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WDNL-WDAN Danville History(WDNL/D-102)

The WDAN Years (1938- )

The Early Days of WDAN Radio

On October 28, 2008, WDAN hosted a special broadcast which took place from it's original home, the Wolford Hotel, which is now housing for seniors.  Neuhoff Broadcastings Mike Hulvey along with former WDAN/WDNL staff members gathered to reminisce about their time with WDAN and/or WDNL.  

Those former employees included Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, John Kesler now with Emmis Broadcasting in Indianapolis(WIBC-FM), Ted Baer and WDAN/WDNL former general manager Doug Quick. Others there included a woman, who is the grand mother of a current employee who performed at WDAN as a young girl in the 1940's, State Representative Bill Black, Fowler Connell and others.

The 70th Anniversary Broadcast originated in the street level lounge of the housing complex, but the real treasure was just a few feet below where we were, in the original studio of WDAN from 1938 to 1948. It was during a break in this broadcast when we were able to tour a good portion of the original floor plan of the studio which was left to us, some 70 years later to examine as if it was a broadcast time capsule!
   Below are pictures which I took at the event of the actual original WDAN studios used between 1938 and 1948.   The former studios are currently being used as storage, but the artifacts of a broadcast studio are still visible.

The master control studio which faces a window that looked into Studio A at the south was connected by an air lock passageway that ran along the west wall of the master control into studio A. That same airlock also opened up to Studio B which was located just to the north of the master control room. Yet another window was on the north side of Studio B which looked into the general manager's office. The airlock hallway also had a window on it's west wall which looked into the lobby of the station.

There were other rooms in the original floor plan, but the walls were eliminated to open the space to a large storage area used by the maintenance staff of the complex.


The Danville Commercial News of Oct 28, 1938 announcing the new local radio station.  Courtesy of Neuhoff Broadcasting.



Also, there were wires hanging from over the studio doors which formerly were connected to “On Air” lights. These lights were more than likely transferred to the WDAN studios on Washington Street. There are pictures taken in 1938 on display at the current studios of WDAN, showing Studio A which included a distinctive large wall clock that is still in use today at the current studios! With the transfer of that clock being evidence of a probable transfer of other radio station appliances, it's reasonable to assume the “on air” lights probably went to the 1948 location as well.



The perforated wall panels for sound absorbs ion were removed during the remodeling of the building for senior apartments. It was probably done as part of the removal of asbestos, as these wall panels hid bags of asbestos which was used as sound absorption material. Even though the panels and the sound absorption material were removed the walls were still solid with a concrete or plaster surface. Most of the glass between the studios were removed sometime in the last 60 years, but there were a couple which remained. Each glass window contained two panels of glass, one panel vertically mounted, then another which was at a slight angle to deflect sound away from the opening, making it more sound proof. In the one or two remaining openings which still had glass, the angled glass was removed from each.

The master control floor was raised about 8 inches or so to allow wiring to run in troughs to both studios, while being connected to a control board which would have been in master control. The floor was of course concrete, but still had the intricate tiles which would have given the lobby area a terrific elegant look. The floor tiles elsewhere were either 9 or 12 inch squares and were peeling up from their former resting place in the studios.
In the late 1940's, the studios were moved to the current location, a newly designed studio (see History of WICD-TV Part 1).  Many of the same features, design elements were carried over to the new facility which was built around the original transmitter building.  Sometime around 1960, WDAN  was moved downtown to the Commercial-News building.  Although it's not known exactly why, in could have been either a cost cutting move, or to allow for the total lease of the building to Plains Television which purchased WDAN-TV and leased the studios through 1967.  See History of WICD-Part 1 for details.

The letter above from WDAN was sent to Clarence "Bud" McMasters and Harold Arnett after they won the "Penry Amateur Hour"(Penry's was a local furniture store which was in business through the early 1970's).  This letter was sent by Bill Adams from WDAN to the pair, pictured above.   Harold is the dark haired boy, while Bud is the blond haired boy.  (Scan of the original letter courtesy of "Bud" McMasters)


WDAN Program Highlights from 1953
WDAN ad from 1953

(Above-left) A sample of a daily detailed description of what was to be featured on WDAN radio, published each day in the Danville Commercial News, the owner of WDAN radio.  (Above-right) Local sports has always been the back-bone of local news-sports coverage on WDAN.  This is an advertisement of a basketball game between Effingham, Illinois' St. Anthony's High School playing the Danville Catholic High School, Schlarman High School. It's assumed the picture is that of Max Shaffer.


WDAN continued to operate from the Commercial-News building through the very early 1970's, when the radio station was sold to a number of the employees, operating as First Danville Radio.  Former WDAN traffic director and personality Jeanne
Eisenhauer talked about the day of the Kennedy assassination and broadcasting the news from CBS from the Commercial-News/WDAN studios located at the lower level.  More on the First Danville Radio ownership below.  

Later in the early 1970's when the Commercial-News ownership, Gannett Publishing sold the station to First Danville radio the studio at the transmitter site was revitalized and continues to be used by the current owners of the radio stations.

 
The Original WDAN Studios used from 1938 to 1948 (A Broadcasting Time Capsule visited 60 years later, in 2008)


Harry Eisenhauer and John Kesler touring the former WDAN studios


This shows the tiles of the master control room, with a step down into the lower level floor of one of the studios.


One of the windows still in place between the airlock hallway and what was the lobby.  Now, there is a newly built wall just to the west of the window dividing the former studio to another storage area.


The window between Studio A and  master control still containing the vertical glass.  The molding which held the missing angled glass is still evident.

This was taken from the master control studio looking into studio B, which then overlooks the general managers office.


