(The Magic 96.1 Pink Cadillac)
Deaths of Other Influential Oldies Stations
On this page you'll find information about the deaths and rebirths of other influential Oldies stations. Oldies stations are being killed off almost daily, but every now and then a new oldies station is born or resurrected. We can't report on all of them. Instead we'll concentrate on Landmark Stations and those in the Southeast.
Landmark Oldies Stations played Oldies of the 50's, 60's and 70's. Landmark Stations were vital and living members of their city, their community and icons of quality to the Radio Nation at large. They were stations with history and style. Landmark Stations left a loyal core audience without warning as they were erased from the face of the Earth in a corporate quest for a more youthful audience so they could be more profitable. These are stations that will not soon be forgotten, where great radio happened live 24 hours a day.
Links to information about many of Magic 96.1's fallen brothers and sisters can be found on the "Magic Links" page.
What many Oldies Radio fans don't really understand is the sea-change that the broadcasting business has undergone over the past ten to fifteen years. Radio of today is not the same radio of 1990 primarily for one reason. A Federal Communications Commission rule, known as the "duopoly" rule, prohibited one company from owning more than one AM, more than one FM and more than one TV station in the same market. It also kept TV & radio stations from owning newspapers and vice-versa. The rule remained unchanged for decades. But the old FCC "duopoly" rule was changed to allow one company to own up to eight radio stations in each market. Corporate giants moved in, took over the radio business and that was that. Now, proposals are in the government pipeline to slow this "consolidation of ownership" but it is too late. (You can read an informative University of California at San Diego Thesis by Robert B. Horwitz on this very topic by clicking HERE.)
Another important change is the easy and cheap availability of computer automation to handle the routine jock duties, which up until about 15 years ago was everything that went on the air from commercials to news to weather and the music. Now at most radio stations computers do all that and the announcer just has to talk. Some automation systems even do all the talking, so live professional announcers aren't really required at all these days as in the format known as "JACK" which pretty much is like listening to an IPOD.
Oldies radio, more than any other format except news/talk radio, needs live local announcers to build a loyal audience. Take away the live announcers and you are left with a juke box playing the same 1,200 (or sometimes fewer) songs over and over. Without a live local personality to make it sound more interesting and fresh, stations playing oldies simply won't do well for long. Live professional announcers cost more than some stations are willing to pay so they opt for the automated route to pare the payroll. Some stations opt to pre-record the live announcer role using out of town talent who are like independent contractors that can work cheaper than local talent can. These out of town jocks record their patter and use the internet and automation to digitally insert their recorded voiceover elements into the computers of radio stations hundreds or thousands of miles away. Some of these people are doing five or more customized radio shows per day in different markets.
Other programs are available via satellite. One example of satellite delivered shows is the Charlotte based "The John Boy & Billy Big Show" which at this writing airs in 20 different states on 95 different stations not counting Charlotte's Fox which is their home station. This show in particular is available in both Rock and Country formats. That means that there are at least 94 local air personalities unemployed.
This page sends a message to anyone who still has a decent FM Oldies station in their town. That message is: "If you ignore your Oldies station, it will go away. They will take your music and your radio station and put it all in a dumpster out back and start all over with something completely different. (Some of the memorabilia featured on this site was rescued from a dumpster behind the 801 E Morehead studios.) Your support is crucial to the survival of your Oldies station. By support we don't only mean to LISTEN, we mean PARTICIPATE IN SPONSOR PROMOTIONS and perhaps most importantly, TELL SPONSORS YOU HEARD ABOUT THEM ON THE OLDIES STATION when you visit and spend your money! If the advertisers know the Oldies station's ads work the advertiser may advertise more."
Corporate radio executives of the 21st century understand ONE thing and one thing only, profit. They don't care about much else. If they see a chance to make more money this week than they did last week, they'll take it every single chance they get.
Radio has always been a business, but there used to be at least some art and some fun involved in it. Since the corporate takeover of local radio by the major broadcasting corporations it has become a far more serious business than ever. It is more science than art now, and that science is making the most money possible.
"Welcome Back CBS-FM!"
