Misc. Items About Central Florida Radio

  This is the place I will post items of interest. Keep checking back.

3-18-18   John Schmidt Tells Stories About WRKT and WRMF 
My name is John Schmidt.  I hung around and did some engineering work for WRKT(-AM 1300) from July 1967 to the end of the year.  I worked for Grumman, which had sent me from New York to Cape Kennedy while LM1 was being prepared for launch.  Having an FCC first ticket and being rather bored in the evenings, I had wandered around the local radio stations looking for something to keep me occupied.  I stuck my head in WRMF(-AM 1050) (I was living in Titusville), but then happened to find WRKT, where Rick Morton was nice enough to let me hang around.
I soon met Don Fleming who was the part time Chief.  He also worked at the Cape, for the communications contractor.  Fringe benefit for WRKT-FM (104.1), they were piped into the NASA headquarters building cafeteria, courtesy of Don.  Don liked that I had a First and was a EE with some ability to fix stuff.  I liked that I kept busy evenings and weekends.  The deal was, if I wandered in and, on my own, fixed broken stuff, I did it gratis.  If they needed someone with a First, like when they did a remote and the DJ was at the remote, they paid me (not much...)  But up to then, my experience with radio was a carrier current college station and a 3KW class A FM station, so I figured, correctly, that I'd learn something from their AM directional and 100KW? FM operation.
WRKT AM, at least when Rick was on, was some version of Rock and Roll, I don't recall it being MOR.  It was pretty popular.  The station, like many others, signed off at midnight, or thereabouts.  Sometimes Don or I would put it back on the air in the middle of the night to make some adjustments or test a repair.  And within minutes the request line would start ringing, at 3AM...  Some times we even took the requests!  The daytime 5KW covered pretty well, I had no trouble picking it up in Titusville where I lived.  The night 1KW pattern I think mostly fed Cocoa Beach and the fish in the ocean. My car radio couldn't pick it up until I got pretty close to the transmitter.
The FM was beautiful music, I think Bonneville.  Schafer automation, I think 6 Ampex tape decks, model 300 decks with I recall custom playback only electronics.  There was a "time" machine with a pair of  oversize cartridges that would, if selected, play an announcement of the time of day, and there was the "spot tape" machine for playing back commercials (very few) and PSA's (a lot).  
Another funny issue, on Sunday mornings they aired a bunch of pre-recorded religious programs.  They would rack them all up on the automation tape decks to play in sequence.  But they had to remember to reset the silence sensor from the usual 3 seconds or so up to a minute or so.  If they forgot, the preacher on the tape would say "a moment of silent prayer", and after three seconds, the next tape would start, the silence sensor would trip before the moment of silent prayer had ended and the rest of the first program got cut off.
Now about WRMF.  At that time a 500 watt daytimer.  Format appeared to be 'whatever the record company sent us for free'.  I stopped by the "studios" at the transmitter site, actually before I found WRKT.  As I recall, they had a Gates Yard and two turntables on a sheet of plywood resting on two sawhorses, visibly sagging in the middle.  The DJ had no headphones, and he would "finesse" the program-audition switch for the mic so the mic would be on but the monitor wouldn't be muted, so he could hear when the song ended  to begin his announce.  I decided I really didn't want to be involved there, and went on to find WRKT.
Anyway I used to listen to WBZ, 1030 AM from Boston on my table radio in Titusville some nights. (I grew up in the Boston suburbs) So one evening I get home from the Cape and turn the radio on, still tuned to 1030, and hear a strong, unmodulated carrier.  Silence.  I realized this had to be WRMF, and I thought of calling them, but thought, 'well they've received dozens of calls and are trying to fix whatever died'  So I listened to the silence for perhaps half an hour and finally dialed the station phone.  The phone is answered by a woman on the first ring "Hello WRMF, how can I help you" with music blaring in the background.  I say "Are you aware that you have no modulation?" hoping that the woman knew what modulation was.  She says "Hold On"  a few seconds later, I hear the audio on my radio come on, go off, and come back on.  She comes back on the phone and says "Is it OK now?"  I say "Yes", she says "Thank you for calling."  I say  goodbye and hang up.  Was I the only listener?  How long had the audio been off??  Wow, talk about no audience!

