PHOTO INDEX: VINCE SWEENEY, ONE OF THE MAINSTAYS OF WARM DURING THE EARLY 80s AND FORMER WEJL BROADCASTER AND WARM MORNING MAN, KIM MARTIN.
A lot has been written about the history of WARM from the sixties through its demise in the 21rst century. Here is a brief historical recap I worked out. Your comments, objections and talkback are welcome.
The Sensational Seven era ended in mid 1966 when Don Stevens left WARM. After that the station ran with 6 jocks. Harry West until 10AM, George Gilbert 10 to 1, Ron Allen 1 to 4PM, Tommy Woods 4 to 8Pm, Joey Shaver, 8 to midnight, then Bill Stewart doing the overnights. When he left, Steve Sanders took over and after that date there were no more sensational seven jocks. The station ran imaging which proclaimed them as “The Station of the Year” and The Station of the Stars”. In the late 60s, Len Woloson, Pete Gabriel and Jerry Heller joined the staff and enhanced its quality. Gabriel from Ohio, Heller from St. Louis. Harry had gone on to KQV and then wound up at WSBA in York. By the early 1970s WARM was tinkering. Joey Shaver was moved into sales, T.J. Lambert the III came on board along with a guy named Tony Murphy. Ron Allen left the jock scene and began to concentrate on sports and station promotions. Bob Woody arrived in 1972 and was a mainstay at the station for a long period of time. When Woloson left the station, George Gilbert did mornings until a replacement was found. That was Kim Martin who came from WEJL. During this time, WARM was still the dominant station in the market. Jim Drucker did overnights at the time. Bill Kelly came to work in the WARM news department and Robert Oliver, a former newsman withthe station worked an air shift. Moving from news to programming sometimes earned jocks the scorn of news director Jerry Heller. Heller’s news department was the best in the area and he could not understand how anyone would want to leave it. Kitch Loftus, Mike Stephens, Kevin Jordan, Ray Maguire and a few others manned that news desk in the early 70s. Before Harry came back, WARM was running a history of rock and roll deal. Bill Kelly was moved from pm drive 3 to 7 pm to do 9am to noon. Terry McNulty who had done 9am to noon in the 70s was moved back to news. Harry came back on July 13th, 1973. When Disco came on the scene, WARM was still strong but storm clouds were brewing. WARM had begin to do weekend sports shows featuring Ron Allen and George Gilbert and began to dabble in local sports programming. They ran some sort of contest where Pete Erickson was named greatest sports fan of the area and he cohosted those shows. The emergence of WGBI FM affected the ratings a bit as well as the crucial 25 to 54 advertising market. New jocks like R.J. Harkins, Michael Quinn and Steve St. John joined an already on staff of Tim Kidwell Karlson “The Crazy Redhead”, Chris “Starr” O’brien and Ric Herold. In 1978 Warm celebrated twenty five years on the air as the Mighty 590 but more changes started to come. WILK’s success with the overnight Larry King show prompted WARM to bid for the Mutual network which carried King’s show. By the late 70s, WARM ran King overnight but floundered with nighttime programming. Norm Hill, Steve St. John and others filled that slot 7pm to midnight slot. Bill Kimble’s arrival did nothing to shore up the station. If anything it drove some valued employees away. Kimble wanted to do “in tandem” broadcasts. The pairing of Harry West and Jim Gannon turned into a disaster. By the time he left, nerves and relationships were frayed. Vince Sweeney and Steve St. John fared much better. But the station started its hybrid format of entertainment from 6am to 7pm and talk and sports from 7pm to 6am. Bruce Williams was heard when there was no baseball, Dr. Joy Brown afterwards and then Larry King, later Jim Bohanon. In 1986, John David Wells arrived on the scene. While Kimble tried to uproot everything, JDW did the opposite. He proposed to build on the rich heritage of WARM. On the air he was both professional and deferential. Melaine Apple did mid days at this point on the station and Elizabeth Fields did an afternoon noontime talk show. Guys who populated the airwaves were Vince Sweeney, Steve St. John, Norm Hill, Paul Cialberto as well as Kelly Reid doing the sports. When John David Wells left, McNulty took over the morning show and Jim McNulty the former Mayor of Scranton did his Mayor of WARMland show. Ron Allen followed with sports and then at 7 pm the hybrid kicked in. WARM always had a news hour at 5pm. Even with the changes, WARM’s morning drive was still going for about $60.00 in the early 90s. At one point, Jim Loftus the GM of Susquehanna had a nostalgia attack and gave Allen a lifetime contract. He also put on George Gilbert and Ron Allen doing music shows that they used to do years before. But the Magic was on 93.9, not on WARM anymore. The advertisers stayed loyal to WARM up until the end. Elliot Katuna wa sa mainstay as was Tom Hesser, Abraham Chevrolet and Sugarmans. I attribute this to the affinity the advertisers had for the programming and the sales people. Telemedia took over in 1996 and then Citadel. In the interim, guys like Joe Middleton, Paul Ciliberto, the late Guy Randall, the late Jim Emmel and the late Frank LaBarr tried to keep it from exploding into a ball of flames. But by the time Citadel got their hooks into it, it was gone. Rob Nyehard desperately tried to reinvent the place and his positions several times but to no avail. Kevin Lynn was bounced from morning to afternoons with no game plan in mind. When Citadel started dickering on the price of the Phillies, losing the Eagles to Gerald Getz and fired news professionals like Paula Degnman and Bobby Day, you knew it was over. In 2002 they went oldies, pulled the plug on that and then went right wing. Now, they are back to Oldies, sound pretty good, rebuilding a modest community outreach with Sam Lagouri is the only guy standing there. This is my short history of WARM as a listener, advertiser, participant in promotions, fan, and sales representative. Some of the dates might be overlapped but this is pretty close in its accuracy. If video killed the radio star, what killed WARM? Or at least put it on life support.