Remembering George Michael
George Michael passed away on December 24,
2009. George had Leukemia and fought to the end to beat it, just like in the old
days, when back in 1966, a group of disc jockeys were brought into Philly by
programmer Mike Joseph to create a sound like no other in AM radio. Along with
Jay Cook, Long John Wade, Frank Kingston Smith, Dave Parks, & Chuck
Browning, George and the others were here for one purpose - to defeat WIBG. Not
only beat them in the ratings, but to unseat them as the dominant radio station
in the Delaware Valley. Did they succeed? You bet!
The story of George Michael at WFIL is an
interesting one. He arrived in Philly on September 1966, and departed in
September 1974 for a job at 77 WABC, in New York. George worked the 6PM til 10PM
shift. No one could talk up a record intro like George could. High school
sports? George was the "king." George would do segments on his show
dedicated to high school sports, and cover them with intense detail and insight.
I remember growing up in Northeast Philly, with the AM radio cranked up loud
waiting to hear who won the Lincoln/Frankford football game, or the Father
Judge/North Catholic game. Not only did you get scores, but Geroge told you who
scored, and detailed the coaching and players for every school in the Delaware
Valley. People connected with George probably more that any other jock at WFIL,
with maybe the exception of Jim O'Brien.
George Michael was WFIL. The energy he
displayed, the strive for perfection from not only himself, but for all who
worked at WFIL, was evident in the many, many stories that are told by the folks
he used to work with. That's what this page is all about. The stories, the
memories, and all the good times as told by the many engineers,
and former staff of WFIL Radio.
Lets get started with my tribute to
George Michael from his days at WFIL....
Here To Listen
(All Audio Files Require Realplayer)
Here is an extremely rare tape,
put together by The Late Jerry Donahue. "The Michael Tapes" was created back
in 1974 as a going away comedy tape for George Michael. It features Larry Kane,
Jay Cook, and many interesting sound bites.
Thanks to Kevin Fennessy for
this rare contribution!
This tape contains a bit of
harsh language. Enjoy!!
Here To Listen!
Between The Periods
WFIL's 1st novelty
record about The Philadelphia Flyers - Narrated by George Michael!
Thanks To Mel Klawansky for
this rare 45!
Here To Listen
©1973-74 WFIL Charities Inc.
Here's a link to a video showcasing George's
days in Washington at WRC-TV....
Here is my aircheck collection of George
Michael. Click any file to listen.
In addition to the loss experienced by family and friends,
the deaths of the Boss Jocks represent something profound. With them
passes a philosophy of radio as an exciting and personal medium.
Personalities with credibility and style to whom listeners can relate.
REAL localism. Entertainment. Much of the crap that radio
is going through is an inside job. Operators eviscerated too many music
stations, bottom lining them, and squeezing out anything compelling about
them. The idea that radio became a spot-carrying commodity was not
forced upon it by advertisers, though. Advertisers wanted efficiency in
delivery and results for their media dollars, and it was up to radio to decide
how they wanted to go about designing the product to fit. I realize that
there are a lot of generalizations here...some maybe unfair...but the
loss of major air personalities has paralleled the loss of an
important element of what made...makes radio great. After all, over 90%
of Americans STILL listen to terrestrial radio.
This makes me very sad, both as a listener and somebody who
still has a toe in the water. Does anyone else out there wonder what
would happen if a station...relevant to today...were to jump out of the dial
with excitement and personality?
sorry to hear about this! George was an amazing talent!
and the group ...
I would love to see someone really try this and see if it works! I
have lots of
neices and nephews -- 15-19 years old, who have returned to radio as they are
"bored" with iPods and Internet radio.
Wonder what would happen if what Bruce outlined above was presented on a great
signal, with all the marketing needed to create the local buzz that stations
like WFIL were part of and provided.
Food for thought -- I'll have a second helping, please!
Merry Christmas to all
From Bruce Holberg......
You know, it occurs to
me that there what is old becomes new again. Maybe there is a cycle to
all of this. The neat thing is that the delivery systems all match
up...on-air, online, and via iPod. So what is more important...the
content or the delivery?? Theoretically it is all three, but it
doesn't make sense to me to buy a station only so that you can have the
website and streaming that go with it.
