How far would you go to get your favorite band to come play in your town? For Milwaukee radio personality Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' it involved going out on a ledge.
That ledge-endary sit sticks out in Mike Crowley's mind, so he wrote to Bubbler Talk to learn more about it:
"How long did WQFM DJ Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' camp outside of the studio in order to entice The Who to play Milwaukee in 1982?"
Mike, the answer is: two weeks. Now let's tell the story.
It was 1982, and the classic rock band The Who announced what it said was its "Farewell Tour." When the band published the dates, Milwaukee wasn't on the list of concert stops.
That's where Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' comes in. Tim, whose real name is Tim U'ren, was a disc jockey at 93 WQFM in Milwaukee. He was tired of The Who, and some other bands at the time, passing over Milwaukee.
So, on a fall day, he climbed onto a ledge that jutted out from the 21st floor of QFM's studios on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. He did so during his radio shift, refusing to come inside until The Who agreed to perform here.
Tim recently met us on the street outside the former QFM studios. Looking up at the 21st floor about 37 years later, memories started rushing back to him. He says that ledge was narrow.
"It was probably about 2-feet wide and then it had a wall up around it," he says.
Tim was perched on the ledge 'round the clock. He says local business owners donated items to make him more comfortable.
"The chief engineer had talked to the military supply store, which was across the street at the time, and he got an army cot for me to sleep on. He also got a port-a-potty for me to go to the bathroom," he says.
Tim says he broadcast his shift from the ledge each night — using a mic strung from the studio inside the building. As word of the stunt spread, he says people stopped by with refreshments.
"All the restaurants in town donated free food, which was great," Tim says.
In addition, thousands of motorists on Wisconsin Avenue honked their horns to cheer him on. At the same time, The Who fans in Milwaukee started a petition drive, begging the band to play here. After a few days, national media picked up the story.
Tim says the first week was fun, but then he started to grow weary. He says it was frustrating, not having any idea if The Who was aware of his efforts. Remember, smartphones didn't exist yet.
"I became a victim of this information vacuum where I didn't know what was going on, so that messed with my head and my emotions a little bit," he explains.
Then came – the phone call:
Tim: Hello, this is The Animal out on the ledge.
Daltrey: Hi Tim, how are you?
Tim: Good, good. Who's this?
Daltrey: It's Roger Daltrey.
Tim: Hahaha, Roger. How are you?
Daltrey: Alright, mate. We've got some good news for you.
Tim: You do? What's that?
Daltrey: We're going to play Milwaukee.
Tim: Oh, that's excellent. I'm ecstatic.
It was Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who. The band had heard of the stunt and was touched by it. So, The Who booked a performance for later that year at the Milwaukee Arena. Tim was elated – he could come off the ledge.
Lee Arnold, QFM's program director at the time, says, "And when he came in, we sprayed him with champagne. It was like, it was the celebration of celebrations as if he had just won the Super Bowl."
Arnold says QFM's listenership soared because of the stunt, and the station knocked off its major competitor, WLPX, in the ratings that year.
So, where is everybody now?
WQFM changed owners and call letters — it's now B93.3 FM in Milwaukee. Tim is retired after a long career in radio and lives in Madison, Wis. As for The Who – the band has toured many times since its "Farewell Tour" in 1982. And The Who's back in Milwaukee on Sunday, Sept. 8, performing at Alpine Valley.
Editor's note: Audio of the phone call from Roger Daltrey is courtesy of former QFM staffer Rick Rotaru.
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