Having spent a LOT of time talking to Harold Tanner when i was working at WLDM, i had a plethora of information in my head. (And a rather "photographic" memory didn't hurt either!). Thus, with input from a few former employees who helped "fill in the blanks" and provide some photos and other items, i was able to weave together a fairly extensive and accurate history of WLDM. But it's not complete yet! I have a number of other items to be added. More photos, some articles, and some "condensing" of the rather long written history. Do stay tuned....



FM broadcasting had been around for many years, and proved itself to be a superior medium over AM as far as audio quality and immunity to interference was concerned. In June 1945 The Federal Communications Commission decided to officially set aside 88-108Mhz for FM broadcasting and in September 1945 set forth rules and regulations for FM broadcasting and began issuing licenses. At that time, Harold Tanner was working at Sparks Broadcasting's WEXL-AM in Royal Oak (Ferndale) as sales manager. He was an early and VERY firm believer in the future of FM broadcasting. He tried to convince the Sparks family to build an FM station, an idea which was essentially laughed off. In mid 1946, Harold and long-time friend and Detroit industrialist John A. Ross (who owned Lincoln tool and die and a stamping plant in Detroit) formed the Lincoln Broadcasting Company and set out to license and build Detroit's first independently owned FM station. Harold spirited away long-time WEXL station manager Ellis C. Thompson to join them.

On January 1, 1947, they were issued a license for 94.7 FM in Detroit, with an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts and selected the call letters WLDM which stood for "Lincoln Detroit Michigan". Shortly thereafter, a change to the license was made either by Lincoln Broadcasting or the FCC for a different frequency of 95.5. (94.7 was later allocated to Birmingham Michigan and became WHFI.) Rather than locate the WLDM antenna in downtown Detroit on a tall building or anywhere in that area as others had done or planned to do, Harold Tanner, having great foresight, believed that the approximate center of what would eventually become the "Detroit Market" would be in the vicinity of 10 Mile Road and Greenfield in Oak Park (Oakland County). A large piece of property was purchased on the southeast corner of that intersection, and soon thereafter construction of a large brick colonial style building for the offices, studios and transmitter was begun at 15401 West 10 Mile Road in Oak Park Michigan. Behind the building, construction of a 400 foot 4 legged self supporting tower was also commenced. Not just any tower, but a prestigious BLAW-KNOX tower. (TYPE H21) On February 12, 1949, WLDM officially went on the air. John Ross was never involved with the radio station at all, other than being an investor. And Ellis Thompson only remained with the station for a few years until (i believe) Harold or John Ross bought out his interest. Interesting to note that now, with some exceptions, most all of the Detroit TV and FM stations have since relocated to towers in and around where the WLDM tower is located.

Just to preface, finding high quality "source material" to play on FM back then was not easy. Here's a brief timeline:

1925 78 RPM becomes the standard phonograph speed

1948 Ampex delivers first audio tape recorder, the Model 200, to Bing Crosby Enterprises

1948 33-1/3 rpm monaural discs are introduced by Columbia

1949 45 rpm monaural discs are introduced by RCA Victor

1958 Stereo records and phonographs introduced

1961 FCC authorizes FM stereo standard and begins use

WLDM's first transmitters were a pair of General Electric 3000 watt "Phasitron" Models. They consisted of a 250 watt Exciter/Driver cabinet (a complete 250 watt transmitter unto itself) and a 3000 watt power amp cabinet. They were a sort of powder blue. However, Phasitron exciters were not true "high fidelity". Such FM technology wouldn't come along until 1950, at which time WLDM replaced both Phasitron exciters with the newer Gates BTF exciters. WLDM thus became the first to implement true "HIGH FIDELITY" FM broadcasting. WLDM used a WinCharger FM antenna, 8 bays, which looked like a pole at the top of the tower, but was actually a VHF type antenna designed for FM frequencies. It was 80 feet tall. It was horizontally polarized, since that was all that was known or authorized for FM at the time. WLDM's 20kW ERP signal covered approximately 7500 square miles. The building had a large studio (A) designed for live music performance, which comprised the majority of the station's programming in the beginning. Primarily light classical pieces, interspersed with instrumentals from composers such as Mantovani. The station also began obtaining and playing music from reel to reel tapes from the limited sources available at the time. Recorded music was available, but primarily only on 78 RPM records, the audio quality of which was less than FM broadcasting could reproduce, and 16 rpm transcription records which also lacked good fidelity. It was felt that in order to showcase the superiority of FM, continuing with primarily live music and taped music was the best choice until the newer 33 rpm "high fidelity" records become more prevalent. It was the "Mix the Mozart with the Mantovani" type of programming. Light classical pieces and orchestral instrumentals, some broadway, showtunes and spoken word programs.