Here is the general Manager's office.  It's clear of all storage items because the original door has been covered and the only way into the space is through the opened studio window.  The chair rail molding and the baseboard is still in place along with the deteriorating plaster walls.  The tile floor is still in place.
 
This is the view from studio A into the backside of the newly built wall.  It formerly overlooked the lobby of WDAN.

Check out the intricate tile flooring which is still on the floor of the basement studios.





Pictured here is Mike Hulvey, Scott Eisenhauer, John Kesler and Doug Quick at the WDAN 70th Anniversary Broadcast


From the
WDAN 70th Anniversary Broadcast with Mike Hulvey, John Kesler, Scott Eisenhauer, Bill Black and Sue Richter from the Vermilion County Museum.


A lighter moment, and there were plenty from the WDAN 70th.  Pictured here are Bill Black, Sue Richter, Ted Baer and Mike Hulvey.



In 1988, as General Manager of WDAN/WDNL I felt compelled to salute the 50th year of WDAN.  We had at the station
a number of audio tapes of a number of old CBS radio programs from the 1940's and 1950's....so what better way to
celebrate 50 years than do a reflection of the early days of WDAN and air those programs again.  I scheduled them on
Sunday, October 23, 1988 and produced and engineered the shows with commercials and special sponsors.  We also aired a number of
reunion interviews conducted by Jeanne
Eisenhauer with former WDAN employees as well.  Above is a special
Golden Anniversary Showcase listener guide as to what was being aired, along with WDAN history.








WDAN Major Players
Max Shaffer, John Eckert and Bill Shoup

In the early 1970's, when Northwest Publishing sold the radio properties of WDAN/WDAN-FM it was purchased by a group consisting in part by Max Shafer (pictured far left) and John Eckert (pictured immediate right).  Max Shafer would continue as general manager and sports director, while John Eckert would continue as sales manager.  Bob Burow (center) was the station manager from 1953 through the early 1960's.  The other major owner of First Danville Radio was chief engineer Bill Shoup (believed to be pictured below at top left at the open house of WDAN-TV in 1953).  Ownership also included a number of other investors both employees and no employees of the station.

Upon the purchase of WDAN/WDAN-FM, the call letters of WDAN-FM were changed to WMBJ, with each letter representing a major owner of the stations.  "M" for Max Shaffer, "B" for Bill Shop and "J" for John Eckert.  When First Danville Radio assumed ownership of the AM/FM combo, the facility would move back into the studios at 1500 N. Washington.   The building was totally vacated by Plains Television when WICD, Channel 24 was developed into WICD, Channel 15 in 1967.  The transmitter-tower-antenna location would be deserted for its present location in the Homer-Fithian area. 

WDAN would broadcast a MOR music format with CBS news programs and features along with an extensive number of local sports programs, Cardinal Baseball and local high school sports. 





John Eckert was a part of WDAN AM/FM/TV from 1948.  His long career with the stations would last into the early 1980's with his retirement. 
Above is a proclamation made by then Danville Mayor David S. Palmer giving the date of December 23, 1978 as "John Eckert Day." He had an incredible commitment to WDAN radio and his sales staff over the years and for many years.  John would always be associated with WDAN.  He continues his commitment with being a contributor of this website and the site of WDAN-TV (now WICD)....and I thank him for his valuable memories of this great broadcast facility.
(courtesy John Eckert)


Not much effort went into programming the original FM station WDAN-FM.  WDAN-FM began as a 100-percent simulcast of WDAN(AM).   Later after WDAN-FM was changed to WMBJ(FM) programming was segregated from WDAN(AM) and was run by a very simple Gates SP8-10 automation system with a “55” stack cart machine, 2 Scully reel to reel playback decks and a couple of cart machines.  The station still would simulcast the mornings from 6am-9am.

WMBJ  would become simply a nighttime extension of sister station WDAN(1490-AM) with an "automated juke box" format of MOR music.  The station was used primarily as a vehicle to broadcast play by play sports to area communities unreachable with WDAN’s then 250-watt nighttime signal.  Most of the play by play games broadcast on WDAN-FM and later by WMBJ were from western Indiana schools.  Danville High School sports were broadcast by WDAN(AM).  


By 1976 a move was made to give WMBJ a more contemporary format, but with very little sales and promotional effort, very little attention to programming other than running the music, the station had little impact to the community.  .


WPBI at 102.1

left: is a picture of a "perma-tune" radio which was shaped like a microphone.  It was fixed tuned to one frequency at 102.1FM which was originally WBPI.  It was the original radio station which was operated by long time Danville broadcaster Bud Sunkel from his garage.  It went out of business sometime in the mid 1960's.  The frequency was applied for by Northwest Publishing-The Commercial News and granted in 1967.  It became WDAN-FM. 
Click on the picture for a larger view.


Above: Long time WDAN/WDAN-FM General Manager Max Shaffer in front of the GATES automation system which will program the new WDAN-FM station which would become WMBJ-FM and then later WDNL.

It's believed that this picture was taken at the current studios of WDAN/WDNL in what is now the newsroom/administration office area.  The automation was facing north.




Here is a picture of young John Kesler who was a high school board operator at the time.  See a picture of an older John Kelser above at the 70th anniversary of WDAN above.  This is a great studio picture showing the old transcription tables converted to turnables right.  They appear to be Collins models, but I'm uncertain.  There is a Gates mixing board.  Its uncertain how many cart machines are pictured there.  The Sentry alert system (a weather warning system which generated a series of  on-air beeps when ever severe weather was present) box is the white console mounted on the wall to the left of the calendar (July 1976).  Beyond the window you'll see the FM transmitter and backup AM 250 watt RCA transmitter.

