Leslie Remembers 103-5 The Blaze!

Hi it’s Leslie Harris, and yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of 103-5 The Blaze hitting the airwaves. People still tell me how much they miss that station. There was never a station in Chicago like it before or after.

I had been working at WFYR, and while I liked my manager and coworkers, I was bored out of my mind, playing love songs and dedications. I was excited, but also nervous when I found out that we were changing to a rock format. New owners always bring in new people.

But, I made the cut. In fact, I was the only person from WFYR that stuck around for more than a few weeks. I was even promoted from part-time weekends to full-time overnights, and I was the only woman jock that The Blaze ever had. (Colleen Collins, a former Blaze girl became a morning sidekick)

The whole thing started off with a stunt. We played the song rock rock till you drop by Def Leppard for 44 hours in a row. No DJs, no commercials, only that song, over and over and over. I think I worked three of the 5-Hour shifts. I figured out yesterday that I may have played that song around 225 times that weekend. It became funny after a while.

That started on March 29th, and then on April 1st, we started playing songs from artists like Motley Crue, Aerosmith (yeah!) Bon Jovi and a LOT of Scorpions.

At our initial staff meeting, we were told we would never play anything as heavy as Metallica. And then on August 12th of that year, Metallica released The Black album and we started playing Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Nothing Else Matters, Wherever I May Roam and Sad But True.

It was an exciting time for listeners who had been hungry for these bands that no other radio station in Chicago had played for years, and in some cases, ever.

The Blaze only lasted a little over 3 years, and in 1994, new owners changed the format to another great radio station that I worked at, Rock 103-5. But that’s a story for another day.

My good friend Scott Childers has a whole web page dedicated to the Blaze where you can read more, see pictures and even listen to bits of audio. Check it out HERE

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