The Bumpersticker Collection
Everybody who ever worked in radio, especially during the 1970s - 1980s when I did, collected bumperstickers. Most folks put them on a window or the front of their refrigerator, then found that when they moved, they had to leave them behind.
My Wilmington, NC roommate Steve Stark is who had the idea of putting them on clear sheets of Plexiglas then hanging them up with mirror mounts. Because of this I was able to keep them all these years. Prior to knowing Steve I kept them in a shoebox. Afterward, I had a new hobby.
These "collages" of various stickers were done between 1983 and 1988 and feature many from the various markets I worked in, also ones gotten from trading with friends. One friend, E. Curtis Johnson who worked at Q105 Oxnard/Los Angeles, got me most of the West Coast ones (and E. Curtis, if you ever read this, mail me. I've been trying to catch up with you for years!)
During those years I often planned vacations around collecting them and would sometimes drive miles out of the way just to get certain ones. Back then, wherever you saw a tower, there was a reasonbly good chance that you'd find the station at the bottom of it so I'd frequently pull off of the main roads to go see. I met several interesting people this way. And on two occasions, the people heard me talk and offered me a job. Honest.
When I lived in Asheville, NC, my entire bedroom was covered with these from the ceiling down to the level of the top of the waterbed—such that when laying on the bed they appeared to be EVERYWHERE. There were quite a few occasions when various ladies were invited in that room ostensibly for the purpose of seeing the bumpersticker collection (wink wink).
Some of the stickers—especially the few that were printed on a cloth-like material—did not stand the test of time. But most, once cleaned up a bit, look as good as they always did. Also, twenty years of standing upright in a warm attic seems to have caused some of them to slide a millimeter or two down the plexiglas. When originally done, all were perfectly straight. Now a few look lopsided. That's why. Damned physics!
I'll eventually be adding comments about each collage, talking about some of the stickers and telling some of the associated stories.
The photographs were taken by my daughter (a.k.a. "The Girl") who did her best to get good straight shots of them all, but some are off a bit. But we won't worry about this because perfection can be consuming, can't it?
Enjoy the collection. Note that if you mouse click an image, a much larger version will open in a separate window. To really see those well you should have your monitor resolution set for 1024x768 or larger.
And to all the old radio folks I know: how many of these played a role in YOUR life? Send me your lists and all of your stories!
The very first collage featured many I'd collected already plus several I obtained trading them with Steve. K92, WPVR and WUEZ are all places I worked in Roanoke. WFNC was the sister station of WGNI/WAAV where I worked in Wilmington. B-100 and WWIL were in Wilmington. The BJ-105 sticker came from my pal who worked there at the time, Barry Michaels. Z93 is where Steve Finnegan worked in Winston-Salem, NC. Though I worked in Wilmington, I still lived in Myrtle Beach, SC at the time I did this collage and that's where the WKZQ sticker is from. In the lower left is one from WTQR, Winston-Salem. I showed up there on a Saturday to see if they had any stickers. Rang the bell. Nobody answered. I noticed that the door was not locked, so I walked in the building, found the sales department, found this on somebody's desk and helped myself. I was in there for about ten minutes, could have stolen them blind, and not a single soul noticed.
This second one was done after I'd become friends with E. Curtis and shows many west coast stickers I obtained in trades with him, including one from his station Q-105 (I think the calls were KACQ) Oxnard / Ventura / Los Angeles, CA. KACY was their AM. The K-STAR sticker is one of my all-time favorites and I believe that's KSTR in Montrose, CO. Also KATT in Oklahoma City, OK. "The Quake" was KQAK in central Oregon. A few more Roanoke stations, WFIR, WRIS, WSLC and WSLQ (Q99) are featured here as well as the classic Raleigh rocker WQDR. WCBX was a legendary station in Eden, NC where several of my friends worked including Phil Beckman, Doug "McCloud" Rorrer, and Rich Randall. It was owned by Bertha Childers, former wife of Radio "Ray" Childers. Q98 was WQSM which was the Fayetteville FM sister station of WGNI (where I worked at the time in Wilmington).
This one features two oldies from when WGNI was the AM station and WAAV was the FM. By the time I was there in 1983 they'd swapped the calls. WACO in Waco, TX is, I believe, the only instance of call letters actually spelling out the name of the city where the station is licensed in the entire USA. WPET was Tom Armshaw's AM station, his FM station WRQK was where Steve Finnegan worked in Greensboro, NC. This was the most cheaply done sticker I'd ever seen, and looked like they had hand-painted them using stencils. WJET was the station that the Fin Man grew up listening to in Erie, PA. I was writing The Cat's Pajamas radio humor sheet at the time and I'd made friends with another writer named Judy in Philadelphia who sent me the WYSP sticker. Also the one from WZZD which was funny because everytime we saw it we thought it said "Jesus Lives in Philadelphia." Whenever this came up in a conversation somebody always said "Yeah and he was born in Bethlehem... a steel town."