Sorry to hear about George. It was a special time we all
shared with these jocks. How fortunate we were to have worked and laughed with
What a loss, a superior talent that influenced many of us
jocks. I met him only once and he was kind and generous with his time. Many
years later when doing his same shift at WFIL I could still feel his influence
in the room. As long as he is remembered he will still be with us.
Michael will never be again in the history of radio. I am so lucky to have
worked with George in both radio and TV.
To think I feel so lucky and blessed to have spun those 45's for George at WFIL
Radio and was honored to have worked with "King George" on his
nationally syndicated TV show, "George Michael Sports Machine".
George was the first here in Philadelphia to put me on the air talking sports.
George along with Jim O'Brien were my two mentors.
There will never be another.
OMG, what a shocker!
As many of you know, George was a presence at recent Broadcast Pioneers
luncheons in Philly. He seemed quite fit, robust and in good
health. But as Chris Rock is fond of saying, "Ya neva
King George was
certainly an original and will be sorely missed. Condolences to his
family - God knows how tough a punch this was, coming at what is usually such
a festive time of year.
Finally, this year has
truly wreaked havoc on our industry as so many of our broadcast brethren have
sadly passed away. Let us hope and pray that next year will bring
far less sad news.
Happy New Year to all
and may the best thing that happened to you this year, be the worst that
happens to you in the coming year!
What horrible news to receive at this
time of year. Quite simply, growing up, George Michael was one of my
heroes, and along with Joey Reynolds (when he was at WKBW), and later Jay Cook
(as PD) is directly responsible for me making radio my career. I
remember George's first show on Famous 56 (started at 6:20p because they still
had the ABC news block at 6, my first time sitting in the studio with him
(1970) and even his first show at WABC in 74.
When you look at the original boss jock
line-up, its tragic, and a bit eerie, to know that 10am-10pm have now passed
from cancer (Cook, Nettleton, Michael). And, as I recall, all three
were pretty heavy smokers.....I guess a lesson for all of us.
Pure and simple, for my money, George
Michael was the greatest Top 40 jock in the history of radio. Creative,
funny and the tightest ever......you can count on one hand the times he missed
a post in his career.
George was a special person. He knew what he wanted to do and
where he wanted to go in life. Walking the hallways of WFIL, he had that
contagious smile and always a greeting of encouragement. He was loved and will
be missed. I hope all our passing jocks are together and having the time of
President and CEO
Broadcast Management & Technology
With love George, I bid you goodbye.
Frank Sinatra died a relative said: "Boy, you know when Frank dies, you
realize that none of us is getting out of here alive."
was such figure in the radio world that his passing elicits a similar feeling
among "radio people".
was one of a kind.
remember so well when he brought in a tape of a play-by-play of a high school
basketball game he had done and wanted some of us to hear part of it to hear
what we thought. He had realized that sports was calling out to him, but
wanted opinions as to whether he should try for a sports position--after all,
he was already successful in a completely different field of the business.
I am not even a sports fan, but when I heard this play-by-play, I was
floored. He made everthing sound so damned exciting, you knew this
was just great radio and that if you came across this guy on the air, you'd
listen--interested in the game or not.
I told him: "George, as good as you are as a jock, I think you'd be crazy
not to pursue sports."
sports world was, I am confident, happy he made that choice.
is being missed already.
I spoke with him just a few days ago and while his voice
was a little weak, his spirit was high. He was planning to be a
surprise panelist at our January 20th sports luncheon if he woke up
that morning and felt well enough.
We in the broadcast industry and sports fans alike will
miss him. George Michael was really a king in our industry and market.
We are saddened by his passing but a smile will still cross our faces
whenever we hear his voice. Details and a tribute on our website.
All the best
Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
George’s passing takes me back to my best, most
successful and most productive times in all the 36 years I spent as the
morning prime time newsman at WFIL. I enjoyed the privilege of working side by
side with the greats — Phil Sheridan, Jim O’Brien, Dr. Don Rose and Joe
Niagara, to name a few. But, no era in all those years remains more imbedded
in my memory than the thrill of joining the Boss Jocks in elevating Famous 56
to number one in the entire country. George’s contribution to that effort
stands as a beacon whose talent and dedication were exemplary.
has been a tough year for a lot of folks... and losing those guys really
brings it home for me. I worked with all of them and knew some quite well.
