WFIL Memories

On This page, I will feature comments, and personal memories from former WFIL staff. 

 

Here are some memories of Boss Jock Don Cannon Who Passed Away on August 22, 2014

 

From Producer Jerry Ross...

"To All Who Knew Him , Listened To His Radio Schtil, And Worked With Him...Truly He Will Be Missed !!!"

 "Don, Play The B Side"

 R I P,

 Jerry Ross

 

From Allen Stone...

"I am shocked and saddened by this news. There was a point in my career doing the morning news that Don, Tony Bruno and I were together on the air. Don was larger than life and always respectful of my contributions to his efforts as the prime time jock. He was one of those who gave WFIL its unique identity along with Joe Niagara, Dr. Don Rose, Jim O’Brien and the incredibly talented Phil Sheridan. They all shared in making me part of what WFIL was all about."

 

From Dean Tyler & His wife Mary Lou...

"Tom Lamaine told us early this morning of Don’s death.    Such a loss for us all.   I worked with Don at several stations, and truly appreciated his great talent.  We’ll miss him.  Our sincere sympathy to his wife and family.   Thanks for all the smiles you gave us, Cannon-In-The-Morning."

From Joe Simone...

"Really Sad To hear.....as it turns out, I recounted and we worked together 14 out of my 20 years in Philly. I'm happy that I did get to see him and give him a hug and a pinch on the cheek at Dean's BP dinner. RIP ol' Pal."

From Tony Bruno...

"As we grow older, the shock of losing friends and legendary colleagues seems to become more constant, yet we still don't want to believe they are gone.
Awoke today to learn of the death of Don Cannon. I've been blessed to work with so many brilliant people who helped me, taught me, molded me into what I have become as a broadcaster after 40 years in this industry, very few have had the impact that Don did.
Listened to him growing up while I was working at WFIL in the early 7...0's when he was a legend at WIBG in the glory days of AM radio wars. I was just a young news/sports guy hoping to move up the food chain after learning from the best newscasters at "Famous 56".
I got to work with Don in 1978 after a moved back to WFIL from Birmingham, Alabama to become the sports director of "Famous 56".
Don gave me my first morning drive exposure in my hometown when Philly sports was crazy good. When FIL flipped to country, Don went to "Sunny 104.5" and along with the incredibly talented Dennis Malloy, brought me along to become "Cannon and Company". So many great times, fun radio and memories of a colleague who became a great friend and godfather to my 2nd son Chris.
He was the first person to take me golfing at Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell even though I really sucked.
He made me a better broadcaster, showed me so many wonderful times with my young family at Disney World and other remote broadcasts and made me a better person.
RIP Don! Will never forget what you meant to me."

From Dave Parks...

"My friend Don Cannon left us this morning. Although I never worked with Don at WFIL, I did do a short stint with him at WIBG after I left WFIL. Not only was Don a true Philly DJ, but a great guy as well. My wish is that he rest in peace, and never be forgotten."

 

From Barbara Sommers...

"Did you notice that it's been dim outside all day? Don Cannon passed away this morning, and the sun can't seem to come out as we mourn the loss of this radio legend brother. He was so much larger than life; this is impossible to believe -... it's like one of the faces on Mt. Rushmore disappeared - he was THAT big. Don Cannon radiated "radio legend waves" even when we were all so young. Aways professional, great on the radio, nice to small radio chicks, and always immaculately coiffed. This is a tremendous loss to those of us who were here during Philadelphia radio's glory days, who knew Don well; we have lost one of our own, one of our brothers, one of our colleagues. Death has hit too close to home today.

Rest in peace, Don.

Heartfelt condolences go out to Don's son Chris, his granddaughter Angel, and his wife. I'm so, so sorry for your loss."

From Steve Ross...

"I am shocked and saddened beyond words.  Don and I were roommates when we were both jocks at Wibbage.  We enjoyed lots of laughs together and I'm heartbroken by the news of his passing.  My sincerest condolences to his family."

From Abbey Barclay...

"I was lucky enough to get to know Don just before I left 'FIL in 1978. He was one of the radio greats. I'll never forget the great bit with the Frank Rizzo voice, "Good morning Don Cannon, this is the mayor calling." It's what I miss most about my days in radio - working with some of the brightest and most creative people I've ever known."

 

Here Are The Regular Postings

Former Prize Patrol Driver Ken Garrity....

 

"I was hired by
Gene Vassall ( Sales manager at that time ) in the Winter of '75 to work
with Jerry Hunton, who ran the Promotion department at WFIL at that time.

Funny story about how I was hired. I called Mike Craven for over a year
trying for a sales job. He finally asked me one day if I thought I could
drive an English Double-Decker bus. As I had had a construction job while in
college driving big dump trucks, I said of course I could drive one of those
buses. He invited me to the Station to do a test drive. I didn't crash the
bus, and was hired by Gene Vassall.

Jerry Hunton and I spent the next year and a half running all the promotions
for the Station, and had a ball. Then, in the Spring of '76, it was time for
Gene Vassall to figure out who would be driving the Prize Patrol for the
Bicentennial Summer of '76. I was chosen, along with Jim Sacony, to be the
voice of the Prize patrol for the Summer of '76. It was a tremendous
experience.

I performed my first call from the Prize Patrol at the beginning of the
Summer during the afternoon drive-time on the Dangerous Dan Donovan show. In
those days, the " Car Phone " was nothing more than an old Princess Phone
screwed to the center console of our 1976 Pontiac Firebird TransAm Prize
Patrol, with a little round light on it. When it was time for your broadcast
from the car, you would pick up the receiver equiped with a shoulder cradle,
and click the disconnect button until the little light went from red to
green.

Green meant you had an open line, and you would then call in to the Disc
Jockey for him to connect you and then he would do the lead-in to your "
Live-from-the-Prize-Patrol " broadcast. I'm really surprised none of us had
any accidents doing these broadcasts, because they were all done while
driving down some road and following some one. Talk about " Distracted
Driving ".

The Bicentennial Summer of '76 was the last Summer for the Prize Patrol, so
Jim Sacony and I were the last of the Prize Patrol Drivers. 

I left Radio in 1981, and have been a Property & Casualty Ins. Broker ever
since. Still in the Philly Area, Married, with two grown Sons. Thanks for
updating the Prize Patrol List to include me. Would also love to be included
in announcements of any upcoming WFIL reunions. If Mike Craven remembers, I
was the driver of the " AAMCO Roadservice Courtesy Patrol ". AAMCO was
Mike's account."

 

"Captain Cash"Jim Sacony Wanted To Share His Hiring Experience With All Of You....

Hi this is Jim Sacony, I received an email the other day from a listener telling me to go to your web site, Famous 56 and that I was mentioned in an article written by my former colleague  Ken Garrity whom I shared the Prize Patrol duties with in the Summer of 1975.  I enjoyed reading Ken’s story so much that I thought I would share my somewhat interesting hiring experience with you. 

 I was hired by the Program Director Mr. Jay Cook in the spring of 1974 however  to tell the story  I will have to take you back to the year 1967, the place St Matt’s Grade school  located on Cottman Avenue In Philadelphia  where Jay Cook was the Hosting DJ.    Every Saturday night the dance drew some 2,000 kids from all over the Delaware Valley and the dance floor was so crowded that they opened the stage area where the crowd I hung with would gather. Each week Jay would said hello and sometimes asks if we had any request, this went on for about two years.  Let’s forward to 1975, I’m interviewing with Jay Cook for the Captain CASH / Prize Patrol position and he asked me to read for Jerry Donahue who was the Production Manager.  After the reading I soon was called back to Mr. Cooks office where he congratulated me and then with a puzzled look on his face asked me if we had ever met before and he was floored when I told him this story

Thanks to Jay Cook I enjoyed a wonderful career in Radio and I currently am the founder of Jamin Gold Radio which airs at www.jamingold.com .  I also do a live show every Sunday night form 8pm to 10pm.