By 1951, high fidelity 16, 33 and 45 RPM vinyl records became readily available sources of music, as did higher quality turntables, and WLDM discontinued the live broadcasting. LP's became the mainstay of WLDM's music. They amassed a very large record library. 10,000 albums or more, with a number of duplicates in case one was damaged. And they maintained a philosophy that each piece of music, each song, was to be treated as an individual "performance". As such, cross-fading the songs was not permitted. A few seconds of silence was mandated between each cut. And only 1 cut per album was allowed. Board operators would alternate between 2 turntables. While 1 song was playing, the next was cued up and made ready. Pauses were also required between music and commercial breaks and between each commercial, ID, PSA. This programming philosophy was maintained throughout the station's history.

Although WLDM did have a decent number of advertisers by this time (over 30), a few enterprising and pioneering FM broadcasters like, Harold Tanner, were looking at something known as "storecasting" or "simplex" broadcasting to generate some additional revenue. WLDM was the first to begin a "storecasting" business in Detroit. Special FM receivers were installed in businesses such as offices, stores and restaurants. Speakers were installed throughout their building. The business would pay a monthly fee to receive only the music portion of the FM station's broadcast, no commercials, station ID's or voice elements. Sub-audible tones were sent out to mute and un-mute these receivers to make this possible. WLDM ran their commercials, ID's, PSA's only at :00, :15, :30 and :45. Thus, paid subscribers heard a few minutes of silence only 4 times an hour. Within a few years, WLDM had about 250 subscribers in the Detroit Metropolitan area and even in parts of Ohio. With the beginning of the simplex storecasting, programming on the station then became almost exclusively "beautiful music". Light, unobtrusive orchestral instrumentals. Here's a "short list"..

101 Strings Orchestra, Ronnie Aldrich, Leroy Anderson, Lex de Azevedo, Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Les Baxter, Ronald Binge, Stanley Black, Caravelli, Frank Chacksfield, Richard Clayderman, Eric Coates, Frank Cordell, Floyd Cramer, Syd Dale, Frank De Vol, Johnny Douglas, Carl Doy, Percy Faith, Robert Farnon, Ferrante & Teicher, Arthur Fiedler, James Galway, Geraldo (and his New Concert Orchestra), Jackie Gleason, Ron Goodwin, Morton Gould, Arthur Greenslade, Joe Harnell, Richard Hayman, Hollyridge Strings, Nick Ingman, Bob James, Bradley Joseph, Bert Kaempfert, André Kostelanetz, Francis Lai, James Last, Liberace, Enoch Light, Living Strings, Longines Symphonette, Geoff Love, Arthur Lyman, Henry Mancini, Mantovani, Ray Martin, Paul Mauriat, Robert Maxwell, George Melachrino, Wes Montgomery, Tony Mottola, Peter Nero, Cyril Ornadel, Norrie Paramor, Johnny Pearson, Frank Perkins, Franck Pourcel, Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra, David Rose, George Shearing Quintette, Felix Slatkin, Ernest Tomlinson, Sidney Torch, Billy Vaughn and his Orchestra, Lawrence Welk, Paul Weston, Charles Williams, John Williams, Roger Williams, Hugo Winterhalter, Victor Young, Werner Muller

There are likely 20 or so missing from this list, but you get the idea. WLDM had a HUGE library of albums, 10,000 I believe, with a very simple catalog system, and back-ups to virtually every album. Cuts on an album that were not to be played had a piece of white tape on them, and a notation. In some cases the cut was actually scratched with a razor blade to make it un-playable even if you took the tape off and cleaned it.. WLDM never played 2 cuts from the same album or orchestra in a row. Each album cut had a 3x5 index card.. The cards were meticulously arranged to create a full days playlist. Records were pulled, carefully cleaned by the board operator before playing. And the turntable stylus (needle if you wish) was carefully cleaned frequently with isopropyl alcohol and a Q-Tip. Board operators would alternate back and forth between 2 turntables, leaving a pause between cuts. The reason, as mentioned elsewhere on this site, was the belief that each selection was an individual performance. NO cross fading or overlap was allowed.

