SOLID GOLD: The hits just kept on comin' for those in attendance at the annual CKLW Radio Reunion on Saturday the fourteenth of July. Pictured above, front: long time CKLW traffic reporter Jojo Shutty-MacGregor. Middle row, left to right: Carolina Blue Lady Vintage Collectibles head Donna Behler Fink, CKLW's Ric Allen. Back row, left to right: Michigan Music CEO Mike Jackson, renowned musicologist and long time Blitz Magazine contributor Jerry Schollenberger, Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell and CKLW's Charlie O'Brien. Michael McDowell has the full story below.

By Michael McDowell

Fish flies.

That curious and often overbearing insect was one of many reasons given by those in attendance to explain the changes at hand during the annual CKLW Radio Reunion, which was held during the afternoon of Saturday the 14th of July at the VFW Hall in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan.

The fish fly species (chauliodes pectinicornis), which is common to southeastern Michigan during the summer months, has been known to infest areas which are in close proximity to water, as was the case with this year's venue of choice.

In reality, communication may have played an even greater part in diverting attention from the subject at hand. The 2017 CKLW Radio Reunion was held in neighboring Mount Clemens, but the location was changed weeks ago for this year's event.

True to form, the principals involved documented the change of locale on various social media sites. Even so, several of the participants found themselves fielding phone calls at the onset of the festivities from various previous attendees, stating that they were in Mount Clemens at the moment and were wondering what had happened.

Nonetheless, for those who made the effort to read more than a brief sound byte excerpt and responded accordingly, the 2018 CKLW Radio Reunion proved to be a gathering of celebration, camaraderie and education.

The 2018 gathering served primarily to celebrate the launch of big8radio.com, the new web site designed to both highlight the legacy of the hallowed Windsor, Ontario AM radio station and to draw from its main attributes to provide the foundation for its role as the listening alternative of choice for the twenty-first century.

The principal visionary behind the big8radio.com web site is CKLW and CKWW veteran Charlie O'Brien, who again served as Master of Ceremonies for this year's event. Assisting in music programming for the web site will be fellow CKLW alumnus Ric Allen, who has extensive physical and digital musical archives at his disposal. Allen currently oversees music, news, sports and weather for the Michigan Music site on social media.

Allen was one of several participants who came in from across the continent for the event (he currently makes his home in North Carolina). Also on hand were Motor City Radio Flashbacks' Jim Feliciano (who currently resides in the southeastern United States), Carolina Blue Lady Vintage Collectibles head Donna Behler Fink, Michigan Music CEO Mike Jackson, long time Blitz contributor, Question Mark And The Mysterians producer and renowned musicologist Jerry Schollenberger and Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell.

As before, long time CKLW traffic reporter Jojo Shutty-MacGregor brought the attendees up to date regarding the ongoing success of Americans, the 1973 Gordon Sinclair-penned single by her late husband and long time CKLW News Director, Byron MacGregor. The single was originally issued on Armen Boladian's Westbound label, which subsequently released two acclaimed albums by MacGregor.

During a break in the proceedings, an ad hoc workshop conducted by Donna Behler Fink discussed the role of "going deep" in programming the web site. That is, drawing from the rich reservoir of music favored by discerning musicologists and record collectors; citing the 1965 Hoyt Axyon-penned Thunder ’N Lightnin’ single by Rojay Gotee on the Liberty label as a a key example.

"I would like to see (the website) avoid overplayed records", said Allen.

"Just because (a given overexposed single) was once in heavy rotation on CKLW doesn't mean that we need to hear it now".

Sadly, several beloved CKLW greats were forced to miss this year’s event due to unforeseen circumstances, including Bill Gable (minor surgery), Johnny Williams (car trouble) and Len Robinson (prior family commitments). All nonetheless pledged their ongoing support.

As before, the event also served as a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Winners in the related drawing took home everything from gift baskets to CKLW t-shirts.

Upon the event's conclusion, a number of the participants headed to the nearby Pat O'Brien's Restaurant for an afterglow party. Among other things, attendees listened intently as Jojo Shutty-MacGregor held court with fascinating tales of everything from her 1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible to the challenges of work-related aviation.

"It's always fun", said Charlie O'Brien.

Fish flies or not, fun it was. The 2019 CKLW Radio Reunion is scheduled for the second weekend of July.