YOU: What's this all about, except
maybe a little ego-massage?
Welll...ever since the Internet became a part of
everyone's life, every month or two I get an email from someone I worked
with thirty years ago, or an air check collector who's missing a period of
his favorite station, or something. So I figured I'd go through the boxes
in the basement and use up a bunch of bandwidth and share the stuff with
anyone who cares about the (oh, jeez, here it comes) GOOD OLD DAYS when radio
was radio...blah blah, etc.
The website "440.com" is
responsible for a lot of this. They have an incredible listing of individual
jocks and line-ups of stations from days gone by. It's an amazing resource.
The list they have for me includes most of the stations I've been on since
the beginning, except for maybe half a dozen not in my list because I worked
for them only a short time (as little as one day!). That group would include
some fill-in at WTIC, KMOX, a non-comm in
San Francisco (that's the one day - the movers
came the next day to take my stuff to
Syracuse), seven unpleasant weeks on
Cape Cod in
What I'm putting up now
is the result of people who asked me for certain things. I'll add more stuff
as I find time to dig through my boxes of reels and
As would be expected, most
of it is...ME. The main purpose of air-checking was to get a better job
somewhere, or having something in the can for when the GM's wife decides
we should go "All Kenny & Dolly, All the Time". But there's also rare
footage of WHEN's legendary Dick Burch, and the
demo tape of the most riveting radio production ever to hit the AM waves
I finally got rid of the
old RealPlayer system. All the audio files are now MP3 so your browser should
be able to access them without further ado.
* Reverse chronological
order (bottom to top)
1987 - WJR is radio's version
of "died and gone to heaven". Not just the big gun in
Detroit, but usually ranked in the top 3 in
started at JR working weekends while still living in
working Monday-Friday at WWKB. Who knew working seven days a week could be
such a treat. J.P.McCarthy, Jimmy Launce, Joel
Alexander, Frank Beckman, Hal Youngblood, the folks at the Weather Center
(located 70 miles away in Flint), the superb news department, and, of course,
baseball's Ernie Harwell; you can't sound bad in those surroundings.
I shouldn't admit it, but I'm one of the few people who quit WJR not once,
but twice. After six months of working both cities, KB said my job there
was secure. So, family considerations in mind, I
guit JR. Predictably, a month later KB dumped the
entire staff! I called Gary Berkowitz at JR and found that the guy who had
replaced me had just quit because he got a TV gig, so I was hired back as
full-time weekend/fill-in. How's that for a way to get
Alex Haley's on line
takes on Howie Mandel,
and Larry King's on line
1978 - I finish the morning show at 'FBL one day and get a message to call Bob Wood at WBEN. A few weeks later the house in Syracuse (Jamesville, actually) is sold, we have one in Williamsville, and I'm again doing afternoons in my hometown. 'BEN is special for me, because my brother and I were forced to listen to Clint B. and those very un-hip Frederick Fennell / John Phillip Sousa marches on mornings when Dad drove us to school. Listening to "Your AM MC, CB" was good training for me, and I knew who Tommy Whelan was, too. Bob Wood was one of the best guys I ever worked for. What a privilege to be there for a ten-year period ('78-'87) with such a load of amazingly talented people.
This air check dates back to November, 1978, about half a year after I started there. Canada's own Dale R. Patterson let me know he had it in his possession and I could have it if he could put my 1967 WYSL air check on his site - www.rockradioscrapbook.com or www.rockradioscrapbook.ca. You think my WYSL check is old, he's got Alan Freed in Cleveland, John R. in Nashville, Hound Dog, and tons of other familiar voices from our childhood and our other good old days as well.
1975 - One of those typical
radio situations. I'd been working with an ol'
College friend at WHEN,
Jim Ashbery, until he fired me one day. Before
I had time to send out any tapes, Jim himself got fired, took the PD job
at WFBL and hired me for the morning show there. What FBL lacked in resources
it made up for with a roster of fine talent. Fridays meant a race to the
bank to see whose check would bounce, but we persevered. (If you never had
a paycheck bounce, you were never in radio. Similarly, if you've never been
fired, you're not doing it right.) The voices on my show (in this case the
Congressman, and the obvious take-off on
the Doorman" from the Rhoda TV show) were done by evening jock Terry "Coyote"
10/20/13 - At my 50th Reunion
at Ithaca College last week, I had the great pleasure of actually running
in to Jim Ashbery and his wife, Rosalie. The first time in about 35 years!
