DOVER — After 45 years on the air, WOKQ and WPKQ have pulled the plug on “The Telephone Flea Market.”
The radio flea market was a tradition for many New Hampshire listeners who would tune in Sunday mornings to hear about the items callers were selling around the state and other parts of New England.
“It had already been on the air nearly 20 years when I got to WOKQ in 1996,” former operations manager and morning show host Mark Ericson said Tuesday. “I can’t say that I was a fan of the show, but the ratings said otherwise. It was consistently one of the most listened-to shows on the station. I filled in on the show multiple times over the years and from start to finish it was 10 phone lines ringing for five hours.”
The show aired from 7 a.m. to noon with Don Spencer, who began hosting the flea market in 2008. He will remain with the station. The show’s finale was on March 24.
“All good things must someday come to an end,” the station wrote in a message on its Facebook page.
Changing listener habits appear to have been a factor in the decision to end the program that began when Dover-based WOKQ 97.5 FM started playing country music as WDNH-FM in 1973. The station kept the show when the call sign switched to WOKQ in 1977. Sister station WPKQ 103.7 FM “The Peak,” which is based in North Conway, was added in the late 1990s.
“As we know, the digital world has changed how people go to market to sell their ‘stuff,’” the station said in its Facebook post.
Many listeners chimed in on the station’s Facebook page to share memories and sadness over the loss of a Sunday morning tradition.
“My dad listened to this every Sunday religiously. Always had his coffee, notebook and pencil in hand. He’s been gone almost four years now and I still miss him laughing over some of Don’s reactions to callers and getting so excited when he got through to sell something,” Jennifer Dubois wrote.
Others remember when former WOKQ radio personality Kenny Tibbetts hosted the show and his weekly calls from a listener named Joe.
Listeners said the show made the station unique.
“I grew up listening to the flea market every Sunday and still (tune) it in on Sundays just for old time’s sake. Going to miss it!” wrote Julie Harrison.
Some listeners got a laugh when callers tried to break the rules by pitching more than three items per call. And no pet or firearm sales were allowed.
Others attempted to ignore the one-vehicle limit, keeping the host on his toes to make sure rules were followed and all callers were treated fairly.
“Been on since I was a kid. … What am I going to listen to in the garage on Sundays,” asked Scott Shepard.