Thursday, March 28, 2013

Richmond Radio: Radio Legends Document Music History

Mitch Malone
For Mitch Malone, a host with Urban Contemporary WKJZ 99.3/105.7 KISS FM, getting into the radio business in Richmond, VA was mostly luck. Brad Johnston had it in his blood with a brother in the business.

But, according writer F.M. Wiggins at,  both men made an impact on radio and Johnston last year completed a documentary on R&B radio in central Virginia.

"He was one of the guys I followed growing up," Johnston said of Malone. Johnston goes by the name 'Elbravador' on the radio and for his filming projects.

Johnston began his documentary, "The Soul: R&B Radio Legends of Central Virginia," more than four years ago.

"I'm one of those individuals who is so lucky, I don't even know how to describe it," Malone told Wiggins. "I was thrown into a situation where I was basically manning a radio station that served the Richmond-Petersburg area by myself. I had nobody else on the air but me. That was WPLZ."

He said that the station he first applied to, WSSV, played mostly music from bands including The Beatles and Herman's Hermits.

"I put in an application there just for the fun of it, I didn't think they would hire me," he said. "The first couple of nights I played rock and roll, but then my ears, I just couldn't stand it, so I started slipping in a few R&B songs here and there, and quickly realized that once the staff went home they didn't listen to the radio."

"The boss caught on three or four months later," Malone said. "He asked me, 'Mitch, what do you think about a black FM station in this market?' "

Malone says that was how Magic 99 was formed; it was later simulcast on WPLZ.

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