking. 

If you have content to share, CONTACT US HERE and we will respond by email to make arrangements.

Isn't Magic back on the air at 106.1?  No it isn't.  That is a different station entirely.  "MAJIC 94.1" is WTHZ in Lexington and they are 100 KW (100,000 watts) so their signal can be picked up in part of the metro, but primarily they serve the Triad.  Even though their signal isn't all that great in Charlotte they showed up on the past three Charlotte Arbitron reports and were 18th in the Fall 2007 rating!  There is one connection to Magic.  The same guy that is "THE SHARK" on Majic 94.1 afternoon drive did weekends at Magic 96.1 as Swinging Mac.  He also did drive time weekday traffic reports on Magic 96.1 as "Sky King."  This station is good, but it isn't Magic 96.1 reborn.

Who owned Magic 96.1?  In 2000 WWMG Magic 96.1 FM and sister station WEND 106.5 FM were both purchased from The Dalton Group by Clear Channel Communications of San Antonio TX for roughly 60 million dollars.  They were the last two radio stations the Daltons owned.  Clear Channel is a behemoth corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange that owns over 1,200 radio stations nationwide and five 100,000 watt FM's in Charlotte alone.  In addition to the stations they own, Clear Channel also has management agreements to run other stations they do not own.  Clear Channel changed the the call letters on the station at 96.1 FM from WWMG to WIBT but the ownership did not change.  The WWMG-FM call letters went to another station in Clear Channel's stable.

The other Charlotte FM stations owned by Clear Channel Communications are:  WLYT 102.9 FM known as "Lite 102.9," WRFX 99.7 FM known as "The Fox," WKKT 96.9 FM known as "Kat Country" and WEND 106.5 known as "The End."  WEND and WWMG shared the same studio complex at 801 E. Morehead while the other three stations shared a studio/office complex off the Billy Graham Parkway where all five stations are now housed.

Was Magic eliminated due to an ownership change?  The format change was NOT due to any ownership change since the station has belonged to Clear Channel since 2000.  The format change on 96.1 FM was a business decision.

Why did they kill Magic 96.1?  When purchased by Clear Channel in 2000 Magic was a highly rated station ranking at or near the top in many adult age groups.  Between 2000 and 2004 the Magic ratings had fallen overall and Magic's dominance of the desired age groups had collapsed.  There had been no clear-cut upward trends apparent in the ratings which go on almost continuously in Charlotte. 

There is a morbidity factor in any nostalgia format.  (That means that the audience for the music dies off.)  However, listeners could not have been dying in great enough numbers to account for all the listeners Magic lost.  If that was the reason then at least 50% of everyone in the Charlotte metro over 35 years of age would have to have died since 2000.  Of course 50% of Charlotte's middle aged adults did not die in the single four year period leading up to the Oldie format's demise on 96.1 FM, but instead about half the people that were listening to Magic started listening to something else.   This was not a one-rating period decision.  Magic's ratings had been is a steady decline since about 2001.

There are a multitude of theories for why the ratings declined.  They are far too detailed and intricate to recount here.  They would just be opinionated speculation anyway since you can not point to any one single thing and say, "This is the reason why."  It is though safe to say that a combination of many different factors combined led to lower ratings. 

In a web letter sent to Clear Channel advertisers at the time of the format switch corporate management stated that Magic's oldies music is a "niche format" that didn't belong on a 100,000 watt FM anymore.  The link to the page was: 


They have since changed the page to something else.  However, we transcribed the text of Clear Channel Vice President Morgan Bohannon's press release that was posted on the web page at the above link before they changed it: 

"NEWSFLASH-At midnight last night, Magic 96.1 played American Pie by Don McClean (sic*) and officially signed off the air. The Oldies format has had a wonderful 17 year run in Charlotte. The Oldies format is a viable format in Charlotte, but it has become a niche format - not a format for a 100,000 watt FM radio station with the coverage and power of 96.1.  A different and more mainstream format was needed to deliver more active ears and pocketbooks for your advertising messages . Our programming staff has worked diligently to research all format options.  At 3pm, September 2, 2004 a new era in Charlotte radio has begun. THE BEAT is music for all people who love Today's Biggest hits from Usher, Eminem, Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Nelly. The Beat will be neither ethnic or geographic, defined less by race and demographic boundaries and more by the sound & THE BEAT of Today's Biggest artists. THE BEAT is launching with 10,000 songs in a row to establish itself. Because The Party never stops when everyone is having a good time! Charlotte is moving to a New Beat!" 

