WITH celebrates birthday with its famous alumni Golden oldies: The likes of Buddy Deane, Jack Wells and Chuck Thompson will mark the station's 55 years on air.

On the Air

March 10, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

The internet web site for WJHU-FM (88.1) was listed incorrectly in Sunday's Arts section. The correct wed site is http: //www.wjhu.org.

The Sun regrets the error.

In 55 years on the airwaves, radio station WITH-AM (1230) has tried any number of formats: news, talk, big-band, adult contemporary, elevator music, '50s rock.

They're all on display this month, as the venerable Baltimore station celebrates reaching the speed limit by bringing back to the local airwaves many of its more famous alumni and reviewing its continually changing role.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

That means plenty of old friends will be heard over the radio again: Buddy Deane, Jack Wells, Buddy McGregor, Jack Gale, Bill Evenson, Chuck Thompson. That's a ton of Baltimore radio history, and all of them broadcast for a time over WITH.

The celebration will culminate the weekend of March 30-31 with an on-air reunion, airing from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

But if you can't wait to hear those golden throats from the past, fear not. Throughout the month, every hour on the half-hour, the station is broadcasting interviews and air-checks with such fabled alumni as Mr. Deane, whose TV dance show became the talk of Baltimore in the late '50s and early '60s; his successor, Mr. Gale, who not only spun records but helped produce songs for a lot of local talent; Mr. Wells, the original host of "Dialing for Dollars"; and Mr. Evenson, a newsman who went on to cover the White House for the Mutual Broadcasting System.

You'll even hear from Gene Rayburn, the former host of television's "The Match Game," who spent some time at WITH early in his career.

Many of these alumni should be right at home with the station's latest format, which emphasizes music from the '50s and '60s, plus selected offerings from the '70s. For folks like Mr. Deane, it should feel as if they never left.

But for many who have listened to WITH over the past 25 years or so, the music emanating from its Light Street studios marks a radical departure. When I was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the mid-to-late '60s, no one my age would have been caught dead listening to the station. The music was strictly stuff my parents listened to: Andy Williams, the Johnny Mann Singers, Perry Como, stuff like that.

"It was a much more sedate, elevator-type format," says general sales manager Bob Mathers, who also is the host for a weekend oldies show and is one-half of a duo filling the general manager's slot while that job remains vacant.

Those listeners eventually faded away, however, and over the years, the folks at WITH would try catering to all sorts of audiences. Eventually, they settled on a big-band format that prospered until about two years ago. At that time, much of the staff staged a mass exodus for WLG-AM (1360), where the big-band sounds continue to prosper.

The people who remained spent several months groping about, Mr. Mathers says, with little luck until January 1995, when the current format was decided on -- a format similar to several other Baltimore-area stations, including Good-Time Oldies, WQSR-FM (105.7), and The Colt, WOCT-FM (104.3)

WITH is owned by Guardian Communications, which operates Christian stations in Cincinnati and Cleveland, as well as four stations in Albuquerque, N.M.

WJHU opens a Web site

If radio alone isn't enough to provide your daily dose of WJHU-FM (88.1), help is on the way. Just get yourself onto the Internet.

Baltimore's primary public radio station has itself a Web site, through which computer-types can find out more about programming and the station's on-air personalities. You also can comment on goings-on at the station or, if you feel like forking over some cash, become a member or make a pledge.

The site can be reached at http: //www.jhu.org.

Pledge Week rolls on

Pledge week continues rolling merrily along at MPT. Last weekend, the station raised $187,952. On Sunday alone, more than $126,000 was raised, the largest one-day total ever. Of that, $83,000 was pledged during a special featuring music from "Les Miserables."

Marylanders aren't the only ones handing in money hand-over-fist when "Les Miz" airs. In New York City, where folks only have to ride the subway and buy a ticket to see the real thing, $400,000 in pledges were phoned in during the show.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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