Rock Hall Panel Revisits WMMS's Past and Speculates About Radio's Future

David Heltons Buzzard
  • David Helton's Buzzard

People who weren’t around or who were too young to remember Cleveland in the ’70s and ’80s might wonder why anyone would make a fuss over a mundane “guyzone” station like WMMS, with its bland commercial hard rock and its focus on sports and hot babes — appealing to a specific group of males under 30.

Today, five people who were pivotal in creating the WMMS legend spoke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum about what made the station so dominant in Cleveland and so influential nationwide — and speculated on whether that influence and dominance could be replicated in today’s very different music and media climate.

Rock Hall vice president Jim Henke moderated the panel which included Billy Bass, the station’s first on-air star and music director who laid the groundwork for what the station would become; Denny Sanders, its evening air personality and behind-the-scenes guide; John Gorman, the hyper-competitive program director who took the station to the top of the ratings; Gaye Ramstrom, longtime station sales rep; and Walt Tiburski, whose 45 years in radio management included lengthy stints at both WMMS and WNCX.

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