11-22-17 Robert D. Raiford Passes           
Robert D. Raiford, a North Carolina radio personality whose career spanned decades, died on Nov 21at age 89. For 30 years, Raiford served as the so-called “curmudgeon at large” on the “
John Boy and Billy Big Show,” a program originating in Charlotte and syndicated to 57 stations nationally.
5-26-17 Boom 97 Uno Goes Bust
Oi2 Media took Alma 97.1, (WRUM-HD 3) which was playing Spanish Christian music, changed the format to Bilingual Contemporary Hits Radio and used the slogan "Boom 97 Uno" on two translators.  Unfortunately, the "Boom" was already trademarked by Radio One. So Oi2 Media has rebranded the stations as "Oi2 97 Uno"
11-28-16   A Great Book For Broadcast History Buffs
Donn Colee has written a book about the history of broadcasting in Florida. Towers In The Sand covers broadcasting, TV and radio in the state of Florida. 

11-26-16  WMEL Sharing The 1510 Frequency
WMEL-AM has moved their call letters and most of their programming to WWBC-AM 1510. WWBC continues some of the Religious/Talk programming as well. Astro Enterprises, Inc. still owns the 50,000 watt station as well as 3 translators. Two in Cocoa and one in Melbourne.
4-21-16  Bob Opsahl To Retire 
WFTV channel 9 news anchor will retire in May after 38 years at the station. Did you know Bob was a country DJ? That's right around 1976, Bob graduated from the University of Central Florida, majoring in Radio and Television Communications and it wasn't long until his first broadcasting job at WFIV-AM 1080.
11-21-15 Radio Connection Live on KJSC
Tim O'Connor, former production director at WELE-AM 1380 has taken over the hosting responsibilities at Radio Connection Live on KJSC
radio. This is a show done by radio fans for radio fans and we discuss all aspects of broadcasting Sunday afternoon from 3PM-5PM. The show invites  live phone calls about anything radio related and is also a podcast which can be downloaded at www.kjscradio.com. KJSC is an internet station located in Phoenix and many of it's co-hosts are young enthusiastic visually impaired radio fans who live in small, medium  and major markets across the country.  We discuss the broadcasting industry news of the week and often focus on Central Florida radio and play market scoped airchecks from all over the country.  Feel free to join in on the discussion at 602-399-7983.
5-10-12 The Latest On Gene Burns
Clear Channel has announced that Gil Gross will take the 4pm-7pm time slot at KKSF-AM 910, the slot was to be for Gene Burns. Gene is making progress and will continue to blog for the station. 

3-28-12 Update On Gene Burns
This from Gene's site "Dining Around With Gene Burns"
To My listeners and Friends in NewsTalk910 Family. The past few weeks have brought a great number of changes, and a vast silence. For the silence, please accept my apologies.
I have been recovering from a stroke, which has affected the speech center of my brain in the form of Aphasia. In this third month of recovery, I am enthusiastic and thankful for the progress I have made, do in no small part to the great amount of help I have received from UCSF, St. Francis, and the Sutter Health care groups.  Most days, I have speech therapy and visits from great friends and colleagues. 
I would like to wish everybody well, and to say thank you to the NewsTalk910 family for sticking by me.  Many of the NewsTalk 910 line-up of hosts have reached out, including of course Len Tillem, my long time friend and advisor. A special thank you to my colleagues; to John, Gil, Rosie, Ed, Dr. Bill, James and the rest for stepping up to the plate for me. 
Most importantly; thank you to all of you who Listen, Tweet, Facebook and tell friends about me, and my Program.  Although I do not have a specific date for my return to the Air, I listen each day to NewsTalk 910, giving me motivation to re-join the conversation about the issues of the day.
With gratitude for your support,

2-29-12 Who Is This Newsman? 
John Bisney is writing a book on "rarely seen photos" from the manned space flight program. The NASA pic was taken in December of 1968 at the KSC press site during the Apollo 8 mission.  The station was WKKO-AM 860. Can you ID this guy?  No prize, just glory... bob@cflradio.net

Mystery Man.jpg (183388 bytes)
Who is this man?

