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The wrecking ball.

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A story about an April Fools’ joke might seem a couple days late and a couple dollars short at this point in time.

But this story isn’t so much about April Fools’ as it is about gullibility and impermanence, both of which are eternal.

So come back with me (he said, grabbing your sleeve, rendering escape impossible) to an April morning many years ago.

It is Monday, April 1, 1985. I am in the sixth grade, not quite twelve years old. And I am listening to Dr. John Potter, the morning DJ on WMJQ 92.5 — Rochester’s less popular hits station — as he makes his listeners an unusual offer.

The offer involves Holleder Memorial Stadium, a 20,000-seat brickpile in the city proper that has hosted high school football, pro soccer, and even a few Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills exhibition games.

The stadium is not even 40 years old in the spring of ’85 but has been edging toward irrelevance for a while. High school football doesn’t draw 20,000 people any more. The NFL no longer comes to town. And two professional soccer teams, both calling Holleder home, have folded in the preceding five years.

The city fathers have even taken to allowing rock concerts there, a common last step for sports facilities gone to seed. (Holleder is one of four venues in Rochester to host a Grateful Dead concert, and the only one of the four I will never set foot in.)

But even the stadium’s availability to longhaired hordes is not enough to keep it alive; the neighbors are touchy, and there are other, more attractive concert venues in the city and region. In the spring of 1985, the announcement comes: Holleder Stadium is to be torn down.

And so here’s Dr. John Potter on April Fools’ Day 1985, loud-hailing a freebie offer to anyone who will listen: To a few lucky callers, he’s giving away tickets to see the Wrecking Ball at Holleder Stadium on April 18 (or whatever the demolition date was; it matters not.)

He plays it straight, as though the Wrecking Ball were a band rather than an implement of industrial deconstruction. He throws in a few embellishments here and there, of the sort you’d imagine — along the lines of, “Yeah, I hear this show is really gonna tear the place down.”

And sure enough, the calls come on air, several of them, all unsuspecting: “They some kind of hard-rock band? … Sure, I’d like to go. Thanks, Dr. John!”

And by the time I am required to leave for school, Dr. John Potter has distributed his full stash of tickets — maybe even front-row — to see the Wrecking Ball at Holleder Stadium.

I was credulous (as indeed I still am, too often), and it does not occur to preteen me that the callers could be plants, in on the joke. It is possible that I, not they, were the gullible ones.

On the other hand, I can believe even as a jaded adult that, in a city the size of Rochester, there are people who (a) don’t follow local news that closely and (b) are only too glad to accept tickets from their favorite morning jock, even if they don’t recognize the name of the “band.” (Dr. John Potter, like David Bowie’s mythical DJ, had believers believing him.)

Time moved forward. What happened after that?

Holleder Stadium departed this earth as scheduled a few weeks later. A high-tech park occupies the site now. If you stopped a random sampling of Rochesterians on the street tomorrow, I wonder if one in 10 could tell you where the stadium used to be.

According to the FCC, WMJQ didn’t outlast the stadium by all that long. The station at 92.5 became WLRY in October 1986, then WBEE the following February. The call letters remain WBEE; it’s now a very popular country station.

I have no idea what happened to Dr. John Potter, but the most recent online citation I can find for a radio DJ by that name dates to the early 1990s. If he’s still in the radio business, neither he nor his station seems particularly active in promoting him.

He might have taken a new on-air identity. Or, given the state of the radio business since 1985, it’s also possible that he left the industry, went back to school and got a job doing night-shift tech support. (If he’s reading, he’s welcome to set me straight in the comments.)

The moral of the story, I guess: Years come and go; places come and go; entertainments come and go; people who position themselves as beloved daily companions also come and go; and only the suspicion that one has been hoodwinked lasts.

Good night.

An affront to public decency.

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.