Broadcasting, Music, Music Countdowns, Radio, Retro Rock

1975 Superior Singles & WROV Roanoke Memories

As I think back upon the beginning of my radio career, the opening lyrics of “Old Days” by Chicago seems to an appropriate introduction about small radio markets during 1975.

Old days, good times I remember

Fun days filled with simple pleasures

Take me back to a world gone away

Memories seem like yesterday

I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and we didn’t have many choices to hear new music.  For TV viewing in 1975, there were only 4 options:  Local affiliates for CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. On the radio side of broadcasting, Roanoke had 7 AM and 5 FM stations.  Of the seven AM stations, here is the breakdown of formats:

  • Top 40
  • Middle of the Road (MOR)
  • News/Talk
  • Country
  • Religious (2 stations)
  • R&B/Soul

Over on the FM band, there was even less variety:

  • Beautiful Music (2 stations)
  • Public Radio
  • Religious
  • MOR

While other radio markets had viable strong FM stations playing contemporary music such as Top 40, album rock and country back in 1975, Roanoke listeners still had to rely on AM stations to provide them with up-to-date popular music.  It took another 5 years before FM radio took hold in the Roanoke area, with the advent of K92 (WXLK) 92.3 FM on January 1st, 1980.

During the halfway point of the 70’s decade, Top 40 outlet WROV 1240 AM dominated the Roanoke radio market. The station was small in radio power:  Transmitting only 1,000 watts in the daytime and 250 watts at night.  Even though WROV’s coverage area was only 25 miles wide, the station totally controlled radio listenership within the Roanoke Valley.

I started my first job in radio at age 18, working for WROV during April 1974. I was a student at Virginia Western Community College, obtaining an Associate Degree in Radio & TV Broadcasting.

At WROV, I was hired to be a remote engineer by the Top 40 radio station.  My responsibilities at the station included setting up equipment for remote broadcasts, running the soundboard and playing records, while a WROV DJ was in charge of announcing duties.

WROV DJ Larry Bly and Music Director David Levine. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

My first remote broadcast with WROV in April ‘74 was with DJ Larry Bly at the Roanoke Catholic High School “Spring Carnival” event. My last worked remote for the station was with Starr Stevens at Discount Records, Tanglewood Mall in November 1975.

In between my debut with Bly and farewell broadcast with Stevens, I worked around 20 remote broadcasts with legendary WROV DJ Bart Prater.  Some of the other DJs whom I worked multiple remotes with include Chuck Holloway, Rob O’Brady, Rich Randall and Dave Hunter.


Most remotes were in the 3 to 4-hour range.  The longest remote I worked was on Labor Day 1975 at Lowe’s on Orange Avenue with a legendary WROV DJ from the 60’s:  Jack Fisher. It was a “solid gold holiday weekend” and I played all 50’s and early 60’s rock & roll that day.

WROV DJ Jack Fisher in front of the station building. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

Many of my fondest memories working at WROV are with Bart Prater.  He started at the station in 1968, coming from WOLD Marion, Virginia.  Prater spent the next 13 years of employment at WROV, before moving over to crosstown Top 40 giant K92 during 1981.

Although Prater was a shy person by nature, his radio personally came alive when the microphone switch was turned on from mute:  Prater was a shining star and delivered big as the afternoon drive DJ for WROV.

While I was employed at the station, Prater won the 1975 Billboard Magazine Medium-Market Radio Personality of the Year award.  After winning the award, I remember Bart telling me that Top 40 KILT AM Houston had offered him a job but he turned them down. Prater said, “I didn’t like the big city and Roanoke is my home.  I decided to stay here.”

Bart Prater in WROV studio. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett

I have two memories working with Bart Prater that stand out for me.  When WROV first bought a wireless microphone for the station, Bart and I were at Lakeside Amusement Park in Salem for an afternoon remote broadcast.  Around halfway through the broadcast, Prater said he wanted to test the new wireless mic by riding on the “Shooting Star” roller coaster, while live on the air.

Bart had faith that the wireless mic would work throughout the roller coaster ride and decided to test it out: Live on WROV, without a test run. Prater then hopped on the Shooting Star and recited the Lord’s prayer just before descending down the ride’s first drop.

