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"I can't imagine there has ever been anyone more passionate about being on the radio."
—--Broadcasting Veteran Scott "Shadow Stevens" Wright
THE SCOTT SHANNON STORY
SO FAR
A Radio Icon’s “Retirement” Gift From Us: a Blast From the Past on This Sorry Website
Knowing Scott Shannon, it won’t be long before the broadcasting legend embarks on the next chapter of his brilliant career. But to commemorate the end of his chapter at New York’s WPLJ, we thought we ‘d take a stroll down memory lane.

Born in St. Louis, Scott has always claimed he was destined for radio, having lived in countless markets growing up as an army brat. During those itinerant years he’d been everywhere from San Diego to Osaka; the family settled in Indiana when he was a teen.

By then he was recording reel-to-reel tapes of himself in the family basement on a battered Revere machine, and he dropped out of high school during his senior year to take his first radio gig.

That job didn’t work out, and he was subsequently drafted. But it was the military that provided his first real broadcasting post. Stationed at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, he began working weekend shifts at WFBS.

After leaving the service he landed a 7-midnight spot at WABB in Mobile, AL, working for the legendary Bernie Dittman. Acquiring the moniker SuperShan, he earned terrific ratings. This led to a short stint at WMPS Memphis and then to Nashville’s WMAK, which didn’t take long to appoint him PD; his success there earned him PD of the Year honors from The American Pop Music Survey. His high profile in Nashville earned him a weekly TV show as well.

After three years he became National PD for the Mooney chain, overseeing stations in Nashville, Knoxville, Pensacola, Birmingham and San Juan.

He next took Atlanta by storm at WQXI, where he dropped his SuperShan sobriquet and went by Scott Shannon, taking the station from tenth to second place in the market.

The late ’70s found him taking a promo gig at Casablanca Records and Filmworks, touting releases by superstars like KISS, Donna Summer and The Village People as well as working PR on such flicks as Midnight Express, The Deep and Thank God It’s Friday. While there—as half of the one-off Pop duo Wildfire—he recorded a rocked-up cover of 1959’s "Here Comes Summer" that became a Top 50 hit. He also worked as promo head at Bertelsmann’s Ariola Records in L.A. In 1979 he transitioned to the PD spot at Washington DC’s WPGC, which he piloted to #1.

In the ’80s, at Tampa’s WRBQ, Scott and partner Cleveland Wheeler developed the madcap Morning Zoo format, which would ultimately become the national standard. As Scott will tell you if you’re sitting still for more than two minutes, Q105 earned the largest share of adult listeners of any U.S. station up to that time. The franchise he built continued to grow under successors Mason Dixon and Randy Kabrich, racking up big numbers in the ensuing years.

Scott also more or less singlehandedly revitalized the careers of artists like Charlene ("I’ve Never Been to Me") and Benny Mardones ("Into the Night").

1984 saw him move to New York’s Z100 where, in a mere 73 days, he took the station from "worst to first," a ratings triumph that still inspires awed tones in radio circles. He founded the Z Morning Zoo there as well and, during the same period, served as one of the first VJs on VH1.

More nationwide exposure came from Shannon’s hosting Westwood One’s Rockin’ America Top 30 Countdown, syndicated to more than 200 stations.

1989 saw him depart Z100 to start Pirate Radio, a bold move that didn’t pan out. In ’91 he was back in NYC at WPLJ, becoming PD and co-host of Scott & Todd in the Morning with Todd Pettengill, from which he stepped down only last week.

During his years PLJ, Scott has helped reshape Top 40 with an adult emphasis, and his influence on the format has been massive. ("These are my penguins," he would say with affection of the programmers who hung on his every word and attempted to follow his moves at their own stations.)

He’s also found time to host the True Oldies Channel Radio Network and to record intros and bumpers for The Sean Hannity Show.

He was inducted into DC’s National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2003 and into Chicago’s National Radio Hall of Fame in 2006. 2010 saw him named Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year at NAB’s Marconi Awards. He’s also in the New York and Tennessee Broadcasters Hall of Fame and was among several radio personalities honored with a special exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"I was as shocked as everyone else to hear about Scott’s retirement," declares legendary programmer and radio personality Mason Dixon. "But before too many of the well-deserved accolades start, you should know that I talked to Scott back in December for Q105’s 40th anniversary. Let me just say this: Scott is not ready to retire! He still has that fire burning, that desire to do great, fun radio in the morning. The business has NOT passed this guy by. He will be back on the air by the time whatever no-compete he has to deal with is up. Radio needs people like Scott Shannon and his expertise. I’m sure you can tell by this that I am, was and will always be a fan and friend of the man. I’m not ready to give a career obit to this great guy at this time. He is NOT done. Go get 'em, Scott!”

"I can't imagine there has ever been anyone more passionate about being on the radio," says fellow broadcasting trailblazer Scott Wright (aka Shadow Stevens/Steele), who worked by his side at Z100. "Scott truly lives and breathes it. He may have left 'PLJ, but he will certainly still have his headphones on when he one day checks out and heads off for that control room in the sky. I had the best years of my career working with Scott—it was an amazing inspiration to be a part of his world day after day."

"Scott is the most instinctive programmer I have ever met," says Don Benson, President of Lincoln Financial Radio, who worked for Scott in Nashville and Atlanta. "He is simply gifted with an innate ability to understand and connect with the audience, regardless of market size, and always with an undercurrent of showbiz and entertainment. So many of the operations he touched had that bigger-than-life feel that made them more than just winning radio stations—they were a part of peoples' lives. That's hard to do even once, and he accomplished it in a big way on many occasions."  


"Scott Shannon always was and still is the greatest radio programmer and the most exciting air talent that I have ever known," declares our own Editor in Chief, Lenny Beer. "I am proud to have had him as my friend and mentor since the ’70s and to this very day." 

What’s next for Scott? For now, we imagine, some time on the links … and maybe even the Seniors Tour. But given how many times he’s reinvented himself—and Pop radio—we won’t be surprised to see him back in the broadcast game before long.

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