WAAX, Gadsden, AL - Bob Mayben does the news
It was 1964; WAAX 570 in Gadsden, Alabama was doing the Top-40 battle with WGAD across town. On this night, Don Welch was on the air, Ron Wilson, the chief engineer, was at the station doing first-class coverage during directional operation, and I (the kid) was soaking up knowledge from these two legends.
The clock rolls around to the half hour, and Don comes out of the control room, clears the UPI machine and asks if I want to do the headlines on the half hour. Ron says “do it Maybelline, its character building”, or something like that. By now, Don has started the news intro and I have about 3 seconds to snatch the piece of yellow paper out of Don's hands, run in to the adjoining studio and do the news.
By the time I got the studio door opened, the light was on, the speaker silent, so I pulled up a chair, pulled down on the RCA 77DX hanging on the boom. The mike had swiveled down to the last thread on the mount and I watched in horror as the mike fell off the boom onto the desk, making a boom-boom-bang-boom sound on the air.
Ron Wilson, outside the door, started laughing so hard I could hear him thru the 2-nch door. I looked thru the double glass into the control room, and Welch had already pushed away from the console and was about to fall in the floor laughing as well. I picked up the mike in my left hand, hit the news 'bug' effect with my right hand, and giggled the words, “Senator Barry Goldwater-ha, ha, ha, ha,” etc.
Then there was silence for about 30 seconds while we all tried to regain composure. I would pay good money for an air check of the night...
SEE BROADCAST GEAR FROM YESTERYEAR:
RECOLLECTIONS OF WABC FROM ALAN FREED (1954) TO DAN INGRAM (1982):
WABC changed from MOR & Block Programming to Top 40 & Block Programming on 7 December 1960. I was an ear-witness to this event because high school was closed for a "snow holiday", and I usually listened to Al Lohman, Jr. on WABC.
The block programming that continued along with Top 40 was Don McNeil's Breakfast Club (shifted to 10am-11am for the new format, from 9am-10am during MOR), The Happiness Exchange with "Big Joe" Rosenfeld (Midnight-4am daily), and a ninety-five minute news block (5:55pm -7:30pm).
The original line-up, beginning 7 December, and now calling themselves "The Swingin' Seven from Seventy-seven" were: Herb Oscar Anderson, "The Morning Mayor of New York", 6am-10am, Charlie Greer, 11am-1pm, Farrell Smith, 1pm-3pm, Jack Carney, 3pm-5:55pm, Chuck Dunaway, 7:30pm-10pm, Scott "Scottso" Muni, 10pm-Midnight and Bill Owen, 4am-6am.
Jack Carney and Farrell Smith were holdovers from the MOR format, who had time on their contracts. Bill Owen was a "staff announcer" (like Charles Woods and others), who also did TV booth and hosted some filmed productions for ABC- Paramount. Don McNeil's Breakfast Club was a live orchestra/variety show (with studio audience) from ABC studios in Chicago.
The Happiness Exchange was a time-brokered program rumored to be paid by The Salvationists, the religious denomination responsible for the Salvation Army. The program was one of the first to take "live" telephone calls from listeners. There was no delay. You only heard Big Joe's side of the conversation and he repeated the listener's comments and response.
News was "Live at Fifty-five" except for the expanded news block.
The first jingles were produced by Roy Ross, a composer and organist who had his own musical entertainment program on New York radio in the fifties. Stations had "house orchestras" during this period. The musical signature was identical the the "Seventy-seven Sunset Strip" logo on the then-popular Warner Brothers TV drama (starring Efrom Zimbalist, Jr. andEd Byrnes). The lyric was "Seventy-seven Ray-Dee-Oh" to fit "Seventy-seven Sun-Set-Strip". The best jingle I remember was sung: "Ear-conditioned twenty-four hours a day...Seventy-seven Ray-Dee-Oh (Clap, Clap)Seventy-seven Ray-Dee-Oh (Clap, Clap) (repeated and faded). After a couple of months WABC began using PAMS#15 "Living Radio" (an MOR jingle package--they probably purchased it in 1959 before Mike Joseph changed the format to Top 40). The logo was still the Sunset Strip "Seventy-seven", but "Ray-Dee-Oh" was replaced by sung call letters (Note: NOT the famous W-A-B-C notes that appeared in future PAMS#18 and #22).
Dan Ingram was working at Mars Broadcasting during this period. Dan Ingram's first show was 3pm-5:55pm, 3 July 1961, which means he was on- the-air for ABC-Paramount and successor corporations for twenty years, ten months, and seven days.
Ron Lundy's first show was Midnight-6am, 1 September 1965, which means he was continuously employed by ABC for sixteen years, eight months, and nine days.
Jack Carney went to KSFO, San Francisco, and various other stations. I believe he is doing afternoons on Westwood One's Oldies Channel satellite format.
Farrell Smith went to WAVZ, New Haven, and from there?????? In late 1961, WABC renamed their air staff "The Seven Good Guys" during the period that WMCA called their air staff "The Good Guys".
When Bob (Bob-A-Loo) Lewis joined for a weekend air shift on 16 June 1962, they were renamed "The Seven Good Guys Plus One". Bob Lewis was doing Midnight-6am during the summer of 1962. Lewis objected to the all-night single sponsorship by a New Jersey clothier, and resigned. Charlie Greer, about to be fired from WABC, replaced him. Bob Dayton was fired for playing "Happy Happy Birthday Baby" on 6 August 1965, the anniversary of the Hiroshima atom-bombing. Roby Yonge was fired October (24?), 1969 for adding to the hysteria of the "Paul (McCartney) Is Dead" hoax, thought to be started by three DJs from WKNR, Dearborn (Detroit).
E-mail: Need current e-mail address.
MORE RECOLLECTIONS OF WABC FROM MARTIN BLOCK (1954) TO DAN INGRAM (1982):
As a 9-year old kid in early 1954, I was brought up to listen to my parent's music. This was mostly big band artists and "acceptable" jazz. Pre-teens were not allowed to listen to rhythm & blues, which was called "race" music then. One of the few places to hear this music was WOV (now WADO) on 1280, and Ralph "Coopey-Doo" Cooper "after midnight."
WABC (recently changed from WJZ) was a typical "flagship" radio station, feeding the ABC program line with local as well as network programming for about 18 hours a day. Morning and evening "drive" were local disc jockey-style programs; mid-day was network serials and game shows; evening "prime time" was network dramas and variety shows. Programs were generally fifteen minutes in length. There were some thirty minute and sixty minute programs. These programs were owned by sponsors and controlled by their advertising agencies...not the networks. "Staff" announcers, engineers, and "house" bands were the only employees of the network. Sign-off was generally midnight, unless they could broker the time. This was New York AM radio in the mid-fifties.
In 1953, WABC morning drive was hosted by Bobby Sherwood; evening drive by Dean Cameron. On 4 January 1954, Martin Block began his "Make-Believe Ballroom" from 2:35 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. The music was strictly your parent's.
Across town, WINS started programming "race" music before midnight! The "Moondog Rock 'n' Roll Party", hosted by Alan Freed, began 8 p.m.-Midnight on 8 September 1954. Then a blind New York street poet named "Moondog", who at times wore a Viking helmet and cape, sued WINS and Freed to prevent use of his name. And he won! It appears that Freed may have found the "Moondog" moniker from a record label (Moondog was an artist on Temple Records). The program became "Alan Freed's Rock 'n' Roll Party". Freed would later join WABC on 2 June 1958 for the "Alan Freed Show" from 7:15 p.m.-11 p.m. daily. WABC had become a mystical radio station long before Top 40.
I made the mythical "haj" (pilgrimage) to the WABC studios three times: The first visit was in May 1964 when the studios were located in a five story building next to 7 West 66th Street, New York City. To avoid the guard, I had to enter through a basement tunnel that connected "7 West" with this unmarked non-descript building. The basement and all five floors were dominated by one large studio (Band-sized), a technical control room, and a client's booth (Remember--advertising agencies controlled the network programming). The basement studio was still used by the radio network; mostly RCA equipment including control mixer and turntables, with Ampex full-track reel recorders, and rack-mounted cart machines (could have been Spotmaster). All the higher floors, except the fifth floor, had been gutted for office space. The principle WABC "myth" about the fifth floor, that I could never disprove, was that disc jockey shows from this building required a minimum of four people; one talent, one director, one board operator, and one turntable/tape operator.
The second visit was in May 1965, after WABC moved around the corner to 1926 Broadway. This time I was hosted by Rick Sklar. The studios were again on the fifth floor! This time talent and one engineer shared a common studio/control room. No more "directors" and no turntables. The control mixer (could have been a "custom" Collins) had out-board throttles for level control (like engine controllers in airplanes). The studio was all cart with six ATC cartridge players, some rack-mounted.
The third visit was in April 1968. The studios were now on the eighth floor of 1330 Avenue of the Americas. Again I was hosted by Rick Sklar. This time it was an employment interview. The on-air control mixer looked like a different "custom" Collins with slide faders, and six ATC cartridge players. The other control rooms looked like a Gates/Harris turnkey installation, with "Executive", "President", "Diplomat", and "Ambassodor" audio control mixers.
E-mail: Need current e-mail address.
WABC Good Guys
I enjoyed Don Browne's recollections of WABC on the 440 International Website. It's great to find someone who actually remembers the WABC Good Guys. It's been 35 years and I still can't believe how few people remember the WABC Good Guys and how WMCA got away with successfully ripping off the Good Guys. 'ABC did have them first in NYC. (I'm still trying to get the exact date of Channel 77's usage of the slogan, but it definitely was before WMCA!) KFWB in LA, however, was the originator.
When I first started listening to the station, the 7 Good Guys were: Herb Oscar Anderson, Charlie Greer, Sam Holman, Dan Ingram, Scott Muni, Bruce Morrow and Fred Hall. I used to do my homework listening to Newscope, the evening news strip. The station was still using the "WABC - Channel 77" jingles. The next set of jingles from PAMS in 1962 featuring the sonovox were the greatest! I believe that jingle package was the first to feature the famous "77 WABC" ID.
