No particular point to tonight’s entry … just offloading a radio-related memory that goes all the way back to my elementary school days.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, two stations in Rochester, N.Y., faced off in the hard-rock/album-oriented radio market — WCMF 96.5, and WMJQ “Magic 92” 92.5.
WCMF was winning the battle, and WMJQ was starting to get desperate.
So — I’m guessing this was sometime around 1982 — Magic 92 decided to play a little blue, adopting the slogan “Kick-Ass Rock and Roll.”
(It didn’t use the slogan on this October 1980 airplay chart, so it must have come along a little bit later.)
I saw a mention of that online tonight, and it reminded me of the infamous Magic 92 T-shirts that circulated around town for a season or two, bearing the “Kick-Ass Rock and Roll” slogan.
In my memory, they are classic early-’80s softball-style shirts, though they might really have been short-sleeved Ts. I cannot find a picture of one online for the life of me.
Every so often I would see one in a public place, and to an impressionable lad like myself, they carried a certain frisson of the forbidden.
Certainly, my parents — and all my friends’ parents — would not have let their kids walk out of the house with a Kick-Ass Rock and Roll T-shirt on.
I have a vague recollection that the shirts were banned in the schools of my hometown, as well. (Again, I was in elementary school at the time; this was the sort of rumor that magically trickled down from the exciting, distant world of the big kids.)
Those who dared wear them — at the grocery store, or Silver Stadium, or at the Fourth of July celebration — seemed just a little dangerous, a little devil-may-care. The sorts of people who listened to loud, clangorous, treasonous rock music that only existed at the very edges of my imagination.
Today, of course, I know the shirt-wearing lumpen were listening to nothing more dangerous than Foreigner and For Those About To Rock We Salute You. Which is to say, nothing particularly dangerous at all.
And the whole “edgy” stunt seems kinda silly in retrospect … both in regards to the people who dreamed it up, and the people who saw it as an affront to the public good.
Still, seeing the “Kick-Ass Rock and Roll” slogan reminded me of growing up — of being that age when you’re just starting to collect diverse information from the teenage and grown-up worlds, and trying to make sense of it all.
As for the radio competition, WCMF won — and in fact is still on the air today, playing hard rock of various vintages.
Having lost the album-rock battle, WMJQ switched sometime around 1984 to a Top 40 format — only to get its arse kicked in that format by Rochester’s preferred Top 40 station, WPXY.
(I was a Q92 listener during the year or two of my life when I liked Top 40, sometime around middle school. Didn’t seem like it helped them much.)
The 92.5 FM frequency finally got occupied by a station capable of owning its niche: country station WBEE.
(The joke around Rochester, apparently, is that the station’s call letters stand for “We’ve Been Everything Else.” It’s a fair cop.)
I guess WBEE’s success means it won’t have to resort to cheap tricks (or Cheap Trick) to attract attention.
Which is good: The high-school principals of Rochester have enough to worry about these days without having to deal with “92.5 FM: Shitkicking Country Hits” T-shirts.