Jeff Allen (Cassell)     Biography

WKIS    WFLA    WOKB / WXXO    WGTO    WQTM    WOTS

"I began my broadcast career as an intern at age 17 for The Real Bob James show on WKIS-AM 740 in late 1982.  That lead to me become a weekend board op and eventually led to full time as a board op/producer for 
Harry D. Cup
. As things progressed, I was really in my element when SportsTalk was added and getting to work with Chris Russo as his producer. We perfected the art of dialing the hotels where major leaguers stayed on the road and getting many of them on the air. I also hosted a weekend scoreboard show and got to fill in for Chris on occasion. Even interviewing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was not much of a talker and with my limited experience, may have been one of the worst broadcast interviews ever!  I was also the board op for the afternoon news block "PM Orlando" with Wayne Trout and Jim Philips (Clive Thomas eventually took over for Wayne, who used to do a double, by hosting the morning block.) During the mid-80’s, WKIS had really become something special. With Bob Christoper as news director, we were scooping TV stations, newspapers and other radio stations, and with Clive and Gene Burns anchoring the talk lineup, we were on the verge of knocking WDBO-AM 580 off the perch as the dominant AM station in the market. After General Manager Mike Gaier was replaced by Bob Poe in 1986 and Kay Barone was brought in to program and eventually ruin the station, I followed Gaier to Tampa and went to work at WFLA-AM 970. Having been a life long Orlandoan,  I was home sick and returned from Tampa. I became the evening board op at WOKB-AM 1600 which was running the "Heart and Soul" satellite format. I also had a Saturday morning shift and with our station taking part in an MLK (Dr. Martin Luther King) day  parade, I decided to “get discovered” and went live on my shift. When PD Willie “Roger” Clark, who hosted afternoon drive started to question me about it the following Monday when I came in for my shift, I immediately confessed to my actions…he was expecting me to make an excuse about losing the satellite feed. It lead to more on-air shifts after we dropped the service. We made WOKB’s last run as an urban format as "HOT 16". Given our studios were in Ocoee and separate from our office downtown, it was not uncommon to have a few beers during a shift.  In 1988, "102Jamz" (WJHM-FM 101.9) was born and that pretty much did it for our format and also our rival on the AM dial, WORL-AM 1270. WOKB took it’s first turn with a Gospel format as WXXO(-AM 1600) "The Gospel Explosion". I was promoted to Program Supervisor and assigned to our recently acquired WRKT(-AM 1300) in Cocoa. The calls were changed to 
WXXU(-AM 1300)
but continued with it’s automated oldies format (outside of me hosting morning drive) for a bit and then shifted it to Gospel as well. I would return to afternoon drive in Orlando and eventually morning drive as would begin simulcasting on both 1600 and 1300. In 1990, Champion Broadcasting sold the stations which would go Spanish and I was on to the next phase of my career. At WOKB / WXXO / WXXU, I would work with Max Johnson and George Hampton (both of whom I worked with at WKIS), Kevin G (Gardner), Charles Morse, Chris Hill and Stacey Freeman among others. Next stop, WGTO-AM 540. They has just moved the studios to Ocoee and relaunched as "Cruisin Oldies 54". I started part-time overnight weekends and engineered the Saturday Night Cruise at Old Towne for Terry Mason who was the PD. Florida Media (two doctors and a lawyer in Fort Myers) owned the station. They hired out of market talent (at good money I’m sure) Robert J. Wright, Hank Dole, Jerry Steffen but had very little advertising so you could pretty much figure that would not last long. They would begin moving on and also mass layoff would take place. After a year and half of part-time radio and working at Lowe’s, I approached Bob Johnson who has just taken over as GM and had worked with at WKIS about doing sales and doing sports reports in morning drive. About 6 months later would be the famous "Black Friday" that led to only 5 full-time employees being left: Myself, Merrill Craig, Perry Moore (who had just joined us as midday host and sales), Keith Feeney our business manager and Jay Waggoner our chief engineer. We would go satellite oldies and that would begin the most challenging time of my broadcast career and would also end up being best time of it as well. Despite the odds of a small staff on a stand alone AM, we began to turn things around. Perry Moore and I did mornings so I got a chance to work with one of Orlando’s legends on the air. I would also become Program Director by default and out of necessity. We started adding some sports programming to our already existing Gators programming with UCF. Terry Mason, who had gone to Oklahoma City would come back as GM. We changed the music to "Fresh Oldies" (70’s and 80’s) with Dave Edwards and Jay Cresswell working on-air. Then the evolution continued towards talk and sports programming. We brought on Ed Hartley, Peter Rocchio and Clive Thomas after they were dumped from WTKS-FM 104.1. Todd Wright who worked at WFNS in Tampa and I had gotten to know covering Orlando Magic games came over after he got let go there and became the first ever afternoon sports show in the market Along with doing morning drive with Terry Mason, I would host a Magic-oriented pre-game show from 6 to 7. In 1994, we would come within a whisker of getting broadcast rights to the Orlando Magic. Much of the programming we proposed doing, WDBO-AM 580 would end up programming, quite reluctantly I’m sure. Our little successes were starting to mount up. In late 1994, a deal was struck for Paxson Broadcasting to buy WGTO. They had been in hot pursuit of the frequency for quite awhile. Many of us would not be retained. In 1995 I would be asked back to be the part-time board op for the morning show with Jerry O’Neill and Greg Warmoth on the all new "540 The Team". After a few months I would be the morning show producer. Slats from WDIZ(-FM 100.3) would replace O’Neill on the morning show later. Working for Paxson was excruciating. The PD Tommy Kramer and GM John Frost would over-analyze every tiny bit of programming and tried to make radio rocket science. Later in 95, (WESH-TV) Channel 2’s Steve Rondinaro announced he was moving to Boone, NC and buying two radio stations. Knowing Steve from Channel 2’s news affiliation with WGTO and having him guest host on our morning show, I inquired about going to work for him and came to an agreement. In December of 95, he was about to get FCC approval on the deal – and then the government shut down putting that on hold. As fate would have it, once the dust finally settled on that and being recently married, my wife had taken a job that she didn’t want to leave and I had to make a tough decision and not join Steve in NC. In mid-1996 I would leave Paxson and go to work for an ad agency. I would end up working for Terry Mason again at WOTS(-AM 1220) in Kissimmee doing play-by play of Kissimmee Cobras baseball and the Friday Night High School Game of the Week. The ad agency would end up closing their office here and moving me to Knoxville, TN. In 1998, the agency went out of business and I returned to Orlando. I ended up in publishing, joining the production department at World Publications. The company is now known as Bonnier Corporation and owns over 40 magazines – recently purchasing some icon titles such as Popular Science and Field & Stream. I oversee the production department in our FL office and have just celebrated my 10th year with the company. I am really blessed to have found another calling after radio, which was my aspiration growing up. Sometimes I think about doing it again part-time for fun, but the thought of giving up part of my weekend usually overrides that. I currently reside in Apopka with my wife of 12 years, 3 dogs and 4 cats. Feel free to drop me a line sometime at jeffcassell22@earthlink.net


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