If you've been listening to Y103.9 for the past week or so, you already know that they've been teasing a major announcement coming this Friday (as in TONIGHT) at 6 pm regarding a programming change. Well, we've got the scoop on this one, folks, and Chicagoland musicphiles will LOVE this little piece of news. True to his word, Jeff James gave US the exclusive story first ... and here it is!
>>>Something BIG is shaking up for my program that involves some the greatest 45's that have not been on the air in 35+ years!!!!!!!!!!!! As soon as I get the ok to mention it, you guys will be the first to know!!!!! (Jeff James / Y1039)
Lay it on me, Jeff ... the oldies fans want to know! (kk)
Here ya go!
STARTING THIS FRIDAY AT 6 PM - -
AND RUNNING EVERY WEEK DAY AT THE SAME TIME - -
WANNA DO SOME SERIOUS TIME TRIPPING ???
JOIN ME FOR THE WINDY CITY @ 6
ONE FULL HOUR OF THE SONGS FROM THE 1960'S AND 70'S THAT CAME OUT OF THE CHICAGOLAND AREA - - FROM THE GARAGE TO THE SOUL - INSTRUMENTALS TO POP
SUCH ARTISTS AND GROUPS THAT WILL BE PLAYED WILL INCLUDE:
TROJANS OF EVIL
ONE EYES JACK
Can you see we are going to get super deep - - gonna play much of the Dunwich - Quill and other labels from Chicago - and mix in not just the garage and rock of the 60's but plenty of awesome 70's
Pretty much if it relates to the chicago area - I'm gonna spin it!
Including jazz - rock instrumentals - novelty, etc.
This will be Forgotten Hits on steriods - - and there will be some neat FEATURES within the show - - just tune in starting at 6 pm Monday through Friday!
Jeff James / Y103.9
Thanks, Jeff, for letting us break this major announcement. Interested listeners all over the country ... hell, all over the WORLD! ... can tune in and listen here:
Click here: Listen Live To WWYW - Y103.9
You're going to hear some things you haven't heard in DECADES!!! Transplanted Chicagoans ... garage band affecianados ... or just fans of the obscure and the forgotten ... are sure to be delighted with this brand new feature. (kk)
I have been working on this with corporate for 4 years ...
and now its time to really play - if you know what i mean!
Speaking of "Forgotten Hits on steroids" (lol!), the idea of more and more Forgotten Hits on the Radio REALLY seems to be catching on. Here's another announcement we received this week:
I've got to tell you about a brand new podcast inspired by Forgotten Hits! A couple of months ago, a friend and former long time broadcaster told me he was starting a new website that would be featuring audio podcasts with both talk and music programs. He wanted to know if I would be interested in putting together a music show. The first idea that popped into my head was to create an outlet for my desire to play those "forgotten hits" that we all love so much, but barely hear on mainstream oldies stations, including my own.
I came up with the title, The Lost Archives of Top Forty Radio, and started
producing what I call mini radio shows that can be accessed anytime. Each
program is only about 20 minutes long, so there's not a big commitment of
time, (plus you can activate the player and continue to surf the web with the
show in the background). There are no commercials. It's just me and the music.
These oldies podcasts can be accessed at: www.youcanlisten.com
The latest show should be of interest to you as it features an all Chicagoland
lineup and includes a couple of plugs for your newsletter and website.
Hopefully your readers will enjoy the content of the shows as well. It's our little
way of helping to keep the oldies alive.
This is a fledgling site and the shows are still works in progress, but we have a
comment section and welcome any input, pro or con.
When you have a few minutes to spare, give us listen and let us know what
you think. Thanks,
This sounds awesome, Dave! Thanks for letting us know. (Just listened to the most recent batch ... GREAT stuff that most of the listening audience has long since forgotten.) And, with folks still buzzing about our Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides, we recently received comments like these, too! (kk)
re: FAVORITE B-SIDES:
Here's a Chicago B-side favorite: "At the River's Edge" (Backing up "I Lie Awake") by the New Colony Six. Of course, I might be a little bit biased.
