Bob Bellini has worked at WKLH/Milwaukee since 1989. He is currently the station’s Brand Manager.
So there I am, editing a music bed (with razor blades and grease pencil) for our embarrassing, locally produced TV spot in a studio the size of a shoebox in Madison, Wisconsin. I’d heard rumbles of something exciting happening a little more than an hour east on I-94 in Milwaukee.
Classic Rock was solidifying its foundation as a long-term, viable format all its own, but Classic Hits? Yet, both Fred Jacobs and Saga Communications VP/Programming Steve Goldstein were so emotionally invested in the station it was impossible to avoid being overwhelmed with enthusiasm for this still-evolving entity that was WKLH.
Even after I arrived, the chorus of critics was still boisterous, despite ‘KLH’s wildly successful debut and subsequent dominance. Pundits were still waiting for the “burnout”. The media were still on “deathwatch.” And while I was trying to convince Selector that Motown and Pink Floyd were indeed compatible in the same database, my most vivid memories about this format’s future were interviews with the people it touched. We were recording vignettes of listeners recalling their feelings about the first time they heard ‘KLH. No one needed encouragement.
“Finally! Music for ME!”
“Where were all these songs?”
“Screeching ying-yang on those rock stations? No thanks!”
It was the seminal moment that cemented my confidence in this format.
Despite the fragmentation and turbulence around it, Classic Rock has become embedded in our lives, a virtual soundtrack to our experiences. Whether instrument of social change or catalyst of so many memories, we are forever linked to the power of this music.