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Nebraska Radio History Archive Presentation:

 

It seems that FM radio began as an after thought for many AM radio stations.  In some cases FM's were shut down in favor of giving full efforts to the AM operations.  KRCB-FM 98.5 signed on in 1969 at 546 Mynster just north of downtown CB. The building is gone today with the former address being part of the First Christian Church complex (Curious perhaps, because 98.5's sister AM at the time was 1580, which today programs a Christian format).  KRCB simulcast their AM, at 1560 (now KLNG). KRCB-FM originated it's own programming from sunset to midnight since their AM was a Daytimer.

In 1970, KRCB-FM went 24-hours. Format (still simulcast) on AM/FM shifted more toward currents with fewer oldies.  By the Mid-70s the stations finally split programming. KRCB-AM became "Radio Council Bluffs." KRCB-FM skewed towards album-oriented rock, eventually becoming KQKQ "KQ-98" (which, amazingly, some people still call it.)  So it continued, a cycle of format changes that became so common place that when "Sweet 98" was launched, it was just another day in the studio for Dick Warner.

"Officially, Sweet 98 was launched on a hot summer morning in August of 1980 in the northwest corner room of the second floor of that rather interesting brick building at 36th and Broadway in Council Bluffs. Mark Evans and I (“Mark and Dick the Breakfast Flakes”... though we weren’t called flakes on day one... I’ll tell that story in a moment) kicked it off with no special fanfare at 6 am. If memory serves Greg MacArthur did the mid day, Doc Winston afternoon drive, Jammin’ Jay Taylor evening, and Brooklyn Dave the overnight, but I wouldn’t swear that was the lineup on day one."

The Sweet 98 idea actually goes back months earlier. Our AOR KQ98 format wasn’t selling, and times were tough. The sales department had long told us all we had were young adult males, and sponsors wanted females. Program director Paxton West had held firm with what he called the “boyfriend hypothesis”... females may rule the checkbook, but nothing comes between a male and his music, and the guy will win out on radio selection. After listening to their boyfriend’s radio station for awhile the ladies' tastes will be expanded and they will eventually learn to like this music... and fill out their rating diaries accordingly....Z-92 then came on the scene, and we found ourselves fighting a new battle as well, and that was to hold on to our precious young adult male listeners. A slick consultant by the name of Bill Cunningham was brought in to work with Paxton.  Within a few months Cunningham replaced Paxton West on the staff, and the slow road to Sweet 98 was begun. More and more pop tunes were added to the play list, and one by one, staff members were being replaced.
 
Then the meetings started. Mr. Cunningham announced he couldn’t care less about anything that happened in the past; as far he was concerned the history of this radio station starts today, and we have one goal... we are going to become to the 1980’s what KOIL was to the 1960’s. Having heard a couple of dozen new hotshot pd’s make great claims as they strutted back and forth in front of us I was unimpressed, but his goal did strike me as intense. You must understand, this was one bold statement... the KOIL legend was very, very strong around here... the fact that this guy would even dare articulate such a preposterous goal meant if nothing else he had some major guts!

 I was paired with with Mark Evans for a two man morning show; I did “the news in 98 seconds on Sweet 98” and played straight man to Mark. I think it was Deputy Sheriff Dick Roth that did radar reports.  The “Breakfast Flake” name, by the way, wasn’t coined by Cunningham, but was rather from an ad lib of the all night guy. One morning early on Mark came in saying he heard Brooklyn Dave promo us as he was driving to work as “the Breakfast Flakes” so we started using it, and the name outlasted many flakes. Bit of trivia: Dave Wingert refused to lower himself to being a flake. When doing mornings he always identified the show as “Dave Wingert *and* the Breakfast Flakes.”

-Dick Warner

 And so it began, the little FM in Council Bluffs began it's destiny  to dominate the air in a contemporary manner to what KOIL had done in the 50's & 60's.  In 1986 a new state of the art studio was built and Sweet 98 leaped across the river to it's famous studios at 10th & Farnam.

i was the last jock on air at 36th and broadway. i handed over the chores to Tad Swensen using various sound effects to give the impression the studio was collapsing (which wasn't far from the truth, and was a feat in and of itself, because there was only one cart machine left in the studio!), and Tad 'beamed' me over to the new studio at the last second, 'saving' my sorry life. - Lonesome Rhodes

Aside from being an Omaha Legend, one of the attractions of Sweet 98 for both announcers and their hip & informed listeners is...er, WAS Sweet 98's Hydraulic studio.  You're not only on the air, you're IN the air!  The studio is immaculate because of the big picture window that gives Downtown Omaha a view of the studio's.  (No monkey business even in the overnights!) 

