|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
|City of license||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Greater Cincinnati|
|Slogan||The Lunatic Fringe of American FM|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||August 31, 1967|
|Format||Active rock (Analog/HD1)
Alternative rock (HD2)
|Owner||Clear Channel Media and Entertainment
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WCKY, WKFS, WKRC, WLW, WSAI|
|Webcast||Listen Live (Analog/HD1)
Listen Live (HD2)
WEBN (102.7 FM) — branded 102.7 WEBN — is a commercial active rock radio station licensed to Cincinnati, Ohio serving Greater Cincinnati. Owned by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, WEBN is the FM flagship station for the Cincinnati Bengals and the home of radio personality Kidd Chris. Both the WEBN studios and the station transmitter are located in Cincinnati; besides a standard analog transmission, WEBN broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio. WEBN-HD2 also simulcasts over Cincinnati area translators W264BW and W292DT.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
Launch of WEBN
When it initially went on the air on August 31, 1967, it was owned by Frank Wood, Sr., a Cincinnati attorney. WEBN broadcast classical music daytimes and an all night jazz program. The night programming was managed by a bank of 10½-inch Scully reel to reel tape machines in an early instance of station automation. However, in the late evening hours of Saturdays and Sundays, it also broadcast a program hosted by Frank's son and EBN's 1st DJ, Frank Wood Jr. (or known by his air-name, Michael Bo Xanadu), called "The Jelly Pudding Show". The show featured many album cuts by both popular and somewhat obscure artists, other than the recognized hit songs or radio edits, tagged "rock, jazz, folk and ragas." The program and its music proved to be so popular that the station eventually made this "album-oriented" rock the bulk of its programming, much to the chagrin of the older Wood. The station pioneered the concept of album-oriented rock, and is in fact the longest running AOR-formatted station in the United States, first airing this format in 1967.
However, it honored its roots as a classical music station by broadcasting classical music on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon, with Frank Wood, Sr., as the host. This proved to be one of the station's most popular programs, until Wood retired from the air on June 30, 1985. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the program was Frank's weekly tradition of always playing a very long work, which he preceded by announcing that the length of the work would give him enough time to eat a pie from Graeter's, a popular Cincinnati ice cream parlor that specializes in ice cream pies, confectioneries, and other baked goods. After Wood's retirement (he died in 1991), the classical program continued for a few years with new host Larry Thomas, and later began to include new age music. Its time was shifted to 6 to 10 a.m., and the show was eventually dropped in the late 1980s.
In its early days, WEBN broadcast from a bright blue old house in Cincinnati's west-side Price Hill neighborhood, referred to on-air as "Price's Mountain." Anyone, at anytime, 24 hours a day, could visit the station and walk right into the studio/home and watch on-air personalities broadcast their programs. Visitors were separated from station personnel by Plexiglas panels, but could walk through the premises, nonetheless. The house wasn't hard to spot - it had what appeared to be a cocker spaniel sitting in an old barbershop chair on the front porch. The taxidermied dog had been Frank Wood Sr.'s pet, named Miles Duffy. Wood, being basically a one-man show when he began the station, decided to name "Miles Duffy" as the station's Program Director to give the impression that WEBN had more employees than just himself. This joke continued officially for some years even as the station continued to grow. Among that was the original air personalities that made WEBN 1 of a kind with jocks like Michael Bo Xanadu, Denton Marr, Tyrone "Ty" Williams, Tom McGreevey, Dave Howe, Geoffrey "Geoff" Nimmo, Russell "Russ" Mims, Chris Gray, Peter Wolf, Ginger Sutton, Brian O'Donnell, Mary "The Real Deal" Peale, Jason "Uncle Jay" Gilbert, Rick Bird, Craig Kopp, Tom Sandman, Dick Findley, Eric Hauenstein, Don Goldberg, and Miss Juanita "Butterfly" Johnson.