 

Former WFIL Jock Mitchell (K.C) Hill....

 

 

It is very sad that we are loosing some of the great talent that was WFIL. I am happy to call many of them my friends and continue to have fond memories of the WFIL extended family. In much the same way that great sound has left the airwaves our on-air/off-air friends can live on in our hearts and memories. I had the great honor of working with many fine people from 1976-1978 as 6-10PM jock K.C. Hill. My first memories of listening to WFIL were much like other Delaware Valley radio people who eventually made it to Famous56. For me WFIL was the quintessential radio station and living and growing up in Wilmington I had a chance to experience the station every day. As a young 16 year old getting his start in radio at 1380 WAMS I was looking for my own “sound” which was greatly influenced by WFIL. If I were to describe my objective I was looking for the folksiness of Jim O’Brien, the glib smoothness of Dan Donovan and the musical knowledge of George Michael. I’ll leave it to others to determine if I reached that goal but needless to say I attracted Jay Cook’s attention in 1976 and was invited to join the team working 6-10PM. How I got there is an interesting story as no matter where I went in my early career WFIL loomed large at every turn.

 

In the 1970’s WAMS in Wilmington was like a farm team for WFIL. Many who worked there eventually ended up at WFIL. As a young, green DJ (Bobby Dark) I had many conversations with fellow WAMS jocks Kevin and Dick Fennessy, Dick Hatch (Chris Chandler), Ray Quinn, Carmen Jacovini (Bob Charger), John McClement, Dan O’Toole and others about the dream of working at WFIL. It was viral… we emulated the sound; we lived for every jingle, record seq and promo. We though having an engineer mixing each session was the coolest thing on the planet and we even took turns engineering for each other on weekends at WAMS. Like many I sent out airchecks to Jay Cook every year but never got that call. In 1973 I accepted a job to do afternoons at KONO “the big 86” in San Antonio Texas. I was reluctant to be so far from my favorite radio station. In Texas they all worshiped the big McLendon stations KLIF and KILT. I was the lone voice for WFIL. As afternoon jock and music director I tried my best to bring a part of the WFIL sound to Texas and drove my boss Michel James Lucas crazy with WFIL promotions and stories. I was 18 years old and still inspired by Famous56. About 6 months into my tenure at KONO Bill Roth (the owner) hired a former WFIL promotions guy to consult KONO and upgrade the sound. All of a sudden: a new jingle package, a prize patrol, boss chicks, big promos and a bit of the WFIL sound made it to the Alamo city. I was a pig in shit, so much so I was in a hurry to get back to Philly and accepted a job from Julian Breen at Greater Media to work at a pair of new stations he was starting: WPEN and WMGK. I took the job without even knowing the format (it was a big secret) and settled into doing afternoons at WPEN (simulcast on WMGK FM) as Bobby “Dashboard” Dark. I hated the format… nothing but golden oldies from the 50’s and early 60’s – Walter Brennan and Pat Boone… yuckkk!. The more I hated doing afternoons the more annoying I got on the air, the more annoying I got the more Julien liked it… go figure. Very unprofessional but I was young and still aspired to WFIL greatness! Then one day Julian called me into his office with a very large and complicated contract. The money was good but there was a small clause that said I could not work near another Greater Media station should I leave WPEN. The non-compete clause was new to most of us in 1974 so I asked if that included WFIL and the answer was YES! I said NO and hit the door. I’ll never forget the look on his face as I left my first major market gig without a second look. Out of work and still jonsen for WFIL.

 

I got a call from Ray Quinn now program director at WAMS (were it all started for me) who needed an afternoon drive guy. I took the job and started the summer of 1975 with one of the best on-air teams in the history of Wilmington radio: Kevin Fennessy (AM Drive), Dick Fennessy (mid-days), myself as Bobby Dark (PM Drive), Ray Quinn (PD and nights), Dave Banks (Late Night), Danny O’Toole (overnights) and Bob Charger (Swing). We sounded tight and bright and we ALL still had the WFIL bug!  One day in the fall of 1976 I got a call from Dave Parks who had recently left WFIL to become PD at WLEE in Richmond. He was camped out airchecking my show at the local Hilton and invited me to join him for drinks. I was very excited to meet a former Boss Jock from WFIL and curious about the job offer. Had a great chat with Dave and listened to his offer to come to Richmond. Turns out Dave was also in town to get married and was at a big party in his honor where he told his former WFIL boss Jay Cook that he was hiring some young kid from WAMS to work at WLEE. Never missing an opportunity to discover local talent Jay got curious. The following week I got an urgent call from Dave telling me I was going to get a call from Jay and I should think twice about working at WFIL. I remember telling Dave that it was impossible for me to ignore a call from Jay and that I appreciated the offer but just the rumor that a call would come through was enough to make me a free agent. I waited for the call on pins and needles… then a call from Freddie Disipio (independent record promotions czar) telling me to get my act together because greatness was soon to come knocking. Seemed like everyone knew when the call was coming but me! Then the call from Jay… he was at the Concord Mall shopping with his wife and had been listening. We set up a meeting at the concrete bagel. I’ll never forget Jay asking me how I managed to sound like I already worked at WFIL even before being hired. The meeting was quick and to the point, I don’t think I even breathed during our chat until Joel Denver poked his head in the door and gave me a thumbs up!

 

Fall 1976 I’m sitting in the Famous56 air chair just vacated by ‘Dangerous’ Dan Donovan who just explained to listeners to “go easy on the new kid as his only previous radio experience was as a taxi cab dispatcher in Scranton.” Classic Donovan. I look over at Fred Drucker (world class ‘FIL engineer) and cue him to play my jingle and the first song plays: “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” or as I renamed it “A Long Black Woman in a Cool Dress.” Thus began a life-long dream for Mitchell “K.C.” Hill. The feeling at the moment and the echoes of history stretched out and I achieved my own personal nirvana. I can only hope that everyone has a chance to experience that at least once in a lifetime. I did as a Boss Jock at WFIL.

 

 

Mitchell Hill

November 9th, 2009

 

Visit my web site at www.hillcreativeservices.com

 

 

This one is from former Engineer, The Late Roy Akins.

 

"WFIL Memories:

Hello to all the WFIL "BOSS RADIO" Fans Ever:

I had the opportunity to be one of WFIL's Radio Engineers from May 1964-
Dec.1971.
In that time I had met the greatest radio people in the world, pre-, and
during, the "BOSS" Years.

I guess you might consider the "Engineers" as "On-Air Radio Producers and
Engineers". The term Engineer was a technical one, of the station's.

As a disc jockey, before joining and after leaving WFIL Radio, I knew what
the jock was going to do and ask for before he actually had asked for it.
Therefore, our on-air relationship was "One".  We created great teams and
life-long friends.

This is my first visit, believe it or not, to this page. I love it.

Yes, WFIL Radio was (and still remains) the greatest radio sound ever
produced in America.  Stations from all over the country tried to copy us.
WABC could never produce the sound and excitement which we generated, even
George Michael noted that when he went there.  And, we loved it.

