"While everybody else is talkin', we'll be rockin'"
My Kinda Place!
Washing sand out of my shorts while smoking.
That's me...always Multi-Tasking
Mosaic: Brian Jay at a Rock103 Remote in 1998
"Divers do it deeper..."
The Morning Brew-HaHa!
Weekday mornings at 7:15
Join us weekday mornings for a little comedy.
Very little. :-)
We'll feature short comedy clips from America's Stand-out Stand-up comedians to get your day started. Enjoy! And no heckling, please. :-)
*Caution: Sudden unexpected laughter can cause you to spew your morning coffee right out of your nose in unlikely places...like in the middle of rush hour traffic. We assume no responsibility if this happens.
Okay, okay. No jokes about us acting like we're 12 or something. :-)
It's true. Rock 103 first went on the air 35 Years Ago On September 27, 1977.
Today, we begin the month-long birthday celebration traditionally known as "ROCKTOBER". Yes, there will be a few surprises along the way to be announced. And yes, for the benefit of those of you who have been listening to the station for much of that time, we'll re-live some old memories and invite you to do the same.
So today, we'll begin a series of blog posts celebrating Rock 103's 35 year history. Just think of it as a rather cool history lesson from a strange little professor sitting cross-legged on the floor or something. :-)
The Birth of Rock 103
In the mid 1970's, the station now known as Rock 103 was then known as "WZXR Great American Country" (Formerly WREC-FM). It was an automated station operated out of studios in the Peabody Hotel. By the mid 70’s the Peabody Hotel had fallen into disrepair and the hotel itself was closed. In the summer of 1977 the decision had been made to move from the Peabody Hotel basement. The new home for WREC AM and WZXR FM would be 1385 Lamar Avenue in Memphis. So the switch to Rock 103 wasn't just a format change...it was a move to a new studio facility as well.
On the night of the format change, the STL (studio to transmitter link) had to be changed over to the new site, so for the final hour of the country format from the Peabody, the signal was carried over a plain telephone line to the transmitter site.
As the midnight hour approached, the final song played on the country format was wrapping up. It was John Denver - Looking for Space. (Yes, JOHN DENVER!)
When you're looking for space and to find out who you are.
When you're looking to try and reach the stars.
It's a sweet, sweet dream, sometimes I'm almost there.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle and sometimes I'm deep in despair.
(Looking at it now in retrospect, there's something strangely prophetic about that line about "flying like an eagle". But I'll talk about that in another blog.)
At 12:01 AM on September 27, 1977, Joe Hargraves gave the final Legal ID from the Peabody studios and engineers Howard Moran, Gary Condrey, and Ken McCorkle were on hand at the transmitter to pull the patch cord and reconnect it to the new STL unit, putting the new station at the new location on the air. Here's what that moment in time sounded like on the air: (Click speaker to play)
I would like to play the entire first half hour or so, but the RIAA and a bunch of lawyers would probably have a hissy-fit if I posted all that music in the clear. But I can tell you that Chris James was the first Rock 103 DJ on the air. The first songs played on the new format were:
Foghat - Drivin' Wheel
Foreigner - Cold As Ice
Rod Stewart - Mandolin Wind
Boz Skaggs - Lowdown
Piper (Billy Squier's former band) - Can't Wait
Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
Yes, that's quite an eclectic mix of songs by today's standards. And a pretty simple format change really. There were no billboard stunts, no kooky promotions. Just a simple, functional format and studio change at midnight.
And so, Rock 103 was born.
(This was the first transparent bumper sticker/window sticker)
Our friend, the Walrus would arrive shortly after that.
Enjoy the month long ROCKTOBER celebration, my friends!
*Special note. Much of the archival material that I plan on including in some of these blog posts come from Gary Condrey's Collection. Gary, who has been our engineer all along through ALL of these years has announced his retirement.
I mean no irony when I say that those will be some "big shoes to fill". Gary is truly an Engineer's Engineer and a consummate professional. He will be greatly missed around here. Gary has also served as Rock 103's unofficial chief historian as well...
Kudos, Gary! And enjoy :-)