I also visited the WABC studios on W 66 Street in 1962. Cousin Brucie had a fan club convention and we were promised refreshments and an appearance from Charlie Greer. Well, as I recall, we only had cookies and no guest DJ. But it was a thrill to be in that huge studio with the clients' booth high above us, those "golden age" microphones on tables, and a working control room. There was a pamphlet on the stage with photos of the WABC DJ's on the cover. They weren't called "Good Guys" but "salesmen" -- the pamphlet was probably meant for potential advertisers. That was WABC's problem: they didn't use the Good Guy slogan often enough. I'm still trying to find a piece of WABC promo material identifying the jocks as the Good Guys. (I do have an aircheck promoting them as such.) To this day, I regret not picking up that leaflet!
Although I continued listening to WABC through its All American, Musicradio, and AC/Oldies phases, in my mind the early Good Guy days were the best.
Thanks for the memories!
WABC - Herb Oscar Anderson
Herb Oscar Anderson, the Morning Mayor of New York, was one of the original "Swingin' Seven" at WABC when it went to Top 40 battle against 1010-WINS in 1960.
"All the way with H-O-A 'til 10" was his favorite phrase. He did wake-up duty from 6-10 as an original when Rick Sklar and Michael Joseph put the format together.
Herb Oscar Anderson was 180-degrees different than the typical Top 40 jock -- charming, calm, low-keyed, very dry wit and lots of sweet talk for the housewives that they, obviously, enjoyed so much in that day. He told the ladies how pretty they looked every morning, what to dress the kids in for the rainy day ahead, told secretaries to take umbrellas to work, etc.
One interesting thing about Anderson: he hated the rock music of the day. He was steeped more in traditional music forms. As a result, he was a pretty mediocre jock, who knew little about the music, unless coached by Rick Sklar. Sklar would even have to tell him who some of the artists were, like The Beatles, for example. He was a "personality" first, a "jock" ninth...
ABC kept Anderson around because of his enormous popularity, his low-key, good morning approach and his one-on-one personality. Since WABC was the flagship of the network, it still had to carry the network programming, in addition to its own programming. That combination didn't match. "The Breakfast Club" with Don McNeill was a mainstay of the network since its inception -- and WABC Radio had to carry it. So, Anderson became the bridge -- holding on to the more "adult" mid-age morning audience that slid into "The Breakfast Club". He was perfect for the job.
HOA sang, "Hello again, here's my best to you. Are your skies all gray? I hope they're blue." He would sing it every day. Every hour.
In the studio, he was always reading a magazine (usually an agriculture mag -- he wanted to own a farm in Minnesota). In lieu of a mag -- he'd be stuck in the newspaper -- oblivious to the music and stuff around him. His producer ran the show and Herb just "filled in the blanks", I'm told.
When the Breakfast Club left the air in the late '60s, HOA was relegated to cue cards and some promos -- for a short time, until he was replaced by Harry Harrison.
Herb Oscar Anderson is the father of John James (Anderson), who starred in ABC's "Dynasty" drama in the '80s.
WABC - Herb Oscar Anderson & Fort Jay
My "77 WABC" memories include my time in the army at Fort Jay, Governor's Island, New York, where I was stationed as a draftee from March, 1961 through November, 1963. It was the most interesting time of my life. At that time, Governor's Island was the U.S. First Army Headquarters. Nowadays, you can't even get on the island. I'm told it's in limbo "ownership." Politics as usual. Such a waste. It's a great place to visit with a rich history.
A bit of backstory first. My goal in life before I was drafted was to be a DJ. At the time I was drafted, I was an engineer at KXAB-TV, Aberdeen, South Dakota. So, the army gave me a chance to be in New York City, a related goal in my life.
Every morning in the barracks, someone's clock radio would go off for us to hear Herb Oscar Anderson! I vaguely recall HOA when he worked at WDGY, Minneapolis. I could pick him up with an outsided antenna on the farm in Britton, South Dakota, back in those days.
And here he was at WABC! He would often sing a version of "That Happy Feeling." His lyrics went something like, "Sugar Bush I love you so. Let the other fellows know. I will never let you go. Sugar Bush I love you so. We're never going to go home. We won't go. We won't go. Play the polka right away. Play the polka night and day." Words something like that. Then he would sing another song. "Hello again. I've got that glow again. Hello again, Sweetheart." That was song to a Lawrence Welk-like orchestra background.
He was very much into the New York Mets. And he would sing along to a musical background, "Hey, let's boost the Mets! Let's boost the Mets!"
So that got all we reluctant draftees "up and at 'em" for the day. By some quirk of fate, I arrived at this military island via a choice I had requested when I was in dental technician school down at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. My choices were Washington DC or Fort Jay. I had no idea that Fort Jay was right smack dab in New York's harbor, where the Statue of Liberty was viewed to the west, Brooklyn was to the east, Staten Island was north, and a picture postcard view of Manhattan was south.
WABC - Cousin Bruce Morrow Showed Me the Way
I am from Brooklyn, New York and grew up listening to the greatest single radio station I have ever heard, bar none. 77WABC is the reason I am in radio; and Cousin Bruce Morrow is the man who showed me the way.
When I was 16 and a junior at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn (the year was 1973 and WABC was at the height of its success), Cousin Brucie visited the school and lectured the student body. I'll never forget that day as long as I live. It was the day I decided that radio would someday be my career.
Nearly 9 years later, when I had completed a broadcasting school, I wrote to Brucie telling him this story. I never dreamed he would write back. He did ... and at the same time suggested I contact one of his program directors at a station he owned at the time in Dover, New Jersey. Armed with the letter, resume and broadcast school tape, I got my first part-time job in radio.
77WAAAAAAAAAABC. Thanks to that station and Cousin Brucie...
Ralph Mauriello aka Randy Mitchell
WACY, Kissimmee FL -- Pete Simonson Warms His Buns
I worked there in late 1970 thru 1972 as my first radio station. I was fresh out of high school and had a friend quit the station, so I got a job for $1.60 an hour...by the way, in 2 years I never got a raise, nor even asked for one, I loved radio so much. It was owned by two men who hated to put anything into the station unless absolutely necessary ... nice guys, but c-h-e-a-p.
I can recall trying to take wire copy off the AP machine and having a terrible time with RF causing shocks due to the proximity of the teletype to the transmitter ... we got pretty good at minimizing body contact with the metal teletype case after a few shocks.
They had probably the worst AM transmitter ever constructed - an old Gates BC-1J which took the large # 833 RF tubes - this poor old transmitter had seen better days, but somehow they kept it running...most of the time...and fairly close to a 1KW output. Being next to a lake and having a 200 ft. lightning rod, our station would get hit by lightning so often that everybody working there got fairly good at replacing the 833's and having the transmitter warming up again in about 2 minutes - and that's with the interlocks on the rear door open and the door lifted off. I remember we had a pair of bar-b-que mitts (hey they worked..!!) we'd use to keep from burning ourself. NOTE: More on the interlocks later...
One of the original owners sold his share around 1970 and the other partner managed to sucker some poor guy, an engineer (with a 1st class ticket), into taking part-ownership. I think he worked for NASA, but it served him in good sted, since the old Gates needed a lot of attention by this time -he was working on that transmitter so frequently that he soon tired of having to undo the door interlocks so he disconnected them and left the door off the back! (Probably not only a FCC violation, but in conflict of basic electrical codes too.) Hey, we didn't worry - it made changing the tubes easier.
One weekend morning another DJ was working early shift and I brought in some coffee and cinnamon buns. The coffee was hot, but one of us (I really don't know which of us came up with such a DUMB IDEA!) thought - "Hey, here we are with cold cinnamon buns and over there is a nice warm transmitter - let's warm them up by setting them on the transformers". Believe it or not, it worked - in just minutes the entire building had the aroma of cinnamon buns wafting through it. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and who should arrive at that time but the chief engineer. He was enjoying the thought of cinnamon buns until we walked him around to the back of the Gates and pointed out our makeshift "oven", with the aluminum tray merrily heating away on the transformer. You should have seen his face drain of color! We immediately received our first lecture on how an AM transmitter works - something like: Mr. Electricity goes in the transformers, is boosted to several thousand volts, and then goes into the RF tubes (very basic description, I know) to make radio waves, etc - those nice fat uninsulated wires going to the 833 tubes were mere inches away from the cheap aluminum pan holding our cinnamon buns and no $1.99 cloth bar-b-que gloves were going to save our bacon if we had brushed against them! Needless to say we didn't try that again.
Oh, to have life so simple again....
Pete Simonson WACY (later WKIS, Orlando and WDBO, Orlando)
Danger Dan Walker
Dan and I were jocks at Big 14, WCVS, in Springfield, IL, in about 1975. Dan has gone on to the Windy city, but we've continued to be good friends even though miles apart.
I have always been proud of the fact that you can't break me up, but one Saturday at 6 p.m., I was taking over from Dan, getting ready to play the hits until midnight. Back in those days, we had American Contemporary Radio news, followed by a couple of minutes of local headlines, which I'd gotten from the newsroom. Now, I've had some pretty outrageous stunts pulled on me, yet they couldn't break me.
When I went live and began reading the local heads, Dan leaned over me, and with a clunk which was audible through my headphones, set down a very small bottle of Listerine right in front of me. As I stopped reading, paused, and tried to hold on, Dan exhaled, "Haaaaaaaaaah." That was it. I was gone. Needless to say, I never got to the obits.
WALR, Atlanta GA - Bob Mayben on the FM tower move
I was chief engineer at WCNN and WALR when we moved the F M into the rim of Atlanta. We were erecting the new 1200-foot tower for our move from Athens, GA. The crew had topped out the tower, and had installed the 6-bay ERI Rototiller antenna that would be the main. I was leaving for the day, and I had parked at the base of the tower, a 5-foot face solid leg affair. I tried to call Rob Jackson the G.M. to tell him the good news that tomorrow we would celebrate and take pictures, etc, but my primitive bag phone would not get a signal into town.