Here we have one from WNMB, North Myrtle Beach, SC which at the time featured the legendary Dick Biondi on the morning show. Dick, a legend for years in the Chicago market, invested in the station and came to Myrtle Beach because he liked playing golf. Also the WGNI stickers from when I was there. WQUT Johnson City / Bristol / Kingsport (see also the older version on the top collage) had been home of The Tennessee Midnight Rambler. But the funny one here is the one on the top right from WDZD. This station was in Shallotte, NC which is the small coastal town that I had to drive through when commuting from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington. I stopped by, asked if they had stickers and was given this one. I was then told "You have a great radio voice. Want a job?" I told them I already had one but asked what salary range they had in mind. "Oh we can only pay you minimum wage because we aren't making a lot of money right now. But we'd love to get in some new blood. We aren't very proud of our product."
In the upper left we have 7Q which was WQBX, Christiansburg, VA owned by Radio Ray Childers. Ray had been married five times. His first wife was the owner of WCBX (see above). His fourth wife worked for him as the receptionist for the radio station. Honest. Also WEED, Rocky Mount, NC which was funny because of the call letters. Legendary KFRC from San Francisco. WYNY and 1010 WINS from New York City. WFIL and Power 99, Philadelphia. WLEE, WRXL, WPCE are all from Tidewater, VA. WROQ, Charlotte, NC. The Wilmington WKLM sticker featured that same awful "Someplace Special" logo used by WFIR Roanoke when I was there in 1979. Speaking of which, you'll see matching "Salute To Retail" stickers from Jim Gibbons' two combos: WFMD / WFRE Frederick, MD and WFIR / WPVR in Roanoke. The Arby's K99 sticker was from WRQK in Greensboro, home of Steve Finnegan in the early 1980s.
96.9 WLVV was in Statesville, NC and is one where I drove out of my way to find the station to get a few stickers. Here also is the mid-1980s WROV "adult contemporary" logo sticker. "She's Only Rock 'N Roll" was from KSHE in St. Louis, MO. KQID, Alexandria, Louisiana was once the home of my WKSF-FM friend Brother Bill. But the best story here is the sticker from WLSD, Big Stone Gap, VA. Big Stone Gap is perhaps most famous for being the small Virginia town where Elizabeth Taylor choked on the chicken bone while there on a campaign trip with her then husband, Sen. John Warner. For anyone who lived in the 1960s, WLSD had some interesting call letters. But they didn't stand for this at all, rather, they were for the initials of the owners whose names were Lee, Stone and Davenport (or something like that). I once devoted an entire day to driving from Roanoke to Big Stone Gap, across little winding mountain roads through coal mining towns, to get a few of these stickers.
A collage of mostly "average" ones (I'd used up my favorites, to date, on the above boards). Though there are some highlights, including the WAPE sticker (I'm still looking for one of the older ones with the gorilla!). The WELP sticker was from Greenville, SC and was collected by Steve primarily because he was a fan of Emerson Lake & Palmer. WPDQ competed wtih WAPE in Jacksonville, FL. WNBC New York was then the home of Don Imus. WLLZ Detroit was a nice one, but not as nice as their other one (below). WJJJ was in Christiansburg, VA and was owned by the infamous A. Hundley Griffith. Former WROV personality Marty Hall once worked there. And this was another radio station where, upon stopping there one day to ask for bumperstickers, I talked, they listened to my voice, and offered me a job. WKNC is the student station at NC State. When at NCSU, after 18 years of doing radio for a living, I inquired about doing an airshift at WKNC. Some snot told me "oh you can't just get an airshift here, we may be able to start you out doing the news on weekends." I told the bastard "When I started doing radio, you were still playing with your Star Wars figures and crapping in your pants" and walked out the door...
This is the first one done after I'd moved to Asheville and it features the sticker from Kiss-FM's (WKSF's) main competitor, WCKN. They said it stood for "Cookin'" but we always called them "The Chicken" and the FM in Anderson, SC, WANS was "The Anus." And yes we called them these names on the air. Here also is a Greaseman sticker from DC-101 when he worked with two former Roanoke friends of mine, Carl Foster and Ernie K. WSML was an Eastern NC station and was owned by the "Radio Smiles" company (also owners of WISP, see above). Their station logos featured the cute little smiling note guys. Here's a later sticker from WLSD and one from Roanoke's public radio station WVTF. WVTF had formerly been WVWR-FM and was my very first ever radio station. WKEX Blacksburg, VA was where a certain person that Bucky Stover and I knew worked (and he shall remain nameless, otherwise he may try to sue me). This person was famous for an incident that occurred in Bucky's bathroom that involved a copy of Hustler magazine and resulted in him being given the nickname "Thumper." And also note the old WHSL Wilmington sticker, from their early days when they called it "Whistle 97."
