Monday, January 16, 2012

Radio: Rock 103 WIQB

Back in the bad old days of the 80s and 90s, before Clinton killed radio and Telecom by selling it out to Clean Channel (see the Telecom Act of 1996), we had a local Top 40 radio station that was my gate way to pop music. It was thee station that I listened to when I was a teen, at least in the morning on the way to school.

WIQB was an ubiquitous presence in town. There were bill boards, a ad that played before films at Fox Village Theater, and sponsored and participated in local events. I recall every winter that they would participate in Rocking for the Hungry, a food drive for those on the bottom of the social ladder. They also at least in a couple of cases were more than willing to play local artists and promote local musical events.

Their morning crew were a pre-Shock Jock set cast with a main DJ, Rob Reinhardt as I recall, and a couple of co-hostes. They played music, talked about traffic, weather, and local news. At some point in the 80s they started taking listeners calls about movies they had seen over the weekend and what they thought of them.

For a while they had an oldies show on Sunday mornings and played Dr Demento on Sunday Nights. Sure they were a Top 40 station and they played the hits of the day, it should be noted that they also did play older tunes that had fallen off the charts as well. They were kinda a JACK FM kinda deal before that format reached the airwaves. They also were operating in a radio environment where the way to gain market share was to take chances on stuff that others were not playing. I vividly recall hearing them say, The only station where you are going to hear.... and then play something that was new, that was unproven and that had yet to reach the charts.

WIQB vanished somewhere along the way, I fell off listening at some point and last I checked their 102.9 location on the dial was occupied by WWWW W4 Country ...  A quick google search confirms that right now W4 is still there, they are owned by Cumulus Media Inc, at leas that's what their web page indicates.... however I have found this....


from: http://encycl.opentopia.com/term/WWWW
WWWW - "W4 Country" - is a country music radio station based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, broadcasting on 102.9 MHz. The WWWW calls were originally used for 106.7 FM in Detroit, Michigan, first with easy listening and later an oldies format. Throughout most of the 1970s, it was an album-oriented rock station. During the heyday of the short-lived quadraphonic sound fad, it featured quad broadcasts and was known locally by fans as "W4 Quad." In 1980, WWWW changed its format to country, and was then known as "W4 Country" for almost two decades until switching to adult rock as WLLC-FM "Alice 106.7" in 1999. After a switch to classic rock as WDTW-FM "106.7 The Drive" in 2002, country music made a return to 106.7 FM on May 19,2006 as "106.7 The Fox". The "W4 Country" brand name and WWWW calls were revived for 102.9 FM in Ann Arbor in October 2000 and continued even after WDTW relaunched as "The Fox," which disappointed many fans of the original "W4 Country" who had hoped that the brand name would make a return at 106.7.
The 102.9 frequency began operations in March 1962 as WOIA and was (and still is) co-owned with WOIB-AM 1290 in Saline, Michigan. In 1970, the stations became WNRS-AM/WNRZ-FM, "Ann Arbor's Winners." WNRZ-FM changed its format from country to album rock in March 1975 and became known as WIQB, with a call sign which designated the number "103" (AM 1290 has since been through a multitude of format changes and is now WLBY, an affiliate of Air America). Like the original WWWW-FM, WIQB broadcasted in quadraphonic sound for a time in the 1970s as "QuadRock 103." WIQB's rock format went through several metamorphoses during the 1990s, including adult alternative during the late 1990s and then active rock by the end of the decade. As an active rock station, "Rock 103 IQB," then owned by Cumulus Broadcasting, was low-rated, continuously losing to Detroit's WRIF in the Ann Arbor Arbitron reports. "W4 Country" has proven much more popular in Ann Arbor, and is now often the top-rated music station in the market. Its signal into metropolitan Detroit is impeded by WHTD(102.7 MHz) in Mount Clemens in Macomb County, but WWWW still frequently shows up toward the bottom of the Detroit ratings. WWWW's signal is much stronger toward the west and north of Ann Arbor, and the station gets a listenable signal as far away as Flint and Lansing.
Both the former (106.7) and the current (102.9) WWWW are now owned by Clear Channel Communications.