I backed my car out and drove by the crew, thanking them for the hard work or told them I would see them in the morning.
About the time I got to the Interstate, my cell phone rang and someone at the WCNN studio said they heard that emergency vehicles were on the way to our tower site! So I turned around, and went back to see what was going on. When I arrived, I saw that the entire tower structure was now on the ground. Apparently in tightening the guy wires, they had forgotten to disconnect the wire from the jeep being used to pull it, and instead pulled the entire tower down.
That was bad enough, but when I drove up to the base of the tower, I saw that a 20-foot piece of tower was neatly lying across my tire tracks from 10 minutes earlier. If that phone had worked, I would not be typing this.
SEE BROADCAST GEAR FROM YESTERYEAR:
Subtitle: WAXC- An upstart that made good!
Throughout all the 1960s, Rochester NY was a one-horse rock and roll town. WBBF (950) had all the 34 and under action, and being a conservative place, MOR was still king, with clear channel powerhouse WHAM (1180) being a perennial ratings leader.
All this changed, however in late 1971. WHEC-AM (1460), an MOR "also ran" whose call letters were much better known for the then- CBS (believe it or not, they are NBC now) affiliate TV station, was sold by their then-current owners to another group, went through a miraculous transformation. I was almost fourteen at the time, and a radio addict- like many kids in Rochester at that time, I never seemed to go anywhere without a small transistor radio tuned to WBBF. One day however, while BBF was playing some song that I didn't like, I tried to pick up WKBW in Buffalo, which was a kid's second choice in those days. When my dial indicator got near "15"- the most beautiful noise came out of the radio- and it was much too clear to be "KB", which was 70 miles away. I listened for a bit more, then a classic PAMS jingle played- crooning "Fourteen-sixty, W-A-X-C".
That was my first recollection of the first shots of an all-out Top-40 radio war in Rochester that was bloodily waged in the early 1970s. WAXC came in with a fresh sound and great jocks- I remember such names as Springer Jones( who, by the way still works part-time here at WPXY-FM), Gentleman Jim Carter, Larry White, Larry Black, Dave Slade, Bob Savage, and believe it or not, the legendary Greaseman (what a voice!- I heard his syndicated show at K-Rock in New York City while I was there on a visit recently, and did that voice bring back memories!). Within a year, WAXC was generally recognized as "the" station to listen to by the under 18 set, and the crushing blow came when WAXC hired afternoon drive jock (and the king of the younger set) "Ferdie J" (Ferdinand J. Smith- founder and CEO of Jay Advertising) away from WBBF to do morning drive!
WBBF didn't sit still however- although their efforts were at best futile. I remember BBF using gimmicks such as speeding up their turntables and cart machines to make the same songs sound a little different, and always announcing the time five minutes fast- in those years- if someone was on "BBF time", he/she was regarded as being a bit of an oddball, and definitely not "cool"!
This war was waged until about 1976, when WBBF won by default- WAXC was sold, its call letters changed to WWWG, and reverted to an MOR format. A couple of years afterwards however, WBBF changed formats several times, leaving Top-40 to the FM dial, as happened so many other places. At the present time, WWWG is an ethnic/ religious station, and WBBF is on a "music of your life" format appealing to the 49+ age group.
I really appreciate the opportunity for an old "wanna-be" ( I tried radio myself- my voice was OK, but the rest of my talent was at best limited- strictly small-market) to ramble on about his radio addicted youth. I hope somebody gets the kick out of reading this that I had writing this.
AM rules!- at least deep in the memory banks!
WBBW -- Youngstown Ohio -- Old management and bad weather!
I did talk on WBBW in Youngstown, Ohio from the mid-70s through much of the 80s. The station was owned by the same guy who started it in 1949. Trouble was, it was 30 years later but he thought it still WAS 1949 -- and ran the station accordingly. The stories of his tightwad ways are legion, and the only good thing I can say is that my coworkers and I forged a strong bond based on our common misery, and dealt with our fate the only way we could -- with humor. Several of us still gather regularly a few times a year for dinner and reminiscing.
One of the other stories here mentioned buckets set out to catch the drips from his station's leaky roof. That spurred me to send in this memory. There was a time when we had not just buckets, but every conceivable vessel to be found at the station that could hold water (vats, coffee cans, bowls, etc.) lined up along the hall leading to the Production Studio -- each of them similarly employed.
One day after finishing running the morning talk show host's board, I headed for Production to record some spots -- only to find that yet another leak had sprung directly over the old Western Electric board. "Well, I'm not going to be cutting any spots today!" I told myself. I occupied myself with other pursuits, went to lunch, and ventured in Production again upon my return.
The leak appeared to have stopped. So I put on the ancient mono headphones we used and began a read on one of the 60-sec. spots. I got almost all the way to the end, when suddenly a drop of water descended from the ceiling -- and landed DIRECTLY in my (unprotected) ear canal.
I've preserved the tape of this incident; my warm and sincere tones are suddenly interrupted by a mighty oath, and the sound of me ripping the headphones out of the jack and flinging them up with full force against the wall!
WBUD -- Tokyo Rose and the Locked-Up Toilet Paper!
Many of us who wound up in Philly radio took that step between college radio and the big time at WBUD, Trenton NJ. Actually, it was located in the woods of Ewing Township, New Jersey, and was equipped with one microphone to service both an all-news AM format and an automated FM format. (The FM jock would run around the building to yank the mike from AM during the top of the hour ABC News, so he could do a time check).
A family-owned operation with twelve listeners, the station manager, nicknamed Tokyo Rose, was always looking for ways to cut expenses. She decided the first budget buster was toilet paper. She reasoned since men didn't need it most of the time and most of her employees were male, the toilet paper ought to stay locked up.
I remember emptying my purse of tissues more than once on behalf of a beleaguered colleague.
My last day at the station, the AM anchor managed to get into the closet where the toilet paper was kept, only to have the door lock behind him. I remember his scream as the sounder for the end of the network news came over the PA system....
WBUD -- More funny stuff about Ms. T. Rose and Mr. D. Hardin...
My very first job in radio was WBUD in Trenton, NJ. The station ran 5kw day and a K at night at 1260. It had, by far, the best signal of any AM station that side of the Delaware River. Yet, it was run by two of the most unqualified broadcasters I've ever met. Ms. T. Rose and Mr. D. Hardin. He owned it and she, well, lets just say she serviced him. As I entered the studio, on the day of my interview, I was struck with a variety of broadcast museum pieces running a Top40 format. The console was a RCA BC9 (1950ish) tube model that showed it's wear and tear. If you tapped it just right, you could make the output dropout. 5 early model Spotmaster 300's ( we were all cart mind you) 3 of which would be out for repair at any given day. I was shown the Gates transmitters, the 5k was a monster from the 1940's that put out some pretty powerful signal when the Mercury Vapor tubes were in good shape, and a 1k was a more modern unit.
Then I was told that under no circumstances was I allowed to make any outbound phone calls. NONE. In fact, Ms. Rose showed me that all the outbound phones were locked up under wooden boxes. I asked about emergencies. I was told to walk across the street to the bar and use the pay phone. I guess dead air wasn't a concern to them.
The old man ran all the technical things. He carted all the spots and music. In the fall of 1971, one of the top songs was All Day Music by War. It 4min and 25 seconds. The Old man put it on a 4:30 cart. But he must have accidentally started the machine early, because when you hit play, you got 10 seconds of nothing before the song started. Then, of course, the song ended abruptly when the cart hit it's cue point. He couldn't even take the time to re-dub it.
Our music rotation was a mimeograph sheet of numbers with no rhyme or reason as to what gets played and how often. Oh, and by the way, we got a grand total of 4-5 oldies to play for the entire week.
One day, the 1k transmitter would not plate up, so the 5k had to be brought down to it's low power setting. Our night pattern was just slightly rotated more eastward and the northwestern lobe was brought in tighter. So we went to the night pattern on 5k while the old man tried in vain to retune the behemoth down to 1k. He cranked on the tuning coils like he was starting a Model T. He finally got fed up, kicked the 5k a couple of times, cursed and we ran all night on 5k. Sure would be interesting listening to him explain that to the commission. Ah, the good old days. I don't understand why we could never compete with WFIL or WABC.
Years later, state government made him move across the street, so they could build a highway or something. He scrimped and saved on new towers, one of which he hung the FM antenna, complete with radomes for ice protection. De-icers used too much electric I guess. Well the tower weight limit couldn't hold the combined antennas and radomes. The first good breeze of the fall season, the tower came crumbling down.
Robert Heiney (Dec 2008)
KTRK TV / DT ABC13
WCFR -- Popped by a News Pup!
As a evening jock at a tiny station in even tinier Springfield, Vermont I was known as the station prankster. Newsman orientation included the ever-popular "lighting of the news copy" by me while they anchored the newscasts. In every case but one the newsman simply continued to confidently broadcast the news while swatting burning copy. The exception, one anchor was prepared for my prank and while I crawled into the newsbooth to do my dirty deed I was greeted with a left hook to the eye.
The news pup? Frank Sesno, later to go on to be CNN's Chief White House Correspondent and prime-time news anchor.
Mike Weiner's Various Recollections of Radio
*Fell asleep at overnights on AFRTS military headquarters station -- woke up to find Air Force policement poking me with an M16 to see if I was OK.
*Doing news for Baker and Burd morning crew in Washington at WPGC -- they slipped me B-12 vitamins. Fastest 5 minute newscast in history.
*My GM at a small FM in the outskirts of DC came in drunk one morning while I was on the air (in a closet-sized booth). Roaring and rambling about me while I was trying to do my shtick, he lasted about half an hour then went into his office to wait for the national PD, who was driving down from Baltimore at the same time he was screwing with me.
The PD came blasting into the station after hearing what was now a mess of a show -- ready to fire me on the spot. I had a split second to explain what had happened, and to his credit, he stopped instantly and went into the GM's office to chew him out (we could hear him through the walls yelling -- the station was in a mobile home).
