Sunday, March 18, 2007

WPRO-FM History

WPRO-FM (92.3) made the switch from an automated beautiful music format to Top 40 on April 29, 1974 at 3pm with Gary Berkowitz moving from WPRO-AM to become PD. Jay Clark was promoted to operations manager of both WPRO-AM and WPRO-FM. As the only Providence Top 40 station on FM, WPRO-FM capitalized on the fact that their hits were played in stereo and focused on teenage listeners in the early days. Various trade publications listed the original lineup as follows: Salty Brine (WPRO-AM simulcast) 5:30a-8a, Bill Collins 8a-11a, Tony Silvia 11a-3p, Bruce Diamond (aka Jack Diamond)3p-7p, Gary Berkowitz 7p-12mid, and Ed Cherubino (possibly also a WPRO simulcast)12mid-5:30a. By late summer and into the fall of 1974, the lineup of “Rock 92” evolved into the following: WPRO-AM simulcast of Salty Brine 5:30a-8a, Gary Berkowitz 8a-12n, Chuck Bennett 12n-4p, Robert J. Boogie (Bob Cummings aka The Boogie Man- often impersonated Wolfman Jack)4p-8p, Mighty Mike Osborne 8p-12mid, with automated programming using carousel cart machines overnights. Big John Bina handled weekends. A young programming assistant joined the station around this time and filled-in on the air when a DJ could not make his show. He has been heard on the station ever since as Giovanni. The station was heavily into promotions and gave away prizes virtually every hour in its early years. 1974 promotions included the "Fall Football Cheer Weekend", "Christmas In September" and "The Rolling Stones Weekend".

In 1975, WPRO-FM billed itself as “The Superock” and added jingles and reverb. Song intros would begin with the phrase of “FM, WPRO-FM”. Listeners were winning concert tickets, dinner tickets, movie passes and more with "The Great Radio Rebate". Other promotions in 1975 included "The 92 Days of Summer", "The Fall Rock Rip-Off", "A Sweathog Weekend" and "A KISS Weekend". On August 1, 1975, WPJB debuted its top-40 format as JB105 and the two stations would battle it out for top-40 supremacy in Providence for the next seven years. At about this time, the Salty Brine WPRO-AM morning simulcast was dropped and the lineup headed into the fall of 1975 consisted of: Gary Berkowitz (Berkowitz In The Morning) (6am-9am), Chuck Bennett (9am-2pm), The Boogie Man (2pm-6pm), Mighty Mike Osborne (6pm-10pm), Big John Bina (10pm-2am) and Giovanni (2am-6am). Weekenders included Brother Bob and John Kosian. The station added Pams “Energy One” jingles near the end of 1975 and combined with the reverb, gave the station an awesome sound. New jingles included the hour ID (FM is, WPRO-FM Providence) and the Boogie Man jingle (Hey now, let’s boogie, let’s boogie, let’s Boogie Man…). Speaking of the Boogie Man, he was also production director, and his booming voice was heard on many of the local spots and station promos. Also, Mighty Mike Osborne was involved with the station’s School Scope program. By December, the station was now being identified as “FM92 WPRO-FM” to further distinquish it from WPRO-AM. Christmas promotions included "The 12 Days of Christmas" giveaways and "Trim A Tree For Dystrophy" from the Wampanoug Mall. Hank Threscher was the personality doing the call-ins from the mall to John Kosian at the station on the snowy night of Saturday, December 20th. The year ended with the airing of the "Opus 75" countdown (as it would for the rest of the decade). Captain & Tennille had the number one song of the year.

The Superock promotions continued in 1976 with the Superock card giving listeners the chance to win many prizes after hearing their card numbers (or a portion of the number) read on the air. In the "Superock Super Summer of 76", callers knowing "the phrase that pays" (FM 92 WPRO-FM is my favorite radio station) won albums and other prizes. In June, the station sponsored one of their biggest promotions of the year, "The Elton John Sign Contest", in which listeners who submitted both the biggest and most artistic signs that read 'Elton John Loves 92 PRO-FM' won two tickets to his concert at Schaefer Stadium on the day of America's Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. The lineup remained intact during the year and into 1977 with the exception of Gary Berkowitz and Chuck Bennett flip-flopping their morning-midday shifts in the fall of 1976. New Part-timers heard were Terry O’Brien (aka future WPRO-AM and WHJJ talk host Bruce Newbury) and future WBCN personality Tracy Roach.

