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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
(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
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.
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
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
70th. Pictured here are Bill Black, Sue Richter, Ted Baer and
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
well. Above is a special Golden Anniversary
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
courtesy John Kelser)
Broadcasting Purchases First Danville Radio
the Summer of 1977, Sangamon Broadcasting of Springfield, Illinois
(Sangamon Broadcasting can trace its roots to "Sangamon Vally
Broadcasting" see History
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.
from the Doug Quick Collection-off air pictures taken from WCIA
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
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....
Sangamon Broadcasting Years 1977-1987
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
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
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
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
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.
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
On Air Line up Spring 1979
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
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
(above): A copy of a sales
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.
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
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,
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
(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
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
channel 24 was located from 1953-1968.
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.
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.
Engineer Don Russell with theHarris
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Darrin Ellis and
Second row: Tim
Vogel, Kerry West, Scotti Lee(Burns), Jill Jackson, Keith Mason(Brent
Back row: Bill
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
air check goes back to June of 1987, during
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
Programming on WDNL
"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.
Majac Years 1987-1992
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.
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
air shifts were covered by beginners who, probably shouldn't have been
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
market the station as a "rim-shot" Champaign-Urbana station. That
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.
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
"The Breakfast Flakes" consisted of
Kerry West and Russ Miller in the
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
Sweepstakes was a promotion co sponsored by the bottlers of 7-Up and
Dr. Pepper with the major grand prize being a home computer.
Majac ownership WDNL became a 50-kw FM powerhouse....hence
"Power 102.1" Here Chief Engineer Don
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
The "Breakfast Flakes" was the new morning crew
in 1990. Russ Miller and Kerry West are pictured.
(above): Doug preparing
Great American Grafitti Night with his own favorite, '86 LaBaron
convertible and his two daughters in the background.
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
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.
example of one of our billboards from 1989....
and our bumper sticker below.
Quick as general manager and (right): at a remote broadcast
from a promotion at Lake Vermilion.
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
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."
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.
Doug Quick at the newly remodeled D-102 studio in 1989.
shots right and below of the WDAN/WDNL staff from 1990 and 1991.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In 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
format. The station also aired a locally produced 70's show
hosted by Doug Quick on Sunday afternoons.
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
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
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,
Last Day at WDNL-October 2002
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!
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
In 2003 Bill "Boober"
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.
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 was a member of
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 took over the morning show on WDNL in June of
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