The Death of WKAP


WKAP failed in its bid to be the real version of WKRP. It was not based in Cincinatti.

Call me lame. I like oldies music. Not like the sleepy old easy listening fifties stuff that you’re used to thinking about when you think of AM radio. I’m talking about the British Invasion of 1965, the California surf sound, a little bit of Motown, some Doo-Wop, and the Four Seasons. The origins of rock and roll. I don’t really listen to that stuff anymore. That was sort’ve what we listened to growing up, and since then, I’ve moved on to “Album Oriented Rock“, which on most “Classic Rock” stations consists of the same 200 songs over and over again. Granted I know that top 40 radio has about the same amount of songs, but theirs vary over a period of time, and two years later the list has been completely revamped. With classic rock and oldies there’s really no room for growth, which can get a bit repetitive and redundant. The good thing about that though is that they allow for both quick learning of the songs, and once you move on, when you do choose to eventually come back to it, it’ll be there, the exact way you left it.

This was the case more than 2 years ago when I was driving back from California. On our way through Iowa, we hit what was probably the worst storm I’ve ever driven in. Huge hail and intense rain, and complete darkness, save for the tail-lights of the tractor-trailer I was following. Flipping through the radio furiously in an attempt to find something to ease my anxiety, I stopped at a radio show I hadn’t heard in years. “Rock and Roll’s Greatest Hits” with Dick Bartley. I had listened to his show on weekend nights growing up, when I was going to bed or whatever. The show was exactly the way I remember it, and I hadn’t forgotten the songs; they were just pushed all the way to the back of my mind, like the names of all those kids in my third grade class picture.

A few months later I got a new cd player/radio for my car and to this day I still can’t figure out how to set the time or radio presets. I’ve worked around it by knowing that right now my clock is fifty-five minutes ahead, and having three FM channels saved and one AM. Unless you like talk radio, there’s no reason to have an AM station saved on there, but it’s a spot that needs to be filled, so I cycled through and to my surprise, one of the few stations was playing oldies. It was alright, but they played too much of a variety. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I’m just not into all the really old easy-listening/a.m. gold-stuff. So being a station flipper, it’s good for an occasional song, but over an extended period of time, the songs are too erratic to keep listening. On the other hand, I found myself listening more and more as they broadcast Phillies games on the station, and started airing the Dick Bartley shows on the weekends as well.

The station really didn’t have a lot going for it, other than those stand-bys. Maybe the older people who would typically be listening to it would like the radio personalities, but I found them grating” although not as grating as local “Superstar”, Ken Matthews who will be retiring from his role as the Lehigh Valley’s most obnoxious, over-inflated media personality after 15 years. They had what was billed as the largest Elvis radio library in the country, which I guess for them could be a good thing, and they had a built-in audience from the just sold (in 2001, by clearchannel, due to FCC rules, prompting both stations to change format), “highest rated oldies station in the country”, WODE. I’m not sure how they’d mess it up, because if there’s one place outside of Florida that an oldies station could thrive, it would be in the home of the most listened to oldies station in the country. I guess though, if you don’t advertise yourself, and you’re on a radio band that nobody listens to, even to scroll through, unless you’re looking for right-wing pundits, news, or sports games, you might be able to fail.

But I’m assuming they did, because one day in August, I happened to hear a moderately saddening commercial. I’m going to paraphrase it, because I don’t remember the specifics (i.e. the names of the people). This is a dialogue. Keep in mind while reading it, that the people in the commercial were extremely energetic, and sounded like Jesus-camp counselors.

Donny: Coming soon, to the new WYHM, the Donny and Marie morning show [not their actual names]. Filled with family-oriented fun.

Marie: And our patented witty banter.

Donny: Some of our topics include the whole “

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