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Norm Thibeault on WHEB 100.3 Portsmouth NH | January 1979

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Aircheck courtesy of Big Apple Airchecks - Thanks!

I’ve been looking for an aircheck from this era for years, and now we have one! Today’s 100.3 WHEB is an FM-only Classic Rocker, just your average run-of-the-mill rock oldies station, but, back in ’79, it was THE station to listen to while tanning at Hampton Beach during the Summer.

Known as “The Star Station”, this was a not-quite top 40 station with a generous dose of Oldies. From what I remember this was an AM/FM simulcast with AM 750 leaving the air at night (or dropping to some rediculously low power) to protect WSB Atlanta. This aircheck was apparently recorded at night because it’s the FM side (with it’s own jingles). Back in the day, we all listened to the AM side of this simulcast on the beach, flipping back and forth between WHEB and WRKO Boston.

The AM side went dark sometime in the 80s – surely there’s someone out there who knows the exact history of this station. Seems to me the FM flipped to AOR about the time they turned in the AM license.

The radio landscape at the NH coastline has changed substantially since this aircheck was recorded, but if you wanna go back to before it all went to FM, listen to this… it’s sure to bring back some good memories, even if this is a WINTER aircheck!

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30 Replies to “Norm Thibeault on WHEB 100.3 Portsmouth NH | January 1979”

  1. Wayne Thorne


    Steve
    I’m sending you the old WHEB logo. it is included with a couple of other ones on the file. Look for an e-mail from Wayne Thorne.
    Wayne

  2. SS


    Great stuff! A station and format all but forgotten about. Of course, the AOR format continues to live on WHEB-FM and is very surccessful.

    But, I do miss the Top 40ish/AC delivered format. I heard some great talk and conversation wrapped around music back then (late 70’s) with Bill McDermitt, Berjeron, Bob Stuart, and of course, one could wake up with Ted Garland.

    Thanks,

    John

  3. Andy Gilmore


    I’m not sure WHEB-AM actually turned in their AM license…I worked there briefly around 1989 or so with Scott Hooper when the AM side was doing a home-brewed nostalgia format with Sinatra, Bennett, Big Bands, Ella, etc. Wayne…if you have an old WHEB logo image (preferably as a .TIFF file), would you email it to me as well? I retired from radio broadcasting in 2002 and I’m trying to collect old logos of stations where I worked during my 34-year career. Thanks!

  4. Darryl


    WHEB 100.3 is now owned by Clear Channel Radio (who owns about everything except for a few stations on the seacoast.) WHEB is a rock station now (in the AM its Greg and the Morning Buzz..which is similcast with its sister station in Manchester as two others.) The rest of the day is usually voicetracked (with a cool show called “Local Licks” featuring local bands across the seacoast, Maine and Mass. Hosted by JR.)

    WHEB shares the facility with WERZ(top 40) WQSO(oldies) WUBB(KISS 95.3) and a couple of AM stations (which are broadcast from the Manchester NH station.) WHEB went from the Star Station to “Hit Rock Radio” in 1983 and never looked back. They have been pulling decient numbers since then (the AM show is in syndication now and doing great.)

    Here is a piece of trivia….WHEB is where TV emcee Tom Burgeron got his start. So it does have some stars that made it big!

    Norm is now working in Boston at WODS, I believe.

  5. Norm T


    Thanks for directing me to this clip, Darryl! It’s fun to hear the Star Station from a faraway moment in time. The clip is slightly wobbly and runs a little slow, but — whoever put up the clip — thanks for the memory!

    Norm

  6. Norm T


    Oh one more thing…a few updates on spellings: my name is spelled Thibeault. I worked with my friends Bill McDermod, who came on at midnight. Tom Bergeron, whom I worked with at WHAV (now the River WXRV), took over my 7 to Midnight airshift in 1980, when I opened a recording studio on Congress Street known as Reelization.

    Norm

    • Bob Zampini


      Hi Norm,

      I’ll never forget Tom Begeron’s song “Marty Feldman Eyes” (to the music of “Betty Davis Eyes”) that you produced for him at your reelization studio. I still have the audio tape of the night it was played on WHEB for the first time, with you joining Tom in the studio.

      Bob

    • D.L. Chandell


      Hey, Norm.

      Considering that you were at WHAV (and I assume this is during their legendary — and somehow very commonly overlooked — “Look To Us” days), is there ANY WAY you can make any airchecks from WHAV available to at least be heard.

