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Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Discussion pertaining to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, and Michiana
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SteveL
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by SteveL » Thu May 05, 2022 12:08 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Wed May 04, 2022 4:56 pm
I definitely remember hearing Petty on both 96.9 and 94.5 in the early or mid 90s. Remember, he had a new (and very successful) album out at the time. "You Wreck Me" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance" were singles from that album.

97Rock aired the same TV commercial for months to the tune of "We Will Rock You" by Queen. A bunch of album covers flashed on the screen during the commercial. That ad was omnipresent during local ad breaks on United Artists Cable.

I seem to recall an alternative or industrial rock specialty show on 97Rock on Saturday evenings toward the very end, a tease of the music played on 1340 Underground perhaps.

97Rock went away the second semester of my freshman year of high school. I want to say the classic rock format debuted in February or March?

Adams is still in the radio business! They own a cluster in Fort Wayne, including the classic rock station there, if I'm not mistaken.
My mistake. We were called "97 Radio Grand Rapids" (borrowing heavily from Chicago's XRT, even the logo) and the Mel and Frank iteration after us was 97 Rock.



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MWmetalhead
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by MWmetalhead » Thu May 05, 2022 2:01 pm

I do remember that handle. :)

Even as a young kid, I thought that name sounded awkward. Too long.

Never can recall listening to 97 Radio Grand Rapids. My dad at the time was a loyal WJFM listener. He switched back to LAV several months after they became 97Rock. My mom mostly listened to WODJ.


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Realist
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by Realist » Thu May 05, 2022 8:12 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 2:01 pm
I do remember that handle. :)

Even as a young kid, I thought that name sounded awkward. Too long.

Never can recall listening to 97 Radio Grand Rapids. My dad at the time was a loyal WJFM listener. He switched back to LAV several months after they became 97Rock. My mom mostly listened to WODJ.
I will never forget JFM when it was classic rock, as their music presentation was weird at times. It was apparent that their PD or MD knew little about classic rock as they would stop 2fer songs after the first song. Examples were playing Queen’s “We will rock you” and stopping it before it segged into “We are the Champions”. Another example was playing Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” then stopping it before “Livin’ lovin’ maid” came on, Just sounded strange to someone who knew classic rock when I heard that,

Could often hear it then in the Bay City / Saginaw area as it was 265K watts. Now Flint’s Club 93.7 negates that



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MWmetalhead
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by MWmetalhead » Thu May 05, 2022 9:03 pm

I'm pretty sure Sean Stevens was the PD. He spent a decent chunk of time at WGRD in the 70's & early 80s, and until recently, was heard on 106.5 WVFM in Kalamazoo for many years. At WJFM, it wouldn't surprise me if he started when the station briefly flirted with Top 40.

I would love to hear airchecks of the old WJFM during its classic rock phase. The only things I remember about the station are the morning guy calling himself "Franceman," Sean Stevens being a prominent on-air personality, and the uber deep voiced V/O guy (who is still heard to this day on 95 WIIL Rock in Kenosha, WI). I want to say a female DJ handled the evening shift, but I cannot recall who it was.

I remember being surprised when they threw in the towel on classic rock, but it obviously proved to be the right move! I suppose they simply weren't competitive enough against KLQ in the Grand Rapids market and WRKR in the Kalamazoo market.

I was equally surprised that WLAV didn't pick up the classic rock mantle right away. I believe Grand Rapids was without a true classic rock station for at least a couple years. (For that matter, Kalamazoo did not have a true classic rock station, either, as WRKR was album rock formatted. WRKR is such a dreadfully boring listen today, but undoubtedly the station is successful.)

I thought I read WMRR in Muskegon was classic rock when it first hit the air in 1992, but I could be mistaken. By the time they upgraded to B1 status around 1995, they were playing a mix of classic and some new rock, and actually sounded quite good.

Looking at Wikipedia, I was off by at least a year with regard to when WLAV tried Alternative Rock. Wikipedia states the Alternative Rock format bowed Memorial Day 1992 and lasted maybe 16 months. Make complete sense since SteveL noted the station was spinning Seattle grunge artists heavily during its Alternative phase.


