FoGR Pods: Podcasts from the Friends of Georgia Radio
By Georgia Radio Innovators
FoGR Pods: Podcasts from the Friends of Georgia RadioSep 09, 2023
FoGRPod # 20-Smaller Market Radio with KJ Allen-Jeff Batten-Bill Maine
Smaller market radio can be rewarding, and challenging-- especially if your stations are in the coverage area of multiple, bigger markets. Yet, Jeff Batten's Batten Communications, KJ Allen's OconeeComm, and Bill Maine's WDUN/WGGA Jacobs Media owned cluster in Gainesville, have somehow decoded a lot of the secrets to being successful AND making money. All three have a great perspective on how to thrive.
FoGRPod # 19- The Story of 94Q's Jazz Flavours (With Don Benson, Fleetwood Gruver, and Russ Davis)
In the late 1970s, there were only a small handful of commercial stations featuring jazz programming. But WQXI-FM ("94Q")-- a extremely successful Atlanta pop rock station--- added a 5-hour jazz show Sunday nights 7 to midnight, and generated double digit shares- Sometimes 20+ shares Adults 25-54! Here's the inside story from Don Benson, the PD who put it on, and from Fleetwood Gruver and Russ Davis, the first two hosts, who both went on to CD-101 in New York, one of the biggest jazz stations in the country. It's all here, in FoGRPod #19 from Friends of Georgia Radio. Dennis Winslow hosts.
FoGRPod #18-Radio Talent Institute
We gathered three incredibly bright Georgia college students who finished two weeks of intensive workshops and radio training at the GAB’s Radio Talent Institute at Grady College at UGA. We’ll find out what they learned, whom they met (A Who’s Who of Georgia and national radio leaders), and what they will do with all their new knowledge. Dennis Winslow talks with GAB President Bob Houghton, Brenau and UGA's Massimo Bellew, Piedmont University and now Habersham Broadcasting's Madison Gott, and Ft. Valley State's Justin Harris.
FoGRPod # 17-V103's Mike Roberts & Carol Blackmon
Mike Roberts and Carol Blackmon anchored mornings at heritage Urban powerhouse WVEE from the late 80s thru the late 90s – dominating morning ratings and winning accolades and awards. (Mike’s a Georgia Radio Hall of Fame and a GAB Hall of Fame inductee, and Carol was inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame, and recently honored by the Library of Congress as she joined the Black Women in Radio Class of 2023.)
Back together again in the latest FoGRPod Podcast, Carol reveals how she almost came to blows with one of the biggest names in music during a live interview on V103. And Mike reveals that he had a case of nerves every time he was interviewing legends like Smokey Robinson, Nancy Wilson, and all the other celebrities who came through the door at V103.
FoGRPod # 16-Voiceover-With Randy Reeves, George Robinson, and Jeff Winter
The voiceover business-- then and now--- with three of the most successful voice talents in the industry. All worked in Atlanta radio, all still live here, and all are still working. How they got started, the challenges of the business today, and a few secrets, plus advice for young talent who want a career as a voiceover talent today--- it's all here in FoGRPod #16 with Randy Reeves, George Robinson, and Jeff Winter.
FoGRPod #15-Moby in the Morning and WKHX PD Neil McGinley
ABC/CapCities imported PD Neil McGinley to Atlanta from flame-throwing CHR WKBW in Buffalo to their new country property, WKHX 101.5 in Atlanta. And Neil imported a morning guy from a top-rated rock station in Houston, where he had a reputation as a “shock jock.” Together, they built a heritage country morning show brand in the heart of the South. Back together again, in one of the last recorded interviews before Moby's death on September 20th of this year, they share the story of their partnership – the high points and the pitfalls – in this face to face podcast interview with Dennis Winslow.
FoGRPod #14-Brian Philips, Chief Content Officer, Cumulus-The History of 99X
Brian Philips-Chief Content Officer, Cumulus
Over 30 years ago, Susquehanna radio put their Top 40 “Power 99” to bed, and birthed a new station – the original “99X.” With a legendary morning show – “The Morning X” – and a unique roadmap (there really wasn’t one in the beginning), the station carved out a place in Georgia radio history but eventually was itself replaced. Fast forward, and the visionary program manager Brian Philips who was most responsible in those early days came back as Chief Content Officer for the company that now owned the signal, and this year – he proceeded to re-birth the iconic brand, with many of the same voices that had been a part of the original 99X. Here, Dennis Winslow gets a great download from Cumulus’s Brian Philips about the old – and the new – 99X.
