October 1, 2022


Art Is Experience

Madonna annoyed Z100 into making her a star

In 1983, Madonna was just a female knocking on doors and trying to get her song “Holiday” played on the radio. She was so desperate, she’d even make the journey out to Secaucus, NJ, the place the new radio station Z100 experienced just elbowed its way to No. 1 in a crowded Massive Apple marketplace.

“One working day our music director arrived in and mentioned, ‘There’s a girl out front who will not go absent. She will come each individual Tuesday and she insists we have to play her history,’ ” recollects Scott Shannon in the new documentary “Worst to Very first: The Correct Story of Z100 New York.”

Shannon, who was the plan director and host of the “Morning Zoo” present, stated the track was preferred in the golf equipment but hadn’t yet strike the airwaves. Continue to, he mentioned he’d play it if she stopped calling on them.

Madonna at the “Who’s That Girl” premiere in Situations Sq.
Getty Photos

“It became a fairly significant hit for us. We ended up one particular of the initial Top 40 stations to play her song. She was so appreciative she stated when she got massive, she’d pay us back again. Well, we never ever believed she was heading to be that major,” Shannon, who now helms the morning slot at WCBS-FM, advised The Write-up.

But the Material Girl stayed accurate to her phrase.

Following creating the movie “Who’s That Girl” in 1987, she struck a deal to make it possible for Z100 to broadcast from the globe premiere. “We had a phase crafted in the middle of Moments Sq., and she came out in this wonderful white robe and greeted the group. There ought to have been 10,000 men and women,” he claimed.

Scott Shannon was the program director and helmed the morning show.
Scott Shannon was the application director and helmed the early morning exhibit.
Photograph Credit history: Gunpowder & Sky

It was a testomony to the ability of Z100, which grew to become a juggernaut and total-fledged anointer of pop and rock stars like Duran Duran, Bon Jovi and Debbie Gibson.

“We ended up a person of the first to play Debbie. Her mother was a terrific promoter. She drove me mad,” Shannon stated of Gibson’s late mother Diane, who was relentless about producing her daughter a star.

The ultimate underdog

But when the station launched in August 1983, it was the supreme underdog. Led by Shannon — an interloper out of the Tampa, Florida, industry — it was useless past in the Arbitron scores. Originally, musicians wouldn’t enterprise out to its considerably less-than-glamorous NJ spot. Neither would the history providers, so DJs experienced to get their possess new music.

Z100 launched in 1983 in Secaucus, New Jersey
Z100 introduced in 1983 in Secaucus, New Jersey
Image Credit: Gunpowder & Sky

But in only 74 times, the station went from worst to first.

The film (now streaming on Apple and Amazon) explores how Shannon built a loyal audience utilizing guerrilla advertising and marketing a zany solid of figures on its early morning demonstrate total with pranks and celebrity impersonators and smoke-and-mirror practices like boasting that they broadcasted from the best of the Empire Point out building.

The fact was all the radio stations did. “But nobody states it,” he quipped.

Z100 experienced no marketing and advertising spending budget, so Shannon requested his listeners to make their own bumper stickers and hang sheets with Z100 scrawled on it. And they did it in droves. In essence, he produced a viral second prior to the notion existed.

“We invited our listeners to be a part of our quest . . . It was a quite relaxed and personal strategy. It touched people today. We admitted we never have AccuWeather, so if you want to know the climate, look out the window in the early morning. The other radio stations, pundits and industry experts didn’t get it. It started out out as a key culture,” explained Shannon.

Pranks with The Boss

On the station’s morning present, the crew concocted outlandish tales. A person whopper was that Bruce Springsteen, who was wrapping up a tour at the Meadowlands, was even now taking part in at 7 a.m. from the evening ahead of.

“We explained the band was sleeping onstage, and Bruce was participating in his guitar. The individuals at the Meadowlands named and explained to us to end because people had been returning with their ticket stubs from the night just before,” explained Shannon.

When they did the improbable and hit No. 1, the tale was splashed across the media. Shannon did the rounds with Regis and Oprah, and even landed on the protect of New York Magazine.

Debbie Gibson got her trademark black hat from Michael Damian during a visit to the Z100 morning show.
Debbie Gibson obtained her trademark black hat from Michael Damian for the duration of a take a look at to the Z100 morning show.
image alliance by using Getty Impression

Soon, the early morning demonstrate became a spot for artists attempting to crack through. It was also the place Gibson received her trademark black felt hat — a present from fellow visitor and “Rock On” singer Michael Damian just after she complimented him and tried using it on.

“Once we obtained set up, we grew to become the dominant drive in record gross sales in the tri-condition spot,” claimed Shannon.

And they haven’t looked back. Z100 remains wildly preferred and influential and generates the Jingle Ball concert every single calendar year. For Shannon, who steered the pirate ship, its earliest days were a whirlwind.

“It took place so speedy, I did not have a likelihood to appreciate it.”