Yep, that's a good one ... and we actually did feature that during our on-going Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Series. (Unfortunatley, not eligible for the countdown, however, because the A-Side didn't make The National Top 40, one of the criteria for consideration.) Some pretty heavy subject matter for early 1966 ... and probably EXACTLY the kind of track you'll hear Jeff James playing on his brand new Windy City @ 6 program. Meanwhile, you should know that The New Colony Six DID make The Top 200 with their B-Sides to "I Will Always Think About You" ("Hold Me With Your Eyes", #57) and "Things I'd Like To Say" ("Come And Give Your Love To Me"., #75.) Thanks, Wally! (kk)
The next batch of B Side Top 200 have been posted (#21 - 30). That means that the individuals B Sides (#21 - 40) are now available for downloading at "The B-Side 45 site: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Bside45/.
Next group of 10 sides will be up in a week.
Back up on Rich's website by popular demand ... your Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides as voted on by our readers in our recent poll. (With over 65,000 votes cast, I'd have to say this is a pretty accurate representation of your all-time favorites!)
And don't forget to listen to Mr. C's Flip Side Show, too, on Tuesday Nights, where he regularly features BOTH sides of some of our favorite 45's!
Click here: The Flip Side Radio Show - HOME PAGE
(More B-Sides News coming soon! So stay tuned!)
re: THE FORGOTTEN HITS BOOK CLUB:
I got my copy of Dick Stewart's "Eleven Unsung Heroes Early Rock & Roll" and I'm spotlighting it on my opening Web page this week, so I felt that a full review was in order.
-- Ron Smith
I’m not sure naming your book “Eleven Unsung Heroes Of Early Rock & Roll: Historic Contributions By Artists You Never Heard Of” (Dick Stewart; The Lance Monthly Press; ISBN: 978-1450585903) is such a good idea. Convincing readers that they want to know the stories of “nobodies” is a tough sell. But Dick Stewart (himself an “unsung hero,” having played with Albuquerque’s King Richard & the Knights to local success in the sixties) has really only given us two “unknowns”: Robert Kelly of the Expressions and guitarist Clyde Hankins. The rest are musicians you know — or should know. Guys like Jack Ely, who sang “Louie Louie” with the Kingsmen; Davie Allen of “Blue’s Theme” fame; one-time Cricket Sonny Curtis; Carl Bunch, the drummer on Buddy Holly’s ill-fated Winter Dance Party and Larry Knechtel of Bread and the legendary Wrecking Crew of Hollywood studio musicians.
What most of the artists have in common (Larry, Davie and Jack are the exceptions) is a connection with the Texas / New Mexico music scene in the ‘50s and ‘60s and links to Clovis, New Mexico, producer Norm Petty and his most successful product, Lubbock’s Buddy Holly. The book includes interviews with members of the Crickets and the String-A-Longs as well as the Fireballs. There were times in reading the book, though, when I wished Stewart had combined his interviews with Petty’s artists into a comprehensive examination of the controversial producer. As it is, we get contradicting recollections on the String-A-Longs’ signing with Warwick Records from Keith McCormack and Jimmy Torres. To his credit, Stewart makes note of the conflicting stories, but 32 pages later.
And I do want to correct one error — Stewart says the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” “immediately supplanted” the Fireballs’ “Sugar Shack” at the top of the charts. Actually, two months and four other #1 tunes separated those songs. It was easy for “Sugar Shack” to outsell “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1963, as Stewart contends. The latter song wasn’t even released in the U.S. until December 26 of that year.
All quibbling aside, these are stories that need to be told. Larry Knechtel, who played bass on Elvis Presley’s “comeback” TV special and piano on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” died earlier this year and his chapter is as fine a eulogy as he could have hoped for. Carl Bunch was hospitalized with frostbite from the conditions on the Winter Dance Party and gives a first-hand account of the good and bad times he lived through on the tour as well as the tragic fate of Ronnie Smith, who was brought in to replace the late Buddy Holly with the Crickets on the tour.
