Monday, October 3, 2016

WQXI (Atlanta): Top 40

With its nickname "the Quixie in Dixie," 790 WQXI launched itself as a Top 40 vehicle sometime in 1960, then shape-shifted according to subsequent eras' conceptions of the format until the mid-80s. In 1974, the station's FM signal became its mothership, billing itself as "94 QXI-FM," then becoming "94 Q" by 1977.

The rare Southern Gold promo LP images shown here (thanks to radio station vinyl resource Radio Use Only) come from 1973, during the station's final glory days as a classic AM entity that loomed large in reputation (if not wattage) throughout the Southern US. A typical umbrella format hodgepodge, the album does showcase a "New South" attitude with Charlie Daniels' "Uneasy Rider" and leads off with "Brother Louie," one of the era's quintessential black/white issue hits.

Among the disk jockeys who spun records for WQXI during the early seventies were longtime morning man Gary McKee, Dr. Don Rose (who left in 1972 and became a San Francisco institution), Scott Shannon, John Leader, and J.J. Jackson (who was neither the MTV personality nor the singer included on side 2 of the Southern Gold album). The station's long time general manager Jerry Blum became an inspiration for the character of Arthur Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati, having once pulled, in real life, the turkey stunt that inspired the show's most famous episode.

I'm hoping that a clearer album image [see update below] of the jocks in front of the Peachtree Street sign eventually turns up. Clockwise from the top: Dave Smith, Dave Weiss, Ron Parker, Tomm Rivers, John Leader, Lee Logan, Barry Chaser, and Gary McKee. (You can hear a full Gary McKee morning show from 1972 at Airchexx.)

Update 8/21/18: My hopes for a clearer image were fulfilled by none other than Ron Parker (top right), the weekend man during WQXI's heyday, who currently does the afternoon show for WLS-FM in Chicago. I asked Ron about his radio adventures and I'm posting it here to energize radio hopefuls, radio vets, and radio historians alike:

"I started at WQXI when I was 20 years old and worked there for over 3 years while attending The University Of Georgia. WQXI was the WABC of the South!... Just one of those stations you wanted to work at while in High School. I was hired by Program Director John Leader [front row, second to rar right] and Corporate Program Director Bill Sherard. Yes, I picked a career in radio majoring in journalism - radio - TV.

"After programming changes at WQXI,  I moved over for awhile to Z 93 FM Atlanta which became the huge TOP 40 winner.  Upon graduation from college I landed afternoons at the legendary WLCY Tampa Bay. My career has taken me to great places: Miami, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City at WCBS FM, and currently I hold down the afternoon show at WLS FM Chicago.  I also have done work for SIRIUS XM for the past 10 years.

"Yep, I wanted to do radio and have done everything from Program Director, Mornings, Afternoons, and whatever with successful ratings.

"Trust me, this is something I've always wanted to do and would have never changed anything!"

Side 1:
Stories - "Brother Louie"
Climax - "Precious and Few"
Isley Brothers - "It's Your Thing"
Gallery - "Nice to Be with You"
Charlie Daniels Band - "Uneasy Rider"
Lobo - "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo"
Sylvia - "Pillow Talk"

Side 2:
Curtis Mayfield - "Superfly"
Melanie - "Brand New Key"
Freda Payne - "Band of Gold"
Focus - "Hocus Pocus"
J.J. Jackson - "But It's Alright"
Five Man Electrical Band - "Signs"
Sugarloaf - "Green Eyed Lady"

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