 It's Paul Delaney 
I am the mystery man.. I was News Director at WKKO after a stint as "Mike Green" the DJ. I was broadcasting Apollo 8 from that little trailer...we were parked with next to the Big CBS building.

5-22-11  One Man's Quest 
Maybe you can help. Since September 1989 Clive Hayward has been trying to get hold of a recording of the last night of WBJW-FM 105.1 (BJ 105), when they "blew the station up", in preparation for the change to Mix 105.1 the next day. If you have an air check of the last hour of please contact me at bob@cflradio.net or clivehayward02@aol.com

12-22-10  Tom West Air Check WBJW-FM 105.1
Dave Edwards has posted a great air check and  a great video montage of BJ105. Check it out here  

10-17-10   Dick Westervelt passed away on September 6, 2010. 
The excerpts from this article written by Dick, appeared in the September 2 edition of The West Volusia Beacon.

Remembering Dr. Morland Coached Addams Family's 'Lurch' 
(DeLand, FL)
- Thursday, September 2, 2010
In recent weeks, among the many fine individuals who have been called to a better place, are two whose lives could be pretty well meshed together. We speak of UCLA's John Wooden and Stetson University's Dr. Richard Morland...". "...There probably are few remaining in the DeLand area who had the pleasure of working with Dick Morland. I joined Stetson in 1953 as the radio voice of the football Hatters and the basketball Hi-Hatters, working at the then-owned Stetson radio station WJBS(-AM 1490). Dick had started coaching at Stetson in 1952, and I had the distinct privilege and honor of working with him for the final four years of his Stetson coaching career...". "...The greatest opposites on the court: Stetson's No.1 multi-sport athlete John Imgrund, and a hulk from West Virginia named Ted Cassidy, with whom only Dick's patience and teaching ability led to the creation of a fairly effective basketball player..." (Ted averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds a game). "...Ted later found his role in life as the one and only Lurch on TV..."  (The TV series was "The Addams Family"). "...Cassidy provided one of my most interesting moments in 1956 after I had assumed the managership of the radio station. A call from the university told me they had a student interested in getting into radio, and would I please meet him and give consideration to hiring him. You never deny the boss's request, so I answered affirmatively. Shortly thereafter, the student arrived at my office and stood in the doorway. I looked up and could no longer see the door. The student, Ted Cassidy, at 6-10 and near 300 pounds, blocked all surrounding elements. In a voice some four octaves below bass, he said he was there to secure a job. I simply said, "Which one do you want?" My mommy raised no dummies..."

3-1-08  Don McNeill's Breakfast Club Broadcasts From Deltona      
Don McNeill and his wife Kay were close friends of the Mackle Brothers, developers of Deltona Lakes (incorporated as the City of Deltona). Don was an early promoter of Deltona Lakes and brought his nationally syndicated radio show - the Breakfast Club - to Deltona on its first anniversary in 1963. There were 250 residents living in the fledgling community, set in a corner of 15,000 acres of scrub pine land scattered with oaks and palms, dotted with clear lakes. Nearly 350 homes had been built or were under construction. For Deltona 's first birthday, radio personality Don McNeill brought the world-renowned " Breakfast Club " to Southwest Volusia where he and his entire cast broadcast the radio show for the week of Nov. 18-22, 1963. The cast included Fran Allison as Aunt Fanny, comic Sam Cowling, and vocalists Mary Luckett and Bob Newkirk.
Don was called the "Voice of Deltona" in the community's early years and always showed up to cut the big birthday cake. (20 feet tall one year). Deltona was a "a fine, outstanding baby," McNeill said when he came to cut the first birthday cake. McNeill's visits, and Deltona's birthday celebrations, were documented in local newspapers and the Mackles' monthly newsletter, "The Deltona News," sent to Deltona lot owners around the world. The popular radio show originated in Chicago and was broadcast on more than 400 ABC stations and the Armed Forces Network. For Deltona's first birthday, he broadcast the show from Elkcam Park (Mackle spelled backward) on Lake Monroe for a week.
Some 2,000 fans crammed into the little community clubhouse, which still stands, to see Fran Allison as the gossipy Aunt Fanny, portly comic Sam Cowling and singers Mary Anne Luckett and Bob Newkirk. The show was a corny blend of jokes, inspirational poems and music, including a couple of songs about Deltona. 