The flip back to “Oldies” at WCBS 101.1 FM New York happened Thursday July 12, 2007. The JACK-FM format died much like the HBO show "The Sopranos" as “Don't Stop Believing” by Journey cut off in mid song. That was followed by a montage featuring snips of music from the '60s, '70s and '80s with news and entertainment clips interspersed with the well known WCBS-FM jingles. The montage ended precisely at 1:01 P.M. and the station began the “Oldies” format with former New York Mayor Ed Koch commenting it was nice for the CBS people to admit "they blew it. Welcome back, CBS-FM!"
The first song was the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again” introduced on the air by Beach Boy Al Jardine. FRANKIE VALLI was next to welcome back CBS-FM which was followed by "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" by his Four Seasons.
The music mix on the station is obviously different from the old CBS-FM with some 80’s music being played while the 50’s Doo-Wop that was prominently featured on the old CBS-FM was nowhere to be heard. The rest of the first hour was in this order: “Respect “ by Aretha Franklin, “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen, “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, “Summer In The City” by Lovin’ Spoonful, “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, “Only The Good Die Young” by Billy Joel, “Do You Love Me” by the Contours, “Jack & Diane” by John Cougar Mellencamp, “Twist & Shout” by the Beatles, “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees, “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison, “Mony Mony” By Tommy James and “Last Dance” by Donna Summer.
Of all the things I've written for this website, this is the one story that has been most joyous to write. Reporting good news instead of bad news is always better.
LISTEN TO CBS-FM'S RETURN RECORDED 1:01 PM 07/12/07 EDITED. CLICK HERE AND THE MP3 WILL PLAY AFTER DOWNLOADING, IT WILL TAKE A MINUTE ON FAST CONNECTIONS AND A VERY LONG TIME ON SLOW CONNECTIONS SO ALLOW TIME FOR IT TO DOWNLOAD BEFORE CLOSING THE WINDOW. We suggest that you RIGHT CLICK on the link and select "SAVE TARGET AS" and save it to your "MY MUSIC" folder so you can keep it forever. We will leave this aircheck up for as long as possible but it may be removed with NO FURTHER NOTICE.
The old CBS-FM had been streaming oldies online at their website since the format change in 2005. Instead, now you hear a simulcast of CBS-FM playing oldies LIVE on their website at http://www.wcbsfm.com (July 12, 2007)
"See! You CAN Go Back!" WCBS-FM REVERSES FLIP
Tragic96.com has confirmed that WCBS-FM NEW YORK will return to their legendary Oldies format on THURSDAY, JULY 12 at 1:01 P.M. dumping the IPOD like “JACK” format that never scored with New Yorkers. In a CBS Radio press release dated July 9, 2007 station VP Jennifer Donohue states the format change from JACK-FM to CBS-FM will start with songs from The Beatles, Motown and The Beach Boys. The “new” CBS-FM playlist also features 80’s artists like Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart. 80’s songs were never heard on the previous incarnation of the NYC Oldies outlet. There was no mention in the press release of the Doo-Wop groups that were a staple of the old WCBS-FM.
Donahue does however cite “the loyal fan base who never stopped asking for the format’s return” as part of the reason for the change. Brian Thomas will be the PD and in the press release he added, "CBS-FM will be a station that celebrates its past with an updated sound appealing to a whole new generation of listeners on many levels.”
We have also learned that initially, the station will be automated but within a few days live air-personalities will be on the air around the clock.
Part of the new CBS-FM DJ line up was spelled out in the press release. Former WCBS jock Dan Taylor is the morning show host. Monkee drummer Mickey Dolenz was doing mornings when the old CBS-FM was blown up in 2005 and had completed his 100th show the very day that he was fired. Bob Shannon returns to CBS-FM as host of mid-days. In afternoon drive is longtime NYC radio personality Broadway Bill Lee who is new to CBS-FM. On September 7th, 2007 we learned that moving into the night slot will be Ron Parker who is a longtime friend of Magic 96.1's Brother Dave. The two worked together at WRFC in the early 70's while both were attending the University of Georgia in Athens. Former CBS-FM personalities & New York radio icons Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow and Norm N. Night are under exclusive contract to Sirius and will remain absent from the new CBS-FM lineup.
