K-94….welcome back my friend
It was Classic Rock at its best.
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, we found our groove listening to AM radio. There were a handful of local stations that were on the air during the daylight hours. When the sun set, they “pulled in the chimney and rolled up the sidewalk.”
In the still of the nighttime air we were treated to stations from afar. WLS in Chicago and WHTZ in New York kept our fingers and toes tapping at night. Hearing the legendary howl of Wolfman Jack meant that he was lowering the needle (on an old-fashioned turntable) on a popular song of that era.
It all changed for us here in eastern ‘Carolina and southside Virginia on Nov. 30, 1973. A new kind of radio was becoming popular as FM stations (in stereo sound) were making themselves known. But the only way back then to listen was to use a FM converter on your car’s AM radio. I remember buying my first FM converter at a Radio Shack in Norfolk. It was that very day when I first tuned into K-94. The first song I heard them play on my radio was Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.” I was head over heels in love!
It was through K-94 and its stereophonic sound that my ears and senses were filed with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Queen, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, CCR, The Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, Eric Clapton, ZZ Top, Boston, The Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Santana…the list can go on and on.
We learned certain phrases that would send a message to other K-94 fans that we were avid listeners.…“from a 1,000 foot tower out in the woods”; “one letter, two numbers”; and the infamous playing of ELO’s “Fire on High” each night at midnight as a voice told us, “Welcome to the start of a new day.”
I remember like it was yesterday purchasing a brand new 1976 Toyota Celica GT Hatchback from Bone’s Toyota back in the day when they were located on Roanoke Avenue in the former A&W Drive-Inn building in Roanoke Rapids. That car was parked outside, under the overhang. I told the salesman that if that radio (an AM-FM combo) could pick-up K-94 then I would buy it on the spot. Well, it did and I drove the Celica for nearly 15 years….complete with a well-worn K-94 bumper “enhancer.”
We came to know and love the DJ’s at WMYK simply by the sound of their voice, especially my favorites Wynn Evers and Mac McClellan. Others were Randy Berner, Jim Stanley, Stella Jones, John Rodman, and John Heimerl.
Those radio jocks became our voice of Classic Rock. They were famous for their promotions. One of the more famous ones came in the early 80’s where the station promised to award $25,000 to the 25th caller after the playing of “Another One Bites the Dust.” You must understand that the telephone system at that time was fairly antiquated. That promotion locked up the entire phone system in the Hampton Roads area….that’s how many people were trying to call the station at the same time.
Perhaps, in my opinion, the best promotion was the time K-94 produced its own album – “Homegrown.” It featured the best of the local bands of that era….Bubit, Boothill Express, Snuff, Virginia Fire Band, Super Grit Cowboy Band, and the Homegrown Vigilante Band.
I had that album at one time, but it got lost somewhere along the trail of my life.
As it is in life, all good things must come to an end. K-94’s Classic Rock format ended in 1983. It changed to a modern rock format and later to adult contemporary.
But, never fear, K-94 is back – playing those Classic Rock tunes I came to love in the 70’s and early 80’s. It’s available online through internet-based radio.
Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends. Rock on!
Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at email@example.com or 252-332-7207.