2-1-07  Follow-up    
Gary S. Wheeler aka Adam Cook,  former program director at WXXL-FM 106.7 pleaded no contest to charges that he used the Internet to lure a child for sex and send sexually explicit photographs to a Citrus County sheriff's detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. Circuit Judge Ric Howard gave the 49-year-old a suspended 15-year prison sentence, meaning Wheeler won't spend jail time if he successfully completes 15 years of sex offender probation. Judge Howard also ordered him to pay $3,000 in fines, undergo electronic monitoring and register as a sex offender.  Wheeler could have been sentenced to jail for as long as 15 years. Wheeler's wife was in court supporting him.  Wheeler apologized for his actions, saying that he is "looking for a new start."

8-10-06  Radio Memories   
Bob Lipscomb the assistant Chief Engineer for Salem Media's five stations in Atlanta dropped us an email the other day. He reminisced about his CFLRadio memories.
"...My first exposure to radio was WEUS (now WLBE-AM 790) in Eustis, my home town, where as kids returning from the Saturday afternoon movies in the late 40's, we would stop by the studios and watch a live country-western band playing on the radio. Later on in the late 50's while living in Winter Garden and in high school,  I met the owners of WGOA (now WOKB-AM 1600) shortly after they started the station which was at that time a full service MOR station.  They did a midday live show from the Citrus Tower over in Clermont five days a week. Another story I recall,  is "Radio Hi Fi",  WHIY, (now WRLZ-AM 1270) in Orlando having an announcer lock himself in the control room and play the song "Personality" (by Lloyd Price) all day long.  After that it was called "Personality Radio" for a while. We later moved to Melbourne where I graduated from high school while working part time at WMMB(-AM 1240) dubbing taped commercials.  This was prior to cart machines so commercials were all recorded on reel to reel tapes.  I was eventually replaced by a new fangled device called a Gates Spot Recorder which put all the commercials on a paper roll size roll of tape and allowed the reel to reel commercial playing to be phased out. After graduating from Brevard Community College I went to work for Harris Corporation in Palm Bay but did a short stint as a weekend announcer/engineer for WMEG (now WMEL-AM 920) working from 6 PM to the 1 AM sign off.  The studios were out in a near swamp West of Eau Gallie and I can recall attempting to read the news live on the air while swatting mosquitoes  with my other hand. 

Before Arbitron There was  Mediastat     
Kris Earl Phillips
sent along a sample of the ratings for the Daytona Beach market from 1972.
Thought you might like to remember the days when AM really was the dominant medium. Since Arbitron really was an upstart at that time, Mediastat was the ratings leader and used to do the surveys in the area.  Brief and pretty much to the point...before the days of mega-demographics! BTW, I was doing 6p-Mid at the time on WMFJ.  This was pretty helpful around 'raise' time."

Click photos for a full sized view

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The Passing of a Legend
On January 29, 2005 an Orlando Radio pioneer passed away. John Rutledge was an integral part of  what radio sounded like in Orlando, at WHOO-AM 990, WLOF-AM 950 and he also put WLOQ-FM 103.1 on the air. Visit our Tribute to John Rutledge and read his

Late Night Reception
Gerald Lostutter sends along a video produced by himself and Jeff Steele. Ken Thorne provided the music. The video was sent to Late Night with David Letterman. Unfortunately NBC couldn't use it, but here it is.
What's the radio tie-in you ask? The exterior shots were filmed at the WCOT-AM 950 studios and tower also "appeared" in the film.