And now they're gone.
was a tremendous era for radio...but it also began the slow decline of the
medium. Top 40 was the first format that involved any kind of research to
determine what music to play. Prior to that, DJ's had the freedom to choose
the music for their shows, which led to the introduction of much of the
Rock/Soul sound. Top 40 also led to the development of Liners, which had to
be incorporated into a Jock's presentation. I always felt those two
elements, liners and tight playlists, led to everything that has followed.
me, the true genius of all those great talents was their ability to weave
their own magic around the required elements of the format to become
personalities despite the Top 40 limitations. Each one of the men whom we've
lost this year had a unique sound, presentation and personality that somehow
came through the speakers within the strictures of playlists and liners. My
fondest memory of George is the way he made liners sound as though he just
made them up. No one said "All-Hit Radio" quite the way he did.
And of course, for those of us who were around in the mid-70's, the way he
said "orange" became a classic drop-in.
time at FIL was brief and bittersweet. I was not one of those talents who
could create a persona in :07 intros. Hitting the post was often a real
challenge for me. They always made it sound so easy and smooth.
as I get older, that time with Jay, Jim, Dave, Dan, George, Joel, all the
engineers and news people becomes sweeter and less bitter. They truly were
magnificent men of music and provided all of us a brief time of clarity and
excitement during some tough times. Just listening to FIL made people smile-
you could see it at events, you could hear it on the phone, and you could
read it in the letters. Does anyone feel that way about any radio station
today? I'd guess not.
George. Just remember, "It's the hair, man".
It was like a punch to the solar plexus when I heard of George’s death from
Mel. Like so many of his former colleagues and friends around the
country, I didn’t even know he was sick. We hadn’t spoken for years.
I had to stop and regain my composure.
I had the wonderful privilege of knowing and working with George in 1971 at
WFIL. That was the year Famous 56 reached the summit of its broadcasting
glory as the industry awarded us the coveted “Station of The Year,”
radio’s Medal of Honor. George was a remarkable radio personality and
dominated Philadelphia ratings at night. He was also a leader among the
greatest air staff ever assembled. The lineup was Dr. Don Rose 6-9, Jim
O’Brien 9-Noon, I did Noon to 3, Dan Donovan 3-6, King George 6-10, Brother
Lee Love 10-2 and Dave Parks 2-6. Jay Cook PD (the best ever). I
went out to KHJ-LA but came back to WFIL in 1978. George had left for
greater heights but visited the station often. Everyone was always glad
to see him. His voice, energy and smile will remain with me. George was
an incredibly talented man who loved his profession with a passion and he was
a real inspiration to those of us who looked up to him. Personally, he
was a kind and generous man with a great laugh and sense of humor. I know I
speak for all of us when I say he will be greatly missed.
George was a shining star during what many of us believe was the greatest era
of Personality Radio. He now joins several WFIL alumni who have gone
before him: Jay Cook, Dr. Don Rose, Jim O’Brien, Jim Nettleton and
Jerry Donohue. These were the guys who laid the foundation of WFIL, in
my opinion, the greatest radio station in the history of the world.
Being a Boss Jock at Famous 56 is a badge of honor I will cherish all my days.
I know everyone else who ever worked there feels the same. My prayers
and thoughts today are with George’s loved ones. They miss him most of all.
Please join me in that prayer.
Please allow me to reintroduce myself...it's Tony Macrie.
I am the person that provided just about all of the mobile / remote
"live" sound for WFIL for approximately 11 years!
This includes, but is certainly not limited to: Happy Hours, Great Balloon
Races, Old Newsboy Days, Miss Great Adventure Pageants, Helping Hand
Marathons, Christmas Parties, numerous PR events at malls, shopping centers,
car dealerships, restaurants, high school dances, clubs, lounges, etc., etc.
throughout the tri-state area! This list is off the top of my
head; however, I did keep records of every single event I worked for WFIL!