FOGRPod # 13-History of WRAS-Part 2 (John Asante/Gail Harris)
FoGRPod # 13- “History of WRAS-Part 2” has some really great guests – two Atlanta natives who both got started at “Album 88” in different eras:
John Asante, who was a show host and News Director from 2007-2009, and then ended up at WNYC and NPR in New York, helping to produce such iconic shows as “Ask Me Another,” “The Takeaway,” and “Talk of the Nation.” From there, he headed for Los Angeles where he is now an award-winning podcast producer.
Gail Harris who is probably one of the longest-serving members of the Album 88 family, as a staffer from 1976 to 1983, and then doing fill-in thru 1993. She also worked in the record industry, at WABE, and was on staff at Peach State Public Radio when they first went on the air. (If you don’t recall the name, it’s now GPB with a network of over 18 stations covering the state!)
Both have some great insights about the iconic station, and good advice for young broadcasters.
FOGRPod # 12-WRAS History Part 1-Drew Murray/Jeff Walker
WRAS’s Drew Murray and Jeff Walker- In addition to arriving at WRAS during the station’s infancy in the early 1970s, Drew Murray has the distinction of being the very first voice on the brand new “96 Rock” when WKLS flipped from beautiful music. And Jeff Walker is the WRAS staffers who just can’t leave! Jeff was PD in 1981, then GM, then Operations manager and Advisor off and on from 1986 to today. (He even retired once, but it didn’t stick.) Meanwhile, both Drew and Jeff also worked commercial radio in Atlanta, and have a lot to tell about the history of Album 88, including the birth the iconic “Album 88” name. It’s all here in the latest FOGRPod podcast with Dennis Winslow.
FOGRPod # 12-Jerry Rogers - Savannah
Savannah icon Jerry Rogers talks about programming and managing some of Savannah's classic Top 40 stations, and how he now owns, operates, and does afternoon drive on Savannah's Quality Rock 105.3, WRHQ.
FOGRPod # 11-Dwight Douglas
A native of Pittsburgh, one of Dwight Douglas’s first broadcasting jobs after college was as a video guy for TV’s “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Later, radio successes led him to a job with the ABC O&O radio stations helping revitalize their FM properties. He eventually ended up at the largest radio consulting firms in the world-- Burkhart/Douglas and Associates-- consulting some of America’s best stations, and working with world class radio talent like KLOS’s Mark & Brian and Howard Stern. Later, Andy Economos recruited him as his VP for marketing for RCS. Now retired, Dwight is now a prolific writer, and has just finished his latest, “True Radio Confessions-Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll.” In which you will surely recognize people from your radio career. (By the way, Dwight swears it’s a work of fiction!) Here, Dwight and Dennis Winslow talk about radio -- and about the book.
Laura Starling, Morning Personality WDEN Macon, GA
Laura Starling—Laura got her start while in Athens for college, but headed back home to finish her degree at Wesleyan College in Macon, and before she even graduated, she started working at powerhouse country WDEN. 40 years --- and three changes of ownership later --- she’s still doing morning drive at WDEN. She’s a ADDY Award winner, a member of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, and a regular winner of macon.com’s voting as Macon’s “Best DJ.” Along the way, she’s sung with Kenny Chesney, and been pranked by Faith Hill’s manager. Here, Dennis Winslow unpacks her long and successful career.
Kaedy Kiely 97.1 The River Atlanta Part 2
Kaedy Kiely has been doing drive time radio in Atlanta for 40 years, first at iconic Atlanta station 96 Rock, then at Classic Rock Z93, and then as both Morning Drive host and now afternoon personality at top-rated 97.1 The River. A native Atlantan and Emory graduate, Kiely’s first calling was singing and acting, but the radio bug hit her and she’s now one of Atlanta’s longest running air talents. Dennis Winslow finds out about her best and worst radio interviews and more in Part 2.