Sonny Curtis paints a fascinating portrait of the early days of Buddy and the Crickets and gives the real story behind his writing of the theme song for TV’s “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We’re also treated to the never-heard second verse of “Walk Right Back,” written by Sonny too late for the Everly Brothers to record.
It’s certainly not dry history. Jack Ely tells how a Boston deejay’s attempt to ridicule “Louie Louie” backfired. Larry Knechtel pulls no punches in dissing the Beach Boys. And Davie Allen chronicles his years of conflicts with Mike Curb.
Yes, these are unsung artists. But unknown? No way. We may not know all their names but their accomplishments are definitely noteworthy.
On the book’s back cover, readers are enticed by a promise that “a subsequent release [is] currently in the works.” That’s good news. Let’s hope he gives us an equally prestigious group of musicians to spotlight and that they also get their due.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1450585906/ref=nosim/oldiesmusicA/ We've mentioned this new book a few times now in FH ... sounds like a winner. Thanks, Ron! (kk)
Don't know if you talked about this book before, "When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead" by Jerry Weintraub. For those who don't know, Jerry Weintraub is a manager / promoter. Some of the acts he handled include Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Eagles, Chicago, John Denver, The Four Seasons, etc.
I'll give you one story: He woke up in the middle of the night, turned to his wife and said "I just had a vision ... Jerry Weintraub Presents Elvis At Madison Square Garden." She said "Do you know Elvis?" He said, "No." She said "Go to sleep - you're crazy!"
Jerry called Colonel Parker and told him his plans. The Colonel said no. He called him everyday for a year. After a year, the Colonel said yes. Elvis told Jerry two things: "I want my fans in the front rows, no big shots" ... and "I don't want to see empty seats."
The first show was in Miami at a 10,000 seat arena . Night show was sold out. He asked the guy in the ticket office if they should add a matinee. The guy said yes. He lied. When Jerry arrived, only 5000 seats had been sold for the early show. Jerry thought to himself, "My first show and I'm in trouble."
He saw that the seats were screwed into the floor. He had 5000 seats removed ... put them in the parking lot and covered them ... then put them back after first show.
Elvis told Jerry that the audience for the night show had more energy, seemed louder, more lively. Many more stories.
Weintraub is probably one of the best known concert promoters in music history ... EVER!!! I imagine that he must have some AWESOME stories to tell. Will have to check THIS one, out, too! Thanks, Frank! (I'm not sure I understand how Colonel Parker finally agreeing to let Weintraub book Elvis at Madison Square Garden resulted in a show in Miami, however ... am I missing something here???) kk
I guess I didn't explain myself properly. Jerry never told the Colonel about Madison Square Garden Show. He just told his wife that story. He told the Colonel he wanted to take Elvis on the road. They started in Miami. They did eventually do Madison Square Garden.
I might as well give you the Frank Sinatra Story.
Frank was retired for a few years. He wanted to make a comeback. He heard about Jerry's success with Elvis so he wanted Jerry to handle his comeback tour. Everything is going great ... but Frank would get down every once in awhile. He calls Jerry from Las Vegas. "Jerry -- I can't do this anymore. Same thing every night. Same songs. I can't do it."
Jerry hops a plane to Vegas. Trying to cheer up Frank, he tells Sinatra, "I'm working on something big. I can't tell you for a few days."
Frank insists on knowing his plans. Of course he's got nothing. Jerry tells Frank "We're going to do a live show." Frank says "I do live shows every night."
Jerry explains, "Well, this is a show with no rehearsals ... like a boxing match. We get Howard Cosell to be the announcer. We'll call it 'The Main Event'."
Frank loves it. Comes the day of the show and Jerry's calling Frank. Frank won't answer his phone. Jerry's in a panic.
Frank calls Jerry. Jerry said, "Frank, I need you to come to Madison Square Garden. We have to talk about commercial breaks." Frank says Jerry, "You said I didn't have to rehearse, I'll be there at 7."
Great show, big success.
Everybody hated Jerry because he made his deals with the arena. He cut out the middle man. There's even a great Chicago story in the book.
