Infobox Radio station
name = WRVQ
August 4, 1948
frequency = 94.5
Top 40 Rhythmic CHR(HD2)
Clear Channel Communications
erp = 200,000
haat = 107
branding = "Q94"
"Hot Spot" (HD2)
slogan = "The Hit Music Channel"
"Hot Spot" (HD2)
WBTJ, WRNL, WRVA, WRXL, WTVR-FM
class = B
webcast = [http://www.q94radio.com/cc-common/streaming_new/ Listen Live]
website = [http://www.q94radio.com/ www.q94radio.com]
callsign_meaning = Richmond
WRVQ is a
Top 40radio station in Richmond, Virginiaowned and operated by Clear Channel Communications. It is the second-oldest station in Richmond, signing on in August 1948. Originally the station was owned by Laurus Brothers Tobacco as were sister stations WRVA-AM and WRVA-TV. In 1968 the radio stations were sold to Southern Broadcasting and moved from the former Richmond Hotel into a new building in Church Hill that overlooked the city skyline, ( The TV station was sold to Jefferson Pilot and is now Raycom Media-owned WWBT). From its sign on to 1968 , the station shared the Southside Richmond tower with WRVA-TV.When the stations were sold , the tower location had to be moved off the TV tower. WRVQ's broadcast tower is now next to WRVA's, adjacent to the James River in eastern Henrico County, about 10 miles east of Richmond. Along with WTVR-FM, WRVQ has a grandfathered signal, being allowed to transmit 200 kW compared to other stations in Richmond which can only transmit up to 50 kW.
WRVQ has been some variant of Top 40 since June 30, 1972. Before this, it simulcast its sister station, the legendary 1140 WRVA. At the time, WRVA played mostly news, sports, adult contemporary music and talk shows. In the late 1960s, 94.5 would stop simulcasting WRVA-AM at about 6pm and play automated country music until it signed off at midnight. On the weekends, 94.5 would broadcast the automated country format from 6am until 2am (in mono).
(Clear Channel changed the calls of their WTRG-FM in Raleigh NC to WRVA-FM to go with their logo "The River." Clear Channel currently owns WRVA-AM & WRVQ).
The Phil Goldman Era
Phil Goldman, WRVQ's first General Manager, is credited with the station's initial success. WRVQ was the first FM radio station in Richmond to broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, beginning in July, 1972. The first song played on WRVQ was "I Just Want To Celebrate" by Rare Earth. The first song talked over by a WRVQ DJ was "I'll Take You There" by the Staples Singers, by Doug Riddell. A Q-94 DJ-to-be, Mike Rivers, taped over an hour of the initial programming of WRVQ, which included songs as varied as "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos, and, "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" by Wayne Newton. Public service announcements aired initially included Hal Holbrook's notable "if you're busted for drugs over there, you're in for the hassle of your life" PSA. The original 1972 airstaff was Bob McNeill in mornings, Jim Edwards (aka Jim Campana) in mid mornings, Program Director Bill Garcia in middays, Dave Collins in afternoon drive, Lee Grant in evenings, Chuck Woodson in late nights, and Doug Riddell in overnights.
At first the station billed itself as "WRVQ Stereo Rock" and "Fun Lovin' Super Q", but in 1974 began billing themselves as "Q94" which continues to this day. The station maintained a standard Top 40 format through the seventies which brought them high ratings.
Popular personalities from the 70s included Randy Reeves, Bob Somers, Steve Hendrix, Dr. Rock (aka Ralph Wimmer), Jeff Jackson, Steve Kelly (coming from sister station WRBQ in Tampa), "Cosmic" John Barry, Ron Bates, Kevin Connors, Tim Watts, Tom Ogburn "BTO", Rick Shaw, and Bruce Kelly.
When Q94 signed on in 1972 they had two Top 40 competitors, AM stations WLEE (1480) and WTVR-AM (1380). By 1980, both stations abandoned the format and WRVQ was the lone Top 40 station in the market. In late 1978 and early 1979 disco music became a dominant part of the playlist until mid 1979. From 1977 to 1980, the station ran a locally produced Oldies show called "Rock & Roll Roots" hosted by WRVQ Sales Manager (and former air personality) Jack Alix and produced by Alix and veteran station air personality Bob Somers. (Alix died November 15th, 2006 of long term medical problems). In 1978, the station was purchased by Harte-Hanks Communications, a division of Harte-Hanks Publishing.
