Monday, January 16, 2012


Back in the land of blue sky.  It's warmer 
here too! The dash across the country and
back reminds me of how I made
a living for many years. 
 Then, as now, I suffer a
kind of cultural or location blurring.
Certain scenes become icons of a time, place
or feeling. This trip was a joy, but
also bitter sweet.
 Some of these images tell the story.
One of the first jobs of my dad was here. 
Just out of high school and before the Army and  WWII he worked as nightwatchman at Warner Gear on the edge of Muncie Indiana. 
 The job was a kind of favor to a lad who had
been a star basket ball player. It was only a place holder job for dad. Later he played semi pro ball and took other work before the war changed everyone's world. But Warner
Gear kept turning and over the years thousands of Indiana 
families built futures by the work done here.
Today its a windy echo of a Bruce Springsteen landscape
of broken dreams and shut down jobs.

So-- that was at one end of the sentimental journey.
 The other pole was the premiere of the documentary
about an historic radio showdown, that also symbolizes
I was lucky to be on a team that put modern FM
radio into the American culture.
 To look at us now it is, maybe, hard to imagine
 these guys created a new genre of radio, promotion, public interaction and new formats that continue today.
Buster Bodine, Mike Griffin and Cris "Moto Groove" Conner
were new stars of a new kind of radio.
 As film editor Brad Schushard looks on,
Al Stone, in the cap, signs posters next to
the AM radio star Roger W. Morgan.
Just out of college, Stone assembled a group of young
broadcasters to try something new.  They ended 
up toppling the vaunted and legendary WIFE, the highest
rated AM station in the nation. WNAP became the
first commercially successful FM Rock station in America.
The rest is history.
On this evening the old adversaries were colleagues in the celebration of the historic battle.
 In the film, this gent, tells just a little about his own infamous reputation of being the king of the groupie magnets. He said he "never really needed a good opening line."  He said he had "a role to play and he lived up to his name- Fast Freddie Fever." The stories of his experiences 
are legion.  Most will probably remain untold.
Fans of that era paid a premium price to attend
a private VIP reception that featured a limo ride
to the red carpet premiere.  Here Mike Griffin
is again the center of attention, giving his fans
new memories.
 It was humbling to see and hear how the 
sold out theatre audiences (they had to add a second
showing) reacted to moments from the film.
Even more humbling were those who approached us at the gala or the opening recalling something we said or did
all those years ago, that meant so much to their lives and in some cases had a life long impact.  
We were doing a job, having fun being innovative but without a thought to the fact we were making history, let alone influencing lives in the manner
we heard about on these evenings of memories.
Bitter sweet in its own way.

The trip back gave me a private moment to pay
respects to my family members.
I'm sure that doing so on a frigid, windy, gray day
turned up the emotional vibe a mark or two.
I had to wonder what my parents or my grand parents
would make of what has become of modern media
and cultural tastes.  Could they believe that some of
what we did left the mark it has?

It's also bittersweet to know those 
once young guys and gals, like their fans, are becoming
nostalgia, though still comfortable and
even talented, in the spot light.
Buster Bodine's antics in the follow up
Q&A after the film being a case in point.
I told people who asked what I was doing now
that I had become a "villager," acclimated to quiet
and serenity far away from hubba hubba and hoopla.
It was fun to be back on the television stations, 
even keeping a tight schedule, and being in the spot, because I  knew it was a bit like Cinderella.  The ball would soon be over.  It is wonderful to be back in the village.
There is blue sky and sooo much warmer!!!
See you down the trail.


  1. Great to have you back. I appreciate your observations on the current scene, as well as your memories of the past I remember and the one before that, which you helped to create.

  2. Way cool, Tom. Thanks for sharing. Time does pass. I remember those days well, myself. I am still in Indy. See you both soon.

  3. I remember how grudgingly Fred let you do your thing on NAP. Those were fun days.

  4. This is an interesting window into a world I know little about. Thanks for the peak.

  5. Kevin-
    It was very good to see you and see how well things are aligning there at WRTV. Thanks for the visit and the time.

    Linda-I was looking in the crowd, hoping you might be able to make it. We've got a DVD that you may be interested in sometime. See you in March.

    Bruce-Fred gets some mention in the program. BTW, I saw two of his sons, Karl and Rick at the premiere.

    Stephen-In those days radio was personal, creative and lots of fun.

  6. Few beyond Indianapolis understood what a ground breaking radio station WNAP was.

    The reason WNAP succeeded: Passion for the product. We would walk into the studio at 5 AM and still be working on the next day's show at 9 PM that night. We carried tape recorders to bring the sounds of the city to the air. We baked bread, shoveled snow, flew in hot air balloons walked the pits at IMS, even did a feature on child pornography, years before it became a national concern. We played recordings listeners sent us long before YouTube. All on the air from 5 AM to 9 AM daily.

    I learned more about connecting with an audience in three years at WNAP than any other time in my forty-year radio career.

    Bob Foster (Richards) WNAP February 1974 to May 1977

  7. It was an honor to see you and all the people that made history on the airwaves so many years ago. You're right, everyone was just doing what we loved to do and had no idea how history would reflect those years in Indianapolis Radio.

    God bless you Mike. I appreciated the one-on-one time we had at Smee's too. You truly are a gentleman I will long remember and appreciate.

    Johnny George
    WNAP 1977-'79 "Studio 93" & Re-launch of WNAP 1994-'97

  8. Bob-
    You were "The Breakfast Buzzard" and were so good at what you did you gave the boys in the front studio, heart burn and paranoia. You also kicked the station into a unique place where it was both the Buzzard but also the place to be for the new, hip, cool, and emerging city
    that Indianapolis became. We had some great times together and even remember some of them!

    Johnny-you've always been a consummate professional.