WMMM Returns, Gets Down To Business ... Radio

WMMM Business Radio Logo

The course that 1260 AM had taken with their identity change left many people confused. Most of the local folk still identified the station with the WMMM call letters and found the new WCFS call sign far from natural. The station still played its popular oldies music and was actively involved in community service, but something was missing. Some began to question the course that the former general manager had charted for the station.

It seemed like luck might have been with the station during 1989. A fellow broadcast engineer informed me that the station in Virginia which had taken over the WMMM call letters had gone silent. I mentioned this to Mark Graham. as this opened the opportunity to change the station back to the more familiar call letters of yesteryear. Morning man John LaBarca decided to pursue a new career opportunity and moved to Bridgeport's WICC-AM while midday personality Bob VanDerheyden, a former CBS radio executive, had taken over as the station's general manager and vice president. These events gave the station some latitude to explore other avenues of programming.

The station's return of the legacy WMMM call sign occurred on July 1st, 1989 with the format change not far behind. On July 17th, WMMM emerged with its all Business Radio format, shifting away from their former oldies music format. WMMM became an affiliate of the Financial Broadcasting Network based in Los Angeles, one of three 24 hour a day financial radio networks available at the time.

The new format prompted other changes. Leo Motyka, better known to his listeners as Lee Moore, had taken his popular "Doo-Wop Sock Hop" program to Dennis Jackson's WREF 850 AM in Ridgefield. Lenny Kerr and Tony Napoleon now assumed the duties of WMMM staff announcers.

As luck would have it, the Business Radio format would be short lived! FBN had been suffering from it's own financial difficulties and had failed to pay its employees. On a Friday during lunch, the entire FBN staff walked out "en masse," leaving WMMM and other network affiliates without programming. Lenny Kerr and Lee Moore ran home and grabbed their collections of records, returning the station to its former oldies format. The station stood with a mostly music format during its ownership by the Grahams.

WMMM still covered many community happenings. A new Italian show called "Family Fiesta" filled the void left when John LaBarca left the station. Peter D'Amico hosted the program geared toward the local happenings of interest to listeners of Italian heritage. A variety of other ethnic-based programming joined the schedule thanks to leased air time. The station's commitment to causes like the Save The Children radio auction continued as well. They even carried a radio version of home shopping. Mark Graham did his best in light of soft ratings and an advertising base that didn't come close to paying the station's expenses.