On June 3, 2005 in a coordinated flip WCBS-FM and sister station WJMK-FM in Chicago simultaneously abandoned their affluent boomer audience for the JACK format. Brother Dave of Magic 96.1 dubbed that dark day the “Double Barreled Massacre.” (See below for the story on the June 3, 2005 dual flip.)
Tragic 96.Com sends our congratulations to the NYC oldies fans that kept the pressure on. Brother Dave added “See, you CAN go back! Magic 96.1 Fans should start making noise! You never know, the time might be right and Clear Channel has to be disappointed about the consistently poor rating performance of "THE BEAT" Hip-Hop format over the past two years following a fast fading initial ratings splash. Magic 96.1 Fans should start writing letters and making phone calls again. They really shouldn't have stopped in the first place.” (July 9, 2007)
Oldies Back in Choo-Choo City
One-time "BIG WAYS" Charlotte and "WAPE-THE BIG APE" air personality CLEVELAND WHEELER anchors the morning show and is Program Director for WUUS in Chattanooga, TN which has brought OLDIES/Classic Hits back to Chattanooga. To bounce the signal all over the mountainous terrain WUUS broadcasts on four different frequencies. The main frequency is 97.3 FM, licensed to South Pittsburg TN. Two lower powered repeating translators beam the oldies into Chattanooga. The translators operate on 99.3 FM licensed to Lookout Mountain, TN & 103.5 FM licensed to Walden TN. They are also simulcasting the FM Oldies signal on a forth frequency at 980 AM licensed to Rossville, GA. WUUS was recently purchased from Clear Channel by 3 Daughters Media. (July 12, 2007
The Triad's "Oldies 93" Killed By Wolf
Oldies 93, WMQX at 93.1 FM had been a very successful oldies music station in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Highpoint market for many years. Around 9 AM Tuesday October 3rd, 2006 right after the morning show's last newscast aired, an announcement declared "OLDIES 93 IS DEAD." The last record played was "Let It Be" by the Beatles. Then a robotic computerized countdown to the new format began leading to a new country music format and a new station identity called "THE WOLF."
Former longtime Magic 96.1 personality BOOMER had been working at Oldies 93 right up until the format change. Boomer told us Thursday October 5th that existing air staff were offered the opportunity to audition for hire at THE WOLF. He says he has decided to pass on that opportunity, has no plans to get back into radio full time and will stay in Charlotte where he is the Carolina Panthers' Stadium Announcer. He stopped short of saying he's retired from radio.
On Wednesday October 4th, 2006 Preferred Members of the Oldies 93 Listeners' Club received the following explanation of the format change by email:
(member's name inserted here),
By now you are aware of a major change in the radio landscape in the
Triad. We wanted to take a moment and explain what is happening and
why. As of today at 3pm Oldies 93 has changed format to 93-1 THE WOLF.
The WOLF is a music station featuring more than 50 minutes of Fresh
Country music every hour.
Why did this happen?
For some time now Oldies based radio stations like Oldies 93 have been
disappearing around the country for the same reason: Lack of
advertiser support. This has not be a ratings issue. Thanks to the
support of listeners like you Oldies 93 has maintained high ratings
and was consistently one of the top rated stations in the Greensboro,
Winston Salem, High Point market. In fact for the last three years
Oldies 93 has been one of the top five Oldies based stations in the
nation. No this is not due to lack of ratings. It is due to
advertisers failing to embrace the audience that we delivered with
Oldies 93. This has also affected movies, tv and other entertainment
venues. Advertisers are seeking a younger audience and have refused to
fully embrace the baby boom generation.
Radio stations are in fact a business that only has one source of
revenue: advertising. While Oldies 93's ratings have remained
competitive, our revenue has taken a hit over the last year. We have
held off making this kind of move longer than most stations around the
country, but that day has finally arrived. We have exhausted every
possible alternative to making this change by trying to educate the
advertising community about the value of our listeners. Unfortunately
we have not convinced enough of the advertisers to come around to our
way of thinking.
Based on extensive research we have determined the best course for the
station is the launch a new radio station featuring a unique blend of
country music. And so as of today 93-1 THE WOLF is on the air and
ready to have some Paw scratchin' Fun in the Piedmont Triad.
