Monday, April 17, 2017

NYC Radio: Morning Zoo Reunites On WCBS-FM

(WCBS-FM composite)
For fans of the original Z-Morning Show, this will be a week to be listening to CBS Radio's Classic Hits WCBS 101.1 FM.   Starting Tuesday, morning host Scott Shannon reunites with longtime pal Ross Brittain.  But it's only for four days, starting April 18.  Brittain will be filling-on for current cohost Patty Steele, who will be on vacation.

The first morning zoo program, focusing on the zany interactions of two hosts, was conceived and performed in 1981 by Scott Shannon and Cleveland Wheeler of WRBQ-FM in Tampa, Florida, known at the time as Q105 FM. Wheeler had been serving as the personality DJ hosting the morning drive program for the station's previous four years. Shannon was the new operations manager in 1981. The two decided to break with tradition and work up a wilder show together, founded on their own playful, irreverent and provocative interaction, with spontaneous bits of parody and comedy leavened with straight news.

They called the show the Q Morning Zoo, and it quickly became a hit.

In July 1983, Shannon left Tampa to reinvent WHTZ 100.3 FM "Z-100" in the New York City market, based out of Secaucus, New Jersey. On August 2, Shannon hosted the first Z Morning Zoo at WHTZ, soon settling into a team which included straight man Ross Brittain, newscaster Claire Stevens, public service director Professor Jonathan B. Bell, 22-year-old "Captain" Kevin on the phones, and production manager J. R. Nelson.

Shannon's popular new format brought WHTZ from last place to first in just 74 days, and put longtime #1 morning DJ Don Imus in second place. When WHTZ became a huge ratings success, the name and format of the "Morning Zoo" was copied by stations across the USA.

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