Friday, October 18, 2013


Here's a 101 Reload...

Bob Thomas...
I enjoy hearing the stories about 15Q. I normally did middays on weekends, but often filled in for Ron Baptist in the PM drive for various reasons so I got a good feel of the station and the people. I don't remember if Gary Adkins hired me or Ron Baptist. Probably Gary. I will never forget that at that time I had never been at a radio station where everyone seemed to be having a good time. (Wait a sec...there was that brief period at KGN) Anyway, it was weird! And everyone was so talented and the station sounded so great, you always made sure you were prepared when you went in. On the weekends I would follow Steve West (Bridgewater) and I had never seen anyone that crazy and entertaining in person. It was amazing! And he did a lot of it with a frying pan. Then Chuckie Boo Boo Baron "Bold and Daring" - holly crap! How did that voice come out of that little skinny body??? And I can never listen to Maggie May now without singing to myself "Q,Q,Q" when Rod sings "cue" because on the studio tape someone had edited it so "cue" repeated twice. "15Q is gonna make me rich!" The day 15Q was going to give away the $5,000 I filled in for Ron Baptist so he could be the one to give the money away. He said he was going to walk around West Town and ask people what radio station they listen to until someone said the phrase. I remember he asked people for an hour with no luck so he called me and said for me to keep saying he was at West Town with a check and looking for the phrase. Damn, if I didn't work there I would have been among the hundred people that rushed to West Town. Finally someone said the magic words and were $5K richer. Great place - great people, we just needed about 49,000 more watts. I left and went to WIVK to hang out with Suitcase and light Denton's cigars. Now there's another story...

Gary Adkins...
Hey K-Town. I enjoyed the story about 15Q. I was there for the entire saga. Without a doubt, 15Q was the best Top 40 station in Knoxville radio history. It was also doomed from the start. Sam “Speedy” Thrower sold W149 to Bob Blow Sr. and Bob Blow Jr. in late 1975. The Blows owned a successful station in Jackson, Tennessee and were ready to move up to the “big time”. To their credit, they wanted the station to be the best. Somehow they hooked up with a guy named Bob Gross. Bob had some major market Top 40 radio experience under his belt. So the new guys set out to put together a super-slick Top 40 station. And they did just that. We hit the air in early 1976. Unfortunately, Bobs Blow & Gross didn’t research the market. What little “research” they did, they ignored or disregarded. Many members of the W149 staff, myself included, tried to warn them that the weak signal was a huge problem that could not be overcome. I’ll never forget the first staff meeting called by Bob Gross. Someone brought up the signal problem. Bob asked…”How far do we get out at night?” Bill Johnson answered…”About a driver and a 9-iron.” Anyway, the new guys were bound and determined to make it happen, so I went along for what was an exciting ride. Bob Gross and PD Ron Baptist had great ears for talent and put together an amazing lineup. The promotions were outstanding and high dollar. Everything was done right. And by the end of the year it was all over. The money was going out. The money wasn’t coming in. The ratings never materialized. I was told 2 days before Christmas to fire two jocks. They will remain nameless, but both were tremendous talents who went on to outstanding careers in bigger markets. I waited until after Christmas to do it. I don’t know what ever happened to Bob Gross. I heard that Bob Blow got in on the ground floor of cell phone technology and made a small fortune. Whenever I drive by the old W149/15Q building on White Avenue, I smile. What a ride.

Chris Grabenstein...
15 Q is gonna make me rich! That phrase still rings in my head. When the Q-Tips took over, I was called in for a meeting. "We like what you've been doing, kid. You could be major market material. We're gonna change things around on the weekend." I thought it was my big break. I was going to get to cut loose, be a wild and crazy radio guy. No. They had another idea. Pre-recorded carts with Bob "Shotgun" Kelly saying 15 Q was gonna make people rich. My new job, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. was to push buttons. I guess I was an early human version of the automated radio station. Two weeks later, I quit. I was a student in college. There were plays to do. Beacon columns to write. Oh, and homework, too. And so, 15 Q was gonna make me quit. I never DJed again, but went on to write tons of radio commercials, including those for Trojan Man and "Make Seven Up Yours."

Suitcase Simpson...
Geez, it took me almost as long to read the 15Q story as it did to work there! Some guys didn't even get to finish a cup of coffee before they were blown out or left 15Q in the middle of the night for more sane surroundings. I was at WIVK when the Q hit the air. Q was an incredibly tight and exciting station. Even the old air checks are still exciting! Too bad you couldn't hear the daytime signal beyond Bearden or the night signal beyond the Cumberland Tap Room.China Smith (real name: Greg Barman) came to town to work at Q. He was an old friend of mine and stayed at my apartment for a week or two until he found a place. He's now in Denver and has been for 20-25 years. Greg did news on KOA, KCFR and KBCR, but he's worked as a technical recruiter for the last several years. Chuckie Boo Boo Barron also stayed at my apartment for a week or two until he found a place to live (every few years he still lives with us for awhile!). We've worked together five times, maybe six. I kept turning down Rockin' Ron's offers to join 15Q because it was obviously the poster child for swingin' door radio stations and I'd just gotten married and needed the stability of WIVK - plus I liked the people at WIVK and loved playing those Merle Haggard and George Jones records! But Boo kept saying, "C'mon Miller, it won't last but we'll have more fun than we've ever had in our lives!" And we did for 3 or 4 months...but I should've stayed at WIVK! P.S. It should be noted that Dr. Boogie, the all-night guy, also did traffic reports in morning drive. He would monitor Wayne Bell in the WIVK helicopter for traffic conditions, then repeat them on 15Q while beating his chest to simulate the sound of flying in a copter! He apparently liked that part of the gig - Dr. Boogie is better known today as Pete Michaels.