I had the opportunity to work with "King" George Michael, Jim Nettleton, Jay
Cook, Dave Parks, Dr. Don Rose (and his cow Lulu Belle), Paul Norton (an
announcer that transitioned from the old WFIL into the new sound.) Chuck
Browning, Bob Allen, "Dangerous" Dan Donovan (and his pet alligator) (Dan was
a drop-in king), Tom Dooley, Dick Heatherton, J.J. Jeffrey ("who said it as
he lived it"), Jim O'Brien, Dave Parks (One of the fastest talkers/thinkers
on the air) (a sly one), Frank Kingston Smith, "Little" Tommy Tyler (who has
a great set of pipes), and Long John Wade (a radio school operator). (Note: I
was building a radio school for him in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 1972 when it
was flooded out 2 days before the opening day, due to hurricane Agnes.),
Brother Love, Bob Mitchell, and, of course, Jerry Donahue. Jerry was the
greatest sound producer ever on WFIL Radio.

We also had great News people: Alan Stone,  Richard Kellman, still on the air
in Buffalo, NY (TV). Glenn Barton (a country music fan). Randy Brock, Tony
Bruno, Paul Henderson and Fred Lowrey (both were to be voices for Larry King),
Larry Kane (a great radio and TV personality), Ira Mellman, Dave Racher of
the Daily News, Paul Haggerty, Les Keiter (Sports), John Roberts (News), Paul
Sullivan, John Raleigh, Charlie Swift (auto racing) and so many other on and
off-air personalities.

The first Program Director for the WFIL POP Explosion was Jim Hilliard,
followed by Lee Sherwood, then Jay Cook.

Of course, Dick Clark, a New Yorker, really set the stage for WFIL Radio and
rock and roll when he took over the reins to the Bandstand Show from Bob Horn
and Lee Stewart and he created American Bandstand in 1958 on TV for America's
Youth.

Michael Joseph was the consultant who brought the sound to WFIL in September
of 1966.  The theme was "WFIL becomes the POP Explosion".

The office staff and crew who made all of the logs and communications
possible were also a great part of our family.

WFIL and all of its staff was a family. We had or agreements and our
"personality" differences. but, without a doubt, WFIL's success was our "ONE"
passion and to beat out WIBG.  We drove them crazy. We loved it.

I enjoyed working with my peers in the Engineering unit (On Air Engineers/
Producers), as profiled by Roz on the TV Show "Frasier".

Following my stint with WFIL, as I mentioned, I started a radio school for
Long John Wade that was flooded out in June of 1972, in Downtown
Wilkes-Barre, PA.

I decided to return to Glens Falls, NY, (my hometown), where in 1973, I
created a Broadcasting Program for Adirondack Community College (and I taught
the WFIL Radio experience for four years) for people who wanted to get into
broadcasting. (There are many former students of mine who are professional
broadcasters today, as a result of that training.)

Currently, I've been with the NYS Division of Tourism (Albany, NY) promoting
the world-famous I LOVE NEW YORK Tourism Program for the past 20 years.  I've
been working in travel and tourism for the past 25-years.  (I still do oldie
shows for special friends' class reunions and I was lucky enough to have Dick
Clark join us (via video) with a NYS travel promotion for a national travel
conference in highlighting the music of the century, in Nashville, TN., as a
native New Yorker.) We featured a National Bandstand image at this show.) 
Dick is a great plus for New Year's Eve in Times Square, NYC.



I hope I did not bore you with this background. Just know, that there are
times when one has a chance to go to the mountain top and WFIL WAS quite a
PEAK in my career."

 

Our next memory is from former jock, Eddie Coyle.

My WFIL experience began while growing up in the small Philadelphia suburb of Wallingford, Pa. My high school days at St.James High in Chester, Pa. gave me my first taste of what a real "Boss Jock" did for a living. My radio in those days were filled with names like Dr. Don Rose, George Michael, Jim O'Brien, Dave Parks, Tom Dooley, Dan Donovan, the list goes on, and especially the man who came to St. James every Friday night for a sock hop, Long John Wade. He would usually bring a group with him to lip-sync their hit record at the time. I would watch him and think to myself, "what a job!" I was still working at my Dads' gas station in Media, Pa. part-time while going to school and I guess I would have ended up in the family business if my Dad hadn't suddenly passed away when I was senior. That was December, 1969. My Mom ended up selling the business and moving to Florida. I convinced her to pay the tuition to go to Long Johns' American Academy of Broadcasting downtown after I graduated. I think the grand total was like $600. It was a lot of money to her, but she let me go. Little did I know what was ahead. After broadcasting school, Long John helped me get into the promotions dept.
at WIBG driving the "Summer Gold Dune Buggy". Long John had already left WFIL for afternoons at Wibbage. It was a terrific summer, but when it ended, so did my job. I didn't
have any major market jock experience, so I set out for Florida and joined my family. I got my small market jobs in Naples and Ft. Myers and then the real moving around began. Long John invited me back to Philly in 1979 to teach a class at his school while I tried to break in to the big time. That phone call finally came. It was Jay Cook. His name was one of the other boss jocks  from my high school days, only now he was the program director of the station I always dreamed of working at...WFIL. Jay asked me if I might be interested in some part-time airshifts. What a question! The first night he put me on was a weeknight at 9pm during Barbara Sommers' show. I could  hardly breathe I was so nervous. I sat at the same console all my heroes occupied when I was a kid. I looked across in the engineers' booth and saw Frank Hogan.
He got me through it. He got me to relax and put his hand up to say, "C'mon baby, you can do this". He hit the record, I hit the mike, and I think I blacked out from that point!
Anyway, that night was history for me. Three weeks later, Dan Donovan left for Minneapolis which created an opening from 2-6am, and Jay asked me to "fill in". That lasted a year and a half and I had the time of my life. Even though WFIL had become more of an A/C station at that time and FM was taking over, nothing will ever top it. The loss of Jay Cook a few years ago was very personal for me. His phone call changed my life. It's been over 30 years now since Long John Wade made those Friday night stops at St.James High School. My thanks to him. Last I heard he wasn't doing too well and I don't have an update, but I wish I could say hello and speak to him one more time.
I've been in Dallas now for 14 years.  I can't believe so much time has passed.
To all the people who took me into the "WFIL Family",
a sincere thank you. I will never forget all the help and confidence you all gave me. This part of my resume' will always shine the brightest.
 

Best regards,

Eddie Coyle

 

Former Boss Jock Randy Robins Shares Some Thoughts

I am living on beautiful Lake Lanier northeast of Atlanta, Ga. and would love to hear from the guys at WFIL that I worked with in 76.Had a great time and wish I could have stayed longer, but I had an offer to return to my home state of Texas, and at the time it was the thing to do. My mom passed away that year and I needed to be closer to my father and brother and good thing because about three years later they both passed away with cancer as my mother had. Sorry to hear about the passing of Jay, and his wife, Caroline Cook. They  were so nice to Kathy and me, and I will always remember them with kind thoughts. I really miss my buddy Dan Donovan. Ole' Blaine is one of the great jocks I had the pleasure of knowing and working with. and I haven't seen him since my old Capitol Records days. They used to send me to Minneapolis on occasion and that was the last time I saw Dan. It certainly has been way too long ago.

Former Boss Jock Frank Kingston Smith Remembers

       George Michael was ALWAYS sports-oriented, especially as related to high-school sports. The station actually supported him with appearances by MOST of the jocks at various Friday Night football games, many of which were in the greater Northeast. The station rented a portable lighted billboard on a trailer which would host a couple of games each Friday, and this Friday I was following it in Northeast Philadelphia. (I'm a Main Liner, so I really didn't know my way around the northeast; I was following the trailer.) Somewhere around Castor and Cottman, the rig passed under some trackless trolley wires, and... didn't make it. The shower of sparks would have made any special effects guy in the movie industry proud. It was straight out of Jean Sheppard's "Waldo Grebb and his Incredible Electric Batton." Traffic was jammed, lights went out, and Philadelphia Electric, the police and fire departments were there in a flash. (Bad choice of words.)
       We made the second half of the game.