Again, just from memory, I worked with: Banana Joe, Brother Love, Dave
Parks, Tom Tyler, Tom Dooley, Joel Denver, Geoff Richards, Tony Mann, Dennis
Cahill, Randy Robbins, Eddie Coyle and, of course, George Michael (just to
name a few...I'm certain there were more that are just escaping my memory at
the moment....I apologize). I can remember one event
that I was working for WFIL. Jim DeCaro was present and
walked up to me to tell me what a great job I was doing.
Well, being low on the "food chain" at WFIL, I always took the
low-keyed (read: "humble!") approach when talking about my involvement
/ relationship with WFIL. I said to Jim (Mr. DeCaro at that
time!): "thank you very much, Mr. DeCaro, but I'm just a small
cog on the WFIL wheel." He replied (and I will never,
ever forget this!): "Don't be silly, Tony. What you do for us is
just as important as what we do on the air as it gives the listeners a
chance to see who we are and what we do." What a
great compliment to receive from none other than Jim DeCaro!
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of George
Michael! I truly consider it not only a pleasure and a
privilege; but an extreme honor to have worked for WFIL, and the likes of
George Michael! I can tell you, Mel, that when I did a job
for WFIL, we ran it "hot, tight," and in a professional a manner
as possible! We utilized jingles, drop-ins, legal station ID's
on top of intro's, etc., etc! The jocks (and other WFIL
talent, management and staff) were totally impressed in how we
took a "road show" and turned into sounding like it was coming
from the studio! The ultimate compliment came from the listeners
who attended those events, approaching either the personality or myself (at
least a half dozen times per event!), and asking us if this is "on the
air!" Those certainly were "the days," Mel!
If I didn't have a great memory (thank God!), a few photographs and
documentation; it would be hard to believe those days ever happened; and,
that I lived through what I truly believe to be the "glory days of Top
40 radio!" I can honestly tell you that it was
nothing less than a thrill being a "young kid" in my 20's, to be
associated with and employed by WFIL; and to receive a paycheck for many,
many years, from WFIL Radio! The sad fact of the matter is
that, as a kid, it was a lot of fun, but..I didn't realize until many, many
years later how very fortunate I was to be in that position, and how it
would significantly affect and impact (in a positive way!) just
about everything I did for the rest of my life! God...just
talking about it makes me miss those days...so very much! This
is another one of those clear-cut examples of how you really don't miss
something until it's gone. I guess a good way to summarize
it would be that "back in the day," I enjoyed those times,
had a lot of fun, and really could not quite comprehend the fact that I was
getting paid for "playing records" and doing something that I
really, really loved! Today...it's more of a "respect and
appreciation" of what I did, and how the many, many people in the
industry that I worked with really, really touched my life!
Now, on to George Michael. I guess it's just
a sad fact of human nature (that I'm certain we're all guilty of), that it
takes the passing of a friend...a colleague, to evoke stories, memories and
experiences of that individual. Such is the case with
George Michael. Again, I had the pleasure, privilege and honor
to work with George countless times over a six-year span. I
did numerous high school dances with George (yeah!...can you believe
it?!...knowing what we know today...."spinning records" at
high school dances with George Michael?!). I even did a few
"clubs" with George; I'm most certain that his favorite being the
Roman Room of The Coliseum, in Voorhees, NJ. We did this for
several years, including (believe it or not!), even after George left WFIL
and went to WABC in New York! I remember him calling me one day
and asking me to meet him at the Country Club Diner in Voorhees (one of his
favorite "haunts"). At that brief meeting, George
revealed the fact that he was leaving WFIL for WABC. Aside from
being in shock and dismay that George was leaving WFIL; I was very concerned
for the future of the club we were doing every Friday night at the Coliseum.
Well...George had it all figured-out! At that time, he told
me that immediately after getting off the air at WABC, he would get to the
club as fast as humanly possible...and...he did!!!! In my best
estimation, he made it from Manhattan to the Coliseum in about one hour
and a half / one hour and forty-five minutes...tops!!!! Can
you believe this?! Talk about determination!!!