I'll never forget that GM -- and will never forget the PD who showed the good sense to hear the other side of the story before jumping to conclusions. Thanks to Lou K.
Rich Kennedy and his mixed-up newsman
It's 1986 and I'm doing the 2-6p shift on a Sunday afternoon on WCUZ-FM 101.3 in Grand Rapids (#1 12+ in market 66. With a country format, 'CUZ certainly has a "conservative" audience).
WCUZ is dedicated to news, and has a 24-hour newsroom. I'm handed a news update on cart from newsman "MATT."
I'm at the Coke machine as I hear Matt (on cart) say, "and now let's check the weather with meterologist Craig James... or Bill Steffen... or... shit. Goddamn it............. FUCK. I need another fuckin' cart."
I ran to the board to hit a song. Poor "MATT". He redid the newscast, but apparently had given me the wrong cart!
Not a single call came in. It was only days later that the news director called me at home to ask what happenned.
I understand "MATT" spent a few years as the production director at rocker WLAV-FM in Grand Rapids, but I lost track of him.
Ken Wells and his British GM Fly Paper Planes from WEEP
It was 1971 and I, going through my first divorce was looking for a place to work where I'd be left alone with no managment responsibilities and few people to see. I wanted a 'temporary refuge' from my personal problems.
The perfect opportunity developed when I departed my rock music morning show, the PDship, NDship and production directorship at a very profitible surburban station. For considerably for less money, I accepted "6P.M. 'til midnight" shift, at WEEP in Pittsburgh. I'd never worked at a country station before, but thought, "What the hell, radio is radio."
As things would happen, some of the daytime on-air staff took 'vacation time,' and I was asked to 'fill-in' during their absences.
During the couple of months I'd worked evenings, we'd developed what must have seemed a "wierd preoccupation," though I later discovered that I certainly wasn't alone. We'd take last year's desk callanders, tape two of them together, then fold them into enormous paper airplanes. After writing "sex" (to attract the attention of those below) on the wings, we'd sail them from the 11th floor window of the station's Fulton Building studios.
WEEP, in those days was a country music station with an oddity: a "very British" general manager. Go figure!
On mid-morning, I thought it would be a good time to sail an airplane from studio window. At a time I'd only been with the station a for couple of months, and had only seen the proper, "British GM" on the day I'd been hired. He was usually gone for the day when I arrived, just before six in the evening, for my regular air shift.
Anyway, at about 10:40 in the morning, while doing a "fill-in" for the vacationing mid-day guy, I played a three-minute song, opened the window, and let fly the four foot long paper plane that I'd spent the last half hour constructing.
Seconds later, the studio door burst open! In a very proper, 'English-Oxfordian' accent, the impecibally-dressed, manicured and coifed, British GM exclaimed: "So! You're the one whose beeen saaailing aeroplanes from the window!"
I thought, "Oh S_ _ T!! The GM, and I'm probably in big trouble!"
Then, I noticed that he had a paper plane plane in HIS hand, albiet much smaller than my four foot, "double, 'desk callander'-sized" airfoil. The British GM, in a 'matter of fact way,' said, "I was just about to sail MY paper plane, when yours flew phast my office window." Roger, the GM, then offered 'instruction' with regard to how to get paper planes to fly more accurate courses and greater distances. I thought, "Oh well!"
At that moment, I realized two things: First, the British GM, a seeming anomoly for a country station, was a really ok guy, and second, WEEP was going to be a fun place to work. I ended up moving to mornings, increased ratings. What was to have been a 'temporary refuge' lasted for years.
WFGM (Al Mayo Performs a Public Service on WFGM, Fairmont WV
I was on air in Fairmont, WV at the old WFGM, 'The Great 98', from 1985 thru 1996. We had a great bunch there, and had great times on and off the air. I still consider it the highlight of my radio career.
I was doing nights not long after I started at WFGM, and was getting set to read a live PSA for the Preston County Buckwheat Festival over an intro. I was halfway into the reading, when our PD/engineer Mark Mayhugh toddled into the studio, throwing my delivery a bit. Instead of stopping, I did a 15-second PSA as Eddie Murphy DOING Buckwheat! Something like, "Da Pesdun Tanty Buh-weet Bestibal." You get the idea. I thought Mayhugh was gonna have to be peeled off the floor from laughing so hard. He did return the favor several weeks later along with our friend T.J. Jackson. The two of them double mooned me through the studio window as I went live. Needless to say, I lost it!
RECOLLECTIONS OF WFIL FROM MOR (1964) TO FAMOUS 56 (1966);
As I look back at the various radio stations where I have been employed, I can safely say the most unpleasant experience was working for Triangle Publications in Philadelphia, PA in 1966. When the station moved from its legendary studios at 46th Street & Market, the location where "Cactus" Dick (Dick Clark) did his "town & country" music shows, and Bob Horn did the local afternoon "Bandstand" TV shows, the attitude of the facility changed too.
The station had been located under the 46th Street elevated-subway station and next to the "infamous" Arena auditorium in west Philadelphia. The neighborhood was becoming "funky". The new location, 4100 City Line Avenue, in the Bala Cynwyd district of Philadelphia county, was across the street from the WCAU studios and a golf course. It was strictly "uptown" and more suitable to the Annenbergs, the owners of Triangle Publications.
The change in location brought union strife, and a nasty technician strike ensued. Triangle purchased ITA, a TV broadcast equipment manufacturer, and used their non-union technicians to break the technicians union, IATSE Local 804. Except for the RCA cartridge players and Ampex reel recorders, the radio studios were ITA showcases. The problem with TV people building radio studios is they don't quite understand the mechanics of radio. The audio control mixers protruded 24-30 inches above the table on which they were mounted. Board operators had to sit on telephone books in order to see the announcer's hand signals in the studio.
Great secrecy surrounded the WFIL format change in the spring of 1966. The Annenbergs were very suspicious of their AFTRA and IATSE employees. Everyone was a potential spy for the only Top 40 station in the market, Wibbage (WIBG). MikeJoseph auditioned new DJs using a country music jingle package. I know this because one day he left the jingles on a table in the employee cafeteria and I "bagged" them. Boy, was he upset! It didn't matter to the current radio staff because they all knew they were "finished".
Thus "Famous 56" was born, and WIBG hired Paul Drew in 1968 to make them a Drake-style "More Music" station.
E-mail: Need current e-mail address.
LAST MOMENTS OF THE MIGHTY 1220
I listened to the last moments of 1220 WGAR / Cleveland. The 50kW legend had been sold to the people who would change it into an all-sports station. Nationwide, for some reason I don't think any of us understood, decided to divest itself of this jewel.
Chief Engineer Mark Krieger had been working with Production Director Bill Collins for some time on a retrospective which kept growing in length as they dug up more precious moments from WGAR history. I was later told that the Program Director, Denny Nugent, had asked the staff to do nothing but have a dignified sign-off with no fanfare.
The new 1220 people were already setting up shop in historic Broadcast Park, where the 50,000-watt plant had been operating for decades. I had been interviewing with WGAR so I knew some of what was to happen. Knowing couldn't prepare me for what I was about to hear.
A few minutes before midnight, the AM/FM simulcast broke away and the voice of Mark Krieger came on and narrated the presentation. An extremely well put-together piece, with moments from the likes of alumni Don Imus and Jack Parr. It wound down as the clock edged toward midnight. Krieger came back on with a reminder that Cleveland's Country continued on 99.5 FM:
"Won't you join us? ... This is W-G-A-R A-M Cleveland, Signing off."
Silence. About five seconds' worth
The carrier dropped.
About ten seconds of random junk.
The carrier popped back on with a carted legal ID identifying the new station, walking all over Ronnie Milsap's "Smoky Mountain Rain".
1220 WGAR was gone. I was in tears. Sitting in My father's study, listening to this new station, where the once mighty 1220 has been for so long.
I was hired by WGAR-FM not long after. The two companies co-existed in the building for several months, until the new WGAR studios in Independence, Ohio were ready. As it turned out, I was with the last jock on the air from broadcast park on the FM side. I was there to pack up the CD library and see to it that the STLs were properly signed off and that the consoles and such were powered down. We took a few CD players also.
The jock said his goodbyes and we both walked through the hallways, through radio history, past where the new 1220 was being controlled, back into the STL room. He asked if he could have the honor of switching off the STL for the last time. I said go ahead, and the Moseley fell silent.
Almost as sad as the last 30 seconds of WNBC elsewhere on this site. Another piece of radio history gone.
Formerly WGAR, WOWO, 93Q, WPHR
Flushing and Mooning in Ontario small-town radio.
After learning about radio and listening for years to Terry Steele, Ron Morey and others on CHUM, I decided a career in radio would be a good thing. Nothing like small markets to make you realize how hard it is to be as smooth and consistant as the people in the larger markets.
At one station, CKNS, we had a special signal. It didn't involve any particular on-air cue or have any signifigance to the listener. We had to put our arm up in order to 'halt' others. The station toilet was so ridiculously close to the booth with no sound proofing or sound lock in front of the studio that we would have to open the door to the studio and keep an eye out for certain thoughtless copy staff who would flush and add an unwanted sound effect to the show. Ad libbing about sewers prevailed.
At another station the other announcers did not help. While trying to crack me up, two of them decided to moon me while I was giving the weather. I was in the news booth and this was a newscast that the announcer leaving wrote before handing it off to the next jock. I looked. Nothing. Not a smile. I looked at my weather. AHHH! The spot ended. I said in my first line "CKGB weather: Cloudy overnight - no chance of seeing the moon...." The two announcers who where adjusting their trousers fell to the floor in a fit of laughter and I had to walk from the news booth to the studio and key the first record....
When WKTU-FM in NYC changed format from AOR to Disco in the late seventies (the first full time station in the country to do so), our consultant (Kent Burkhart), after having gathered the top selling disco records, pulled the air staff together to give us his educated guidance:
"Be yourselves and have fun" was his ONLY advice. . .
