Recently I was tracking some college radio news when I ran across Greg Blouch’s website, “Radio Sticker of the Day.” Immediately I was taken back to my junior high school years when radio station stickers were a hot commodity. My classmate Ricky Kanazawa would spend most of our English class time focused on a stack of bright yellow and black KOME stickers and an exacto knife, carving up new, inspired, psychedelic creations. I’m not sure if Greg has tapped into this aspect of sticker art; but his website is a testament to the most visible radio station branding that there is.
I dropped Greg a note to find out what fuels his obsession for radio station stickers and learn more about his website, “Radio Sticker of the Day.”
It turns out that his fascination with stickers began in the 1980s, around the same time that my friends and I were plastering KOME, KSJO, and KMEL stickers (with a picture of a camel on them) all over our notebooks, windows, and Pee-Chee folders.
Over the years he’s accumulated around 12,000 stickers and largely credits the Internet for making it easier for him to contact stations. His site only features pictures of stickers that are in his collection. I love that attention to detail! On to the interview:
Jennifer Waits: How did you get started collecting radio stickers and what was your first sticker?
Greg Blouch: When I was 13 years old our family moved from Middleport, New York (in the western part of the state near Niagara Falls/Buffalo) to Celina, Ohio. I was homesick and wanted to get my hands on something that reminded me of New York.
My favorite radio station had been 107.7 WUWU which was an offbeat, almost freeform, rock station heavy on the new wave music of the time (this was around 1982/1983.) I wrote to the station and asked for a sticker which I promptly wasted by slapping it on a book cover for school.
My obsession really began after I found a book in the library with station mailing addresses and started sending out self-addressed stamped envelopes with a note asking for decals.
My success rate was only about 50% but it was fun to get an occasional surprise in the mailbox…and it still is. The Internet and the ability to write to stations instantly has helped the collection grow tremendously. About 90% of my stickers have been acquired since I got online in 1997.
Jennifer: How many stickers do you think you have?
Greg: I’ve tried to count them more than once but got bored and gave up. My guesstimate would be somewhere around 12,000 different stickers.
Jennifer: How do you find your stickers?
Greg: I subscribe to 100000watts.com, a subscription-only website with updated information on every radio station in the United States and Canada.
I find station websites through the 100000watts database and email every one of them going state-by-state (I’m currently canvassing my own state of Ohio, next is Oklahoma.)
I always offer to send a SASE but usually they just mail them to me. Every once in a while I’ll venture overseas and email foreign stations but the return rate is much lower.
I also trade stickers with a small group of like-minded hobbyists and am a member and column editor of Decalcomania, which is a newsletter for radio enthusiasts and radio promotional item collectors.
Jennifer: What’s the strangest promotional item that you have from a radio station?
Greg: I received a whoopee cushion from a rock station in California, a fishing lure from KARP in Minnesota and a condom packet from Germany, but the strangest might be a bar of soap from Earlham College’s WECI in Richmond, Indiana. The station logo is engraved into the bar itself.
I have a few boxes of non-sticker stuff…lots of keychains, magnets, mugs, t-shirts, pens, buttons, mousepads and on and on.
Jennifer: Do you ever visit radio stations?
Greg: Rarely. I annoy the receptionist at the Dayton Clear Channel cluster every few months and ask for stickers but that’s about it.
Jennifer: Have you ever worked at a radio station?
Greg: I did college radio for three years at WWSU which is Wright State University’s station. While still in college I answered an ad that my future wife saw in the paper looking for air talent for a brand new radio station. I threw together a tape, got an interview with the PD and somehow got hired. I was the night jock on WZJX “94-5 XRock” which was Dayton’s first commercial alternative station. This was 1993/94.
I was on the air about 35 hours a week plus a little bit of production and promotion work as well as being in school full time. It was a tough schedule to pull off but a great experience where I learned that I like radio but didn’t necessarily like working in radio.
Speaking on the air never came naturally to me but I think I faked my way through it fairly well. When the ownership group sold the station and flipped it to Oldies it was both a disappointment and a relief that I was no longer in the biz. I got a steady civil service job and never attempted to get back into radio.
Jennifer: What do you love about radio?
Greg: So much of my love for radio is music-based and now that I’m on the curmudgeonly cusp of 40 I find it hard to listen to a lot of it. It’s either songs I’m burned out on or styles that I can’t get into.
I fully admit that my musical tastes are permanently stuck in the 1980s and early 90s. I do love good sounding production and a DJ who sounds like he’s into what he’s playing and is doing more than reading liners.
Jennifer: What kind of radio do you listen to? (college? commercial? music? talk?)
Greg: As far as terrestrial radio goes, it’s almost all college/non-commercial and sports talk radio these days. I love college radio because it’s usually music you don’t hear everywhere else, presented by kids who are just being themselves in all their unprofessional glory. It’s refreshing.
My job allows me to listen to a few hours of podcasts a day. Most of it comes from WNYC, KCRW, WBEZ and a whole lot of individual NPR shows.
Jennifer: What are you favorite radio stations?
Greg: I could pick up WOXY from Oxford, Ohio when they were on 97.7 FM so I regularly listen to the Internet version. I like listening to my old stomping grounds of WWSU although, at only 20 watts, it can be a tough catch.
WYSO from Antioch University in Yellow Springs is a solidly quirky NPR affiliate. My favorite might be 6 Music which is the BBC’s “alternative” digital radio station. I especially like Roundtable, where four music geeks meet to hear, discuss and judge new music releases.
Besides the aforementioned WUWU, my favorite station from the past would be Toronto’s CFNY in the 1980s. A friend would send me tapes of the station which had tons of cool music, about 30% of it (by law!) consisted of mostly-unheard-of-in-the-States Canadian artists.
Jennifer: What can a sticker tell you about a radio station?
Greg: Hmmmm…not much. I guess the only answer I have is that you can tell it’s a Clear Channel station because they often use the same logos for their stations across the country. The blandness is kinda sad. A single generic logo for all their “Kiss” and “Mix” stations…only the frequencies on the stickers are different.
Jennifer: Anything else?
Greg: If anyone out there has any stickers to swap, I’m always looking for a trade. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Greg for sharing his radio obsession with me and for turning me on to some more stations. Your sticker is in the mail…
Previous Radio Obsessives:
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