A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Party Dungeon

16 months ago, Dave and I launched the 97X Rumblings from the Big Bush podcast. We had absolutely no experience in the medium (it showed… still does) and zero expectations. We just liked getting together and talking about the great memories that were formed during our time at 97X, and we thought we’d get the old gang back together, press ‘record’ and put these stories out into the ether, just for kicks.

Over those 16 months, we’ve rediscovered something that we always knew back in our radio days: 97X listeners are a very loyal bunch. Somehow, some way, despite our complete ineptness at self-promotion, the folks who loved 97X/woxy.com found us. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised — after all these are the same people who had to stick a aluminum-foil-wrapped boombox antenna out their window to tune in back then. But when we get emails at 97Xwoxy@gmail.com like the ones below, it gives us our own Sally Field moment.

From Fred G.:

Hi guys,
LOVE the podcast thank you for doing this. I could write an extremely long email trying to explain how much 97X/WOXY meant to me but I would most likely ramble on and on.
The reason I am writing, outside of wanting to share me praise is I had a WOXY related memory come up on Facebook today from 2013 and thought I would share it. Here goes:

Was listening to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”, in the car, on the way home from work. There were talking about personal important moments in radio in response to World Radio Day. The moment that came to my mind was not a big national event. It was the last terrestrial broadcast of Oxford’s Ohio’s 97.7 (97X) (WOXY) “BAM The Future of Rock n Roll”

WOXY was not only one of the first independent “Modern Rock” radio stations in the country but they were OUR station. In a local market that was and is dominated by big Clear Channel cookie cutter stations and talk radio, this was something cool and oh so local. The station started in 1983 and I stumbled upon it in high school around 84 or so and my outlook on music was changed. Not only was there great music but there were the DJs themselves, the quirky self-produced commercials and so much more.

When it was announced in 2004 that WOXY would be ending all broadcast (including internet as far as we knew at the time) I was devastated. 97X went out in style though, which brings me to my whole point:
I was trying to listen to the last minutes of the broadcast over the internet on my home computer. Technology was not cooperating, so I had to drive my car to the top of the hill in Mariemont in order to get a signal. (97X was notorious for not having the strongest signal in the Cincinnati area.) So I sat in my car in the dark of an empty parking lot as Steve Baker does his poignant and heartfelt final sign off and then silence….
The internet stream was revived. It was awesome and I loved it so until it too came to an end in 2010, but 97X truly died for me that night in 2004.

Thanks again!! And keep up the great work.
Fred Gumbert

From Heidi Arnold (later featured on Episode 20)

Thanks so much for this podcast!  It really has made me so nostalgic for my childhood.  I grew up in Oxford and religiously listened to the station until I left for college…   There are so many bands and songs that make me think so fondly of 97X.  97X will forever have a place in my heart. 

From Aaron Borns, former 97X employee later interviewed in Episode 22:

Loving the podcast! Great to hear your voices…and so cool you’re doing this. I discovered them last week…going through them in order and just finished listening to Julie’s episode.

I am so incredibly grateful for being given the opportunity to work at the station for the time I did….I can’t believe my good fortune. It truly was something special, and for you guys to bring those memories back to life in the way that you are is just too much fun (joy? 🙂 ).

From James Brubaker (his research was later featured in this 97Xbam post):

I’ve really been enjoying the podcast. I actually stumbled across it while doing some research for a project I was working on, and figured I’d share it with you guys. Here goes… 
I recently came across the archive of Modern Rock 500 lists on Craig Froehle’s website, and thought it would be fun to crunch some numbers and come up with a Modern Rock 500 Top 500. So, with the caveats that I had to do some data entry that might have some mistakes, and that Froehle’s site is missing lists for 94 and 98 (well, lists are there, but they appear to just be the 95 list repeated), here’s a ranking of the Modern Rock 500 Top 500: https://jamesbrubaker.net/the-modern-rock-500-500/

Anyway, the podcast is a nice mix of nostalgia and fun behind the scenes info. I’m really digging it. Keep up the awesome work.

From Daniel Jones (later interviewed on Episode 27):

Thanks for the pod. It is like finally being able to talk with someone about the treasure that was WOXY. I was overjoyed the times I went back to Oxford to visit old professors (handful of times only) and even more so when I accessed the stream and saw WOXY was still the best station in the universe. It’s absence is a very felt presence still. Thanks for the pod and for the WOXY spirit in which it is produced. Eagerly awaiting each episode!

Thank YOU for listening!

Folks are thanking us when really we should be thanking them for tuning in. As 97X station owner Doug Balogh liked to say, “without listeners we’re like one hand clapping.” Emails like the ones above really warm our hearts (and Dave is one cold-hearted SOB most of the time).

Grumpy Dave

Connecting with you makes us do our happy dance.

Sure, we’re not exactly conquering the podcasting universe… Serial and Joe Rogan don’t need to worry about us overtaking them anytime soon. But I like to think that Rumblings from the Big Bush is the Velvet Underground of podcasting.

“My reputation is far bigger than my sales,” he said with a laugh on the phone from his home in Manhattan. “I was talking to Lou Reed the other day, and he said that the first Velvet Underground record sold only 30,000 copies in its first five years. Yet, that was an enormously important record for so many people. I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band! So I console myself in thinking that some things generate their rewards in second-hand ways.”

Brian Eno, in an interview published in the Los Angeles Times in May 1982

We may have only a handful of listeners, but for those dedicated folks, we’ve given voice to the songs in their hearts. We’ve helped them reconnect with some old friends and fond memories, and we’ve had quite a few laughs along the way. That’s success in our book.

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