ItÕs 4AM. Do you know where your radio station is?
ŌFighting to stay freeĶ #168...October 2012
And now, ladies and gentlemenÉ
ÉI have a question: are you lonely more now than you used to be? And if your answerÕs yes, is this radioÕs fault?
Most people I know have never liked waking up in the middle of the night. I was always the opposite. This was not only because I knew that, being the third of four kids, it was the only time I could have run of the house while everyone else slept (not to mention enjoy my momÕs freshly-based chocolate chip cookies before they were gone), but also because I loved listening to radio at that time. It was like a secret that only I knew. And it beat watching the test patterns on TV (although admittedly I did do that as well).
In the all-live-all-the-time era of radio, listening to anything at 4am was exciting. Who else is up at this hour? IÕd think to myself. The answer was, lots of very nice people. Most of who were probably just breaking into the business, but who, nonetheless, knew how to communicate with listeners at 4am. ThereÕs an art to that, something anyone whoÕs ever done it knows. I never did but always wanted to: these days, when IÕm on Saturday at 6am, I figure I can try some of that with the audience, but it isnÕt the same as at 4am.
As great as weeknight overnights with the transistor under the pillow were, even better was the ultimate radio dead zone, the wee hours of Monday on Monday holidays. ThatÕs when IÕd slowly make my way from 550 to 1600 in search of new friends. I found them, alright: never a dull (or recorded) moment. Wherever IÕd turn, the understood message was almost always: ŌSo you canÕt sleep? ThatÕs ok. Stick around: weÕll play some good music, tell a few jokes and take care of you.Ķ
The best live local overnight hosts, of course, did that and more. For this New Englander, there was a trio of greats on BostonÕs WBZ: Dick Summer during the 1960s, and in the 70s, Larry Glick during the week and Robin Young on the late Saturday-early Sunday beat. Each was completely different from the other, but all had the knack for making you feel like you had a friend on the other end. In GlickÕs case, you could call that friend, and many (including the guys two houses down from mine) did.
ItÕs a shame the current economics of radio have just about killed local live overnights. It was the best and most creative time of day for the medium. HereÕs what pains remember about 4am, in response to my Facebook posting. By the way, if youÕre on Facebook and would like to receive Hz posts (and everything else, really), ÔfriendÕ me at http://www.facebook.com/richappel7.
Left to right: Glick, Tommy T., Donovan, Gori, Grant.
Dick Summer when he was doing "Nightlight" on WBZ; Larry King in the 80s...
During the occasional summer heat-induced insomnia attacks in the 1970s, when I didn't feel like DXing I usually tuned in to Larry "The Legend" Johnson on WIND. After moving from Chicago to Oakland, I woke up way too early Friday mornings for the audio-collage mayhem of KPFA's "Over the Edge" (still going 31 years later!).
My own two favorites were Alex Bennett when he was on WPLJ, Max Kinkel on CBS-FM and Dick Summer on WNBC--very different styles, but all were great late night company. I was too young to listen live, but think Dean Anthony and Charlie Greer should also be included on the list.
summer 1963. bungalow colony in the catskills. transistor radio under the pillow. the big babalooey show. bob lewis. WABC. dennison clothes....route 22 union, nj. then later it was charlie greer doin the all night decarlo land lot commercial on WABC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKa9dTW9ZHY or it seems youtube has charlie doin dennison's clothes
Chuck Leonard ruled NY!
Mid 60s here in Toronto it was Bob Laine on 1050-CHUM
Perry Marshall, KDKA Pittsburgh. And Dr. Knowledge on the air weekends on KDKA overnight.
The term "overnight personality" is the classic current day oxymoron. But back in the day there were many. Coincidentally, we just lost one last week, Barry Grant. Barry hosted "Grant's Tomb,Ķ overnights on WDRC Hartford, CT back in the early 70s. It was a must listen back then. Further comments on Mr. Grant by Steve Parker, son of the late Charlie Parker (VP-programming for WDRC) follow my comments. After Barry moved on to WPLR there were others such as Jay Crawford and Pete Ross.
Moving on to Buffalo, and the Great KB, in the Summer of 1968 and school vacation, I would stay up late listening to Tom McKay. He was the summer fill-in for regular overnighter Steve Mitchell, who was doing swing shifts, filling in for vacationers. It was some great listening, worth staying up for. A mix of the current top 40 plus some great LP cuts. Can you imagine the full 17:05 "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" on an AM station? And a 50KW powerhouse! As I recall, Tom returned in the summer of 1969 doing overnights, but with less memories. Similar deal in the summer of 1970: this time it was a guy named Jeff Starr doing the overnight fill-in. I remember him being a bit crazy, but it was all good fun and great listening.
Nowadays it's a satellite feed, Otto, or Fred, with the equivalent of an iPod with someone else's music selection plus commercials, plugged into the transmitter. Yawn...
The 60s70s Show
I have so many great memories of Barry Grant. Some I will deny and never repeat! He was a great broadcaster, music genius and friend. Barry had a heart of gold and a fantastic sense of humor. My dad Charlie Parker, Program Director of WDRC AM/FM, met Barry when I was looking at a car at Rod AllenÕs house in Manchester, CT. I was probably 16 or 17. I believe that in the early 70Õs Rod was doing overnights at DRC-FM.
