The WZMF Story.

Imagine literally growing up with and amongst the crazy environs of a progressive rock station. Seeing its’ beginning through the eyes of a teen age kid and having your mentors and influences being that of a group of seemingly immoral, strangely artistic and hopelessly poor hippies who were trapsing from the East Side of town to pastoral Menominee Falls to vent their creative and social agendas and then when the time comes for you to inherit it; to come into you own and actively participate, it all ends.

I’ve known of Steve Amann’s story for quite some time and never found the opportunity to write about it. His father, Ron Amann, was one of three Globe Union co-workers who decided to take a shot at owning a radio station. With the only available frequency being that of a low power (3,000 watt) 98.3, they partnered up and rolled the dice.

In 1999 WMSE held an on-air WZMF Reunion. It was a 2 hour show that featured many of the folks you may have already heard on the WZMF Final Hour podcast hosted by “Nick The Greek.” (Who, by the way, has a great on air presence.) During the show Steve called in from a Midway Motor Lodge in Kenosha to tell this story (with the help of some friends). It’s an articulate, passionate and relevent rendering of the tale of how ZMF came to be and what it was like to be in and around it.

No doubt Steve has much more to tell than the snippets here and hopefully we’ll someday see an expanded rendering of that in print. This runs 19:52.


Very special thanks again to Al Javorek!

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~ by Scott on April 17, 2007.

36 Responses to “The WZMF Story.”

  1. Where is Steve Stevens? I know he went to WOKY but now he isn’t there. Back in ’76 & ’77 he drove an old car with stickers holding it together. I worked for Roob Photography. We did a lot of the pictures for the studio (announcers). Thanks. Karin

  2. I see Steve everyday. I’ll let him know Karin is inquiring.

  3. By the way,…Although ZMF has gone from Menomonee Falls, along with Andresaks Tap, the Honey Bucket, and hanging out in Kohl’s parking lot with a 12 pack of Pabst, WZMF was definately the station of choice back in “76 and “77. (I was the guy driving the green “68 Charger)

  4. I’d also like to get in touch with Steve Stevens! He dated my mother right after her divorce in 1970, when I was 9 years old! :)I now work in pulbic radio.

  5. I’ll mention your name to Steve today, and see if he’s willing to post his cell on this site so friends can get in touch with him.

  6. One of the WZMF traditions was the Midnight Flick. The catch phrase “Music Energy,” along with bumper stickers reading “ZMF 98 Grabs Me”(?) and a decorative plaque-sign in the Maude Shunk Library reading “24 hours of Progressive Rock” promoted the station. Current issues were referenced with the News Blimp. DJs did not talk too fast on the air, and commercials were fairly laid back. For example, “Wooden Nickel loves you more, yeah.” Of course, who doesn’t remember the old Underground Switchboard song, “If your __ done left you, or you’re bummin’ out on LSD, just get yourself to a telephone, and call 271-3123. It’s the Underground, the Underground Switchboard. Call ‘em up anytime at all. They’re going to ease your mind, and all you have to do ic call 271-3123.”

    • I read from a web site a few years back that Country Joe McDonald did up this ad/public service message.

  7. Happened across your site and have to tell you it really takes me back.

    I worked at ZMF from late 1977 through 3/23/1979 sign off (I had the last “regular shift” before Downstairs came back in to host the sign off show. Hard to imagine that it’s been 30-years. The tribute show at WMSE was a lot of fun – saw some of the guys I worked with during my stay and shared lots of stories.

    I haven’t seen anything that referenced Joey Santoro – he took over as PD early 1978 and was an amazing talent. Working under Joey and Benson (MD) was more fun than I’ve ever had in any job since – Mary Farrell, Sue Finco (now on the GB Packers Board of Directors!), Donna Walker and Al Ferguson (among others) all made it a wonderful time.

    Final note on the sign off show – it was a double-wammy for some of us: we not only lost our favorite radio station – but we were out of a job! Damn!

