|Broadcast area||Columbus metro area|
|Slogan||Ohio's Best Rock|
|First air date||February 14, 1977
April 1, 1959
|Former callsigns||WTVN-FM (1974–1977)
|Owner||Saga Communications, Inc.
(Franklin Communications, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WNND/WNNP, WSNY, WVMX|
|Webcast||Listen Live or
WLVQ (96.3 FM) — branded Q-FM 96 — is a commercial classic rock radio station licensed to Columbus, Ohio. Owned by Saga Communications, Inc., through its Franklin Communications subsidiary, the station serves the Columbus metro area. The WLVQ studios are located in Upper Arlington, OH, the station transmitter is located downtown Columbus on the Twin Rivers Drive tower.
The 96.3 MHz frequency was first occupied by WLWF, a station owned by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation along with sister station WLWC (now WCMH-TV); WLWF broadcast from 1949–1953. WLVQ itself began on April 1, 1959 as WTVN-FM, owned by Taft Broadcasting Company along with sister stations WTVN (AM) and WTVN-TV (now WSYX). In 1966, WTVN-FM changed its callsign to WBUK and format to adult contemporary. The station again switched formats and started playing "Beautiful Music" (easy listening) in 1969. The station reverted to the WTVN-FM call sign in 1974, but continued to play "Beautiful Music."
The station adopted the WLVQ call sign on February 14, 1977. The first song played was "New Kid in Town" by the Eagles. For many years the station's mascot was The Q Kangaroo, a creature selected by a listener in a contest. Q-FM-96 was an early champion of, and outlet for, Columbus's vibrant rock music community, and was particularly notable for its "Hometown Album Project", a series of compilation LPs featuring local artists, which debuted shortly after the station signed on. Another fondly remembered feature in the 1980s was the Sunday morning show "Psychedelic Sunday," showcasing 1960s-era rock, much of it relatively obscure-and hosted by British DJ Russell Carey. There has been lots of great programming in Q-FM-96's long rich history.
As we reflect back on a recent February 14th station anniversary, the mid-day host's Today In Rock History segment made mention of the station's 1977 debut, and played New Kid In Town, as they did in 2017 on the stations 40th anniversary. It was a pleasant surprise to remember the magnitude of the station's accomplishments. Back in 1977 media was radio, TV and newspapers. There was no Internet, MTV, iPods or cell phones. Radio was the most convenient mode of communication and the way we heard new music, and we appreciated it.
On Monday, February 14 at 12:00 noon, Q-FM-96 made its debut with some pre-launch announcements at first, after Andre Previn's I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face faded as the last song played on WTVN-FM:
"At this time WTVN-FM ceases to exist. We are now WLVQ-FM, to be known as Q-FM-96. We'll be playing Ohio's best rock. We know all you other radio stations are out there listening so watch out, there's a new kid in town!"
Then the first song played, which was the current Eagles single New Kid In Town from their Hotel California album. That first day was chaotic. Actually the very first hour was chaotic. Records were actually being delivered from a record company while we were on the air! There were problems, including a Buffalo blizzard that almost delayed the launch further. Buffalo's Q-FM-97 is where our first program director Tom Teuber worked. In fact, the original launch date was scheduled for February 7. There was no intention to launch a hip, cool rock station on Valentine's Day. There was no typed playlist for the day. We literally threw records on, handing them to mid-day DJ Bill Dancer. The late Scott Kahler and I were cataloguing the records at the time and handing Bill the songs that were written down on yellow notebook paper. Some of them were Rock & Roll Band from Boston, Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan's Do It Again and Blinded By The Light from Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This was all pretty much improvised.
By the next day we had a printed-out, organized playlist. We were allowed to throw in requests each hour. We had so much freedom with the music that after a time you could tell who was on by the songs that were playing. In later years, for instance, if you heard Bloodsucking Leeches by The Dregs, you knew I was on the air before you heard my voice.