Prater made history that day as he successfully spoke to his WROV radio audience live, while riding on the Shooting Star Roller Coaster at Lakeside Amusement Park.  Although there were a few seconds of drop out with mic coverage, Prater could be heard loud and clear throughout his historic ride. It was an event that I will never forget.

A framed WROV 70’s poster that is owned by DJ Barry Michaels: Who worked at WROV from 1978 through 1981 and provided his photo to be used here on this music blog.

My second most memorable activity with Bart happened on the first day of spring 1975. It was sunny and warm that day in Roanoke and Prater wanted to do a remote broadcast outside of the WROV building this afternoon. The station’s studios were located on the corner of 15th St and Cleveland Avenue, along the banks of the Roanoke River.

I happened to be at the station that day and Prater asked me to run the main board for a couple of hours of his afternoon DJ shift, while he did a remote broadcast outside of the WROV building.  I eagerly said yes and jumped at the chance to do a remote broadcast:  This time inside of the main WROV studio while Prater sat outside of the building with a wireless mic for the remote broadcast.

Prater got to soak up the sun at the place he fondly called “PD Bottom” and I got to run the board inside the main studio. It was thrilling for this 19-year old teen. During my two hours running the board, I played the WROV number 1 song twice that day: “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John.

During my time working at WROV, we had many famous rock artists drop by the station for promotional visits.  The biggest personality to appear at our studios was Wolfman Jack.

Larry Bly, Bart Prater, Wolfman Jack and Chuck Holloway in WROV studio. April 1975. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett

Canadian rock band the Guess Who performed at the Roanoke Civic Center in April and they were going to play their summer of 1974 hit, “Clap For the Wolfman” at this show.  Joining them for this one song was legendary DJ Wolfman Jack.

The day before the Guess Who concert, “The Wolfman” came by the WROV studio to be interviewed by DJ Chuck Holloway on his evening air shift.  Wolfman Jack took over the controls on the WROV board and conducted a two-hour air shift for the station that night. WROV DJs Larry Bly, Bart Prater and Chuck Holloway all were in studio when “The Wolfman” made his historic Roanoke on-air appearance.

Larry Bly and Wolfman Jack at WROV studio. April 1975. Photo Courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

Two other highlights happened for me at WROV during 1975:

  • I met members of the Average White Band and jazz pianist Les McCann while working a remote broadcast at Discount Records, located at Tanglewood Mall.
  • When Suzi Quatro was in Roanoke for a concert, I met her inside the WROV building.


WROV air staff outside of the WROV building. Fall 1975. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

The rest of this music blog is what I consider to be the best songs that I played on WROV in 1975.  I will be counting down my favorite top 20 songs from 45 years ago.

Before I start my Top 20 countdown, here are five of my favorite songs that charted below the top 20:  Either in Roanoke on WROV or nationally by Billboard and Cash Box charts:

  • Amie: Pure Prairie League
  • Tangled Up in Blue—Bob Dylan
  • Bloody Well Right—Supertramp
  • Big Yellow Taxi—Joni Mitchell
  • Young Americans—David Bowie

Now I will be counting down my favorite top 20 songs from 1975.  All the songs that I have selected meet the following criteria:

  • The song had to peak at number 20 or higher on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Cash Box Top 100 charts.
  • I deem the songs to be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant.
  • My top 20 selections are personal favorites and still sound fresh to me 45 years later.

Rob O’Brady in the WROV studio. Photo courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson & the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

As Casey Kasem used to say on American Top 40:  On with the countdown:

  1. Can’t Get It Out of my Head—Electric Light Orchestra.

Peaked at #9 Billboard Hot 100

Penned by Jeff Lynne, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head’ was the first top ten single for ELO in America.  This pop ballad is aided by the exceptional cello and violin instrumentation.

  1. Low Rider—War

Peaked at #7 Billboard Hot 100

Funk rock band War delivers a tasty treat with the toe-tapping song, “Low Rider.”  A pulsating bass line and superb saxophone playing, brings clarity to the song about lowrider hot rod cars.

  1. Calypso—John Denver.

Peaked #1 Billboard Hot 100: As B-side to “I’m Sorry.” 9/75 (One Week)

Peaked #2 Billboard Hot 100: Later as A-side hit 10/75 (Four Weeks)

John Denver composed a tribute song for ocean conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his research ship, the Calypso in 1975.  Originally the B-side of the “I’m Sorry” singles, “Calypso” actually became the bigger hit, by logging 4 consecutive weeks at number 2 as an A-side hit.

