It was a great time to live there. Springfield is equidistant from Boston and Albany, with places like Tanglewood, Old Lyme Shores and the Yankee Candle Company a short car ride away. New England is definitely a great place to live because it features both geographic and cultural diversity within a relatively small area. In a few hours' drive you can be in Newport, RI, LL Bean - Freeport, ME, Lake Winnepesaukee, NH, and Boston, MA.
WMAS had a great staff and excellent management. Along with General Manager Joe Rizza and Ops Manager Fred Snyder, we did tons of promotions and remotes. We also spent a lot of time together socially, the three of us in various stages of divorce.
One promotion we created, the annual Halloween Ball, remained a "must-attend" event for years. The station has recently re-tooled the event as a Valentine Day's Dance, more appropriate for an AC station. We would broadcast from everywhere, the local coffee shop to the rooftop of the city's tallest building (during an October rain storm). We would achieve the station's highest rating ever - 11.3 (12+) and 16.2 (25-54). During this time, WHYN-FM, re-born as "WHFM, The Giant" decided to try marketing and programming to Hartford. We countered by mentioning Springfield in everything we did. "The Giant" was easily slain
It was here I worked with consultant Jay Williams, now head of DMR. As a reverent champion of specific marketing, Jay taught me about finding and focusing on your listener's needs. He strongly believed in keeping things clear and concise, but make events bigger than life. I continue to apply his principles to both my radio and web design work. It's the best tactic I've ever used in business.
So you wanna be a PD? All of a sudden, I start getting calls from the station. Jocks were getting odd calls from "me." Two part timers would arrive for the same shift. (Normally, the opposite is the problem). Soon, I find out someone identifying themselves as me was calling the on-air talent and asking them to fill in on another shift. Although somewhat amusing, we eventually had to tap the phones after this joker started calling residences, telling them they won cash prizes from the station. This buffoon went as far as leaving messages on answering machines, which is how we eventually caught up with him. He may have fooled a few people, but if I really did sound like this guy - this biography would have been a whole lot shorter.
Format changes: Every Memorial Day weekend, I would change the format to oldies. (WDRC-FM was still AC at the time) I'd cart up whatever was in Tracy Carman's library (including Drake jingles) and engineer Chuck Herlihy would drag in the old WHYN-AM reverb unit (about the size of Co-op city in the Bronx) and we'd have a blast.
Every April Fools, we'd flip the format to something wild. Once year, Mike DiMambro and I played his kids' records and supposedly "locked" ourselves in the studio. Finally, General Manager Joe Rizza "threw us out" and took over the controls and did the last 45 minutes himself. It's a toss up as to which part was funnier.
One day, I called someone who had sent in a tape and hand-written resume to see if he was interested in doing the morning show for one day. His name was Eddie Polchopek and he was elated. We hired a limo to pick him up at his home and had him do two hours. He was fabulous, following the format and executing all the liners perfectly. It was obvious he had been a big fan of the station for some time. We even called the local television station who were more than happy to cover the event for the evening news. Eddie Polchopek was only 9 at the time.
My weight problem: Thanks to "The Taste Of Springfield" for providing an extra inch or two around the waist every spring. Thanks to those Nutri-Systems testimonials for getting me to lose it again in the summer - and all for the same "low" price. And despite complaining to management about those live Jiffy Lube remotes I hosted every month, I never had to pay for an oil change either.
Springfield: Here are a few reasons why living in Springfield was better than Hartford. The Basketball Hall of Fame, two great German restaurants: The Haufbrauhaus and The Student Prince / Fort (with no door), Smith's Billiards (The oldest continually operational pool hall in the US and a must stop for anyone who enjoys a game of billiards.), The Big E, Indian Motorcycle Museum, a beautiful library, you're closer to Northampton, MA, The White Hut, and many others.
Sadly, a recent trip to the area revealed more blight that I could have ever expected. The modest, yet very inviting apartment building I called home for three years was boarded up and the neighborhood I had no trouble walking around at any time of the day or night, now made me uncomfortable just driving through.
Finally: I get a kick out of the fact that after I left, I was replaced on-air (10a-2p) by one of my all-time favorite air-personalities - Dick McDonough.
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