(picture courtesy John Kelser)


Sangamon Broadcasting Purchases First Danville Radio

In the Summer of 1977, Sangamon Broadcasting of Springfield, Illinois (Sangamon Broadcasting can trace its roots to "Sangamon Vally Broadcasting" see History of WICS-efforts to obtain channel 2 in Springfield) would purchase First Danville Radio.  The goal was to re-create the success of WTAX/WDBR(FM) in Springfield to WDAN/WMBJ(FM) in Danville.  One of the first upgrades made by Sangamon to the Danville stations was the development of an FM station to duplicate the format, operation and sound of WDBR(FM).  The call letters were changed from WMBJ to WDNL.  A rather problematic choice of call letters being so close to that of WDAN.  The stations were operated as two entirely separate entities within one building.  This arrangement would create much angst among some staffers, especially those with roots to the original First Danville Radio staff.  

The original Sangamon Broadcasting-Danville would be led by Joe Jackson as general manager and WDAN program director  (former WDBR station manager and engineer at WTAX/WDBR); with John Eckert as WDAN/WDNL general sales manager, Don Russell as chief engineer.  WDNL staff consisted of Rich Moore as sales manager, Marc "Phillips" Gonzer as program/music director and evening/night time announcer, Doug Quick as production director and morning announcer, Reed Pence as morning news anchor, Mike James as account executive and mid day/afternoon announcer, Barbara "Kent" Starkey, traffic director.  The use of automation allowed for the multiple job description of everyone on staff (see below).

The original WDAN staff in 1977-78 would include Brent Marlin, afternoon announcer and account executive; Vickie Longer, mid day announcer and account executive; Bob Appuhn, sports director and account executive; Bruce Yentes, farm and sports reporter, morning announcer and account executive; Bill Pickett, news director; Jeanne
Eisenhauer, WDAN traffic and announcer; Bill LaCombe, announcer; John Kesler, announcer; Opal Blacketor and Doyne Dwiggins, in administration.




In 1982 the studios of WDAN were featured in WCIA's "PM Magazine" hosted by Mike Traynor and Suzanne Kay.  The co-hosts are pictured here in front of the WDAN automation system.  The Harris SP 8-10 included 2 random select carousels (from the WBNQ original automation system), 2 ITC reel to reel decks (purchased new), 2 Skully decks (from the original WMBJ automation) and a 55-cart machine player (also from the WMBJ automation).   The main controller used parts from the WBNQ system combined with elements from the original WMBJ system along with sister station WDBR-Springfield.
The third picture in the seris featured Greg Scott on air (simulating a live broadcast-when actually it was talk tracked) and the final picture with Bob Iverson who was the WDAN/WDNL news director at the time.

(pictures from the Doug Quick Collection-off air pictures taken from WCIA broadcast)


WDAN continued to be the radio voice for the older generation of Danville area listeners.  Local sports, particularly Danville High School, St. Louis Cardinal Baseball were an important part of the revenue generation of the stations, but programming also included that of the CBS Radio Network.  Music was usually a middle of the road easy listening, but there was evidence of some block programming with a younger slant, but never a true top 40.  When Sangamon Broadcasting took ownership of WDAN the station would move to a more efficient automated format by 1978.  Since that time the music format of WDAN included an adult contemporary(Drake-Chenault Contempo 300) which was was voice tracked on a Gates SP 8-10 system  That Gates automation system was a crazy quilt made of up older elements from automations used by sister station WDBR and elements purchased from WBNQ in Bloomington (see Area CHR History).  Later in the early 80's, the station went country to compete with local FM'er WIAI.  By the late 1980's, it returned to a middle of the road adult contemporary and eventually to ultra-conservative talk.


Of course there were many staff changes over the years, as many would be added and subtracted.  WDAN/WDNL would continue with Sangamon ownership through 1987....when a devastating ownership change would take place.  See below for more details....


The Sangamon Broadcasting Years 1977-1987
WDNL Bumper Sticker 1978

WDNL Becomes D-102

Sangamon Broadcasting of Springfield, Illinois purchased the stations in mid 1977.  Sangamon Broadcasting owned and operated WTAX/WDBR there.  I started my employment with the stations in September of 1977.  By October 27, 1977, WMBJ, became WDNL(FM) operating a locally produced top 40 format, similar to WDBR in Springfield utilizing what was then a state of the art Harris System 90.   


I was one of the original air personalities with my shift from 5:30am to Noon, Mike James (Noon-6pm) and PD, Marc Phillips(6pm-1am), newsmen Reed Pence and Bill Pickett, Sales Manager Rich Moore(along with account executive Mike James) and General Manager Joe Jackson.

Here is the revised original logo of WDNL, D-102 from 1977.  It was slightly modified by straightening the bottom "tail" on the D.  The original D looked more like a P, so we all agreed to change the logo.



Some of the other jocks over the Sangamon years(1977-1987) include Keith Mason, Bob Taylor (who did mornings from ‘79 to ‘87, and served as GM during the mid 80’s), Kerry West, Paul St. John, Ken Carson, John Kessler, Darrin Ellis, Mark Smutz, Scott Medlin, Jason Cain and Bill LaCombe among others.  News people include Bob Iverson, Tina Bunell, Carol Vorell, Pat Thompson, Bill Raack and Jim Knoblauch.  The sales department included Rich Moore, Mike James, Dan Chenoweth,  Jean Dalbey, Bill LaCombe, Susan Frick, Mark Erwin, Tim Buick and myself.  The station was programmed by a Harris System 90 state-of- the-art automation system.  The original jingle package used in 1977 was the JAM “Positron” package modeled after WABC’s package and included the “Best Music, Best Station” positioning statement.  Other JAM jingle packages followed until 1987.
1978 WDNL Group Shot

After I left in mid 1979, Marc Phillips left, and ex-WDBR morning jock Bob Taylor took over the morning duties and Keith Mason was made PD.  After a 3 month hiatus at WDZ/WDZQ in Decatur I had offers to go back to WDBR in Springfield or go back to WDNL in Danville.  I made the choice to return to Danville in late 1979 and continued with the station, doing afternoons through the 80's, and later mornings in the early 90’s, while serving as a station account executive, sales manager and eventually as station manager.