When the station went to #1 in the market, he then sold his 'master plan' all over the country. . .the reality was, we simply hit the air and played the damn records. . period..
WIOI Secret Sound Contest
1974, while at WIOI-AM in Portsmouth, Ohio: I was doing morning drive (and was also a Senior at Portsmouth High School), and we had an afternoon driver named "Uncle Terry" Sheehan. Uncle Terry decided to have a contest that afternoon. No prize. It was his "Secret Sound" contest.
There was no winner. No one figured out that the secret sound was Terry banging his 'wanger' on the microphone.
I came in the next morning with a can of Lysol!
Building the WJDX Music Library
My name is Fred Mitchell. Have been meaning to contact you for the last several years. This relates back some 40 years ago when I first started in broadcasting. I was working the 8pm to 1am slot for WRBC in Jackson, MS and having a ball as a Top 40 jock. The MD and I would go rounds when he heard me play songs that were not on the “playlist”. A friend of mine, Phil Seymour who was on air at WJDX-FM asked me if I would be interested in a “progressive rock” format show. Phil felt that if he was able to get a known Top-40 dj from the Jackson market he would have a better chance at selling the idea to management. Well I was young and crazy enough to say sure lets go for it and see what happens.
The fact that we were able to convince management to make the change is somewhat of a miracle and a fortunate "quirk"--consider that this was Jackson, Mississippi (of all places) during a politically and culturally repressive period (1968) and that the ownership of the station was, in a word, conservative. But regardless of all that, the new format was put in place, and WJDX-fm became one of the first stations of its kind, not only in the South, but in the entire country! It would continue as "WJDX-fm, 102.9, The Rock of Jackson" until sometime in 1973 when the calls were changed to WZZQ.
Our biggest problem was that we had no music library for the new format. The stations primary revenue was from the background music it provided to local business for 20 years. Their money maker was WLBT-TV and WJDX-AM. They gave me a plane ticket to LA (my first) and my first stop was Capitol Records. I cannot remember who I met there but I told him I needed music and wanted to check out a popular station in the LA market. That is when I met you, along with R. W. Morgan & Charlie Tuna. We all went to some restaurant there on Melrose and you guys hooked me up with some label contacts for music. I wish I had a picture of the boxes of albums that were delivered to the station when I came back to Jackson. It sure made an impression on the station manager and put a feather in my cap.
After the trip to LA and seeing some of the studios I decided my next step was to build a recording studio in Jackson. A girl named Porche from LA came by the station and introduced me to a gentleman named Gene Shiveley. I was all excited about this new group named “Touch”. I was impressed with the quality of the recording and was surprised that Gene was the engineer and producer. We ended up going into business together and worked as a team for over 20yrs. Our last business together was a company named CMS Digital in Pasadena, CA. This was the first full cd mastering house on the west coast. His latest project is the Malibu Performing Arts Center in Malibu, CA.
I am now in my hometown in Mississippi doing some consulting and net surfing. I still play the music I love, still take the request, and still make about the same as I did in 1968. I never could make a good living as a dj, but it is still a good feeling being able to communicate with listeners thru music. I added my name and stations I worked with hope you will add me to your Satisfaction database, and although I only worked on air for a few years full time I feel that I was there during some of the best years in radio anyone could have.
Thanks for a good show
Fred Mitchell (March 2008)
PS… Below is a picture of the original WJDX-FM air
staff in 1968
Art Reed, Fred Mitchell, Terry Stenzel, Phil Seymour,
Bruce Sommers Saves the Station -- From Its Owner
I was on the air in 1965 in Evansville, Indiana at 1330-WJPS, when I heard an awfully loud racket and smelt smoke. I started a record and then ran out of the studio and up the stairs to the attic and I suddenly noticed that I was looking at the sky above and knew the roof had already fallen down and the building was on fire.
I ran back into the studio and pulled the plugs on our three new Harris Cart Decks and carried them out of the building with me. I figured that if we lost those cart machines the owner would never buy another one as he was pretty cheap when it came to buying equipment.
Bruce Sommers aka Truckin' Bozo
WKNR: Daniel Abernathy pushes Robin Seymour's buttons
I was a radio junkie and loved listening on my 6 transistor radio to all the big Detroit radio stations. I went into the Navy and when i got out I went on to be news director/news anchorman of WDRQ Detroit, KIIS Los Angeles, WHN New York, WWL New Orleans, etc.
But when I was starting out in high school in suburban Detroit and was probably 15 years old I listened to WXYZ radio, WJBK radio with Jack the Bellboy. CKLW had Bud Davies and was a bore. No one listened to them (yet).
Then like a thunderclap from Dearborn came WKNR. I used to listen to them when they were WKMH from time to time but the signal was weak and it was boring anyway...something my parents would even think was boring. When WKMH became WKNR KEENER THIRTEEN everyone at Lamphere High School in Madison Heights was listening! I remember girls who wouldn't give me the time of day would suddenly talk to me when I asked "what do you think of the new radio station, Keener?" I remember one cute girl said "I really like that J. Michael Wilson (?) and his Rodney Rodent" (the d.j. would tape record his alter ego and then run it at a faster speed and talk to his rat on the radio). So, when it was announced that Robin Seymour would actually show up IN PERSON at a local clothing store in Madison Heights to sign autographs all the kids at Lamphere High I had to go!
So some sunny Saturday we are all on the sidewalk in front of the clothing store and up roars tiny little Robin Seymour in a convertable! His radio is turned up full blast to KEENER THIRTEEN. At that time, they played a jingle between every record so it was a two minute Motown song and then into a Keener jingle and then another Motown song etc.
So Robin roars up with Keener 13 blasting away and he parks right in the red zone in front of the store, leaves his radio on full blast to Keener 13 and goes inside the store to sign autographs for the squeeling Madison Heights girls.
I was always full of mischief so i simply leaned forward into Robin's convertible and turned the radio a little bit to the left so that the next thing the neighborhood heard was W X Y Z Radio Twelve Seven OH 1270.
So WXYZ, the OTHER Detroit rock station is blasting out of Robin's car radio as he is inside the store signing autographs. This goes on for a few minutes until WXYZ is heard from his radio for a few times and then Robin hears it!!!!
He rushes out of the store, jumps into his car and changes the station back to Keener 13. He goes back into the store.
I lean over and change the station back to WXYZ 1270.
Robin comes out and changes it back to Keener 13. He doesn't see who is doing this but he is getting more and more pissed.
This goes back and forth a few times. Finally, he gives up...he turns off his car radio, takes his car keys from his convertible and goes back inside to his fans.
WKNR's Beatles Concert
Here's something from late 1964 I recalled while on the air for the Detroit radio reunion back in April ('98).
The first US Beatle tour was on, and WKNR was scheduled to present & MC the show at Detroit's Olympia Staudium. I'd just gone from7-10 pm to pm drive after Gary Stevens left us for WMCA, and having a contest for 2 winners to break bread with the Beatles backstage at the show was a nifty way to keep the 29% shares Keener had.
One of our top 40 rivals, WXYZ, had recently hired Joey Reynolds as night personality. Joey was...and still is..one of the truly talented pro's in the business, and I had concerns. So, I'd leave the station after my show, and always listen to Joey. One night, after WKNR had announced the two winners,Joey was on the air talking about how Keener was "full of it" and we couldn't do it..security wouldn't allow it etc. He was talking with a young gal, convincing her that we were a bunch of liars, to which she ended up in vehement agreement. It seemed a badmouth Keener campaign would be hatched at her school.
My adrenalin surged...I was furious. If only I could get to this young lady and tell her the truth...but I'd already forgotten her name. When I got home...I ran through the alphebet...aaa, bb-b, cc-carol..no that's not it. and on into the night. I'd never remember. Then when my visiting neighbor said he was going to bed.."gotta be up EARLY"...my God that's it..EARLY, her last name was Early!
Getting a first name from somewhere in the void came easy and by 11PM I had the name...Mary Early. I'd also recollected she went to St. Stephens school on Detroit's East side where, thanks to a lousy nightime pattern, Keener was barely audible after 7PM.
The idea of even contemplating calling all the Earlys on the 4 pages of thenm in the Detroit metro phone directory spaeks adequately for how "meshugenah" I was in 1964. I obviously had nothing better to occupy my alleged mind. But, sure enough..next morning, from the back office at WKNR, I began calling. I lucked out on my 3rd call...Mary's Uncle! He kindly had Mary call me at the station after school.
Mary...was our 3rd "winner". I invited her to come backstage wuth us. Crazy...for sure. But I'll be damned if we didn't stary getting calls and mail from St. Stephens and other east side listeners who could only hear a Pams jingle or two through the static...but seemed to be straining to hear us.
WKNR's Scott Regan Throws Off Some Steam
I was the news director at WDRQ in Detroit when WKNR Detroit superstar jock Scott Regan ended up as the overnight DJ there. He told me this story about when he was hot hot hot. Story by Daniel Abernathy
Scott Regan worked at WKNR when he was a superstar in the mid 1960s. His numbers were so good that he walked on water. When I met him in 1972 or 1973 he was doing the overnight show on WDRQ. He told me that when he worked at WKNR something pissed him off while he was in the control room. So he screamed some obscenity and took a cart and THREW IT ACROSS THE ROOM. The cart hit the thermostat in the control room. That sent the temperature in the control way down so it was like a meat locker in the control room. WKNR managment couldn't get someone to fix it right away or it needed a part but whatever the reason it was at least a week before they could fix the thermostat and the control room stayed at extremely cold temperatures. Scott Regan says that he was such a super star (at the moment) that not one person, not management, not talent, not engineering, said one single word to him about his throwing the cart across the room.
WLOF & The Grounding Rod
The Station that we knew and loved is long gone.
My favorite story deals with WLOF's maniacal morning genus Pat (Jerry Thompson) O'Day (yes, stolen from Seattle early 60's along with the jingles). Channel 95 Orlando was a directional 5000 Watts at night which switched to Omni 5000 Watts in the daytime.