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originalzzmfmjock
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by originalzzmfmjock » Thu May 05, 2022 11:24 pm

I had the pleasure of working with Sean Stevens in the 80's at WGRD. A true pro. For most of the 80's Sean was not on the air at GRD but was the off air production director. (remember when radio had positions like that?) I left GRD in the summer of 86 to go to WJFM and their failed AC experiment called Joy FM (big mistake on my part). At that point Sean was still at GRD. I left JFM to go to WLHT in the fall of 1987. At that point Sean still had not left GRD. Joy FM gave way to Classic Hits at WJFM in about May of 1988. It was sometime during the 1988-89 era that Sean left GRD and went to work at WJFM. At this point Jack Swart (don't get me going on him) was the GM and I believe Bill Blett was the PD. After Swart was canned in 1989 and Bill Blett also departed they hired a guy from Cincinnati (I believe his name was Gary Bender). He lasted about 6 weeks and went back to Cinci. I talked to him once during this period and he told me "I think I made a mistake leaving Cinci for this station." I told him I agreed with his assesment. After he left, then Sean became the PD until the station changed owners and became B-93. JFM's number during the Classic hits/Classic rock era were ok, but nowhere near the ratings that LAV would enjoy in later years. Problem with JFM during this era or any other era for that matter is that they had no idea how to promote their station, wouldn't spend the money to promote their station and wouldn't spend the money to hire any real major air talents. The Fetzer operation was cheap, cheap, cheap and that's why they never enjoyed the sucess that they should have had with the most powerful FM signal in the country. As for Sean, I talked to him a couple of years ago. He's now retired and living in Kalamazoo.



georgetownt
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by georgetownt » Fri May 06, 2022 12:21 pm

originalzzmfmjock wrote:I had the pleasure of working with Sean Stevens in the 80's at WGRD. A true pro. For most of the 80's Sean was not on the air at GRD but was the off air production director. (remember when radio had positions like that?) I left GRD in the summer of 86 to go to WJFM and their failed AC experiment called Joy FM (big mistake on my part). At that point Sean was still at GRD. I left JFM to go to WLHT in the fall of 1987. At that point Sean still had not left GRD. Joy FM gave way to Classic Hits at WJFM in about May of 1988. It was sometime during the 1988-89 era that Sean left GRD and went to work at WJFM. At this point Jack Swart (don't get me going on him) was the GM and I believe Bill Blett was the PD. After Swart was canned in 1989 and Bill Blett also departed they hired a guy from Cincinnati (I believe his name was Gary Bender). He lasted about 6 weeks and went back to Cinci. I talked to him once during this period and he told me "I think I made a mistake leaving Cinci for this station." I told him I agreed with his assesment. After he left, then Sean became the PD until the station changed owners and became B-93. JFM's number during the Classic hits/Classic rock era were ok, but nowhere near the ratings that LAV would enjoy in later years. Problem with JFM during this era or any other era for that matter is that they had no idea how to promote their station, wouldn't spend the money to promote their station and wouldn't spend the money to hire any real major air talents. The Fetzer operation was cheap, cheap, cheap and that's why they never enjoyed the sucess that they should have had with the most powerful FM signal in the country. As for Sean, I talked to him a couple of years ago. He's now retired and living in Kalamazoo.
I love reading your contributions. Cybersluthed I finally found out who you are. Although it's wasn't too difficult. Thanks again



andymuskegon
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by andymuskegon » Fri May 06, 2022 1:12 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 9:03 pm
I'm pretty sure Sean Stevens was the PD. He spent a decent chunk of time at WGRD in the 70's & early 80s, and until recently, was heard on 106.5 WVFM in Kalamazoo for many years. At WJFM, it wouldn't surprise me if he started when the station briefly flirted with Top 40.

I would love to hear airchecks of the old WJFM during its classic rock phase. The only things I remember about the station are the morning guy calling himself "Franceman," Sean Stevens being a prominent on-air personality, and the uber deep voiced V/O guy (who is still heard to this day on 95 WIIL Rock in Kenosha, WI). I want to say a female DJ handled the evening shift, but I cannot recall who it was.

I remember being surprised when they threw in the towel on classic rock, but it obviously proved to be the right move! I suppose they simply weren't competitive enough against KLQ in the Grand Rapids market and WRKR in the Kalamazoo market.

I was equally surprised that WLAV didn't pick up the classic rock mantle right away. I believe Grand Rapids was without a true classic rock station for at least a couple years. (For that matter, Kalamazoo did not have a true classic rock station, either, as WRKR was album rock formatted. WRKR is such a dreadfully boring listen today, but undoubtedly the station is successful.)

I thought I read WMRR in Muskegon was classic rock when it first hit the air in 1992, but I could be mistaken. By the time they upgraded to B1 status around 1995, they were playing a mix of classic and some new rock, and actually sounded quite good.

Looking at Wikipedia, I was off by at least a year with regard to when WLAV tried Alternative Rock. Wikipedia states the Alternative Rock format bowed Memorial Day 1992 and lasted maybe 16 months. Make complete sense since SteveL noted the station was spinning Seattle grunge artists heavily during its Alternative phase.

