I remember driving down the road and pulling up along side another car only to hear the same song blasting out of their vehicle as well. It was a real joy. There was an immediate bond and sense of community sensed between me and the other driver. We'd smile, nod, maybe flash a peace sign. That was just a part of the romance those of my generation felt about radio, back when it was great.
A number of like-minded fans gathered at the Rock Hall last Thursday around noon for a forum sponsored by the Press Club of Cleveland. It dealt with the glory days of WMMS and asked the question, can such a radio station exist today.
The panel consisted of a mix of the old WMMS staff including DJs, sales and management.
From left to right: Gaye Ramstrom, Billy Bass, John Gorman, Denny Sanders, Walt Tiburski and moderator Jim Henke
If you've read, program director, John Gorman's book, The Buzzard, then most of what was presented was nothing new, but it was great to hear these stories and anecdotes straight from the source. Gorman told me it was the first time this group had been in the same room in probably 20 years or more.
Near the end of the discussion the question was raised, could such a station exist today. The consensus was no, well, not on terrestrial radio. Perhaps on the internet, Gorman suggested. Who's to say a station on the internet can't have a local focus even if it can be heard worldwide.
Denny Sanders said it would take some big bucks and investors who were in it for the long haul. He suggested it'd take about three years before such an endeavor picked up enough traction.
Later that day a fellow radio fan and I were discussing it. We decided that there's just no way for that sort of magic to happen again. It was a moment in time.
There's too many distractions today, too many sources for music and other forms of entertainment. To rally that kind of community seems daunting. The younger generation can't even perceive of such a station so catering to the aging market that does remember won't have the same impact. I'd love to be proved wrong and part of me would like to be the one to disprove my own doubt.
Alex Bevan - The Buzzard Song
I ran into Murray Saul in the lobby before the forum. He worked in sales at WMMS but is most remembered at the "get down man" heard every Friday at 6. I helped the aging icon up to the fourth floor theater and his seat. At the end of the talk the PA system began blasting out about a minute's worth of a classic Murray Friday get down. The audience erupted in applause and I gave Murray a high five. Murray was truly touched and it was a special day for me as well.