Another early voice at the station was future creator of the iconic WEBN morning show "The Dawn Patrol" and EBN's 1st and only female morning jock, Robin "Rockin' Hood" Wood, daughter of Frank Wood Sr. and sister of EBN's 1st jock Frank "Michael Bo Xanadu" Wood Jr. In 1973, the station moved to the east-side's Hyde Park Square, referred to on air as "Hyde's Meadow." In 1988, the station moved to the neighborhood of Mount Adams (this time calling it "Frog's Mountain), joining with several other stations purchased in recent years by its corporate parent, Jacor Communications. In 1999, Jacor was purchased by Clear Channel. Finally in 2004, all Cincinnati Clear Channel stations moved to the northern neighborhood of Kenwood. WEBN continued to call its location "Frog's Mountain." By 2006, WEBN was added to the Nielsen BDS active rock panel, only to revert to mainstream rock the following year.
During its early years, its irreverent attitude extended to its newscasts as well, which blended almost seamlessly into the music. For example, a late afternoon newscast led off with the "Big Bozo Birthday Book" of notable individuals born on that day. Likewise, every April Fool's Day, the station featured the broadcast of a mythical April Fool's Day parade as if one were marching by. Among the marchers was the band from "Our Lady of Perpetual Motion." The station featured commercials that sounded authentic, but the products being promoted were clearly fictitious, such as the "Indianapolis Academy of the French Accent." The broadcast was so realistic, some listeners actually drove to the Hyde Park neighborhood where the parade was supposedly being held (in order to watch the parade) only to find there was no actual parade. Programming also extended to carrying syndicated shows like the National Lampoon Radio Hour and Doctor Demento.
The attitude also extended to actual advertising, led by production directors Russ Mims, Don Goldberg, Jay Gilbert, Tom Sandman, and Joel Moss. Ad time on WEBN was extremely desirable to local merchants, but the station wasn't about to permit the staid and often amateurish production values that often permeated American radio. The majority of local spots were WEBN-produced, and bore the same outrageous wit and audacity that the station was known for. (Schoenling Breweries' beloved "Little Kings" cream ale was pushed with a long-running series titled "Biggest is Not Always Best".) And, as it had already promoted non-existent events, the station advertised products by "Brute Force Cybernetics," also the name of the corporate holding company for the station. Brute Force Cybernetics featured a logo of three monkeys based on the theme "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Among the BFC "products" for which the station broadcast tongue-in-cheek "ads" were:
- "Cultured Truffle Franchises"
- "Encephalographic Printout Device" (attach the electrodes to your head before going to sleep and the device will record the brilliant insight you otherwise remember having had just before you woke up and forgot what it was)
- "Negative-Calorie Cookies" (eating them actually burns calories)
- "Portable Hole" (apply it to a surface, peel off the plastic backing, make your stash or whatever, then remove)
- "Precognitive Scanner" (place it behind your ear, and it will read the speech center in your brain and emit a warning beep to prevent you from uttering "faux pas, Freudian slips, and ill-timed obscenities")
- "Stereo-Vision" TVs (a television mounted on a short track that bounced back and forth so quickly as to simulate 3D)
- "Voice Equalization Ampules" (wrapped in cotton and filled with helium or sulfur hexafluoride; break the ampule and inhale the gas to raise or lower the timbre of your voice, respectively)
These spots were picked up by some other stations, such as Chicago's WDAI in its progressive/underground days c. 1971.
Other spots were for the "White Rose and Lilac Virginity Restoration Clinic", "Tree Frog Beer" ('it doesn't taste like much but it gets you there faster'), and a spoof on the Rambo movies entitled "Sambo: Real Blood Part Fo" featuring a black super-hero driving a rescue Cadillac and yelling "Hey, Chin Ho, Ronnie Reagan says you can kiss his white a..." before a jet fly-over drowns out the last word. A cross-over between these spots and reality occurred in 1972, when Hudepohl Beer allowed some of its product for the Cincinnati area to be wrapped in faux labels for "WEBN's Tree Frog Beer, The Sleazy People's Beer". (Tree B. Frog, and his little brother Tyrone Z. Frog, soon became universal symbols for the station. The station markets tee-shirts and sweatshirts with the station's mascot Tree B. Frog - with a July–August version just before the annual fireworks, and in November–December with a holiday version). The tag line for Brute Force Cybernetics was "We create a need, then fill it." The station began referring to itself with monikers like, "A Different Kind A Radio Station", "The Last Untamed Radio Station In North America", "Go Rock Yourself", "Shut Up And Rock!", and "The Lunatic Fringe Of American FM", the slogan comes from Red Rider's Song The Lunatic Fringe.