The white bars you see in the foreground lead up to an additional jock area where morning show cohorts and interns can work at the elevated platform's "eye level" with the jock on the air.  Pictured is Mark Evans at the debut of the Sweet Studio in September of 1986. 

Below is an aerial shot, so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

A number of big names have graced the Sweet 98 studios over the years.  Dan Keiley went on to program KIIS-FM in Los Angeles while others took their expertise to other markets.  Drew Bentley continues to program the undisputed Oldies dominator in Omaha, KGOR.  Some legends must go, and  In 1989 the Sweet Jocks were John Jeffries, Lonesome Rhodes, Mark Ryan, Drew Bentley and Jay Tweedy shown in one of the last photo's taken at the late Peony Park.

 

 

 

Whether you liked him or not, G. Rockett Phillips, better known as "Rockett in the Morning" woke up Sweet listeners in the mid 90's.  Here we see that  Rockett  had anyone from with PJ Morgan to Richard Simmons on his show.

 

A few years ago I heard what appears to be an Urban Legend.  Sweet 98 supposedly had a lighter format, and after trying to drop "Sweet" from their name, they took it back because nobody would stop calling it that.  This story is highly unlikely since Sweet 98 never had the equivalent of an A/C format and was always CHR as Sweet 98.  

Drew Bentley, who was Program Director explains... 

During my time at Sweet 98 (from October '87 through March '91) we did try to lessen the impact of "Sweet 98" and increase the use of the call letters KQKQ. Thus the phrase Sweet 98/KQKQ.

We dominated in females 18-24, 18-34 and teens and wanted to lessen the negative perception males had for the term "Sweet."

 

The station was always CHR and always rocked. Any softening of the music was because people like Michael Bolton and such had hits at the time, and we played the hits.

 

The Sweet 98 Breakfast Flakes (circa 1990) were Steve Lundy, Cap'n Tony and Ryno.  Steve Lundy is now at KLIN in Lincoln (still doing morenings) and Tony Wike  has been to KGOR, KEFM and back to KGOR.   These days Mark "Ryno" Ryan can be found at Clark Creative Services.

 

In 1991 while our troops were carrying out Operation Desert Storm, Sweet 98 was back at home giving full  support with sister 1180 KKAR

Sweet 98 brought Sweetstock to the Westfair Ampitheatre in 1999.  It returned in 2000.  Here is the Sweet gang posing with Westlife.

 

 

Each group of Sweet 98 jocks brings new life to that station.   Following the "Breakfast Flakes" era, names like Stacy Kelly, Rockett in the Morning, and Dave Swan would re-invent the sound of Sweet 98, without compromising the music that made the station popular.

The Sweet line-up in 2000 was Max & Wayne in the mornings, J.D.  JJ morgan, Joey Lager and Jonathon Reed.  Jay Towers and Erika picked up the slack.  

Mitchell Broadcasting eventually LMA'd their stations to Waitt Media in 2000 and the historical landmark at 10th & Farnam  was vacated.  Sweet 98 moved to  a standard broadcast studio along with KKAR, KOZN, Radio Disney , 101.9 the Fox (KZFX) now Lite Rock 101.9 and 106.9 the City.  

In the meantime a new station came to town.  Journal Broadcast launched Channel 97 7, which is now Channel 94 1.  This put a damper on Sweet 98's dominance which had been tested before and had won.

On March 11th 2004 at 3:00pm, Sweet 98.5 began stunting with a digital computer voice, counting down to 3:00 Friday.  Sweet 98 became a victim of the massive market repositioning in April of 2004.  24 years of CHR heritage were traded in for "Modern Hit Music" as Q985. 

The following message appeared on sweet98.com

Saying goodbye to an old friend is painful, and no one feels this more deeply than the staff of Waitt Radio and Sweet 98.5. 

Over the years, the tone and flavor of “Top 40 “ radio has changed to accommodate the music of the times. The old days of Sweet 98 are not what they were. The longstanding listener-ship of the station has grown up over the 20+ years KQKQ has been on the air, and now the station is going to grow with them. 

Everyone at Sweet 98.5 will miss the many friends they’ve made on the air and at remote broadcast appearances as much as they will be missed. 

Deciding to change Sweet 98.5 was a long and well-thought out process by Waitt Radio. We thank you for your loyalty and support throughout the years, and we sincerely hope that we will again cross paths in the future.

 


This site is part of the historical review of Nebraska Radio Stations at NebraskaRadio.com and is not operated by Froggy 98 radio.  We cannot answer questions about the station, take requests.  Please call their studio line offices for assistance.  If you have historical information you would like included on this site, E-MAIL ME!   

NOTE:  THIS MAIL DOES NOT GO TO THE RADIO STATION!!!