Today Marks the 29th Anniversary of the Beginning of 99Q Radio
April 25 is a very special day for me and four other people. It was 29 years ago today that 99Q hit the airwaves of the Hannibal-Quincy area. On April 25, 1985 at 5:30 a.m., WQCY-FM changed its format, as well as my life. The format went from “Easy Listening” to “Top 40″ and with it a legacy began.
Dennis Oliver was the morning announcer from 6 to 10. I would join him on the morning show, but basically I worked the 10 to 2 shift (some things never change). Liz Lukowski took over at 2 and went ’til 6 then David P. Norman went from 6 to 11 daily with Reggie Coleman handling the weekends. Dennis, Liz, Reggie and I got together back on April 11 and reminisced along with our great behind-the-scenes staff. Unfortunately, David P.could join not us that night. Boy there were some great memories shared that night!
In 1985 the station would go off the air at 1 a.m. and sign-on at 5:30 a.m. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Many people would just fall asleep listening to the soft music and wake up when the station came back on at 5:30 a.m. They woke up alright with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blasting them out of bed. The phones never stopped ringing for days with people complaining about the music change.
What people didn’t know was how much went into making that change possible. The General Manager at that time was John Phillips and he liked the “soft music” format and for those of us who wanted to make the change, the task to convince him to do so was made even harder when we found out his wife loved the station as well. To their credit, Gary Schmedding and Hank Mayhall were the managers who needed to convince Mr. Phillips to make the change and they supported the idea with some reservations.
Stores all over the area were playing the soft music station as background for their shops, but few at the time were willing to advertise on it which eventually led to its demise. Those of us who convinced Gary and Hank that we could make the station money with the change really didn’t know for sure. It was a gut feeling that it might work to change the format.
When the decision was made, we spent numerous nights, when the station was off the air between 1 and 5:30 a.m., practicing for its debut. I was already working for the company and doing mornings on WTAD. Dennis was hired away from KQ102. Liz left KGRC to join us and I believe Dave came over from KHMO or perhaps KGRC (too many years have passed). Reggie was also working for the company but primarily for KHQA-TV at the time.
What happened April 25, 1985 was remarkable. We had no idea the area would accept our product the way they did. It seemed like everyone was listening and no matter where we went the station was being heard coming out of car and home radios. Sometimes timing is everything.
I personally was going through a troubling time and my involvement with this station helped get me through it. I worked with Reggie and met D.O., Liz, and Dave and have remained friends with them all these years. I see Reggie, who is a John Wood Community College board member, all the time. Liz is currently at B103 in Rockford, Illinois and goes by the name of Liz Wilder. You can hear her from 2 to 7 weekdays at B103fm.com. Dave has his own radio station in Hannibal (KHBL at 96.9). Of course, you know what D.O. and I are doing.
We all know what we are doing now, but I am not so sure we knew what we were doing 29 years ago today. Looking back 28 years ago, I am sure glad I was a part of it. Does anyone remember those wonderful 99Q days?