We know that many of you enjoy country music as well as Oldies, and it
is our hope that you give the WOLF a chance to be your friend, just
like Oldies 93 was.
That is really all we know about this situation at this point. We wish the former staff at Oldies 93 the very best. We are most sorry for the Triad's Oldies fans who no doubt are not happy campers right now. Remember, they said they changed the format because "Baby Boomers" don't matter to advertisers, yet they say they still want them to listen and ask for "a chance to be your friend." We are still trying to figure out why they would want their old core audience to hang around, since they just told them that they didn't need them. Perplexing. The statement about the ratings being competitive was correct as Oldies 93 was rated 7th overall in the Spring 2006 Arbitron rating, but the station was showing a downward trend which began in the Fall of 2005. The station is owned by Entercom. There are already at least four country stations in the market, one of which plays country oldies. The number one country station there is WTQR owned by Clear Channel which is rated third overall in the market in the Spring 2006 rating. The number one station in the market overall is Entercom's Urban AC WQMG according to the same report.
A final point about the Triad market. They have a radio station broadcasting in Spanish that finds enough advertisers to stay on the air and yet a good Oldies station like Oldies 93 can't. They must not have many Spanish speaking baby-boomers listening to that Spanish station.
"Hut...2...3...4...No Oldies Anymore! (Well for 3.5 months anyway.)"
Ft. Bragg area oldies fans were marching to a different beat....for a few months anyway. Fayetteville's Oldies 96.5 switched to all Christmas music around Thanksgiving 2005, which they had done in holiday seasons past. The first clue that something was up came after Christmas when they played all Beatles music for a few days calling themselves "WFL-Beatles" with the usual personalities nowhere to be heard. Then WFLB flipped to a Classic Rock format to start the new year of 2006 leaving listeners aghast. Some Oldies 96.5 personalities, including morning man Bobby Lane (formerly assistant PD at Magic), were shifted to other stations owned by Beasley Broadcasting which owns WFLB. Others were left out in the cold. Then on Friday February 17th, 2006 we got news that TWO, that's right TWO stations abandoned their existing formats to play oldies to fill the void. Country WFVL (THUNDER 106.9) and Talk WFNC-FM switched to an Oldies simulcast . That means both carry the same exact same Oldies programs simultaneously. PD CHRIS ROTH handles afternoons and JEFF GOLD in mornings. We are reluctant to speculate, but we suspect this is a temporary format for one of the stations and that the Oldies will eventually air on only one of the two FM's. The FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER reports that the stations have picked up the Oldies format dropped on DECEMBER 30 by cross town BEASLEY outlet WFLB, which went to a Classic Hits format as "96.5 THE DRIVE." WFNC's talk format continues on its AM frequency. Click HERE to read the FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER story. Longtime WFLB personality, King Curtiss with his Beach Club which airs Sunday’s 7pm to Midnight is back too! GREAT NEWS! Congratulations Fayetteville, we hope you show those sissyfied big-timer fancy-pants in Charlotte and Raleigh how Oldies radio can still attract a large, responsive and affluent audience!
"YET ANOTHER CAROLINA OLDIES OUTLET VAPORIZED, THIS TIME GREENVILLE SC"
From Oldies fan Jim in Grover, NC came this news in . "Oldies 106.3, WGVC in Greenville, SC closes up shop and vanishes without warning! Abandons frequency to another station with a different format. I hope that some of the listeners were able to record hours of programming from Oldies 106.3 because now there are no more oldies from Charlotte to Greenville! Tragic!"
Yes Jim we agree. The old Oldies 106.3 website confirms the October 7, 2005 news like this, "OLDIES 106.3 HAS CHANGED FORMATS!!! OLDIES 106.3 is now the WALK. Please click on the link below to see our new website. The Staff at OLDIES 106.3 would like to thank all of the loyal listeners who have tuned in over the past couple of years. It has been our pleasure to serve you the best in Motown, Soul & Great Rock N' Roll!"