1978 WDNL Staff, front row l to r: Marc Phillips(Gonzer),  Dan Chenoweth, GM Joe Jackson, Ken Carson(Kalthoff), back row l to r: Sales Manager Rich Moore, News Director Reed Pence, Me and Keith Mason(Brent Wookey
D-102 On Air Line up Spring 1979

Doug Quick (6am-Noon)

Reed Pence(News)
Ken Carson (Noon-6pm)
Marc Phillips (6pm-Midnight)
Keith Mason (Midnight-6am)



 

 


Before it was WDNL it was WMBJ.  This aircheck is from just a few days before the change to WDNL.  Hear the voices of Doug Quick, John Kesler and Mike James.

This composite audio is a collection of segments taken from a single day of broadcasting and features the voices of the DJ's who were on the air that day.  The exact day is unknown, but it was from early 1978.




I left WDNL on June 16th, 1979....but it was a short leave as I would return just over 3 months later.  Bob Taylor was hired to replace me in the mornings....and I would do afternoon drive and join the sales staff full time.  This is a partial check of my last day, a Saturday morning.










(above):  A copy of a sales sheet with D-102's success story of reaching 18-34 year old listeners.  It includes ratings information from 1979.


(above): The WDNL, D-102 studio as it was in 1977-78.  Essentially it was a "talk track" and music dubbing studio and was the home base of any live broadcasting which took place during the morning or at any other time of the day.

Turntables were not used for live broadcasting, but music for the automation was dubbed from them....they are concealed under the counter top in the foreground.






(above):  Doug Quick pictured at his desk in 1977.  Among my duties as morning jock at D-102, included that of commercial writer, sales assistant and production of local commercials.




(above):  WDNL participated in a Cake Decorating contest held at the
Village Mall in late 1977.  Here Marc Phillips (Gonzer), Reed Pence and Doug Quick display the "D-102" cake....but we lost.....

 
(above):  WDNL, D-102 sales executive and afternoon jock Mike James (Simpson) at the microphone in early 1978.


(left):  Reed Pence, Marc Phillips(Gonzer), Doug Quick, back row l to r: Keith Mason(Brent Wookey), Dan Chenoweith and Rich Moore in front of the 1978 Plymouth Horizon which was awarded at our first big promotion "The Hold On Marathon" at the Village Mall.

(right): The winner of the "Hold on Marathon" and the car, along with the WDNL jocks in October of 1978 on the first anniversary of WDNL, D-102.





(above):  Picture taken on Thanksgiving morning in 1983 as I was writing my show which would be recorded and put together by the automation for broadcast.  It took only about 45-minutes to record a 4 or 6 hour show.  So...I got to spend the rest of the holiday with family. 


(above):  Being a part of D-102 in those days was a family project.  Here my daughters joined me during a recording session.  This is from about 1985.



The Harris System 90

The Harris System 90 was on the assembly line at Harris when I first saw it.  I was at the Quincy plant with future PD Marc Phillips(Gonzer) for training on the system in September of 1977.  The training system was one decked out with several different pieces of hardware we didn't get, and it was quite intimidating.  My only experience with automation was with an IGM(see WTIM-FM) and WDBR's Gates SP8-10.   I could get both of those systems to fix coffee for me, if I wanted them to, but the 90 was really quite incredible.

When the 90 finally made it to the studios at 1501 North Washington in Danville we had to make some building modifications to get it in the future master control room.  Doors had to be expanded and the floor leveled.  Ironically enough, the 90 fit the hole where the transmitter of WICD-TV, channel 24 was located from 1953-1968.

WDNL 1980's logo

The "stock" System 90 had two carousels, 5 single play cart decks and 4 ITC reel to reel decks.   Eventually it was modified to contain  5 reel to reel decks.  The portable keyboard was disconnected and reconnected every morning from the master control room to the "live assist" studio and back after morning drive.  Since I did morning drive during that time, I was always lobbying for another keyboard fearing I would either drop it or  it would quit working just by being moved around.  Unfortunately, that was the only way to communicate with the brains of the system.  Sometimes, when it would freeze up, a gentle rise from the table top and a short "drop" would bring it back to it's senses.

WDNL Harris System 90


There were 4 mono cart decks in the system.  The "1" machine was for the news/weather, "2" was the talk track produced by the jocks and "3" and "4" were the time announcement decks.  There was a single stereo cart deck for jingles and a recorder/player for the recording of network news "from the NBC/Source Network."  The top reel to reel deck was the "6" which was used for current chart climbers/fallers, the "7" was the top 13-15 current selections, the "8"(which by the way I have in my garage) was for the top gold selections, the "9" was secondary gold and the "10" were album cuts or daytime extras.  Each category was day parted and only the "7's" and the "8's" were talked over announced selections.  The "10's" were back announced.  Through a very ingenious system developed back at former sister station WDBR we talked up the songs and could hear the intros as we were doing it!!  The over all sound of the station was very "ALIVE."  We had consultants who could not tell the station was automated from their first impression.



WDAN/WDNL Engineer Don Russell with the Harris System 90.  He's inserting a talk track cartridge into the "2" machine.
   The one next to it to the left, was the newscast player, the ones across the bottom were the time announcement playback machines.  The record/player machine behind Don was the network news recorder/player/eraser cart machine which recorded a new hourly newscast every hour, without hand erasing the cart.  The single play deck below that was the only stereo cart deck for station jingles, re-entry after commercials.  On a side note...the second reel to reel machine down from the top is in my possession. 

