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Mar 9, 2016

 

One of my first real magazine assignments after graduating college was writing a story for Tampa Bay Monthly about the unique chemistry between Q105 morning radio personalities Cleveland Wheeler and Scott Shannon.

CLEVELAND WHEELER podcast excerpt: "Scott Shannon just had a way of connecting with people... He went out of his way to be natural and street level with people and to speak on their terms. He had a knack for communicating with people."

Something magical happened in 1981 when these veterans of the American airwaves came together to do a morning show at WRBQ – Q105 – in Tampa. The Q Morning Zoo was unlike anything to ever hit once sleepy Tampa Bay – or anywhere else at the time. The hosts were quick-witted, opinionated and cash machines for the owners of the radio station.

CLEVELAND WHEELER podcast excerpt: "Scott and I didn't get together and say, 'We're going to pick on politicians. We don't have the resources to dig on people through PI work... Scott was smart. He said, 'All the great stuff, all the best stories are hidden in the Saturday newspaper. Get the Saturday morning newspaper and a story can look so insignificant, so innocent, but that's where the big stories are hidden. They don't have all the dirt yet... People would say, 'How did you know about all this stuff?' And instead of attributing it to the Tampa Tribune, they were attributing it to us!"

The Q Zoo – Wheeler and Shannon, plus the news department of Pat Brooks and Roger Shulman – were an absolute phenomenon in the early 1980s. Mondays through Fridays, they were the watercooler talk of every office and construction site in the marketplace, outdistancing all the competition.

Key interview moments:

• 9:30 Cleveland Wheeler discusses why his Q Morning Zoo radio partner, Scott Shannon, has been so successful in his radio career;

• 11:30 Wheeler and Shannon locked themselves in a hotel room for two days as the morning show took flight and decided to do the unthinkable: pursue radio listeners from ages 8 to 80, which would be unheard of in today's fragmented radio market;

• 46:50 Wheeler reveals the secret of where he and Shannon found their best political insights.

Cleveland Wheeler FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn • Radio Years • Tedd Webb • Wikipedia