As 1977 progressed, the station moniker was changed to “92 PRO-FM” (continues to this day). Howard Hoffman, former nighttime host at WPIX in New York, arrived to take over the 6pm-10pm shift for the summer of 1977 and brought nighttime radio energy and excitement to a new level. Other changes in 1977 saw Big John Bina move to mornings and Terry O’Brien take over late nights. The lineup also included PD Gary Berkowitz (middays), The Boogie Man (afternoons) and Giovanni (overnights). The “Where Do You PRO-FM” contest began in the fall of 1977 with listeners winning $25 for calling the station after hearing their taped voices played on the radio. A slogan heard often in the fall of 1977 was "PRO-FM, your money and music station".

Early into 1978, drive-time jock The Boogie Man had headed slightly west to WTIC-FM Hartford. 1978 also saw the arrival of 20 year-old radio phenom Don Geronimo from WXLO, New York for the 10am-3pm shift. Gary Berkowitz moved to 3pm-6pm and Giovanni moved up to the 10pm-2am shift, although Alan Edwards also handled the shift later in the year. Weekend/swing shift personalities included David Allan (aka David Allan Boucher), Gerry Moon Audette, and a teenager named Tony Bristol. Jack Diamond was also heard on weekends in the fall. The station began airing new jingles from Jam Productions in 1978, similar to those heard on legendary stations WABC, WLS and WKBW. Many of these jingles would become synonymous with PRO-FM over the next several years. PRO-FM also began billing itself as “Southern New England’s Most Listened to FM Station” and also "New England's Best Rock". The "Where do you PRO-FM" contest returned in the fall with a new twist. Listeners had to guess the "mystery superstar" to win even more cash and prizes in addition to automatically winning $10.92. 1978 ended on a bit of a bleak note for the station as the popular Howard Hoffman left for KAUM, Houston and then WABC, New York.

Many more changes were to come in 1979. In early January, Big John Bina moved upstairs in the Salty Brine Broadcast Center to become nighttime jock at WPRO-AM. He was replaced in morning drive by Alan Edwards. In February, Tyler, from WSHE, Ft.Lauderdale (earlier on WCOL, Columbus, OH), came in to replace Hoffman on the 6pm-10pm shift. Don Geronimo's final airshift on PRO-FM took place on March 30, 1979. He was to be replaced a few weeks later in May by "Big" Jim Roberts from WKBO, Harrisburg, PA. Giovanni moved back to 10am-2pm and Tony Bristol took over the overnight shift, although there was a great deal of shifting around due to all of the staff changes. Giovanni filled in just about everywhere in 1979. Fill-in personalities such as Al DeStefano (sometimes going by “Scott Desmond”) and Mitch Crane were also heard at times. The long-running “Cash Call” promotion began in early 1979. Households were called at random and needed to know the amount in the jackpot that hour. The Cash Call amount always ended with "92 cents". The station was now calling itself "Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". There was a new, but short-lived Sunday Night Disco program, hosted by “Dr. Disco”. The syndicated Wolfman Jack "Graffiti Gold" oldies show was added to Saturday nights and American Top 40 with Casey Kasem was added to Sunday mornings. On Memorial Day weekend, the station counted down the PRO-FM "Memorial Day 500" with Gary Berkowitz playing "Always and Forever" by Heatwave as the number one song during a live broadcast at the new remote studios on the midway at Rocky Point Park in Warwick on May 28, 1979. Speaking of Rocky Point, Tyler broadcasted his show live every Friday night there for several weeks. As summer heated up, the station was looking for a morning drive host and found their man right in the same building as the popular longtime WPRO-AM midday host Jimmy Gray began his very successful 12-year run of waking up Providence listeners on July 30, 1979 (He did a "warmup" 10pm-2am shift on July 25th). News updates were provided twice an hour on Gray's show by WPRO-AM newsman Mike Wolfe (and many others through the years). The lineup was now as follows: Jimmy Gray (530am-10am), Jim Roberts (10am-3pm), Gary Berkowitz (3pm-6pm) Tyler (6pm-10pm), Giovanni (10pm-1am), Tony Bristol (1am-530am) and "The Moon" on weekends. Mike DiSano reported traffic from the PRO-FM "Traffic Eye" and Mitch Crane was cruising Southern New England in the PRO-FM "Prize Patrol", often looking for vehicles with PRO-FM Burger Chef bumper stickers in the "Lucky License Game". A couple of months later, the only PD the station ever had, Gary Berkowitz, left to program WROR in Boston. He was not replaced for several weeks, leaving the station lineup as: Jimmy Gray (530am-10am), Jim Roberts (10am-3pm), Tyler (3pm-7pm), Giovanni (7pm-12mid) and Tony Bristol (12mid-530am). In November, a new PD finally arrived. His name was Jack O’Brien. Starting November 19, 1979, O’Brien also took over afternoon drive, moving Tyler back to nights and Giovanni back to late nights. The night before his first show, O'Brien was "arrested" and did his show the next day live from the Warwick Police Department. The arrest was staged to raise contributions to benefit Meeting Street School. Roberts left to join Berkowitz at WROR at about this time and was replaced in middays by Tony Bristol. One of the first promotions under O'Brien was the "Diamond Girl" contest co-sponsored with Van Scoy Diamond Mine. The station was often billing itself on the top of the hour as "PRO-FM, voted America's radio station of the year" as the result of winning an award from a trade magazine. During the last week of December, five promo spots aired, featuring brief clips of the six years (77-78 were combined) of the station's existence. At the end of each promo, O'Brien proclaimed that "As you can hear, it was the best then and can only get better, the only station you'll ever need in the 80's is 92 PRO-FM".

