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97.1 WASH-FM / Washington DC

Tanner In The Morning, 97 WASH-FM Washington DC | September 1, 1983

Courtesy of Big Apple Airchecks, this is a near perfect recording of Soft AC WASH-FM. There is far more news and information on this program than music, making this format closer to ‘Full Service’ than anything else. There are two full newscasts here, the first starting a minute into this aircheck. Traffic reports are live via helicopter sponsored by WNJ Sloan. There is a morning topic – Tanner is taking calls based upon the morning commentary about Washington ‘street people’, and these calls sound like they are being aired live as opposed to pre-recorded. There are two full sportscasts done by Joe Zanga. WASH-FM is using AccuWeather, and Elliot Abrams sounds quite young here in 1983! He’s still with AccuWeather as of this writing.


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  1. This is right before Metromedia gave Tanner the go-ahead to transition WASH from its heritage full-service AC posture … to a rhythmic top-40 as ‘Party 97’.

    Other readers may be able to pinpoint the exact date when longtime WASH morning fixture Eddie Gallaher was given the heave-ho, opening AM drive to ‘Tanner in the Morning’.

    Despite Bill’s undeniable expertise and success in Miami — and owing to various internal and external factors — that CHR iteration of WASH didn’t work out … and by February 1985, Metromedia had elected to return WASH to its roots, as a gold-based AC.

    At that point, Bill returned to Miami to switch soft AC WEZI to rhythmic top-40 as ‘Hot 105’. Ironically, WEZI’s PD, John Moen, came to D.C. — to program WASH.

    (The logo featured on this exhibit, BTW, is an approximation of the logo and ‘Turn on to the best’ slogan used in that ’85 AC relaunch.)

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  2. ahhhh the ill fated PARTY97..slightly ahead of it’s time..the market was in transition..i was up the road in Bmore at B104 at this time…CHR’s WAVA and Q107 were full throttle B106 may have been in it it too.WKYS and OK100 were the urban leaders i believe….PARTY was a bust..but created the climate for the rebirth of WPGC a few clicks later.

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  3. I remember Party 97 very well. In fact, at the time I quite enjoyed the format. At the time they were the only D.C. station to play Centipede and The Belle of St. Mark in late ’84(out of the CHRs). I remember on the relaunch of WASH-FM they had the “Simon the Money Machine” contest to draw listeners back. Radio in D.C. was fun back then, with CHR in full force on the radio.

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  4. As I recall Tanner telling me one day many years ago, Metromedia dragged their feet for six months on a switch to CHR — possibly because of advertiser and listener revolt over the exit of legendary Eddie Gallaher, who went to WWDC-AM 1260 and its Big Band format. Rock Radio 105 WAVA was started to add Top 40 titles, and Tanner’s delivery here hints at what is to come at WASH. Meanwhile Q107 was the station that played the hits, and Kiss was the rap station (that’s what we thought, at least). On October 28, 1983 WAVA became “All Hit 105”. The first 1 1/2 years were pretty hit and miss, with Charlie & Harrigan one of the misses. Q107 and Kiss continued to dominate and WASH just couldn’t build an audience in a market that became too crowded while Metromedia dallied about the format change. If it had made the change in March, perhaps WAVA would have become an AC giant or a forgotten Top 40, like WAPP in the days before Hot 103.5. At any rate, the folks at WPGC saw Party 97’s potential and ran with it when WASH reverted to Soft AC, putting an end to “Classy 95” and bringing back a big Top 40 brand for a new generation. Also note the major DC population shift seen between 1981-85, with whites shifting from PG County to Montgomery County and Virginia, making B106 somewhat viable for a period.

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