In the Summer of 1976, Q94 scored a victory when, after years of haggling, it received local broadcast rights to "American Top 40", hosted by Casey Casem. Before then, it had aired on WGOE-AM, once a Top 40 station on daytime only. Sources say WGOE continuted airing the show to "frustrate" their "mainstream" competitors. The story is that then-Program Director Bob McNeill told syndicator Watermark Inc., "Do you want to run the show in FM stereo on 200,000 watts, or on a 5000 watt AM daytimer that's not even a Top 40 station anymore?". Q94 has aired AT40 ever since, now hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
Q94's first female air personality, Karen Fredricks, began in 1979. Other female personalities have included Joy Van Der Lyck, Q-ZOO voice characterizationist Rita "Betty Bodine" Bentley, Robyn Bentley (Rita's actual sister, who later left radio and became world famous for her knowledge of Feng Shui), Shannon, Lisa McKay, Su-Anna, Dee Stevens, Gia, Becca Scott, and Melissa Chase. Currently, Chase currently hosts Morning Drive with partner Sid. Q94 has also had two female news anchors, Treeda Smith and Sheliah Belle. Current female midday host, Taylor J., "voice tracks" her show from St. Louis. "Voicetracking" is used by Clear Channel and other radio groups so one DJ can "host" shows in multiple markets by importing their material to another market for use in lieu of a local personality. Obstensibly, this is done to save money in local market budgets by downsizing on-air staffs.
Q94 has had a few African American announcers during its history, including Bill Garcia, Chuck Woodson, Tim Watts, Kirby Carmichael (a local radio legend who spent over 20 years at Q94, and whose September, 2006 termination caused some local listener outrage and several newspaper stories, to which Clear Channel responded with a quick "No Comment"), Carter G (Garrett), and Bryan Rock (B. Rock, previously Music Director and interim Program Director at local urban station WCDX), (along with former News Director Treeda Smith and current news director Sheilah Belle).
An interesting event took place on the station in the overnight hours of December 9th, 1980. Just hours after the murder of former Beatle John Lennon was announced, DJs Kevin Connors and Norman "Bob-A-Lou" Freedlander, on their own, "suspended" the normal Top 40 format and went into a marathon of Lennon, Beatles and other British rock music and interspersed conversations about Lennon and the Beatles as a " tribute " to Lennon's memory, which lasted until almost sunrise.
In the early 1980s in response to a growing disco backlash which had dominated top 40 radio, as well as the sign on of Richmond's first full time Urban station, WPLZ "Magic 99", then-program director Bill Thomas shifted Q94 towards a more "rock-40" sound (a move some have said was an overreaction). The shift away from rhythmic music was also in response to in-roads made by AOR competitor WRXL (XL-102). The Rock 40 approach lasted for a couple of years and pulled less than spectacular ratings, but Q94 remained the number one FM in the market, but lost ratings ground to XL-102, Magic 99, and newcomer, Churban-formatted "Kiss 96", WQKS-FM, out of Williamsburg. In 1982, Thomas left, and morning man Jeff Morgan became Program Director, moving Q gradually back into a mainstream Top 40 format, and started the first "Q-Morning Zoo", taking a cue from the originators of the "Zoo" concept, Scott Shannon & Cleveland Wheeler, at their sister station, WRBQ in Tampa, FL. The first hosts on the "Q Morning Zoo" were Corey Deitz and Jeff Morgan. Morgan later left to do mornings for Steve Kelly at a new station in nearby Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Z104 (WNVZ-FM), under another Q94 legend, Jack Alix, who had become group program director for Z104's parent company.
In September 1983, Bob McNeill, who programmed Q94 in its '70s glory days was named Program Director. He teamed up with Deitz and the transition to a mainstream Top 40 (newly coined "CHR" for "Contemporary Hit Radio") format was completed. Ratings rose in response, and the mainstream approach has been maintained ever since. Around this same time, WRVQ and WRVA-AM were sold to Edens Broadcasting, headed by Gary Edens. In the fall of 1983, Q-94's ratings zoomed from a ten share to an incredible fifteen plus share, and air personalities were bonused accordingly.