As FM technology moved along, something called "Multiplex" broadcasting was being developed. This allowed an FM station to add 1 or 2 "sub-carriers" to their FM signal which could only be received by a special receiver. Decent quality audio could be transmitted on these sub-carriers and had the same coverage area as the station's main signal. Around 1956 the FCC became involved with the matter of storecasting and regulating multiplex broadcasting which they called "Subsidiary Communications Authorization" (SCA). As this technology evolved, the FCC decided that "simplex" broadcasting needed to cease, was not considered broadcasting "in the public interest", and FM stations would need to move their paid "storecasting" subscribers to the multiplex service after making application to the FCC for SCA. Additionally, they ruled that the programming on the multiplex channel could NOT be an identical "simulcast" of what was on the main channel. It could, however, be the same type of music. Harold, representing many of the "simplex" broadcasters around the country petitioned the FCC to delay these mandates until the technology was further perfected and to give them time to make the expensive transition to not only new transmission and reception equipment, but also the means to provide a separate source of programming. By 1957, WLDM was the first to have completed the transition, becoming the MUZAK franchise for the Detroit Metropolitan area, and began slowly migrating it's 1000+ paid subscribers to the subcarrier. A MUZAK designed and provided "automation" system was installed to play the large 14" reels of "background" music tapes specifically to those clients. These tapes, of course, were provided by MUZAK. By February 1959, most all of the background music clients were now on the subcarrier.

With the ability to program the sub-carrier and main channel seperately, WLDM reverted back to it's original mixture of light classical music, some "heavier" classical pieces, and some instrumentals from the list of artists listed above. However, listeners to the station were NOT embracing this change at all. Having become endeared to the music being programmed to the storecast subscribers. It was therefore decided to return WLDM's programming to the instrumental beautiful music almost exclusively, played from vinyl by board operators. In order to further appease upset listeners and set the station apart from the competing automated stations, WLDM took maximum advantage of it's ability to control the music and began taking listener requests as well. This worked out VERY well for WLDM.

By 1958, stereo records and turntables were all the rage. And FM broadcast technology was about to capitalize on that. By 1959 serious talk of broadcasting full range stereo on FM began. Harold was beyond excited, believing this would give FM just one more edge over AM, and, hopefully, make AM obsolete one day. By 1960, as the FCC finalized rules and technical specs for FM stereo, Harold began a plan to retrofit or replace the station's mono studio gear to be able to implement stereo. Though WLDM did have a large number of stereo albums, most were Hi-Fi mono. Finding and buying stereo replacements for all of the mono vinyl was begun. In addition to that, it was decided to implement a major power increase, and purchase new higher power state of the art transmitters specifically designed for SCA and stereo. An application to increase power to 165,000 watts was submitted to the FCC, and approved, as was the request to begin stereo broadcasting. In the early days of FM stereo, the FCC believed that it would be deceptive to the public who had purchased FM stereo receivers if an FM station operated in stereo - thus lighting the "stereo" light on the receiver - while broadcasting mono material. This applied to music only, not voice. And in their infinite wisdom, the FCC crafted a ruling that if you were in stereo and were broadcasting music in mono, you had to turn off the stereo "pilot" which would extinguish the "stereo" light on receivers, and you had (i believe) 3 minutes to do that without being in violation of the rule. Being the first stereo FM in Detroit, Harold NEVER wanted that stereo light to go off, nor did he want anything but stereo music on the air. So even before implementing stereo, all mono records were removed from the music library. (Many years later when virtually all FM stations were stereo and virtually all musical recordings were in stereo, that FCC rule was abolished.)

A company named General Electronic Laboratories in Cambridge Mass., which had government contracts to manufacture radar and other high tech electronics, decided in 1959 to capitalize on SCA multiplex broadcasting and the coming of FM stereo and design and build what would be some of the finest FM transmitters of the time. Complete with exciters equipped with your choice of SCA generators, and a stereo generator. WLDM ordered 2 of the 15kW models, mirror images of each other, which were to be licensed as "main" (serial #10) and "alternate main" (serial#12) transmitters.. They were each equipped with subcarrier generators (67kHz) and stereo generators. WLDM's alternate main transmitter was displayed at the 1961 NAB convention at GEL's booth #12. In additional to the transmitters, a large water-cooled "dummy load" for transmitter testing was also purchased.

