Helton hadn’t planned on creating this “rock star” for WMMS — he had originally sent in a complaint about the station’s programming — in the form of a cartoon. The move caught John Gorman’s attention, and the rest is history.
The Buzzard was introduced in the alternative weekly, Zeppelin, in April 1974 (shown at left). The public embraced him, and the popularity of the rock radio station skyrocketed, with the Buzzard at the helm. Over the years, the Buzzard appeared on all manner of swag, large and small: bumper stickers, shirts, glassware, mugs, and even vehicles. He represented WMMS in print and TV ads, billboards, parade floats and murals. He also had his own publication — The Buzzard News — an internal comic that tracked what was happening at the station in the 1970s.
The Buzzard is still a WMMS, and Cleveland, icon even as the station celebrated its 50th birthday in 2018. The station is currently owned by iHeartMedia.
Helton hasn’t been an employee of Malrite Communications, then owner of WMMS, since 1989, but he didn’t have to dig too deep to draw a special illustration for a feature story in the Cleveland Scene (left). The Buzzard may be older, but he’s not forgotten.
For Buzzard fans who want to get a little nostalgic, Helton is selling some of his vintage swag online. Visit www.davidheltonillustration.com.
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