Radio Days Revisited – Vote Crash and Burns of the Undecided Party

I took an announcing job at WJJO for the second time in March, 1996. The first stint ended after five weeks in 1993 when Midwest Families Broadcasting bought the station. They changed the format and fired all the announcers but one or two. My second time around with WJJO was much sweeter for several reasons.

Midwest was committed to the WJJO classic rock format – at least until it became clear we were no match for our direct competitor WIBA-FM. We did have a lot of fun in the meantime with the upbeat way we presented the music on air and our promotions.

Midwest spent a good amount of money on promotions and gave away lots of shirts, hats, bumper stickers, concert tickets and the like. Two big promotions really stood out – a classic car giveaway and a Ski Doo giveaway. I worked at a couple radio stations in my career that barely gave away anything. In fact, one touted “no silly games or contests”. No listeners either.

The Crash and Burns morning show was a key element in WJJO’s push for better ratings. Andy “Crash” Kelly hired me and helped me craft an on air style that fit both me and the station’s format. He also had me go along to many of WJJO’s remote broadcasts around Madison – something I hadn’t done much of at previous stations.

Dan Burns was funny and energetic, just like “Crash”. They clicked into a great team that could easily toss jokes back and forth – some sophomoric, some risqué but never mean. “We kid ‘cause we love” was kind of their on air mantra.

The C&B joking was mixed in with pre-recorded local and national “bits” such as mock commercials and song parodies. A personal favorite was “Crash and Burns Suck” – a parody of “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash. Locals could relate to the songs because they were about beltline traffic, the Mifflin Street Bash, hating Stoughton Road and that winter was too damn cold! (See CD images below)

The best C&B bits became a CD collection called “Anthology IV, released in early 1997. This was an excellent follow-up to the ongoing “Vote Crash & Burns” joke ahead of the 1996 election. We even gave out C&B road signs! (See images below)

Just as we all were flying high, Midwest management decided there was a niche to fill with the “Madison’s Solid Rock format.” It was a wise decision on their part. Johnny Danger took over the morning show in March, 1997 and the format changed in April.

Midwest quickly moved Dan Burns over to the Q106 morning show (Dan and Tammy Lee). I did two months in the “Solid Rock” format until also being transferred to Q106 in early June. “Crash Kelly” left town and continued working in radio in other markets.

Man, it was fun while it lasted. I’m grateful for knowing Crash & Burns and working at “Madison’s Classic Rock.”

Me back selling The Who and front selling Van Halen and Dan Burns: Labor Day 1996

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