WAZE - A History
WAZE-AM 860 Clearwater – WAZE (The Wonderful World of Music), owned by Radio Clearwater, Inc. (former WTAN sales manager Chuck Adams and PD/chief engineer Gene Allen Robinson), began operations in November 1959 as a 500-watt daytimer. The station operated from offices and studios in the Gray Moss Inn, across from the Ft. Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, with a four-tower transmitter site positioned along U.S. 19. The two former WTAN’ers programmed a pop music format then but, by the early 1970’s, had turned it into a fairly successful big band jazz and easy listening station.
Robinson and Adams also promoted live concerts in the hotel’s ballroom featuring big band jazz artists like Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, The Four Freshmen, Duke Ellington, Harry James, and Buddy Rich. Recording engineer Ron Hitchcock preserved on tape for WAZE some performances from 1971 and 1972 by Kenton, James, Herman, and the Freshmen and have since made them available on CD through his Hitchcock-Media.com Records. These concerts eventually led to the establishment of the Clearwater Jazz Festival.
In 1974, Robinson and Adams sold WAZE to former Pittsburgh deejay Carl Marcocci (Three Rivers Communications, Inc.) who replaced the jazz format – first with contemporary MOR and then oldies. Marcocci sold WAZE in 1982 to Efrain Archilla-Roig who flipped the station to all Spanish WAMA.
Other names in WAZE’s history include: Scott Dilworth (PD-1960), Harry Prior (news director-1960), Harnold Falconnier (PD-1964), Richard Whiting (news director-1964), Ron Powell (Ron Hitchcock-1963; music director-1971), Fred Sanders (PD-1968), Mike Apsey (music director-1969; Mike produced Mercy's "Love Can Make You Happy" and left WAZE as the song peaked at #2 in Billboard), Ed Bray (1970), Jerry Binkley (PD-1971), Dave McKay (David McElroy 1972-73), Duane Lemley (station manager-1974), Dave Rhodes (operations, program & music director-1974), C.L. Bover (chief engineer-1974), Bob Campo (mid 70’s), Frank Ferreri (PD/operations 1976-80), Dean Grossman (late 70's), Jonathan Apple (late 70's), Bruce O'Brien (late 70's), Martin Binder (sales manager-1979), John Baswell (PD-1979), Normajeanne Anderson (sales manager), Tony Tallman (sales manager), Shauna Stevens (mornings 1980’s), Bob Hatfield (PD), Bob Hughes, Jeff Rogo, Roger Schulman, and Charlie Champion.
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1959 - 1982 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)