      Not much is known about this station, and it would seem, just as well, that a lot of its history is deliberately being erased and/or forgotten. The “Look To Us” jingle package is probably the best-known classic jingle package in the history of INDEPENDENT radio. Don’t you think it would be a major event to hear what the jocks sounded like alongside these jingles, ESPECIALLY knowing that Tom Bergeron was actually one of those jocks at this small, but powerful station? (Just finding out this factoid the way I did 7 years ago was one hell of an astonishment for me.)

      If this is at all possible, PLEASE see what you can do.
      Until then, take good care.

      D.L. CHANDELL
      Music & Entertainment Analyst and Historian,
      DLC IndustryWatch

  7. Darryl Mundo


    Duncan is a PD over in Dover NH at WBYY FM (The Bay.) He used to do an afternoon show, but I haven’t heard him on the air lately. I guess he is too busy running the show. Hey Norm…glad you enjoyed this “blast from the past.” I wish someone could find some old air checks of Tom Burgeron (he was incredibly funny on that shift!)

  8. Doug Drown


    WHEB AM 750 started out back in 1932 as a Christian station owned by the Portsmouth Advent Christian Church. It was the pet project of the church’s minister, whose name, I think, was Rev. Harold Wilson. By the 1940s it was a commercial station, and later on it came under the ownership of Norman Knight (Knight Quality Radio), who also owned WGIR, WEIM in Fitchburg, WSAR in Fall River, and a few other stations that he bought and sold over time, including WSRS-FM in Worcester (former WTAG-FM; ironically, Knight later bought WTAG AM too).

    I used to listen to WHEB when I was a kid in the ’60s. It had a “beautiful music” format, was an NBC affiliate, and, as you said, went off the air at sunset every day to protect WSB down in Atlanta. The FM station was playing rock by the late ’60s.

  9. JDJD2004


    Wow! This is a very cool blast from the past. Not only hearing Norm’s voice again and station promos, but the songs that WHEB was playing then. I grew up with WHEB in the 70s and 80s. I remember Norm and Duncan Dewer and Tom Bergeron. I was a 7th grader when me and my little girlfriends dropped in on Tom in studio to meet him and give him a present. He was insanely gracious and even put us on the air. I’ll never forget it.

  10. Virginia Allain


    My husband’s father used to play live country music on WHEB back in the 1930s. He was with a band called the Sanford Troubadours. I’d like to hear from anyone who remembers this band or knew any of the members.
    Anyway the group played to open the Youth Hour on WHEB. They also played for local dances.

  11. bud blart


    Hi,

    I also listened to WHEB in the seventies. I went between WHEB, WRKO (Boston), WSME (Sanford) and WTSN AM (Dover). I moved away shortly after it became “Hit Rock Radio” in the early ’80’s. Does anybody know what happened to Tom Bergeron’s evening newsman, Jack “Ace” Messmer?

    Thanks,

    Bud

    • Jack Messmer


      Bud,
      I’m a few years late being notified of your question, but I am alive and well. After WHEB I spent 8 years with The Associated Press (wire and radio network) in NYC (and married a New Yorker) and Washington, DC. I was then off the air (except for the occasional radio or TV interview) and working in the broadcasting trade press. I became Washington Bureau Chief of (the now defunct) Radio & Records and then Executive Editor of Radio Business Report/Television Business Report. While I was at RBR/TVBR Ellen and I moved to Florida in 2001. Since 2013 I have had my own company and produce Spots n Dots and Cable Spots on a contract basis. Both are trade pubs for the people who sell TV advertising. Is that more than you ever wanted to know about what happened to Ace? By the way, my wife finds it funny whenever anyone refers to me as Ace.
      Regards to all who remember the Star Station.
      Jack Messmer

  12. Lori D. Warriner


    WHEB has never been “Classic Rock” – it’s always been a mix of old and new rock. Guess you’d call it AOR/Active Rock these days… When it changed from the disco and hits of the 70’s (in 1983) it was VERY briefly programmed by a guy from LA and went very very alternative. All the clients pulled their spots – the guy from LA was sent packing and it quickly morphed into Hit Rock 100 and was more successful than it had ever been under PD Jim Rising.