I have so many great stories about George that I would really enjoy
sharing with you, but I don't want to do so just in this one e-mail.
Please let me know if you want more...and hopefully I can deliver.
Okay....one more (for now!): When George and I first started to
work together, he basically told me what it was that he expected of me.
And believe me, Mel, I got the message "loud and clear," and
never, ever deviated from the "norm" of what George wanted!
Case in point: The Coliseum. When George would get off the
air at WFIL, I knew exactly how long it would take him to get from City
Avenue to the club (I did have a 'little" more time when he
was driving from New York!). Per George's
format, I would start the music at 9 or 9:30 PM (can't remember the exact
time without looking at my records), but...I would start with a few
"medium tempo" dance hits, while saving the "monster
hits" for George! Close to his arrival time, I would
get George's favorite records ready (yes!...I did say
"records!"), that he would start the show with (and I don't need
to look at my notes for these!). He would start by talking into:
"Come and Get Your Love" (Redbone), followed by "Doing It To
Death" (Fred Wesley and the JB's), followed by "Think About
It" (Lynn Collins). God help me if anything happened
to any one of those records (i.e., scratched, broken, etc!)
After that, it was more or less "playing it by ear," with either
George suggesting a song, or me suggesting a song to George. The
final song of the evening at around 1:30 or 2 AM (again...I'm guessing on
the time, without looking at my records), was always, and I mean always:
"Touch Me In The Morning" (Diana Ross)! And I'll
tell you, Mel, we ran this show like it was "on the air!"
Hot, tight, no dead air, no "mess-ups," (except for an
occasional dancer crashing into the table, causing the record to skip!).
And I must tell you that when that happened (usually two or three
times a night, unfortunately!), George would literally jump-off his bar
stool and politely suggest (tell!) the dancers to "back-up!"
But, frankly, the Roman Room was jam-packed (and I mean that
literally...jam-packed!), every Friday night...and George loved every minute
of it, as he was in his "element" and "true form!"
And remember, Mel, this was long before the impact and the music of
"Saturday Night Fever!" With regard to
sound...nothing "high-tech," just two turntables, a
mixer, a power amp, a microphone (I have a great George Michael /
microphone story that I'd like to tell at a later time!), two speaker
columns, lots of 45's and LP's, and many "prayers" that nothing
would "crap-out" while working with "The King!"
I must admit, at that time (and for that era), I did have really good
equipment! I had to, after all!...I was working for WFIL!
Again...nothing "high-tech," because there wasn't anything in the
mobile field at that time that was anywhere near "high-tech!" High-tech
to me was having a "cue system," which I did have at that time!
Getting back to the Coliseum (just once more...for now), George, of course,
would leave a short while after the last song, spending a little time
shaking hands and giving "hugs and kisses (appropriately)" to his
fans! His usual last words to me were: "good
job" (you have no idea how grateful and thankful I was for those
two words!), followed by "Country Club" (meaning we would meet and
hang-out at the Country Club Diner after the job, which was just a short
distance from the Coliseum). I must tell you, Mel, that being
able to relate just some of the many, many memories I had working with
George is a mix of a very rewarding and nostalgic feeling, with a bit of "somber
and mellow." Somber and mellow because as much
as we all hate to admit it, there will never, ever again be anyone like
George Michael! In summation, George was a true,
hard-working professional! Three words come to my mind in
knowing and working with George: drive, dedication and determination!
Working with George was "massively influential" in the work ethic I
follow, practice and abide by today in my business. George
certainly had a positive impact on my life as I did learn quite a bit from
him. I proudly learned the true meaning of the words:
commitment, responsibility, respect and professionalism. I
can honestly make the statement that although we only worked together for
what now seems like a "drop of water in the ocean of life," it
really was a "lifetime" of wealth, knowledge, experience and
information. I am a better person today...thanks to having the
privilege of knowing and working with "The King"....George
Mel, I have many more experiences of working with George
(and WFIL, for that matter!). Please let me know if you would like to
hear them, as I am most certain I will have just as much fun relating
them. Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this
lengthy (but hopefully fun and informative) e-mail. It was
an honor and a privilege to relate some of the fascinating stories of
working for WFIL, and with George Michael!