Secrets of the Talk Track System

Now, the secret of the "talk track" system and the way we could hear the song intros for the first time anywhere!!  I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't.  It was developed by Joe Jackson and his crew back at WDBR in Springfield in the early 70's.  Essentially, each reel to reel that was to be "talked up" would have a corresponding cart with the song intros recorded on it in the same order.  There were two different categories of songs that were talked up (top currents and the super gold) so you would have two different "simulator" cart machines which the output would be mixed with the board output(and your mike) for your headphones.  So as you laid down your track on your "talk track" cart, you would hit the start on the cart machine which contained your talk up song at the same time you "eom'ed" the talk track.  Got it??

Your talk track contained each of your talk positions in order and would be called on as the format required.    The major drawbacks.....if you forgot one or the cart wasn't in record, you could fall "out of sync" and be talking up the wrong song, or worse yet, talking up the commercial at the next spot set.   Later when I was setting up the SMC system for WDNL, I used two talk track carts, one for talk ups and the other for the pre-spot breaks.  That at least ended the problems of falling out of sync and talking up the spots.  At least if it should fall out of sync, it wouldn't be quite as noticeable.   The system forced you to plan your shows,  an organizational plan in which I used up to my last day of radio, and recommend to all jocks, live or automated!  The time announcements were inserted in the format, from the two time announce cart decks.  Each jock would have a pair of carts, in which they would record each time announcement for every minute of their respective shifts.  They would be changed when their talk tracks were changed.  This way of telling the time, sounded very "live" and would fall, usually during a "fill" sequence between two songs and ahead of a segue jingle.  Something like "Good Morning, Doug Quick, and the Best Music at 9:34" followed by a jingle..."D-102."


Now, the answer to another question....why automate in this way???   It made sense!  Being a small market, the idea of paying for major market talent was going to be impossible.  We were competing with WLS, the number one station in our market at the time!  The idea of paying some jock, to sit and play records, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes was ridiculous and just not possible.   So to be able to bring in great talent, which we always had during the early days, we used the talk track system and gave them the chance of selling.   Jocks would spend most of their day on the streets and spend an hour or so each day in the studio doing the talk track.   Each jock received a "talent fee" plus commission.  It was a great opportunity, and we did pretty well, compared to jocks in other medium and even larger markets.



D-102 V.I.P. Card Promotion


WDNL/D-102 along with Pepsi sponsored the V.I.P. card in which  card numbers were called on the air to win prizes, but the card also was good for coupon savings at participating sponsors.  This promotion was conducted during the Spring-Summer of 1981.





"I started out in morning drive and acted as a sales assistant and Production Director.  The PD was the only person who didn't have anything to do with sales.  The mid day and afternoon jocks were both AE's.   The only person on staff who wasn't on the air, besides traffic/accounting was the Sales Manager.  Being on track also allowed jocks to be on the air 6 or 7 days a week, keeping the quality consistent from day to day.  We would adjust the air shifts on weekends for variety.   Later we did allow some of the weekend operators an opportunity to do a track, but only after some pretty extensive training and practice.  It was always my idea that voice tracking in this manner make a mediocre jock sound pretty good, and a good creative jock sound great!  My years with Sangamon were the best radio years of my career.  I only wish I could've known it at the time and tried harder to save it."










The final staff of Sangamon Broadcasting at WDAN/WDNL...all good things are coming to an end. 


Front row: Darrin Ellis and Mike Hulvey
Second row: Tim Buwick, Mary Vogel, Kerry West, Scotti Lee(Burns), Jill Jackson, Keith Mason(Brent Wookey)
Back row: Bill Raack, Mark Erwin, Doug Quick, Don Russell, Charlie Stewart, Bill LaCombe, Jim Knoblaugh, Bob Appuhn, Jeff Slogger, Jeanne Eisenhauer, Susan Frick and Mark Soderberg(Greg Scott)

This photo was our goodbye to two fine radio stations.






Saying Goodbye to Shelby at last Sangamon Broadcasting party
WDNL Doug in studio

This was at the last Sangamon Broadcasting party
with Bob Apuhn, Bill "Boober" LaCombe, Greg Scott and Shelby Harbison.
In the background far right is Glen Hopkins.


Doug at Green Chevrolet during one of the many live remotes which were done from the dealership in 1987.




  



This check is from August 31, 1981.

This air check was from June 16, 1983.  There's nothing really notable about it....just a typical day in the early 1980s.

In September of 1983, General Motors was celebrating it's 75th Anniversary.  The Danville local GM dealers combined with the local GM Central Foundry to sponsor an "open house" at the foundry along with a huge new car show and sale from the grounds of the foundry in Tilton.  WDNL was commissioned to do a live broadcast from the Foundry on September 21, 1983.  Doug Quick was the announcer on WDNL.  Here are excerpts from the broadcast.
















This check was from the morning of June 19, 1984 in which I filled in on a morning show for Bob Taylor. Nothing really special about this one, it was just a typical morning.  Jim Knoblach is also included in this segment.




From April 26, 1985, this air-check features Doug Quick and the iconic voices of the "Golden Years" of WDNL:  Bob Taylor, Keith Mason, Bill "Boober" LaCombe and Kerry West.   With this one you get a great selection of some of the more AC 1980s hits.  The Harris 90 automation was performing at its best...no this wasn't live....it was automated the way it should be!


