Wednesday, June 6, 2012

WMDI-FM Erie, PA Started by Pentagon physicist?

WMDI-FM started by Pentagon physicist?

WMDI article was published in the Erie Press on Dec. 12, 1970
Was WMDI-FM, Erie's underground rock station, really started by a physicist who worked at the Pentagon? Yes, it really was.

Donald Mikovch built a station at the intersection of Waterford Road and Route 86 in Erie County, Pennsylvania in the winter of 1970. According to the Erie Press, WMDI was "the new home of soft, velvet sounds and hard, in-depth reporting." 

WMDI was owned by Mikro-Dawn, Inc. It's officers included Donald Mikovch, president, Conrad Clark, VP, Ronald Lang, treasurer and Wanda Mikovch, secretary. 

William Stanley was news director, Art Desin was advertising and sales manager. Keith Brown, Bernie Nitoff, G. Randall Stoddard and Leo Kehs were the on-air announcers. 

WMDI-FM 102.3 transformed into the 'stoned stereo' station that played underground rock and hard rock tunes in the mid-seventies.

Micro-Dawn Inc. sold WMDI-FM to Ron Seggi in the summer of 1980 for $465,000. "Seller is principally owned by Donald L. Mikovch, who has no other broadcast interests. Buyer is owned by Ronald, Guy and Sam Seggi, brothers (one-third each). Ronald owns Erie, Pa., advertising and public relations company. Sam and Guy operate construction business, also in Erie. They have no other broadcast interests. WMDI is on 102.3 mhz with 3 kw and antenna 400 feet above average terrain." -Broadcasting, Aug. 4, 1980, p.54.

Seggi later moved the station to Peach Street in Erie, PA and changed the format to MOR.  

Enjoy more fun facts and photos of historic Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

15 comments:

  1. Actually the conversion to Album rock & Roll started way before Ron Seggi bought it. The format switched around '73-'74. Ron Seggi got teh station in the early 80's and turned it into a Top 40 "Red Hot 102" and went against K104 and WJET.

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  2. Tom Lavery: Nothing heavier than Sinatra, boy that didn't last too long.

    Jim Griffey: And I don't recall ever hearing all that other programming they talked about.

    Tom Lavery: I was very young. Interesting concept for the time.

    John Gallagher: One the transformation to progressive rock began in 1973 or 1974, certainly none of the announcing staff in 1970 went on to other stations here.

    Jay Phillippi: I worked for Ron at Red Hot 102 '83-84. Afternoons in the crystal cage at Millcreek Mall.

    Herb Palmer: most of us who worked there around 79/80 had no idea who the owner was. I knew it was a "group" out of DC, but that was all. When Ron bought the place he quickly changed the format to an MOR style of music..... Tony Bennett, Sinatra, to The Carpenters and Ann Murray....... Our studios were on the "top " floor of the McKean municiple building in downtown McKean .... it took a while to make the move to Walker Blvd in Erie and then the switch to Red Hot 102. By then I was gone to full time at WEYZ Am 1450 playing Al Ham's THE music of Your Life.

    Jay Phillippi: When I Worked for Ron the studios were in the back of Seggi Aluminum on Peach

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  3. jefedirecto@hotmail. comJune 7, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    796.- 2085 I think was their telly. I must have dialed it a thousand times.I won tickets to a Harry Chapin gig at some prom I never went to. Also a album by the Doors.wierd scenes from inside the goldmine.Awesome radio for the times. They turned me on to the B_52s way back when.I wish they were still around.

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  4. My dad left Erie on my 8th birthday so I was definitely younger than 8 but I remember going to the WMDI studios as a youth and a couple of times I remember taking records out of the trash, literally out of the trash. Random stuff I'd go home and listen to. All had the promo stamp on them. I specifically remember scoring Triumph's Rock & Roll Machine and being mad that the station would throw such a rocking album away. In fact, not knowing about this blog, I was thinking about that experience just last week. Not kidding. I totally remember that station, the studio and its offices there just outside of Erie. And the "long" drive it was to get out there when we'd go. I was 6 or 7 years old I guess. How come a decent radio station can't exist in America today???? WHY?

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  5. We used to drive WAAAYYY out there and take pizza to Garrett. Probably around '74.

