The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit WMMS: A Cleveland Legend Turns 40 opens Friday, August 29. The display pays tribute to the storied radio station, which shaped FM radio.
"WMMS was Cleveland radio," says Rock Hall curator Meredith Rutledge. "It really redefined what radio was, not only in Cleveland but nationally. It really pushed the envelope."
In the '70s and '80s, the station helped break artists like Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and the Pretenders as national favorites. Like the Rock Hall itself, the station had a broad definition of what rock 'n' roll could be: If it sounded good, WMMS played it. Nicknamed "the Buzzard" after its iconic mascot, the station was a driving force in successfully lobbying to build the Rock Hall in Cleveland.
Rolling Stone readers voted the station "Radio Station of the Year" nine years in a row, from 1979 to 1987. In 1986, the magazine's readers also voted it "Best Radio Station, Large Market." The accomplishment was commemorated with a special regional cover that featured the Buzzard, displacing a rising young band called U2.
The exhibit will include artist David Helton's original Buzzard design, photos of the golden-age staff, gold and platinum records dedicated to the station and audio from DJs such as the legendary "Kid Leo" Travagliante and Len "Boom Boom" Goldberg.
"It was a unique place at a unique time in both Cleveland's history and popular culture in general," says former 'MMS Program Director John Gorman, who documented the era in the book The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio. "We broke more new music out of Cleveland than anywhere else in the country. It was also considered to have the best news, weather and sports. Our success was due to teamwork and a drive to survive and thrive. We wanted to be the world's greatest rock 'n' roll station, and we pulled it off."
¥ The Ohio Hip-Hop Awards are set for Saturday, September 20, at the Cleveland Convention Center. Sam Sylk and Simone Party will host. Ballots are online at www.ohiohiphopawards.com.
¥ Cleveland-based label Telarc has released the soundtrack to Woody Allen's new film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in which Penélope Cruz makes out with Scarlett Johansson. The soundtrack's international pop music includes Spanish band Giulia y Los Tellarini, but no audio from the make-out scene.
¥ California indie label The Militia Group has set October 28 as the release date for The Sucker Punch Show, the new album from Canton's Lovedrug. To tide fans over, the post-emo band has put up a rockin' new track, "Everyone Needs a Halo," at www.myspace.com/lovedrug.
¥ Just short of its 70th year as a bar, the club at West 46th and Storer streets will host its last show Sunday, August 31. Since 1964, the venue has been Verlie's Café, home to countless jam nights and regular shows by a spectrum of artists from rockers Dohm to jazz chanteuse Kristine Jackson. Owner Vickie Verlie, who plays in house band the Whammer Jammers, says closing is due to "a lot of factors - the neighborhood. There's not a lot of parking. The economy. It's too much for me to handle." The final bash runs from 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., with live music all day.