This segment includes a part of the Doug Quick shift and a part of the Bill LaCombe shift.  Quick was the dj from 3 to 7pm, LaCombe did 7 to midnight.  Here's what happened...."I (Quick) was recording my talk track when Bill came in the studio to prepare for his, which he would record when I finished.  I was just a couple of talk-positions from the end of my show, when I turned the mic on him to include his comments on my show.  It made it sound  more "live" and natural as if the shows were live.  From there, it developed.....  hear what happened when Bill found what he thought was a "dirty" book in the middle of the road and he had to tell the story."

 







More to Come



With the impending sale of WDAN/WDNL, Bob Taylor as general manager saw that his days with the group of stations were numbered.  He had taken a position with a group of stations in Wisconsin.  He finished his morning show tenure with a shortened farewell show between 6am and 8am on a morning in February of 1987.  Here is a recording of segments from that show.  Also featured is Jim Knoblach, Tim Buwick and others.  For the sake of time, the music, news and commercials were either omitted or edited.  Also included was "Cheap Thrills and Big Deals Trivia" and his farewell speech to the nation. 


This air check goes back to June of 1987, during the last couple of months of Sangamon Broadcasting.  I was doing a Noon to 6pm shift, which was unusual even at the time.   Now keep in mind, this was a talk track(or voice track) and was pre recorded.  It was also during our "high personality" period.  This allowed me to work as Sales Manager, Account Executive and still remain on the air. 


Syndicated Programming on WDNL




Coming Soon
"Solid Gold Saturday Night"





Bob Dearborn hosted "Nighttime America" from Midnight to 5am on WDNL for a couple of years on WDNL.  This is an aircheck of some segments from January 11, 1982 as broadcast on WDNL.










The Majac Years 1987-1992
WDNL airstaff members 1988
On August 1, 1987, the station was purchased by Majac, Inc., owned by Jack and Marc Steenbarger (father-son).  This was the beginning of the worst days of my radio career.  The automation was eliminated in favor of live programming, and the air staff was cleared of all of the long time jocks, Bob Taylor(who left in February 1987), Keith Mason, Bill LaCombe, Kerry West and myself.   Bill LaCombe and I remained in our sales jobs, as we were already successful account execs with the station.   Majac eliminated the “Best Music, Best Station” logo and used “WDNL, the Power Station”, even though the station was still at 9K-horizontal(11K-vertical).  They brought in a new air staff (sold to the existing staff as "major market talent") consisting of a morning jock Glen Hill, Lane Delkar, Kate Summer and Jeff Delfield.  It didn't take the existing staff and the audience to discover that the on-air quality of the station dropped considerably.  The "major market" staff brought in were really victims of the new owners as well).  Within a very short period of time, the morning jock was fired and I temporarily took over the duties of morning drive while maintaining my sales position until the arrival of morning announcer Mike Rogers. 

Under the Majac ownership, the once production studio was converted to a live studio with carted music and later included a compact disc player.  When the studio was converted, ownership had been short sighted in not setting up a replacement studio for the production of commercials!  Even after many times being warned of the problem by the old guard staffers (including myself), Majac dismissed the lack of a production studio as a non-issue.  After it became obvious a replacement studio was going to be needed, a studio was constructed in what is now the newsroom of WDAN/WDNL. 


For a time, the programming and music selection was disoriented.  The new manager/owner had set up a system of music programming which rotated all of the top 40 hits equally and mixed with a random selection (based on the whims of the jock on duty) of "recent oldies."  Some air shifts were covered by beginners who, probably shouldn't have been on the air. 

It wasn't all bad under the Magac ownership. 
In 1988 the station finally went to 50,000 watts with the installation of a new transmitter and outboard power supply.  It was unfortunate that under Sangamon Broadcasting the power potential of D-102 was never realized when the station was being operated in it's prime.

New audio processing equipment was installed with the power upgrade, although in my opinion never set up and operated correctly to maximize the audio potential the equipment could deliver.   With the additional wattage, Majac tried unsuccessfully to market the station as a "rim-shot" Champaign-Urbana station.  That effort failed.


Later, though, after Jack and Marc had left the operation to concentrate on another property in Flint, Michigan I tried to return 102.1 back to it's more structured format and return to D-102, now with 50,000 watts.  I was made GM during that time and worked with an air staff which included Russ Miller and Kerry West(who returned at the time, and remains with the station) as "The Breakfast Flakes," Dave McCracken, "Tiny Tom" Christy (formerly of WAZY-Lafayette, Indiana), Scottie Lee (Burns), Greg Binshish, Greg Laird, Mike Knoblett, Dean Wendt (one of the founders of Disney Radio, and currently the voice of "Barney" the Dinosaur) and others.


Above: WDNL, "The Power Station" air staff: l to r: Doug, Lane Delkar, Mike Rogers.











Below: One of the ugliest bumper stickers ever....featuring one of the worst radio station logos ever.... as designed by  Majac ownership!






 

 



I really struggled with adding this air-check to the WDNL collection.  Here's the back ground.....on August 1, 1987, WDNL was taken over by Majac, Inc..  After being a "Live" sounding automated station, the new owners without any regard to how the station sounded and operated during its automated years, choose to go completely "live."  The owners insisted on nothing which could be considered "automated" which meant no auto cue-ing of commercials, commercials to music or music to music.  That alone was a very stupid decision as you'll hear by dead air and slow segues.  There were no music categories, with all current selections being played at the same rate of rotation... in other words it was a mess.  The gentleman you hear on this air-check was sold to the existing staff (or those who were left) as being "major market talent."  You be the judge.  To top it off, they made the existing production studio the live on air studio, which left no studio for commercial production...even after being told of the situation.  They knew best..... or so they thought.  The public reaction was loud and fierce.  The "major market talent" you hear here was gone within 2 weeks.  Over time, the D-102 sound was returned along with the moniker D-102.  The station would re-automate within three years.



Doug Quick and the D-102 Saturday mid-day show from January 1991.  This was another example of the automated format using the SMC system shown below and voice tracked.  Can you really tell it was automated? 



