MisfitWisdom Goes Back In Time. Top 40 Radio

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“THE RADIO BUSINESS IS A CRUEL AND SHALLOW MONEY TRENCH, A LONG PLASTIC HALLWAY WHERE THIEVES AND PIMPS RUN FREE, AND GOOD MEN DIE LIKE DOGS.

THERE’S ALSO A NEGATIVE SIDE.”

(Hunter Thompson)

How it all began for me.Image002(1)Image009

Going back in time is very difficult for me. You’re talkin’ about some 70 odd years of trying to remember what the hell happened in 70 odd years in my life with regard to “Top 4o” radio and the years spent on the air making a complete fool outta myself. Not that I was the only one making a complete fool out of myself mind you. I had plenty of company.

First of all, to set the mood for today’s rather extensive blog, (really quite long….but there are a lot of pictures and music to amuse you) I urge you to look at this video of radio’s golden years first, as produced by Kurt Kelly, (no relation to Emmett) at “vuolovideo.com.” Special thanks to my dear friend and radio personality Charlie Jefferds for sending me this link.

(click on the picture that shows up first on the center of the video)

“A Video History of The American Radio Personality”

http://vimeo.com/69646758

Now that you, (I hope) successfully viewed that video, if you are ancient such as I, you either have emotional tears in your eyes from watching all of those great radio personalities or thinking to yourself, “Geez….what a bunch of clowns.”

Yes, I, along with all those D.J.s resemble that thought. So, onward with some memories.

First of all, before I toot my own damn horn, or turntable in this instance, (turntables are not tables that contain food items which you can rotate to get the items you want) a bit about my friend Charlie Jefferds.

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Charlie Jefferds

Charlie was the very first disc jockey I met as a mere child after leaving Mr. Grimmis’s class and advising him that regardless of the consequences, I wanted to be a disc jockey. So I’m assuming that Charlie, at that time on WHIM radio in Providence, must have been about 22 or 23. Me, about 13 or 14. Soooooo, um, that makes Charlie today about 102 years of age. Um….I could be off on that a bit. Sorry Charlie….I’m not very good at math after flunking Mr. Grimmis’s math class.

Charlie worked at some notable stations including, WHIM, Providence, WNEW, New York, WBZ, Boston, WIP and WTAF TV, Philadelphia, and WPRO in Providence, to name just a few. We radio people tend to bounce around like rubber balls from station to station a lot. Um….99% of the time, not by our own choice if ya catch my drift.

My first radio attempt was in the U.S. Army while I was stationed at Heilbronn, Germany at the age of 17 in a service club. As you can see by the photo below, still very much wet behind the ears. Ah, the innocence of it all.Image000(2)

After defeating the enemy in Germany, (my Master Sergeant) I landed my first actual honest to goodness D.J. job at WRIB radio in Providence. R.I. The format…. playing the same 14 records hour after hour. The program was called, “The Favorite 14.” The manager of the station thought people only wanted to hear 14 records. Either that, or 14 records was all he could afford to buy.

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If I so much as play “Bobby’s Girl” one more freakin’ time I’m gonna blow my head off

Between radio stints, disc jockeys sometimes have to resort to doing whatever jobs they can find until the next opportunity opens up. Working at a car wash, pimping, rolling old ladies etc. The photo below is from an old amusement park in Rhode Island where, for a very short time, I was publicity director and had the opportunity to smooze with “The Lovin’ Spoonful.”

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The Lovin’ Spoonful. The dwarf to the far right would be yours truly.

Top 40 radio surveys were the “in thing” back in the late 50’s and up to the mid 70’s. Each radio station put out a list of the top songs of the week. Here’s a few examples of what they looked like.Image003

WPRO had a great annual survey when they highlighted the top tunes for that year. This photo shows the survey cover and some of the radio personalities. I didn’t make it on the cover but Charlie did. I think he gave up a week’s salary so he could convince them to put him in there along with the other guys.

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Charlie is 2nd from the right top. I’m actually in this photo but because I was so short I didn’t show up in the picture.

(the top song from the above chart in 1968 – “Hey Jude-The Beatles”)

There were times when radio personalities had to do strange stuff. Besides drugs that is. Like the time we all had to dress up in clown makeup to promote a contest. After the photo shoot I wore my clown makeup home and seriously thought about pulling a bank job considering I had the perfect disguise. Instead, I opted to fill out an application at Barnum and Bailey’s Circus just in case I got the hook at that station down the road. Cover your bases….my motto.

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I’m the clown on the left 2nd one down.

Big time radio, at least for me, was making it to Providence’s number one radio station back in 1968 AD. WPRO. This is also where Charlie and I worked together for the first time. At which point I constantly reminded him that I was that little kid that used to hang out at a radio station he was working at years earlier. At which point he would kindly say to me, “Get lost ya little twerp.”

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All night radio at WPRO, Providence.

Three other Providence radio personalities also influenced my on air personality as well as  Charlie. I remember with great admiration the late Sherm Strickhouser who I also, next to Charlie, annoyed when I was a teenager by pressing my nose against the double pane glass window outside of their studio while they were on the air. It was like this. If Charlie told me to get lost, I went on to the next radio station, (Sherm’s) and annoyed the hell outta him.

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Sherm Strickhouser about to slap the livin’ daylights outta me for being a pain in the ass

Next on my list to annoy was the late Chuck Stevens. Chuck had an infectious laugh, quick to pounce on any opportunity to piss off Elvis Presley fans by inserting all kinds of cut-ins while an Elvis record was playing, and although he was the only one that would not allow me into the studio, he still acknowledged my presence in the lobby by letting me shine his shoes. HEY….the quarter he tossed me was enough for the bus trip back home.

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Chuck Stevens showing me what a 45 RPM record looked like. I was pretty stupid back then.

Finally on my list of memorable disc jockeys who I annoyed as well, and eventually worked with along with Charlie at WPRO, was Joe Thomas. Joe is still around today, but I haven’t a clue as to where. Most likely under an assumed name so that I will not try to friend him on Facebook and annoy the hell outta him all over again. (I have a private eye doing research for me Joe….so be verrrry careful)

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Joe Thomas. If you know his whereabouts, contact the ACME Detective Agency and ask for Mr. Monk

Of course in my 30 years on the air there were many more radio personalities I could have included in today’s blog. But I’d still be writing this for days on end. I just wanted to highlight the ones it was a pleasure to work with.

Maybe someday when I’m in a negative mood, I’ll write a blog on the ones that were a pain in the ass to work with. And there were many. My favorite term for those select few idiots is, “ego trippers.” Kinda like working at a radio station with a room full of Donald Trumps if ya catch my drift.

So, there ya have it. A flashback at the history of radio along with my own history of radio. Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did writing this.

So I’ll end this trip, (minus tripping on marijuana, which was also part of that era) with this final tune:

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Copyright 2013 MisfitWisdom RLV

DILLIGARA Header: chickart@cox.net

About misfit120

Former disc jockey, (Dick Jones) 30 years, and author of, "I Could Have Been Famous But Sex, Love & Life Got In The Way" available at Amazon.com books, & Kindle, "The Covert Chamber" a mystery novel available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and "Forgotten" the story of two WWI pilots who were forgotten for over 70 years available on Amazon.com and Kindle
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2 Responses to MisfitWisdom Goes Back In Time. Top 40 Radio

  1. Charlie says:

    Exactly how tall were the guys in The Lovin’ Spoonful?

    • misfit120 says:

      Charles….when you’re 5’4″ anyone over 5’6″ is a freakin’ giant….

      Click here for my daily blog.https://misfit120.wordpress.com

      ________________________________

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