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does a station do when it comes under a full frontal
assault by a market competitor bent on usurping
your crown? Launch your own all-out, full-fledged
assault and defend your turf! Never was that better
demonstrated than in 1973 by WPGC GM,
Howard who spent literally thousands and thousands
of dollars to protect WPGC's #1 ranking amongst
a year before, market indicators were that RKO,
no stranger with massively successful Top 40's in
market after market was going to make a move against
WPGC with a lean playlist, concise personalities
and promotions that would command listener attention.
with excellent dial position at 57 and 5K watts,
their plan was to blow up Classical WGMS-AM in a
calculated war with the Voice of Morningside. It
was a battle never to happen however. Dazed &
confused listeners thought WGMS-FM would also go
away and successfully voiced such opposition to
the change that RKO, already in hot water with the
FCC, relented. Read more on Bob
In the void left by that decision, NBC had had enough
on the losing end of the MOR battle with WMAL and
thought they'd try their hand with Top 40 on WRC.
Late in 1972, The Rock of the Capital debuted under
respected Programmer, Lee Sherwood from WFIL. Saddled
with Network commitments common to all O&O's
along with the earlier than any other market rise
of FM due in large measure to WPGC, the battle lasted
only until 1975 before NBC pulled the plug and picked
up the ill-fated News & Information Service
expected move of WRC's
format to FM was a matter of just two weeks before
the launch of Disco 93, WKYS.
In the interim, Howard
launched a barrage of huge dollar promotions (over
$150,000.00 [$827,550.68 today, adjusted for inflation]
had been given away since 01/01/73 alone) designed
to sway fickle Teens and Adults alike from abandoning
the ship. The latest of these was, 'Break
the Bank' as seen in a full page ad in the Washington
Post today in 1973.
BoHo had good reason to protect the interests of
the station as well as those of his own. When WPGC
Richmond passed away suddenly late in 1971,
his estate began the process of liquidation. Howard's
claim of Right of First Refusal however put a monkey
wrench in that effort. Hoping to purchase the station
himself, and with the authority in the meantime
to spend virtually whatever amount he wanted to
keep the station on top, his plan backfired when
the value of WPGC reached such proportions (a then
record setting, $5.8 million) that he could not
match the much deeper pockets of the Marriott brothers
who bought the property in 1974.
sheer-minded determination however to fend off WRC
was a lesson First
Media should have learned from but failed to
in 1979 when ABC came after WPGC with Q107.
Instead of rolling over and playing dead with the
change in format to AC in 1982, a redux of the skirmish
Sound Off's' tenure would have prevented the
death of the goose that laid the golden eggs.
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