WLDM also purchased a 16 bay Jampro horizontally polarized antenna, equipped with de-icers, which was mounted on the southeast leg of their tower, and fed with new transmission line. The original WinCharger antenna was kept as a backup. The new Jampro, when fed with 15kW produced the station's "super-power" 165,000 watts ERP. The WinCharger backup would produce 100,000 watts ERP with a 15kW input. In June 1961, WLDM hit the air with it's new super power and full range stereo. Detroit's first "super power" FM station and first full-time FM stereo station. WLDM's new coverage area was 20,106 square miles. The station could be heard as far away as Columbus Ohio in full stereo. (In fact, a background music provider in Ohio was "pirating" WLDM's sub-carrier and had a large number of clients receiving WLDM's background music service.) Harold's belief in FM stereo along with the huge increase in power resulted in his large investment paying off, as the station had nearly 150 advertisers within the first year or so, including many who were pioneers in producing the first stereo commercials such as The J.L. Hudson Company and Chevrolet. WLDM became the top rated FM in Detroit for many many years. One of WLDM's biggest advertisers, who had been with the station through it's entire existence was WITBECK household appliance in Ferndale. Other advertisers included virtually every automobile manufacturer in Detroit, most every bank, The J.L. Hudson Company, and the list goes on.

FM broadcasters like Harold pushed relentlessly with the help of the NAB and NAFMB for automakers to include FM and FM stereo radios in automobiles, as well as push electronic manufacturers for more portable FM/FM stereo radios. Harold decided that to reach these receivers more effectively, he would deploy another new innovation, vertical polarization of the signal, known back then as "Verta-Power". In 1966 a 12 bay Jampro vertical antenna was installed on the southwest leg of the tower, adding 43,000 watts ERP of vertical signal to the existing 165,000 watts ERP horizontal signal. This resulted in a marked signal improvement all over the Detroit Metro area and far beyond to car, portable and table top radios. WLDM was the first to use vertical polarization in Detroit.

WLDM was doing quite well. Sometime in late 1969 or early 1970, Harold decided to sell the MUZAK franchise with it's then 1500+ clients to Fetzer Broadcasting, who had the MUZAK franchise in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and surrounding areas. The agreement was that all the clients needed to be off the WLDM subcarrier as soon as possible so it could be turned off. By late 1970 or early 1971, that was accomplished. Not an easy feat for Fetzer. (A subcarrier was leased on WHFI 94.7, licensed to Birmingham and transmitting with 20,000 watts from a 250 foot tower on Rankin Road in Troy. Needless to say, the coverage wasn't anywhere near that of WLDM, so many subscribers needed to be fed with leased phone circuits.) The sub-carrier on WLDM was turned off, which did clean up the stereo signal. One of the artifacts created in some FM stereo receivers of the day when stereo and sub-carriers were both used was often referred to as "birdies" or "monkey chatter". Some multipath issues were also eliminated.

With a pocket full of money from the sale of the MUZAK business, Harold was able to upgrade all of the WLDM studio equipment, production room equipment and get new audio processing gear. Of course, that's not exactly how it happened. As the story goes, the station's engineer (John Allen), and a number of other people there were quite frustrated and disgruntled at all the modified and retrofitted studio equipment (junk) still there from the 1961 conversion to stereo. Much of it from the early 1950's. Although there were discussions of upgrading things, it wasn't high on Harold's to-do list, although it was his sincere intention to do it "in the future". A scheme was devised. Harold was planning a long vacation. When he left, an order was placed in his name for the new equipment, and some new studio furniture for the control room. It all arrived. It was installed. The old junk was stashed in the attic. Harold returned a few weeks later, walking into a station with a new control room, new production room, new audio processing, and an invoice from the broadcast equipment supplier.

When i started working there, i was blessed with the new equipment, which was quite impressive compared to what many stations had at the time. Although it was certainly not "The" best available. In 1973 or so, new solid state FM exciters with higher quality stereo generators were on the market. It was decided to retire one of the GEL tube type exciters, and a new McMartin model B-910 exciter with stereo generator module was purchased and installed in the main transmitter. A Remarkable improvement. Another McMartin B-910 was purchased shortly thereafter and installed in the alternate main transmitter. Around 1973, Harold was approached by a entreprenuer who wanted to lease a sub-carrier on the station to distribute data to a local grocery store chain which originated from the chain's corporate office. Corporate would call into a modem at the WLDM studios, and send pricing and inventory data to all of their stores simultaneously, which was printed out at the stores. The 67kHz sub-carrier was turned back on, and for a while this innovative use of an FM station's sub-carrier to transmit data "point to multi-point" instead of audio programming was a first. And it did provide a bit of additional revenue to WLDM.