       The day after Christmas '66, and incredible snowstorm was headed for Philly. I requested and was loaned one of the stations Chevy Suburbans (or whatever they were called.) It had four wheel drive and snow tires, and basically I didn't want to risk denting my new Pontiac.
       I drove into town in the afternoon. Actually I got about a half mile, abandoned the truck, hitched a ride with the Lower Merion Police and a Keystone Auto Club road service jeep. I got to the station and immediately relieved whoever was on the air. My shift which was four hours tuned into eight hours. Then I believe it was Dave Parks who showed up and went on four eight. I slept in the station and went on for five, then Dave for five, then me for four. By that time the snow had ended and the roads were being plowed, and someone else came in to relieve us.
       Jim Hilliard showed up  --  I was napping in the station to get up the strength to drive my car which I had left at the station, home OR back to the station truck somehow  --  and Jimmy asked how I felt. "A little beat up." "And how did the [Suburban] work out?" I told him I'd have to get back to him when I found it. (It was okay.)

       Roy Aikins was my first ever engineer when I went to WFIL in May of 1966. I was doing a music talk show sponsored entirely by Pepsi. The sales manager and Pepsi tried everything you could imagine to make life impossible, including live talent shows with minimal live talent, boat rides on the Delaware while recording the show, live shows in clubs. It was awful. And Sales Manager Gene Vassal would constantly curse out the PD at the time (I can't recall his name, but he was the most mild man I ever met in radio; I think it might have been Bill Gillian) for not letting the show do the most silly and outrageous things. Roy was always there to help me look good, no matter how terrible the situation. He was a true Producer. A wonderful person.
       I didn't see anything about consultant Mike Joseph, who changed the station from the Ames Brothers to the Four Tops in September of 1966 with the kickoff of the Pop Oldies Explosion. Although his style was over-produced, I owe him a debt of gratitude for his direction. Learning how to really produce a presentation kept me in radio for 29 years.

http://www.FrankKingstonSmith.com

Kris Chandler Tells His Story 

Kris Chandler....overnights from 9/73 to 1/74; 9-noon from 1/74 to 9/74.
Left for Oldies 98
Returned in 76 as part time at FIL
PD when FIL made the change to country.
Started and ran KISS 100 radio in Philly from 1982 thru 1991.
Quit radio in 1992 to do VO fulltime. Still at it as primary voice of NFL Films International and "dot"com. Clients include: QVC; Blue Cross; Harrah's; Tropicana; MBNA; Lockheed Martin; and hundreds more.
Hope you'll include some of this on the site. BTW, the name "Kris"  was chosen because of Kris Kristofferson, who was big in '73. The Chandler came out of the phone book, thanks to Carol.
Great job with the site. Thanks for your time.
Kris Chandler
WebSite: www.krisch.com 

 

Steve O'Bryan Remembers The 1986 Reunion

I don't know if you ever even heard of me...but I was on the airstaff on the last day of WFIL.
 
I was asst PD and PM drive. I worked at WFIL from9/96-4/97 and what an honor it was just to say GOLDEN OLDIES 56 WFIL on the air! I ran board almost the entire day when we brought everyone back to town for the reunion in 97. What a thrill that day was.
 
I am now out of the business...went back to school...and am now a Physician Assistant practicing emergency medicine in Rocky Mount, NC.

My best memory of the second coming was the day we brought all the old jocks
back for a reunion. Got great press...and everyone was there...Dr Don, JJ,
Tom Tyler, Long John, Banana Joe, Brother Love, and of course...ALAN STONE,
WFIL NEWS.

The only one who couldn't make it was George Michael...he was working in
Washington. But JJ called him live on the air...he talked up "REACH OUT" by
the 4 tops and hit it right on the nose. I was running board...and the whole
room went berserk!!

Thanks again for keeping the memories alive.



Steve O'Bryan
Assistant PD
WFIL
1985-1986
Alamance Regional Medical Center

 

Former Enginner Stu Bulman Recalls His Time At Famous 56

My name is Stuart Bulman. I just happened upon the Famous 56 web site
and was blown away when I saw the "Rockin' in the Cradle of Liberty"
slogan. If I may immodestly say so, I suggested that slogan to the
staff back in '72 before I left the station. I also suggested an
alternative -- "Rockin' the Cradle  of Liberty" as well. I understand
that Jay Cook didn't like it but the rest of the staff did. I wasn't in
Philly to hear it over the air.

I spent only a year total at WFIL from 1972 to march of 1973 as an
engineer. It was the best year I ever had in broadcasting with the
exception of meeting my wife at the "Great 98-- WRC 980" here in DC.
WFIL was fantastic. I worked with fellow engineers Bruce Northwood (Hi
Bruce), Chuck Benner, Bruce Button, Howie Eskin, Ralph Hornberger, Fred
Moore (who had the patience to train me), Mort Palestine and Bill
Rinier all under the Ray McCloy (who hired me) regime.

I had the pleasure of running the "board" for Jay Cook (only once when
Brother Love didn't wait to be relieved), Brother himself, Joel Denver,
Dan Donovan, Tom Dooley, George Michael (only twice because he scared
me to death), Bobby Mitchell, Jim O'Brien, Joe Niagra (once or twice),
Mack - I'm Humpin' to Please - Owens, Dave Parks, "Tiny" Tom Tyler and
others.

I well remember working with Jerry Donahue. Jerry could certainly keep
you off balance. He was a character to be sure. May he rest in peace.

As far as the news staff is concerned, I remember working with Glenn
Barton, Matt (Glen) Brenner (RIP), Jack Hyland, Ira Mellman (who I hear
locally on WBIG, Fred Lowery and of course the inimitable Allen Stone.
Also I'll never forget Tony Bruno who fell asleep in the parking lot
one weekend morning. He sheepishly asked me as he entered the studio,
"Stu, did I miss it?"

"Yes, Tony," I said. "You missed your newscast."

Tony responded with his classic "e-e-e-u-u-u-w-w-w." I hope I spelled
that correctly.

I always liked Fred Lowery's voice-of-doom delivery. After one
particularly gory newscast replete with "stab-deaths" and the like, I
asked Fred as he left the booth, "Fred, don't you think that newscast
was a little bit lurid?"

"No" was Fred's soft reply. He was such a different person off-mic.

In my short tenure, I worked with Jim O'Brien quite a bit. To put me at
ease the first time I sat opposite him at the board, Jim greeted me
with, "Hey, Studley Hung-well, how's it going?"

One day Jim was having a hard time getting his show started. He stepped
on the vocal of several records in a row. He began to seethe and
visibly tighten up. Finally he exploded, "What does it take to get
things goin' right? "Whaddaya do?"  I thought he was going to blow
a gasket. To top it off, this wasn't a rhetorical question. He asked it
to me directly over the intercom.

"Omigod," I thought. I've got to come up with some sort of answer.
After a couple of seconds, which seemed like ten minutes, I said in my
calmest voice, "Jim, you just hope for a better day tomorrow." It was
pretty syrupy, but it seemed to do the trick.

After I left 'FIL, I returned to my home town of Washington, DC to work
at NBC's radio-TV operation here. I stayed at NBC for about 17 years. I
have a studio in my home where we do mostly voice work. I also do some
computer consulting. I have been happily married (to the same woman)
for twenty-two years.

I'll never forget my time at "FIL. It was truly a great radio
station--great to listen to and great to work for!