In 1980, the station was moving slightly into more of an adult direction and refrained from playing some dance records. Most noteworthy was the number-one smash “Funkytown”. The station was also taking chances by giving heavy airplay to unproven records such as "New Romance (It's A Mystery)", "Atomic" and "On The Rebound". Other songs they were very early on became huge hits, including "Misunderstanding" by Genesis. PRO-FM also played "What I Like About You" by the Romantics, which was not a huge hit at the time (#49), but would years later become one of the more popular songs from the 80's. As summer approached, the station, now billing itself frequently as "Southern New England's PRO-FM", added News & Information segments on the weekend hosted by Debbie Ruggiero. The station mascot at local appearances was the "PRO-FM Panther". After the station was soundly beaten in the spring books by competitor JB105, Gary Berkowitz was re-hired in July as consultant/OM for WPRO-FM and AM. Berkowitz instantly added “Funkytown”, tightened the rotation and steered the station back on the top-40 track, although as with many top-40’s at this time, it lacked the high energy sound and reverb that it had displayed during the mid to late 70’s. The station then began its climb to regain its position as the number one top-40 station in Providence. The station often referred to itself at this time as the "Remarkable PRO-FM", a phrase sometimes mocked by JB105 personalities on the air. On Labor Day weekend, PRO-FM counted down the top 500 songs of all-time from Rocky Point during the during the "Labor Day 500". "Rock Around The Clock" was the number one song. Listeners were winning cash in the fall of 1980 with the The "PRO-FM Secret Song" contest. Also that fall, the "Double Cash Call" was introduced as Cash Call winnings were doubled in certain hours. Part-time personalities in 1980 included Mike Dimambro, Vinny “Jim” Raposa. and Cooper. Jack O’Brien remained as the drive-time host until the following January. He was replaced by WPRO-AM nighttime host David Simpson, who began his 11-year run on the shift on February 16, 1981. Jim Halfyard took over the graveyard shift. Part-timers now heard included Rick Davis, Tony Mascaro and The Woodman (Woody Flo). The weekday lineup remained intact for the remainder of the year for the station again being billed as "Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". A Friday night request show hosted by Tyler (6-10) and Giovanni (10-12) began in February of 1981. On Memorial Day weekend, PRO-FM counted down the top 500 songs of all-time during the "Memorial Day 500". "Rock Around The Clock" was the number one song (again) as calculated by the Billboard magazine chart department. PRO-FM's resurgence under Berkowitz was evident in the spring 1981 ratings book as it lived up to its "remarkable" billing by topping all stations in the Providence market with a 10+ share. The station benefitted from increased visibility at this time through billboard ads and television commercials, including the "remarkable mouth" spots. In the fall of 1981, license plates of vehicles spotted with a PRO-FM/Coca-Cola bumper sticker were announced over the air, giving listeners a chance to win cash and prizes.