WWWW - "W4 Country" - is a country music radio station based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, broadcasting on 102.9 MHz. The WWWW calls were originally used for 106.7 FM in Detroit, Michigan, first with easy listening and later an oldies format. Throughout most of the 1970s, it was an album-oriented rock station. During the heyday of the short-lived quadraphonic sound fad, it featured quad broadcasts and was known locally by fans as "W4 Quad." In 1980, WWWW changed its format to country, and was then known as "W4 Country" for almost two decades until switching to adult rock as WLLC-FM "Alice 106.7" in 1999. After a switch to classic rock as WDTW-FM "106.7 The Drive" in 2002, country music made a return to 106.7 FM on May 19,2006 as "106.7 The Fox". The "W4 Country" brand name and WWWW calls were revived for 102.9 FM in Ann Arbor in October 2000 and continued even after WDTW relaunched as "The Fox," which disappointed many fans of the original "W4 Country" who had hoped that the brand name would make a return at 106.7.
The 102.9 frequency began operations in March 1962 as WOIA and was (and still is) co-owned with WOIB-AM 1290 in Saline, Michigan. In 1970, the stations became WNRS-AM/WNRZ-FM, "Ann Arbor's Winners." WNRZ-FM changed its format from country to album rock in March 1975 and became known as WIQB, with a call sign which designated the number "103" (AM 1290 has since been through a multitude of format changes and is now WLBY, an affiliate of Air America). Like the original WWWW-FM, WIQB broadcasted in quadraphonic sound for a time in the 1970s as "QuadRock 103." WIQB's rock format went through several metamorphoses during the 1990s, including adult alternative during the late 1990s and then active rock by the end of the decade. As an active rock station, "Rock 103 IQB," then owned by Cumulus Broadcasting, was low-rated, continuously losing to Detroit's WRIF in the Ann Arbor Arbitron reports. "W4 Country" has proven much more popular in Ann Arbor, and is now often the top-rated music station in the market. Its signal into metropolitan Detroit is impeded by WHTD(102.7 MHz) in Mount Clemens in Macomb County, but WWWW still frequently shows up toward the bottom of the Detroit ratings. WWWW's signal is much stronger toward the west and north of Ann Arbor, and the station gets a listenable signal as far away as Flint and Lansing.
Both the former (106.7) and the current (102.9) WWWW are now owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Thoughts, comments, remembrances of your fave High School radio station?

Fixed call letter mix up.

9 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Well, the 1990 act was under Bush Senior's watch. Not that it was too easy to tell Bush 41 from Clinton in most policies.

Also, you scramble the call letters a bit from citation to citation here.

wv: cablelab

Todd Mason said...

Never ming the Bush/Clinton comment...memory and eyesight both playing tricks. It's a middle-aged moment.

Todd Mason said...

Though if that warr no joke, it's Clear Channel, unlike my vision...

Iren said...

Todd: I fixed the mixed up call letters. As for The Telecom Act of '96, to be fair it was also the republican congress that pushed that through... but Clinton had a nice big signing party when it went through, and made the statement that we would have lower prices for Phone, internet, and cable.... none of which happened.

Unknown said...

Just stumbled across your post. I listened to WIQB all the time as a teenager during the mid 90s. Back then it was John Vance and Jerry Mason in the morning. I even got to spend a week with them for a school project, which was great, and went back from time to time to visit them. Got to meet pre-"Closing Time" Semisonic... before they were big (they were promoting their album Great Divide) and A. Whitney Brown of Saturday Night Live fame, as well as some local acts.

Their morning show was a mix of talk, news, and music. Just chatting about whatever was on their mind or whatever was going on, not all the gags and shock jock stuff that was becoming popular. One of my favorite memories was they were trying to auction off a Princess Diana beanie baby (remember how big those things were?) with proceeds going to charity and taking bids from callers all morning. Well, the calls were slow, and Adam Acey, who DJed after their show, called in on his drive in to work so they put him on the air to try and generate some interest and get people to call. They asked Adam if he wanted to place a bid and Adam said, "I ain't bidding on no bloody Princess Diana beanie baby!" After a collective gasp from the hosts, they quickly hung up on him, lol.

They still had the same mix of the day's rock hits along with local bands like Solid Frog and The Holy Cows. Francis Dunnery is another favorite that made it big in Ann Arbor. And they were still involved with the local community at the time, too. I remember Rockin' for the Hungry and we even got one of their guys to come out and do a remote at Pioneer High School for our canned food drive.

Unfortunately, I think the station changed owners around 1996-97 and the new owners wanted to make the station more "EXTREME!" because being "EXTREME!" was all the rage in radio those days. The owners wanted more hard rock and edginess like you'd hear on WRIF and less of the local flavor you could only get on WIQB. Vance and Mason left, and it went downhill from there.

I remember the morning after Vance and Mason left they had dead air for three hours. No joke. I don't know if the new guy didn't show up or what, but there was nothing on the air. After that I stopped listening, the "Be more like Detroit EXTREME! music" experience failed miserably, and eventually it became what is now W4 Country.

I miss those days a lot. Stations like WIQB that really invest in the local community and are willing to give air time to local bands just don't seem to exist anymore, at least not in my neck of the woods now.

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Nicole Porter said...

Thank you for posting this. I miss WIQB every day, the older I get. I grew up listening to this station on my old school stereo - complete with 8-track. I listen to 107.1 WQKL out of A2 every day now, which some of the old DJs from IQB went to, but it's just not the same.

Iren said...

Nicole: glad I could bring back some memories.. it's been years but I still have that IQB promo they used to play before film at Fox Village ring though my brain every once and a while...

Katy said...

Stumbled on this post when a local (Milwaukee) radio station played a Francis Dunnery song and my brain immediately jumped to WIQB. Too funny that FD was mentioned by a previous commenter. Haven't thought of that name (or WIQB) in ages.