During the 80s, Q94 had two direct format competitors. Williamsburg-based "Kiss 96" played a Dance leaning Top 40 format, but the station later switched to a Beautiful Music format. By late 1985, the 92.7 signal debuted as CHR "93 Lazer" (WZZR), which lasted until February, 1987 (changing first to an adult hit "The New FM" format with new calls of WCDX, emphasizing the term of then-new cutting edge technology "CD" in their imaging "...CD is our middle name...", then in Fall 1987 to an urban format as Power 93, becoming the first successful competitor to Magic 99). ( Ironically , 93/Laser's most popular jock , night jock Kid Crockett , is now producer/ host of the nationally syndicated "Backtraxx" program , which is heard on Q94 on Sunday mornings, in his later established "Kid Kelly" persona. )
In July 1987, a two-day reunion of former Q94 announcers celebrated the station's 15th Anniversary was held on-air, creating some listener buzz and local press. Popular personalities in the eighties included Music Director Steve Kelly, News Director Treeda Smith, Corey Deitz, Garret Chester, Jay Hamilton, John King, Q-ZOO voice characterizationist Mike "Music Michael Flowin'" Rivers, David Lee Michaels, Norman "Bob-A-Lou" Freedlander, Steve Davis, Tom Ogburn "BTO", Mike Day, Kenny Durbin, Mike Gettings "Mr. Badjoke and Shadow Murdock", Shotgun John Staton, Bill "Slam" Duncan, Jim Payne, Jon Barry, Lisa McKay and Roger St. John.
The Clear Channel Era
In 1993, WRVQ and sister station WRVA-AM, were purchased by Clear Channel Communications. The purchase signaled the end of an era at Q94, with the departure of Longtime General Manager Phil Goldman, who had been with the station since its beginning in 1972 and was widely credited with the station's overall success. About a year later, Q was moved from their long-time home in Richmond's Church Hill to their present location on Basie Road, near I-64 and West Broad in the near West End of Henrico County. They now shared facilities with long-time rival XL-102, which caused some tension between the two staffs for a period.
Q began "Flashback Friday" in the 90s, interspersing vintage 80's songs in with the regular playlist. In February 1994, the station was hit with tragedy when 14-year station veteran Roger St. John (aka Roger Luebs) died of an unexpected heart attack at age 47. Several years earlier, perhaps as harbinger of things to come, Roger collapsed in the Q studio into the arms of afternoon drive jock Steve Kelly, who was pulling his music for his show. The rescue squad came and Roger was revived. After Roger's untimely passing, Q94 broadcast tributes to the popular announcer, who was always highly in-demand to appear at station remote broadcasts and nightclub events. St. John's memorial service drew an estimated 600 people.
Another well-known local personality, Scott Stevens (Clint Smith), who had worked at Q and many other Richmond stations, died of an unexpected heart attack in September, 2003 while on vacation in Vail, Colorado celebrating his 7th wedding anniversary. In January 2002, Q94 lost another veteran when former Program Director and Legendary air personality Norman "Bob-A-Lou" Freedlander died from long term health problems. He was 52. Another former Q94 air personality, Jeff Jackson (John Rountree), who had left the station in the early 80s to form AudioImage Productions with fellow Q94 jock Bob Somers, died in 1985 of meningitis at age 33. Jim Edwards (Jim Campana), an original Q94 airstaff member, died in 2004 of cancer. Popular personalities during the 90s included Lisa McKay, Billy Surf, Paul Anthony, Carlson & McKenzie, Jeff Wicker, Rita "Betty Bodine" Bentley, Skip the Intern, Su-Anna, and Jason Paige. Steve Kelly returned for a short interim stint between other gigs.
A very popular feature was "Paws Pause" during McKay's show, where homeless animals were placed.
Q94's Program Directors have been: Bill Garcia, Bob McNeill (twice), Ralph "Doctor Rock" Wimmer, Bill Thomas, Jeff Morgan, Norman "Bob-A-Lou" Freedlander, Jim Payne, Steve Davis, Lisa McKay, Billy Surf, Wayne Coy, and currently, Boomer.
