As tensions build in the Persian Gulf, stations across the dial here have begun collecting messages and record dedications to be sent to U.S. military personnel overseas.
Top 40 WAVA-FM (105.1) General Manager Alan Goodman and morning show producer Frank Murphy are responsible for perhaps the largest single undertaking, assembling a 75-station "USO Morning Show Network," with the Arlington station serving as the flagship.
The WAVA plan calls for each station to record personal messages, music dedications and the best bits from its morning shows. Tapes will then be distributed by the USO to U.S. ships in the gulf for rebroadcast over public address systems, and to be aired by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service when broadcast service is established in Saudi Arabia, according to Pete Neal, USO production manager.
Neal said that for national security reasons, all recordings are subject to editing. No last names or specific unit references will be allowed to air abroad, for example. Regulations similar to those enforced during World War II will be observed, he said.
Since U.S. troops have begun to be deployed to the gulf, there's been an increased interest in certain patriotic-type songs, says Bob Duckman, program director of oldies station WXTR-FM (104.1). "We've been getting a lot of requests for 'The Green Berets' by Barry Sadler, 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' by Tony Orlando, and 'America' by Neil Diamond. Listeners say, 'Could you play that for our guys in the Middle East?' " says Duckman. However, Duckman has turned down at least one request for Ray Stevens's 1962 novelty tune "Ahab, the Arab." "There are a lot of friendly Arab nations involved, and there are many Arabs who live in the Washington area, and I felt playing that song is inappropriate at this particular time," Duckman said.
Meanwhile, until the gulf crisis is resolved, "Xtra 104" will record messages and musical dedications each Friday on its "Lunchtime Oldies" show from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and forward them for airing to troops via the Navy Broadcast Department.
On classic rock WCXR-FM (105.9), listeners gathered Friday afternoon at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City with morning show announcers Paul Harris and John Ogle to record messages to be sent to troops via satellite, according to station spokesman Mark Lapidus.
WWRC-AM (980) lunchtime talk host Joe Madison will tape listeners' messages to the troops tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. While no airing timetable has been established, said a station spokesman, the special show was done in cooperation with Armed Forces Radio and Television.
Troop Movements Back Home
With the fall Arbitron ratings war set to begin in three weeks, stations are unveiling new battle plans. Following his show Friday, WXTR-FM morning host Bill Bailey was let go and replaced by Dave Kellogg. Kellogg, who worked for a dozen years at country WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7) until last fall, has worked at the oldies station since spring.
Bailey said that his firing "came as a surprise to me."
During his 2 1/2 years at the station, Bailey, 43, enjoyed the highest ratings of any morning host there since 1981 when the once-country station was yanked from the farmland of Charles County, moved inside the Beltway and turned into "Washington's oldies station." It's also been a big moneymaker. However, Bailey's ratings have been slipping in recent surveys, and Radio Ventures, which paid a whopping $33 million for the station in the spring, wants the cash cow to continue producing. Said program director Duckman simply: "It was time for a change."
Meanwhile, news director Jim Hawk has been moved to morning drive with Kellogg, while news anchor Dennis Crowley has moved to the afternoon shift.
Around the Dial
WASH-FM (97.1) news and traffic anchor Carl "Sparky" Pritchard will wind up his five-year stint at the station Friday. Pritchard will join the Educational Services Institute in Falls Church ... Management at adult-oriented rock and talk WJFK-FM (106.7) will not renew Sandy Edwards's three-year contract, which ended in May; overnight veteran Vinnie Brewster has been moved into Edwards's evening slot. Also leaving WJFK is Anne Sarosdy, assistant promotions director, to become director of publicity for Narada Records in Milwaukee.
No decision yet at classical WETA-FM (90.9) on who'll replace the late Bill Cerri, but after six weeks with David Ginder as temporary morning host, tryouts Brian Stewart from San Francisco's KQED-FM (yesterday through Wednesday) and Dan DeVany (Thursday and Friday) are getting a go at it. DeVany, now with Minnesota Public Radio, was general manager of WETA until 1988 and replaced Cerri for five months several years ago.
Management there said Ginder "remains a top contender" for the job.