 

Former Employee Yvonne(Brooks) Taylor Remembers

 

 
I am a former temporary employee of WFIL, I worked there as an office clerk in a temporary position that was supposed to be just for the summer but began in late spring and ended in late fall. 
 
I remember everyone so well - all the jocks (Blaine Harvey {Dan Donovan} and I became good friends and remained good friends long after my assignment was over.   The last time we spoke was before he left to go to Minneapolis - he was such a fun guy), the salesmen - Steve Levy, Tom Monaghan, Jack Bookbinder ?, my all-time favorite, Jim Wilson, and another fellow whose name escapes me; then there were my co-workers - Doerte Smith, Carolyn Funke, Carol Harris (such a beautiful and wonderful person to know), Claire Legidakes and the girls in Traffic - Jeanette (she was the very tall, very attractive woman), another African-American girl in addition to myself and Carol who was very soft-spoken and very nice but her name escapes me), Mr. DeCaro and his secretary Phyllis Fisher, Gene Vassall, Bill Jones, Jay Cook, (I don't remember the surname of the fellow who was in charge of promotions (his name was Bob) but I'll never forget the summer that I worked there that I came to a parade with my young niece and Bob told me to ride in the bus (I loved that big double decker bus - it was hot as hell) and be a "quasi-" Boss Chick (I was appropriately dressed in a hot pants outfit) and to help with blowing up balloons and tossing them to the spectators as we passed.  That was fine, but in order to do that we had to squeeze them through the narrow, open windows!  A few of them made it out intact but I think we popped more than got out.  I remember sitting at the desk facing the hallway against the side wall facing Jay, Gene and Bob's offices and every time he came down the hall, Larry Ferrari would always greet me with a big smile and a "Good morning, Yvonne," as he headed to the television studio.  And Dr. Don would always have a kiss and a big hug for me, every time he saw me.  I was so thrilled when I visited his website and sent him an e-mail along with photographs of me then and now, to see if he remembered me.  And the record promoters - Mattie Singer was my favorite.  Chappie Terrell from Motown asked me out once and we dated only twice - I could not stomach him one bit.  And I remember when one promoter from RCA brought a demo recording of "Amazing Grace" by the Royal Scotland Guards or something like that, done in bagpipes, and we all stood in Jay's office and some of us were dabbing tears from our eyes as we listened to it.  Jay gave me a copy and I still have that single today.  Whenever I listen to it I think of Jay and that time we first heard it.   Jim O'Brien and I would have some wonderful but deep conversations now and then.  He would sometimes pull up a chair and we'd just talk or he'd see me in the lounge and invite me to have a cup of coffee with him and chat.  I was shattered to know of his untimely death and was equally shattered when I heard about his memorial service which I was unable to attend because I was out of town.  I felt close to Jim because I could talk to him like a brother (I could never talk to my own brother) and not be judged.  And Jim always had a witty remark for me that would always make me laugh.  Once, while he was on the air,  I had to take some information up to him about a contest that was going on and when I got in the door, he grabbed my arm and we started dancing while the music was playing.  He remarked at what a good dancer I was.  I was flattered.
 
Another time I recall is when my car stalled on my way home.  I was parked on Monument Road.  Dave Parks was on his way into the building from the Holiday Inn when he saw me standing outside with my hood up, crying my eyes out because I couldn't get my car started.  He did something with my air filter, got his hands very dirty, but got me going and I made it home.  He was such a sweetheart.  And the premiere of the film "J.W. Coop" with Cliff Robertson - I believe it was at the Sameric Theatre - I remember having a photograph taken with Cliff and I was almost certain that he was a little tipsy - I remember smelling serious alcohol on his breath.  And Tom Dooley - " Hey! How you doin?" he'd say as he walked through the office. 
 
I moved on to another temporary assignment after WFIL and I tried very hard to get a full time position there but there were none available.  I would come back every now and then to visit and even to hang out at the Holiday Inn bar occasionally with the gang along with a girlfriend in tow and we'd have such a fun time.  Boy, those were the days....
 
I know that I've written a lot, Ron, but there were so many wonderful memories of WFIL, I just had to share them with you.  And should you wish to publish my comments, then please, do so.  And thank you again for allowing me to relive those times just like they were yesterday. 
 
Take care.
 
Peace.
 
Yvonne (Brooks) Taylor

Former WFIL Program Director Kevin Fennessy

I served as the very last Program Director of WFIL Radio under the ownership of LIN Broadcasting from October 1986 through the transfer to WEAZ Incorporated in May 1987. I knew that WFIL would probably be sold within the year, but with a lifetime of hearing WFIL as a Philly kid, and a chance to come home to be the PD, yo ho ho, who wouldn't go? In the Oldies format, WFIL changed its style of presentation numerous times...and my idea was to try and bring the presentation back closer to what it used to be. We'd changed morning people a lot, so with a sale probable, I took over mornings, and moved Steve O'Bryan to PM Drive. Scott Taylor was a fixture in midday the entire time WFIL did Oldies, and I brought in Bob Charger to do 7-12Midnight. I ran with the existing 20th Anniversary Of The Pop Explosion promotion ( I missed the reunion by three weeks), and launched a promotion where people made giant snow sculptures of the call letters "WFIL", to win a vacation in Mexico. We called it, " Make It Then Bake It". Borrowing from the station's glory years, WFIL Christmas Wish ran that year, and I contacted Les Kieter to do a 20th Anniversary East-West Rock Bowl.

When the sale of WFIL was announced, my challenge became keeping WFIL sounding tight bright and consistent in spite of our collective pending doom. We were instructed to downplay any " ending" of WFIL, as the new owners planned to build upon WFIL's heritage with a satellite delivered Oldies format. I remember one morning, just before the transfer  being on the air and saying, " here's a special message for WFIL listeners and fans everywhere", into  "Let's Hang On" by The Four Seasons, which begins with the words, " there aint no good in our goodbye'in".

Some quick people notes. Bob Charger had been trying to crack WFIL for years with no luck. Because I knew Bob and what he could do in our structure, I hired Bob without a tape, put him right on the air and he sounded like 'FIL oughtta sound. Later on I went through boxes of mostly unopened audition tapes, and found several of Bob's past efforts that had been heard. Compared to the way he sounded on 'FIL and
later WOGL, his audition tapes were really unflattering...and that's why he never got in until '86.

WFIL had a significant up-book while I was PD, and although I'm as wonderful as I think I am, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the person who inspired the 20th Anniversary promotion, by speaking up and letting everyone know that the big day was coming, and that WFIL should do something about it. That person was George Benson, who was doing relief and fill-in on PM Drive when I got the job. WFIL's cume shot way up. and we held 'em long enough to see WFIL almost crack a 3 share. WFIL posted the greatest audience share improvement in Fall '86 besting any other Philadelphia radio station.

Lastly, when WFIL "closed" at 440 Domino Lane to become satellite delivered Oldies 560 on Presidential Boulevard, Scott Taylor moved over to work for them for a brief time, and only one other WFIL employee was retained...transmitter engineer Bob Janney. Bob ended up with one of the worst cases of "survivor's guilt" I've even seen.

In January 2005 I celebrate 35 years in radio and TV, am a station owner and have worked on the air, programmed, sold and managed...but it's the nearly one year as Program Director of WFIL which continues to define my career, and is my greatest source of pride. I would like my tenure at WFIL to be remembered as a time when without the big talent and promotional budgets, and in the face of a sale and closing of WFIL, Famous 56 mustered a great sound and a championship spirit.

Tom Monaghan shares his memories of the last 43 Years before his  own passing

It is so sad that many of the WFIL people are no longer with us. Yes, I’m still selling and God willing I’ll be here for another  two & a half more years.

