by Eric Sandy
Currently working as a children's book illustrator in Chattanooga, Tenn. (from which he originally hails), Helton now looks back on those days fondly, according to his interview with writer Bill Ramsey.
He explained that the character was born out of protest against a modification to the station's airing of the National Lampoon Radio Hour. After program director John Gorman caught wind of the design and absolutely freakin' loved it, Helton was ushered into the canon of Cleveland rock history.
The Buzzard was an immediate hit and the station developed its entire identity around character. As WMMS skyrocketed in the ratings during its 1970s heyday as the prototypical free-form rock radio station, Helton’s own career took flight, eventually leaving his greeting card job to work almost full time for WMMS. For the next 20 years, he would update The Buzzard for print and television ads promoting the station and some of rock’s biggest names, bands such as Rush, one of many groups the station first introduced to American rock fans.