  1. Old Days—Chicago

Peaked at #5 Billboard Hot 100

Chicago band member James Pankow wrote the song “Old Days” that reminisces about childhood memories.  With the brass instrument combination of trombone, trumpet and saxophone, this tune shines musically by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rock band.

  1. Pick Up the Pieces—Average White Band

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

As I stated above, I met Hamish Stuart and the rest of the Average White Band in 1975 while working at WROV.  “Pick Up the Pieces” is basically an instrumental and the music phenomenal: Saxophonist Roger Ball is exceptional laying down the groove on this tune.

  1. I’m Not in Love—10cc

Peaked at #2 Billboard Hot 100

One of the most distinctive singles of 1975 is “I’m Not in Love.”  10cc spent countless hours and weeks in the studio creating this masterpiece: Recording musical back tracks and multitracked vocals on the biggest American hit for the band.

14. #9 Dream—John Lennon

Peaked at #9 Billboard Hot 100

To be sure, “#9 Dream” has nonsensical lyrics: “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé.” Obviously, John Lennon had recorded other songs about the #9 before: The Beatles, “Revolution 9”and “One After 909.”  No matter the lyrical content, this was one of Lennon’s best singles during the mid 70’s.

  • Baker’s Dozen: These 1980 songs are the cream of the crop.
  1. Magic—Pilot

Peaked at #5 Billboard Hot 100

Scottish rock band Pilot blended “Sunshine Rock” and “Power Pop Rock” to achieve their only American hit record with their song, “Magic.” Infectious guitar riffs and bright, sunny lyrics, helped to create the finest “one hit wonder” single of 1975.

  1. Sister Golden Hair—America

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

Among the many soft rock bands of the 70’s, America was one of the most successful in that genre of music. “Sister Golden Hair” features dueling 12 string and slide guitars, plus excellent harmonies by band members Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell.

  1. Black Water—Doobie Brothers

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

Nationally, “Black Water” was a hit during March 1975. It was a hit much earlier in Roanoke as WROV’s music director Chuck Holloway stated playing the song as an album cut during September 1974.  The Doobie Brothers song became a number 1 song in Roanoke and then Warner Brothers Records released “Black Water” as a single.

WROV received a gold record for being the first radio station to play and break “Black Water” as a hit song in America. You can read more about how WROV’s Chuck Holloway helped to make the Doobie Brothers song popular, on a music blog message that I published last October:  1974 Singles:  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

  1. Shining Star—Earth Wind & Fire

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

My love for Earth Wind & Fire started when I played “Shining Star” for the first time on WROV.  The up-tempo groove that the funk/R&B/pop/rock band performs on the song is marvelous. I feel that the 45-rpm single of “Shining Star” is 2 minutes and 50 seconds of perfection.

  1. Jive Talkin’—Bee Gees

Peaked at #1  Billboard Hot 100

The Gibb Brothers made a comeback with “Jive Talkin’” during 1975. An excellent bass line sets the rhythmic tone for the tune.  Combining the opening scratchy guitar with a funky synth bass line, I consider this song to be the Bee Gees musical crown jewel, with their vast catalog of hit records.

  1. Junior’s Farm—Paul McCartney & Wings

Peaked at #3 Billboard Hot 100

I have always enjoyed the smokin’ hot rocking sound and whimsical lyrics of “Junior’s Farm.”  Wings guitarists Jimmy McCulloch and Denny Laine trade superb guitar licks, while Paul McCartney’s bass chord progression is solid. The record proved that Sir Paul could record more than just silly love songs.

  1. Fame—David Bowie

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

Early 70’s androgynous appearance of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust transformed into a more mainstream look when “Fame” became a funk/rock hit.  John Lennon helped co-write the song, sings backup and repeats the word, “Fame” multiple times with a quirky falsetto expanding three octaves, towards the end of the record.

  1. Killer Queen—Queen

Peaked at #12 Billboard Hot 100

Outstanding vocal harmonies are exhibited by Queen as they had their first hit record in America with “Killer Queen.”  Written by band front man Freddie Mercury, the song has a striking bass line and a prominent guitar solo by Brain May.