 

I remember we had introduced Banana Joe to our listeners, so I called Dole Bananas and they shipped about 200 full cases of bananas. We stored them in Jerry Donahue's production studio at 440 and wow did we have fruit flies galore, before we unloaded  them at King Of Prussia Shopping Center…

 

I remember giving away money to attract a crowd, during a movie premiere, the announcement never got on the air, and I was a bit upset, because the producers of King Kong were coming to Philly to see one of my movie promotions. So I went across the street to the bank, at 15TH & Chestnut and got $100 in one dollar bills. I knew the producers would be there in 15 minutes, so I immediately got on top of the permanent trash bin and offered to give away money, which I proceeded to do and 15 minutes later, I had my crowd and then gave the tickets to see the movie..

I lucked out.

Then there was the Zorro movie premier. I hired a  Fairmount Park mounted police officer. With my father's Knights Of Columbus sword and his Zorro mask and cape and called all the TV stations, and letting them know that it looked like a robbery. This too drew a crowd as well as every TV station, who at the time didn't know it was a movie promotion…

 

After that premiere, Susan St. James was in town with Jane Curtin to promote her movie, ”How To Beat The High Cost Of Living”. I figured the best way was to wrap up in little baggies Susan B. Anthony dollars and Quarters. With a little paper that gave different ways to beat the high cost of living along with the money, and telling the recipient about the movie and where it was playing… Susan incidentally is knowledgeable about sports, and Tony Bruno (WFIL Sportscaster) was sick and Susan said she would take his place on the air. She was only supposed to stay 30 minutes, but stayed in Philly doing WFIL Sports for a few days. She was Gracious…

 Tom Monaghan 

Special Section; Remembering Long John Wade

Courtesy of  John's Daughter Stephanie Bass & Frank Hogan of The Broadcast Pioneers Of Philadelphia 

Courtesy Of Mel Klawansky. John is Second from left on back row

Former WFIL Engineer Mel Klawansky Writes....

Did you know that LJW broke Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in the Philadelphia area?  I remember listening to that show.  He played the entire album, cut-by-cut with commentary.  We originally thought it was so weird.  It sounded to us like the Beatles were on drugs when they did it.  We found out later that they were!  Who knew then that it would change the world.

Ray Arthur Shares His Thoughts.....

So sad to hear of the passing of Long John Wade.  Beyond listening to and being a LJW fan for years, I attended his American Academy of Broadcasting in 1969 & 1970.  I remember I was surprised that John was hands-on, friendly and helpful.  At AAB former WFIL engineer Fred Moore was our instructor and, IIRC, former WIBG Newsman George Bailye (sp?) was kind of an Operations Manager.  I remember one day I walked in and Long John was on the phone and George and several others were sort of gathered around.  I asked what’s up and they said Long John was on the phone with George Harrison!  George Harrison! And I was this 18 year old kid only a few feet away.  Quite a thrill back then.

 

What I found very interesting about the WFIL Air Personalities was that they were each very distinct but all blended together so well.  No one I remember tuned away from WFIL to go to a different station because they didn’t care for Jay or George or Dave, etc.  And one of the things I liked most about John’s style was that slight edginess he had.  I always had the feeling that at any minute he might take a run at somebody and tell us what he really thought!  I’m pretty sure it never happened but the possibility was always there.

 

I tracked him down via email in Cape Cod a few years ago and he remembered me as a student (I’m pretty sure I was the only one with one hand) and he said we’d get together if he made it back out to Ca, but now that’s not to be.

 

I spent 21 years in radio from DJ to GM, in part due to Long John Wade.  I miss him already.

 

Former WFIL Program Director Kevin Fennessy Shares...

To really make it, WFIL didnt just have to just play the hits, it had to be hip and cool. Long John Wade was WFIL's "hipness", if you will, and in 1967, WFIL had a " Love Leader". RIP, John...We'll see you at that really big reunion, coming up sometime after this one.

 

Former WFIL Engineer Bruce Northwood...

Sorry to hear of the death of Long John Wade. I was his engineer in 1969 & 70. We cranked out some great radio together I was 20 years old. those were heady days.

Jay Michaels remembers Long John Wade.....my friend and inspiration to be the best I can be!

 
 
He was Rockin' in the Cradle of Liberty!
Legendary "boss jock" the man who gave this media personality hist start in the industry is gone. Long John Wade "the Love Leader" at late sixties/early seventies powerhouse WFIL has passed away on May 15th. Long John, a name that derived from his tall and lanky frame, never went by his birth name of Carl Wehde was one of the true pioneers of the "summer of love" top 40 radio.
I was a passionate kid into music and playing drums and singing with bands around the Philadelphia area while still in High School and thought that might be my career path. That all changed when I tuned into, as it was called back in the day, Famous 56 and heard this voice doing raps over the intros of the tunes. Now, in that day it wasn't the senseless dribble of "today radio" where a radio personality will tell you station slogans from a carefully written script. This was the day when disc jockeys had to be performers.
I laugh to this day when people think that "rappers" are something new, far from it! It was pioneers like the Late LJW who actually made us wait paitiently for the next thing they had to say. It was magical, it was unlike anything on the radio today. Long John's career blossomed in New England where he enjoyed great success before coming to Philadelphia.
He was one of the fortunate select few radio personalities who actually got to travel with the Beatles on their U.S. tour. He would often tell me the stories of lugging that cumbersome tape machine to get precious gems from the "fab four", Long John also told me that John Lennon punched him in the nose when he didn't like a question that he asked the Beatle. I remember John telling me that when he had heard of the opening at this new radio monster that was getting set to devour Philly faster than a soft pretzel on Market Street, he sent a demo tape. However, what caught their ears at WFIL was after every song intro he had one of the Beatles saying "hire Long John Wade" and after hearing this several times they just had to call this tall guy from Connecticut and ask "how did you get them to do that?" Remember, in that day the Beatles were the hottest thing in music and having an endorsement from them was all that was needed to make you stand out from all of the other radio chatters jockeying for that precious position at Famous 56!
Still as a teenager I would hurry over to my friend Art Constantine's house and load up his van with the mobile deejay equipment (this was in the days long before discos) these were true record hops! And that is where I got to work with the legendary Long John Wade and all of the other "boss jocks".  We struck up a friendship and upon seeing that I had a passion for the industry he encouraged me to let him show me the ropes. At the time he was conducting small classes at his American Academy of Broadcasting. After seeing me go through the paces and after some much sought after advice he said to me "you are a natural, you'll have no problem!"
I can never forget those glory days of radio and I am just so glad that I had the pleasure to have been in the business at a time when people like the "Love Leader", Long John Wade and so many others put pictures on the radio and were a beacon of hope for youngsters who were trying to find out what life was all about.
The last I had spoken with my old friend was about a year ago and he had told me that he had a stroke and it was a bit sad to hear it in his voice. I'll miss you my old friend and in case I never said "thanks" I say it now for all you did to help me in the career that I still embrace today with the same passion that you told me about 'lo those many years ago. Long John Wade has a brother Don, who along with wife Roma, have been waking up Chicago with a great talk show on WLS.

Contact Jay Michaels at; jaymichaels@rewindtherhythm.com

Frank Holler Remembers.....

My memories of Long John go all the way back to the early 1960s and WSPR, Springfield, MA.  Long John did the evening shift as Johnny Midnight!  Even then, he was rapid fire and loud, with a rock 'n' roll attitude.
 
In the fall of 1963, John joined WDRC, Hartford.  I was 14 years old, and lived about a mile from the DRC studios.  Ron Landry (later of Hudson & Landry) was the morning man, Jim Nettleton did midday and Big D Wade, as he was originally called, did 4 - 8 pm.
 
