B-104 is wooing Walker

October 10, 1990|By Eric Siegel

The general manager of WBSB-FM (B-104), which recently eliminated hard rock and rap music from its play list, says he will meet tomorrow with former Baltimore disc jockey Johnny Walker in an effort to persuade him to accept a regular air slot on the Top-40 station.

Jim Fox, who described the response to Mr. Walker's one-day appearance on the station last month as "phenomenal," said the meeting would take place at Mr. Walker's West Virginia farm and said, "Hopefully, we can bring him back."

Mr. Fox would not disclose the nature of the position he would offer, but said it would not involve a role on the station's morning program. That show, which was revamped in January, showed a substantial one-point gain in audience share in the most recent Arbitron ratings figures.

The 43-year-old Mr. Walker -- whose 13 tumultuous and iconoclastic years at WFBR-AM made him the most identifiable radio personality in Baltimore history -- has lived a quiet life out of the public eye since leaving WFBR in 1986. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Fox said the changes in the station's playlist, which were implemented over the summer, were made to attract and keep more adult listeners. While he said younger listeners liked rap and hard rock, research showed that older ones did not.

"We were perceived in the market place as a teen radio station," he said. "That was never our intent."

The station began promoting itself two weeks ago as the "All New B-104" in a series of television ads with former Baltimore Oriole star Jim Palmer. Mr. Fox said the ads would continue to run for several months.

Although he admitted B-104 was playing more "recurrent," or past, hits, he said the station would "still play the hits."

WBSB climbed from a 5.8 and seventh-place ranking in the spring Arbitron ratings to a 6.8 and fourth-place ranking in the fall, but Mr. Fox said he didn't know how much of the gain was attributable to the changes in the music.

Mr. Fox said he had received a "couple of dozen" complaints from listeners but said they were "fewer than I had feared."

Two young Harford County teen-agers, Tiffany Hiob and Kristy Creed, upset that they can no longer hear New Kids on the Block on B-104, say they plan to protest the changes in music outside the station Saturday at 1 p.m.

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