(*It was morbidly amusing to us that the corporate VP actually misspelled Don McLean's name while the slightly more difficult to spell artists of today like Eminem and Beyonce proved no challenge.)

Why put CHR/RHYTHMIC music on 96.1 FM?  Simply put, Clear Channel thought Charlotte's 96.1 FM can attract a larger audience of younger people and make far more money with an urban based format than with the oldies Magic played.  It was a decision based on the desire to make more money for the shareholders because after all, radio is a business.  Rest assured it was a carefully researched change and had secretly been in the planning stages for quite a while.  In the next rating after the format change, the CHR/Rhythmic music had doubled the size of the audience.  In the second rating period after the flip they had knocked off WPEG "Power 98" to become the number 1 urban flavored station.  However now the ratings for "THE BEAT" at 96.1 FM are down and "Power 98" is back on top of the Urban heap.  "THE BEAT" finished TENTH in listeners 12 years of age and older in Charlotte's December/January/February 2007 rating period.

We've gotten lots of emails asking this question, or complaining about the format selection so we will go into more detail here.  Clear Channel did not have an urban flavored format on any of their Charlotte stations, but enjoys great success with their "The Beat" youth oriented format in other large markets.  This CHR/Rhythmic format attracts a younger audience.  These younger listeners are the ears that many businesses and the important advertising agencies that buy large blocks of ads actually prefer to reach.  Why?  There are two main reasons. 

Youth is where the ad dollars go because these lifetime buying patterns are well documented.  This is why Top-40 was such a huge success in the 1960's and 1970's.  Top 40 was the "in" format for kids to listen to back then.  CHR/Rhythmic is one of the "in" formats for kids to listen now and that is why there are now three 100,000 watt stations playing CHR/RHYTHMIC type music in Charlotte. 

Many say this new CHR/Rhythmic music is horrible and will not be played 40 or 50 years from now like oldies of the 50's, 60's & 70's are today.  But to be fair, back in the 50's, 60's & 70's older people were saying the Top-40 music then was horrible and would never endure either, and yet it did endure to become the Oldies music format.  In a way Magic 96.1 fans worst fear has been realized, they became their parents!  Many religious leaders clearly said that listening to Top-40 and Soul music was a sin in the 1950's and 1960's.  CHR/Rhythmic and Alternative is the music of today's youth, exactly like Top-40 and Soul was the music of earlier generations.  Clear Channel decided to go after the youth market on one of their five Charlotte stations, and according to the ratings Magic 96.1 was the least listened to of the lot at the time so it became the unlucky choice.          

What happened to the Magic staff at the time of the format change?

That's a summary what happened to the entire air-staff.   

What is this "Voice Tracking" thing?   The days of a live DJ with a microphone, some CD players and tape machines to play commercials are pretty much gone.  This gets complicated but we've tried to simplify it.

What happened to the old Magic 96.1 website?  Another station also owned by Clear Channel, WMJJ-FM, Magic 96.5 in Birmingham, Alabama took over the Magic96.Com website.

Where will listeners find a station that plays music like Magic?  There is only a slim chance that a 100KW FM station owned by another company will decide to bring a similar oldies music format back to Charlotte in the future.  A medium powered FM in February of 2008 flipped to oldies but it is satellite fed for five-sixth's of the day. 

We can honestly say that no station created now could likely be close to Magic in its heyday anyway.  Within the industry Magic was generally recognized as one of the leading oldies stations in the USA for over a full decade.  Magic 96.1's only genuine rival for many years as "the most talked about" Oldies station in the USA was WCBS-FM in New York City which died and then came back to life.  The start up costs for such a first class operation as the Magic 96.1 of 1990-2000 are astronomical, into the millions certainly.  Few stations would be willing to gamble that kind of money on a format that broadcasting behemoth Clear Channel had just ditched as passť. 