    I ended up working in the building again a few years later as Ops Mgr at WXJY (the call letters that replaced WZMF when it went easy listening) – and then as it evolved in WFMF (I did the first air shirt as it went Classical – that was a long strange trip from playing the Tubes’ “White Punks on Dope”.

    Thanks for bringing all those memories back!

  8. thanks Doug!

  9. I thought there was a Disc Jockey Called Fast Eddie Dimasely? ( I think I am spelling it right? YIKES ) Thanks Dino J Balistreri Living in Texas

  10. Pastoral Menomonee Falls? As an early ZMF devotee (the Amann kids are younger than me; friends of my younger brother) and frequent Appleton Avenue cruiser – from McDonald’s to Colonial Plaza and back all night long – I can tell you any pastoral reference can’t be made to 1970 Menomonee Falls.The East Side had nothing on us.

  11. Hey, is anyone interested in the last ‘two’ hours of ZMF? I have it on cassette and it played clean and sweet the last time I ran it. I would offer it up to anyone who would do it justice and share it with the world. (I don’t know much about transferring analog audio to digital.) Really, I had a ZMF sticker on the inside of my locker for four years in high school, DID’NT see the Police at the Electric Ballroom in early spring 1978, and sadly, didn’t get out to Shady Lane on the last night, though many of my friends did. Thanks.

  12. Is Steve Amann and Steve Stevens one in the same?

  13. From a friend of Steve’s:

    Steve Amann worked at QFM under the air name of Steve Michaels. Steve Stevens worked at ZMF, he did the morning show at Q for a very brief time, (just before QFM simulcasted Steve Dahl’s show- about 1979). Stevens went on to Program WOKY and is now out of radio completely.

    Word is Stevens hangs in “The Falls.”

  14. Wow! I have been searching for info on Andresak’s Tap for some time now. Used to rent a room upstairs in the early 80’s from Jack. Dated one of the bartenders named Rhonda Ducharme. Wonder where she is now? Put up the cable TV lines in town and when the job was finished we moved on. Will be vacationing in Madison this fall and was wondering if I would still recognize things?

    What great memories! ….. Bert
    ps… never did gain a taste for Old Style!

  15. Hey, If anyone knows of Steve Stevens whereabouts, could they get ahold of me. I used to work with Steve at WZMf. I’d love to speak to him. Thanks. Those days were great. John Houghton

  16. What ever happened to Jay El? He did the night shift when I was Program Director, in the early 70’s.

    And on the business side, what ever happened to George Beudet? He used to live to the North, and right across Shady Lane from the station.

  17. john, beaudet
    email me and I’ll give you and update

    • George,
      My old man would love to hear from you. He lives in Ft. Myers, Florida and to this day your name still comes up in conversations. You’re one of a kind!

    • George, somehow, I just saw this. Where are you, I searched once and seems you are in the Northwest.

  18. I grew up on WZMF. The music, the shows and the balls the DJ’s had, left a lasting influence on me. Long lost is the eight track tapes I made of WZMF’s final hours. My freak friends and I used to play those final hours over and over. Frank Zappa came to me on WZMF airwaves making me a Zappa fan for life. Thanks.

  19. [...] The WZMF Story. « The Halcyon DazeApr 17, 2007 … I’ve known of Steve Amann’s story for quite some time and never found the opportunity to write about it. His father, Ron Amann, was one of … [...]

  20. I am not sure if this site is still active or not, but here goes. Steve Stevens and Ron Aaman were both dear friends of mine and if they are still alive and kicking, I would really enjoy a contact number or email so that I could get in touch with them. Frank Kapp, formerly with A&M Records,

    • Frank,
      I’m Ron’s oldest son Steve and I literally grew up in that crazy little place on Shady Lane. I remember Marty K pushing Henry Gross on us big time and my dad bringing home the vinyl and the very next night playing Shannon on the air because I’m a sucker for a great pop record. Those were utopian times for music.
      My dad is living in Fort Myers Florida with his 2nd wife Bobbi and is in great health. I will pass along your inquiry. Stevens still lives here in the area and is an electrician. He’s starting to slow down a bit but still a character. His cell # is (414) 651-8403.
      Hope you’re well frank and I’ll let my father know you’d like to catch up.
      Take care,
      Steve Amann

      • Steve, say hello to your dad for me. Tell him John Houghton said hi. I am a pastor in Northern California.