I remember visiting the studio of WDRC after office hours, and Long John let me hang around and watch him perform.  I had caught the radio bug in the mid 1950's and also visited Joey Reynolds at Hartford rival WPOP on a few occasions in 1962 and 63.  To be honest, Joey was my favorite, but Long John was a close second.
 
In 1965 I enrolled in the inaugural class of Dick Robinson's Connecticut School of Broadcasting.  It was a 16 week course.  Total cost?  $160.00!  John was a frequent instructor.  This was after he had toured America with the Beatles and his stories were mesmerizing.
 
By Christmas of 1966, Ron Landry had left for WBZ, Boston, and both Jim Nettleton and Long John were in Philly at WFIL.  Joey Reynolds was back in Hartford, this time at WDRC, and I was months away from joining the staff of WPOP.
 
While at WPOP I had the good fortune to work with incredible talent like Dick Heatherton, Tom Tyler and Randy Brock. I remember hearing tapes of Paul Drew era WIBG and Famous 56, WFIL and there was no contest.  WFIL blew WIBG away!  WFIL and KHJ Los Angeles were the two best sounding radio stations in America, in the late 1960s, and if I had to choose one over the other, my choice would be WFIL.  I wish I had saved all the tapes of WFIL that I collected in an effort to emulate the style and substance of their legendary performers.
 
I last saw Long John in 1969, while traveling through Philly.  He invited me to drop by the studio, and I couldn't pass up the chance.  I'll never forget a call that John took from a listener, off the air.  The kid asked John not to talk over the intro's of the songs so he could tape them.  I don't need to tell you John's two word response!
 
I eventually did afternoons at WYSP in 1973 and 74 and returned to program WIOQ as an oldies station in 1988.  My efforts at WIOQ included hiring Steve Ross to do promotions, Tom Tyler to do the station IDs, and having some of the Pams jingles first heard on WFIL re-sung with the identical logo.  What had been, "Famous 56, WFIL" became, "Philadelphia's Solid Gold 102!"  We beat WOGL in all the key demos and in every daypart.  Unfortunately, Outlet sold WIOQ to EZ Communications and the new owners killed the format.  You may remember WIOQ becoming "Churban," their term for urban CHR.
 
Steve Ross and I have remained good friends.  I saw Steve yesterday, and he told me that Long John Wade was the primary person responsible for his pursuit of a radio career.  I hope John realized how important he was to so many of us.
 
Long John, thank you for your help, friendship and thanks for the memories!  We will miss you!
 
Frank Holler

Art Bradlee reflects....

Greetings! My name is Art Bradlee,aged 59 writing to you from Johnson City, NY, where I am CEO of the GLOBAL MOBILE ENTERTAINERS ASSOCIATION, the country's #`1 DJ Association...(www.globalmobile.org).
 
My family owned R&W Jewelers at 700 Sansom Street from 1955-1985. I was recruited by Mr. George Baylie to become director of admissions at the old AAB location at 726 Chestnut Street...32 steps up from the pavement. The school took off and flourished so much so that we moved in short time to 833 Chestnut. We had a wonderful curriculum, fantastic job placement and would probably have become a mega curriculumed institution had Long John's Bipolarity not reared its ugly head in 1980'ish.
 
The state of PA, the V. A. and the Feds soon took away our grant and loan programs and the school was forced to closed due to the fact that his mother Helen Wehde trusted none of his loyal friends and employees to carry on his reputation as Philly's Finest...
 
I have nothing bad to say about Long John...he was always polite to me and allowed me to grow and flourish as a human being.
 
God Bless you and Rest in Peace, Long John
 
Art Bradlee

 

Former Boss Jock Steve Ross.... 

Back in the late 60's, two of my closest friends were road managers for the Soul Survivors and we went to their concert at the Spectrum, where they opened for the Rascals - although I'm fairly certain back then they were the "Young Rascals."

The show was emceed by WFIL Boss Jock, Long John Wade. He was great, too. As were both the Rascals and the Survivors. After the concert, I went back stage and was introduced to Long John. We chatted for awhile and he was kind enough to invite me over to WFIL when he was on the air, so I could "check it out" (Perhaps, he detected that he may have piqued my interest in radio somewhat).

Anyway, I took him up on his offer and watched the man "in action." Damn, he was good! When I left, I said to myself, "Self, this is something I'd like to do." I went back several times after and observed Long John and asked about a gazillion questions about radio. He always patiently answered them all. No doubt about it, I was bitten by the radio bug and bitten badly, too.

I went to work at the college radio station at Drexel University (WXDT) and my half-fast radio career was officially launched - thanks to Long John Wade.

He was my mentor.

A few short years later, Long John and I actually wound up working together at WIBG, in 1972. Long John was doing PM Drive and I overnights. I believe that my "swift rise" in the business was a double-edge sword for the "Long One." I believe on the one hand it brought him joy, knowing that it was he who got me into the business, but I don't think he believed that I'd paid my dues just yet, either.

I can remember the two of us sitting on the couch at WIBBAGE, talking about stuff. As a brash young kid, I may have boastfully said something like: "Imagine John, you and me working at the same radio station together." I'll never forget the look he gave me when he taught me a lesson of life I'll never, ever forget. He said, "No matter what you may think now, you have to be sitting in front of a microphone for about ten years, in order to be comfortable enough, to be good at it.

I never forgot those words. And mostly because they were true, as I would eventually learn for myself. Long John never pulled any punches. He always said exactly what was on his mind. And you always knew where you stood with him.

We met up again several years later in 2002, at a WFIL reunion, in Manayunk. I was saddened when I discovered that a debilitating stroke he had suffered several years prior, had left Long John - the ultimate silver tongued devil - with severely haltered speech. It seemed cruel for such a loquacious individual as he, to be made to suffer in such a fashion. But nonetheless, it was good to see my old friend again - even if he wasn't quite his old self anymore. I couldn't help but smile when I looked at his self-written name tag. It merely said, "Long." We hugged.

I, like so many others, were deeply saddened by Long John's passing. He was an bonafide original - one to be treasured - and there's just not many of them left anymore.

Rest in peace, Long John. You emphatically made your mark upon the business you loved, and I for one, will miss you.

With deep respect and much thanks,

Steve Ross

 

Bob Hamilton and His Thoughts.....

I was PD of WIFI-92 from 1974 to 1977, during that time I hired Long John Wade to do 9am - 1pm.  I had worked with Long John at WFIL.  When we needed someone with a name I hired John.  He was a true pro.  Always wanting to be the BEST.  As time went on I worked and taught classes for AAB, his broadcast school in Philly and was a friend.  He'd call me in his usual mysterious way to say hello as recently as six months ago. 
 
We'll always remember "Your Love Leader" Long John Wade!  
 
We will truly miss him!  Another great one for the Radio Hall of Fame in heaven!
 
Bob Hamilton
 

George Baylie  reflects on his memories of John

I worked with John for eleven years at American Academy of Broadcasting. Although the last year was very stressful for me, the first ten were interesting and sometimes exciting.

He was for the most part a caring person who, at times, could be stubborn and hard to deal with. He cared for the students and loved broadcasting. He was a very giving person to those around him. He loved his family, his two daughters and his grandchildren.

I spoke with him last this past Easter Sunday morning. His voice was weak as he had just returned from the hospital. It was a brief call and I said a prayer when I got off the phone.

John has now crossed over to the other side and I hope to see him again some day.

George Baylie

Peggy Chevalier Remembers John.....