In January of 1982, Tyler left to rejoin PD Jack O’Brien at 92.9 WBOS (The Rock Boss)in Boston, although he remained with the station with a Sunday afternoon shift for the next two years. He was replaced by the returning Big John Bina. Tom Cuddy from WPRO-AM appeared on the air on weekends around this time and would also become involved in station management, eventually becoming PD in August 1982 after Gary Berkowitz had returned to WROR. The slogans at this time included “Here’s Another Three (or Four or Five) Great Songs In A Row” and “There’s always a better song on PRO-FM”. Traffic reports were provided by Joe Fusco, Don Camp and Dick Meader from the AAA Traffic Network/CVS Samaritan Van. John Scanlon had also been heard on traffic. With JB-105 moving to an adult contemporary format in late 1982, PRO-FM was now the lone top-40 station in Providence.

In early 1983, Giovanni left his 10am-1pm slot to become production director (he provided the many voices heard on the Jimmy Gray show, including Rhoda Blabbitt, Randy Cooney and Dandy Dan) and was replaced by weekender Tony “TM in the PM” Mascaro, who had joined the station late in 1980. Mascaro was a fixture on the station until 1997. The lineup was now as follows: Jimmy Gray (5:30am-10am), Tony Bristol (10am-2pm), David Simpson (2pm-6pm), Big John Bina (6pm-10pm), Tony Mascaro (10pm-1am) and Smilin’ Jim Halfyard (1am-530am). Rhode Islanders like familiarity in their radio and television personalities and they certainly got it with this group. This lineup would remain intact for an incredible eight years (until the arrival of Magic Marc Anthony for nights in January, 1991)! Weekenders included Joe Cortese and Nance Grimes (aka Ravenna Maceli). The station often referred to itself at this time as "Hit Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". PRO-FM was also known as "Southern New England's Movie Premiere station" in 1983. The station gave away 13,000 movie tickets that year to movies such as Return of the Jedi, Flashdance, and Terms of Endearment. This was according to a promo spot voiced by PD Tom Cuddy that aired at the end of the year. Cuddy promised more of the same for 1984. PRO-FM also began to promote that it played “10 songs in a row every hour”. This would continue for most of the remainder of the decade. The song played after the top of the hour jingle (actually at about five minutes before the hour) was always one of the ten songs being played in heavy rotation at the time. The station did not "burn out" their top hits very quickly as only three "heavy rotation" songs would be played each hour.

Beginning in 1984, in addition to the “Top 9 at 9” countdowns heard each evening with Big John, Tony Mascaro counted down the hits with the “Top 30 Hitlist” on Friday Nights. The station also began distributing a printed copy of its music survey at local record stores and would do so for the next ten years. This was unusual at this time, because most stations had or were beginning to phase out music surveys. The survey consisted of the Top 35 songs, new adds, and several “extras”, sometimes as many as fifteen. In the spring of 1984, the station gave away two Fisher Video Cassette recorders to listeners who had mailed in cards or letters listing their favorite video shown on WPRI-TV's "Video Tracks" show on Friday nights. The show was hosted by PRO-FM's Tony Bristol. In the fall of that year, listeners were keeping track of songs that were recently played to win up to $100 in PRO-FM's Record Recall contest. The station received some competition in 1984 and into 1985 from WPJB, which moved back to an adult-leaning top-40, and from WERI (RI104) with its four songs in a row without talk and personalities including Red Decker, Jonathan Monk, Ulysses, Tyler and Johnny B. PRO-FM part-timers, in addition to Grimes included Dave Stewart, Brian Chase, former JB-105 mainstay Brad Pierce and David Jones. Jones, who was the afternoon host at WPRO-AM in the early 70’s, moved to WZOU in Boston and then on to WSNE in 1986, where he was co-host of the popular “Jones & Joan” show for the next 16 ½ years. He later worked morning drive at sister station WWLI from 2006 to 2013. Chris Camp handled news duties on the Jimmy Gray show at this time. In the fall of 1985, listeners had a chance to see their favorite artist or group perform anywhere in the world during the "Concert Fantasy" promotion. Speaking of concerts, PRO-FM promoted many concerts at the Providence Civic Center and throughout the area and were (and still are) known as "Your Concert Connection". Another slogan heard often at this time was "The Hottest Hits, 92 PRO-FM". Tony Mascaro counted down the "Top 85 of 1985" to end the year with Madonna's "Crazy For You" coming in at number one.