Barry was working at WAAF Worcester, MA back then. He and my dad hit it off immediately. My dad could always spot great talent, and before we knew it Barry was doing GrantÕs Tomb on BIG D. My dad made Barry Program Director of the FM for awhile. Barry really knew his stuff. He was well respected by both the radio industry and music industry. He used to hang out with the local and national bands. Barry had more great stories about some of the most well known bands that he supported and got started. Barry was always backstage with the bands. He really was very welcome.
When Barry returned to WDRC for his 2nd stay, he was seen on TV during Saturday Night Live doing a commercial for the FM. One of his props was a rubber chicken! My dad and Barry laughed so hard. A radio guy with a wild sense of humor. No doubt why he and my dad hit it off instantly. Barry was also a real car guy, and he loved his Corvettes! I saw him a few weeks ago and he was still driving one! He also loved sports. He went on for many years doing broadcast play by play for professional sports. He loved Hockey! But he always had radio beating in his heart. Whenever we would hold a radio reunion or get together, Bear would be there!
In all of the years that my dad spent in RadioÉat one stationÉ.WDRC AM/FM, I sure met lots of overnight guys. What most of them didnÕt realize in the beginning, was that Charlie Parker never turned his radio off! He was always listening. Even in the middle of the night. One time a couple of jocks thought that it would be fun to play the same song at the exact same time on 2 different stations. I think it was WDRC in Hartford and WPLR in New Haven. After they tried it again on another night, my dad let his guy know that it was good the first time, but not after that. The jock was floored!
Yes, I was blessed to have met lots of talent, but there was only one Barry Grant. If thereÕs a Rock NÕ Roll Heaven, well you know they have a hell of an overnight guy now. Our loss is WGODÕs gain. God Bless You Barry. May you forever rest in peace in GrantÕs Tomb.
Your Big D Brother,
Connecticut Radio Network
Left to right: Johnson, Greer, Corsair, Laine, Marshall.
Looking back to overnight radio in late 1980s, Big Jay Sorensen on 66 WNBC had the perfect blend of personality and music, plus those Pams jingles and huge reverb. Way before satellite radio, Big Jay was heard in 38 states from a single transmitter.
I do miss the 66 WNBC with Big Jay doing the Time Machine.
Stephen A. MacLeod
Thanks Scott and Stephen... It's been 24 years since that last ID I did on Oct. 7, 1988...66 WNBC, New York. But doing overnights again in NY 24 years later on CBS-FM ain't too shabby...it's only weekends...but it's wonderful. Who knows what will happen next? BE BIG!
Jay the Jock
I used to love listening to Kathy Gori on KMPC in Los Angeles. This was in the early '70s. She had a great ear. She introduced me to Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, as well as Mark Almond. Best overnight show on AM at the time.
He wasn't local to me, but Joe Donovan did the definitive overnight show on WHAS/Louisville.
"back in the day," we had The Duke Of Madness, Jerry Goodwin in Boston on WBCN. And in Maine, we always LOVED Mark Persky with WBLM's "The Greatest Show From Earth." Later years included Norm Nathan and our bud Steve LeVeille on WBZ. Of course, I'm somewhat personally biased as I had the honor of being one of those 4am friends for a few years myself. (grin)
Tommy T. on KSHE. I record the Klassics on his Rock Magazine show every Friday at 3 AM.
WDAS-FM, Philadelphia, PA. My favorite DJ's were T. Morgan and Michael Tearson; can't forget Mitch Gilbert ("A Rap from the Head of Mitch Gilbert"). Began tuning in 1969, and continued thru the 70's. http://www.phillyradioarchives.com/history/wdas
Listened often to Bill Corsair overnight on WCAU 1210 in the 70s. I live in Nashville but listen to Toronto's AM740 every night via skywave. Their all-night oldies mix is the best. Check 'em out between midnight and 6AM. (We grew up on WLS in these parts.)
And IÕll throw in a couple more from my listening years in the COBL: Nat Wright and Michelle Iaia, both on the pre-sports WIP. One December night while pulling a semester-end all-nighter cramming for finals at Penn, I called Nat, and he was the nicest guy on Earth to me.
And the hitsÉ
HELLO, DELI Once again, tongue will rule the afternoon of Saturday November 10th at BenÕs Deli in NYC, as pains Jeff Scheckner, Alan Berman and Bruce Slutsky host the annual "Fans of music from the '50s, '60s and '70s Oldies Lunch Meet and Greet" (which, like the corned beef, is also a mouthful). Radio and oldies greats to have passed through the halls of pastrami include Mark Simone, Bobby Jay, Bob Radil, Big Jay Sorensen, Don Tandler, Jim Kerr, Pat St. John, Broadway Bill Lee, Keith Allen, Famous Amos and Anita Bonita. As was true in earlier years, special guests are expected. If youÕd like to be one of them, or just be there (as I expect to, again), reservations are required: contact Jeff by Monday November 5th at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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