Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself, as a person and professional.
A: I was born and raised in South Boston. It has a distinct personality from the rest of the city . . . I’ve been in the music business and radio industry for much of my life. I’ve been a radio program director, operations director and consultant.
Q: Why Cleveland (for you)?
A: In 1973, I had to make a decision. I was offered a promotion with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which would most likely have been a lifetime position. I had a life-long passion to be in radio and involved in the music business . . . One of the people I worked with at an FM station in Boston had moved to Cleveland. The new owner of WMMS had given him the rest of the year to turn the radio station around; he called me in June and said, “Help.” As much as a secure job was tempting, it was equally tempting to go somewhere new and work on building a brand new radio station. I decided to take the chance, even though the odds were against me. I took the job at WMMS. We had the right team, and it took off and became a well-noticed station.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering moving here?
A: Be prepared to be surprised in a positive way. Cleveland isn’t a young city; it isn’t an old city. It’s a well-seasoned city. It respects its past, but has its eyes on the future. It’s a very unique city with so much to do. The east side and west side are like two different cities with two different attitudes, and each has its own flavor and style. But, everyone converges in Downtown Cleveland, so it’s a melting pot of the surrounding areas.
Q: What false impressions do you think people have about Cleveland?
A: A lot of [false impressions] come from [the past]. Cleveland really helped win World War II. The problem was that all these people had come from the south and Appalachia to work in factories, and after the war, those jobs were gone . . . Businesses uprooted from cities like Cleveland; it suffered abandonment.
Being from Boston, I looked at Cleveland as an abundance of fresh water with the Great Lakes, and even back then, the Metroparks were incredible. Yes, Cleveland certainly had problems. So did Boston, after the war. What cities had to do was reinvent themselves and find new reasons to be important to the rest of the world. It took a number of years for Cleveland to do that. (Now), there probably isn’t a better time to come to Cleveland. It has really developed a sense of itself.
Q: How do you become a “local” in Cleveland (according to you)?
A: People in Cleveland make it very easy; It’s a friendly city. You don’t feel like a stranger. The cost of living here is very reasonable compared to cities of comparable size. We may not be NYC or LA, but for the money you save living in Cleveland, if you want to spend a weekend in NYC or LA, you can afford to do it.
Cleveland has a lot of uniqueness, too. Very rarely mentioned is the fact that Cleveland is where the Great Plains begin and the Appalachian Mountains end. The University Circle area is the start of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains--Geological change happens right in Cleveland, and that’s very unique.
Q: What are your favorite things to do in Northeast Ohio?
A: Whenever we have friends coming into town, we show off the parks. We always take the scenic route from the airport and drive through the Metroparks. It reminds me of Toronto or Vancouver; there’s so much to take people to, (including) the new neighborhoods that have been built, like Gordon’s Square, Battery Park and Edgewater . . . We like to show off our lakeshore. We start with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and take it all the way to Vermillion or into Lake County. It’s just a very scenic area. All of the suburbs have a lot of parks.
And in terms of restaurants, not only do we have major chains, we have some amazing local restaurants in this area. Local restaurants, and now the breweries, really add character to our city. If you are thinking of moving, realize that we have everything a larger city has at our disposal.
John Gorman, originally from Boston, is the chief content officer of WOW Media, an Internet radio station he began himself. However, he is perhaps most well-known for the thirteen years he spent working for Cleveland’s WMMS. In 2007, he published his book, The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio—A Memoir, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Rock Radio Hall of Fame in the “Legends of Rock-Radio Programming.”