John was my friend from many years ago.  I was only 18 when I met him and brought him home to meet my mom.  I thought she  would have a heart attack seeing him in a purple velvet suit (very mod with bell bottoms) and the long hair.   I met him on a float at the Columbus Day Parade in Philadelphia .  I used to travel around with him to tri county dances.  I would sit with him while he did his radio show at the station on City Line.  I was doing commercials for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News down in the Channel 6 studios.  After I was finished I would just head up to see him.   During that time I met George Michael and Larry Kane.  A time I remember well was when Larry Kane had just come back from traveling on a bus with this new “phenom” group called the Beatles and he sat with us telling his stories of the trip.    I will always remember that and I will always remember John as a loving and gentle man.  When I married, I lost touch with him.  Ran into him just once after.  I was modeling on channel 48 (I think that was the channel) and he was there because Rick Nelson was performing on the show.  I always wondered where he ended up.  My friend, DJ Tom Gurick sent me this sad news today.   His death gave me the opportunity to revisit some wonderful memories.   He will always be a fond memory of my young adult years and I will always think of him with a lot of love.  God bless you John.

 

Peggy Chevalier  

Karen Nichols Shares Her Thoughts....

To the Lovely Long John Wade Long:

You will always be remembered by so many of us that you touched. I find it incomprehensible to imagine just how many of our lives have been influenced by your wisdom and humor. You were truly so far ahead of your time.

Those of us that had the privilege of being part of your life will cherish our memories of your kindness and generosity, your wisdom and wit, your charisma and charm, your intelligence and your willingness to teach us all that you knew.

I’m racking my brain to share one story that would dignify our memory of you. There are so many. I think of all of the "success" stories relating to your infamous career. But the thing I remember most, were the lost souls that you would find and be committed to teaching him/her how to fish. Most times it was at midnight drinking coffee in a seedy joint in Manyunk. I know you saved lives and that is what I will remember most about you.

I would not be who I am if not for you.

Rest in Peace

A Fan

Cheryl Littman Reflects....

It's so hard to try to sum up a man, like John, or a career as momentous as his in just a few words.  I had the great pleasure of reconnecting with John over the past few years, visiting him on the Cape he loved so
much, and having him back down to Philly for a long ( no pun intended) weekend.  No matter what illness had done to him, he was still that quick-witted, funny, intelligent, gentle man I knew all those years ago.
So many experiences and so many stories he had in his head, I used to tell him he should have written a book, but instead, he assisted Larry Kane with his book, and I think that brought him great joy.

I will miss his e-mails and phone calls at the holidays, but I know he is at peace now and his body and mind are healed.  I will never forget him!

Cheryl Littman

Vince Sweeney's Memories Of John....

The American Academy of Broadcasting is obviously well-known and fondly remembered in Philadelphia, but I'm willing to bet few know that for a brief time in the early 70s, there was a "branch campus" of the school in the northeast corner of the state, in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Originally scheduled to open in the Summer of 1972, the school was wiped out in the Agnes Flood that June, the building it was in became inundated as the Susuquehanna River jumped its banks and roared into downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Apparently, LJW was not one to be discouraged.
 
Once the water receded, plans were made to re-open the AAB in Wilkes-Barre early in 1973, which it indeed did.  Offering day and evening classes, I had the good fortune of being a member of the first graduating evening class, a class of perhaps a half dozen people.  Of that half dozen, only two of us ever went on to careers in broadcasting.  But that, as is often said, is another story for another time.
 
It's been over thirty years, but my memory tells me that I met LJW only once, and that was during my interview and "audition" for admission to the AAB.   He seemed like a nice enough guy as he had me sit in front of a microphone and read a piece of copy for, and I am near certain this is right, A&P Supermarkets.  When I finished, he said to me, "I've heard higher voices."  Honest to God, that is verbatim.  LJW said to me, "I've heard higher voices."   Looking back on my life, perhaps I should have turned and run out the door and never gave broadcasting a second thought.  I did not.  I signed up that very day
 
Three months later, the course was over.  Within a week of its ending, LJW's receptionist/office manager called me with an interview she'd already arranged.  A few days later, I had my first job.  Broadcasting schools are what they are, but the AAB got me my first job, so I really couldn't complain.   And, the course gave me enough info to get my "third," which was mandatory at the time for any aspiring jock.  The "campus" up here was pretty minimal; a small and sparsely equipped studio, another cramped room for classes, and the reception area, which was without question the nicest part of the place. 
 
Some might find this amusing, but the sad fact is, I had no idea who LJW was at the time.  WFIL had no signal in this part of the state, so he was a complete unknown to me, and remained largely so until the advent of the internet, that's when I began to learn more and more about the man.  I did know, of course, that he was a major market jock, but that was it, I never once heard him live, never once so much as heard a tape of his.   And I had never heard about the Beatles connection before finding your site an hour ago.  I also discovered years later that LJW had prominently featured me in an advertising brochure for AAB, apparently he considered my quick turn-around a success story guaranteed to attract new students.    I never saw that brochure, only heard about it through other "grads" over the years.  How long the school operated in Wilkes-Barre, I can't really say.  My best guess would be not very long, possibly a couple years, if that.
 
So sorry to hear of his passing.  Although I met him but once, and couldn't call myself a fan since I never heard him make his magic, LJW will forever be a key piece of my life's journey.
 

Vince Sweeney

WBRE-TV
Wilkes-Barre, PA  

 

 

Reflections from Former WFIL Engineer Roy Akins....

Sorry to hear of Long John's passing.  As one of the original Boss Engineers at 'FIL, I had the pleasure to work with him and all of the Boss Jocks. In 1971-72, I was building a radio school for Long John in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  Two days before we were to open, we were flooded out with Hurricane Agnes (my mother's name) and we were to have a politician attend our grand opening...Congressman Flood.  Strange but true.
 
I left Philly to return to Upstate New York (Glens Falls) (higher grounds) to develop a radio broadcasting program there, at Adirondack Community College.  It's still going.  (See Memories Button.)
 
This past February, I had the opportunity to talk to Louise Harrison, George's sister, about WFIL and Long John and Larry Kane, who both travelled with the Beatles on their U.S. Tours.  Yes, I'll remember Long John Wade and how he helped me to become a teacher of broadcasting.  Today,
I'm the Mayor for the City of Glens Falls, NY.

 

Roy Akins

 

 

Another Success Story from Rich Nederostek

I remember Long John Wade from attending his school of broadcasting in Philly, and, before graduating I secured a job at W B M E in Belfast Maine , so that started my career in broadcasting, which went from 1970 to the present. I was at many stations here in the Allentown, Pa area which I did many oldies shows on local radio, including oldies 99, and now doing a Saturday afternoon sock hop gig on Sunny 1100 WGPA in Bethlehem, Pa. Fortunately , the owner of the station does not program my work at all. I do all the great doo-wop and mostly the forgotten oldies, which, I must say I have many many people whom cant wait for Saturday afternoons.

I remember one Friday I had no way to get back to Allentown, Long John said lets go and he took me to Quakertown, Pa to catch the bus in his 1967 Shelby GT 500 KR Mustang. That was a thrill that evening and he was quite the speed demon, as he hammered through the 4 speed tranny.

We kept in touch for a while , especially when I did a show at WRFY in Reading , then when I went back to Allentown we lost contact. Another special moment I was with him at his school when Dick Heatherton’s sister came there with Dick, and I was just in awe.  

Still today as I do my shows I  pay reverence to Long John as he was the best!!

 

Rich Nederostek  aka radio name  Ned Richards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a former employee of WFIL, please feel free to e-mail your comments to 

Famous56@live.com

 I'll be glad to feature them here!

 

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