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Peter C. Cavanaugh Passes at Age 79

Peter C. Cavanaugh

The MAB has learned that Flint radio legend Peter C. Cavanaugh passed away August 13 at the age of 79. His family posted word of his death on Facebook. Cavanaugh influenced Flint radio for decades, working at Top 40 WTAC-AM 600 beginning in 1964 and moved on to be the General Manager of WWCK-FM during its heyday as a rock station. He quickly rose to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Reams Broadcasting, which owned the station from 1975 to 1988. The once-great ‘105 FM’ was at that time one of the leading rock and roll radio outlets in the country, thanks in part to Cavanaugh’s leadership.

He started his career as a 16-year-old at WNDR in his hometown of Syracuse, New York.

Cavanaugh was featured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as part of an exhibit on influential rock and roll DJs. His platform helped The Who reach a national audience, and he expanded the reach of Michigan acts like Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper, according to his book “Local DJ.”  Seger credits Cavanaugh for his success. “Getting Cavanaugh on board was paramount to having a hit record,” said Punch Andrews, Seger’s manager.

Cavanaugh was featured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as part of an exhibit on influential rock and roll DJs. His platform helped The Who reach a national audience, and he expanded the reach of Michigan acts like Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper, according to his book “Local DJ.”

In addition to his storied career with WTAC-AM and WWCK-FM, Peter was the author of the book ‘Local DJ.’ The novel explores the culture of rock ‘n roll, local radio, and highlights the author’s personal spin on facilitating hundreds of rock concerts throughout the Midwest. Local filmmaker Jim Baade paid homage to Cavanagh in the documentary Flint’s Best Rock, which explored the heritage of rock radio in Flint and throughout Michigan. He also adapted Local DJ into a film which has been posted to Vimeo (use passcode 1234).

Cavanagh and his wife Eileen, retired to Oakhurst, CA before moving to the Cincinnati area. He is survived by Eileen and four daughters, Candace, Susan, Laurie and Colleen.