WMRR was good. They went to satellite operations with ABC rock the first time and lost the audience. Muskegon want's it's own and it's not a H*** thing to figure out. When I got bounced in GR and headed west they wanted to shitcan Boat and put me on and keep it satellite outside of the morning show. Nope. Couple years later with moving him to afternoons and me in the morning with Bill in the middle, we were on top. Next came Star 108 going back to live. 3 sales later, Clear Channel comes in to own and it was fine for a while until the culling began and "Premium Choice" replaced a perfectly fine mainstream rock format and of course the word "total" had to go...because after all, it was "confusing" that playing some new rock and some classic rock equaled "total rock" but when you're a programmer who's forte is reaching the suckers who thought birthday bash was some kind of value.....i can see where trying to speak to stupidity limits your verbiage. did any of the clear channel guys meddling in rock EVER work out?


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MWmetalhead
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by MWmetalhead » Fri May 06, 2022 6:03 pm

I remember tuning into WMRR in early '98 (under Goodrich ownership still) and hearing the canned satellite programming from either ABC or Westwood One. I couldn't believe my ears. You're absolutely right, Andy. It was awful. No more Early Morning Chaos. No more Kevin Matthews in afternoons. That satellite format instantly aged the station's music by a good 15 or 20 years.

I know Z108 was first all local when it was launched by Goodrich (replacing Magic 108), but then it, too, went satellite in all dayparts but mornings. Probably happened the same week 101.7 went that route.

Back before Cumulus grew too large for its britches, it returned local programming to 101.7 shortly after acquiring it. They also converted Z108 to Star 108. Both stations sounded reasonably good.

The WMRR logo just looks deformed without the cursive "Total" in it.


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Doktor No
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by Doktor No » Fri May 06, 2022 6:11 pm

Interesting, interesting, interesting stuff. Thanks. I remember it all from Top 40 WLAV am, WGRD am and when Fm only played classical music. (WLAV included back then.) Things got sorta better when the Brother John thing came on the air...played some good stuff for 1970/71.
Every now and again I want to call WLAV and see if they'll play Free Bird. 8-)
God I hate radio now. At least with Sirius I don't have to punch the buttons all the time....
And who was the LAV guy that got busted in Cali, Columbia....wait that was an assistant Kent County prosecutor....then again I think some local radio types were involved....



andymuskegon
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by andymuskegon » Fri May 06, 2022 6:55 pm

the cumulus format was a pile of shit too. we got a look at it, and changed it as soon as they left town.
MWmetalhead wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 6:03 pm
I remember tuning into WMRR in early '98 (under Goodrich ownership still) and hearing the canned satellite programming from either ABC or Westwood One. I couldn't believe my ears. You're absolutely right, Andy. It was awful. No more Early Morning Chaos. No more Kevin Matthews in afternoons. That satellite format instantly aged the station's music by a good 15 or 20 years.

I know Z108 was first all local when it was launched by Goodrich (replacing Magic 108), but then it, too, went satellite in all dayparts but mornings. Probably happened the same week 101.7 went that route.

Back before Cumulus grew too large for its britches, it returned local programming to 101.7 shortly after acquiring it. They also converted Z108 to Star 108. Both stations sounded reasonably good.

The WMRR logo just looks deformed without the cursive "Total" in it.


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BayCityJohn2337
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by BayCityJohn2337 » Fri May 13, 2022 11:30 am

Tony Gates was the best when his Co Host was Christy Swan back in 1996. I'm still unsure what happened to her?



Frosty
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by Frosty » Fri May 13, 2022 2:42 pm

Kristi has been filling in for Mary Ellen Murphy on WGHN/Grand Haven for the past couple of weeks.



ftballfan
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by ftballfan » Fri May 13, 2022 7:19 pm

Is Rob Brandt pulling double duty for now? I've heard him in mornings and afternoons on LAV the last couple of weeks



BayCityJohn2337
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by BayCityJohn2337 » Fri May 13, 2022 8:16 pm

Thanks frosty I will give WGHN a listen online Monday morning if they stream thanks.

Rob Brandt has one hell of a good voice that's for sure.



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handbanana
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Re: Tony Gates Pulled From WLAV

Post by handbanana » Sun May 15, 2022 8:57 pm

BayCityJohn2337 wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 11:30 am
Tony Gates was the best when his Co Host was Christy Swan back in 1996. I'm still unsure what happened to her?
Ironically she took over for Tony's most recent co-host Michelle McCormick on the now-defunct i96. That show was a disaster and she was never heard on GR radio again. She and Dave Justice were terrible on the air, and behind the scenes they were allegedly worse to deal with. If I'm not mistaken those two actually killed the format on that station.



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