A day ago I returned from a cross-country trip to Florida for a spring break vacation with my family. Though I always have my iPod at the ready, I often like to go up and down the radio dial as I drive through various cities to try to catch a bit of local broadcast flavor.
Ever since I was a youngster growing up in east central Illinois, I have been fascinated with radio station monikers. Prior to industry consolidation more than 20 years ago, station “call letters” routinely referenced a bit of history and/or captured an element unique to the particular city in which the radio station resided—WLAK, WLUP and WFYR in Chicago, for example, still rank among my all-time favorites.
As we drove south on I-75 through Cincinnati and Louisville and around Nashville and then veered onto other byways around Montgomery and into the Florida panhandle, I was looking forward to hearing something different in this regard. Maybe an Adult Contemporary station in Louisville called “Rose 92 FM” or a “Smokey 104” or “Mountain 93” Country outlet somewhere through Tennessee. And wouldn’t it demonstrate both creativity and a tribute to social consciousness with a Montgomery, Alabama Urban Station utilizing “The Bus” in its moniker (?).
Alas, while Toledo does have “The River” at WRVF 101.5 FM there were far too many “KISSes,” “MIXes” and “FOXes” for my liking. As is often the case, the most creativity came from outside a major market and the watchful eye of individualism-quashing research and national consultants where Panama City’s “Island 106” stood out like a sore thumb—or, more appropriately, like a welcome, palm tree-decorated sunny beach.