Tag Archives: Walton & Johnson

Mike McCann asks “What’s in a Name?”

AirliftProductions_L-R_SteveJohnson.MichealZiants-aka-MikeMcCann.JohnWalton.Q-93.WQUE-NewOrleans.TP-1983
The Legendary Walton & Johnson flanking that imported Yankee Mike McCann, Times-Picayune TV Focus, June 1983

It’s kind of funny after all these years and all this time, but I’m still asked about the ‘Mike McCann’ thing.

After all, most disc jockeys (as we were called back in the day) or air personalities on the radio used a stage name or alias for on-air purposes. Perhaps this gave us a more dramatic & imaginative persona, but it also assured us some form of anonymity and privacy. Some form.
 
A Pennsylvania native with roots further back in Austria & Hungary, and with brothers & uncles who’ve actually mined coal for a living, I’ve long been proud of the family name ‘Ziants’, but never used it on the radio.
The Ziants Boyz (L-R) Tommy (coal miner), Micheal (radio/recording dude), John (Ohio coal mine boss), Steve (newspaper writer/sports editor) ... on vacation, Holden Beach, 1994
The Ziants Boyz (L-R) Tommy (coal miner), Micheal (radio/recording dude), John (Ohio coal mine boss), Steve (newspaper writer/sports editor) … on vacation, Holden Beach, 1994
 
In fact, through 12 years on-air, all through my tours of duty in Harrisburg (WKBO), Saint Louis (KSD), Nashville (WLAC), and Philadelphia (WIFI) … I was known to the masses as John Saint John!
 
And it really worked.  I could play on and riff on that name all day long … ‘Philly’s one radio saint – that ain’t’, or (in St. Louis) ‘preaching the gospel according to St. John from the banks of the Mississippi’, and … well, you get the idea.
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Micheal Ziants ON-AIR at WKBO Radio, Harrisburg, PA as John Saint John rocked the state capital for years, 1973-1978
Without a doubt, the radio days/daze in Harrisburg, PA are among my favorite memories through all these years. “And don’t forget to smell the flowers along the way, ’cause we’re only here for a short while.”
 ** Micheal as John St. John,  On the Air @ WKBO Radio, Harrisburg, PA **
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Pre-MP3/Downloads – in the days of 45 rpm records – a WKBO Radio weekly music survey, charting record sales … with John Saint John

In fact, some of my best pals & brothers-in-arms from along the banks of the Susquehanna now belong to the ages and pages of broadcast history.

Big names all – Charlie Adams, “Big Jim” Roberts,  Marv “The Goose” Goslin, Fred “Honzie” Honsberger, Jeff Kauffman, Gary “The Pit” Magill … much love & respect, my brothers, and prayers to ‘the other side’. I cherish the time we spent ‘in the trenches’ together.

Your names – and broadcast contributions – are now the stuff of Legend.

** Micheal as John St. John, WLAC, Nashville, 1980 **

But you know, names, people and places will always change … and upon my arrival in New Orleans in 1983, so did the  “John Saint John” thing. 
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a full-page ad in Sunday’s Times-Picayune promoting WQUE’s Mike McCann

Q-93 (owned at the time by Insilco, an international silver company, really) employed a mid-day jock (who still today does production for Entercom’s WWL) by the on-air name of STEVE St. John … a jock that I would have to follow in afternoon drive!  Uh-oh.

WQUE management loved what I had been doing on-air in Philadelphia, and flew me down to hire me in June of 1983. But the name had to go!
Oh well, (sigh) what’s that old Billy Shakespeare line about, “A rose by any other name…”?
 
So, ‘Mike McCann’ was born.  And in one fell swoop, Q-93 hired me for afternoon drive … and these two crazed characters out of Beaumont, Texas – Walton & Johnson for morning drive … all in that one fateful week!

** Mike McCann On the Air @ Q-93/WQUE-FM, along with Walton & Johnson, May 1984 **

 
Now, at that point in time, John & Steve had only been together for 5 months as a team, having met for a breakfast and formed their alliance just a half year before – in Beaumont.
 I had been a top-rated and tested major market air personality for years, and was looking to do mornings at Q, but management had other ideas.  And that is the subject for yet another blog…  another time.

