A legend announced her retirement today. Sarah Fleischer from Baltimore’s 98 Rock is leaving the air after 38 years. She’s been a mainstay on the station since it was founded.
The earliest I remember listening to 98 Rock was the late ‘70s….Probably in ’79. We had an AM/FM radio hanging over the sink in our kitchen, and 98 Rock’s morning show was a fixture on it (until 1981 when it competed with Howard Stern, and then The Greaseman, on DC101). Their morning show, anchored by the sorely missed R. Edward Lopez, was irreverently funny, and they played the music I wanted to hear.
But it was Sarah’s smoky, sultry voice that kept me running back home from school for more. My 11-year old self was shocked……”girls like rock?” Who knew? And then I picked up a copy of the station’s newsletter – the 98 Rock Street Sheet – and saw a picture of her. Whooooo boy, the woman was rock ’n roll.
So when she, Alan Courdiff, and Tony “Mad Dog” Coulter were scheduled to be at a meet & greet with Ozzy Osbourne at a local record store (remember them?), I had to go. I don’t remember much other than Ozzy was wearing a Cosby-style sweater vest, but I remember being more starstruck over Sarah than I was over him.
Over the years I kept listening, and kept seeing Sarah at various events. Whether a Crack the Sky concert at The Network, or the Timonium Bike Show, or July 4th at the Harbour, she was a constant in the community, and a class act at every appearance.
When I moved back to the area after a year away, it was comforting to tune the dial to 97.9 and hear her voice. For 36 years, she’s been the voice of 98 Rock to me.
And now she’s retiring, which has had me reflecting on things all day. I’ve aged well out of 98 Rock’s target demographic. Truth be told, I’ve been past it for years, but I don’t find myself tuning to the morning show much anymore. It’s just not my thing….And hasn’t really since Bob Lopez passed away in 2005 (my God, it’s been 10 years).
So Sarah, good luck with whatever you choose to do next. Know that you leave a void that cannot be filled. And know that for thousands of people that grew up within the signal area of 98 Rock, you were a crucially important part of our lives. You took our calls and bantered with us as we gave you our requests. You kept the ‘80s going with the Hairball. You got us all through our awkward teenage years. And you did it with style and class.
Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us.