Been having a fit of nostalgia recently.
My friend Jeff called the other day to invite me to Philadelphia and go to the 10th anniversary concert for Finch’s “What It Is To Burn” album.
The thought of that album immediately takes me to a place and time I will never forget. 10 years ago, I was the program director of 94.1 The Zone here in Rochester. The Zone was (and still is) faced with many challenges, the biggest being its signal strength and the fact it’s hard to pick up depending where in Rochester you may be.
From 2000-2003, we had a lot of fun at The Zone. In 1999, The Nerve (95.1/95.5) flipped from being a mainstream alternative station to a more active rock station. I remember the general feeling of disappointment many listeners (myself included) felt when we heard more Metallica (mandatory, even) and less new, alternative music.
In early 2000, we made the strategic decision to fill the void between what The Nerve had become (dark, angry, loud new rock), and WBER (a true alternative station that will never have to play by the rules of commercial radio) and that was, a station that played alternative and new rock without taking ourselves too seriously.
The result was 3 of the most exciting, challenging, rewarding and chemically influenced years of my life and career.
We had an extremely skilled morning show in Karlson and McKenzie. To this day, one of my biggest regrets is being so hungover at the time that I didn’t take full advantage of our working relationship. Had I worked more closely with them, I would have been fortunate to absorb some of their talents.
Violet did mid-days and was our music director and default “ear” for new music. She had worked at The Nerve and was more motivated than anyone to defeat her former employer.
Bender did nights and a style of show that, while completely out of the norm for the format, developed quite a following.
And then there was the supporting cast of misfits who I’ll always hold a place in my heart for: Pilaf, Annoying Gary, Gooch, Tripod, and Wiener off the top of my head.
There were also people I feel lucky to have worked with in some capacity from Dino and Kate McClean to Brad Fisher and Orest.
As a station, we killed The Nerve which eventually became a pre-packaged Clear Channel classic rock station known as The Fox.
Individually, we’ve all moved on to a wide variety of accomplishments. The thought that our time working together may have aided in someone achieving their ultimate goal is humbling. My lasting feeling of those years is an enormous sense of pride and an experience that made me a better Program Director and a better person.
If our paths crossed during those years, I’m raising a glass to you. Here are some of the songs, for better or worse (Trik Turner? Eeek.) that will forever be branded in my mind as Zone music.