Interestingly, WLDM was never a 24 hour operation.. For most all of it's history, the station signed on at 5:30am with the Star Spangled Banner, and signed off at 2:00am just the same way..The 5:30am to 6am slot was generally dedicated to a couple of public service type programs. Since beautiful music stations (Especially WLDM) were played in offices, restaurants, stores, and at home during the day and at dinner in the evening, they likely had few listeners in those wee hours of the morning between 2am and 5:30am. And, the same held true for the background music subscribers. When the Restaurants and bars closed at 2am, there were virtually no listeners to that either.

WLDM had a weekday morning program for many many years, which was done by Jack Alan (Allen B. Hendry). Jack had WHITE hair with a slight blue tint and a rosy pink complexion. That earned him the fond nickname "the pink and blue man". (Which some attributed to me..) A very distinguished gentleman. The morning show consisted of slightly more upbeat music he liked, some of which he brought from home, and some light chit chat, news, weather. He would also take requests from listeners. If memory serves me, his show started at 6am and ended at 8am.. Jack also did the "Saturday Night Dance Party" on WLDM which ran for many many years and was very popular. This ran from 9pm until Midnight. A little more upbeat than his morning show, the music consisted of the "swing and sway" dance music featuring all of the big bands. At 11:30pm, 1 special polka selection was played. Most of the music came from Jack's personal collection, some of it very old and in mint condition. (And a lot of it monaural.) These live shows were done with Jack in the production room, which was put on the air from the control room. The music was played in the control room as well. Jack would quite frequently bring his wife Emily in on Saturday evening, who was the sweetest most charming elegant woman you'd ever want to know..

WLDM ran a number of taped religious and public service type programs on Sunday morning from sign on until 9am or so.

WLDM plugged along, Harold was there every day of the year, with the exception of a short vacation once every couple of years. However, ratings sagged miserably throughout the early 1970's as listeners moved to WJR-FM, WWJ-FM, WNIC FM & AM and Metromedia's WOMC. By 1974, the station no longer even subscribed to the Arbitron ratings. Harold thought that Arbitron was crooked, and that your ratings were proportional to how much you paid them.

WLDM attempted to diversify it's programming with a wide variety of music, including some big bands, jazz, semi-classical, guitar instrumentals, ping-pong stereo demos, on rare occasions a Kingston Trio cut, and, quite annoying to female listeners, a liberal sprinkling of *marches*. Although you could hear any kind or tempo of music at any time of the day or night, the average playlist was intentionally varied throughout the day. Mornings featured a wide variety, things slowed down in mid-afternoon, picked up again for the afternoon drive which was spiked with big bands, then abruptly quieted down for two hours of "Music by Candlelight" at 6:00 PM. After 11:00 PM you'd hear the most jazz. Weekends had even more variety, with Jack Alan's Saturday Night Stereo Dance Party, and Bob Conger's "Sunday Symphony", two hours of classical music every Sunday morning.

The competitors, with their canned music services, had a new idea. Their sound was strictly the likes of Living Strings, Mantovani, Bert Kaempfert, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith and Henry Mancini, being careful to avoid the more creative works of the latter two. And they sounded exactly the same in each of the day's 24 hours.

During this period, the competitors apparently committed to the FCC the absolute minimum news and public affairs acceptable to avoid having their license renewals challenged. Their newscasts were read so quietly and at such random times that their listeners hardly noticed them. This was in stark contrast to WLDM. Seemingly by default, WLDM increased its news and public affairs content from 1973-1978, with an average of 5 minutes of news at the top of most hours, usually UPI copy read by beginner boardops, with no consistent style. Then there was Harold's punchy 5:00 PM stock market report that included a reading of closing stock prices and often rambled on for ten minutes or more. And yes, in 1975 we heard about Generalissimo Francisco Franco every hour on the hour. Saturday Night Live and Chevy Chase did *not* make that up.