In the fall of 1986, on "Compact Disc Thurdays". listeners could win the "latest and greatest in music technology", a compact disc player, if they were the 92nd caller when a song was announced as being played from a compact disc. New weekenders in 1986 included Bob Smead and Neil Sullivan. Dionne Warwick's "That's What Friends Are For" was PRO-FM's number one song for the year.

In the early months of 1987, "Bon Jovi Thursdays" took over the spotlight as tickets were given away each Thursday for over two months to the sold out Bon Jovi concerts on May 1-2 at the Civic Center. On Saturday, June 20, 1987, PRO-FM hosted its 13th birthday party at the Warwick Musical Theatre, featuring Expose and an appearance as the master of ceremonies by singer Laura Branigan, who also stopped by the PRO-FM studios for an interview with David Simpson that afternoon. To celebrate the occasion, the station brought back their jingles from the 70's and played them throughout the weekend along with a few hits from 1974. In the fall of 1987, the PRO-FM School Spirit contest was held to award a free concert by The Jets to the school that had the most entries sent in. Central Falls Junior/Senior High School was the winning school. During the holiday season of 1987, the "12 Days of Christmas" contest was again in full force and the request lines were lighting up for a song called "Dear Mr. Jesus" by Power Source (with 6 year-old Sharon Batts providing the "vocal"). The song dealt with child abuse. As the year ended, Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" took home PRO-FM's song of the year honors for 1987.

Part-timers Bob Smead and Neil Sullivan would be gone by 1988, but "Vicious" Vic Michaels, formerly of JB105 and RI104 came aboard and would handle weekends (often Sunday nights) and fill-in shifts for the next ten years. Mighty Mike Osborne returned to PRO-FM in early 1988 as the new Program Director, replacing Tom Cuddy, who moved to the ABC Radio Network in New York as VP of Entertainment. Bonus Cash Calls made on Thursdays in 1988 were worth $10,000. The station also gave away Michael Jackson's glove in 1988. Once again, on New Year's Eve, Tony Mascaro counted down the top hits of the year (Top 88 of 1988)with Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" holding down the top spot.

During the first half of 1989, PRO-FM seemed to be giving away everything but the kitchen sink. In May, the hourly jackpot of the weekday Cash Call contest reached over $5,000 at times. The PRO-FM Gold Card gave listeners a chance to spend $11,000 in a six-hour shopping spree. The "Watch, Listen and Win with A Current Affair" contest (shared with other stations) totalled over $92,000 in cash and prizes. On "Double Your Wage Thurdays", listeners that faxed or mailed their weekly pay stub could have it doubled if they called the station after hearing their name announced. The "Straight to School" contest gave the winning school (Pilgrim High) a concert with recording artist Glenn Medeiros. Trips to Myrtle Beach, SC (co-sponsored with Cox Cable) and Southern California (Campbell's Mmm-Mmm Good contest) were also given away. Hit music cassettes were given away in on-air contests, sometimes as many as four an hour, along with movie passes and circus tickets. The station was still playing "ten hits in a row" every hour. PRO-FM personalities broadcasted live at promotional events in the "PRO-FM Boom Box". Ali Knight joined PRO-FM for weekends, replacing Nance Grimes. Former WSNE personality Patti Harrison was heard on traffic reports for the AAA Traffic Network. The PRO-FM 15th birthday celebration was held on June 10, 1989 at the Warwick Musical Theatre with scheduled performers Eddie Money, Martika, Deon Estus, Sa-Fire, Dino and Boys Club.

