In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Canton teenager David Jingo was among the devotees of Cleveland rock station WMMS (100.7-FM), the notorious Buzzard. Lacking an older brother to school him in what mattered in pop music, he said the radio station became that older brother.
“As I grew from a child where I listened to Top 40 ... I started to listen to more rock stuff,” he said. “When I was 14 or 15, I became aware, through friends, of ’MMS. ... [It] was telling me what the cool bands were, what new music was coming out, when concerts were happening. And then it just opened up this whole world, as soon as I turned it on, of music I had never heard and just loved. That’s where I learned about Led Zeppelin — that’s my favorite band — and the Rolling Stones and the Who and the more obscure stuff like Ian Hunter and the Divinyls. I got my music education from ’MMS, and it was an Ivy League education.”
Now 49 years old, the 1982 graduate of Canton McKinley High School has found filmmaking inspiration in those days and nights of radio listening. David and his brother Bill Jingo have for more than a year gathered material for a WMMS documentary through their Jingo Bros. Productions.
And they have the blessing of John Gorman, the program director of the Buzzard in its heyday.
“Over the years I have been approached by a number of people wanting to do a documentary of WMMS,” Gorman said in an e-chat. “When the Jingo Brothers contacted me, they asked me to watch [Thirteen and 0] a documentary they did on the 1981 Canton McKinley Bulldogs. It was subject matter I knew little about and they were very limited as to footage from that season. But, while watching, it drew me in. I was very impressed.
“Following that, the Jingos did some sample footage of the proposed documentary. I loved it. I showed it to a few people who worked there. Everyone felt the same way. They captured the feel of what WMMS was — and did so from a fan’s or listener’s perspective. It didn’t feel like the typical music business documentary. We were sold.”
I have seen the Jingos’ presentation reel, about six minutes of archival footage, music and interviews with Gorman, disc jockey Ed “Flash” Ferenc and Buzzard personality Murray “Get Down” Saul. It’s well done and made me want much, much more.
The filmmakers figure they’ll need about $200,000 for the final feature film, from interviews through post-production including some travel if some big-name interviews can be set up and “hopefully rights to a handful of judiciously picked songs.” Music rights can be difficult and expensive but the Jingos have a wish list of songs like Blue Oyster Cult’s Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll, Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
In addition to looking for big financial supporters, they have set up a page on Fractured Atlas (www.fracturedatlas.org), a tax-deductible charity operation helping arts groups with crowd funding.
“We feel this is not just a story about a radio station in Northeast Ohio,” David said. “I think it’s part of rock ’n’ roll history. I think anyone who’s interested in rock ’n’ roll, anyone who’s enamored of ’70s pop culture, or just likes a good story — will be interested.”
David said the brothers are also looking for fans’ memories and memorabilia to be included in the film.
“It wasn’t just a station,” he said. “There seemed to be a true interaction with the fans.” Searching for an obscure Led Zeppelin track, young David wrote WMMS’s legendary Kid Leo — and got a handwritten reply with the needed information.
If you have something of interest about the station, you can contact the Jingos by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If it’s photos, we can scan it and send them back with some digital copies,” David said. “If they have any kind of film footage, we would have it transferred [to digital] and send it back to them, again with a digital copy.”
Now, some of you are thinking that Gorman already presented a history of the radio station in the book The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio, co-written with Tom Feran. (Consumer advisory: Feran and I co-wrote a couple of other books.) While David said he had read the book, the documentary is a separate creature.
“You could call it the next step in documenting the history of WMMS,” he said. “The book served as a good base of knowledge for me, and a jumping-off point for the documentary.”
Added Gorman: “They have their own vision for the documentary and though it covers the same period as my book, it is not based on it, That’s not to say I don’t want a film done about my book. But that one should either be a full length motion picture — or maybe even an ongoing sitcom, because that’s what it truly was there.”
By the way ... The Thirteen and O documentary will be shown at the Canton Film Festival Oct. 3-5 in the Canton Palace Theatre. David and Bill will host a discussion following a screening of their film at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.
Also expected at the festival is North Canton’s own Eddie McClintock, co-star on Syfy’s Warehouse 13, who will be at the festival in conjunction with the movie ‘a fish story,’ which the festival will present at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5. The movie, which has been making the film-festival rounds, recently picked up prizes for best dramatic feature film, best actor (McClintock) and best actress (Jayne Heitmeyer) at the Burbank international film fest.
In brief, it involves the way a chance encounter between a family man (Sam Roberts, who also wrote the film) and a fugitive (McClintock) leads into a contemplation of loss and redemption. You can find out more at afishstorythemovie.com.
You can get tickets to these features and other parts of the fest through the Palace, which is online at www.cantonpalacetheatre.org.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.