      • Hey John,
        I don’t talk to my father much anymore since he’s living in Fort Myers , Fla. but I did over the holidays and he got a good laugh out of the fact that you’re a minister. I mean, think about the last time we all saw you before you left for California. Minister wouldn’t have been an occupation we would’ve thought you’d drift into back then. Although my dad has become a regular church going christian himself he found it pretty funny! He says he hopes you’re well and happy and life’s been good.
        All the best and happy holidays!

      • Steve,
        Thanks for saying hi to Ron. I remember the “faith” it took for him to believe in Rock and Roll as something that could catapult ZMF from doctor’s office mood music supplier to culture changer. He did a great job encouraging people, and working with a lot of intriguing and hard to manage personalities …. especially in the early days. Stevens, Reitman, Me, Jay El, etc. Does anyone have a DJ roster for 1969-1970?

      • Hi John,
        I’m gonna take a look in my basement and see what I may have in the way of a roster. Quite frankly, my dad was out of town when we all gathered to do the last show (too emotional for him). Anybody who worked there over the years came out for that sign off program and literally hundreds of people filled the field around the building. It was a hell of a party. Unfortunately when we signed off (about 20 minutes past midnight) people started grabbing mementos and a lot of stuff disappeared. I’ve still got a pretty good chunk of the library in my basement but I’m not sure I have a line-up roster. If i find one or anything else you might be interested in I’ll let you know and I’d be happy to send it to you. Sadly Jay El (Jack Leghnick) passed away before we closed up shop for the last time. Don’t know if you were still around when Michael St. James (Ignatiev) started doing middays. I worked a number of years later at a classic rock station with Michael. He too passed away from cancer. Bobbin Beam just moved back to wisconsin after success in the voice over biz in San Diego. Reitman retired from a long stint doing morning at WKTI (top 40 ) station here in town. He now does a show at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee just for kicks. Leslie also came back here some years ago and owned a Japanese sushi joint for a while. Not sure if that’s still going on. Actually John, I just went into the basement and the first thing I found in a box was a letter addressed to you on Capitol records stationary from Yoko Ono thanking you for giving her airtime to talk about her album “Approximately Infinite Universe” and includes a P.S. signed by John Lennon. It’s dated March 9th, 1973. I’d be happy to give that to you and I’m sure there are a few more little ditties I could find that you might like to have.
        Tell you what, give me a call when you get an opportunity. I’ll get your mailing address and get a few things off to you. My home phone is (262) 251-8065.
        As I’m writing this I’m looking at an old Bugle American with an article about FM rock radio with a big picture of Jay El at the console with a cowboy hat on and a cigar hangin out of his mouth. Boy, is this bringing back memories. Ring me up and I’ll make sure you get a few things to rekindle what was a glorious time for all of us.
        Take care,

  21. I’ve heard conflicting stories and quite don’t remember the reality,( I was 18 and dazed and confused) but I thought the last song they played on wzmf was the star spangled banner by Hendrix. A friend of mine says the first and last songs they played was “Break on thru” by the doors. Can someone please help me with my sometimers? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Suzette,
      You are close. The Doors “Break On Through” was the 1st song played way back in the day when the format went Free Form. The last night of WZMF we were not supposed to broadcast past Midnight but finally ended shortly before 12:30AM. I played Don McLean’s “American Pie” (the day the music died) and then ended with Jimi’s glorious “Star Spangled Banner.” And trust me, there were dozens of us dazed and confused in that studio that night. A magical mystery tour you might say.
      Steve Amann

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