Here's our first on-air line-up, which remained the same for almost a year:
6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. - Scott Kahler (w/Tom Burris for news)
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. - Bill Dancer
3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m - Tom Teuber
7:00 p.m. to 12MID - Frank Baum
12MID to 6:00 a.m. - Jeff Wakefield
Jeff Smith, Mike Eiland, Bill Freedman, Jo Dancer (Bill Dancer's wife)
Jeff Wakefield left in January 1978, just prior to the station's first anniversary. Scott Kahler moved over to WTVN as production director only a few months after his morning show stint, replaced by Steve Runner. Around that same time, Frank Baum was replaced by Bill Pugh (Mr. Bill). Steve Runner moved to afternoons and was replaced in mornings by John Fisher. I went to the air full time in 1982, first doing overnights, then 10PM to 2AM (featuring The Perfect Album Side), then overnights again. The late shift gave me so many fill-in opportunities (and volunteer duties at my kid's schools). There were so many tenured staff members to fill in for that I only did late-nights half the year the whole time I was there.
Later rockers to come along, Mark "Munch" Bishop (remember the "Munch The Morning Madman" days?), Beth Kepple, Jo Robinson, Sue Wiggins, Brent Jovi, Russell Carey (the Englishman), the late Wendy Steele, Tim Smith and many more.
In addition to working a weekend show of the station's regular rock music, a rock infused jazz show was offered to me that debuted the first Sunday we were on the air, February 20, 1977. It was called The Jazz Hour. It was far from real jazz. I basically took the jazz-rock that existed in progressive rock formats over the years and incorporated it into some very contemporary jazz offerings on the show. On the first show I played School Days from Stanley Clarke as the first song. There was also the Crusaders, Grover Washington, Jr., Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Jean-Luc Ponty and John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Because of this kind of musical offering on a show called The Jazz Hour, the program was universally excoriated by the jazz purist community. But there were real jazz offerings on jazz station WBBY-FM and WCBE-FM. I didn't want to spend two hours sounding like everybody else. Apparently, the rock community agreed, and the show was accepted to the point that it lasted 21.5 years! The jazz show history:
Debuted at 11:00 PM on Sunday, February 20, 1977 as a one-hour show as part of The Q-FM-96 Sunday Night Special. We had The Concert Hour, The Comedy Hour and there was The Import Hour, which was hosted by Bill Freedman. This show premiered acts such as Elvis Costello and The Sex Pistols to Columbus radio. Many songs on this show were popular on British music charts such as The B.B.C. Top 20 and other places at the time.
Expanded to a two-hour show on Sunday, December 11, 1977 from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. as The Jazz Hours.
Show cut back to 90 minutes (11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) to make room for the debut of syndicated science-fiction drama Alien Worlds at 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 8, 1978.
Alien Worlds cancelled on Sunday, January 7, 1979. Jazz show back to 11:00 p.m to 1:00 a.m. slot.
September 5, 1982 Jazz show moves to 10:00 p.m. to 12MID. Same night Mr. Bill (Bill Pugh) debuts the Q-FM-96 New Music Hour. Despite two-hour format the name of the show changes name to The Jazz Hour.
August 6, 1989 The Jazz Hour becomes The Jazz Brunch and moves to Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, August 2, 1998, last jazz show airs as a result of the station being sold to CBS Radio and my departure to Jacor Communications (now Clear Channel). The rest of the station's program line-up stays intact.
A very worthy but short-lived show replaces the jazz show, The Blues Hour with Dave Man on August 9, 1998.
Other memorable history:
Mark (Daddy Wags) Wagner joined the station in October 1979 as a weekend air personality. His work ethic and fun presentation helped him to rise quickly and he became a full-time personality, first doing nights (he was on the air during the Who concert crush on December 3, 1979, where 11 concert goers were killed at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum). In March 1981 he got the morning show as a solo act, replacing John Fisher who had just left the John and Fran (Kovac) show for WMET in Chicago (he would later return to pair himself with Wags).
On June 15, 1981, our new Program Director, Pat Still, joins the station and takes over mornings co-hosting with Fran Kovac. Wags moves back to nights but not for long. Wags continued to help with the morning show even though he worked nights. The on-air banter with Pat, along with a particularly popular Hollywood Squares-type promotion at Eastland Mall caught the audience's fancy.
On March 1, 1982 Pat & Wags were teamed together for an absolutely phenomenal run that propelled the station to a string of #1 ratings measurements. The show ended on Friday, December 12, 1986 as the pair headed for WRIF in Detroit. Wags would return in May 1988 to be paired with old pal John Fisher. Fisher leaves the station again later, this time for Seattle. J.J. Jeffries (Trudy) joins and completes this powerful morning show roster.
