When my old pal Jim Baade called me up more than a year ago, neither of us could have imagined the project he was working on would receive the recognition it has. Back in the 80s, Jim and I worked at what used to be the most successful Rock & Roll radio station in the country: 105FM WWCK in Flint, Michigan. He now holds my former job as Production Director of WCRZ (CARS-108) and its sister stations also in Flint, but had decided to throw himself into video production. As part of the class he was taking, he needed to pick a subject and produce something, so he chose to chronicle the rise and fall of our former beloved 105FM.
I call it “beloved,” with all due respect to the radio stations where I’d work thereafter and to all my incredibly talented friends who still work in radio, because it was the last time I worked for a station whose on-air free spirit had not been smothered by the blanket of large, faceless, out-of-market ownership and homogenizing broadcast consultants. This corporate encroachment (to me) was a perfectly natural evolution; but it still sucked, and I got out of radio in 1998.
No one would deny an important reason for CK’s success was Peter C. Cavanaugh. He started out on the radio in the late 50s as a kid in Syracuse, New York, and worked his way to an absolutely legendary radio career that included a long stop in Flint, Michigan, where he was our General Manager. Pete produced and promoted hundreds of early concerts with the such acts as AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, KISS and so on. He also helped introduce the world to Michael Moore; I’ll forgive him that. ;o) The resume doesn’t successfully describe the guy though. Imagine an outrageously upbeat and extroverted Hunter S. Thompson… in a suit…when people were looking. His book, “Local DJ,” is a frigging gem for both of two reasons: it’s gonzo literary style—and the amazing stories he has to tell—like scamming his way into a press conference with the Beatles in an impossibly multifarious plot.
Cavanaugh’s is one of only three interviews featured in Jim’s short documentary, “Flint’s Best Rock, The Movie.” The next is with a very dear friend and backbone of WWCK for 10 years, Jeff Holbrook. If you’ve listened to Rock & Roll on the radio in Michigan anytime since 1977, you’ve listened to Jeff! I love the completely frank way he explains what it was like during both the heyday and at the bitter end of the station’s life. Jeff's website features his infrared photography, but if you look at the bottom of his homepage, you'll find a "Radio" link with a lot of great pictures from back in the day.
The other interviewee? Me. No joke. Although many great luminaries passed through that celebrated radio station, quite a few pieces of my interview ended up in the final film. And if that wasn’t enough to get me stoked, get this: Jim’s film was recently accepted and is now preserved in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, available for viewing there!
I'm honored and amazed that somehow a clueless 21-year-old kid ended up getting in on the end of such a great legacy. Watch the entire 40-minute film, "Flint's Best Rock, The Movie," below.