I was talking to George Gimarc last night (more about that later ... ish) when he mentioned that the Texas Radio Hall of Fame has announced its 2011 class of inductees. Among them is a local great who won't be able to attend the October ceremony: the great Cuzzin' Linnie, who died June 30 and was buried over the weekend. Also included: Ira Lipson, the man responsible in 1973 for transforming Belo-owned WFAA-FM (whose failing format at the time was "Beautiful Music") into rock-and-roll-spinning KZEW-FM, with which you may be familiar.
No need to recap the history of the station when it's available here and here. But Lipson, with the blessings of fellow Detroiter John Dew, was responsible for the whole shebang -- everything from the name to the sound to the Zoo Freak logo, which was concocted by artist Dan Phillips, a Lipson pal from way back. Here's how he tells the story:
I was a crazed animal back then, a whirling dervish of energy, and every day I couldn't wait to get to the station. When I was at home I'd write ideas and notes wherever I was in the house, and in the morning I'd make the rounds and collect them all for the day's work. At one point I was writing so many notes while driving that I thought it was a safety hazard, so I got a grease pencil and started writing on the windshield so I could keep my eyes on the road. ...The Zoo bowed September 18, 1973. Quick -- name the first song played, no fair peeking. Good job. And now, here's Mark Christopher interviewing Frank Zappa after his show at Memorial Auditorium on March 15, 1974. Because.
It was a great time in my life. And I fucking loved my job. I could come up with an idea in the morning and set it into action right away. I didn't have to wait for research to come in or for approval from consultants or the board of directors. I was free to create, and it was thrilling for me.