What’s in a name? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

 Or is it … ON it?
MichealZiants-aka-MikeMcCann-TV-Focus-TP_1984
 
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L-R.HeathAllen, TheresaAnderssonMichealZiantsRichLenzAirliftProductionsNOLA
L-R, Heath Allen, Theresa Andersson, Micheal Ziants, Rich Lenz – during a break from the original HEALING HOUSE sessions, Airlift Productions

“For years, I have worked with Micheal Ziants and Airlift Productions recording songs for Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.  Mike’s attention to detail is legendary, but his commitment to the kids and the challenges they face goes far beyond that.  He gets it.   Professionally, he’s as good as it gets.  Everyone SOUNDS better after a session with Mike.  And no matter what the audio project, you FEEL better after a session with Airlift.  That’s “Z” truth! — HEATH ALLEN, WDSU-TV Reporter, and Veteran Guitar Picker

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McCann, Walton & Johnson On-Air At Q93-WQUE, 1984

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Times-Picayune Pic  featuring WQUE Radio’s new hires – Walton & Johnson … oh, and that Mike McCann dude (Airlift proprietor Micheal Ziants ) during the radio days/daze)

The world sure was a different place in 1984.

Ronald Reagan sat in the White House, America was watching ‘Cosby’ & ‘Family Ties’ on cathode ray tubes, Wendy’s was asking “Where’s the Beef?” …

Videotape & VCRs were state of the art,  ‘Romancing the Stone’ was huge at the box office, Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games, the NFL had competition with the USFL – and Cut Off, LA native Bobby Hebert was QB for it’s Michigan Panthers …

Closer to home, ‘Dutch’ Morial reigned as Mayor of New Orleans, K&B Drugstores were on every corner, Maison Blanche still sat on Canal Street … and the Crescent City opened it’s doors and welcomed the world with the 1984 World’s Fair!

And the day it opened – May 12th, 1984 – yours truly, as Mike McCann, was wrapping up my first year on Q-93 as afternoon air personality.

AirliftProductionsRecallsWorldsFair1984WithMikeMcCann

My weekend gig was doing mid-days on-air every Saturday and, as fate would have it, the day the World’s Fair was unveiled, I was doing the duty – with Walton & Johnson as co-stars.  

Really.

John & Steve had a remote broadcast on this Saturday from the remodeled Maison Blanche department store on Canal Street – and dropped in from time to time on the broadcast.  Oh boy! 

Hard to believe that this aircheck is now thirty-three years old! Although the station positioning statement  “30 minutes of non-stop music IN STEREO!” is for sure a giveaway.

And the music?  Cindy Lauper, Van Halen,  Rod Stewart, Culture Club, Madonna …and Prince Rogers Nelson danced in the ‘Purple Rain’.

Give a listen to New Orleans radio in 1984 – in this newly unearthed, never-before-heard gem.  It’s WQUE-FM broadcasting from the top of the Tidewater Place building in the 1400 block of Canal Street on May 12th, 1984 – LIVE with Mike McCann —-

Man, it was so hard to find good part-time help in those days. 🙂

 

MichealZiantsAkaMikeMcCannWQUE
a full-page ad in Sunday’s Times-Picayune promoting WQUE’s Mike McCann

 

Interestingly – and not so coincidentally – 1984 was also the year that I decided to prepare my exit from the radio days and create Airlift Productions!  As to Walton & Johnson?  Well, John & Steve are still today in 2017 plying their trade in syndication on some of America’s finest radio stations…mgz

 

 

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MikeChurchKingDudeSiriusRadio“When I need BIG ‘I-know-that-guy’s-voice!’ sound for any production I am working on, the first call I make is to Airlift Mike.  Micheal’s penetrating vocals and second-to-none production quality give my movie & audio feature projects the instant respectability they need.   If you want to sound like a pro, meaning no one gives a second thought to your audio because it is so well executed, you want to call Airlift!”

MIKE CHURCH, World-Famous Sirius/XM Talk Show Host, Founding Father Film Maker, Writer & Producer of ‘The Spirit of ’76’ and ‘The Road to Independence’ & Creator of the Veritas Network/Crusade Channel

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA since 1984!