Jim mentioned that the paragraph above has a major inaccuracy: Jim didn't
fire me from WHEN - he was already otta there. Neither of us could recall
who was PD at WHEN after Jim. Regardless, Jim hired me for WFBL's morning
show before I had a chance to file for unemployment.
1974 - Just another typical day at WHEN. And perhaps some proof that
sensibilities have changed over the years.
1972 - If there ever was a job where I enjoyed EVERY day between hiring and
firing, it was my three years at WHEN, under the management team of GM John
Patton and PD Deane Parkhurst and, later, Jim
Ashbery. In my entire career I never saw the level
of support we all got from Patton. And it paid off: it was only
but we owned it! "We" refers to the entire staff of terrific people,
including my good friend Jay "Trachman" Stone,
who left one day for the west coast, and supplied me with more material than
I'm willing to admit, through his long-running "One to One" service. If any
person singluarly improved the performance of
thousaands of jocks in this country, it was Jay.
Another benefit of my years at WHEN...I get to tell people I knew Al
Roker when he was just a local weather guy.
(Important - If you have old reel-to-reel tapes lying around, don't wait
much longer to make copies. After only one playing, this one ended up as
a nice pile of iron oxide on the desk.)
1972 - And now, for your dining and dancing pleasure, a rare recording of
WHEN's other morning legend (besides Phil
Markert): "Sweet" Dick Burch. Stick around for
Billy Sol Hargis at the end.
1972 - Here's more of "Sweet" Dick Burch. But this tape shows Sweet
was ahead of his time.
The movie "Deep Throat"
was a national sensation, bringing on a wave of what the New York Times labeled
"Porn Chic". Dick talked
"teen-age General Manager" John Patton into a contest: tell WHEN why
you should win a pair of tickets to get on a chartered bus to go to the
Theatre to see "Deep
Throat". Masks were passed out to winners who wanted to hide their identity.
No one bothered. Everyone took it all in the spirit of fun and discovery;
no one was offended. If you can find the Syracuse New Times
"Syracuse Guidebook '76", an inch-thick
tabloid-size compilation of all that was
in the mid-70s, you'll be able to read all about it.
For the 70s, this tape is a bit risque. (The moans
were provided by Dick's lovely wife; he knew how to use it not all
that raunchy, just funny.
1971 - Metromedia had
WNEW's west-coast sister station in
Lovely location, sailboats passing by the studio window. After KCBS-FM changed
format, I picked up the 10 PM to 2 AM slot. You can tell
it's early 70s - two live spots and a sponsorship
in one break!
1971 I was offered a job in San
Francisco doing non-radio production. Having never
lived on the west coast, I left a great job to join half a dozen other people
who worked for a month, then another month, and never got paid. Fortunately,
KCBS's FM was looking for some jocks to try a new
kind of format. It was "wild-tracking". Shows were programmed with prehistoric
IBM keycards. We'd record our song ins and outs with engineer and without
benefit of any music. "Theatre of the mind" in reverse. A room full of cart
decks and reel-to-reels would put it all together. You might notice something
different about the tracking we did back then: time checks, actual references
to the music and actually getting "into" the music. Not just "that was...now
here's". As evidenced by the lack of commercials, the experiment only lasted
a few months.
1970 - Two weeks after WIXZ dumped everybody including me, I snatched a terrific
gig at KXOK in St.
Louis. Through the 1960s, KXOK was reputed to be among
the Top Five Billing Stations in the country. Morning man & PD
legendary Mort Crowley (his voice on the anti-littering PSA). Radio in
StL was (is?) highly unionized. KXOK jocks (AFTRA)
were allowed only a cough button. We had to signal the engineer (NABET) to
turn the mike on, off, start the record, etc. Across town, KSD had three-man
shows: air talent, board engineer and American Federation of Musicians
1969 - My old friend and
College roommate, George
(Buzz Beers) Brewer, offered me the mid-day/Prod. Director job at WIXZ-1360,
WIXZ was the sister station to the legendary WIXY-1260 in
Dick "Wild Childe" Kemp came over to do afternoons. But we didn't make a
dent in KQV's numbers so WIXZ went country within
a year, and we were all out on the street. Forcing myself to listen to the
few WIXZ airchecks I've found makes me wonder how
I ever landed the KXOK job. Or was the entire station just dull?
