Saturday, April 2, 2016

Welcome Back,Tracy Morgan. Now, Clean Up Your Act

On August 2, 1983 at 6:08 AM, a young disc jockey from Tampa named Michael Scott Shannon took the helm of what had been an easy listening station that had seen WAY better days (WVNJ, or as it called itself, WVNJoy by day and WVNJazz by night at 100.3 on the FM dial) and turned it into a hit radio juggernaut that not only filled the shoes of WABC Musicradio 77, but also created its own legacy. He called it WHTZ, pronounced "Hits," and nicknamed it Z100 as a tribute to  Stan Z. Burns, the legendary New York air personality. It was a shoestring operation consisting of Scott and his production manager J.R. Nelson, (Scott read the news directly from the Daily News.) but the highlight became the Z-Morning Zoo, an irreverent look at the news of the day featuring Scott, J.R., New York radio veteran Ross Brittain, (Scott's first official New York radio sidekick) professional journalist (and den mother/resident Rangers fan) Claire Stevens,public service director and sports reporter Jonathan B.Bell, and assistant public director Mr. Leonard, which catapulted Z100 into the hearts and minds not just of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but also of America (thanks to Scott's ROCKIN' AMERICA TOP 30 COUNTDOWN) and the world (thanks to CNN). Yesterday, Scott and Ross reunited on WCBS-FM, Scott's current employer, for "Flashing Back To The 80's: A Morning Zoo Reunion," and the results were near perfection. Everybody at CBS-FM as well as Scott and Ross themselves are to be congratulated for the closest thing to time travel without a DeLorean.

Four years later, a programmer named Joel Salkowitz took the helm of a Z100 copycat called WAPP,or "The Apple," and turned it into HOT 103 FM, a dance-leaning CHR station which specialized in remixes and its own "Hot Mixes," using a format that made KPWR in LA a success because, as it boldly claimed, "New York Won't Stand Still For The Same Old Music!" Not too long after, HOT 103 and country station 97.1 WYNY switched frequencies, with HOT 97 continuing to duke it out with Z100 and 95.5 PLJ before eventually ditching the CHR format for a Hip-Hop based sound. Unfortunately (for them, mostly) they became better known for other things than music, such as racist comments against Asian-Americans and gunfights between rival posses, which earned them the nickname "Shot 97." (Fortunately, Scott has NEVER worked at a radio station where anybody has been shot.) One of HOT 97's many traditions has been the April Fool's Day Comedy Show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, this year made even more interesting than the return to the New York stage of SNL veteran Tracy Morgan, who almost lost his life in a tragic traffic accident. The good news is that he's back and his timing has never been better. The bad news is he told so many blue so-called "jokes" that I almost thought he was a Smurf. The same applied to the rest of the comics on the bill, and co-headliner (and Atlanta DJ) Rickey Smiley was better...up to a point when he turned blue. But he DID bring me to my feet...and outside the theater, and onto the escalator, and onto the street.


CBS-FM 101.1 (on a scale of 10)
Shot 97           0

Bye Buckaroos!

1 comment:

  1. Finally I got this one. It was worth the wait. Congratulations! I love the Smurf comment. The MP