After more than a year of broadcast silence, Aberdeen radio station WAMD 970 AM has been powered up once more with an expanded signal and fresh programming ready to hit the Harford County airwaves.
The station’s format will feature a mix of up-tempo music and local talk from live DJs, with local news provided by The Dagger.
A return of the program Aberdeen Happenings, hosted by Aberdeen native Mark Schlottman, will be the first local offering beginning today, May 2–and I’ll be Mark’s first guest. Mark and I will talk about WAMD, The Dagger and whatever else he plans to spring on me–the last time Mark and I were together on the radio, he made a comment that lit up the phone lines. Station owner Bill Parris may also be chiming in, so tune in to 970 AM to hear us from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Station manager Steve Clendenin is making a return to the station where he first started in the mid-1990s and is excited about bringing local news coverage back to the airwaves in Harford County.
“I got my start in the business at WAMD in 1995 and an happy to be returning as the General Manager and morning drive host. WAMD was always highly regarded for it’s local news commitment, and I am very excited to launch a partnership with The Dagger. Combined, we will bring true local news coverage to Harford County through multi-media platforms…and back to it’s roots on WAMD. The rebirth of the radio station marks a new era in Harford County media, one that will bridge community news, local high school and college sports, music and entertaining programming together….and I am looking forward to this partnership with the Dagger to help make this new era of WAMD a success,” Clendenin said.
We’ll have more details on The Dagger’s new partnership with WAMD soon, but with the station focused on what lies ahead, we couldn’t resist the urge to take a look back at the old days of WAMD through the eyes of “Captain Jim”, a.k.a. James V. McMahan Jr.
A former longtime owner of the station and the voice of Harford County radio for decades, Captain Jim, now a Harford County councilman, shared some reflections on a job he loved and his hopes for the future of WAMD:
Few men had two jobs they loved more than I did; the Army and Broadcasting. I was lucky that I could do both at the same time.
I retired from Broadcasting in 2003 when I sold the station license to Big D Broadcasting in Dallas. People asked me many time, do you miss the station. My answer always was the same, yes, the audience was my family but I don’t miss the 3:30 wakeup call!!!
Radio is much different than when I began at WTTR in Westminster where I was attending college.
When I started we were still playing 33 1/3 RPM platters and when I left in 2003 we did not have a record or tape in the building. It was all on computer.
For 36 years I began my day with…”Hello again everybody…time to start the day .”
Mr. Bob Callahan and I worked side by side for nearly 25 years, never depending on a script but having that unique chemistry to play off each other to bring a laugh or at least a smile to our audience.
We met the likes of Tiny Tim (without Miss Vickie), Lee Meredith, the Miller Beer Gal, Jeannie C Riley who had only one hit song in her entire life, “Harper Valley PTA”. We followed Cal Sr., Cal Jr. and Billy through the glory years of their careers. WAMD was a community station seeking always to bring together Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre De Grace as one Harford County Community. We responded to Hurricane Hugo and the Children of South Carolina. Jimmy the Danish, Birdman, Slick Greason, the Police Chief of Churchville, Dr Dick Streett, One of the honorary Mayors of Churchville, all made for interesting Radio Fantasy and a thousand stories.
News was our forte. Having a live report from nearly every newsworthy incident was something Harford County came to depend on through WAMD.
But we had fun too: The Stripper at the Bel Air Bakery, the April Fools Story of Big Foot in Rocks State Park, Helen of the Trees and her first Hot Air Balloon ride and her screams in place of a broadcast.
Serious news was a revered part of our format. WAMD won over 20 awards for Broadcast Excellence from 1978 to 2003. Of particular pride to me was the fact that WAMD never owned a delay system. Some tell me I was treading on thin ice without one and that, someday, someone was going to put me out of business with “dirty talk”; but I kept telling them, they did not know my audience. WAMD was their station, they were not going to step over the line and no one ever did.
For the past year WAMD has been silent and there has been a great void in public service communication. I hope the business community will embrace the new owner and support his endeavor to bring a radio voice back to Harford County. Broadcasting is an expensive business if done correctly and advertising is the only way an owner can pay the bills.