The Sentinel, Sunday September 28, 1997
Resident preserves old stations on Web
Story by Francis Volpe / Features editor
  Mention historic preservation to most people and the phrase will evoke images of two- century- old buildings and libraries full of rare, musty books.

  Jeff Roteman's vision includes bumper stickers, music surveys and promotional jingles of the 1960's.

  He's obsessed with the Top 40 radio stations of his youth, most of which have changed call letters, formats and owners to the point where they'd been unrecognizable to someone from that era.

  Roteman want people to remember them the way he does, so he's set up a series of World Wide Web pages dedicated to some of those stations.

  Click over to Roteman's site ( and discover how Pittsburgh's KQV-AM stole the Beatles from a competing station and just who Jeff Christie really is.

  Roteman is the midday personality at MIX 95.1 radio, WIKZ-FM in Chambersburg, where he is know as J.P. McCartney, a name he shares with a certain British nobleman who's also in show business.  He administers his Web site from his home in the Carlisle area.

  "The reason I'm in this business today is because of those stations," he explains referring not only to the ones featured his pages, like KQV and WTAE in Pittsburgh and WLS in Chicago, but many others he heard while growing up.

  Roteman grew up in Pittsburgh.  He moved to central Pennsylvania in 1988 because he wanted to work in radio.  He managed a bowling alley in the Steel City.

  "You just don't break into radio in Pittsburgh," he says, although he did work briefly at a small station in the suburb of Monroeville.  Large media markets are too competitive for most newcomers, he explains.  "Pittsburgh used to be a top 10 market; it's still number 23 today."

Endured Long Commute

  Roteman began working weekends at WYCR-FM in York, driving back and forth to Pittsburgh to keep his day job while he got more radio experience.  Eventually, he was able to get an afternoon shift at the sister station, WHVR-AM, and decided it was time to move the family out here.  He and his wife Cinda have a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Tim.

  Besides working at MIX 95.1, he has worked at KISS Country 94.3, Chambersburg where he did mornings, and also worked weekends at KOOL 99.3 under the same radio name.

  If it seems Roteman made a few sacrifices for a radio career, he's certain it's been worth it.  "It's one of the few jobs you can have that's like going out to play every day, like a baseball player.  They get paid, but it's still just a game."

  It's not surprising he likes to play around with radio in his spare time too.  Over the years, he's collected tapes of radio identification jingles from many different stations, especially KQV, which was the premier Top 40 station in the Pittsburgh market from the late 1950s until a few years before it switched it's format to news in 1975.

Fans trade airchecks

  Radio fans can hear many more stations than they normally do by trading airchecks with each other.  An aircheck is simply a recording of an hour or two of a radio station, with the songs cut to just their beginnings and ends to save time.

  "The bottom line in radio is not what you play - it's what you do between the records," Roteman says.  As a result he has been able to move easily among Top 40, adult contemporary and country formats, although, as his page reveals, he's still very fond of the Beatles.

  But radio stations are like totalitarian governments.  When one regime falls, every trace of it's history is wiped out by the new regime, whether inadvertently or deliberately.

  "Radio doesn't do a good job of archiving it's history," Roteman says.  A number of circumstances contribute to this situation.  Stations are bought and sold, their network affiliations change, their formats change, their call letters change or their headquarters move.  Add when a station cleans house after one or more of these changes, the affected employees tend to take souvenirs with them as they move on to their next jobs.

  "Nobody has archived a radio station with pictures and sounds for history," Roteman asserts, which is where his Web pages, and those of a few other radiophiles come in.

  The advent of the Internet, not surprisingly, has been a great boon to radio fans like Roteman.  "You can reach people through the Internet you can never reach any other way."

Got access to archives

  For example, he has connected with several former KQV employees since posting his Web site and they have pointed him to more of the station's memorabilia.  When the station moved out of it's longtime headquarters in Pittsburgh's Chamber of Commerce building a few years ago, he was able to mine the motherlode of KQV's own archives.

  He also connected with John Gibbs, who was vice president and general manager of the station from 1960 to 1974, and was able to borrow Gibbs' own personal scrapbook to use as Web page fodder.

  Besides the close encounters with radio personalities big and small, Roteman proudly notes that his Web page has recorded hits, or people reading his page, from Australia, Brazil, Thailand, The Netherlands, Colombia, Japan and many other places outside the U.S. and Canada.

  One of his fellow radio fans is a Scotsman who also collects radio jingles from around the world. "He had Pittsburgh jingles I couldn't find anywhere else."

Battled over Beatles

  Hanging in Roteman's living room is a poster that KQV developed and sold right after the Beatles' only Pittsburgh appearance in 1964: it's actually a recreation of the poster he was able to get from one of his radio contracts.  Another Pittsburgh station actually had the promotion rights to the Beatles' appearance, but a member of the band's entourage had a friend at KQV.

  The promoting station had a deal to record the Beatles' press conference and broadcast it afterward because the Fab Four refused to allow it to air live.  KQV arranged to broadcast it -- and the actual concert --- on a 30 second delay, honoring the letter of the ban and scooping the other station.

  The poster was developed and the funds went to support Goodwill Industries.  Even Roteman was surprised that someone was able to reproduce it 30 years later or would even want to.  Nevertheless, his web page tells how to get a copy.

  KQV was part of the ABC radio network in its heyday, which led Roteman to do another site on Chicago's WLS, another Top 40 juggernaut affiliated with ABC.  Roteman says he was interested in developing another page on New York City's WABC, "but another guy was already doing a great site and I couldn't add anything to it, so I let it go."

  Besides, he admits, "I spend way too much time on this."

A different Rush

  Although many of the names and faces memorialized on Roteman's site might not mean much to anyone without a bit of Pittsburgh in their background, there is one particular image of a long-haired disc jockey with a mustache and loud tie that could be familiar to most people.

  Pittsburghers in the early 1970s knew him as Jeff Christie.  Today, everyone knows him as Rush Limbaugh. minus a lot of hair and plus a few inches.  Roteman says he has met Limbaugh a couple of times and doesn't think he's all that different from his KQV days.

  It has occurred to Roteman that tomorrow's history is made today.  Besides maintaining his link to radio of the 1960s, he is giving space on his Web site to WIKZ-FM, MIX 95.1 and sister stations WDLD-FM and WCHA-AM.  He says his boss in Chambersburg, unlike many radio station executives, has been keeping a collection of memorabilia back to the stations' beginnings.

  And as long as Roteman is able to do so, that memorabilia will have an easily accessible Internet home, instead of gathering dust somewhere.

  Along with his radio sites, his home page lets people access a Beatles page and sites celebrating Pittsburgh's sports teams, the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.

*** a couple of changes have been made to Mr. Volpe's original article to reflect my current employment ***