WMMS - History - Alternative Rock: 1994–97 - The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Already program director at OmniAmerica station WMJI, station veteran John Gorman returned to WMMS as vice-president and director of operations in early 1994. Gorman changed the WMMS format to alternative rock, playing new acts like Nirvana, The Offspring, and Nine Inch Nails. To emphasize this change, WMMS was re-branded and aggressively promoted as The Buzzard: The Next Generation, a reference to the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its continuation of the Star Trek franchise. Gorman brought back the original Buzzard design, now drawn by David Helton's successor Brian Chalmers. WMMS also lured popular morning personalities Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer away from rival WENZ – then an alternative rock station known as 107.9 The END – as the successors to Jeff and Flash (Jeff Kinzbach, Ed Ferenc) on The Buzzard Morning Zoo.

While the change in programming alienated many longtime listeners – many of whom switched to WNCX and their full-time classic rock format – WMMS boosted its ratings for the first time in years with a new, younger audience. Billboard and Airplay Monitor magazines together named WMMS Rock Station of the Year (Medium Market) in 1995, and Modern Rock Station of the Year (Medium Market) in 1996. John Gorman was named Program Director of the Year (Rock) in 1995.

Despite signs of success, the station was sold again in 1996. WMMS went to Nationwide Communications; longtime sister station WHK went to Salem Communications – the first time the two had ever operated under separate ownership. The sale came almost immediately after passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a time when radio companies nationwide rushed "at a fever pitch" to acquire new properties. John Gorman – who has since openly criticized the industry's current state – first departed for CBS Radio in Detroit, but soon moved to media consulting.

Read more about this topic:  WMMS, History, Alternative Rock: 1994–97

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