Memories of John Garabedian and V-66...

Roger Kirk
Fri Jun 15 15:10:57 EDT 2007

Donald A. wrote:
> Roger, what was the mood inside the WRKO building when WMEX was challenging (and sometimes beating) WRKO's dominance.
It's hard to remember the chronology after all these years, but 
management and the jocks talked a lot about it behind closed doors.  Of 
course, the jocks let us techs know a lot of the "juicy" stuff.  There 
were a lot of changes in the on-air stuff and I can't be sure what was 
the direct result of competition and what was just evolution of the 
Drake format.

It was around this time that they changed from single songs and short 
stop sets to two (or more) in a row with slightly longer stop sets.  
Also, the concept of adding LP cuts to the play list found favor.  A 
nod, no doubt, to some of the LP cuts being played by WMEX as well as a 
realization that the FM stations were starting to encroach on AM's 
dominance.  At first it started off conservatively with just 2 or three 
cuts added for spice.  Then, it escalated to the point where the jocks 
were bringing in huge stacks of LP's from their collections so that 
certain cuts could be carted and added to the on-air rotation.  The 
biggest add was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - which I edited down to 9:40 from 
the original15+ minutes. We were congratulating ourselves on being TOO 
HIP FOR THE ROOM.  The most hilarious point was when WRKO was accused 
(in a newspaper article) of adding LP cuts as a response to 
competition.  Their official response was "Nonsense, we've always played 
LP cuts that merited airplay, blah blah, blah..."

The news wars were funny.  They streamlined the news and went to a 
"secret, hush-hush" two-day rotation, so that outside of drive time, the 
news was not always in the same hour e.g. if it were at 7:40, 9:40 and 
11:40 on one day, the next day it would be at 6:40, 8:40 and 10:40 the 
next.  It was intimated that letting this cat out of the bag was 
tantamount to treason and subject to instant excommunication.

Without mentioning names, it was the subject of much discussion, 
snickering and ribbing after one of the evening jocks had a rendezvous 
with a female staffer from WMEX who applied "persuasion" in a vain 
attempt to extract 'secrets' fom him.  'Nuff said.

Still, the on-air sound was constantly monitored, compared to WMEX and 
tweaked incessantly.  The jocks groused among themselves that they were 
on too tight a leash and given the opportunity, they could be WAY more 
hip in their delivery and choice of music - if only given a chance.  
Three of the jocks all lived in the same apartment/condo complex in 
Framingham and gathering at one of their abodes to "discuss what's 
happenin'" was almost a daily ritual.  Of course, the grousing 
continued.  They all talked about  how "I could do it SO much better"  
One Saturday night, it happened:  One of the jocks decided it was time 
for the revolution.  He "broke format".  He decided what songs and  in 
what order they would be played.  He discarded the one-liners in favor 
of his own words.  Of course, the "Bat Phone" rang.  He answered it and 
hung up on the PD.  It rang again and he repeated.  After that, he 
refused to answer.  As you might imagine, the engineering supervisor of 
the whole plant (AM, FM & TV) came upstairs and quietly explained to him 
that the police (who were literally next door) were coming and if he 
didn't leave quietly and quickly, things would get ugly.  He left and 
guess which the board op was left to pick up the pieces.  I ran the 
station jockless and following format until they could find a jock that 
was home and answering the phone.  Turns out that nobody was at home 
then and the closest they could come up with was the Music Director who 
had been a Jock years ago. He lived about a mile away.  You can imagine 
how nervous he was sitting in the BIG SEAT.  I helped him through it 
until the midnight jock came in and relieved him. 

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list