In July 1989, Paul “Boom” Cannon from Buffalo was hired as the new PD. As predicted in the radio column in Billboard magazine, Cannon tightened the playlist and shortened it to about 2-3 “extras”, besides the top 35 hits. In addition to giving away cash (or sometimes referred to as "Pro-Dough") with the Cash Call contest, other promotions during the "92 Days Of Summer" included concert tickets and backstage passes given away to several shows at the Warwick Musical Theatre, and the PRO-FM Rock n' Roll Celebrity Auction to benefit "Save The Bay". Helping out local charities were games played by The PRO-FM Bloopers softball team and a charity concert for Meeting Street School featuring Expose. T.J. Napp (aka Tony Banks) joined for weekends before the end of 1989, replacing Dave Stewart. who moved to WPLJ, New York.

In 1990, the station was playing a lot of rhythmic hits as they were targeting the female audience. Songs hung around in the rotation a little longer than usual, most notably Phil Collins’ Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, which was played in heavy rotation long after it had left the charts. This is common practice today, but was unusual in 1990. Also notable was that a low-charting hit by Maxi Priest (Just A Little Bit Longer) received a ton of airplay while a number one song from Nelson (Love & Affection) hardly got any. The booming voice that was heard on most of the station liners and promos in 1990 and also for the next few years was provided by national voice-over talent Mitch Craig. Mighty Mike Osbourne was heard doing some fill-in shifts in 1990. The catch-phrase being used on-air and in promotions was “The station you listen to most, 92 PRO-FM”. On the weekly music surveys, the "10Hits In A Row" slogan under the station logo was changed to "The Most Music". The above-mentioned Phil Collins song came in at number three on Tony Mascaro's year-end countdown show, followed by Janet Jackson's "Escapade" at number two and Madonna's "Vogue" at number one.

The station in 1991 saw the first weekday lineup change in eight years. “Magic” Marc Anthony arrived in January and brought a new level of energy to the night show. Bina moved to late nights and Mascaro moved to overnights replacing Halfyard, who was let go. Toddzilla was a new voice heard on weekends. Another major change took place in August as Rocky Allen from WPLJ in New York took over the morning drive slot with his “Rocky Allen Showgram”. Allen’s unpredictable and outrageous style would soon return PRO-FM to the top of the morning ratings. The lineup was now as follows: Rocky Allen (530am-9am), Jimmy Gray (9am-12noon), Tony Bristol (12noon-3pm), David Simpson (3pm-6pm), Magic Marc Anthony (6pm-10pm), Big John Bina (10pm-2am) and Tony “TM in the AM?” Mascaro (2am-530am). Geoff Webster was now heard on the weekends, with Giovanni doing some fill-ins.

As 1992, sometimes referred to on the station as the "Year of 92", rolled in, Magic Marc Anthony had moved on and was replaced in the 6pm-10pm shift by T.J. Napp (Napp at Nite). 15-year station vet Bina was also gone and Simpson was moved out of afternoons. In February, listeners were faxing in or mailing in a copy of their latest utility bill to possibly have it paid by the station in the "PRO-FM Pays The Bills" contest. During the summer of 1992, at least for a time, the lineup was as follows: Rocky Allen (530am-10am), Jimmy Gray (10pm-2pm), Tony Bristol (2pm-6pm), T.J. Napp (6pm-10pm), David Simpson (10pm-1am), and Tony Mascaro (1am-530am). Patti Harrison was a weekend host at this time. In the fall of 1992, the all new "phrase that pays" was "92PRO-FM, with a Better Variety of Today's Best Music". Knowing that phrase earned listeners up to $5,000 in cash. The station was also promoting that it played two long continous music sweeps every hour. In November 1992, David Simpson moved up to middays, replacing Jimmy Gray. Also, Tony Mascaro would reclaim his 10pm to 1am shift and Toddzilla took over the graveyard shift. Patty Smyth's "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" was the number one song of the year on PRO-FM's "Top 92 of 92" countdown.

1993 got off to a “rocky” start as Rocky Allen (along with his sidekick Blain Ensley) returned to WPLJ. He would not be missed for long, however, as Mike Butts soon took over mornings and began a successful six-year run. Also in 1993, the station was purchased by Tele-Media Corp. Several employees decided to leave the station at that time, including Tony Bristol, who eventually would become PD of WKCI (KC101) and Toddzilla. David Simpson took over as PD and returned to the afternoon shift. Giovanni returned to the airwaves on a regular basis for the first time in ten years, replacing Simpson on the midday shift. New weekenders included Al "On The Scene" Levine, Tanya Cruise, Joe Limardi and Ted Edwards. The station moniker was "Today's Best Music".