Yep, sounds like a good one. Thanks for explaining, Frank! (I knew otherwise I'd be bombarded with notes from readers asking me when they moved Madison Square Garden to Miami!!! lol) kk
re: BOB DYLAN:
>>>Please let us know if this program is archived somewhere so that interested readers can get a chance to hear it. (kk)
That Atomic Cocktail "It Ain't Him, Babe" Dylanology show is available as a podcast so you didn't really miss it. You can check it out here:
Select the May 20th show
re: TOMMY JAMES:
I am pleased to let you know that I finally completed the editing of my Tommy James radio interview show. It's especially timely because Tommy has written a best-selling book entitled "Me, The Mob And The Music: One Helluva Ride With Tommy James And The Shondells."
Our show focuses on the book and includes all of his very biggest hits.This show was recorded exclusively for the "Jersey Girls Sing" website. The home page of that website is http://www.jerseygirlssing.com and clicking on the picture of Tommy will get you directly to my Radio Page, which is a part of the website and which contains this latest show and all of my previous ones. Or you can get there directly by clicking the following link: http://www.jerseygirlssing.com/RonnieRadioPage.html
In anticipation of you sharing this information I wish to thank you and everybody in the Forgotten Hits family for your support of my efforts in the past two and three-quarter years.
re: PHIL SPECTOR:
I have to admit I was a little surprised to see THIS one!!!
Not sure what to make of this, but thought you'd find it interesting.
PHIL SPECTOR’S FIRST FULL RECORDING PROJECT IN 30 YEARS
IS DEBUT CD FOR WIFE RACHELLE SPECTOR
Out of My Chelle Is 10 Tracks of Upbeat Pop Flavored with R&B, Dance Digital Release Set for June 8; In Stores July 20
LOS ANGELES, May 24, 2010, Legendary music man Phil Spector’s first recording project in three decades is the debut CD for his wife Rachelle Spector, which he produced and arranged. Titled Out of My Chelle, the disc features 10 tracks of upbeat, mainstream adult pop, with hints of R&B, rock and dance. It is scheduled for release on the independent label Genius 4Ever Records with distribution through Rocket Science / RED. The album will be available for digital download on June 8 at Amazon, iTunes and other digital retailers and in stores on July 20.
"I trusted her with my life and songs and production,” Spector says of his wife. "She's fantastic on this album."
The first single is “Here In My Heart,” the perfect pop vehicle for Rachelle’s effervescent vocal and her naturally positive attitude. The lyrics carry a particularly special meaning for her as well, since she and her husband of four years live not only more than 100 miles apart, but in what only can be described as two entirely separate worlds.
“Like the lyric says,” Rachelle notes, her bubbly outlook turning serious, ‘no matter where you are, you’re here in my heart.’ Phil is actually far away, but he's still the shining light in my life, and I can always feel him here with me.”
She is referring of course to the fact that her husband is currently in prison after being convicted of murder—a crime for which Rachelle, who is well-versed in more than 40,000 pages of testimony spanning two trials, steadfastly and convincingly asserts his innocence.
When they met at L.A. hot spot Dan Tana’s in 2003, a few years after Rachelle moved to Los Angeles from Beaver Falls, Penn., to pursue her singing career, she had no idea who Spector was, in terms of his stature in the industry, nor was she aware of the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman at his home a few months earlier.
By the time she knew the details, her impression of Spector was vastly different from the man the media portrayed. She fell in love with a man she describes as “witty, smart and cute,” and after a three-year courtship, they married in September 2006. They began work on the CD a couple of months later.
The recording process took more than two years with sessions taking place during downtime from the first and second trials. The resulting 10 songs, blend shades of R&B, rock, dance and disco over a multi-layered pop instrumentation, but remain a distinct musical departure from the producer’s renowned “Wall of Sound” orchestrations.
In addition to “Here in My Heart,” standout cuts include the synth-heavy R&B jam “Free,” and the gospel-tinged ballad “Baby Believe,” with it’s lush arrangement bringing in just the right amount of acoustic guitars, lap steel, strings and piano. The disc quickly shifts gears to the rock-influenced “Got Me Where You Want Me,” a highlight of Rachelle’s live set, while “That Boy,” couples a pop / dance vibe accentuated by the exotic sounds of sitar, strings and harp. Out of My Chelle closes with the Beatle-esque pop of “Are You Willing,” and the pop ballad “How Can You.”