Competition was feverish between LOF and WHOO in the mid Sixties and O'Day the morning drive man hated to pause even for the few seconds that it took to kill the carrier and switch pattern each day.
He was convinced that his whole audience would switch stations so he would make sure he beat the engineer to the punch and hit the pattern switch as fast as he could, thinking that if he did it that fast he wouldn't have to kill the carrier. Well, he eventually melted a spot on one of the tuning coils and the transmitter could not be tuned for the day pattern.
Well, the Chief Engineer was furious. It had been rumored what O'Day had been up to and now the only thing that could be done for the few days till a new coil could be obtained was to open the transmitter door (obviously, killing the carrier), hang the grounding rod on the output to keep from killing yourself and turning the coil by hand to the correct spot, pulling out the rod and slaming the door to get back on the air. You can imagine what kind of dead air that caused Mr. morning drive and guess who went balistic while it was accomplished.
For the few days it had to happen, I was doing the graveyard show and engineering so I took the wrath of O'Day each morning at the end of my shift. He was on the other side of the window screaming by the end of the week and I was more worried about being killed in the transmitter.
I'm sure the engineering types are way ahead of me.
It was the last Saturday morning. I tended do a more strenuous shift on Friday night being date night both for me the night before as well as for my listeners so I was bushed by the time O'Day had started on me about getting this pattern thing over with in a hurry. We worked six day weeks and his Saturday 7 am. audience was not a major concern to me by this time but I swear it had nothing to do with the incident.
It was time.... He gave me the irritated signal and I opened the door, put the grounding rod on, grabbed the huge coil... (good it didn't kill me) and started turning it by hand. I either heard him in the background through the window or imagined it and quickly finished up and slammed the door. It was over. Maybe not... BAM..BALAM...FLASH!!..BAMM.
I looked away as I was blinded by Mercury vapor rectifier tubes exploding like I had opened the lost Ark. Relays were shutting it down and trying again and again. I had to pull away from the opposite wall to reach over and do what I knew I had to...Open the door?
It seemed like eternity but must have only been long seconds. I opened the door and it stopped. Confused and dazed I looked into the cavity of the transmitter and there it was...still hanging on the output of the transmitter was the grounding rod. I could hear O'Day coming around the corner. I grabbed it hung it where it belonged quickly and shut the door. It was dead. He was beside me fumes coming from his nostrils as I walked toward the door to call the chief. We couldn't even switch in the auxillary transmitter. The shift was over. The audience gone.
Luckily, those old RCA transmitters could take a lot more than that and there were mostly tubes to change along with the coil which the Chief was able to do in the daytime instead of 3 am. so he thought it quite humorous. I got in my car and left for the weekend and heard little else about the incident. I just never was quite sure. Did I mean to do that?
WLOF: Sean King's Nude Centerfold
In 1972 I was working for Pat O'Day (he was Jerry Thompson on the air) at WLOF, Orlando, East Central Florida's top rocker at the time.
Burt Reynolds had just appeared as a partially nude centerfold for Cosmopolitan magazine and Pat wanted to do a "take-off" on the idea. So, he asked me if I would be a model for the photo which was to be a double page in a local newspaper known as "The Watcher". He said we'd cover the private parts with 45s or an LP or two. I agreed and the one-month on-air promotion began. The picture was to appear in April.
However, two weeks into the promotion, the sale of the station was finalized and the new owners heard the promotion. They ordered it cancelled immediately as they felt it was in bad taste and might affect business (at least one major sponsor had threated to cancel).
Pat called an emergency staff meeting to pick our brains for a solution. After about a half an hour he came up with the answer himself. He asked me if I had any of those nude baby pictures that parents often take of their infants and I remembered that I did.
We cleared the idea with the new management, informed the wary sponsors, kept the on-air promotion going unchanged and arranged with the newspaper publisher to have the newspaper on the stands April 1st, April Fool's day.
So, after a month of all the air personalities telling their audiences that I would appear nude in an upcoming edition of "The Watcher", that's exactly what I did. Only the picture was one of me when I was less than a year old. It was a great April Fool's joke.
The newspaper sold out in hours, the promotion was a tremendous success and the new owners were pleased.
Pat O'Day saved the day.
Sean (Fred) King
WLOF: Jerry 'Pat O'Day' Thompson's 10 true-fact examples of our idiocy from the late 60s:
WLOF, Channel 95, Orlando had a genius manager, John Rutledge, who had a strict "hands off" attitude toward the Program Director and his jocks! The man was maniacal in keeping even the sales department off our cases. The result was an occasional over-step on our parts. Here are 10 true-fact examples of our idiocy from the late 60's:
1. We (I) really summoned taxis and the Orlando fire department to a competitor's studio to upset the launching of their new format. It worked beautifully and I wasn't arrested.
2. Our format competitor, WHOO, was planning their move to 50,000 watts. A new 5-tower array was required. One of our Jocks, Ken "Cat" Bouton sneaked onto their property AFTER engineers had staked and marked the positions for their new towers. He and his pals CHANGED the tower positions! Needless to say, WHOO had MASS problems with their new signal contour, and this was probably one of the reasons.
3. We once had groupies steal a jingle cart from their control room. It was brought to us, we dubbed our jingles onto it and sent it back. The trick worked. They played one of our jingles.
4. I climbed onto their roof one night and dropped a pound of Limburger cheese down into their AC intake.
5. The above stunt prompted them to "chain-link fence" and LOCK the gate to their studio/antenna farm at night. We simply jammed the lock and poured honey all over the lock and the gate. Their morning man was a bit late that day.
6. WHOO began promoting "Chickenman! Coming Monday." Tom Seigfried simply dubbed cuts from an existing "Chickenman" record album onto cart and we ran it every hour over the weekend with the slogan "It Happens First on WLOF!"
7. Exclusive to this website: WLOF absolutely did have a paid informant (spy) on staff at WHOO. This was only for a short period and a waste of money. I think he was a double agent.
8. When WHOO gave up and went "country," so did WLOF. For half a day.
9. We once gave away a Camaro and a ham sandwich that had been around the moon.
10. For years our main promotional vehicle was a black Cadillac hearse.
(Bonus True WLOF Fact) After being fired, I attacked the new manager (Carl Glicken) with a 12" coconut cream pie in the station lobby. He wasn't injured.
I swear all this is true:
Jerry "Pat O'Day" Thompson, ex-mornings/P.D.
Fifteen years in State College, PA remain the most fun I ever had in radio. What a great little station was WMAJ! Some of the talent that passed through there you wouldn't believe. Frank Kingston Smith, Jim Kefford, Doug Flodin, Jefferson Ward, Pat Farnac, Dave Allen, Warren Williams I could go on for pages. All this was presided over by our mentor Croy Pitzer (R.I.P) who taught us all.
I did a completely free form format.The music was whatever I felt like playing that day. Who in this business has ever segued from Frank Zappa to Frank Sinatra to Frankie Yankovich and the Yanks (my Frank medley).Stevie Wonder to Tiny Tim. A Sousa March into Led Zepplin. Aerosmith into Waylon and Willie and IT WORKED! I was #1 in all time periods my whole time there. Then came FM, formats, research and consultants and the rest is history.
I finally left Happy Valley to make more money but today, 15 years later, people still ask when I'm coming back. The answer? When I'm 65 ... I have a standing job offer.
WMEX, Boston: Auntie, er, Arnie Ginsburg
It was probably 1960, give or take a year. I was 13 or 14 yrs old. My cousin (3 years older) talked me and two other friends into going to a dance that had Arnie Ginsburg as the disk jockey. But a number of the youngsters were calling him Auntie Ginsburg. I would ask some kid next to me and he would say that Auntie Ginsburg was coming soon.
5 minutes before Arnie Ginsburg took the stage, the place was in a frenzy from all the older kids who knew who Arnie Ginsburg was and when the dance ended that night, we all knew and liked Arnie Ginsburg.
All thru my high school years I listened to Arnie on the radio. The dance was at the Memorial school on Winn St. in Burlington MA.
Woo Woo: Thanks for all the enjoyable hours of radio music, talk, and antics.
WMEX, Boston: Johnny Dark remembers Arnie Ginsburg's tin ear...
While at WMEX in Boston (I was using the name Dan Donovan [1960/1961]), we had a great music director named Bill Walsh. He had a great ear! It was his job to listen to all the new product, select the good stuff and have a weekly meeting with Arnie 'Woo-Woo' Ginsburg (the Program Director) so that Arnie could decide what would be added to the playlist the following week.
One Friday afternoon, I walked into the record library and Bill Walsh (a hot-headed Irishman) was throwing 45's all over the room. The reason? Arnie had turned down two records that Bill thought were hits.
Woo-Woo had goofed. Billy was right. The two records Arnie rejected were "Runaway" by Del Shannon and "Mother-In-Law" by Ernie K-Doe!
WMEX, Boston: Steve Shade remembers Arnie 'Woo-Woo' Ginsberg
Our family, from Ohio, spent our summers 1960-1965 in Maine, on an island in a lake near the New Brunswick border. There wasn't a whole lot to do at night so we strung some antenna wire through the trees to try to get a good radio station.
One of those stations was WMEX in Boston. We enjoyed Arnie Ginsberg and the Night Train show all the time. Kept us in touch with the outside world. Believe me, I knew that Ace was the place to make recordings.
After Arnie, if I couldn't sleep, I'd listen to Joey Reynolds in Buffalo. Those were great years.
WMMB Melbourne FL - Mark Haney thanks his radio mentors
Howard Miller gave me my start in radio when I was just 16. It was 1982. I had just gotten the full-time afternoon drive shift on WMMB in Melbourne, Florida which at that time was running a contemporary rock format. I was in heaven! Despite having no experience, I was ON THE RADIO! AND playing the music I loved.
