Author Archives: scott@childers.com

“New” Radio Station

Scott….

Great work on the WLS history site!  When I was in 8th grade at Glenview Jr. High in 1960 a friend told me about a “new” radio station: WLS.  I turned it on, and I was hooked. I wrote each jock a letter and some of them wrote my back individually.  What was really cool though, they all signed a postcard with their pictures on the front.  It was not the printed version they would later use.  Each jock used a different pen with different color ink.  I just had it framed and it hangs in my den with my music and other radio stuff.

WLS is the reason I have been in radio for nearly 36 years.  It’s sad to think four of the personalities on that postcard (Art Roberts, Sam Holman, Gene Taylor and Mort Crowley) are spinning the hits on high now.  I remember getting sweaty palms going up the elevator in the Stone Container Building to visit WLS.  If it were still there I would probably still get sweaty palms.

 

– Bill Saul
Jones Radio Network (US Country format)

Bob Hale

Scott…

Sheesh… “1960 and you weren’t even born yet..” And now look at ya! Doing well there, youngster!!! Bigger thanks for what you have done for Chicago radio history. Because I am doing freelance writing and photography I had toyed with doing something on Chicago radio history. Heck, you’ve done a bang up job! It’s needed; it’s excellent work. Obviously it is now on my “favorites” list. How did you amass such a grand history? Exhausting, I’d think.

I’d add only one slice…and it’s personal. When I left ‘LS in 1964 it was at the time WMAQ was trying to go “pop” and I ended up with the early evening show preceding Jack Eigan. Then, when the shift was done, I was Jack’s announcer, doing four or five one-minute commercials “live”at a time. There were nights when no audience came up to the show and no guests showed up. So Jack trotted me into the studio and I was his guest until someone else showed up! What a year! After that I went over to Channel 32 and signed them on and became all-around voice and on-cam guy. I also was doing a once a week teen talk show on Channel 5. From that evolved my 14 years as host of “Today in Chicago” …anyway..it’s interesting to work it all backwards.

Your site sure got me thinking about it all.

Thanks for the top drawer work!


– Bob Hale

Neighbor of Dick Biondi

Hello Scott,

I’ve been meaning to write you for a while to say how much I enjoy the Chicago radio tribute sites you’ve put together, especially the history of WLS. What great memories! The great rock radio of the 60’s & 70’s can’t be beat, and your WLS site documents it so well. Thank you for all the time and effort it took to research and compile it. I grew up in Evanston and lived next to Dick Biondi when he was at WLS in the 60’s. That whetted my early interest in radio. Eventually I became a jock and later a newsguy in Indiana, Tennessee, Iowa and here in Denver for many years.

Incidentally, when Dick was my neighbor in Evanston, his General Manager, Gene Taylor, lived in the townhouse next door to him (one block north of Main on Dodge Ave). According to my mom, they discovered by chance that they lived next to each other!

 

– Greg Barman,
Denver, Colorado

Monster Signal

Scott:

In 1966, my father was transferred to the Midwest, where I lived for the next couple of years. I had grown up with Cousin Brucie and the New York radio gang, and thought that by moving away from the East Coast, I would be losing great radio as I knew it.

Wow, was I wrong!

As soon as the sun would fall below the horizon, WLS’s monster signal would come roaring into my radio, carrying with it the incredible talents and energies of its legendary staff. They set me absolutely on fire! I did more than listen…I studied these air personalities intensely to learn what it was about them that gripped an audience and wouldn’t let go. I wanted more than anything to emulate them.

In mid-1968, I landed my first radio job…doing menial work in a station that included washing the boss’s car. As I begged daily for my “first chance” on the air, I continued to press my ear to the radio after dark for my continuing “jock” education from the crew at “89.” A couple of months later, I was given that proverbial “break” – midnight to 6am on Monday mornings! I was soooo scared that first night that I’m amazed that any words came out of my terrified mouth! That was my start in “the biz”…and it went on and up from there.

About 12 years later, I almost went to work at WLS, when John Gehron was the Program Director. At the time, I was in Detroit, doing mornings at the city’s top rocker, WLLZ-FM. As fate would have it, though, ABC snared me from the opposite direction – bringing me to New York and a correspondent position at ABC Radio News.

In 1987 and 1988, when I was the Operations Director at WPGC AM/FM in Washington, DC, I had the fun of doing the FM morning show with WLS alumnus Bill Bailey! The coffee cup from that show is beside me now as I write this. Bill, I believe, is working in Detroit presently.

Now, I’m on the air at the Voice of America in Washington, rattling radios from Belfast to Bangladesh. Sure, it’s an environment far removed from my radio roots, but you’d be surprized as to how many old rockers walk VOA’s halls.

I wouldn’t have had this journey had it not been for 89-W-L-S…

Fondly,

-Jeffrey Young
Washington, D.C.

PS: Two things continue to stick in my mind from the great ‘LS era of the late ’60’s – Hearing the top of the hour ID…going into a Buckinghams single such as “Kind of a Drag.” Priceless! Also, the thunderous spots of “Mr. Norm’s” Grand Spaulding Dodge, “where you can drive home tonight and eat Chevys for breakfast.” 426 Hemis!

…and “where you’re never too far away to save!” -Scott

Uncle Ezra

Scott,

Your fantastic cyber file of the WLS history had me locked in for a most enjoyable interlude. For many years I have hoped to obtain the words, and hopefully the music, to the Uncle Ezra Theme music. The first line, as I recall, starts “Turn to the right at the crossroads, and left at the little red barn . . . .” Is it possible to order this from one of the historical sources?

– Lee Ruetz
Houston, Texas

Well, I’m afraid that I have not come across the song, but maybe someone here in cyberland has.  If you can help Lee out, please email him at l.ruetz@att.net

School Field Trip

Scott,

Loved your WLS Web-site.  I’ve been listening to a lot of airchecks lately on websites.  Brings back some great memories.  From Jr. thru High School. (1974 thru 1980) and when home from College, WLS was my choice.  MY fondest memories are doing homework at night with Landecker and Boogie Check, and of course Larry and Bob Sirott. In Eighth Grade we did a tour of WLS and watched the WLS DisneyWorld radio spots being done. I can’t remember who was doing it but I got Tommy Edwards’ autograph on the storyboard sheet they handed to us. We took home a bag of promotional materials that day, including a 45 of John Travolta’s “Let Her In.”

Thanks

– Anthony Martini
Elgin, Illinois

Maple City Four

Scott,

Great to see WLS History.  As I was looking through an old trunk of my mother’s  I came across some old photos which included some photos of the WLS boat trips on Lake Michigan in the 30’s as well as photos of The Maple City Four and the Hoosier Sod-Busters “Black & Cross.” Growing up with stories from the past and how Gene Autry didn’t have a dime in his pocket when he came to WLS I was always a WLS fan. But my mother never told me WLS stood for the World Largest Store … no wonder I was a walking Sears Catalog.

Again great history site.

– Gerry Trunk
Azle, Texas

 

The Maple City Four and Hoosier Sod-Busters

Scott,

In the early 60’s till 1989 when the station went to talk, I lived in the western suburbs and was a loyal WLS listener.  I am proud to link my site to yours so other past WLS listeners my also enjoy the memories.

Thanks for memories.

– Jack Ciskowski aka “Krumbles The Clown”
Columbus, Ohio

Scott:

I just read the great piece of work that you have done on the History of WLS Radio. I was there for a good part of that and you really hit it on the head.

Thanks for bringing back the memories.

– Don Amell
WLS Chief Engineer, 1970-1979