Late Night Reception

On July 30, 2004 we had the pleasure of joining a group of folks that worked at WLOF-AM 950, Orlando, on a tour of the old studios. Wilma (my wife) took lots of pictures and we share those here.

My Daddy the DJ  
by Martha Cowell Calloway

I am Brad Cowell’s oldest daughter, Martha, and I treasure the memories of my Dad taking me to work with him when I was a little girl.  I live in Franklin, North Carolina now, but seeing my father’s name as a
WMFJ-AM 1450
personality brought back so many warm memories, that I just had to write.  

First, Brad Cowell is listed as a WMFJ night personality during the late 1960’s, when, if my memory serves me correctly, the mid 1960’s would be more accurate.  

He was first at WMFJ when it was located in the lower level of the Plaza Hotel.  The Seabreeze beach approach tunnel ran through the building and I remember you could look out the window of the DJ booth and watch the cars drive through the tunnel to the beach.  

When my Dad worked in this location I was probably 5 years old and it was such a thrill to be with him at work.  I would sit quietly and watch him, spellbound by the way he talked and all the knobs and buttons and the music he played, and when I wasn’t there and at home, I would listen to the radio at night when I went to bed and would fall asleep listening to his voice mixed in with the music and that classic AM band static.  Back then, I thought my Dad was a movie star!  

I was also star-struck with the other DJ “celebrities” that I met there, and who always treated me, like my Dad did then, as a “little princess”.  I remember Rick (?) Shira, and a couple of others who were called “The Good Guys”, and I had an air-brushed sweatshirt that had their faces painted on it with “The Good Guys WMFJ” in big black letters above them.  I also remember having a cowboy hat with “The Good Guys” airbrushed on it too, and if I’m not mistaken both are still in my father’s old closet in my Grandmother’s house in Daytona Beach! 

My Dad was still working for WMFJ when it moved from the Plaza location over the river to a narrow street that ran parallel to Bay Street.  It was located behind the old Volkswagen dealership.  I don’t know if that is where it still is now, but that is the last place I remember it being.  I didn’t go to work as often with my father to that location, but do remember once, in the middle of what I think was a Hurricane or Tropical Storm situation, going with him to check the station tower which was right next to the building.  I stayed in the car (an old bathtub Porsche) while my Dad climbed part of the way up the tower in a yellow rain suit to secure it.  It was raining so hard I could hardly see him out of the window of the car. 

After WMFJ, if I am remembering correctly, my Dad worked briefly at WROD-AM 1340 when it was located in a big round glass building on the West side of Ridgewood Avenue (US1) between Daytona and South Daytona.  Although I don’t remember him working for WROD in the building they are currently in (the one in the photo on your website under WROD) it is possible he did for a short time before moving to South Florida. 

Around 1966, my Dad moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and worked as an evening/night (4-11) Disc Jockey under the name of “Rick Savage” first for WHEW and then for WIRK.  I stayed in Daytona Beach with my Grandparents (father’s parents) but visited as regularly as possible and once again loved going to work with him when he would take me.  My Dad remarried while working for WIRK and also had a second daughter. 

During his time at During his time at WHEW and WIRK he became interested in law-enforcement and ultimately became a police officer (around 1969) for the Riviera Beach Police Department in Riviera Beach, Florida, just outside West Palm Beach.  

In 1971, my Grandfather passed away, and my Father, Stepmother and new Sister, moved from West Palm Beach back to Daytona Beach and began working as a police-officer for the Daytona Beach Police Department.  He divorced around 1974 and remained living in the Cowell family home on Peninsula Drive.

Around 1991 he retired from The Daytona Beach Police Department, and around that same time married his long-time girlfriend of 16 years, Cheryl.  Around this time as well he purchased a home on the St. John’s River in Astor, Florida, and shortly thereafter became a father again, twice (two girls two years apart)! 