In the mid-1990s, in a move that some market observers termed a "knee-jerk" reaction, the station, in responding to a new sign on competitor, Modern Rock formatted "The Buzz/WBZU" and the then hot Modern Rock Format, started calling itself "Channel Q" at night, doing a Modern Rock leaning format, causing popular night jock Billy Surf to shorten his name to "Surf" and tone down his high energy delivery. The "Channel Q" idea proved to be a disaster and was ended after just a few rating periods. During the 90s, Q94's overall ratings declined, hovering in the bottom five of the Top Ten Arbitron rated stations in the last several rating periods (ages 12 plus). This trend has continued for the most part from 2000 to today.
The station recently signed on a new HD channel, WRVQ-HD2, playing a "My 80s" music format.
Many in the market have blamed the more recent, less innovative and inexperienced crop of programs directors and interference from overly cautious and conservative Corporate Programmers and Consultants for the slump. Some blame a heavy turnover in morning shows (the station had gone through three morning teams in the nineties) the loss of highly rated morning personality Jeff Wicker (who left due to a contract dispute) and popular midday personality Roger St. John ( due to his previously mentioned unexpected passing) for the decline. Others blame money problems that started with former debt-laden owners Edens Broadcasting and later cutbacks and a lack of attention by current owners Clear Channel, and still others blame the departure of former Longtime GM Phil Goldman, who is considered by many the real driving force behind the station's first 20 years of success.
Others say that in the last several years the station has not been able to recruit on-air personalities that were comparable to the strong on air personalities of the stations' most successful years of the 70s and 80s, a national problem as well. But other factors out of the station's control may have been to blame. Many market observers have blamed WRVQ's decline on "fragmenting of the core audience." That the reason for the decline was the slow development of the FM band in Richmond and that the success of the first 20 years was a "default" success, owing to the many years WRVQ pretty much had the Richmond FM band "all to itself" and the eventual decline in listeners has been due to the Richmond FM band's development "catching up" with Q94 in the early 90s, and the huge ratings success of the past has been an " albatross " hanging over the head of current station, giving way to unrealistic comparisons to station's most successful years, and accusations that Q94 should be "living up to its legend." Many media experts have said the youth based audience that is the core of the CHR format have found other outlets from music including "non-traditional non radio" avenues as the internet, music downloading, satellite radio, and Ipods, and that many listeners in that age bracket have been divided between the two "Modern Alternative" Rock stations ( Including WRVQ's sister station WRXL ," The X ") three Urban / R&B based stations (including WRVQ's sister station WBTJ "106.5 The Beat " ) two "Adult Pop" stations (including WRVQ's sister station, consistent market leader WTVR-FM, "Lite 98" ) and recently signed on "Adult Hits" station WWLB ( 98.9 Liberty ). Others blame the high African American population in the area, which tends to lean toward the more traditional R&B outlets, as well as a growing Hispanic population which tends to listen to Spanish programmed media outlets. More recently, as part of a massive overall downsizing of the overall Clear Channel chain , the station let go 20 year veteran overnighter Kirby Carmichael and now runs automation on overnights. In the Spring 2006 Arbitron ratings, WRVQ was tied for 9th place overall with Classic Rock WKLR. There have been persistent rumors that if the ratings don't improve, the station may switch formats, possibly to Country. Highly unlikely, however.It seems there is room in the market for a top 40 that is able to grow and evolve with the music and the listeners. However, due to budgary actions by owner Clear Channel, WRVQ is currently at a shadow of its former strength, with only 3 full time local and live on-air personalities on their staff (Morning Team Sid & Mellissa, and PD/Afternoons Boomer, The other shifts are either voice tracked from other CC stations outside of Virginia, or the station runs automated with no jocks )
Current on-air personalities
*Melissa Chase (Weekdays 6:00am - 10:00am)
*Sid (Weekdays 6:00am - 10:00am)
*Taylor J (Weekdays 10:00am - 3:00pm) (voice tracked from Clear Channel in St. Louis.)
*Boomer (Weekdays 3:00pm - 7:00pm)
*T-Bag (Weeknights 7:00pm - 12:00am) (voice tracked from Clear Channel in Washington D.C.)