The new station's website is HERE. The new 106.3 is called "The Walk" and they play both kinds of music, County and Contemporary Christian. Just what Greenville/Spartanburg needed, another country station! There are already two Clear Channel owned country stations there which combined have 17% of the radio audience between them. The other big format there is Urban with 9 to 10% of the audience. There also were five Christian formats of various flavors already on the air there. Not one of the five Christian station's ratings were any better than Oldies 106.3's ratings. So we can safely predict that the new Christian Country choice probably isn't going to be an instant winner.
While you can't exactly call WGVC 106.3 a Landmark oldies station the format flip is news in the Carolinas and will be the talk of adults in Greenville/Spartanburg for a while. While Oldies 106.3 really never really caught on with the audience in the couple of years they were on the air, there still are some pretty vocal fans of the station around. WGVC's ratings did go up in winter of 2004 and then the station's ratings went down in the spring of '05 to 11th place. If any WGVC 0ldies 106.3 fans see this, please know we feel your pain and really, really, really hated to hear about this this.
Oldies can be heard on WOLT-FM, a 2,700 watt station in Greer at 103.3 if you are in their somewhat limited coverage area. (October 8, 2005)
(note: Since posting this story WCBS-FM has resurrected the Oldies format! The following story was posted at the time they flipped from Oldies to the JACK format which they ran for about 18 months while always under CONSTANT pressure to bring back the Oldies to CBS-FM)
Friday June 3rd, 2005 was "The Day the Music Died Reloaded... and Squared." This time not just one...but two landmark oldies stations were felled with a single swing of the corporate axe. WCBS-FM in New York, long considered the USA's top oldies station, plus sister-station WJMK-FM in Chicago each simultaneously abandoned their affluent boomer audience in favor of playing music geared toward a more youthful audience. Both stations are owned by Infinity Broadcasting. This left the nation’s #1 and #3 markets without a single Oldies FM station.
On WCBS-FM at 5:00 P.M. Frank Sinatra's "Summer Wind" faded out and a voice announced, "Why don't we play what we want? There's a whole world of songs out there." This brief recorded announcement was followed by the Beastie Boys hit "Fight for Your Right" and Oldies giant WCBS-FM, which had debuted way back in 1972, was instantly deader than Elvis.
Faithful listeners in both cities were dazed when the two stations abruptly flipped to a new format known as "JACK RADIO." JACK is a mix of music from the 80's to current chart hits with a 70’s song thrown in now and then. WCBS-FM is now known as "101.1 JACK FM" and "JACK 104.3" is the new name at the old Magic 104.3 at WJMK.
Longtime WCBS-FM personality Cousin Brucie Morrow was obviously shaken when he told Fox News by phone that this is an epic blunder. "You have to remember the people," pleaded the iconic Oldies jock that was a NYC radio fixture for even longer than WCBS played oldies. Cousin Brucie was much happier less than one week later when he announced June 9th that he had signed on with Sirius Satellite Radio. Cousin Brucie hosted a July 4th weekend special and will continue with three regularly scheduled weekly Sirius programs. Other longtime WCBS personalities included genuine radio living legends like Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison and Norm N. Nite. Mr. Harrison already retired from the morning show but was still doing some part time work for WCBS-FM. Norm N. Nite also landed a Sirius deal. No word on future plans for any personalities other than Cousin Brucie and Norm yet.
Recently, Mickey Dolenz who was a child actor ("Circus Boy") turned drummer and sometimes vocalist for the 60's group “The Monkees” joined WCBS-FM as their new morning show host replacing the retiring Mr. Harrision. Mr. Dolenz celebrated his 100th morning show on WCBS-FM with a live remote broadcast from B.B. King's Blues Club near Times Square the very morning of the format change totally oblivious to the axe that would fall on his brief radio career later in the day. The WCBS-FM air staff had little more warning than the audience! As surprising as this is to some people, it is the norm for big format changes like these to equally surprise airstaff and listeners alike. Multiple media reports state that the entire WCBS-FM DJ staff was terminated including Program Director Dave Logan.
Tom Taylor, editor of the trade magazine "Inside Radio, told the AP, "I'm sure this move angered and bewildered its listeners. A lot of people punched in WCBS-FM and said `Something's wrong with my radio." He was right.
