Tony Downes  Biography
WTMC    WLLO    WMMZ    

At about age 3 I knew I wanted to be in radio as my mom would catch me in her car changing the radio station. Back then in Ocala radio consisted of a mere three AM stations: WMOP-AM 900, WTMC-AM 1290, and a black station; WKOS-AM 1370, which would later become WWKE-AM 1370 "Key Radio"."  Constantly I would mimic the DJ on the radio, and whenever on trips, I would log stations in my log book wondering and hoping one day to own a radio station. Through high school I would draw a studio with a house to mimic what my station would look like.  In high school I envisioned WSSF-FM 101.3.  I got my first taste of radio in 1979 when the late great Vernon Arnette trained me on weekends at WTMC. After high school I took my training to WFAM-FM 91.1 in Jacksonville, a part of Jones College, where my professor at the time expected no less than A scores on test. Often I was left with keys to lockup station. I was called the "jinx" at college station because while I was on the air President Ronald Reagan was shot and John Lennon had died during my shift. I also experimented with today's contemporary jazz by removing blues jazz from the play-list and just playing the hits. This often got me into trouble, but it sounded good in 1982, so I stuck with it. After graduating from Jones College with an Associates Degree in Broadcasting, WFAM-FM changed frequencies to its current position of 90.9 where it resides today as WKTZ-FM 90.9, a beautiful music station. I had a major influence on the frequency change which was due to a 100,000 watt station on the same frequency in Savannah, GA which was blasting all over WFAMís 1,000 watt signal. WKTZ is now 50,000 watts on 90.9. It took a couple of years when a station in Crystal River Florida gave me my first big break. Owner Thad Lowrey and a young Dave Harrell gave me my first shot in commercial radio on WXCV-FM 95.3 "Citrus 95" where I was on air from 4PM to midnight. A year later, I was switched to 12am-6am to handle a disgruntled overnight jock, but I didnít care. I just wanted to do radio. I also experimented with what is now hot A/C on "Citrus" and also weathered major hurricane Elena in the 80s. After a management change, four years had gone by, and I was let go. The reason I was given by new management was Iíd never do radio again, but I proved them wrong as I moved to WLLO-FM 92.1, "Willow 92" in Williston, Florida, where again I experimented with "Easy Listening" by adding vocals to the format, similar to the sound of  WDUV-FM 105.5 (Tampa) today. After "Willow" I was offered a full time overnight shift at WMMZ-FM "Z93", a 100,000 watt "CHR" station in Ocala Florida. I did the overnight shift there for two years before heading to WKTK-FM 98.5 (Crystal River) then WTRS-AM 920 then WXOF-FM 96.3, all doing part time. In the year 2000 WRZN-AM 720 "Sunshine 720" hired me as a part time weekender. I have also been doing weekends for WRZNís sister station WRGO-FM 102.7 "Fun 102.7". In 2002 the FCC allowed communities to have low power FM stations and the birth of WRLE-FM 94.9 Dunnellon Florida began, licensed to Power Ministries which I own. WRLE was licensed on February 2004. Now I live in that house with the studio I drew in high school. One station thought Iíd never do radio again, but itís a business Iíll do till the day I die. Today I am happy to say I have a new wife and baby girl. Life can't be any better.


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