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Cleveland Speakers

Cleveland Radio Tales:
Stories from the Local Radio Scene
of the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90
by Mike & Janice Olszewski

Cleveland radio has seen some of the most famous, and infamous, radio personalities in the industry. The DJs were larger-than-life characters who changed the industry and were copied all over the country. Cleveland Radio Tales is a collection of stories such as:

  • "Count" John Manolesco, the talk show host, astrologer, and former vampire who performed an exorcism live on-air
  • A daytime host who raised eyebrows and gained headlines when he did his entire show in the nude
  • Inventive Wayne Mack, whose make-believe big band concerts seemed so real that listeners drove around for hours in search of his fictional "Waltz Palace" ballroom
  • Loudmouth Gary Dee, who scored big ratings interviewing strippers and once knocked a fellow DJ out cold
  • Media mogul Milton Maltz, a "square" who teamed up with hippies to transform WMMS into a rock and roll giant
  • Young Jack Paar, who nearly lost his first radio job while saving Cleveland from a Martian invasion
  • The undaunted DJs of WABQ who broke FCC rules to stay on the air during the Glenville riots in 1968
  • Teenage amateurs whose pirate radio stations drew loyal local listeners?and angry visits from the Feds!
  • Plus stories of live remotes gone wrong, unruly in-studio guests, management scuffles, the river of booze that fueled radio . . . and more true tales.

For me the most interesting stories were about the characters at WMMS, the behemoth Buzzard.

WMMS was Rolling Stone's radio station of the year and the personalities were legends. People like Kid Leo, Jeff and Flash, Matt the Cat, Denny Sanders, Murray Saul, Len Boom Goldberg and others. The Buzzard Morning Zoo and Coffee Break Concerts were revolutionary. The station also broke many artists and bands such as Rush, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen.

So if you enjoy reading about the characters and history of radio in Cleveland and the influences beyond, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Dan Hanson

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