The front page banner headline Saturday June 4th in the "New York Post" simply read, "BLOODBATH" in huge letters. Then the Post's website ran an online survey where the unscientific results were running 88% against the flip at WCBS-FM. The Post story didn't just rehash the corporate press release like most Charlotte media did when Magic 96.1 flipped. The Post actually deeply examined how it impacted people and the city and the reaction by other NYC media was similarly negative to the change.
At the same time that New York Oldies fans were trying to figure out what was happening, the identical scenario was playing out 719 miles away in the Windy City. Infinity executives had orchestrated the same format flip at their Chicago Oldies station WJMK-FM to happen simultaneously with the one in NYC. WJMK had been known as Magic 104.3 playing Top-40 oldies since 1984. All we've heard out of Chicago is that WJMK program director Charlie Lake is safe, at least for now while the jocks were let go. The new "JACK" format is automated and doesn't use any live DJ's at all.
If this dual flip was a publicity ploy, it worked. Flipping the station in Chicago would have been news in Chicago while flipping the station in New York would have been news in New York. But flipping them both at exactly the same time to the same format was news everywhere including CNN, FOX and even here. While we certainly would have written about the flip of WCBS, since WJMK wasn't exactly a landmark station we would not have bothered to mention it at all.
CBS hoped to ease the pain of losing the on-air oldies by streaming oldies to their former listeners with feeds of music and jingles (but no DJ's) from the same old station websites at http://www.wcbsfm.com and http://www.wjmk.com that they used when the oldies stations were on the air. (NOTE added 07/12/07: The WCBS feed stayed up until the format's triumphant return July 12, 2007 while the WJMK feed has been discontinued.) The reaction seems to be that Internet feeds aren't the same as the radio stations actually being on the air and are better than nothing...but not much better than nothing. The same music that is streamed on the wcbsfm.com website is also being broadcast now on HD channel 2 in New York, so technically you could say Oldies were back on the air on HD channel 2, but unless you have one of the new HD receivers you'll never hear them. These receivers are costly and do not exist in great numbers yet.
Tragic 96.Com patron & former Magic 96.1 DJ Brother Dave commented Saturday night June 4th, 2005 as follows: "I'm sitting here right now watching UNC Public TV air a pledge-week fundraiser special on The Mamas & Papas. It seems whenever PBS stations need big money they put on an Oldies music show playing the exact same songs by the exact same artists that mainstream radio is abandoning like a house on fire. This double-barreled massacre at WCBS & WJMK yesterday is without question the highest single day body-count thus far in what has evolved into nothing less than the synchronized slaughter of Oldies stations nationwide. HEY WAIT A MINUTE! The Public TV host just interrupted the Mamas & Papas fundraising special to say they've raised 9 million dollars so far! There's something fundamentally so very wrong with this picture. PBS-TV knows who has the money, why can't modern corporate radio and the advertising agencies figure it out and capitalize on it?”
Magic Fan "Brett" who lives in New York and vacations in Charlotte also wrote us on Saturday June 4th to say, "As a big Magic 96.1 and WCBS-FM fan, I truly am at a loss for words. Thanks for posting the news here as well---the WCBS-FM flip was so unexpected and poorly planned, as was WWMG's. It is amazing how much of an impact WCBS-FM's flip had on the radio industry. It is still a shock, and now, it seems as if two family members have died in the past year-WCBS-FM, my hometown station, and Magic 96.1, my personal favorite and annual vacation station!"
The reason for ALL format changes is the hope of higher ratings so you can sell more advertising and charge higher rates for it to make more money. Radio is a business. Like Magic 96.1, WCBS-FM and WJMK were both in ratings slumps. Neither station was in the top 10 overall. If they had been doing better in the ratings they would have been left alone. The new “Jack FM” format is did well for CBS in other markets but bombed on WCBS. The changes at WCBS-FM and WJMK were likely in the works for months.
Another ten years from now, big FM stations playing early Rock & Roll era Oldies will be as rare as hearing a high power FM station playing the "Big Band" music of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Les Brown and Harry James is today. Try and find one of those. Sirius and XM subscriber satellite radio got loads of new business from the NYC and Detroit flips. (June 3, 2005)
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