Friday, June 16, 2006

"We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing." R.D. Laing

"I challenge you...come up with a new sound, a new blend, that reaches the masses, it's time for radio to take a chance, to change, to go after something new...Radio is going to have to become more compelling...create a bigger magnet to draw people to it and stop running people away from it with boring, bs got to take a chance, you got to try something" Lee Michaels

During my years in Chicago Lee Michaels' WBMX was a guilty pleasure, one of my favorite stations whenever Lee was in charge. Now, thanks to Sal Amato you can enjoy a discussion about Chicago radio back in the day and the real story about one of the greatest stations in Chicago history, Lee's WBMX. The quote from Lee above comes from the discussion. Jump into the days of The Hot Mix Five, Famous & Ross, Doug Banks, Rush & Division, P.S. Chicago, Faces and two and a half hours of behind the scenes stories that changed everything with the legendary Lee Michaels, Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez, and Armando Rivera here (NSFW - language). Bravo Sal! Thanks Lee, Frankie and Armando - good stuff, highly recommended.

Lee has never been given his propers, the recognition he so rightly deserves. He remains one of the few programmer's programmers, one that left a mark, made a significant difference not only in Chicago but in the business at large. Lee gets "the art" - his stations always had a crisp currency, an honest vibe directly from the street, the man is blessed with the most important skill set required of a great programmer, he understands how to listen. He is now at work reinventing talk radio and I wish him all the best. His finest hour has yet to come - stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Cheers to you David!!!! Lee Michaels is a superstar by any standard. The man drove BMX to the #1 music station in Chi-town, second to GN. BMX was the station everyone listened to in the city and in the burbs and one of the most copied stations coast to coast. What radio needs is what Lee has - I M A G I N A T I O N

Peace, Thomas

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,

Thank you SO MUCH for the link to Sal's website. Coming up in Chicago I listened to FM and it was tight. Not like today radio it was full of surprises and off the chain. 102.7 was one of my favs but so were 103.5, 101.9, the old WE-FM, the early days of 93 XRT and when I was first into radio it was WSDM. Disco DAI was not much, GCI and BMX had it goin on before, during and after DAI. Love your website. How about some stories about your days at fyr and cfl? YOU are another guy that doesn't get credit. Be cool. js

Anonymous said...

uncle dave

js is right when saying YOU dont get credit so let me say some things in public said earlier to you face to face. a shame I cant just put this on without approval so approve it damnit

you signed me to my first contract and changed my career for the better forever

when we first met I was a baby dj and after being martinized I was on the road to becoming the personality I am today

let me share some inside dope on the guy known as obe won by those of us who have been lucky enough to play on one of his teams

it cracks me up when someone tells me "david martin said he used to work for you". this is what he says about all of us who worked for him and he means it. at the first jock meeting he said "I work for you, when we win you will get all the credit and should we lose and I hate to lose I get all the blame" we knew then he was nuts but that is exactly what happened. We did win and he did give us all the credit and got us bonus money. he taught us the studio was a stage NOT AN OFFICE. he taught us to be performers not disc jockeys not announcers

he assigned us stations to listen to and had us write reports he gave us tapes of the guys on the air when we were on the air. he told us "you need to understand the choices people have when you are on" he told us over and over and over "what exactly makes your show so different and so special that people will go out of their way not to miss it? listeners will always choose your show over all others on at the same time because of what exactly?"

we looked forward to davids memos because he mixed just the right amount of humor with praise and a lesson we needed to learn or a basic we needed to be reminded of. he is a master class coach who hotlined when he caught you doing something right a total no negs guy

I am blessed to have worked for david martin, best damn PD I ever had, he is the reason I am where I am today and making a good living. never worked harder in my career than I did working for the man but never had more fun on the radio even though I hated hearing the truth spoken so plainly. he made us listen to our skimmers every day and pick the best one to listen to with him and we learned and we all got really good. the man inspires me to this day. so thanks again david!!! GFG!!!

I would like to sign my name here but my bosses are the brain dead people that Lee Michael has talked about. clueless idiots, morons who do not deserve to have their jobs. these are the very same people the room temp iq execs squeezing the life out of our business. thank all that is holy I have a contract. I pretty sure corporate reads this blog so Ill keep it on the down low

Dave said...

Thanks for the kind words. I respectfully request that Mr or Ms "down low" please use the "Contact Me" link which you will find on the right side of this page to send me a message. I promise to keep your communication strictly confidential.

Anonymous said...

Top 5 Chicago PDs of All Time:

1. John Rook
2. Lee Michaels
3. John Gehron
4. Dave Martin
5. Dave Logan

Anonymous said...

No disrespect intended BUT the only two Chicago legends of programming not including John Gehron would be Barry Mayo and Elroy. Interesting discussion at the site but I could not make it thru the audio which is more about mix shows and mixjoxs than anything about programming.

Anonymous said...

Hello David,

Perhaps one of those posters missed the part of the interview where Lee stated the reasons for him going to GCI, leaving it, the air staff, the programming, the billing. I don't know, some people just dont' comprehend things. And calling Barry Mayo a legend is one thing, he is, in his own mind and others who seem to pat people on the back for jobs half done but fully taking credit for, i.e. Elroy. When this industry starts paying hommage to people like you, Lee and John Gehron more often perhaps those wrecking this industry will learn how to save their own jobs. Great interview at WBMX.COM's website and some great insight into the thinking of a great PD and another great talent in Armando Rivera.

Anonymous said...


Its a shame your tribute to Lee and tip about a very cool website has brought out the posers. You should know folk still tell the tales of the great Lee Michaels. Players from your crews still work here and from time to time a story about Uncle Dave comes up and its all good. Whats wrong with radio today is 925 management pure and simple. Folk like Lee and you live it. Walk the talk. Barry and Elroy are about as average as average can be. Poster kids for 925 vanilla management. They are all about getting theirs. Lee and you are all about helping others. You are both missed more than you know.

Anonymous said...

Dave, LOVE your blog, read it once a week and always pick up something. Thanks for the pointer on I am deep into retro-house and that site is tight. Keep the faith. Terri

Anonymous said...

You are all off. WBMX was placed on the map in 1973 by a trailblazing Program Director named Earnest L. James.

Chicago radio owes a tribute to Sonny Taylor, Program Director,WJPC.