In 1998 my Grandmother passed away and though my father still resides at the family home on Peninsula Drive, he and his wife, Cheryl, and daughters, Lacey (12) and Ashley (10), spend as much time as possible at their house in Astor, which is much more peaceful than life in Daytona Beach these days! 

Well, I guess that’s about it!  I have so many wonderful memories of being with my Dad the DJ at the different radio stations he worked at when I was little, that I just had to tell you what I remember.

Bobby Andrews Remembers...
Bobby Andrews, son of radio legend Bob Andrews relays some great stories and personal memories about Central Florida radio and his dad.
On WLOF(-AM 950)- "...The "weird beard" (Bill Vermillion) told me a story in the late 70's about the day WHOO(AM 990) changed to country.  He and the others at WLOF caught wind of the move and proceeded to buy and borrow every country record they could get their hands on.  At the time WHOO made the move, 'LOF started playing country too, confusing most of Central Florida."
On Bob's bio and flying-"...One thing your bio didn't include was your pioneering of  "eye in the sky traffic reports".  You got your (pilot's) license from that.  One of the funny clips from 'LOF was their eye Chris O'Condor.  You couldn't understand what he was saying due to prop noise, but it didn't matter.  The engine started to sputter and you heard the plane go into a dive and the DJ would break in "We'll check back with Chris later". 
About WDBO(-AM 580)-"...Another great comedy spot ran on WDBO (in) 72-73 called the "Stoned Ranger".  It featured a hippie cowboy "far out, Indian" and his sidekick Toronto.  The traditional roles were reversed.  When entering a country store, the owner states, "I don't talk to your kind" and the Indian replies, "That all right, him with me"  Comedy use to have a big place in radio and I miss that."

"Radio Tales..." Wonderful stories about radio personalities from Anne Jeffries

"WKIS(-AM 740) used to have a morning man named Al Dunaway and the infamous Bud Brewer did overnights. One morning Al was making the drive time "KIS cash call" and boy did he get a wrong number as the dialog went like this:

Al: Good Morning this is the WKIS cash call, what's your name?

Caller: Al?, what are you doing this is Bud.

Al: Well good morning Bud, can you give me the count and the amount?

Caller: Al, I don't think you understand. This is Bud...Bud Brewer...I work here.

Al: Bud? gee, how did I get your number.

Caller: Beats the sh*t out of me AL..!!

It seems that Al had awakened Bud who had just gotten off from his overnight shift. This "phoner" led to WKIS issuing a policy that all phone calls had to be taped in advance of being aired. It was a story frequently told at the media lunch table at Malcolm's Hungry Bear (restaurant) and "beats the sh*t out of me Al" had become somewhat of a catch phrase. One morning while working at WHOO-FM 96.5, Frank Vaught who was doing sports for the AM station, tapped me on the shoulder and called me into the production room. Much to my surprise Frank actually played me an air check of this infamous phoner, proving once an for all it was a true story.

"Being fortunate enough to be an accepted member of the lunchtime media group at Malcolm's (Hungry Bear restaurant on Colonial Drive-next door to the old Dancing Waters restaurant) I have many stories I can share. Back when Carole Nelson was doing news at WDBO-AM 580) she was having lunch one day at Malcolm's with the media group. (One of the nice things about Malcolm's were those comfortable captains chairs with arm rests at the tables.) Well one of the fellows at the media table was on the OPD (Orlando Police Department) force and as a prank, handcuffed Carole to her chair. After making a couple of jokes he got up, paid his check and promptly left. After about 10 minutes or so it became apparent that he was not returning and Carol needed to get back to the DBO studio for her newscast. Quickly running out of time they called a cab, loaded Carole and the chair in the back and headed for the studio. As luck would have it they made it back to WDBO just in time for Carole (still handcuffed to the chair) to grab her copy and do her newscast! From what I understand it was completely hysterical and proved Carole once and for all to be a "good sport".

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