Keri Crawford was at 97X from 1998-2003, as a DJ and program director. She talks to us about her radio and record label background, the unique energy of 97X, the fun shows she got to organize and promote, the fervor of the listeners... and how her dog had free rein at the office.
Rhett Leibecke (a.k.a. "Reed LeBeak") spent a single semester as a student co-op for Rictile and Dave on the Breakfast Club back in 1996... and it's clear that he's been scarred for life (and not just from the lawn jarts). He got the gig based on his shady past doing a SoundScam... and it was all downhill from there. Rhett and special guest Rictile join to talk about Rhett's stellar work cleaning a "sound room," the Aye Team, BatBoy, 97X bitcoin, Barenaked Ladies and Northern Exposure.
Garin Pirnia grew up in Centerville, Ohio and discovered 97X when she returned to the area after stints in L.A. and Chicago. She's written about music (as well as film, food, and travel) for dozens of publications including Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair and The Atlantic. Her book about bands from the state of Ohio, Rebels and Underdogs, came out a few years ago. We chat with Garin about the many bands who hail from the Buckeye State and explore why Ohio is such a fertile ground for musicians.
You can find out more about Garin's writing on her website.
Taylor Fox (a.k.a. "TayFo") is a co-founder and morning host on Inhailer, a streaming/HD radio station that plays indie rock and helps promote local bands and the music scene in Cincinnati. The impetus for the station came from losing other local stations that played cool music, first 97X and WVXU's Nightwaves, and later WNKU. Taylor tells us about how the station started, how he discovered 97X, and how the 97X message boards helped him connect with kindred spirits.
Brian Niesz engineered more than 400 live on-air performances at the woxy.com studio in Longworth Hall in Cincinnati, as well as dozens more during the station's short-lived stint in Austin, Texas. No one had more of a hand in capturing the magic of those live music moments than he did. Brian tells us how he connected with woxy.com, lists some of his favorite live performances, and shares how he's keeping "Lounge Acts" alive at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.
Dave Tellmann spent nearly a decade on the air at 97X (1988-1997)... and sometimes he thinks he's still on the air there! Dave combed through his "aircheck" cassettes from 1993 and put together some snippets of audio that give you a feel for what listening to the station was like back in the day. Come for the Eavey's commercial, stay for the Marge Schott news story.
Jim Vinch was a Cleveland-raised classic rocker... until he moved to Oxford for college and caught the earliest years of 97X. Jim credits the station and its community of listeners with helping him be open not just to new music, but to new ideas. As he puts it, "I am now an assistant visiting professor at Miami and every time I step onto campus I can’t help think about how the university and the local radio station exploded my small little Midwestern world." We talk to Jim about those connections, some concerts he saw back in the day, and his day job protecting America's waterways as an environmental lawyer for the EPA.
The second part of our conversation with Jay Batista, who helped WOXY-FM make the transition to the 97X we all know and love. Jay was the station manager, was involved in programming, did sales, and also knew how to whip an ancient transmitter into shape. In this episode, we hear about Dr. Demento, an "Army of Ticks" (not a Dr. Demento song, but it could be!) and the infamous "Beer or Buns" guerilla promotion for the station.
Jay Batista joined 97X before it was 97X... it was more like a real-life WKRP. Jay played a pivotal role in helping the station make the switch to the modern rock format. We talk to him about those formative days, going from spinning the Spinners to hanging with the Talking Heads.
Aaron Sharpe never listened to 97X... but he wore many hats at WNKU-FM, a station that picked up the mantle from 97X/woxy.com in being a free-spirited, adventurous, community-oriented radio station that introduced many to music they couldn't hear elsewhere -- including plenty of local artists. Unfortunately, WNKU suffered a similar fate to 97X, signing off for good in September of 2017.
In this episode, Aaron talks about how he got involved at WNKU-FM, the bittersweet ending, and what he's up to now.