I swore I would only do this once and I held true to my word. For years the most frequently asked question of me is either "why did you turn the station to oldies?" or "do you like playing those old songs?" Let's set the record straight. I did not make the decision to make 99WAYS oldies. I also am in no way related to Bill Gates, so I have to work. Let's look back a bit.
We know now that Fred Newton was there to make his fortune and eventually buy his old "digs" Z-108 from Ben Porter. He did a great job at WAYS and gave me an opportunity that I would have never had otherwise. When he left and took Oscar Leverette with him it was a crashing blow for the station.
It is 1992 and Top 40 has begun to fragment. Country music is quickly making "in roads" as the format of choice. With the huge ratings of 99WAYS we were the target of choice. We were also our worse enemy.
When sales start to slip it's every man for himself. Make no mistake that the decision was made to change the format before we ever had our famous meeting with consultant Steve Martin. (not the guy with the arrow through his head) His job was to make us think that we had made the decision that management wanted us to make...which we brilliantly did. I knew it was all over when we started talking about current music and he thought one current song an hour was too much. I knew I would be playing oldies from that point on. It was either go along or find other work. I didn't have the financial security to do so. So here we were in a new chapter of the radio station's history.
I went through two years of people giving me the finger and cursing me for taking away their top 40. I know how they felt because I had always loved keeping up with the current music. The oldies format just kept on going. The only thing that changed was the way we presented the music. Throughout this experience our ratings never came even close to what we had even when we thought our top 40 effort was not working. Now I can say it. I like oldies, but every day five days a week four hours a day is a true test of a disc-jockey's resolve.
But, there were good time too. The morning show had to be totally reworked to appeal to a much older audience.
Thank the Telecommunications act of (whatever year) that allowed so many new stations and took away the limit on the number of stations owned by any one company. I used to have a joke that my 401K has "rolled over" more times than Heidi Fliess. This (in my opinion) has ruined radio and given us thousands of "sound alike" stations. The only true hope I see for creative radio is the internet. Mark my words.