When doing these sticker collages we generally reserved the position in the top row, center, for a really special one and referred to it as being "the place of honor" so this is where the WLS sticker just HAD to go. Over to the left there's WHEN Syracuse, NY featuring the colors of the Syracuse University Orange. I always liked stickers with call letters that spelled something and this is a good example. NW 98 Vancouver is the only hockey-related sticker in the collection. KEUN is in Eunice, LA—prime shrimping country— and features the picture of the shrimp (I also have always loved stickers featuring pictures of animals, mascots, and the like). And here's the famous WJLM Roanoke "J 93" sticker. WJLM had for years been gospel and the call letters stood for "Jesus Loves Me" but they changed the format to country and handed out stickers with a picture of a pansy-assed pink cowboy boot (no wonder they didn't appeal to their target audience). WNPT was from Steve's hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL and was owned by Ruth Harris. This collage is unique in that we have six Canadian stations represented here: in addition to NW98, there's CKAN, Toronto; CFTR, Toronto; CKSL, London ON; CHOO, Ajax, ON; CHAY, Barrie, ON.
Another "use up the ones in the shoe box" collage. Not a lot of favorites here, or interesting stories either, for that matter. The KALF Chico, CA sticker came from E. Curtis and is cool because it features an animal. Also the one with the fox, Stereo 101.9 which is from Canada, as I recall, but I can't remember the calls. KPOA, Lahaina, Maui is a nice one that makes you wish you were sitting on the beach in Hawaii. Rock 92 was in Greensboro, NC and Tim Edwards (formerly of WKSF) ended up working there for a while. The WLLZ Detroit "tire" sticker is pretty cool. KMDY (another E. Curtis sticker) was from Thousand Oaks, California and called itself "KoMeDY radio" and featured stand-up comedians. There's a newer K-STAR sticker that isn't nearly as cool as the original (featured above). This was the first time I'd mounted the stickers on the plexiglas in an "upright" pattern (the narrow sides were on the top/bottom and long sides were right/left). This was because my bedroom in Asheville had no more room for ones in the usual orientation, but by doing them this way I was able to cover a few narrow areas on the sides of the window.
Another "upright" collage. WKEE was in West Virginia and was where Vince Rutherford (13 Big WISE in Asheville) once worked. KRBB is a COOL sticker but I can't remember where it was. The current KRBB is in Knoxville and there used to be a KRBB in Wichita, KS but the frequencies don't match up. WMC was the Memphis TN station where WKSF's Chuck Finley worked for a while. 97IT was the station in Canton, NC. I was friends with a guy named Frank Byrd ("The Byrd-Man") who worked there. The only other thing in Canton was the paper mill (Girl: "Honey, kiss me where it stinks." Guy: "OK, I'll drive you to Canton!"). We have here another version of the KATT logo but not as cool as the original, above. WAIR was the R&B station in Winston-Salem, NC. Seems like it was the AM of WKZL? WFGW/WMIT was the religious station in Black Mountain, NC (about fifteen miles from Asheville). I drove up there one day to see if they had stickers. Walked in, and the lobby looked like I'd walked into a church. Bibles everywhere, and a big framed picture of the J-Man hanging on the wall. The receptionist was an old lady. They had one sticker sitting on the table. I thought I needed to put on a really good act to get it so I told her something along the lines of "Ma'am, may I please show my love for The Lord by having one of your stickers for my car?" KFAT was in Gilroy, CA (the garlic capitol of the world) and was another E. Curtis sticker.
This was my first "small" collage, and, again, was done for the purpose of covering the smaller blank spaces (the only ones that remained) on my bedroom walls. Also, this one shows the only instance of me screwing up and putting the same sticker on two different boards —WMC Memphis. WTYN Tryon, NC was from the hometown of Brother Bill. This one features two "balloon" stickers: Q105 Tampa, FL and KCEE which was in Tucson, AZ. WWNC became the sister station of WKSF after the big sale in 1986 which was Pine Trails Broadcasting buy WKSF/WISE, then sell WISE, then buy WWNC, then move us into THEIR building. This was the beginning my leaving Asheville. Z-100 was actually located in New Jersey but was across the river from New York City and is the station where Scott Shannon devised that awful "Morning Zoo" bullshit. Not long after I moved to Asheville from Wilmington, WAAV obtained the 980 AM frequency, leaving the 1340 frequency open. It became WBMS which stood for "Wilmington's Black Music Station." The stickers were a whole lot better than the radio station. KOOO was, I believe, in Omaha, NE and was one of several stations at the time doing the Al Hamm's "Music Of Your Life" format (which WAAV did while I worked in Wilmington). KRQR was in Chico, CA and was another E. Curtis sticker.
The last collage that I did. This, because upon leaving Asheville in early 1988 I moved to Raleigh and lived in a condo with Mary (soon to be my wife) and her brother. There was nowhere to put the stickers and we didn't want to have to patch the screw holes in the walls upon leaving. Afterward I never put them up again, though one day, if I ever remodel our walk-up attic, I will put them up again (also, there enough in my shoebox, accumulated since then to do one or two additional boards). KZAP was in Sacramento, CA (another E. Curtis sticker). Two Roanoke stickers, the latest from WFIR and J93. WIVK AM/FM is in Knoxville, TN and was cool because of the frog. WTZQ is in Hendersonville and featured former WKSF stars Brother Bill, GT, Chuck Finley and Kenny Buckner. WBAP is in Fort Worth, Texas. Most folks think they were a religious station and the "BAP" stood for "Baptist" but it actually stood for "We Bring A Program." Also, I believe that WBAP has the greatest daytime coverage of any station in the USA.
Photos by The Girl