During the later part of the 1970s, feeling it no longer necessary to maintain beautiful music for stores, restaurants and offices (and probably to bolster sagging revenues) the fragmentation also eroded the music programming further. Two hours on Saturday morning were given over to salesman Ron Heller, who, with his two "good lookin' gals" (which he picked up at a talent or modeling agency) and board op Gary Dwyer. Quite a bit of talking on the air, and a lot of vocal solos being played. The program was called "Out Woodward Way". During the week Ron was out selling air time to the merchants on Woodward Ave. from Ferndale to Pontiac. He didn't sell that much, but it was more than the station usually sold. The reality was, he indeed was selling A LOT. It was later discovered (after he left the state and disappeared) that he was embezzling most of the money, handing only a small portion over to the station. Several years were devoted to hunting him down. He was never found.

Two hours on Sunday evenings, for a couple years, were given over to Ken Collins for Jazz in Stereo. He played some *real* jazz, not just jazzy cuts by Henry Mancini, including jazz vocalists. This certainly did not go over well with the bulk of WLDM's audience.

Then in 1973 Texaco began to migrate its weekly live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from AM to FM stereo stations, via the new 15 KHz equalized long-distance stereo phone lines which AT&T had just invented. For some reason they couldn't come to an agreement to broadcast on WQRS-FM, the classical station in Detroit, and Harold sold them three hours every Saturday afternoon on WLDM. Certainly, this greatly endeared WLDM to opera lovers, but just as certainly caused another big chunk of WLDM's casual beautiful-music listeners to retune their radios.

The final straw was when Harold sold the prime half hour of morning drive, 7:15-7:45, five days a week, to the Worldwide Church of God. "The World Tomorrow" program, arriving on 7-inch reels from Pasadena, consisted of Garner Ted Armstrong pontificating his weird perspectives on religion, science and politics.

But even before this final fragmentation had started, it was too late for WLDM. The consistency had paid off for the competitors. They had most all of the casual beautiful-music listeners, leaving WLDM with only a small audience of hard-core music afficionados and those who enjoyed poorly done "rip-and-read" news broadcasts.

The station wasn't what it once was. Harold was getting older. No children to pass the station down too. So i believe he began to contemplate selling his "baby", which was really his whole life. Combined Communications came along looking for an FM station in the Detroit market, and made Harold an offer in mid 1977. A rather generous offer at that time believe or not. Two Million dollars and 25,000 shares of Combined Communications Corporation stock. He accepted. The deal was consummated. Once the FCC approved the license transfer on April 20, 1978, Combined took control of WLDM in mid 1978.

Combined brought in a young Los Angeles native, Fritz Beesemyer, who had worked for Combined in Phoenix, to manage the station. Fritz spent his first day firing all of the employees except four or five. The first one to go, about 8:30 AM, lunch-bucket in hand, was Program Director Dick Kortjohn. Dick was replaced immediately with Bob Gaskins, who had also moved in from Combined's operations in the southwest and was given the title of Operations Manager. The employees who remained were Henrietta Jennings, the office manager; young Dave Kosh, who was the afternoon drive board op/newscaster but was generously demoted to the midnight shift; a high-school student from Detroit who was the janitor, possibly named Dele; and Jerry Krinock, the station's 22-year old chief engineer who had inherited the job a year or so earlier when Bill Chappell left to join WJBK-TV. It's also possible that traffic manager Roz Johnson survived, although she may in fact have been hired by Fritz during the first few days of Combined.

