Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Building the WJDX Music Library

Building the WJDX Music Library

WJDX-FM logo8

Hello Johnny,

My name is Fred Mitchell. Have been meaning to contact you for the last several years. This relates back some 40 years ago when I first started in broadcasting. I was working the 8pm to 1am slot for WRBC in Jackson, MS and having a ball as a Top 40 jock. The MD and I would go rounds when he heard me play songs that were not on the “playlist”. A friend of mine, Phil Seymour who was on air at WJDX-FM asked me if I would be interested in a “progressive rock” format show. Phil felt that if he was able to get a known Top-40 dj from the Jackson market he would have a better chance at selling the idea to management. Well I was young and crazy enough to say sure lets go for it and see what happens.

The fact that we were able to convince management to make the change is somewhat of a miracle and a fortunate "quirk"--consider that this was Jackson, Mississippi (of all places) during a politically and culturally repressive period (1968) and that the ownership of the station was, in a word, conservative. But regardless of all that, the new format was put in place, and WJDX-fm became one of the first stations of its kind, not only in the South, but in the entire country! It would continue as "WJDX-fm, 102.9, The Rock of Jackson" until sometime in 1973 when the calls were changed to WZZQ.

Our biggest problem was that we had no music library for the new format. The stations primary revenue was from the background music it provided to local business for 20 years. Their money maker was WLBT-TV and WJDX-AM. They gave me a plane ticket to LA (my first) and my first stop was Capitol Records. I cannot remember who I met there but I told him I needed music and wanted to check out a popular station in the LA market. That is when I met you, along with R. W. Morgan & Charlie Tuna. We all went to some restaurant there on Melrose and you guys hooked me up with some label contacts for music. I wish I had a picture of the boxes of albums that were delivered to the station when I came back to Jackson. It sure made an impression on the station manager and put a feather in my cap.

After the trip to LA and seeing some of the studios I decided my next step was to build a recording studio in Jackson. A girl named Porche from LA came by the station and introduced me to a gentleman named Gene Shiveley. I was all excited about this new group named “Touch”. I was impressed with the quality of the recording and was surprised that Gene was the engineer and producer. We ended up going into business together and worked as a team for over 20yrs. Our last business together was a company named CMS Digital in Pasadena, CA. This was the first full cd mastering house on the west coast. His latest project is the Malibu Performing Arts Center in Malibu, CA.

I am now in my hometown in Mississippi doing some consulting and net surfing. I still play the music I love, still take the request, and still make about the same as I did in 1968. I never could make a good living as a dj, but it is still a good feeling being able to communicate with listeners thru music. I added my name and stations I worked with hope you will add me to your Satisfaction database, and although I only worked on air for a few years full time I feel that I was there during some of the best years in radio anyone could have.

Thanks for a good show

Fred Mitchell (March 2008)

PS… Below is a picture of the original WJDX-FM air
staff in 1968
WJDX-FM c.1968 
Art Reed, Fred Mitchell, Terry Stenzel, Phil Seymour,

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