Remember...I have more!
Please feel absolutely free to keep in touch...I will do
With regards and respect,
sad and shocking news about King George, and the resulting chain of emotional
emails, has certainly stirred powerful memories of a cherished time in our
lives. George was larger than life, and I've never met anyone else who
had a greater passion for his work. I was a student at Penn when the Boss
Jocks stormed Philadelphia. They motivated me to choose radio as a
career path. When I was running WXPN, we teamed with Long John Wade to
bring "Magical Mystery Tour" to campus. After graduation, I
was privileged to work as Allen Stone's morning news editor for a year in
1971, and then went on-air for a year, taking over Randy Brock's overnight
shift. That's when the FCC still had time requirements, and I was
doing 10-12 minutes newscasts every hour. The late Jack Hyland was our
News Director, and, just as the Boss Jocks were an amazing team, so were the
news guys...Allen Stone, Fred Lowrey, Glenn Barton and Ira Melhman.
Glenn Brenner (who had to be called Matt, because we already had a Glenn on
the air) was driving the Prize Patrol. What an honor it was, and still
is, to be a small part of the group that made radio history. Thank
wanted to jump in and agree with everyone, that George was a total
professional. I know because like other engineers, I sat in that control booth
from 6-10pm many nights and I will tell you that the grey hair started to
sprout back then. What a perfectionist he was. prep spotlight on sports.
yikes! so much energy…such a dislike for things less than perfect. I am
really saddened to see him step out of the spotlight, as Jim did recently. I
guess having had the opportunity to work with these people will always be a
part of me…and that extends to everyone I have worked with....when I started
in 1967, the only original jock I failed to work with was chuck browning…he
had already left WFIL when I started…god bless you George, I hope someone is
planning a reunion up there. (Mel)?
While we have our memories of working with George from 1966 to 1974 or
somewhere in between, people here in Washington had him to enjoy for 27 years.
Here are more links to WRC's site for memories they've produced since his
I still don't know why in January 1974 I was put on the shift that ran the
board for George's show, for what would be his last nine months at WFIL.
After all, I had only been hired nine months earlier on the shift that was on
the board four days a week on the overnight shift and one day for afternoon
drive, and I was a very young 23 years old....and George had the reputation
for chewing engineers up and spitting them out.
I remember the first night across the glass from George: he cued me for
everything....commercials inside of stop sets...the jingle...everything.
After maybe 15 minutes I said that he didn't need to do that....that I knew
the music and I knew the format...and most of all I knew that the audience
didn't know that I existed. I told him that if I made a mistake, it
would appear to the audience that HE had done it....and I would NOT allow that
to happen. Until he left in September, that shift with him was magical.
As summer '74 proceeded, he had just met Pat Lackman, the music was great,
WABC was calling, and he was in full form every night. Periodically,
he'd tire of the music book and tell me it was time for "Stump the
Jock". I could pick ANY song...new or old...#1 or anything else
that was in the two oldies filing cabinets....as long as it had at least a
7-second intro. He had to do whatever business was necessary -- tag a
spot, quick weather, plug another jock, whatever -- name the title and artist
(to prove to me that he had recognized it), and hit the vocal. Which he
did every time. Seamlessly. As if he had planned that song weeks
before. There was no way to tell that the song had been a complete
surprise to him.
During that summer of '74, he'd occasionally ask me to narrow the curtain on
the control room side of the glass between us. Rather than seeing the
whole control room and the hallway outside the door, he'd see only me. I
knew then that it was going to be a busy night of "classic"
George...and those are some of the best memories that I have of working at 'FIL.
As WABC loomed, he sometimes said to narrow the curtain but also to close the
control room door which otherwise was always open, and he'd tell me some of
the happenings with WABC. It was an honor.
To whoever decided to put me on that shift: thank you! It was a
privilege that I was too young and cocky to recognize or appreciate at the
Rest in Peace, George. And, Thank You.
And that last song on his last night on 'FIL where George stepped on the vocal
of the long version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"? I
think it was my fault. I still remember that the stopwatch I used to get
the full intro up to vocal (it was on cart and only the time to the big post
was shown) had intermittently been jumping up to three-quarters of a second
when it was started. I think it jumped when I timed the intro to vocal,
and I didn't notice it in the frenzy that was George's last night at WFIL...so
I gave him the wrong intro time. George, I'm sorry.
