The Film

It was a fight to the death … well, maybe not to the “death,” but it was definitely a war … the kind of battle that would change not only the listening habits of hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers but also change the entire culture of Indiana’s capital city.  And Naptown would never be the same! President, David Fulton, along with former WNAP-FM Program Director/DJ, Al Stone, bring the documentary – Naptown Rock Radio Wars – to the IMAX theater at White River State Park for a special, one evening only theatrical showing on January 14, 2012.  “We are excited to present this feature length documentary to Indianapolis and Central Indiana.” says Fulton.  “It represents four years of work, dozens of interviews with former Indianapolis radio personalities and important staff members, and memorable clips from radio airchecks.  Our focus is the rock radio wars that raged for nearly two decades – from the late 50s to the late 70s here in Indy.”

Two brilliant and fierce broadcasting competitors – Richard Fairbanks, who owned WIBC-AM 1070, the 50,000 watt radio behemoth, versus Don Burden, the young upstart broadcasting impresario who swaggered into town and launched the glitzy, promotion-oriented, though low-powered, WIFE-AM 1310.

How was the war fought?  What were the strategies?  Who were the personalities both in the limelight and behind the scenes?  And who, in the end, would win Naptown’s Rock Radio Wars?

In the days before cell phones, satellite radio, cable TV, and the … Internet, we got our music three ways – buying records, attending concerts, or from THE RADIO.  In Indianapolis – known at the time derogatorily as Naptown – radio, particularly rock radio, was an all out war.  “What happened during this period,” adds Stone, “was truly a culture shift. From loosely formatted to tightly formatted stations, the battle for listeners between WIBC-AM 1070, WIFE-AM 1310, and WNAP-FM 93.1 is fascinating.  The strategies and tactics the owners and managers developed and the on-air personalities implemented really changed Indianapolis, reflecting the same changes going on all over America at the time.”

Culled from hundreds of hours of interviews with such Naptown household names as Reb Porter, Roger W. Morgan, Bill Shirk, Cris Connor, Buster Bodine, Bill Donnella, Tom Cochrun, and others, Naptown Rock Radio Wars is a “must see” and “must hear” documentary experience.  Viewers will find out how WIFE’s entrance into the Indianapolis radio market launched the battle, with WIFE knocking WIBC out of first place until Fairbanks turned its classical music FM station into WNAP, which quickly became one of America’s first commercial FM rock stations.

For those who were around Indy at the time and for those who may not even remember what 45s and 78s were, this documentary is both entertaining and informative.

Comments are closed.