Combined changed the call letters to WCZY (COZY) and used the old building for a very short time. A newer temporary control room was built in the large Studio A. Tom Churchill of Churchill Productions was commissioned to provide new music tapes to the station, which were played manually on 3 very nice Ampex ATR-100 reel to reel decks. The music was a somewhat "updated" beautiful music format with vocals. "COZY" had live on-air announcers as well.
Jerry Krinock worked with the architect on the design of a new studio/office building and new transmitter building. They first built the new transmitter building near the base of the tower. Jerry did the research on a new antenna, which was approved by Dennis Gooch who was the Director of engineering for Combined. The new transmitter building was built first, and Jerry installed the new transmitters and other gear just before he left. He was replaced by another young chief engineer, Hal Buttermore. Hal must have had the pleasure of turning them on for the first time. The GEL transmitters were removed from the building to make more room. The WinCharger antenna was disconnected and removed from the top of the tower. It was replaced with a slightly taller pole, on which the new Harris 6 Bay circularly polarized antenna was installed, licensed for 100kW ERP. . The station's "grandfathered" super power of 165,000 watts was sacrificed in favor of the increased height of the new antenna. In reality, the pattern distortions and nulls of the seperate leg mounted Jampro horizontal and vertical antennas on a large self-supporting tower, as well as their lower height made the whole antenna system undesirable. The new antenna proved to yield a markedly superior signal over the metro, which is what Jerry had predicted. And at 100,000 watts, this was (and still is) quite a potent signal in the Detroit market. Still making 95.5 the second most powerful signal in the market next to WOMC. The new studio/office building was then built in front of the old WLDM building, and the old building was abandoned and demolished and hauled away.. Later, when WLQV AM 1500 was purchased as a "sister" station to WCZY, a somewhat larger addition to the new building was built where the old WLDM building sat, and the two were joined together into one. All that remains of WLDM today is the original tower, still being used, radiating the 100,000 watt signal of what is now Clear Channel's WKQI 95.5. The newer studio/office building there is no longer used for WKQI and was sold. The WKQI studios have been moved out to the palatial Clear Channel building in Farmington Hills, with all of Clear Channels other Detroit stations.


Throughout it's history, WLDM wasn't always the only "Beautiful Music" station in Detroit. Others came and went. There was WJR-FM, WWJ-FM, WOMC-FM, WQTE-AM and later WNIC FM & AM. In the case of WJR-FM and WWJ-FM, both of these companies owned very successful and highly rated AM stations in the market. Their FM's were operated as an "after thought" almost, running pre-recorded music tapes from a music service using the mechanical automation systems of the day tucked away in a closet somewhere. Rarely would you even hear commercials on either station. In the case of WOMC-FM, which Harold considered the closest thing to being a competitor of WLDM, they too ran pre-recorded music tapes from one of the various music services using an automation system. Owner Sparks Broadcasting owned WEXL-AM for many years. Their FM came on the air about the same time WLDM did, as WEXL-FM. It started out simulcasting the AM programming, but later it was decided to program it seperately with beautiful music, specifically to compete with WLDM, so the call letters were changed to give the FM it's own identity. Sparks paid a little more attention to the music on WOMC, and did sell commercial time. They were "somewhat" successful, too. WQTE-AM, a stand-alone station, came up with the clever idea of putting "FM programming on AM" to try and capitalize on the success of stations like WLDM and the others. . Something Harold thought was absurd and ridiculous. Much later, after it's "heyday" of being WKNR "Keener 13 and FM100" and few other formats, those stations were sold, changed call letters to WNIC FM & AM (NICE 13 and FM100) around 1972 and switched to beautiful music using a large automation system. WNIC had a substantial library of music on vinyl, so opted to not use a music service, and rather carted up music which was loaded into cart "carousels". This gave them the ability to have much more control over the music and rotation. Over the years, many of the music service companies, which usually offered automation equipment as well, approached Harold and tried to persuade him to sign up with them. Companies such as IGM, Schulke (SRP), Schafer and others, who had numerous stations around the country using their services were frequent visitors to WLDM. But Harold had some very specific and logical reasons for showing these folks the door. The first reason was that WLDM had much larger vinyl music library than any of the music services of the day. Secondly, these services created their master music tapes from vinyl, then high-speed duplicated them. This resulted in a loss of audio quality as compared to playing the vinyl directly on air. Thirdly, many of the companies "bicycled" their tapes around. You'd get a batch of tapes, play them, then send them to the next station. The audio quality of the tapes further degrading from being played a number of times, especially if the station(s) ahead of you didn't clean and de-magnetize their reel to reel tape deck heads. Forth, you really had no local control over the music programming anymore, nor could you play requests. Fifth, most of the services insisted on a few vocal selections in each hour, usually 1 per quarter hour, and Harold DID NOT play vocals on WLDM. Sixth, music services recorded the tapes with cue tones such that they over-lapped, one song starting over the tail end of the previous song, and commercials starting over the tail end of a song . Harold always HATED that with a passion and it was not allowed on WLDM. Seventh, tapes broke, automation systems with their reel to reel decks, cart players (single decks or multi-cart decks such as the carousel, go-cart or insta-cart) required substantially more maintenence than did a couple of decent quality turntables and few cart machines. Eighth, there was no cost savings in personnel, since someone would be needed to be at the station all the time anyway to baby sit the automation, change music tapes and carts, clean the machines, control the transmitter, take transmitter readings, etc. That being the case, why not have that person play the records and commercials on the air just as the station had always done. As an enticement to sign up for the music service, many companies offered the automation system and music service for free, in a barter arrangement where the station would turn over a significant amount of commercial avail time. Harold did not wish to do that either.