Yeah, I had this flash last night after hearing that
George had died. When you think about the history-making union we all had
created at WFIL, it shook me to think of my own mortality.
I am still at it, performing at a few airshows, avoiding
radio like H1N1, and pedaling my pipes to whomever pays the freight. That and
Showline Promotional Products, which I co-own, is keeping me out of most
If anyone feels the need to call, my number is right
there. I am happy to talk to anyone on earth.
Frank Kingston Smith
Frank Kingston Smith - One Fine Announcer
480-607-1110; FAX 480-607-1112
What a rush of great memories!
George Michael, BOSS jock, you are in my prayers,
rest in peace.
I was his engineer for many years at WFIL...lots of fun times and hard work.
I miss those old days and the great show we put on-air.
Holiday prayers and best wishes to all.
George Michael was such a big help to
me. I was flying blind when I first got to 'FIL. The PD who
hired me was
not a fan of mine. As I've
heard, the PD was taking so long making a decision on who would be
the 9A-12P jock.
So, that the decision was taken out of
the PD's hands. It could have been George Koehler. Koehler
and the PD began
listening to audition tapes and my
tape was the first played and Koehler said, "hire him." That's
how I wound up at
As far as support and giving me the
fine points, the PD gave me next to nothing. George saw that I
and he took me under his wing and gave
me the lo-down. It made such a difference.
I spent 14 years in New York at
CBS-FM and, I can honestly say the best time I ever had in Radio as a jock
was my time at WFIL.
WFIL was a family. We all got
along. Working with and later for Jay Cook (absolutely the best), my
good buddy, JJ Jeffrey, Dave Parks, Dr. Don, Tom Tyler, Long
John Wade, Blaine Harvey/Dan Donovan, Jerry Donohue, Allen Handley and
Steve Drucker. What a crew.
But, the guy who stands out the most
was King George Michael. He really was a star. Rest in
If we are lucky, we all encounter
people in our lives who can change our lives. George was near or at the
top of my list.
In the wake of his untimely death,
there are scores of us who are the better for meeting and working with
him. No one had a better work ethic. Was he rough and gruff at
times?...yes. But his objective was always the same...excellence.
That expectation of excellence as the norm is one of the great legacies
left by the King.
That was the work exterior of George.
On the inside was a kind, compassionate man. Although we did not stay
close in our years here in DC, every once in awhile, the phone would
ring...and it was George ..just checking in to see how things were going
, offering help and suggestions.
King George, you were one of a
kind, and will be greatly missed.
Now that the holidays have passed and
we’ve had a chance to come to grips with the passing of George
Michael, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what made George
such a great radio personality. So many have mentioned his ability to
“hit the post.” Yes, that is true, but it was such a small part of
what made George such a pro. He was more than just a mechanic. He was a
well rounded radio “personality.”
First, he was exciting without
being a “screamer.” George was excited to be on the air and excited
to have the privilege of having so many people listening to him. His
excitement was contagious. When you listened to George Michael, you were
exited to hear him, the station and the music. When he spoke about the
New York or Philadelphia metro areas, you were excited to be living
there. More than anything, George was excited to be alive and he made
you feel good. George was creative. Yes, he had his favorite catch
phrases. But every time you heard him intro Redbone’s “Come and Get
Your Love” by saying it was “the weekend national anthem,” it
sounded like the first time you had heard it and it was still exciting.
He was honest and it came across the airwaves. Remember the first time
his mic opened on WABC? “Am I nervous? You bet’cha I’m nervous.”