An oldies station with a live in-house lineup like Shaffer & Eggman, Harriett Coffee, Boomer, Bobby Lane and Kenny McClain all working live and backed up by a full promotion department, ace engineering and crack production staff is not likely to be repeated in Charlotte simply because the radio business has changed so much in the past ten years.  Most radio stations running an oldies music format these days are either fully or partly automated or satellite fed even in major markets the size of Charlotte.  Most of them sound more like the beautiful music stations of the 1970's in every respect except for the music they play.  You probably won't hear anyone shouting "Have Mercy BAY-BEE!" or "You're the MANNN!" or "Here's the Kiiiiiiinnnnngg!" on it either.  For better or worse, there have been fundamental changes in the way radio stations operate over the past 10 years. 

We've compiled a list of stations, listed below that former Magic 96.1 FM listeners might enjoy. 

Stations In Magic's Old Listening Area That Play Oldies Now!

Oldies in Charlotte:  WOLS 106.1 FM.  Live morning show, satellite fed oldies the resto of the time.  Randy Rowland's "Sunday Night At the Beach" lives here. 

Also on Charlotte's FM dial there's the old Magic 96.1's sister station which is Clear Channel owned "Lite 102.9."  Lite 102.9 captured a large chunk of Magic's former fans.  (Update:  We were right when we initially made this prediction in September of 2004!  Lite 102.9 became Charlotte's overall number one rated station in some Oct-Nov-Dec 2004 ratings.) In addition there's "95.7 The Ride," "K-104.7" and "Mix 106.1."  Each of the four play some of the songs Magic used to play but not all the old Magic songs, plus there's lots of songs Magic never played heard on all three.  You'll also not get the same energy jolt of Boomer, one the south's best "boss" jocks, doing the "Cartunes" show.  But on "95.7 The Ride" you will get Harriet Coffey mid days while on "Lite 102.9" you'll get Jim Shafer in afternoon drive and both were popular long-time Magic personalities.  

On Charlotte's AM dial the familiar ID of "BIG WAYS" is back but it is at 630 AM instead of the old familiar 610 AM.  The current "BIG WAYS" is not the same station that was known as "BIG WAYS" in the 1960's.  The original BIG WAYS was at 610 AM in Charlotte.  This "new" station was WXRC AM in Hickory and they changed their call sign to WAIZ and flipped from country to oldies late in 2003.  The slogan for the new station is "Real Oldies, 63 BIG WAIZ."  Charlotte's WAYS itself was known in the olden days as "61 BIG WAYS."  The new "BIG WAIZ" rounded up all the old 1960's BIG WAYS jingles and is playing them in between pre-1965 oldies.  The old 610 BIG WAYS is now WFNZ sports radio.   WAIZ daytime signal is good all over Charlotte, but at night their coverage area is significantly reduced.  While it sounds automated for now, we still are happy that a station has revived the name "BIG WAYS" and is playing oldies and so are many former Magic listeners.  BIG WAYS of course was a legendary Top-40 station through the 1960's and right into the 70's and especially for "radio heads" it's really good to hear those jingles on the radio again even if Jack Gale, Jay Thomas and Chucky "Boo Boo" Baron aren't there.  We hope BIG WAIZ goes live in some day-parts soon, but whenever we listen they sound automated. 

Oldies in other towns:  People in many surrounding small towns in the 96.1 FM coverage area still have their own oldies stations!  They are mostly AM stations though, but a handful get good signals into Charlotte.  Be advised that most AM stations have to either reduce power or sign-off at sunset to give way to the old 50,000 watt clear channel stations such as WLW, WABC and WSB, so you might can pick one up in the daytime but not at night.  This is the case with most AM stations except those big 50,000 watt stations which are primarily in major cities.

HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION:  Rockingham's WLWL at 770 AM is a jewel of a radio station and one of the best oldies stations left standing in the Carolinas.  770 WLWL is an off-beat rule-breaking station playing a startlingly eclectic variety of music including some old soul, beach, blues, maybe a country flavored song on occasion.   Even Big Band selections can be heard sometimes.  Frankly I think they'll play just about anything that they can get their hands on that will fit on a turntable.  Hooray!  WLWL is 5,000 watts of ALL LIVE AM radio and is a "must listen" if only to see what in the world they will play next!  Unlike some AM Oldie stations we've heard, WLWL doesn't play 30 minutes of commercials per hour or talk a whole lot for no good reason.  New York's talk radio station WABC takes over their frequency at night and what a shame that is if you are a WLWL fan.  Frankly we'd rather hear WLWL than WABC because it is actually BETTER.  WLWL we salute your uniqueness!  And whoever is in charge there, don't change a thing.  WLWL is like a living time capsule taking us back to the 1960's "Free Form" Format days when you could actually play requests one right after another after another.  I think they are actually still playing vinyl records and the commercials are still on analog recording tape cartridges.  Lots of what they play has never been released on CD's.  I don't think they are automated EVER.  Worth a trip toward Rockingham just to hear this station clearly.  This is what radio stations sounded like in the 1960's. 

ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:  Lexington 94.1 FM, WTHZ, calls their station "Majic 94.1" (pronounced "Magic 94.1") hoping to lure former Magic 96.1 listeners and capitalize on Magic 96.1's legacy.   Former Magic 96.1 weekender Mark "Swinging Mac" McGuffin is doing afternoon drive as "The Shark" on WTHZ.  He was also known as "SHARK" on Magic 96.1's sister station FM 106.5 WEND and was also "Shark" on WTHZ's previous incarnation as a Top-40 station.  So far "Magic 94.1" is playing a good selection of music, but compared to the ORIGINAL Magic 96.1 they are light on early 60's, Doo-Wop, Beach Music, Elvis and Rockabilly while heavier on 80's music.    In their favor they are live and local from about 5:30 AM until 7 PM.  Tom Kent is on from his basement via satellite at night and they are automated overnight.   This 40,000 watt station will show up in the Charlotte ratings but their signal is marginal over some of the Charlotte Metro which will prevent them from ever getting the big ratings that the Original Magic 96.1 got at one time.  They may show better in the Triad ratings.  Our recommendation also comes with a WARNING that we have heard some "R-Rated Adult" humor and language on WTHZ that was inappropriate for children or for a family audience.  One thing the ORIGINAL Magic 96.1 always did was stay away from any sort of "adult" humor or "R-Rated" language.  This station doesn't.

RECOMMENDED:  In Albemarle 24 hour WZKY is worth a listen.  WZKY also carries some live sports and is the station where Woody Durham, voice of the UNC Tarheels, cut his play-by-play teeth.  WZKY has very high quality equipment and in fact has been broadcasting in AM Stereo for about 15 years, so if you have one of the rare AM Stereo receivers you will hear AM stereo.  Even mono listeners will like the quality of the audio compared to most other AM stations.  WZKY is historically one of the most successful and best sounding small market AM stations in the state.  The station is now airing satellite fed oldies programming that is remarkably close to the Magic 96.1.  The only disappointing factor is that WZKY only has 1000 watts during the day and way under 100 watts at night.  Magic fans will love WZKY, if you are close enough to hear it. 

There's many other oldies stations around the old Magic coverage area!  So here they are in alphabetical order!  Let us know if we missed one!  If you live where you can pick up these stations, give them a try.  And, we suggest you support their sponsors, because that's what keeps them going!

In North Carolina the following stations are still kicking out the oldies:

Cherryville has WCSL at 1590 AM.  Cherryville's spot for an oldies fix.

In Concord, WEGO 1410 AM will get lots of new listeners to go add to the ones they already had.