For Rachelle, the release of her debut CD is just one of her main goals for 2010. She anticipates performing live in select cities later this year and of course she is anxious and hopeful for a release with even more meaning: That a successful appeal on her husband’s behalf will bring him home.
-- Sheryl Northrop / NorthStar Entertainment
re: THE ART OF CONVERSATION:
We lost Art Linkletter the other day. I'm sure for most of us Baby Boomers, he was part of our lives in some fashion. I certainly grew up watching him on TV with my parents and my Mom had most (if not all) of his "Kids Say The Darndest Things" books ... and I read 'em, too!
Linkletter got his start on radio ... his NBC Program "People Are Funny" ran for 19 years ... and he followed that up with a television series, "House Party", that ran for another 25!
He hit a home run with his "Kids Say The Darndest Things" feature ... many years later Bill Cosby (famous for his own "Cosby Kids" connection) would revive the program ... and any time you saw Allen Funt interviewing kids on "Candid Camera", you knew exactly where he got his inspiration.
To say that Linkletter lived a full life is an understatement ... he died at the age of 97, outliving three of his children. He was married to his wife Lois for 74 years! A big part of his life ... and he often acknowledged it as THE most important thing IN life ... was his family ... and one of his greatest heartbreaks came in 1969 when his daughter Diane ran away from home. Despite his incredible gift for conversation, Art had apparently been unable to communicate with his own daughter. He attributed much of this to her hanging out with the wrong crowd ... and drug use ... and in 1969 he recorded an absolutely heart-wrenching plea for her to come home and try to work things out called "We Love You, Call Collect." (Sadly, Diane later committed suicide by jumping out of a window.) The record just missed making The National Top 40, peaking at #42 in Billboard Magazine, and went on to win a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording of 1969. We featured it here in Forgotten Hits a couple of years ago and to this day it is one of those recordings that can still rip my heart out ... once his voice breaks there near the end, it's all over for me! We're running it again today and, as part of Memorial Day Weekend, it helps to serve as a reminder to take stock in and value what you have. Goodbye, Art. (kk)
re: UPCOMING EVENT:
I've never actually made it to one of Jim Peterik's "World Stage" Concert Events ... but I've heard AMAZING things about them. This year they're presenting it with a bit of a twist ... an "unplugged" performance with a top notch guest list of musicians. Here are the latest details, courtesy of Marlene O'Malley / Rock On Chicago:
Jim Peterik's World Stage - Up Close and Unplugged
ROSEMONT, IL (May, 2010) – Rock Legend Jim Peterik of Ides Of March and Survivor fame will commandeer World Stage “Up Close and Unplugged” on Friday, June 4th at the Montrose Room in Rosemont. His very special guests will be Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Jeff Carlisi of .38 Special fame and a special appearance by rising star Lisa McClowry.
The culmination of Jim Peterik's life-long love affair with music, the World Stage series are concerts with an elite group of artists singing duets with Jim on songs that they co-wrote, and other hits from their careers. For ten years, Jim has mounted large-scale concerts, with a large band. On this occasion, the show has been scaled down to match the intimacy of the Montrose Room.This is the first-ever “Unplugged” World Stage. Joining Jim and his guests will be Christian Cullen and Jeff Lantz on Keyboards and Mike Aquino on Guitar.
During his reign, Jim Peterik has been responsible for writing or co-writing an incredible array of top-10 hits including: “Vehicle” ,"Hold On Loosely", "The Search Is Over", "Heavy Metal" (with Sammy Hagar), "Caught Up In You", "Rockin' Into The Night", "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys", "Fantasy Girl" , "High On You", "I Can't Hold Back", "Is This Love", "Burning Heart" (from Rocky IV), and "Eye Of The Tiger." Artists that have performed with Jim Peterik and World Stage include: Don Barnes (.38 Special), Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), Alan Parsons, Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger), Henry Paul (Blackhawk), Rik Emmett (Triumph), Tom Keifer (Cinderella), Kip Winger (Winger), Johnny Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynyrd), and Kevin Chalfant (The Storm). Tickets are available in advance through www.Ticketmaster.com, and may also be purchased at door.