In the late 1970s, the station featured commentaries by then-Cincinnati Council Member (and eventually mayor), Jerry Springer, under the banner "The Springer Memorandum", the program's popularity helped launch his broadcasting career. But not all politics was serious. WEBN promoted its own fictitious candidate and mascot, Tree B. Frog, for Cincinnati City Council and for President. To everyone's surprise, except those at the station itself, Tree B. Frog actually received write-in votes on Election Day.
WEBN was always passionate about promoting local artists, allowing the young local kids that were to form the national country-rock band Pure Prairie League to record the first demo of their hit "Amie" in its studios. Roger Abramson, the legendary rock and roll manager and producer, took the demo to RCA where they were signed to a major recording contract. In 1968 Abramson's Squack Productions was sponsored by WEBN and promoted many major concerts including The Doors, which became a controversial event due to Jim Morrison's arrest at his concert in Miami. Also, the concept of national artists (who happened to be in town for shows) performing live in the radio studio began at WEBN.
As part of WEBN's commitment to promoting local artists, it began issuing a series of records featuring local artists, each designated a "WEBN Album Project," beginning in 1976. Proceeds from sales were donated to charity. The album projects featured exclusively local artists performing original songs. The album projects focused primarily on rock performances, but featured a wide range of different styles, including folk, jazz, and novelty songs. Popular local bands such as The Raisins and Wheels had cuts on WEBN album projects. WEBN often gave airplay to songs on the album projects. Eleven different WEBN album projects were released in the 1970s and 1980s.
Radio personality Maxwell (Ben Bornstein), formerly heard on Cleveland stations WMMS and WNCX as host of The Maxwell Show, spent time at WEBN in early-to-mid 1990s under his DJ name Max Logan; Maxwell currently hosts mornings on WLUP-FM in Chicago.
WEBN is still using the slogan to this day as "The Lunatic Fringe Of American FM".
WEBN also presents the Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Riverfest annual fireworks display, a spectacular exhibition on the Riverfront, on Labor Day weekend in conjunction with Cincinnati Bell and Rozzi's Famous Fireworks. The seventeen-year agreement with Toyota came to an end in 2007. The show is set to music broadcast by the station. The first WEBN fireworks show happened in 1977 as a one-time celebration of the station's tenth birthday, but it was so well-received that it has been repeated every year since under the auspices of the station's "Committee for Aesthetic Public Spectacle." The event routinely draws over 500,000 people to the Cincinnati Riverfront.
In years past, before being acquired by Clear Channel, WEBN's on-air antics and several of its billboard and TV ad campaigns have drawn organized protests and calls for advertiser boycotts. WEBN was also one of the few radio stations in America that would play most songs uncensored. This ended abruptly after the Janet Jackson "Nipplegate" incident at the Super Bowl resulted in much tighter restrictions and threats of higher fines from the Federal Communications Commission.
- Heffron, Jack (November 1, 2012). "Ribbit, Ribbit". CincinnatiMagazine.com. Cincinnati Magazine. Retrieved July 30, 2013. "The atmosphere doesn't remotely suggest that the station, despite its slogan, is on 'the lunatic fringe of American FM.' "
- Venta, Lance (September 17, 2012). "People Moves At Clear Channel Cincinnati". RadioInsight.com. RadioInsight. Retrieved February 14, 2013. "... WEBN has segued... to Active Rock. Kidd Chris, the former WKLS morning host will take the same slot at WEBN in a few weeks."
- Bird, Rick (August 30, 2002). " 'EBN: 35 years of rockin' ". The Cincinnati Post.
- "Matthews Builds A Better Buzz". Airplay Monitor via Billboard.biz Archive. Prometheus Global Media. September 17, 2004. Retrieved May 17, 2010.[dead link]
- Quayle, John (February 7, 1995). "Here's the Fallout from Fall Ratings". Observer-Reporter (Observer Publishing Company).
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WEBN
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WEBN
- Radio-Locator information on WEBN
- Aerial photo of WEBN transmitter from Google Maps