  1. Miracles—Jefferson Starship

Peaked at #3 Billboard Hot 100

60’s rock band Jefferson Airplane reinvented itself in the mid 70’s and became Jefferson Starship. Marty Balin wrote and sang lead on “Miracles.”  Highlight on the song include, David Freiberg’s organ, Papa John Creach on violin, Paul Kantner’s guitar and backing vocals by Grace Slick.


  1. You’re No Good—Linda Ronstadt

Peaked at #1 Billboard Hot 100

Linda Ronstadt reached superstardom with her cover version of “You’re No Good.” Backing musicianship on the song is impressive.  A driving bass line, superior guitar riffs and a sparse drumming pattern, generates a haunting melody.  I have fond memories of Ronstadt singing this song when I attended her Roanoke concert during May 1975.

  1. Free Bird—Lynyrd Skynyrd

Peaked at #19 Billboard Hot 100

Some may disagree, but I believe that “Free Bird” is the greatest Southern Rock song of all time.  Written by Lynyrd Skynyrd band members Allen Collins Ronnie Van Zant, the song has two distinct parts:  It starts as a power ballad and then transforms into blazing multiple guitar instrumental jam for the remainder of the tune.  Without a doubt, “Free Bird’ rocks!

  1. One of These Nights—Eagles

Peaked at #1. Billboard Hot 100

Coming in at number two on my 1975 countdown is “One of These Nights” by rock band Eagles. Don Henley sings lead while Randy Meisner contributes backup high harmony, on this song that features tight harmonies, urgent beats and superb guitar hooks.

Eagles was my favorite band when I worked at WROV and I had the pleasure of attending one of their concerts at the Roanoke Civic Center during May 1975. With Linda Ronstadt opening up for the Eagles, this was the best rock concert that I attended during the 70’s.  I loved hearing “One of These Nights” performed live that evening in Roanoke.

  1. Born to Run—Bruce Springsteen

Peaked at #17 Cash Box and #23 Billboard

Although “Born to Run” wasn’t a big hit on WROV, or on Top 40 radio, it has become the signature song for Bruce Springsteen.  It is my number 1 favorite song of 1975.


Just a couple of months after the “Born to Run” album and title track single was released, Springsteen made history:  The Boss became the first rock artist to simultaneously land of the covers of Time and Newsweek magazine on October 27th, 1975.

I love how Phil Spector’s, “Wall of Sound” musical production technique is utilized by Springsteen and Clarence Clemons’ excellent saxophone playing on “Born to Run.”


Photo above is a 45-rpm single of “Born to Run” that I bought at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Virginia.


My friend Dave Delaney of Roanoke recently wrote to me his thoughts on Springsteen’s break though hit, and his critique of the song is spot on:

“I’ve always loved the song “Born to Run” for multiple reasons: It has all the qualities of a perfect rock song with all its ducks in a row:

  • A great hook.
  • Heart-felt longing lyrics that make you care about what’s going to happen to the characters, with a hint of rebellion and teen passion.
  • A blistering saxophone solo.
  • Tonal contour, with Bruce sounding alternately exhausted and energized in the bridge.
  • * Add in its basic epic and anthemic quality, and it makes a complete musical statement in a tidy and radio-friendly 4-1/2 minutes.”

As Dave Delaney described above, “Born to Run” is a perfect rock song.  This epic ode is my absolute favorite single that I played on WROV during 1975.

Now that I have submitted my favorite song listing for the Top 20 singles of 1975, I am curious to find out your thoughts on the biggest hits from 45 years ago. What do you consider to be the best Top 40 singles from the midway point of the 70’s decade?

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with the critique of my favorite songs from 1975.  Your top songs maybe be completely different than my selections.  There are no right or wrong answers:  Just various opinions on the songs that I played on WROV during 1975.

I also would love to read any comments that you may have about WROV, Roanoke radio, or any other opinions about 1975 Top 40 radio across the American landscape.

My dog Penny Lane listening to Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Born to Run” on August 25th, 2020.

The memories that I have playing superior singles and working at legendary Top 40 WROV Roanoke in 1975, remains fresh in my mind.  I will remember and cherish those days forever.

This message started with opening lyrics from Chicago’s, “Old Days” and will close with ending words from the same excellent 1975 composition.  Rock on!

