Back in prime time…quite the journey

To steal a line from an early Elvis number, have you heard the news? Johnny Maraca is back in prime time on 97.7 the Beach in Wasaga Beach.
The natives were restless. The 11 pm showtime was past their bedtimes and, in all honesty, if I had to wait that late for my favourite radio program, I’d be wishing it ran earlier as well.
Starting this weekend, The Rock and Roll Riot will air from 7 till 8 pm, preceding Daryl McLean’s Beach Party instead of following it. As Riot superfan George Schaefer calls it, “wine and pizza time.”
Mmm, wonderful combination!
It has been a bumpy ride but one well worth taking.
The show made its debut in 2008 as The Roots of Rock and Roll. Then program director of 97.7 Rick Ringer wanted to put a rock and roll oldies show on the air. I came up with the “then and now” idea…’50s rock and roll to present day rockabilly…and Johnny Maraca was unleashed!
The Roots of R&R started out on Sunday nights from 7 till 11. Then 97.7 put an auto racing talk show on Tuesday nights at 10, and Rick thought my show would be a good lead-in for Racetime Radio, and it moved to Tuesdays 7 till 10. Racetime Radio lost its sponsor and Johnny filled the extra hour.
Then came the dreaded budget cuts.
I negotiated to keep the show going in a 2-hour format, Saturdays 5 till 7.
More budget cuts. In the words of Chuck Berry, Bye Bye Johnny.
My show had also run in a 4-hour version on our sister station in Orillia. Both versions were axed at the same time but thankfully, Rob Reid came to my rescue. Rob runs an internet station called Swisssh Radio, based in Orillia. He offered me a spot on his station and the show was reborn as Johnny Maraca’s Rock and Roll Riot.
Todd Miller at Radio That Doesn’t Suck agreed to carry the Riot and then I found an American radio message board, and WRSG in Middlebourne, West Virginia. It’s a high school station. Greg Goodfellow is an adult volunteer who serves as the station’s program director and he posted on the board, looking for syndicated programming. I emailed, he liked my show and I was soon rocking Tyler County.
And then, God bless him, our new PD at 97.7, Rod West, got me back on local airwaves. First at 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays…and now in prime time, at 7!
So thanks to Rod, George, Ashley Sunshine and everyone else who’s been along for the ride…and to go back to another early Elvis classic, it’s been at least 16 coaches long!

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