It didn’t last long. Howard decided to change the format to “Music You Love and Remember”. It was his answer to Al Ham’s “Music of Your Life”. Obviously, not the ideal situation for a “green” sixteen year old rock and roll disc jockey. Needless to say, the air staff from the rock format was let go with one notable exception. That exception was me. Howard saw something in me and supported me 100%. He offered me the night shift. I was initially elated and then heartbroken when I realized that I would have to decline as I had arranged my school schedule to accommodate the afternoon shift. Howard had brought his old friend Dick Cowl in to do afternoons.
Now, I had (and still have) a VERY deep voice. But Dick’s pipes put me to shame! Dick also took a liking to me. He wanted to see me succeed both in radio and in school. He graciously suggested that he would do nights if it was agreeable to Howard. It was. I got to keep my afternoon shift AND complete my education. I got a very rich musical education as well and learned to appreciate big band and standards at an early age.
Thanks to these gentlemen, a radio career that is still going strong today was born. I learned so much, so soon. I am so grateful to Howard and especially so towards his wife, Fay who was our general manager. She exhibited much wisdom and patience with me. I think she said it best when she sighed, “I love the kid to death, but he is driving me nuts!” With the benefit of hindsight and a thorough understanding of the radio business, I marvel at the kindness that was shown me.
WRXK-FM 96 K-ROCK
Fort Myers / Naples, Florida
WNBC - Its Last 30 Seconds
Just a word to correct the entry in this database, WNBC did NOT turn into WFAN. The entire station was dismantled and removed from the air.
One of the saddest events I remember hearing in radio was the final countdown. Alan Combs was the last DJ on WNBC. I vividly remember the last 30 seconds of it's life: "And, for the last time, this is 66 W N B C New York. I guess it's time for the countdown.. 10, 9.....3, 2, 1 (pause), I guess we can all go home now" spoken in the background just before the carrier dropped. A minute later, WFAN's carrier came on, having just dropped on it's former frequency of 1050.
Numerous stations swapped freqs that day, which became known as the "big switcheroo".
WNBC had been running small specials at the end of every newscast that went "66 WNBC. 66 years of broadcast tradition." The promotions went on to describe all the events of historical note that had occurred in the WNBC/WEAF records. The only event which I thought was more sad was about 3 years prior, also on WNBC, when traffic reporter Jane Dornacker was killed while live on the air when the "N-copter" crashed in rush hour traffic.
I thought that NBC shot themselves in the foot so to speak when they sold WNBC to General Electric. One of the nasty rumours that went around in 1988 was that GE made more money selling light bulbs than it did running WNBC. They refused to sell the station and decided to destroy it instead.
Oh, well, at least Westinghouse had more sense. WBZ is still on the air!
WNEW-AM, the long time heritage Adult Standards station on 1130 changed to new calls and new format in 1992. The 50kw powerhouse, home to the likes of William B. Williams, Jim Lowe (of Green Door fame), Julius LaRosa (of getting fired on-air by Arthur Godfrey fame) and Martin Block of the "Make Believe Ballroom" of decades ago, plus others such as Gene Rayburn (Rayburn and Finch), Gene Klaven (Klaven & Finch) and more were legends in Big Apple radio. Through a strange turn of events in 1992, which found the station billing less than ever, Michael Bloomberg set sites on building a media empire outside of publishing concerns by making WNEW the first "business only" radio station in New York. And he did. The station had been sold once before, in 1988, during the "heyday" of business purchases, until the economy fizzled. The buyers lost their shirts. Bloomberg stepped in and the rest is history.
Today, WNEW-AM is known as "WBBR" -- "Bloomberg Business Radio." It serves as his radio flagship. Has another station in Connecticut, a business radio network by satellite and some TV syndication things, all focused on business news.
The station's original Adult Standards format, complete with several of the jocks who took it to its pinnacle, is now WQEW-AM, 1560 in New York...owned by the New York Times. It, too, is a 50kw directional and is doing very well. Number 4 in the 35+ demos according to the Summer '95 Arbitron.
Wolfman Jack, Gary Palant and Rosko all worked on the FM side. Muni is still there, after leaving WABeatleC and has been at WNEW-FM for more than 25 years. He held the PD spot at least once during the 70s. Rosko is the guy you hear on CBS Sports promos ... on both radio and TV. A great guy with a most distinctive style. You can't miss his voice. Did Olympics voice overs live during the Winter Olympics and was shown on camera several times. Wolfman didn't fare well on WNEW-FM.
In the early 80's, Charlie Kendall was PD, followed by Mark Chernoff. Pat St. John, who does mornings now at 'NEW-FM, held the PD post a couple of years ago. The current PD is Ted Edwards. Mark Chernoff, by the way, went from WNEW-FM to WJFK, Washington (Infinity Broadcasting), and then to Infinity's WXRK (K-Rock) and is now the PD at WFAN, New York.
Bob Hagen was a news person at WNEW-AM for 15 years, 1971 to 86 - and on the FM until about 1978 or '79, because the news was simulcast.
At WNYR's 360 East Avenue location: AM Morning Drive DJ Tim Salata & FM Morning Drive DJ Gary Smith felt it necessary to harass me during any scheduled weather break (at :22 and :50).
At one point, the AM control booth was in a rather small room with windows adjacent to two production rooms, one to the left and one straight ahead of the console. Tim & Gary would do all sorts of stuff to get me to "break up" on the air, like the underwear on the outside of the pants, with the EV-RE20 mics sticking through the flies like a mechanical wanker.
Well, I had it, they crossed the line one morning and I got ready for their next attempt. I set up a newspaper to block the window, but rolled it up above the window and held it in place with a tack, also on the tack was some recording tape, routed down the window, under the console and ready to pull the tack and drop the cover over the window, for added measure I placed a big "FU" message on their side of the paper. Well, the :50 weather break came and, on cue, there they were, making faces or something, I dont quite remember. I pulled the tape, On the air you could hear the newspaper unrolling to cover the window, then a hilarous fit of laughter through two panes of glass as they read their message.
The PD - heard their laughter on the air and came back to check. I finished the weather, the PD came in and saw the newspaper, heard them laughing and left to go to the production room to chew them out, saw my message and burst out in laughter himself. I'll never forget working with those guys, a new personal definition of camaradarie.
Doug Schoenherr aka Doug Shaner
WPAY News Smoke
1973, while at WPAY-AM/FM in Portsmouth, Ohio: Our studio and engineering room were right next to each other. There was a hole in the wall between rooms where all the wires went into the control room. It was almost Christmas when the Chief Engineer and myself decided to play a prank on the newscaster.
Using one of those paper tubes that Christmas wrapping paper comes on, we stuck it into the hole and the end was now located in back of the studio's control board. Both of us were now armed with cigars and began blowing smoke into the tube. The resulting smoke would then be seen in the studio coming out of the back of the control board. Next thing you know, we begin hearing:
"In Washington, the President ... blah blah blah ...
"HELP THERES A FIRE IN HERE, SOMEBODY HELP" ... ... The Governer of Ohio today said ... blah blah blah ... "PLEASE...SOMEBODY COME IN HERE AND PUT THE FIRE OUT" ... and so on...
It lasted a couple of minutes til he finally went into a commercial ... we had to tell him what happened, but we did get an ass-chewing from the Program Director.
WPXZ Punxsutawney, PA (the Groundhog Day place!) and the Transmitter Door
We were only on the air from 6am to midnight, so the first person on the air in the morning had to cross his fingers & hope that the transmitter (known to us as "Eileen" -- as in "Come on Eileen") would actually start when we fired it up.
I came in to do my Sunday morning shift (I was the lucky 16 year old who ran the God Squad tapes at the time), and the transmitter wouldn't start.
I drove up to the transmitter building to try a trick that the PD had taught me. "Slam the door of the transmitter if it doesn't start," he told me. I interpreted this to mean, "Slam the door of the shack that housed the transmitter." This made no sense to me, but I tried it. I slammed the door on the shack repeatedly with no luck. I got angry & decided to try a bit more unorthodox method. I decided to ram my car into the building to see if that would make it go (what the heck, it wasn't exactly a Porsche!) Needless to say, this didn't help either.
It wasn't until later that I learned that there was a metal door on the transmitter itself that you could slam to get it to start (this method actually worked most of the time!)
The car died years ago, but the building is still doing fine, thank you very much.
WRCK Syracuse NY (Time to "Play that Tune").
I spent some time at WCMF in Rochester. CMF has an incredible history being one of those initial, laid back, AORs that traces its history back to the 1960s. I grew up listening to the station.
From 1978-1983 WCMF had some strong competition from the old Superstars-formatted WMJQ. Eventually Trip Reeb, and CMF, put MAGIC 92 to sleep. By 1985, when I hooked up at my hometown rocker, WCMF was the only game in town. I was a kid doing the night shift, being a star, getting paid, getting laid, scoring some decent bucks and getting an 18 share.
The GM at the time used to give me calls at night after placing bets with patrons at the local watering hole. It's hard to imagine today but back then my air was very likely to be heard at any number of local establishments. So my GM used to place bets with the local barflys. He'd claim for 50-100 bucks that he'd be able to get the DJ to play a certain song. "No way," the unknowing drunk would say! "That's the big radio station in town and you can't do that." One call to me on the hotline and the guy would be out of some cash.
My P.D. used to get pissed, especially at happy hour. At 10 or 11 it wasn't that big of a big deal, although he never was happy with it. I was doing the night shift and the GM of a station that commanded at least 15-20% of the revenue can hear any freakin song that he wants. From the mid 80s to the early 90s WCMF was one of those stations that just dominated. I caught the end of those days I guess. Even the GM can't make that call anymore.
WRQX - Washington DC
One morning we set up a gag by placing a little harmless story in a couple of the newscasts and ignoring it. I new that eventually listeners would start calling. The story read:
Political high level sources in the nations capitol say plans to drain the potomac river have been approved. The river will be drained to check the bottom for valuable documents thrown over the bridges during watergate, vietnam, etc. The river was used as a dumping ground because of the high security nature of the documents. Government officials were sure that the pollution from the river would work better on the documents than a shredder.
(WRQX - ABC O&O) Legal in NY got calls from the president, national parks, army corps of engineers. But by the time the station opened for business at 10, the damage had been done. I wish I had been rolling tape. The best show that was ever done! Real radio without harming or scaring the listeners!