About the Montrose Room: Located within the stylish InterContinental Chicago O’Hare (5300 N. River Rd, Rosemont), the Montrose Room brings the high energy of the Windy City to Rosemont packaged in an intimate nightclub setting. Boasting a state-of-the-art acoustic design, and ringside cabaret seating.
Doors open at 8:30 pm and patrons must be 18 and older for admittance. Convenient on-site parking
For more information and calendar, visit the Montrose Room at www.montroseroom.com or call 847/544-5300
re: WEE WILLIE WEBBER:
Philly Radio / Tv Icon BILL WEBBER ("Wee Willie Webber") passes at the age of 80!
Beloved radio - tv personality Bill ("Wee Willie Webber") Webber passed away early this morning (5/23) in hospital as he was scheduled for open-heart surgery this coming week. We were so fortunate to hear BILL in recent years on WHAT -- 1340 AM in a format that plays "The Greatest Music of All Time" ... and how fitting ... as BILL was unquestionably one of the industry's greatest broadcast personalites of all time! He graced the airwaves here for SIX DECADES, on TV Channels 6, 17 and 48 ... as well as on Radio, WIP (25-years), WPEN and most recently on WHAT and WVLT-FM (South Jersey). BILL often filled in for Charlie O'Donnell as announcer on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, when that show emanated from Philadelphia. For those of us living in the greater Philadelphia Metro-Region, this is a "loss in the family." BILL always reminded us as to what radio should be ... like sharing time with a personal friend. All who listened to BILL knew how much loved what he did through his exhuberance and enthusiasm. He could make the dullest commercial sound like a trip 'round the world ... the deal of a lifetime ... one that you should never pass up! BILL knew he was blessed to work an in industry he loved for so many years --- and he made us, his listeners, feel good as we basked in that radiance. Our deepest condolences to BILL'S wife of 51-years--Connie, his children and extended family. Wishing you God's Comfort ... The Gracie Family
You often hear me lament the shortsightedness of today’s radio CEOs for plundering personality radio in the name of financial budget cutting. Radio personalities are the one local asset that cannot be duplicated on a web stream or the mobile Internet right now. It is lunacy to waste them. And in light of the recent loss of two radio giants, we come to appreciate not only how important personalities are, but the role of the local radio station as well in helping them find their loyal audiences.
I speak of the death of Bill “Wee Willie” Webber of Philadelphia radio fame over the weekend and, several months earlier, the loss of Ron Lundy – the WABC and WCBS-FM icon in New York City.
I worked with “Wee Willie” in Philadelphia at WIP and, as you would expect with his career longevity, he was the real deal – nice, engaged, loved his fans and loved his trade. Until his death, Bill Webber was working in Philly radio on smaller stations and the local PBS outlet in recent years but nonetheless at 80 he kept going. Gerry Wilkinson, Philly Broadcast Pioneers President (and classmate of mine at Temple University) said it best: “Bill used to tell the students at the Broadcast Pioneers Career Nights and Symposiums that the broadcaster loves his craft so much that he'll continue to play his trade to the last breath” – and Webber was doing that”.
I did not personally know Ron Lundy, but because Philadelphia was almost a suburb of New York radio during WABC’s glory days, I felt like I knew him. Bill Kehlbeck, Sr. VP at the Mahlman Company did a poignant tribute to the consummate radio pro when he talked of the common touch, like Webber, that Lundy had with fans and workers. Here’s how Kehlbeck put it: “What stands out in my mind is there were two entrances on our floor that got you to the WCBS / FM on air studios at Black Rock. A lot of newer on air guys slipped through the back door. Not Ron ... he entered and walked through each day through the main or "sales entrance." And stopped office to office along the way, loud, joking ...
talking it up with everyone and endearing himself to both the rookies and senior sales staff everyday. You looked forward to it! It was a miracle that Ron made it to the studio in time for his live 9 am shift start, as everyone "stopped him" along the way!”
