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21
Apr 2009
WMMS Created a Rock Brand in 1975. Gotta Get Down!

WMMS was the premiere rock radio station in the late seventies in Cleveland, Ohio. Their brand of rock didn’t include Barry Manilow or Anne Murry. No, WMMS, blasted Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. All day and all night. Needless to say, WMMS and their mascot, the buzzard, was very popular on the campus of Kent State University.

In the Fall of 1975, as a freshman, a friend and I were walking the campus after class around 5:30 pm. It was a Friday and the end of our first week of classes. We noticed a lot of students opening windows in their dorm rooms. Soon they put speakers (facing outside) connected to their stereos on the ledge. The stereos were all tuned to WMMS with the volume on high. The sound was coming from almost every dorm all across the campus.

I hadn’t heard of WMMS before because I wasn’t from the area. I didn’t know that around 6:00 pm every Friday, a DJ named Murry Saul, would come on the air and begin a synopsis about celebrating the weekend. At the end of his rant, he would close with a few words of encouragement, the music would cue up, and the weekend was official. You could hear the campus roar with approval. The live audio version is listed above.

The process of branding begins with setting a goal; knowing who your target audience is; creating a strong message; and finally communicating that message consistently to your target audience. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ‘Gotta Get Down!’ is the best example of branding. But, in the late seventies, WMMS was the only radio station that we listened to.

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