    The Morning Show has been in the hands of Greg Kretschmar for over 20 years now and the show has changed over the years with the changing times. It’s now called Greg and the Morning Buzz, and features Scott “Roadkill” McMullen, Laura, Andy Blacksmith and newsman Kelly Brown. The show is syndicated and is on Rock 101 in Manchester and 4 other markets. Greg is one of the most talented and hardworking guys you’ll ever meet in radio. He’s chosen to stay in the medium markets, cuz this is where he’s from, and wants to stay. Greg is also a UNH grad!

    On Middays it was me from 1985 – 1998 when Clear Channel took over, and I returned in 2009. The Doctor had taken over the midday shift for a while, as had JR, Kat and Jenn. JR is now on afternoons, Doc (Chris Garrett) is the Program Director for both WHEB and WGIR/Rock 101 and is one of the genuises that brought the station to prominence in the late 80’s/early 90’s along w/ MD Scott Laudani. It’s been an amazing run for both Doc and Greg at WHEB and they should be credited with the longterm success of the station.

    The AM license was turned in to the FCC (1989?) and the station was bombarded by the older folks w/ their AM 75 umbrellas in hand! Donald Fanning, Scott Hooper, Howie Leonard – all phenomenal broadcasters who were great veterans of AM radio. It’s a tough sell these days.

  13. Chris Thom


    Oh, the memories this brought back. I was actually an intern @HEB around the time the station changed their format from The Star Station to the more rock format so I got to know Norm plus the nighttime jock, a then unknown Tom Bergeron.
    Since there was no dedicated playlist like there is these days there were times I remember him throwing on Knights in White Satin or some other long format song and running across the street to Dunkin’ Donuts. Good memories.

  14. John G


    If anyone could post Tom Bergeron’s version of “Marty Feldman Eyes” on YouTube or something, I’d be immensely grateful. I’m not as young as I used to be, and it’s starting to fade from my memory…

  15. Robert


    if I remember correctly AM750 ceased broadcasting in 1991 because the tower needed to be replaced (it was ready to fall over) and there wasnt enough revenue and audience to keep it on the air. it was not a daytimer, rather it had to sign off at local Atlanta sunset time so as to not interfere with WSB. Norman Knight once told me that he tried unsuccessfully several times to persuade WSB’s owners to allow WHEB AM to broadcast at night but they steadfastly refused.

  16. Jay Taylor


    You HAVE to do a YouTube upload of the Bergeron edition of Marty Feldman Eyes…

    This is a great trip down memory lane. My father, Cliff, was GM at the station for several years and my brother and I recall WHEB with great fondness.

    Great find!! THANKS!

    • Steve West


      Jay… I don’t think there’s a YouTube video in our future. Sorry, no can do. But if you want a copy of this aircheck since your father was the GM, contact me, steve@airchexx.com. I’m sure I can send you an mp3 or CD.

      Best Regards,
      Steve ‘West’
      Webmaster

  17. Mark in Auburn, New York


    Somewhere in my basement or attic I have a booklet about tourism and shopping in the south coast region of Maine and it has a full page ad for WHEB. I got it in York Beach around ’76 or ’77 and I remember tearing the American Top 40 logo out of it to save somewhere else. Good station as I remember and the AM had good regional coverage. If I ever happen upon that booklet I’ll scan and send it.

    Another station I remember from Maine vacations during my teen years was WTSN in Dover, NH. Any tape from them around?

  18. Doug Clark


    What a great “blast from the past.” Norm Thibeault, Tom Bergeron, and the late Bill McDermod helped make even a 12-hour shift on a gate at Pease AFB (and the cold/wet weather that sometimes came with it) more bearable. (“Low temperatures near the freezing mark.”)
    Their humor, trivia, etc. meant a lot to me and my coworkers, and we were also privileged to know the stars at the Star Station off-duty as well. They were great guys as well as excellent DJs.
    Rock on, Norm.

  19. Mary F.


    Lori D

    Do you know/remember who the man was that worked the morning show with Greg before Andy Blacksmith? I can remember the names of two previous female team members – Jeanmarie and Courtney – but cannot recall the man’s name …..He was there when Roadkill started… Many thanks

  20. Devon


    Does anyone know who was the afternoon DJ in 1972/3? I had a conversation with him as just a 15 year old after he disparaged the talent of Donny Osmond 🙂 and said he would not have a career once his voice changed. I called to defend him, very upset. Years later as Donny was on Dancing with the Stars (with Tom Bergeron) and headlining in Vegas, I so wanted to let him know that Donny was still going strong 30 years later!
    But he was nice enough to take time to talk to a young teenager person to person which I always appreciated. I just wished I could remember who it was!

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