We'll be back to our regular news and information in Monday's IRW. We wanted to devote tonight's special issue to remembrances of former Indianapolis GM Chris Wheat. Here's an abridged version of what we published in Monday's IRW.
In the 1980s, WFBQ (94.7fm, Indianapolis) routinely lead ratings and revenue, largely based on the success of The Bob and Tom Show, hosted by Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold. Among many people Bob and Tom could thank for their success would be their GM through much of the 1980s: Chris Wheat.
Mr. Wheat passed away last Friday at age 66. After graduating from The University of Cincinnati, and a broadcasting career with stops in Cincinnati and Tampa, Mr. Wheat spent two decades as GM at Clear Channel in Indianapolis. While at Clear Channel, his stations won 9 Marconi awards. After leaving Clear Channel, Mr. Wheat ran the Entercom/Norfolk, Virginia cluster, then back to Indianapolis at Cumulus' cluster on North Shadeland Avenue for nearly five years, and then became GM for Saga's cluster in Asheville, North Carolina. Mr. Wheat retired in 2015.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00pm on Monday October 23 at Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church, 8000 Miami Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45243. Burial will be private.
Several broadcasters e-mailed IRW with remembrances:
Bob Kevoian: "We had a number of general managers prior to Chris but when he came in, he let the talent be the talent. He let us be us. And he knew he had a good product and sold the hell out of our show. A lot of general managers don’t spend after-hours time with the staff, but he did. Chris was a good guy to hang with, a great friend, and made an enormous impact in the Indianapolis radio market."
Tom Griswold: "Chris Wheat managed Q-95 for the better part of two decades. He put together a brilliant sales and programming staff and supervised the phenomenal ratings and revenue growth that placed Q-95 among the elite stations in American radio.
Chris achieved much of this success by creating an on-the-job atmosphere pumped-up with joy and fun.
In short, he was a wonderful boss. Everybody loved him.
He held the radio station together with great wit, charm, and skill.
Chris was able to contain our cast of clowns at the Q-95 rock 'n roll radio circus and actually maintain the station as a viable business.
His meetings were like stand-up comedy shows... with a lot of heckling.
Chris didn't do things by the book... he re-wrote the book.
I will always miss the sound of Chris Wheat's voice coming over the public address system at Q-95 -- "Bob and Tom... please come to Mr. Wheat's office... we need to talk ..."
Jay Baker: C"hris Wheat was the perfect guy at the perfect time to guide Q-95 into some pretty heady times. As you know, Bob and Tom super nova-ed...but it was Wheat's hand on the tiller that corralled it all. Sadly, he was only 66...what a loss to his family."
Bill Shirk: "He was one of the best GM of the city ever saw. Credit him for the vision of how popular Bob and Tom could be."
Jim McConville: "What impressed me most about Chris was his people skills. I thought he was the best personnel manager I'd worked for, especially given the extent of his staff responsibilities, including oversight of the Bob & Tom show staff. He was relatable to everyone, something difficult to find in many managers."
Art Vuolo: "Chris and I had a strange relationship. He didn't like my being in the Bob & Tom studio with my video camera, thinking it was a distraction to the talent. Later he realized how I was capturing radio history. It was also special that he was there at the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2015 when "the boys" were inducted and it was announced that my entire video archive, with LOTS of B&T, would be enshrined into the museum in Chicago in a perminate exhibit."
Jed Duvall: "When Frank Wood (WEBN/Cincinnati) and Randy were looking for an effective sales-oriented G.M. that could handle great difficult talent, Chris was the guy. Chris was always cool under fire, from my observation, and took problems and challenges in stride, especially when the F.C.C. investigated WFBQ and Bob and Tom for "obscenity" and violating community standards, including Tom Griswold's personal attacks on attorney John Price. Bob and Tom called him "Buck" on-the-air, as in "The Little Rascals" Buckwheat. Chris was a classic case of still waters running deep. He was a good guy."
That's all for this issue. Thank you for your continued support.
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