"The Breakfast Flakes" consisted of Kerry West and Russ Miller in the morning.






(above): This was the station vehicle under the Majac ownership.  "The Power Wagon" was a modified monster truck with a powerful sound system, lighting and was equipped with a mast allowing for remote broadcasts from distant locations.
(above): Mike Rodgers was the morning man on Power 102.1 for about a year in 1988.

(far left):  The Spring Sweepstakes was a promotion co sponsored by the bottlers of 7-Up and Dr. Pepper with the major grand prize being a home computer.




Doug as G.M.
The D-102 Breakfast Flakes

During the Majac ownership WDNL became a 50-kw
FM powerhouse....hence the name "Power 102.1"  Here
Chief Engineer Don Russell checks out the power supply
for the new 50,000 watt transmitter pictured in the background.

Doug Quick as General Manager at WDAN-WDNL during the last years of the Majac ownership. 
The "Breakfast Flakes" was the new morning crew in 1990.  Russ Miller and Kerry West are pictured.  
Doug preparing for Great American Grafitti Night 1988




(above): Doug preparing for Great American Grafitti Night with his own favorite, '86 LaBaron convertible and his two daughters in the background. 



(above): Doug interviewing WCIA personalities Kevin Gregory(now Chief Meteorologist at WRTV-Indianapolis) and Jerry Slabe at the Big R Golf Tournament held at Harrison Park in Danville in 1988. (above): D-102 jocks Mike Rodgers(6-10am) and Dave McCracken(10am-2pm) at one of the late 1980's Bridal Shows at the Palmer Civic Center in Danville.


(above):  Doug with "The Diamonds" from 1988, as he introduced them
along with Bobby Vee and The Shirrelles at the Georgetown Fair.


(above): Doug with Bobby Vee

(above): Doug with Chubby Checker at the D-102 studios in 1988.


(above): ....with "Waterfront" also from 1988. 






(left):  An example of one of our billboards from 1989....
and our bumper sticker below.













(left):  Doug Quick as general manager and (right): at a remote broadcast from a promotion at Lake Vermilion.




Oldsmobile Balloon Classic Illinois
Doug broadcasting on WDAN/WDNL during the Balloon Classic Illinois
1989 Balloon Classic Illinois taken by Doug from a hot air balloon

By 1988 WDAN/WDNL began broadcasting a schedule from the Oldsmobile Balloon Classic Illinois from the Vermilion County Airport.  The coverage expanded during the early 1990's and included the work of the entire staff.  Don't be mislead by my lone picture above.  Our coverage was a team effort which brought all departments of the station together.  It was quite a logistical feat to coordinate the two stations coverage with such diverse formats.  The picture above shows the studio set up within a travel trailer.  The set up included scanners which received the closed circuit signals from remote transmitters on the ground as well as the stations balloon chase vehicle.  All commercials, all station operations were coordinated on site and sent back to the station by remote transmitter where it was broadcast live.  Traffic reports were done from the airport control tower in which visitors were directed to the best areas to park, reporters gave background information on the balloons, pilots and support personell.  The station received superb support from the advertisers as all broadcasts were "sold out."





(Left):  The WDAN/WDNL staff  and family at the Illinois Balloon Classic in June of 1991.  Pictured front row:  Mindi Quick,  (unknown name-Dave McCracken's son), Miranda Quick, Tom Wagner, Mark Kirts, Jim Ducey.  top row:  Glen Natschke, Pat Swanson, Doug Quick, Jeanne
Eisenhauer and Dave McCracken.





(left):  Doug Quick at the newly remodeled D-102 studio in 1989.




Two group shots right and below of the WDAN/WDNL staff from 1990 and 1991.  (right): Taken at the 1990 Danville Holiday Parade in downtown Danville




(Close Left): From the Danville Chamber picnic hosted by WDAN/WDNL with staff members. Doug's not in the pictures, because he took them.


The Neuhoff Broadcasting Years (1991-2002)







In 1991, Neuhoff Broadcasting of Springfield, Illinois purchased  WDAN/WDNL.  A management team was put into place with, at one time or another, Mike Hulvey, along with Lynn Halterman, Jeff Cosgrove and Doug Quick.  During the early Neuhoff years, WDNL was re-automated using an SMC analog automation system with a locally produced Hot AC format and “like live” jocks once again.  They included Quick, Jim Ducey, Jeff Delfield and Kerry West among others. (See above section of automation for some details)

It was during the late 1980's that the station began an association with the Oldsmobile Balloon Classic Illinois (see above) and by the early 1990's under Neuhoff ownership was broadcasting the event live from the Vermilion County Airport.  It was in October of 1992 I was dismissed at WDAN/WDNL in favor of another sales manager. 

In 1993 I was in place at the new station in town WWDZ"Z-95"(94.9FM-now WRHK"K-Rock") as sales manager.  But after leaving Z-95, I was back at WDNL as afternoon drive DJ.  Mike Hulvey took the office of GM after I left in '92.  In the mid 90's, the morning jocks were PD Scott Eisenhauer (now Danville Mayor) and "Mother Benson's Boy" Bob "Benson" Harshbarger.  In the late 90’s, the station installed a digital system and went to a soft AC format, dropping the “D-102” logo in favor of “102.1FM, WDNL, with continuous music of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today.”


The station also added University of Illinois sports, broadcasting men's Football and Basketball games and the Saturday night syndicated oldie show was canceled.   PD, and morning jock during the late 90’s to the point of my leaving in 2002 was Carol Wade.  Jocks during that time included Wade, Quick, West along with Chad Christopher and Tim Fisher. 