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  6. I was turned on to WMDI in 1974 at 15 ...and the thing about it was, that where I lived in Millcreek, out by the West Ridge Volunteer Fire Dept.....my reception was terrible.
    So, to solve the problem.....my bedroom was on the second floor of our house...and there was this huge, old Oak tree that was right outside of my bedroom window.
    I took a long piece of stereo wire and crawled out my window, into the tree. I climbed as high as I could in the tree and I tied off that wire and used it as my antenna wire for my stereo.
    It helped bring in my reception good enough that all I ever listened to from that point on, was WMDI.
    I credit that radio station for helping me not only develop my love for good rock and roll, but for also opening up my mind to bands that weren't so well known..
    I remember vividly, hearing for the first time....Kraftwerk's Autobahn album...and was enthralled with hearing that music.
    I went out and bought the album and still have it to this day.
    I also remember that for a period of time, maybe a week or so....every morning at like 6AM or so....because I was up getting ready for school...that they would play the song "Good Morning" off of Steve Miller Band's album, "Number 5"
    I also remember one time, later at night...I was laying in my room, in the dark, with my black light on, listening to the station....and they were playing an album side..(unfortunately I don't remember what it was) and then that side ended and all you heard for almost a half an hour was the tick, tick, tick of the needle in the groove at the end of the album.
    The DJ finally came back on and apologized and said something to the effect of..
    "Sorry folks....I fell asleep"
    Boy....do I ever remember that station and how great it was....
    Hearing bands like Budgie, Babe Ruth and so many more.....
    That was the single greatest radio station I have ever heard in my life....
    and then.....in December 1976...I was off to join the Air Force....
    and had been gone for a couple of years before I made it back home....and by the time I got back, and went to dial in 102.3 on the car radio....and heard something that was nowhere near what they used to play...and I was so disappointed.
    That station, with the old format I remember, may be gone....but it certainly isn't forgotten.....
    Thanks WMDI, for all the great old memories...!!
    Kevin

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  7. jefedirecto: Boy, does that phone number ring a bell (pun intended)! I too dialed it many times and to my chagrin once got some ribbing from the DJs for being the umpteenth kid to request "Magic Man".

    Kevin: I have many similar memories, including having to jerry-rig an antenna to get the signal reliably at times. There were other "progressive" stations around, but they were usually almost impossible to receive. One I recall was CJOM from Windsor, and I remember the DJs discussing U.S. politics one day. Incredibly, one of them opined that Henry Kissinger should run for President as he was "the only f-ing statesman they have". Those were indeed wild times, and MDI was without a doubt seminal to my appreciation for non-mainstream music. I'm starting to hear "Mother Russia" by Renaissance in my head as I type.

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  8. I had to turn our clock radio upside down tune in WMDI. I heard "End of the Century" by the Ramones for the first time on MDI, and "Hocus Pocus" by Focus. (BTW: Ariel Bender was the pseudonym of the guitarist of the British Lions, one of my favorite bands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_M3Ce-GjV4&feature=related "One More Chance to Run.")

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  9. WMDI was simply the best rock and roll radio station I've ever heard. Anywhere. It was the only station I listened to during my high school years in the 70s. I heard punk, new wave, progressive, art and all other kinds of non commercial rock and roll first on MDI. Remember the concerts they'd sponsor at the Fieldhouse? Great memories!

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  10. Actually the format change happened in late 1978 or early 79. I know, because I was one of the jocks on at that time, and they foolishly let all of us do a final shift before leaving. We left en-mass, although I got calls to come back, and am sure a few of the others did as well. My final moments were a rant against the change, delivered over the Door's "When the music's over".

    Was a great place to work.. except in the winter! Several of us were stranded for a day or so over the years..

    Swack 1976-1978

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  11. WMDI used to be played in the morning lounge in the cafeteria of Harborcreek High School in the mid-late 70s. I listened to it then and every chance I got. The playlist was eclectic, interesting, and better than anything else on the air at the time. MDI was where I first heard songs like "Nuclear Apathy" by Crack The Sky. The songs were rarely ID'd and it took me years to find out who did that song. I was in a record store one day when the clerk played it over the store PA and I bought the album on the spot. MDI introduced me to great music that I would not have otherwise found. Great memories, indeed!

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    Replies
    1. Paul, I remember how excited I was when the Crack the Sky "Safety In Numbers" was finally issued on CD. We sold it in our store. I loved the title track and the song "Lighten Up McGraw." I had a snippet of a song on a cassette tape that took me more than 25 years to find. Turns out it was "Boiler Boiler" by 999. It was a lot harder to find music before the Internet.

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  12. When I was there it was 'High atop Turkey Hill" at the 4 corners , with nothing around for miles...Swack

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  13. I did morning drive on WMDI. I was Sheila Quinn in the morning. I love it.

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  14. I was a loyal listener throughout my college career at EUP - 1974-1980. It was the soundtrack to my life at that point. Sitting in the dorm, listening to Garret play the Musical Box. I remember the last tune that was played by the real WMDI before the "Joy Boys" took over. The jock - who I cant remember, put on Ted Nugent's Great White Buffalo after a long tirade against the new mgmt.then left the studio. After about an hour of dead air, the "Joy Boys" arrived and threatened criminal charges against the jock who abandoned his post. Apparently the "Joy Boys" were these dudes from Baltimore hired by the Seggis to creat the new format. A sad day in local radio history.

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