Anybody remember this? “Eaton, Dayton, Springfield Alive: Z-93!” Bring back memories?
Well, in the 1990s I became friends with the radio station’s morning-mad-man Jeff Wicker and his “Wicker in the Morning” AM drive-time show from 1992-1995, through his co-host broadcasting legend Kim Faris. He and I hit it off, both being in our early 30s physically, mentally just pre-teens.
Jeff not only was entertaining the masses on the radio waves, but his talents were showcased on TV too. Or rather, TV–2.
At the time, Jeff joined me on a new segment on the station called “2 on the Town.” We had a ball.
But he got the “itch” and bigger things beckoned, moving to Chicago taking a morning gig on an all 70’s hits station, until they changed formats to Spanish, Jeff spoke French. We sort of lost touch until recently and picked up where we left off.
“After Chicago, in August of 1996, I took a job doing mornings on a top 40 station in Richmond, VA, Q94 one of the last 200,000 watt FM stations in the country. We still used the name, Wicker in The Morning and did similar bits, stunts and games like at Z93.” Jeff says.
Wicker got out of radio for a bit Jeff from 2002 to 2004. During that period, he was a commercial spokesperson on radio, TV, and auditioned for any TV or movie gig that came along. That was fun, but says he missed radio.
“Moved to Greensboro, NC in 2004 to do radio again, this time on 98.7, a station that played everything. Did mornings there until March of 2009. Then took an afternoon job on a Country station in Greensboro WTQR and enjoyed that until the company I was working for laid off 300 people across the country in one day.” Wicker says.
Yep, consolidation in radio reared its ugly head. Jeff did what we all seem to do once you’re in the business, then suddenly out, a little soul searching.
“I took a little time off and started working in the restaurant business with my brother in Charlotte NC. We sold that and within a month got a call from the radio company in Richmond wanting to know if I’d return to do radio. I said no way … and so here I am back in radio as of January, 2016 on a station that is down the hall from Q94 where I worked before. I’m now doing “Wicker in The Morning” on WTVR Mix 98.1 and have a blast, talk about the current trends, take a lot of calls and give away tons of tickets. It feels good to be back on the air.” He says.
In between all that, the perennial bachelor tied the knot.
“Yep, married Sarah in December of 2001 and we have 3 beautiful kids. 2 boys, 13 and 11 and a daughter who has me wrapped around her finger who just turned 9 on St. Patrick’s Day. Sarah says I had kids to have a new audience to laugh at my dumb jokes. Hey whatever works.” Wicker says.
But Jeff’s heart remained in Dayton.
“I’m from Ohio, so Dayton was a special place for me. My favorite memories were working with Kim, and loved doing the bits with you “Buch” on Channel 2. I miss Skyline Chili, the Pine Club and the great listeners we had on Z93. Dayton is such a great place.” He says.
Great memories here, but the one which sticks out with Jeff, and many others is this classic.
“People were always calling saying “I’ll do anything for tickets” so one day we jokingly said “will you drive naked as a joke,” We offered it up on-air for Duran Duran tickets and this young lady took us up on it. She had to drive to work naked and no one saw her naked because she sat so low in her car, but the mental picture on radio was priceless. She got pulled over in Beavercreek and had to go to court, charges were eventually dropped, but the station had to pay court costs. Our boss at the time said “that was the best money he ever spent.” We got national attention for it. Crazy stunt!” He says.
What’s next for Wicker?
“I would like to do some more “2 on the Towns.” Do you think Channel 2 would have us back? OK, maybe cable access is more our speed. We had so much fun creating ideas for both radio and TV. I miss that.”
Are you listening Ch. 2? Know a couple of guys. — Cheers, Buch
Jim Bucher is a local resident and guest columnist.