Note: The day after Pat & Wags left, competing station WNCI held a full-page ad in the Columbus Dispatch reading, "Pat and Wags are gone. Come on over to the WNCI Morning Zoo!"
In 1990, a very smart but risky hiring decision was made by then-Program Director and afternoon host Buzz Knight---hiring standup comic Jerry Elliot---as a radio host alongside Wags. Before that only radio people were hired for those positions. Now it's a standard to bring fresh ideas from other arenas to the radio table and Jerry sure brought it. It worked, and brought the station back to ratings dominance in the 90s, despite a lot of new radio competition. Gail Still (then Pat's wife now known as Gail Hogan of Channel 4 replaced by Kristie Kemper later) joined as newsperson. Around that same time Dan Orr and Kristie joined the show, and it is this team that has been the "rock" of Q-FM-96 since then---the glue that has held the rock together. Add Archie to the mix (especially with "Arch Madness"---which should be copyrighted) you have a dynamo team. In addition, The Joe Show started in September 1989 and is the most familiar music program altogether outside of mornings in Columbus radio. His style is one of uplifting, casual fun.
Program Directors from 1977 to 1998: Tom Teuber, Steve Runner, Lee Randall, Pat Still, Buzz Knight, Bob Neumann and Greg Ausham.
Other musings: Mr. Bill (Bill Pugh) is the one who started his afternoon show with the song that says, "Hey babe, you wanna boogie...boogie-woogie-woogie with meeee." He along with "Munch" were popular by ending their sports talk with, "If Mr. Bill can't do it...if Munch can't do it...what will?"
Starting in the fall of 1981 we played Working For The Weekend by Loverboy during the afternoon drive home. It was one of the many, many ways the station put its finger on the pulse of its listeners and on Columbus in general over the years.
I recall that Animals by Pink Floyd was the first new release after we signed on. I had the opportunity to play the whole album on a weekend show called All Night Album Replay, where we actually played albums in their entirety, even allowing the songs to dead roll into the next one, just like you were playing it at home. We only stopped when one side was completed. Then we played the commercial break and started side two.
I've shared this writing with all of the veterans of the station, including our first program director Tom Teuber, so check back here for updates. I'll have this up for awhile. Tom has helped me with some historical facts and I have updated them. When others chime in I will add or revise accordingly. Absolutely amazing!
WTVN (AM) still exists, but is owned by Clear Channel Communications, and no longer affiliated with WLVQ. WLVQ was owned and operated by various owners Taft, Great American, Jacor and Citicasters for a number of years until a 1998 sale to Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio). In October 2006 CBS announced an agreement to sell the station to Wilks Broadcast Group, LLC. In November 2006, Wilks Broadcast Group, LLC took over WLVQ via a local marketing agreement, let go OM/PD Dave Cooper and midday host Dave Man in December and Chris Thomas was promoted to program director and midday host. On May 2, 2009, Chris Thomas left and Megan Slater became the program director and midday host. On April 27, 2010, Megan Slater left and Joe "Show" Pasternak was promoted to program director and Sue Leighton was brought in from former Hot AC WBNS-FM/Mix 97.1 for middays. In December 2011 Sue Leighton took over as program director so Joe Show could concentrate on his afternoon drive on-air duties. Todd "Mongo" Bradley was promoted to Program Director in February 2014. Sue Leighton is still middays and now promotion director.
On November 4, 2015, Saga Communications announced it had agreed to purchase WLVQ from Wilks Broadcast Group. Saga owns and operates Columbus stations WSNY, WVMX, WNND and WNNP through its Franklin Communications, Inc. subsidiary. The purchase by Saga was consummated on February 3, 2016 at a price of $13 million.
Currently WLVQ/Q-FM-96 airs the Torg & Elliott morning show; Scott Torgerson and Jerry Elliott. Long time morning host Mark "Daddy Wags" Wagner is retired. Jerry Elliott and Kristie Kemper joined The Morning Show in 1990, Torg joined the show in 2013. Jerry was a stand-up comedian, Kristie came from the morning show at WAZU/Dayton, OH, and Torg, former afternoon drive personality on sports WBNS-FM/97.1 The Fan.