By 1995, in a trend shared by many other CHR stations nationally, the station had been moving slightly into an “alternative” direction. The lineup was now as follows: Mike Butts (mornings), Giovanni (middays), PD David Simpson (afternoon drive), Brian B. Wilde (replaced T.J. Napp for nights in February 1995) , Tony Mascaro (late nights) and Davey Morris (overnights). Chris Tyler joined for fill-ins/weekends. In October 1995, Chris Shebel (on-air name Chris Hamilton) from WDJX-FM, Louisville was hired as PD and afternoon host, replacing David Simpson. As Gary Berkowitz did 15 years earlier, Shebel would steer the station back to the “middle”, with both dance and pop/rock songs sharing the spotlight.

In August of 1996, Brian B. Wilde left the station to take on weather duties at a Springfield, MA television station. Many more changes would be on the horizon in 1997. After 14 years on late nights or overnights, music director Tony Mascaro finally saw daylight in January as he moved to the 2-5pm shift. Hamilton moved to 5-7 and Davey Morris was filling in on the 7-midnight shift until a new night host was hired. This finally took place in March as Danny Wright, from WBLI, Long Island moved into the night slot. In April, Tony Mascaro left for the MD position at WPLJ New York. Morris was named interim MD and filled in on the 2-5pm shift. Just a few weeks later, in late May, Morris became permanent MD and came off the air. Rob Hayes from WKCI, New Haven took over afternoon drive and Hamilton moved to early afternoons. The summer 1997 lineup was now as follows: Mike and Lisa Butts (530am-10am), Giovanni (10am-1pm), Chris Hamilton (Chris Shebel) (1pm-3pm), Rob Hayes (3pm-7pm), Danny Wright (7pm-12mid) and the station’s first full-time female DJ, Tanya Cruise (12mid-530am). Vic Michaels, Rob Tyler and Shawn Stewart were heard on the weekends. The station had a successful ratings book as it came in first in the market for 12 and over listeners in the spring ratings book released in July. Also in July, the station was acquired from Tele-Media by Citadel Communications, along with WPRO-AM, WWLI and WLKW. Phil Urso became GM of the cluster (Andrea Scott would later become GM in April, 1998). Finally, in November 1997, the “little fella" (as Jimmy Gray nicknamed him) came home as Tony Bristol returned to PRO-FM as the new PD, replacing Shebel, who had moved on to WVTY, Pittsburgh. Bristol would become PRO-FM's longest tenured PD, remaining in the position (as well as having many other duties) all the way through December of 2012. John Stephens was heard on the weekends in 1998.

As the new millennium approached for the station playing “Today’s Hit Music”, 25-year station vet Giovanni was named the new morning-drive host replacing Mike Butts in April, 1999. Kim Zandy, from WNCI in Columbus, OH was named morning co-host. Davey Morris temporarily took over middays. Other personalities at this time included PD Tony Bristol (afternoons), Rob Tyler (nights) and Tanya Cruise (overnights). By July 1999, the station had finalized its weekday lineup: Giovanni and Kim (w/producer Will Gilbert and Andy "The Freak") (5:30am-10am), Tanya Cruise (10am-1am), Tony Bristol (1pm-3pm), Davey Morris (3pm-7pm) and Shannon (7pm-midnight), replacing Rob Tyler. who moved to Boston's Star 93.7 . Mike Castano was the weekend and fill-in host. Live DJ's on overnights were replaced by a new automation system (Enco). Ken Jackson and Jen Goldberg were part-timers heard later in the year. By that time, Castano had moved on to a Citadel station in Portland, ME. Ron Medeiros was added to the weekend staff in August, 2000.