*Jay Stevens (Weekends)
*Bob Somers (Weekends)
*Shotgun John (Weekends)
The Man Segment
Notable previous on-air personalities
*Billy Surf, Betty Bodine, Skip the Prize Guy, Downtown Coco Brown (the morning show until April, 2004)
*Jeff Wicker (morning show host)
*Lisa McKay (Former PD)
*Steve Davis (Former PD was initially on in afternoon drive then moved to Q Morning Zoo host along with Betty Bodine and Jay Hamilton)
*Madman Pauly Madison (MD/Nights Late 90's, Early 2000)
*Su-Anna (middays/Hometown Countdown mid 90's-2000, later of WYCD & WDRQ Detroit , and WSM-FM Nashville )
*Travis Dylan (Mornings/MD Late 90's, Early 2000) (Afternoons 2002-2004)
*Jake Glenn (Nights/MD 2001-2005)
*Corey Deitz and Jay Hamilton (Q Morning Zoo hosts, September, 1990 - July, 1995)
*Corey Deitz and Garret Chester (Q Morning Zoo hosts, 1984 - 1985)
*Corey Deitz and Bob McNeill (Q Morning Zoo hosts, 1983 - 1984)
*Corey Deitz and Jeff Morgan (Q Morning Zoo hosts, 1983)
*Bob McNeill - PD who formed '83 version of Q MORNING ZOO with News Director Treeda Smith, Deitz, and voice characterizationists Rita Bentley (five daily characters) and Mike Rivers (five daily characters).
*Dee Stevens (Now working at WKOS Morning Drive from 6a-10a and is Creative Assistant for Citadel Broadcasting in Gray, TN)
*Kevin Conners (later of CNN Sports, WKNR Cleveland, WFAN, New York, and Shadow Sports, New York.)
*Bill "Slam" Duncan (now at WSIX Nashville)
*Mike Friend (aka "Mike Day") (Co-Founder and station manager of non-profit
*Kenny Durbin, "The Traffic Twins"
*Mike Gettings "Mr. Badjoke" and as "Shadow Murdock" the other half of "The Traffic Twins"
WRVQ broadcasts the following nationally-syndicated shows:
Rick Dees Weekly Top 40Countdown hosted by Rick Dees(Saturdays 6AM - 10AM)
American Top 40hosted by Ryan Seacrest(Sundays 8AM - 12PM)
*Backtraxx USA 90's hosted by Kid Kelley (Sundays 6AM - 8AM)
Open House Party(Sundays 7PM - 12AM)
*Regional Vice President – Ruth Stoutermire
*Program Director – Boomer
*Director of Sales - Carrie Todd
*Sales Manager - Tracy Driskill
*"'Operations Manager - Bill Cahill
Annual & Memorable events
The station holds an annual Christmas concert featuring Top 40 acts, with proceeds benefiting the
Make-a-Wish Foundation. In 2006, they included Jason Mraz, Natasha Bedingfield, Collective Soul, and Bowling for Soup. A few of the more memorable past events include, a day long "imaginary" concert called "The Concert at Fantasy Park",( which prompted a story by staffer Bob Somers saying that while driving down the road on the day the station broadcast the "fake" concert, he saw a hitchhiker with a sign that said "Fantasy Park" and always wondered did the guy ever make it to his "destination" ) racing a Portable Toilet at the local Richmond Dragway race track , calling it the "Port-A-John", in the tradition of the popular motorcycle jumps of Evel Knevel , the station attempted to shoot DJ Steve Hendricks over the James River in the Port-A-John, also the yearly Charity Raft Race that took place from 1974 to 1978 ( The race was discontinued due to mounting security costs ) and a Hot Air Balloon that listeners could ride in ( The station ceased using the balloon for rides due to insurance and liability problems ). In 1989, the station caused a problem with local phone service when during a "Thousand Dollar Thursday" cash giveaway contest , an overload of callers to the station's request line blew out and disabled a downtown phone exchange which led to all Richmond radio stations being given the 345 exchange. In the late eighties the station hosted an exclusive concert by then-hot rising 80s star Richard Marx. In 1984 the station did on on-air telephone interview then Red Hot rock act Duran Duran.
* [http://www.q94radio.com/ Official Website]
* [http://www.w9wi.com/articles/grand_fm.htm List of "grandfathered" FM radio stations in the U.S.]
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