Two Cups Of Coffee

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Hey you – yes, you.

How has your relationship with coffee evolved over the years?

I used to hate coffee. When I worked in radio at the old Sun Radio Network, I usually had the Saturday morning shift. A local legendary gardening expert (who had a local show on Sunday on the big local talk station, WFLA) would host the first show – and would always ask me if I had made coffee. I lived ten miles away and had a temperamental car at that time, so quite frequently making coffee wasn’t the first thing on my to-do list getting the station up and running at 8:00.

Could I have done it? Probably. Most of the time, I had other priorities.

Fast-forward to the present day. My first three priorities are usually these: get Harry out of the porch area I keep him at night (otherwise he’d drive me crazy) where he’s free to roam around and get food and water as needed, feed him half a can of pet food, and making coffee.

There’s no great trick in making coffee. Grab a filter, fill it up with ground coffee, pour in the water – bada boom, bada bing. A few minutes later, you’re ready to go. Two cups in the morning, one in the afternoon – and that should keep you going all day.

Funny how the things you loathe when you’re younger become the go-to things to do in your life as you get older.


Lost Art

Art Bell died on Friday the 13th. In a way, fitting.

As one person put it on Twitter, of course, Art Bell would pass away on Friday the 13th. But it did happen, with a mournful George Noory breaking the news on Coast to Coast AM late on Friday evening on the very show Mr. Bell used to host.

I’ve never met or spoken to Art, but his impact on radio in the era I worked in the business was profound. I’m pretty sure that Art was briefly on North America One, a satellite sister entity of the Sun Radio Network, in either the late summer or early fall of 1991 – though my recollection of that is a bit fuzzy here in 2018.  When I worked for Valentine Communications producing Radio Free America in 1995 out of WBDN in the Feather Sound area of Clearwater, Art’s show was on the station, airing at 1:00 in the morning through to 6:00. I’d often run errands when my radio shift ended at midnight, and I’d catch the starts of Art’s shows driving around in my car.

WFLA, the big talk station in the Tampa Bay area, eventually picked his shows up locally. I heard him again in 1996 on a Greyhound bus heading out to stay in Las Vegas for a few weeks, then got hooked hearing him out in Sin City listening to his shows on 720 KDWN. I’m living in Florida again in 1998, driving up with my mother to North Carolina one overnight with Mom getting spooked out listening to the “Sounds Of Hell” recording Art frequently played in that era. Memo to future self: don’t scare your mother when you’re driving a car.

In the last two decades or so, he was on and off the air numerous times. He’d sign a new deal with someone, then find the deal wasn’t up to snuff and leave just as quickly as he returned. As many of us in the profession, my guess was he wasn’t too fond of the consolidation the radio business has gone through since the FCC laws changed in 1996, trying satellite radio, then online radio with what became his last sortie in the business.

My sincerest condolences to Art’s family on their loss this past day.



Aircheck: WFLA-AM, 6/6/1991

I’ve had this in my collection for many years, and finally got around to converting it to an mp3 file back in 2013, then turning it into a YouTube video. (Only had the first hour of a three hour show, though. Sorry.)

Back then, WFLA was still locally driven, with talk show hosts on the political left and right. Now, the station is owned by Clear Channel, and syndicated conservative talk is the order of the day.

Personally, I thought this WFLA at its peak. All voices and opinions welcomed. A shame stations aren’t run this way today.

Aircheck: WFLA, 11/5/1992

It’s Jay Marvin’s last show at WFLA on November 5th, 1992. A couple of nights prior, Bill Clinton became president-elect of the United States, defeating incumbent George W. Bush and independent Ross Perot.

This (sort of) marked an end of an era for the biggest talk station in Tampa Bay, as the station went more conservative after Jay’s departure. They would return to former glory for a few years in 1996 when Bob Lassiter returned to 970, but he only lasted a little over three years before the station went all-conservative again.

WFLA went from music to all talk in 1986, and have stayed that way ever since. It’s the current local home for the nationally syndicated shows of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Todd Schnitt among others, plus a plethora of mostly financial call-in shows over the weekend.


Aircheck: WSUN and WIOD (Miami), 7/1/1992

I got some positive feedback from a recent aircheck of Neil Rogers, so I thought I’d go to the well again.

It’s July 1, 1992, and Neil Rogers is now simulcasting on WSUN in Tampa. After being on in Tampa Bay for a few months, he reintroduces the area to Bob Lassiter, who left WFLA to go to Chicago and talk radio station WLS. After a disappointing experience there, Bob and his wife had moved to Davenport, Iowa.

In early 1993, it was back to the Tampa Bay area for Lassiter at WSUN, initially doing morning drive before eventually going to a 2-6 pm shift before getting booted from the station when they changed to an all-sports station. Eventually, WSUN would change call letters to WDAE, an ID uprooted from 1250 AM where they had been on the radio dial for several decades.

A few weeks later, Neil appeared live on Bob’s show out of St. Petersburg.

Aircheck: WFLA, 12/21/1988

I thought I’d take another look at “The Mad Dog” Bob Lassiter for today’s aircheck. This one particular episode is special to me, because I used to have this on tape personally, listening to WFLA that day on Christmas vacation as a senior at Largo High School.

Lassiter is talking about an old computer golf game called Mean 18, the evolution (or devolution) of Burger King, Wendy’s and other burger joints, plus some other topics. I don’t think he initiated any hard topics this day, and as the poster on YouTube indicates, he seems in a jovial mood just days before Christmas.

The mood would turn a bit more somber later in the day, as this was the afternoon of the Lockerbie bombing and crash in Scotland. A bomb was detonated on Pan Am Flight 103 placed by Libyan nationals, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew members, and 11 more on the ground.

Within a year, Lassiter left WFLA on his way to Chicago and the powerful WLS, only to return to the market a few years later.