WSAY - Rochester NY: Chuck McCoy Remembers The Rosary Hour
When I was growing up in Buffalo in the 1960s/early 1970s there was this strange little suburban AM Top 40 station named WNIA. They rarely ran commercials and never ran news. I used to turn to them when Top 40 giant WKBW would be doing news. Most of the jocks sounded inexperienced.
In 1973, when I went to Brockport State College, near Rochester, I came across NIA's big sister station, WSAY. WSAY & WNIA were owned by a gentlemen named Gordon P. Brown, who I understand was quite wealthy and in his declining years was running these 2 stations pretty much as tax write-offs. Ratings and commercials were of little priority. The jocks made minimum wage. Yes, the equipment was Marconi era.
Anyway, he did run on both stations a paid religious show originating out of Rochester, that consisted of a priest leading a group of nuns in the saying of the nightly rosary (really).
By the early 1970s, WSAY had changed from Top 40 to a real, real way out underground progressive rock format, much farther out than the progressive rock FM in town, WCMF (which could be pretty far out itself). Apparently to try to get listeners back after the Rosary Hour, they ran a nightly theme show that was called, no kidding: "The After the Rosary Hour Special." Keep in mind this was a pretty freaky sounding station appealing to a minuscule audience of young druggy hippies.
At the end of each Rosary Hour, the priest would say a few words about the importance of keeping the show on the air for divine intervention to combat the declining morality, drug use, promiscuity, etc. going on in the world today, yada yada.
This would plea from the priest would be followed by just about anything goes. I'm pretty sure I remember one night the stoned out sounding DJ (they all sounded stoned out) coming on and saying that night's After the Rosary Hour Special was "A Salute to Haight Asbury" ....Moby Grape, 13th Story Elevator, et al.
I wonder what the priest was thinking when/if if heard this.
More WSAY - From Bob Green
WSAY was ... unique! My first radio job was on WSAY, before Chuck McCoy, but the Rosary Hour was a hot item even then. It ran between segments of "Melody Corner" (featurning Paul Anka, the Big Bopper, etc.) One night father Chirinchoni had done more "holy Mary Mother of God's" than he should have, and it came out, "...holy Mary, Mother of God, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the woot of thy froom Jesus...uh, uh, blessed is the foot of thy loom, loot...uh", etc.
Every Thursday night, also ensconced between rock music hits of the 1950s, was a half-hour program called "German Melodies" with Fred Wig. Fred brought his own music in and pretended to broadcast from little cafes in assorted German towns.
This particular Thursday it was raining. In fact, it was a torrential thunderstorm. WSAY's 'studio' was in the kitchen above the transmitter. The kitchen window was about 4 feet from the microphone, as were the transmission lines from the towers to the transmitter below. You get the picture: a recipe for disaster. As Fred romanced the "little cafe in Stutggart (or somewhere), where the little people like to do their leeetle dances," etc., the thunder was pushing the needle into the red.
The sparks and mini-lighning zaps were arcing across the kitchen behind Fred, who remained unphazed, still enjoying his imagined cafe environment. Those of us in the control room began to get hysterical. Then, with a monumental thud, and a magnificent zap to the kitchen sink, we were off the air. I flung open the studio door and shouted, "God damn Fred, what a (expletive) storm!" Fred's face turned the color of the VU meter (he didn't know we were off the air).
Fred and the station returned a couple of times in the next 2 minutes, only to be knocked off the air again. When we finally did come back on, Fred signaled to the engineer to "Just play the damn music!" The engineer put the LP on the 'Rondine Jr.' turntable and proceeded to play Vera Lynn ... at 78 rpm.
WSGN Jim Tyler Remembers Rick Dees
When I was working at WSGN in Birmingham, AL I became a close friend of Rick Dees. I did a lot of character voice stuff for him. This continued when he went to WMPS in Memphis and I was in Atlanta. Even flew up to Memphis to cut stuff in the MPS studios on a couple of weekends.
Finally made it out to LA for a satellite gig for KPLX years later and tried to meet with Rick. Told his secretary who I was and was told I could have a couple of free tickets to some show he was doing. Never did get to see or talk to him. He probably said "Jim who?" Great Guy but short memory. He was at his best in Birmingham at WSGN.
WSLR Mike McKay Gets His Tongue Twisted
It was 1976, and the #1 country song on the charts was Convoy by C.W. McCall, which immortalized the CB Radio craze. I was jocking at WSLR in Akron, Ohio, a very popular AM country station.
Have you ever had the experience when you're just about to say something, and then at the very last minute you decide to say it a different way? Sometimes, you end up with an unfortunate combination of the two.
In back announcing the song, I had planned to say "We want to send that one out to all you truckers out there."
Then I had a last-minute notion to say instead "...all you fellas who drive truck."
You can guess how it actually came out!
I did the only thing you can do under the circumstances...I carried on as if absolutely nothing was wrong.
I didn't get a single phone call, and I know people were listening, as WSLR was the top-rated station in the market at the time.
Rich Kennedy and the wacky Orlando weather forecast
WSSP 104.1 in Orlando, FL was the #1 station 12+ in December 1989.
With easy listening/live jocks, the 7-12p jock Tom Brooks didn't notice I had taken a weather forecast he had handwritten in July (stuffed into my desk) and was swapped for his December forecast. He's in the middle of telling people it will be a high of 86 and a low of 72 ... when he realizes freeze warnings are in effect.
Tom was quite pissed off and re-wrote liner cards for me to read the next nite, including "FOR EASY LISTENING IN CENTRAL FLORIDA, BUCKWHEAT SAY WSSP ID OTAY." He got me on that one as I got half way through and lost it!
WSUN -- Intern from Hell
Hey, great web site. I love learning about radio stories. I've been working in radio for 10 years...(God, 10 years?? I can't believe it); worked first in Tampa Bay radio and now here in Seattle. When I was in Florida, I worked for the two best calls in the state -- WSUN and WFLA.
When WSUN was still a country station, we did a lot of remote broadcasts and appearances from a very popular country bar (which refused to die despite the end of several such bars in the "Urban Cowboy" wake) but it was always filled with our listeners: good, decent, hardworking people who wanted to party.
We had an intern, who was an older guy -- maybe 25 or so-- and, as mean as it sounds, you just knew was going to be a problem. He was BIG, so we nicknamed him The Moose! He was supposed to help out at remotes, appearances, whatever...
Well, we got a sense of what was to come when he couldn't seem to operate the 2-way to talk to the traffic plane pilot (we had our own legendary traffic report who flew his own plane); he would constantly say, "AL? AALLL?? ALLL?" *Squelch!* "AALL?"
Then, an at appearance at the previously-mentioned country bar, he drank a lot of beer and booze--and promptly threw up all over the bar.
Finally, in an attempt to get back to the station for some non-important reason, he drove the station van back as fast as possible, tailing-gating some driver the entire way. The driver then filed charges against the station. The moose will be remembered, but not missed.
Is there anyone listening to my program?
This is a true and funny story. In May 1966 I began hosting a nightly "oldies" show on WZAK-FM in Cleveland. At the time the station had all ethnic programming from 6 AM until 10 PM but the station was licensed for 24 hours. It seems that no ethnic group wanted to purchase airtime after 10 at night so I purchased the 10 PM to 1 AM time slot Monday thru Friday and followed the Hungarian Hour. (FYI - I paid $15 an hour and charged advertisers $8 for a 30-second spot and made a pretty good living during my four years with the station.)
Because independent ethnic producers/hosts purchased their own airtime, I wasn't able to get promotional spots so I met with the Radio/TV editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who "promised" me he would do a feature story on me and my show on the same day of my debut thus insuring a listening audience. But the story did not appear that day. I placed a call to him and he did apologize and "assured" me it would appear the next day.
So here I am: my very first night on the air spinning the rock & roll hits from the 50s and early 60s, giving out the phone number, and asking listeners to call in for dedications and requests. Needless to say there were no callers because there were no listeners. But after every few songs I would make up dedications as if I did have listeners.
Thirty minutes into my show, I actually wondered if there was just ONE person listening. So I decided to conduct a "mystery tune" contest. I said that I would give $20 to the very first person to give me a call to 621-7897 and correctly identify the name of the singer of the song I was about to play. I then proceeded to play Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock." Thirty-seconds into the song and no callers. I turn the pot down and once again give out the phone number and remind everyone that I will give $20 to the first person to call and tell me the name of the singer of this song. Another 30 seconds goes by and again I turn down the pot and say "We still have no winner. Remember - all you have to do to win $20 is be the first to tell me the name of the singer of this song. And I'll even give you a hint. His first name is ELVIS!
At this point, I am shaking my head and laughing to myself because it was apparent that not one person was listening to my program. Not one person called. The next day a pretty nice story appeared in the Plain Dealer and my nightly oldies show became a must-listen-to show throughout the Cleveland area. And Don Imus who was doing mornings on WGAR made it a point to stay up and listen and even call my show for requests.
At the time, I was known by my real name of Dick Liberatore. After leaving Cleveland in 1979 I moved to San Diego and changed my name to Mark Richards.
Jay Walker and the Z-93 (WZGC) elephant ride
When I was working at Z-93 (WZGC) Atlanta, the circus came to town. I was asked by my P.D., Mr. Michael Lee Scott, if I would promote the station by riding an elephant up Peachtree Street. I saw this as an opportunity to also promote my show and quickly said yes.
There was no reward for this stunt discussed. I didn’t expect anything for the gig, because I had never been given anything for a personal appearance before, and didn’t expect it now.
I did the ride with some apprehension, I had never ridden an elephant before, but it turned out to be fun. However, the GM and Michael Lee said I had done such a good job they offered me a four-slice toaster. I was happy to get it because my wife and I did need a good toaster. That toaster worked perfectly for twenty years.
Since that time my policy was, “don’t look a gift-horse [or elephant] in the mouth”, especially in the radio business.