Kaedy Kiely 97.1 The River Atlanta Part 1
Kaedy Kiely- Kaedy has been doing drive time radio in Atlanta for 40 years, first at iconic Atlanta station 96 Rock, then at Classic Rock Z93, and then as both Morning Drive host and now afternoon personality at top-rated 97.1 The River. A native Atlantan and Emory graduate, Kiely’s first calling was singing and acting, but the radio bug hit her and she’s now one of Atlanta’s longest running air talents. Dennis Winslow traces her long career path, along with the lows of a breast cancer diagnosis, and her career highs including her induction into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
Bear O'Brian, WCGQ, Kiss, Kissin' 99.3, Columbus GA
BEAR O’BRIAN grew up in Manchester listening to Atlanta and Columbus radio, dreaming that he, too, could be on the radio. He started along the path right out of high school with jobs in Perry, Barnesville, Monroe, and Wrens, but when he got that chance to go to legendary station WCGQ in Columbus as a copywriter, he took it. Several weeks later, the long time morning guy quit, Bear asked for the job, and got it, spending the next 40 years in morning drive at WCGQ, KISS, and Kissin’ 99.3, with a side trip to Florida and Alabama, and a stint as a stand-up comic. Here, Dennis Winslow unpacks this Georgia Radio legend’s career.
Mara Davis-Part 2
Mara Davis enjoyed a long career as an Atlanta-based FM radio personality at Z93 and at Dave FM. And this week, the story about finding out about finding about not one – but two—format changes from the most unlikely sources. First time, from Rodney Ho in the AJC. And the second time,she got the news from her ex-General Manager. Radio war stories, and “after radio” from Mara Davis in Part 2.
Mara Davis Part 1
MARA DAVIS enjoyed a successful first act as a longtime Atlanta-based FM radio DJ, TV host, emcee and gal about town. In these podcasts, she discusses her arrival at Classic Rock Z93 in the mid-90s, and the transition to Dave FM, and later, hosting “Mara’s Music Mix” on 90.1 WABE.
Mara’s been the talent booker job at Adult Swim and booked top bands from Cage The Elephant to Neko Case, Jason Isbell, Sting and emerging talent like Doja Cat and Billie Eilish. She co-hosted a Georgia politics podcast, serves as Secretary on the board of the Grammy Chapter in Atlanta, contributes at Paste Magazine, and donates her time to organizations including the Atlanta Humane Society, Helping Mama's and The Homeless Period Project.
Don Benson Part 2| WQXI AM/FM Atlanta
94Q, and sister station 790 WQXI were nationally-known Atlanta radio brands, known for innovative and creative promotions, with cutting-edge talent in all departments and an internal “hall vibe” like few other stations. In part 2, Dennis Winslow explores with Don the formatics that made 94Q such a fierce competitor, and reveals details about how legendary GM Jerry Blum inspired the staff.
Don Benson Part 1| WQXI AM/FM Atlanta
Don Benson eventually ran the whole company as President and CEO of Lincoln Financial. Here’s the behind-the-scenes story of his start as an intern for legendary programmer Scott Shannon and his arrival in Atlanta where he watched one of the most heavily promoted radio promotions of the 1970s fizzle because of a technical glitch. And, Dennis Winslow talks with Don about becoming PD of “The FM QXI,” and the birth of the iconic “94Q.”
Mike Roberts | V103 Atlanta
Dennis Winslow sits down with Mike Roberts as he tells the story of his career as PD of two of the city’s iconic urban stations – first WIGO, and later V-103, where he hosted the longest-running morning show in the station’s history and took the station to the top of the Arbitron ratings. Then, Mike talks about becoming an entrepreneur with his own small cluster of stations in Macon, and his new life as an owner.
John Lauer | WGST/WPCH Atlanta
John Lauer served as VP/GM of two iconic Georgia radio stations: Peach FM95 and WGST Newsradio. After rising through the ranks at CBS radio, he came to Atlanta in 1968 as FM took off and helped assemble an all-star team of managers and staff at both stations. He continued in the role through ownership changes from Sudbrink to Meredith to Jacor. Richard Warner interviewed Lauer in March 2022.