Of course, as you've already read above, those automated canned music services (and the stations that used them) had the benefit of a lot of research and ultimately proved to be more successful in the Detroit market and other markets around the country.


WLDM had a relatively small staff, at least when i was there. There was Harold Tanner, the owner. He also did sales. Jack Alan, who did sales and the above mentioned 2 programs. Bob Conger, also a sales person. Ron Heller also did sales for a short time. These were essentially "THE" voices of WLDM. They recorded the commercials, Legal ID's some of the PSA's. Harold and Jack would do news and weather. The many board operators were not heard on the air, except in cases of breaking news or weather bulletins when Harold, Jack, Bob or Ron were not in the building. Richard N. Kortjohn (Korky) was the "program director" who sat in an office buried in hundreds of thousands of 3x5 index cards building playlists for each day of the week. As i mentioned earlier, Jack Alan was known as the "pink and blue man". His fond nickname for Richard Kortjohn was "old fuzz nuts". How that came about, i was never compelled to ask. Henrietta Jennings was the receptionist, answered the phones, did traffic, billing, and generally was Harold's right hand lady. Henrietta worked at WLDM for some time, and continued working for all the following owners of the station, through all the incarnations of the station. She retired from the station's current owner, Clear Channel, in 2008 i believe. A WONDERFUL lady. Bill Chappell was the station's engineer. Leanne Chappell, Bill's sister filled in for Henrietta when she was off. Some of the board operators that worked there were William N. Hoste, Gary Dwyer, Bob Kuszynski, Ron Steele, Mike Murray, Randy Carr, Leonard Menninger (Len Roberts), Phil Brick, Camille Bergeron, Jeff Secunda (who later married Camille), Dave Okon, Dave Kosh, who i believe may be in the Tampa Bay Florida area and has worked in jazz radio for some time. Ken Collins who did a program called "Jazz in Stereo" on WLDM. Lloyd Chamberlain (a.k.a Cricket) who worked for Detroit Edison was the official WLDM tower climber when lights needed changing. There was Jerry Krinock, who was the engineer for some time after Bill Chappell left, and one those handful of folks lucky enough to continue on with Combined Communications when they purchased WLDM. There are more, and the names will come to me. Gail McCauley, later married and became Gail McKnight worked the front desk for a short time and went on to become an on-air person at another Detroit station. One of the more notable people that worked as a board operator was Doug Banks, who went on to be quite famous and is still doing the syndicated Doug Banks Radio Show. Some of the people that worked there prior to my time include William Mendoza, John G. Allen, Richard J. Bernard, Jerome F. Steadley, Richard E. (Dick) Burris. Dick Burris, incidentally, while still working at WLDM, applied for and was granted a license in May 1960 for a station in Detroit. 99.5, WABX. Which he programmed with classical music. It's transmitter and antenna was located on the David Stott Building in Detroit, and had a power of 36,000 watts. The studios were located in The David Stott Building as well. After less than 2 years, and losing his ass, Dick sold station to Mid-States Broadcasting for $24,479. Several other owners followed, one of which was Century Broadcasting, who relocated the station's studios to 8 Mile Road and Coolidge in Oak Park, and turned it into a legendary Detroit radio station in it's own right.. Harold Tanner passed away in 1981. His 2 partners, John A. Ross and Ellis C. Thompson have passed away. Jack Alan left us in 1982, preceded by his wife Emily in 1979. Richard Kortjohn in 1996. I'll pursue the status of more people as time permits.

Witbeck Appliance was one of WLDM's longest running advertisers. I believe Harold was very close friends with Gary Witbeck and the Witbeck family. Here is what Gary Witbeck said about WLDM. "A. V. Witbeck operates a leading Detroit appliance store (mostly GE lines), is an FM and stereo booster. Except for a few small newspaper ads each year, we're exclusively an FM stereo advertiser on WLDM, and use six to 18 spots a day. We get the people with more money and have less than 25% installment buying. The store once moved 531 kitchen disposals in 10 days on WLDM, a feat that astonished the GE organization."



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