In my mind and in my heart to stay

Darkened dreams of good times gone away

Days of love and feeling fancy free

Days of magic still so close to me

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33 thoughts on “1975 Superior Singles & WROV Roanoke Memories

  1. Bernard Johnson says:

    Ahhh, 1975. I graduated HS and started college that year. Lost my 1st ever girlfriend right after HS, but perked back up as a freshman at Norfolk State College. Music got me through it all. It’s a known fact of my love of EWF. So, I’ll say “That’s the way of the World” was #1. But honestly, I dont have a solid #1 as I had so many ups and downs. “You’re my first, my last, my Everything” by Barry White, “Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell, “Pickup the Peices – AWB, “Love won’t Let me Wait” – Major Harris, “Laughter in the Rain” Neil Sedaka, “The Hustle” – Van McCoy. I have a long list but I’ll end by saying, I’ll never forget the year 1975 and how music got me through that year

  2. Mark Spooner says:

    Ah, 1975, my favourite year of music. I turned 15 that year.
    Countdown (Australia’s national music TV show) premiered in late 1974 and really took off in 75 – leading to a renaissance in Aussie music. Acts like Sherbet, Skyhooks, AC/DC, Hush, John Paul Young and others were front and centre of that.
    And of course we saw the rise of Abba, big time, led by Australia.
    You’ve already listed some of my all-time favourites from that year – One Of These Nights, Jive Talkin’, Sister Golden Hair, Junior’s Farm, #9 Dream.
    But here are some other favourites of mine, with a sprinkling of Aussie stuff as well:
    Once Bitten Twice Shy – Ian Hunter
    High Voltage – AC/DC
    Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
    Listen To What The Man Said – Wings
    Only Yesterday – Carpenters
    Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain & Tenille
    Yesterday’s Hero – John Paul Young
    SOS – Abba
    Fox On The Run – Sweet
    January – Pilot
    Down Down – Status Quo
    Department Of Youth – Alice Cooper
    Misty – Ray Stevens
    Philadelphia Freedom – Elton John Band
    Curiosity (Killed The Cat) – LRB
    Your Mama Won’t Like Me – Suzi Quatro
    Summer Love – Sherbet
    Girls On The Avenue – Richard Clapton
    Bad Blood – Neil Sedaka
    Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me) – Doobie Brothers
    Ah, wonderful times, wonderful memories and wonderful music.
    Cheers, Mark.

  3. Karen Cooper says:

    You had a wonderful ride at WROV, a trip down memory lane for me . As a native Roanoker I remember all of those personalities. I did have pizza with Wolfman Jack when I was about 14 in Nags Head one summer… just by accident. As far as the song list.. always a fan of ELO, 10cc always reminds me of my first job at Hunting Hills Country Club and high school crushes, Jefferson Starship tops my list as well. Keep us in the groove Dave.

  4. Gayle Deel says:

    Really enjoyed this Dave – brought back such memories of doing my homework at my desk listening to ROV. Great music, great DJs. The music of the 70s bring back such wonderful memories. Where did the good music go?

  5. Laurie Russell says:

    Another great blog David. Loved listening to WROV as a teen and beyond. Your blog brings back such fond musical memories. So neat reading about your cool adventures with the radio station!!

  6. Charmaine Sims says:

    I truly enjoyed this walk down memory lane and hearing of your experiences in radio. Since I graduated from HS in 1975, I thought there would be a slew of favorites from that year. Turns out I was wrong. Reading the list, most were not at all memorable for me including “Old Days” by one of my favorite bands, Chicago. “Sister Golden Hair” by America was very enjoyable, but even though I graduated in 1975, it was like a desert in a way, musically speaking, for me at least.

    I certainly did enjoy the read, and found myself being quite envious of your experiences!

  7. Patty Fariss says:

    I don’t know how you do it. You did well gathering & remembering all those stories & songs. Definitely a calling for you.

  8. bruce bias says:

    if you would have stayed on this career path, then you wouldn’t be around to share this with us. You would have been a big DJ at some power station in a larger market. Best yet maybe a video DJ at MTV. Great article my friend. no question to the best hit on my list. BTR by the BOSS

  9. Libby Dubick says:

    This brought back so many wonderful memories for me. I did the afternoon drive time news with Bart from 1975 through most of 1976. I loved working with him and being in Roanoke. Your pictures and songs captured the moment. Thanks.

