What's in a Radio Name. Creativity, Hopefully.

1041Later this week I will be making my first trip to New Orleans since I was a kid, overseeing communications on behalf of an automotive client at the NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) show.  I am hopeful that during the visit, I will have the opportunity to get together with radio friend Jag, formerly of Detroit’s Channel 9-55 and now PD and Afternoon Drive host with what has become one of my all-time favorite station call letters/monikers: KVDU – Voodoo 104. Brilliant.

In my book, “No Static at All” I reference the magic that occurs when call letters match city of origin thematically. WDET, KLOS and WNEW are one thing but how apropos was the old WLLZ (Detroit’s Wheels) and former Chicago stations WLAK (The Lake) and WFYR (Chicago’s Fire).  The Windy City’s WLUP (The Loop) lives on, continuing its 35-year rock music tradition.

Other favorites I have discovered over the years include San Francisco’s KFOG, LA’s KOST (The Coast), sports station WJFK in Washington, D.C. and WARH (The Arch) in St. Louis.  Even Windsor/Detroit’s CIDR (The River) is not bad, considering the watery international span running between our two sister cities.  Boston’s WHBA (The Harbor) changed formats and names two years ago, just missing a gold star from me with its replacement: hip-hop station (The Evolution—why not the Revolution?).

Alas, in doing research for this blog I was disappointed to find there is no “K-Rain” in Seattle.  KWAV is in Monterrey, CA not Honolulu and KUFO resides in Portland, OR as opposed to Roswell, NM where it belongs (although nearby Dexter, NM’s Hispanic station held promise with KALN, until I learned it is known as “Amigo Radio” and not “The Alien”).  Kudos to smaller market stations (where, quite often more creativity can be found) with “The Outlaw” in Wichita Falls, TX and “The Renegade” in LaGrange while, WKGR rocks Palm Beach as “The Gator”.

As with most of what’s wrong with radio, too few owners owning two many stations has led over the years to homogenization of talent, music mix and even call letters.  One of the most egregious examples has to do with Chicago’s one-time WLAK, which became the generic WLIT, underscoring its light rock format while usurping its incredibly memorable and locally flavored name. This week in the land of Mardi Gras I look forward to celebrating the industry creativity that still exists by a new generation of radio programmers that get it and broadcast it every day.