By John Ridge

13Q, the beloved former Pittsburgh radio station WKTQ 1320 AM, left an indelible mark on the city’s airwaves from 1973 to 1980. A new podcast revisits the legacy of this iconic station, featuring four former WKTQ personalities sharing their memories and experiences from their time at 13Q.

Influence on 13Q’s Success

Several key factors contributed to 13Q’s remarkable success and influence during its short but impactful run in the 1970s:
Owner Cecil Heftel played a pivotal role by setting the tone and giving the station the freedom and support to innovate. He empowered the staff to take risks and try new things.
Program Director Buzz Bennett was the mastermind behind 13Q’s unique sound and style. His vision shaped the station’s identity. As DJ Chuck Brinkman recalled, Bennett described 13Q as “like a really big house, man. You can go into any room you want, man.” This captured 13Q’s spirit of creativity and breaking the mold.

The talented DJs were the heart of 13Q. Their distinctive personalities, both on and off the air, connected with listeners. From morning hosts like Jim Quinn and Steve Rizen to the rest of the crew, their chemistry and antics made 13Q feel like a big crazy family that welcomed the audience to the party.
13Q also benefited from the support of a forward-thinking management and sales team that gave them the tools and leeway to experiment and grow. This allowed 13Q to take chances on wild contests, irreverent humor, and a high-octane style that stood out from the pack.

The station’s success was a team effort, driven by passionate people who loved radio. As Brinkman noted, “Honestly I can tell you I learned so much from everyone I worked with at 13Q.” That collaborative spirit, combined with Heftel’s leadership, Bennett’s vision, and the DJs’ talent, enabled 13Q to make radio

The Rise of 13Q: From WJAS to WKTQ

In 1973, Pittsburgh radio was transformed when Cecil Heftel bought WJAS 1320 AM and created the legendary “13Q” top 40 station, changing the call letters to WKPQ and then WKTQ. 13Q quickly became a sensation, known for its cash giveaways, where listeners could win at least $13,000 just by answering their phone with the phrase “I listen to the new sound of 13Q!” when a DJ called. The station also distributed popular weekly Top 40 flyers throughout the city. 13Q’s meteoric rise even knocked competitor KQV out of the top 40 format, forcing them to switch to all-news in 1975. However, as listeners shifted to FM, ratings declined, and by 1979, 13Q returned to the WJAS call letters and an adult contemporary format.

Iconic DJs of 13Q:

Buzz Brindle

Buzz Brindle was one of the most memorable DJs from 13Q’s heyday in the 1970s. He had a long and varied radio career, working on-air in cities like Providence, Washington DC, Chicago, and New York, in addition to his time at 13Q in Pittsburgh.

Brindle’s distinctive voice and personality made him a fan favorite, and he’ll be sharing his experiences and stories from his 13Q days on an upcoming podcast celebrating the legendary station. Even though 13Q only lasted a few short years, Brindle and the other iconic DJs helped make it a hugely influential force in Pittsburgh radio that’s still remembered fondly today.

Batt Johnson

Batt Johnson is a multi-talented performer and educator who has made his mark in various fields. He has worked as an actor in feature films and plays, and as a model in major magazines. Johnson has also been a host on TV home shopping, news, and entertainment shows. In addition to his work in entertainment, he is an experienced teacher and college professor. As an Argentine tango dancer and choreographer, Johnson shares his passion through his website Tango Intoxication. He has also authored several books available on Amazon. With his diverse skill set, Johnson offers executive communication consulting

Memorable On-Air Contests

13Q was known for its exciting on-air contests that gave listeners the chance to win big prizes. One of the most memorable was the “I Listen to the New Sound of 13Q” contest. If a DJ called and you answered your phone with that phrase, you could win at least $13,000 on the spot! 13Q also ran other engaging contests like guessing games, where callers had to guess things like how many coins a DJ was holding to win cash and prizes. These creative contests, along with the popular DJs, helped 13Q quickly rise to become a hugely influential force in Pittsburgh radio in its short but memorable run in the 1970s.

Signature On-Air Style

13Q had a signature fast-paced, high-energy on-air style that set it apart from other stations. The DJs talked quickly and excitedly between songs, keeping the energy level up. They used sound effects, jingles, and reverb to create a dynamic sound. It was like a fun party on the radio! 13Q’s style was designed to appeal to young listeners and get them excited. The DJs also connected with the audience by talking about local events, pop culture, and topics that mattered to Pittsburgh’s youth. This unique combination of upbeat energy, production techniques, and relatable content defined 13Q’s iconic style in the 1970s.

Impact on Pittsburgh Radio

13Q made a huge impact on Pittsburgh radio during its short but memorable run in the 1970s. The station’s meteoric rise to popularity completely shook up the local radio scene. With its exciting contests, popular DJs, and signature high-energy style, 13Q quickly became a sensation, especially with younger listeners.

13Q’s success even forced competitor station KQV to abandon the top 40 format entirely and switch to all-news in 1975, unable to compete with 13Q’s dominance. The station also heavily influenced the way other local stations operated and sounded, as they tried to emulate 13Q’s winning formula.
13Q proved the power of creative, engaging radio. Its unique blend of music, personality, and listener interaction set a new standard for what audiences wanted and expected from their radio stations. Even though the station only lasted a few years, it left an indelible mark on Pittsburgh’s airwaves and in listeners’ memories.

To this day, 13Q is still remembered as one of the most iconic and influential stations in Pittsburgh radio history. Its legacy continues to be celebrated by the DJs and listeners who experienced its magic firsthand during those memorable years in the 1970s. 13Q showed that radio could be more than just music – it could be a fun, exciting, shared experience that brought the community together. That’s a lesson that still resonates decades later.

Listener Stories and Memories

13Q holds a special place in the hearts of many Pittsburghers who grew up listening to the station in the 1970s. The music and DJs provided the soundtrack to their youth, and left lasting memories. Listeners fondly recall always having 13Q playing in the background while hanging out with friends, whether they were playing baseball, exploring the woods, or just goofing around.

For many, 13Q was their first introduction to rock music beyond just background noise. It opened their ears to a whole world of new sounds and ideas. Songs like “Spirit in the Sky,” “Low Rider,” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” became anthems. Silly songs like “Dead Skunk” cracked them up, while tunes like “Uneasy Rider” hinted at a fascinating counterculture.

Listeners also loved 13Q’s cheeky humor. They remember cracking up at the goofy interview songs where clips from popular tunes were used as “responses” to silly questions. Kids would eagerly grab the weekly 13Q music surveys to check out the latest hits, copy the funny cartoon drawings, and figure out song lyrics. Some lucky listeners even won the big cash call jackpots by answering their phone with the 13Q slogan!

As one listener summed it up, “Almost 30 years doesn’t diminish my fondness for that era. Music is still the soundtrack to our family lives. Every so often I see a survey sheet pop up on eBay. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.” For the generation that came of age in 1970s Pittsburgh, 13Q provided the joyful, irreverent, rockin’ background music to their lives – and they’ll never forget it.