People have commented about how George was an innovator and pioneer in
sports journalism. But he was also a trailblazer when it came to Top 40
radio. Many of the jocks from the 1960s looked at their jobs as simply
going on the air for 4 hours and sounding cool and hip. George looked
for ways to be better, studying radio, the artists and songs, and the
community. As radio changed during the 1970s, many of the 1960s jocks
became dismayed and disgruntled. George used to say to me, “boss, I
will never have a take the money and run attitude.” (I hated being
called “boss,” but it was part of George’s Midwestern
As long as I worked with George, he
lived-up to his credo. One of the Washington, DC obituaries mentioned
what a great storyteller George Michael the sportscaster was. That
really resonated, because George Michael the radio personality also was
also a storyteller. Listen to his airchecks and you will hear another
facet of what made George so darn good. He wasn’t a time and temp
jock. Much of his material was story telling, stories about the artists,
the songs and about life. That’s a tall task over a 10 second song
intro. It has been said that Dan Ingram was the king of the 10 second
wit. Well George Michael was the King of the 10 second story. It was my
honor to have worked with George Michael and I’m sure everybody else
at WABC feels the same. His voice will live forever in our hearts and
Former Program Director
WABC Musicradio 77
This note is overdue, I know, but you
all deserve a standing ovation. You are still the most creative group of
people in radio and all media.
This wonderful thread of emails,
began with your most sincere thoughts and feelings on the passing of
George Michael... and our beloved Jim Nettleton.
I feel your sadness. We all realize
that one by one we are losing not only great friends, but the
giants of radio, or what I call REAL radio.
The email thread took on a
life all its own, one that both excited and inspired me.
Although radio has certainly evolved
in a way that is, at the very least, disappointing- the ideas you
guys shared are awesome and may not be totally impossible.
Since financial survival is crucial,
especially now, the execs are even more cautious and less open to
"new ideas", which we know, are not new at all. Get one
person excited about your radio station and give your personalities
even a little room to shine and you're on the way to success.
Most important is a great sounding
radio station... and good, old-fashioned customer service. Talk with
your listeners like friends. Treat them like family, but with more
Have fun with them and cry with them
when necessary. Get involved with the things that are important to all
of us who live in a community- be the community. On the phone, I
ask,"Where do you live?" If they say Philadelphia, I
ask, "Which neighborhood?" We all enjoy having a friend in the
neighborhood and on our street. Be that friend.
Now give them a good time and have
fun with them! Even if you talk for ten seconds, leave 'em with a
smile.. or a riveting piece of information.
Facebook is an example of how many of
us have another "community" in which we spend time.. lots of
time! Many of you are also my FB friends. The global village is right
there and you're a part of it.
My station is online, via our web
site, 24/7. We have listeners from all over the world, and a big
online audience right here in the Delaware Valley.
Gently using my Facebook page to
direct even more people to our station or web site, has been lots of
fun! The immediate feedback is incredible!
To win in radio, one must realize
that, although radio has changed, it can survive. Embrace all the new
and exciting electronic tools you have at your fingertips. Yes! Give the
listeners a reason to hang in there with you! Entertain and inform
them! Make them feel like part of the family- because they
As you can see, I'm still passionate
about radio. This passion was born back in those golden days of radio,
which gave us George Michael and Jim Nettleton, and so many of you.
Here's to all of you who have
entertained, encouraged and even educated me. Thanks for sharing
your great ideas! I loved reading them.
I hope to see you at the next 'FIL
reunion, which Mel says is next year.
Mort, you're wonderful! Thanks for
caring about all of us!
And thanks to Ron Turner for
immortalizing us on his website.
I wish you a happy and healthy New
Year, and may all your dreams come true.
WFIL Record Album Covers
WFIL Boss Chicks
Where Are They Now?
1975 Helping Hand Marathon Featuring, John Lennon
Jim O'Brien Tribute
WFIL News Team
Here Comes The Prize Patrol
Scrapbook Page 1
WFIL Scrapbook Page 2
Scrapbook Page 3
Scrapbook Page 4
Scrapbook Page 5 - The Mel Klawansky Collection
Scrapbook Page 6 - The Randy Roberts Collection
Page 7 - The Gene Vassall Collection
Scrapbook Page 8- The Bruce Northwood Collection
Scrapbook Page 9
2002 Family Reunion
2011 Family Reunion
The Boss Is Back?
Aircheck Index (Listen To Your Favorite Boss Jock!!)
(The Song Between The Songs!!)
Sounds Of Philadelphia
My Favorite Radio-Related