I’m looking forward to a visit this weekend with two longtime friends - mentors, really.
It’s extra special to see them together, and to share it with Magic 98 listeners (Saturday June 15th 6-9PM). As a teenager that loved radio and thought making it a career might be interesting, it took all the courage I had to pick up the phone and call the studio hotline of Madison’s top 40 giant WISM-AM. When I did, Jonathan W. Little could not have been nicer, allowing me to visit his show one day to see what happens behind the scenes. I tried again soon after, and Charlie “Rock & Roll” Simon was just as welcoming.
In the years that followed both these guys took the time to advise me and occasionally critique my early work on a small town country station. I don’t know what they got out of the deal, but it meant everything to me. As the years passed and my interest grew I realized that these two, although working in a mid-size city like Madison, were known nationally for what they accomplished at WISM.
Jonathan was the music trendsetter, often the first in America to discover a hot new hit. Charlie created incredible promotions (one paired the band Cheap Trick and Madison’s Police Chief). And their back-to-back afternoon and evening shows were energetic and joyous. The station’s 70s slogan was true: “WISM is Madison.”
Both moved on to greater things in 1980, and WISM faded away. When the company offered me a job in 1983 the focus was on the new FM station, “Magic 98.” I hope that Magic has served the next generation in Madison with the same kind of entertainment and community caring. WISM, with Jonathan and Charlie leading the way, created the blueprint.