In Gastonia try Oldies WGNC 1450 AM.  Also, Gaston College's WSGE 91.7 FM, "The Eagle" is recommended weekends for fans of the Carolina/Virginia Beach Music genre.  While not very similar to Charlotte's lost Magic 96.1, it will appeal to the Hardcore Beach Music segment of Magic's former audience.  WSGE and Beach Music fan Kyle Beam of Charlotte wrote us that, "Friday night at 6pm it kicks off with "The Right Reverend of Beach Music" conducting his Beach Music Revival until 11pm.  From 11pm until 6am, John Hooks Top 40 Countdown followed by The Charlie Brown Show and a stellar mix of Beach R&B. 6am Tim cranks up the old beach oldies until 9am.  Johnny B with his Saturday morning Beach Party from 9am until 1pm.  At 1pm Dr. CC plays the old shag blues and classic shag R&B until 4pm when Dr Philgood wraps up WSGE's 25 solid hours of the best Beach R&B on the planet at 7pm.  Darin Page does beach and oldies each Wed during drive time from 5pm until 7.  Thursday Tommy A does the drive time during the same hours bringing you the best in beach music. That station is cooking man and you should tune in next Friday night and start your week off with a bang."  Beach music fans who can pick up this station will think it "cooks" too.       

Lenoir has WJRI playing oldies at 1340 AM.

Lincolnton, WLON is golden at 1050 AM.

In Mooresville give a listen to the classic gold on WHIP AM 1350 and WHIP it! 

Shelby's WOHS is a good bet too at 730 AM.  WOHS= We're the Oldies Home in Shelby!

Salisbury's oldies station is WSAT 1280 AM. 

Valdese has 1490 AM WSVM where the oldies sound as good as the bakery smells.

In South Carolina oldies are on the following stations: 

WCRE 1420 AM in Cheraw 

WOLT 103.3 FM in Greer

WKMG 1520 AM in Newberry

Let us know of others not listed that play oldies and can be heard in Magic's old coverage area, or if any of the ones listed have changed formats tell us so we may delete them.  CONTACT US!

21st Century Alternatives:  HD Radio is coming.  Basically this piggy-backs multiple channels onto an already existing FM station.  This will multiply the number of possible FM channels dramatically.  It is likely that when HD-FM comes to all Charlotte FM's one of the channels will be oldies.  To hear an HD-FM channel you need a special HD-FM receiver which can cost from $100 to $300.  They are not widely available yet.  However we know of five HD-FM capable stations in Charlotte but none are playing 50's & 60's oldies.  So for now, to really get the closest thing to the old Magic 96.1 without AM static and in stereo you have to subscribe to XM or Sirius satellite radio.  This actually is a very good option and will firmly plant you into the 21st Century future of audio entertainment.  Also, your favorite Satellite channel will NEVER change format on you. 

Satellite radio works a lot like cable TV in that you pay a monthly fee (9.95 to 12.95) and then you can listen to about a hundred channels with no commercials on a special receiver that hooks up in your car, your home and office.  Expect to pay about $200 for a satellite radio receiver.  Both Sirius and XM offer separate channels for the 50's, the 60's and the 70's.  So, there's no one single satellite channel that plays music from all three decades meaning you'll have to switch around to get a mix of decades.  There's no dedicated Carolina Beach Music channel either.  They have many other channels though.  In fact Sirius even has an all Elvis Presley channel.  If and when a big FM stereo oldies station comes back to Charlotte you can cancel your satellite radio subscription and use the extra money to support the advertisers of the new oldies station.  "King of All Media" Howard Stern has moved his program to Sirius and abandoned the public airwaves, probably for good.  You can get more information about the two satellite radio services from either link below:

XM Satellite Radio

Sirius Satellite Radio

If you want some unbiased advice in deciding which subscription satellite music service would actually be best for you click below:

Which Satellite Music Service Should I Subscribe To?

That analysis could all be changing as something we never saw coming, a merger of XM and Sirius is now making news headlines. 

Don't forget that if you've got digital cable TV or satellite TV service you may in fact have music channels on there!  Hook your TV audio output to your stereo and you can play the oldies music channels really LOUD and pretend it is radio! 

"Thank you for visiting today...but most of all, on behalf of each of Magic 96.1's devoted staff members over all the years, thank you for listening!" 

Copyright © 2004-2010 Flash In the Pan Productions USA