  10. David Hardie says:

    Brother Woodson you outdid yourself with this outstanding blog. It hits close to home with your stories of WROV and their fabulous DJ’s. Bart Prater I believe did his first public appearance at Breckinridge Junior High in 1968 when you and I were in the 8th grade. The WROV DJ line up of John Cigna 6-10, Fred Freelantz 10-2, Jack Fischer from 2-6 and the incomparable Bart from 6-10 with request line from 7:30 to 8:30 were golden days. The lyrics from Chicago’s Old Days to describe those were very appropriate. I cannot argue with your top 20 picks. I will pick 4 and they are Old Days by Chicago, You’re No Good by Linda Ronstadt, Blackwater by the Doobie Brothers, and of course Born to Run by Springsteen. Those days were indeed incredibly memorable and special for so many of us. Thank you for recreating and recapturing those days for us from the Lowe’s on Orange Avenue to Discount Records at Crossroads Mall. They were indeed “good times to remember”.

  11. Mark Thomas Portzer says:

    Love the memories you brought back with this page. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the legendary WROV in the later days of the 80’s. Even then, we still packed the market area during our high school reunion and our New Years Eve dances.

  12. David Manrique says:

    First of all, congrats for your great work with the article, and heads up for your work at Roanoke radio station!
    Currently I live in San Diego, California, but I am a Tijuana México native, which is basically a sister City of San Diego, that’s how I got hooked to a great taste for good music, besides having a couple of brothers that were musicians in their youth, which listened and played jazz, funk, r&b, rock and soul. I am currently 58 years old, and I do agree with most of the positions you gave to your top 20 songs from 1975. One of these nights from the Eagles still one of my all-time favorite songs, eventhough it was released when I was just finishing elementary school. Keep up your great work with these kind of publications! God bless you, Sincerely: David Manrique.

  13. Darlene Richardson says:

    What a great blog, David! Bart Prater was my FAVORITE DJ back in the day and I loved the bit about him using the wireless mic on the roller coaster at Lakeside. That must’ve been a blast! Those were the days, huh? The music in 1975 was such a hodgepodge with country crossing over on rock stations, old bands like the BeeGees trying to reinvent themselves, and hot newer bands like Springsteen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc., moving to the forefront. It was a year of major transition in the music world, for better or worse. “Old Days” by Chicago was one of my favorites (& still is) as was Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” John Denver’s Calypso album was very creative, in my humble opinion, and I loved the tribute to Jacques Cousteau. I absolutely HATED the song “I’m Not In Love”–partly because they played it to death on the radio–and I still can’t stand to hear it;) Love the WROV photos & memories and, as always, thanks for shaking the old memory tree today!

  14. George Ahl says:

    What an awesome History lesson, Dave! I didn’t know there such a rich history with Roanoke’s local radio station.
    “One of these nights is definitely my favorite from the list, and “Blackwater” and “freebird” a tie for second. Fun fact: The guitarist Curtis Wright from pure prairie league used to work with my father doing masonry work.

  15. David H says:

    Great blog! Nice to relive some of your memories. I didn’t arrive in Roanoke until 1977 so it was fun to read about the history of local radio then. Sadly, radio ain’t what it used to be.

  16. Terrie Martin says:

    This is your BEST of the Best.
    I remember Bart Prater so well…I listened ALL the time
    and I remember when Wolfman was there…I certainly do. My friends and I were huge fans of Midnight Special and we were always at someone’s house when it came on..
    EWF is my all time favorite band EVER…I still listen to them and I always loved Philip Bailey…. especially the song “Reasons”
    That was such a wonderful time in my life….loved AWB
    also…they were awesome!!!
    Miracles is another fave, but it is hard to choose because I just loved them all…I loved that era period.
    Thank you David…This is an outstanding article and I agree that you missed your calling somewhere.

  17. Hi Dave, I love your latest musings, as usual. Please keep them coming. I really appreciate your insight into songs which were such an important part of my life growing up, not to mention now.

    I was also at the Linda Ronstadt/Eagles show in Roanoke in 1975. What a show!

    I hope your family is doing well.

    I am doing fine, plowing through this lymphoma chemotherapy. It’s been a wild ride but they’re taking good care of me.

