December 26th 1974 - Country music on the ZOO? Yes, it did happen. The day after Christmas 1974, Willie Nelson did a live KZEW broadcast from January Sound Studios. Joined by Tracy Nelson (no relation), they played numerous country standards as well as a number of Christmas tunes, including Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. This concert would become a ZOO staple and was re-broadcast on Christmas Day throughout the seventies.
Who are these people? It's the ZOO office staff! Top row left to right are Jody Seay, Bill Harrison, Unidentified female, Wally Campbell, Unidentified female, Unidentified male, the man in the dark shirt is an unidentified Engineer, Marty Lowy (who's now a judge in Dallas,)and Jim Stansell. Bottom row are Carolyn Hickey, Jon Dillon, Ira Lipson, John Dew and Maggie Morgan.
Welcome back to the canteen....newly overrun by the ZOO crew. 1. Jon "Studs" Dillon serves up shots of the magic elixir, mornings on 98FM. 2. Gary "Rick" Shaw deals 'em down 'n dirty on the ZOO, 6-10pm. 3. No. 4. Suzette Smith, ace-heavyduty ZOO newsperson, messin with the sheriff during the off hours. 5. "The Waco Kid", Mark Addy.
Joe Perry of Aerosmith is recovering at home after a recent emergency knee surgery to correct unforeseen complications that resulted from a previous surgery on the same knee last year. Perry had a complete knee replacement done in March of 2008. The new knee was needed after a degenerative condition developed starting with a stage-fall during a concert in Dallas 23 years ago this week. KZEW's Jon Dillon even mentioned Perry's fall on the air that night, but said Joe had only sprained his ankle, according to the KZEW archives.
It was Groundhog Day 1984 at about 6:30am when I dragged myself out of bed. Back in those days, I wasn't much of a early bird, but it was my birthday and I didn't want to miss a minute of it. After all it was a milestone, my twenty-fifth. I gazed over at the glowing blue dial of my Marantz and could hear the faint KZEW elephant trumpet at low volume. I reached over to turn it up, I realized that LaBella and Rody was on. Being an night-owl, it was a rare occasion to catch the ZOO's morning team. I quickly popped in a cassette and hit record. I soon hear John LaBella and Mike Rhyner, but no John Rody. Rody was famous for being late. I continue to record, not knowing this very recording would go out over the DFW airwaves once again nearly 25 years later.
KZEW's first print adTuesday, September 18th, 1973 at 6:00AM, Ken Rundel keys his mike, "Welcome to the ZOO... ...you are listening to KZEW Dallas-Ft.Worth." The first song played was Simon and Garfunkel's "At the Zoo." Ira Lipson remembers, "There was a huge buzz in the air. We were ready to launch The ZOO. There was so much positive energy flowing through the station that we probably could have levitated if we wanted to. Ken Rundel launched us at 6 AM and we just kept soaring. Sure, there were a lot of little things that needed to be fixed, but the feeling was fabulous. We broadcast more than music that day --- we broadcast energy and confidence. The station was a gas to listen to. And the listener response was instantaneous. The ZOO was gonna be a monster." Gary Shaw also remembers that day, "The ZOO went on the air on my mom's birthday...so how could it fail?" Not only that, but the ZOO went on the air nine years to the day from when the Beatles played Dallas on their first U.S. tour. On the down side, the ZOO began on the third anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death.
In the summer of 1973, John Dew left W4 Detroit first to go to Dallas to talk about a position at Belo Broadcasting. John then calls Ira Lipson and asks him come to Dallas to talk to the Belo bigwigs. Ira leaves W4 and heads for Dallas, while Ken Rundel takes over as W4's Program Director. Reports state that John Dew and Ira Lipson originally came to Dallas to work for WFAA-AM and not FM, but the FM radio craze had just begun, even cars now had FM. John and Ira had already brought Detroit's W4 from number 12 to number 2 in two years, and this zookeeper believes someone saw opportunity. Dallas had an FM station, at the very center of the dial, in the 5th largest radio market in the country, that was not being fully utilized.
The KZEW story actually began in Detroit Michigan at one of the nation's first progressive rock radio stations, WWWW (W4) 106FM, where five original KZEW staff members had already teamed up to create the number two station in the Detroit market. Once a beautiful music station, in 1970, "W4" became an album oriented rock station and briefly styled itself "W4 Quad" during its brief use of quadraphonic transmission in the early 1970s. It is most remembered today as one of future shock jock Howard Stern's earliest radio jobs.