Lundy was an adopted New Yorker (from Florida) and Webber, born in Cuba, settled in Philadelphia, the city he and a lot of other people find difficult to leave. Webber and Lundy loved radio. Loved their audiences. Lived in the cities they loved.
In an era of Repeater Radio, CEOs think it is okay to import outside programs and use technology to create unremarkable voice tracking, but that’s not radio. In fact – that’s what’s killing radio. I’ll make this statement flat out. I don’t care if you could only listen to Ron Lundy or Bill Webber on a tin can connected with a string from the studio, the hell with technology, you’d listen.
This is not about a call to relive the past nor is it a naive denial that all things – including lives – must come to an end one day. Just simply a reminder of the awesome power of the radio personality at a time when the industry really needs a wake-up call.
Radio can’t compete with Pandora if what listeners want is customizable music radio. Can’t compete with the mobile Internet if what listeners want is their own portable iTunes music library on call at a click, swipe or touch. And it’s even getting harder lately for radio to compete with Blackberry devices, iPhones, iPads and smart phones in delivering information on-demand to the palm of consumers’ hands. But if you want to be entertained by a person who is living in a local market where the personality is likely raising their family and dealing with everyday life the way you do, then there can never be a digital version of a radio personality.
So we may mourn the death of two great radio personalities here, but part of the radio industry is also dying when new age CEOs have, in their infinite wisdom, found a way to eliminate the one thing that can carry radio on its shoulders for many, many more years to come. Local personality morning shows deliver up to 50% or more of the total revenue of radio stations. My friend Dick Carr, the WIP General Manager who employed “Wee Willie” Webber when I was there as a young upstart as well as an entire lineup of legitimate radio personalities could teach radio CEOs a thing or two today. Personalities are a unique part of the appeal of radio but always in the context of the local radio station. That is, a station without local personalities is just a station waiting to lose audience and a station in need of personalities is waiting to attract its maximum audience. When some of Carr’s personalities later left the popular and highly rated WIP for more money to defect to a lesser signal and less magical mix of format elements, that station WPEN laid an egg and eventually switched to oldies – with no personalities. As we appreciate the lives and careers of these two radio personalities – Lundy and Webber – how timely to understand the importance of the local radio station – involved in the community, the source of news, information, entertainment and comfort. Because without all that, great talents would still be looking for a place to connect with local audiences who eventually loved them in life, missed them when they left the air and mourn them in death.
The secret to radio's financial recovery is not waiting for spot advertisers to come back. It is bringing personalities back first -- the missing ingredient to an industry turnaround.
-- Jerry Del Colliano
“Wee Willie Webber”, a Philadelphia radio and TV fixture for decades and an all-round good guy, died Sunday morning of a heart attack, just a few weeks shy of his 81st birthday, Broadcast Pioneers president Gerry Wilkinson calls Webber (who was anything but “wee”) an icon, and says “His 62-year career was truly amazing.” Webber’s radio credits included working on-air at WIP (with the likes of Ken Garland, Tom Lamaine and Tom Moran), WPEN, and being the last voice on WRCV (1060) when it flipped to all-news KYW in mid-1965. More recently he’d worked on WHAT and WVLT. Generations of Delaware Valley kids grew up watching Webber on WFIL-TV (now WPVI), WPHL and WKBS. A poster on the Philadelphia Board of Radio-Info.com notes that Webber also hosted WHYY-TV’s acclaimed Philly-centric “Things That Aren’t There Any More.”
-- Tom Taylor
***I've fallen WAY behind on my emails again this past week so (if I can manage to "catch up" a little bit and pull it all together) we just may have a Sunday Comments Page after all. Please check back to see ... and remember on Memorial Day Monday we OFFICIALLY kick off Summer, 2010, with our latest Forgotten Hits Readers Poll. Meanwhile, have a happy and safe weekend! (kk)