The Road To RockTrax

What follows is an uncensored version of a recent DougMorris.net entry. I rate it PG and there are some, as Star Trek IV called them, colorful metaphors. So, if you’re under 18, go check out Disney.com or something. If you’re surfing the net with your child (highly encouraged), tell Junior, “Go brush your teeth!” All complaints of use of foul language in this entry will be ignored.

April 7, 2002, (a Sunday, no doubt) marks six years to the day that RockTrax debuted on Rock 104. I remember my road to Rock 104 as if it were yesterday.

In the middle of March of 1996, I got the call from Larry Blakeney, president of Blakeney Communications, as he asked, “Well, how’d you like to come work for us?” At the time, I was working at another radio station in town hosting a show similar to RockTrax called BackTrax (a title I couldn’t use on the RockTrax site — DougMorris.net — even years after BackTrax‘ cancellation). Please don’t confuse BackTrax with BackTrax USA, a syndicated radio show based on ’80s music with Kid Kelly, or the Canadian-based music video show BackTrax.

Before Rock 104 came on the scene, my old station, which shall remain nameless — but we’ve nicknamed it A$$hole, One Blundered — had BackTrax on Sundays plus a spinoff show weekdays at the noon hour and classic rock tunes scattered throughout the regular rotation. Naturally, the rock from the ’70s increased when Rock 104 debuted April 1, 1995.

Days later, A$$hole, One Blundered’s program director claimed in a local newspaper article there’ve been more requests on the studio lines for ’70s songs. Bovine feces! He was running scared and he knows it.

Weeks later, the ratings period ends, the results come out in the fall of ’95, Rock 104 chimes in at #2 overall for its first book and A$$hole, One Blundered takes a severe hit. The only bright spots for the old station were — pardon the ego, but it’s true — me and BackTrax. And here’s how the program director thanks me — cuts my hours in half.

Needless to say, it was time for me to go. But where? Thoughts of going to another city came to mind. But, then, I thought of working for Rock 104.

No jobs at Rock 104 were available at the time, but I left them a tape and résumé. Between that fall and the following spring, I’d stay in touch with the gang at Rock 104. I even attended one of their remotes.

Then — the call arrived. Larry offered me my own show on Rock 104 — and also allowed to let me sleep on it. But, no, I jumped at the chance and he said, “Welcome aboard.” After that conversation, I immediately called the Rock 104 studio line since I knew I was about to be working with Stephen St. James again and Stephen just happened to be on the air at the time. He was quite pleased with the news.

After all that celebrating, it came time to sever ties with the A$$hole, One Blundered. That began with me typing up my letter of resignation. No, it didn’t start “Dear Schmuck,” — but, man, was it tempting.

As I turned in my two weeks notice, I’d hear changes were in store for A$$hole, One Blundered. The station was about to eliminate classic rock all together save for BackTrax on Sundays. To be fair to them (oh so briefly), this is what the old station should’ve done in ’95. But, it’s a little late for that now, is it? 🙂

Barely four months later, I attended my first Pine Belt Expo (a local trade show) since joining the Blakeneys. A$$hole, One Blundered’s general manager — who pretty much assumed that role for Design Media, A$$hole, One Blundered’s then owner, from corporate headquarters in Virginia — stopped by our Rock 104 booth on his once-a-month visits to South Mississippi.

I could just see the look on his face. Pete Carpey didn’t have to say a thing. His face just said, “If only I had clipped Rick James’ wings sooner, I could still have you on our team.”

And yes, you’re reading that right. If you were in South Mississippi in the Design Media days of my old station and wanted to talk to the general manager of A$$hole, One Blundered, you had to call the guy in Virginia. No wonder I wanted to leave?

Since April 7, 1996, the decision to come to Rock 104 is one I haven’t regretted. RockTrax has been backed by professionals of Rock 104 and its two sister stations, B95 and KZ94.3. All three stations are locally owned and operated — words you cannot attach to many stations these days. And RockTrax has been supported by its many listeners.

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