Magic 98 History



The former WISM-FM became "Magic 98" WMGN on December 1st, 1983. WISM-AM had been Madison's most popular radio station for decades. 
 



Earliest known photo of WISM t-shirt

WISM has a special place in Madison radio history, with well-known personalities like Clyde Coffee, Charlie Simon, Jonathan W. Little, Stoney Wallace, Neil Gavin and Robin Steele. 


Bob Dylan visits Madison. At left WISM's Jonathan W. Little and Charlie Simon, at far right Mayor Paul Soglin
 
In the 1960s and early 70s, most FM stations across America had few listeners. Most people did not have FM car radios. The majority of FM stations offered "easy listening" or rock music. In the late 1970s Mid-West Family created a popular "adult contemporary" approach for WISM-FM, and the station (automated, meaning no announcers) began attracting listeners that liked the music on "Movin' Easy 98 FM." In 1983 Mid-West Family decided that the station could be even more successful if it became involved in community events, offered fun promotions and was staffed by live personalities.

The first Magic 98 airstaff:
Pat O'Neill 6-10am

Jim Reed 10am-2pm
Vic Martin 2-6pm
Johnny Marks 6-11pm

Our first events included "Magic Nights" at area restaurants and a weekly "Take Your Radio To Work Day" that offered listeners a $98 prize. "Magic Money" was introduced in 1984.The first "Magic Van" appeared in countless parades. A "Lunch with the Elephants" contest to celebrate a circus appearance drew a crowd to Ella's Deli in the summer of 1984."Movin' Easy" WISM-FM left the air while in 6th place with Madison adult radio listeners. "Magic 98" jumped to 2nd place in the first 1984 survey and has been one of Madison's most listened-to stations ever since. Many of the Magic 98 personalities that joined the station in the 1980s are still here today, including Pat O'Neill, Bob Bonner, Sara Freeman and Kathryn Vaughn.

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Ginger Martin
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