    See ya,


    John W. Robinson PO Box 8233 Roanoke, VA 24014 USA 540.520.8572


  18. Bo moore says:

    Awesome memories thanks . I remember walking down to the station and ringing the doorbell and the dj giving us stickers and posters

  19. Rob Pait says:

    Great stuff. I was an intern at PD Bottom through five years of high school and college and cut my teeth on Jim Carrol’s High School Game of the Week broadcasts, also did some news. Answered phones two days straight during the Great Ice Storm of 78, Bart was intense, funny, and super smart. Rob O’Brady was the friendliest guy on earth, and Larry Bly was as sharp witted as they came. Decades later, I still remember the fun, wild times as a wide-eyed kid, and have always been grateful for knowing the all-star cast at the Rock of Roanoke.

  20. barry wiseman says:

    You studied Broadcasting at VWCC? I can only guess you had speech and diction class with Roger Wilson and had to recite the song from “The Music Man” You got Trouble. I myself called up “Big Bear” one day and offered myself for free to do anything just to get into the business, I was a senior at William Byrd at the time. I was told they would get back with me. They did and was told that if I worked there I had to be paid! WOW! I was so excited I went in and met Carol at the desk first then Barry, then Bart. I met Tim, Pat, Bruce, Rob, Larry, Rick Mosher, so many names I can’t remember. I was hired to replace all the labels on the carts, and eventually worked Sunday mornings doing playing Message of Israel, recording Howard Cosell, (I was known for having a hot start when I taped.) Dick Clark, Powerline, and playing all the PSA’s and commercials, as well as switching to the news booth for weather. One morning no news person so I had to go live. Pat and his girlfriend were looking through the window of the news booth like cheshire cats and I was nervous as hell. Got through it and that was when I started getting calls from a woman that I learned would call and talk to the DJ’s for as long as they would let her. I know one guy would even tell her “I’ve got diarrhea, gotta go!”, I think you can guess who that fish fanatic was. Oh, and stepping down into the Quonset hut to power up in the morning was an amazing thrill. I just booked a flight to Key West and was looking to leave late afternoon but it was $200 more and then there it was, departure time 12:40 and I immediately booked it. Barry and Bart both left while I was there. I was there the last night Bart worked and he told me I was nice but too stuck up. I had never been told that as I was a very outgoing person. I have spent my life trying to make sure Bart could never say that again. (singing) “Twelve-Fortyyyy,…. Double you, Arr, OH,.. VEEEE …….In Roanoke.

  21. David says:

    That was a fantastic listen! Free Bird is no doubt the best Southern Rock song ever. Growing up in Bedford, Roanoke at the time seemed like a lifetime away and trips to ride the Shooting Star were then treats of a lifetime. Thanks for the stories behind the music.

  22. Ivan Gary Thomas says:

    Thanks for sharing Dave! Like others that left comments about going down memory lane, I enjoyed the trip also. You reminded me also of losing my HS girlfriend after graduation! lol

  23. Timmy V says:

    This post hit the sweet spot with me. Summer of ‘75 … I was 5 going on 6, in between kindergarten and first grade at Hardy Road Elementary in Vinton. We spent every day that lazy, hazy summer at Bush Valley Pool, and these songs were the soundtrack coming from every little transistor radio. And we of course made the once-a-year trip to Lakeside and spent a few afternoons at the public library and the skating rink up on the hill on E. Washington Ave. when it rained. Sticking to the black vinyl seats of our ‘69 Torino GT there and back (no A/C, but we looked cool). Then the 70s gave way to the 80s and everything changed. When my son sees pictures of those days, he wonders if I grew up on another planet. Perhaps so. Thanks for the memories.

  24. Hi!, my name is Ricardo Rivas, I’m from El Salvador. I was an exchange student in Roanoke in the months of November, December 1974 and January 1975 and attended Northside High School and lived near by Peter’s Creek Rd. My favorite radio station during my stay was WROV. Two years later I started as a DJ in San Salvador and on a trip to Roanoke I visited ROV’s facilities on the banks of the Roanoke River. It was a great experience!. I carry that station in my blood and I was glad I found your post on the net. Cheers!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience being an exchange student at Northside High School and listening to WROV while you were in Roanoke. I am glad that you had the opportunity for listening to WROV and thankful that you have fond memories of our station and your time living here in Roanoke, Virginia.

  25. Michael Dowdy says:

    WROV was THE station to listen to in the 60s and 70s. I always enjoyed to Larry Bly and Bart Prater during my high school days. I’ll always remember being at Bedford Lake, Traveltown pool or Hanging Rock Pool and listening to WROV on my transistor radio. It’s the Station we grew up with!

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