Prayers are in order as news has traveled that on the eve of the big game a Cleveland Big Game legend has passed, Lynn Tolliver Jr. who brought big time radio to WZAK in the 80’s.
According to Lynn Tolliver Jr.s bio in the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters (CAB):
Lynn Tolliver arrived at WZAK in May of 1982 shortly after the station had adopted a black-oriented urban contemporary format. Lynn landed in Cleveland after a successful track record at MCA Records in Detroit. While at MCA, Lynn was named Billboard Magazine’s urban contemporary program director for 5 years. Known for outrageous stunts, Lynn didn’t disappoint. He had listeners come down to the station wearing underwear on their heads to win prizes and in another contest, he offered prizes for the biggest cockroach. Lynn continued to draw attention to the station, and over the next few years, the station ratings climbed. It finished first in the ratings in April of 1990 and the station won 3 Billboard awards in 1993. In 2000, The CAB honored Lynn with the award for Excellence in Broadcasting as the first African-American recipient. For over 32 years of excellence in broadcasting, we salute you.
But Lynn Tolliver was so much more than that…
There isn’t a soul in Northeast Ohio that can’t tell you a story about listening to Lynn Tolliver Jr. growing up. Lynn Tolliver Jr. was responsible for local record stores sales when he released his own music charts that came in the form of a brochure. Lyn Tolliver Jr. was the man that is responsible for all us wanting to pick up a phone and call the radio station every time we hear ‘Celebration’ by Kool and The Gang as a matter of fact we all remember where we were when Lynn Tolliver Jr. locked hisself in the studio playing ‘Celebration’ over and over again for a whole afternoon. Some outside of Cleveland would say that if they heard the words ‘Three’s Company’ they would think of actor John Ritter, but here in Cleveland those words reminds us of thee original Cleveland Morning Show of Lynn Tolliver, Ralph Poole and Kim Johnson before Lynn Tolliver made a legendary decision to bring Kym Sellers our then future legend home to be part of the company.
When the soulful sounds followed by these words ‘Just the two of us, We can make it if we try’ chimes through any radio in the country, people would reminisce about how much they loved Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr. but here in Cleveland that song would would be followed up by a young voice saying “Lyn Tolliver, Ralph Poole, Rockin to The Beat and Rockin to the Grove’ a sign that the weekend was here and it was time for ‘Just The Two of Us’ show.
Tolly as he was affectionately called was more than just a radio host, he was an encourager, an uplifter and a career builder, Lynn Tolliver Jr. was the catapult to the world for many Cleveland musical legends such as Levert, Men at Large, Singer Dave Tolliver and The Rude Boys just to name a few. Lynn Tolliver also dropped his own 1983 hit single ‘Sexual Harassments-I Need A Freak‘ that was sampled back in 2005 by Black Eyed Peas for their hit song “My Humps”.
To the city of Cleveland and surrounding areas, Lynn Tolliver was our Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Wendy Williams, Angie Martinez before we even heard of these names, Lynn Tolliver was our Breakfast Club, our Morning Hustle in a time before the internet and social media. Fans until the time of Lynn Tolliver’s passing regarded him nothing less then a Rock Star however Lynn Tolliver was all quick to say to those that reacted to him that way, ‘hey I’m just a regular guy’.
We are blessed and thankful for the impact that Lynn Tolliver Jr. has had on lives through radio, as we keep the family, friends and colleagues of Lynn Tolliver Jr. uplifted in our prayers.
Take a listen to Lynn Tolliver Jr through the years on WZAK in the videos below.