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Issue Date: November 2008

Buzzard Sighting

Andrew Rafferty
David Helton thought his days of drawing cartoon buzzards were over after he left Cleveland in 1990. But the co-creator of one of the city’s most iconic images, the WMMS buzzard, failed to realize not everyone was as ready to let go as he was.

In 2006, Helton says he began receiving dozens of e-mails from fans requesting buzzard pictures and sharing their favorite WMMS stories.

“People evidently Googled me and found me,” says Helton, who moved back to his birthplace of Chattanooga, Tenn., 18 years ago. “What happened to prompt that, I couldn’t tell you.”

Though Helton does not have the time or money to fulfill the numerous requests he receives from fans wanting artwork, he is attempting to meet their demands with a new collection of limited-edition postcards released this fall. The 20-card set features some of the most popular buzzard illustrations from the 1970s and 1980s.

“It’s no Michelangelo, and it’s not da Vinci, but it’s something people remember, and I’m glad to be remembered,” Helton says.

Helton’s timing couldn’t be better. His set of postcards comes as WMMS celebrates its 40th anniversary, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is honoring the iconic radio station with a retrospective exhibit.

“Cleveland means so much to me,” he says. “It’s great to know I mean something to them.”
Visit for more information about Helton’s WMMS postcards.

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