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Encyclopedia > WABX

WABX was a freeform radio station in Detroit, USA. It was among the earliest stations of its kind, but not the first (San Francisco's KMPX is supposedly the first). It is rumored that the station's freeform format resulted from station management being afraid to return to the station after the 1968 Detroit Riots and the DJs playing whatever they liked. The word freeform may refer to: Freeform art - an approach to the arts, particularly sculpture and painting but also applicable to other creative endeavors such as: Freeform hardcore, a subgenre of the hardcore genre of electronic dance music Freeform (radio format), a radio station programming format Freeform, a type of... A radio station is a sound broadcasting service. ...


In the late '60s, WABX's on-air hosts played long sets from rock groups who didn't get play on top 40 radio. While these acts were not very well known, so-called underground radio stations like WABX helped them reach a wide audience. This included many local bands, including the young and raw Bob Seger, the Stooges and the MC5.


WABX was unique because of the local color and sense of community it inspired. It made itself a community catalyst for fun: free concerts and movies, kite-flys, bike-ins, conferences. The WABX hosts, called "Air Aces," such as Dave Dixon, Dan Carlysle, Jerry Lubin, "Righteous" (Bob) Rudnick and Dennis Frawley delivered a soundtrack for the experience that being young in Detroit during that era provoked. Other Air Aces included Mark Parenteau, Dick Thyne, Ann Christ and Paul Greiner.


General manager John Detz was very influential in choosing the on-air talent and creating the sound of the freeform progressive radio movement. Betsy Strand did all the office work, bookkeeping, public service spots, occasional news, kept the logs and everything else imaginable. She later became the station manager.


Harvey Ovshinsky was hired as WABX news director in March '70. He was best known for being the co-founder of Detroit's only underground newspaper, The Fifth Estate. Early ABX listeners may remember Harvey's DJ debut on his ABX show "Up Against the Wall" in 1968.


The station's influence on the freeform progressive radio movement cannot be underestimated. However, by the mid-'70s, corporate interests had begun taking over these radio stations, at the same time that rock music was becoming more corporate. WABX became just like any other station: the music was heavily formatted and the on-air personalities controlled.


WABX's 99.5 FM frequency in Detroit is now WYCD (country music).


The WABX call letters are now owned by a classic rock station in Evansville, Indiana.


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Harvey Ovshinsky was hired as WABX news director in March '70.
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