Oh yeah, about the name. The G.M., one of the three guys who owned both
WIX-EEE's, didn't like
my name. He wanted me to use "Joe Magarac" (sp?)
- that's a
steel mill legend akin to Paul Bunyon. Lucky for
me George didn't go for that, so he named me for the street he lived on:
Here's some production I did at WIXZ, putting to use what I had learned in
NYC. If you listened to the FLP track you'll notice the blatant steal from
their "Scalphunters" spot. Email me if you don't
get the joke.
1968 - I left WYSL
to work as a Commercial Producer in NYC. Former WOLF,
jock Windy Craig (more recently the voice of much of Nickelodeon) asked me
to work with him and a guy named Don LaFontaine
at the Floyd L. Peterson Company. This is back when they advertised movies
on RADIO! This is production!
At FLP we'd spend weeks creating ONE 60-second spot; what a treat to be able
to craft a finely-tuned piece of audio art. Or, in my case, just make an
attempt. This was their "demo tape" when I started there. Listen for the
voices of Dan Ingram, Windy Craig, Don LaF., Fred
Foy, and a bunch of "local talent". These aren't
announcers, they're "voice artists." Eventually
I'll post some of the productions I was involved with (they're here somewhere).
FLP got into a financial bind shortly after I got there, due to the movie
they were making: Putney Swope. Don and I shortly moved to a competitor
creative-house, Kaleidoscope Films, where we did Yellow Submarine,
Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang, etc. Although living and working in The
Apple was all it's cracked up to be, I didn't really enjoy dealing with the
egos in film industry management and was gone the next
1967 - Khan Hamon hired me for afternoons in my
old hometown. Mom & Dad always listened, at least on days when
WYSL's signal could make it to
Cheektowaga. That's Jack "Sean Grabowski
- Seanski" Kelly on the
Spanky & Our Gang spot.>
WYSL wasn't my first announcing gig in Bflo. Long before WYSL, I was Thursday evening booth announcer at WNED-TV from their studios in the penthouse of the Lafayette Hotel ("Stay tuned next for Japanese Ricepaper Painting...."). That was quite a step up from my days announcing the "Fifteen Minute Specials" at Sattler's.
early 1967 - I had forgotten that I ended up using
my own name at TRX. Apparently, the Jonesville experiment finally died and
some semblence of reality set
One of my summers at TRX,
I had to do gas station remotes EVERY damn Friday afternoon, complete with
free hotdogs and Mountain Dew (I haven't looked at a
Dew since then). Because I was sitting twenty feet in the air, atop
the price sign, for the four hours, the refreshments were handled by a very
bright intern, a short kid whose family lived next door to the
Eastmans out on Long
Island. In more recent years, he was Bill Clinton's Secretary
of Labor, Robert Reich.
1964 - WTRX was owned by Robert Eastman, of the station rep firm of the same
name. He bought this station to use as a "radio laboratory" to try ideas.
The first and only idea was as bad they could get: name all the jocks "Jones"
(Tom Jones, John Paul Jones, Casey Jones, etc.) and name our fictional town
"Jonesville" - even worse, there IS a Jonesville,
the western side of the state. Mid-day's Tom Jones was Terry Knight, later
the driving force behind Grand Funk Railroad. He was stabbed to death a few
years ago by his daughter's husband. Morning man John Paul Jones was Larry
Morrow long a fixture in
radio. As dopey as the "Home of the Jones Boys" was, I was young and wanted
to get out of Ithaca (WTKO), and my old roommate George "Buzz Beers" Brewer
had just taken the PD job and invited me, so I went. George's boss was a
guy named Art Wander, later to become a sports icon in
It was a long three years in
Michael Moore), but eventually I got out.
Some will recognize the
voice on the first spot as belonging to Wild Willie, later known as consultant
Bill Hennes. Bill was Casey Jones, before moving
across town to WTAC.
I could go back even further, to WWGO in
Erie, WTKO in
Ithaca and even WGVA in
first paying gig, thanks to my dear friend Bob Green of WKNR, KULF fame)
but this is embarrassing enough.
Happily, I don't have tape of my first regular radio appearances as a high
school dj at WBUZ,
NY, in 1957.