The station's consultant during that time took the station to a "love songs" format and minimized the jock's participation which, in my opinion, took the station to being "audio wall paper" and probably lost audience to the other more "up front" and aggressive programming from the outside market stations WLRW, WIXY and WKIO.


WDNL SMC Automation 1990


WDNL SMC Automation was  utilized after the Majac 'Live Radio Debacle"  A really great system, utilizing digital elements within an analog playback scheme.  The Harris System 90 was then used for programming WDAN(AM).  The SMC was designed with my guidelines and built by the company from their small plant in Bloomington, Illinois.

(below):  That's my best side as I was programming the new SMC automation system.





WDNL staff 1991
Jeff Delfield
Doug Quick
Mike Hulvey

Doug Quick and Mike Hulvey giving station tours to groups during a Chamber of Commerce event in 1991.


A members of the staff of WDAN/WDNL in 1991.




Jeff Delfield in 1991 during one of our
traveling Pizza Party remote broadcasts
on D-102.



WDNL/D-102 best music...best station



WDNL Doug in studio

WDNL current logo designed for the female audienceIn the late 90's, Neuhoff purchased the former Rollings station WWDZ-94.9FM in Danville.  Neuhoff then changed the call letters to WRHK(FM) and began using the K-Rock logo.  Meanwhile, In late 1999, WDNL was once again was using the “D-102” logo, and beefing up the presence of the jock in the format and leaning more toward a Hot AC/Mix format.   The station also aired a locally produced 70's show hosted by Doug Quick on Sunday afternoons. 

"On October 18, 2002 I left D-102 right before the 25th Anniversary of the station.  My final show included audio clips of the last 25 years and lastly signed off with a Proclamation for "Doug Quick Day" in Danville on that date presented by Danville Mayor Bob Jones.  There was also an on-air phone call from Geoff Neuhoff, owner of the Danville radio stations, WDAN/WDNL/WRHK.  Off air I also received calls from State Representative Bill Black as well as former long time morning DJ, Bob Taylor."

This is where my tracing of the History of D-102 ends.  Since I'm no longer with the station, it will be nearly impossible for me to continue.  I leave it for some other broadcast historian.  Good luck. 

To those I omitted, I'm sorry.  In spite of you not being included here on this site, you're in my memories of a great time in my career!



Doug in WDNL studio during one of the talk track sessions of "Sunday at the 70's."







This is an air-check with Doug Quick from November 2, 1994.  This is an example of the SMC automation system using the talk track method.



From November 5, 2000 Doug on "Sunday at the 70's."  It was a regular Sunday afternoon feature with songs from the 70s.


This air check is another "Saturday at the 70s" sample from June 30, 2002.

Doug Quick's Last Day at WDNL-October 2002

Now for the first time since 2002, hear segments from Doug's Last Show on WDNL(D-102).  Each part includes air checks from as far back as 1977.  Of course, not everyone associated with WDNL is included in these brief segments, that would be impossible.   Each segment is 5-10 minutes in length.  You'll get a taste of what was happening in Danville during those years, including old commercials, a remote from the GM Central Foundary during it's 75th Anniversary and more.  Enjoy!








Part 1


Part 2


Part 3








Part 4


Part 5


Part 6

My final day at WDNL


WDAN and WDNL staffers at the broadcast of my final day.  These people were there over much of my 25+ years.  From left to right: Mike Hulvey(station mgr), Pat Swanson, Scott Medlin, Gene Cosgrove, me, Don Russell, Tom Barnes, Danville Mayor Bob Jones and Bill Pickett


This could be your ad.....e-mail for more information!



In Memory of....
Picture of Bill LaCombe
Bill LaCombe
In 2003 Bill "Boober" LaCombe passed away.  Along with being one of Danville's most popular radio jocks over the years(WITY, WDAN, WDNL, WPFR-Terre Haute), he had several non-radio jobs such as host at O'Leary's Pub and as a travel consultant at Williams Travel.  His many appearances with the "Prime Cuts Road Show" at events over the last 15 years made him one of the area's most popular disc jockeys.   He was a  real fun loving guy who is missed by all of his friends.
Dan

Dan Chenoweth
In October of 2005, former Account Executive Dan Chenoweth passed away in Oregon.  Dan was a gentleman in every aspect of the word.  A dedicated dad, and a friend.  We lost contact after he left WDNL in the early 80's when he moved to the west coast, but he will always be remembered for being the great guy he was.  (Dan is pictured above in the section "The Sangamon Years").




Mary Vogel
Mary was a member of the WDAN air staff and passed away at the end of July of 1987.  She was a much loved member of the staff and participated in many station promotional events during her time.  Her work as an account executive made her a well respected member of the Danville area business community.    Mary had many friends throughout the community and will always be missed.

Mary is pictured above in the last staff of Sangamon Broadcasting







Bob Taylor

Bob took over the morning show on WDNL in June of 1979 where he continued through February of 1987.  He also served as Sales Manager for a time along with General Manager through the last days of Sangamon Broadcasting in Danville.  His many catch phrases("land of tall corn", "cheap thrills and big deals trivia" as well as his sign-off "...blue skies, green lights, two scoops of jomocha almond fudge and much love Sunshine."), his personal appearances as emcee at various functions and his hosting the "Prime Cuts Road Show" and his work with the Danville Chamber made him a valued and popular Danville personality. 

"I first met Bob when he showed me the studios at WTAX/WDBR back in 1973 when he hosted "The Gold Mine" on WDBR and served as morning man with the FM Top 40 station.  He introduced me to automated radio, and showed me the "gritty" side of the business.  He and I worked together in the mid 70's with some voice over projects and I was so happy to be able to work with Bob when I returned to WDNL in September of 1979.     ---Doug Quick



                                                                                            

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updated 4/11/2015
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