WZOK-FM 97.5 Rockford IL Steve Summers 1983

Rockford, Illinois was nearly 300 miles straight line from my location in Apple Valley, Minnesota.  Needless to say, 97FM WZOK was a rare catch.  I was able to hear it a total of one time.  Two factors combined on an early Sunday morning to make it possible: First, we were experiencing an ice storm.  This caused FM reception to be enhanced somewhat, due to the atmospheric conditions.  Second, KNXR-FM 97.5 in Rochester, MN was off the air.  Since Rochester was directly in my path towards Rockford, there was normally no chance for me to hear WZOK.  Fortunately, this was during the Sunday pre-dawn hours.  KNXR signed off each week during this time for transmitter maintenance.  Lucky me!  Of course, I knew better than to be turning my antenna during these conditions.  The rotor could easily ice up and strip the gears.  But this was an opportunity too good for a true radio geek to resist!

Steve Summers does several breaks during his weekend overnight shift.  Pretty basic stuff, which is what you want during this daypart when people are coming home from parties and bars.  Speaking of bars, this aircheck includes a commercial for City Limits in Beloit.  Since Rockford is much larger than Beloit, as well as being a half hour away, why would a Beloit bar advertise on a Rockford radio station?  The reason is because at the time, the legal drinking age was 21 in Illinois and 18 in Wisconsin.  On the weekends, literally thousands of 18-20 year olds from the Rockford and Chicago areas would come streaming across the border in search of legal booze.  With a name like “City Limits”, I would guess these folks were the primary clientele for this bar!

Reception was made with a Pioneer SX-3900 receiver, Winegard 10 element FM yagi antenna, Alliance rotor, and Belden RG59 low loss coaxial cable.  The recording was made using a Technics stereo cassette deck and TDK SA90 tape.


7 thoughts on “WZOK-FM 97.5 Rockford IL Steve Summers 1983

  1. Skim

    Serious thanks for this! Not only was it a rare DX find, now it’s a rare aircheck find.

  2. Drew

    Thanks! WZOK was/is a great heritage CHR. I wish I had more of them. I was also able to hear WBBM-FM that night. Back when they used their singing weather bed “Double-U-Bee-Bee-Emmm…FM…Chicago!” If I can find it, I’ll post it at a later date.

  3. Mark Pfeifer

    Thanks, this one brings back alot of memories! I lived in the Madison area with a rotor attenna in the 80s, WZOK came in quite well, I also enjoyed the automated top 40 from Freeport, IL WXXQ.

  4. Drew

    Hi Mark,

    A rotor is a wonderful thing! It was like magic…being able to dial up a frequency, spin the rotor 360 degrees, and hear 3, 4, sometimes 5 different stations, all separate from each other.

    My parents hated it though, since the FM beam was mounted directly above their bedroom. They’d be sleeping and then…at 3AM, they’d hear what sounded like “a loud can opener up on the roof!” (My mom’s words.) They especially liked it in the winter. Since the yagi was mounted 25 feet above the roofline, ice and snow would fall off as the antenna spun around. LOL!

  5. Don Beno

    Good find. I used to listen to WZOK on the overnights in 1981 when I lived in Joliet, IL. I can’t remember the girl who did the shift, but I later discovered her-on air, in the Carolina’s a few years later, called her and we talked.

    I worked at ‘ZOK’s competitor 104.9 WYBR in 1985. Robert “Man Mountain” Walker was the PD/Morning Man.

  6. Drew

    Hey Don!

    This is Drew Durigan. I talked to you online about 14 years ago. Back in the days of the Prodigy Radio BB. You sent me some hellaciously good tapes of WCFL-FM 104.7 in Morris. I was working at Star 104.7 in Charlotte, also an all-70s station. Remember?

    The one bit I remember you doing on that tape is coming out of Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead”….”Slagged, Tagged, and Body Bagged!” LOL!


  7. McCoy

    I also worked at More Music 105 WYBR in the 80,s I was the weekend overnight lead in to Man Mountain Walker, also did a stint at WRHL in Rochele,Ill and WLUV in Loves Park,Ill

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