With the exception of Cruise picking up the 9am-10am hour, the lineup would remain intact until July, 2001. At that time, Shannon headed for MD/middays at WXLO, Worcester. She was replaced by future WCTK and WEBE Westport, CT drive-time host Robbie Bridges. By 2002, Bristol would relinquish his airshift to concentrate on his programming duties for the Citadel Providence FM stations. This would leave the lineup as: Giovanni and Kim (5:30-9), Tanya Cruise (9am-2pm), music director and APD Davey Morris (2pm-7pm), and Robbie Bridges (7pm-12mid).

The first three shifts would remain unchanged through April, 2007. The night shift would undergo many changes throughout the decade. Other personalities that held the shift over the next few years included: Nazzy (voicetracked-2002), Ron Medeiros (2002-2004) and Ashley Taylor (2005 as fill-in). Notable among part-timers was "Mighty Mike" Osborne, the station's original night host and former PD, who did fill-in shifts at various times during the first half of the decade.

In October 2005, the station once again found a high-energy night host (6pm-12mid) as Kerry Collins arrived from WKCI in New Haven. Taylor moved to overnights and Jay Buff was the primary weekend and fill-in host.

The first half of 2007 saw some shifting of air personalities between the Citadel Providence FM stations. In March, it was announced that Kerry Collins was being promoted to morning-drive at sister station WWKX (Hot 106). This left the station again looking for a replacement for nights. Jay Buff and Austin were frequent fill-ins on the shift until it was filled. In April, Hot 106's Jessica moved into PRO-FM's 9am-2pm shift, replacing Tanya Cruise, who took over middays at another sister station, WWLI (Lite Rock 105).

In July 2008, a replacement for Kerry Collins was finally found. It was none other than Kerry Collins himself, returning to nights on PRO-FM after a run of over a year in morning drive at Hot 106. Collins would handle nights until January, 2009, when he was replaced by The Ralphie Radio Show. The weekday lineup remained intact into 2012, other than Jay Buff joining the morning show as producer in April, 2011. As of September 16th of that year, the station was now owned by Cumulus Media after a merger with Citadel. In February of 2013, Davey Morris was named the new PD of WPRO-FM. The lineup was as follows: Giovanni and Kim (5:30am-9am), Jessica (9am-2pm), PD Davey Morris (2pm-6pm), and The Ralphie Show (6pm-10pm).

8 comments:

Gary said...

Great job tracing the history of 92/PRO-FM! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading all of the great history. You did a remarkable job with not only the time line, but the way it really happened! Gary Berkowitz (garyberk@aol.com)

R. DelRossi said...

Hey man, this is awesome. I really enjoyed re-living those days, having grown up in Providence and having been an avid listener to those guys. Thanks for doing this. I'd love to go back and hear them all again!

Steve said...

Great stuff! I was at WEAN, JB-105's all-news alter-ego, from '75 to '77. Your history of WPRO-630 also loaded with great material. 'PRO remains the iconic Rhode Island radio station.

wolfman jack said...

Hello my name is Doug Allen.
I run the Wolfmanjack.Org Web page with the help and blessing of the family of the late great Wolfman Jack. Please Help, We are always looking for Audio, Airchecks, Jingles, Photos, Stores, Ect for archiving.Wolf was on WPRO FM "PRO FM Back in the Day

Please let us know if you can help.
Thanks
Doug Allen
WWW.WOLFMANJACK.ORG
WWW.JINGLEFREAKS.COM

wolfman jack said...

check it out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufJwXEjLM1A

Brian A. Chase said...

This is an enjoyable read. Thanks for including me in the DJ list. I was also their ACE. BTW, I use my middle initial. It helps differentiate me from a certain someone who pretends to be me. Thanks for the memories. Brian A. Chase

A. Michelle said...

Awesome job!

These are the things I would add to the WPRO-FM history:

1976
In June, the station sponsored one of their biggest promotions of the year, 'The Elton John Sign Contest,' in which listeners who submitted both the biggest and most artistic signs that read 'Elton John Loves 92 PRO-FM' won two tickets to his concert at Schaefer Stadium on the day of America's Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. The station also added a youth-oriented radio show on Sunday mornings co-produced with Junior Achievement called 'J.A.M.' which featured future WPRO-FM jocks Tony Bristol, Mike Stone and Vic Micheals, along with future music producer Al Gomes.

Doug allen said...

And dawolfshow@comcast.com