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Dedicated in memory of Jim Collins



 

Harv Moore writes:

Bob Howard had a "right of first refusal" on the sale of WPGC. When the Richmonds tried to sell it to the Marriotts, he exercised it. Got a bundle ($425,000 total, in 1974 dollars!). He used the money to buy WYSL and WPHD here in Buffalo in October 1974. He asked me to moved up here and work for him. Bob sold the stations in 1989 - walked away with 4.3mil...he passed away in 1993.  

 

 

Pat McCoy writes:

Bob was a difficult guy, but a hard worker. I am glad to see he profited mightily before he died. Before 'PGC I worked for Bob in Baltimore (WAQE which later changed its call letters to WTOW). After Bob left, the owner, Sam Booth, hired two successive genuine lightweight managers. Neither of these guys could sell and all of the other salesmen left shortly after Bob did. Business fell off dramatically.

I recall Bob as more relaxed there than at 'PGC. Good Lord, he could not have been more tense. Max Richmond was an even more difficult man to work for than Bob. Max would come down from Boston and harass everyone, Bob the most, of course.

Bob once invited me to the first night of Passover seder, a new experience for me. The two boys were small. Both had water pistols and were squirting indiscriminately before their parents took them away. We sat down to the table, all of us wearing yarmulkes, Bob read from scripture, then we sampled the food, gefiltefish and matzo ball soup, a few other less than appealing dishes. I thought how could these two people, both fat, be so heavy eating like this? How uninformed I was. After the tasting, Mrs. Howard cleared the table and brought in platters of roast beef, noodles, vegetables, etc.

 

 

Anita Miller ('April May') writes:

Bob was tough but fair and if you did good he was generous with raises and praise. Cross him and he could berate you with equal enthusiasm. He had a pair of lungs for sure. One of his rules was no food or drink in the office as the equipment in the control room was the scene of many spills and the engineers got tired of trying to get cheetos out of the turntables (yes this was the prehistoric era of radio)

I know for a fact Bob came in on weekends to be sure the weekend guys were playing honest and he caught one poor hapless DJ with coffee and a sandwich and gave him the axe. He finished his show and I'm sure the listeners were very surprised to hear Mr. Soundoff doing the pratter and taking requests. He did enforce the rule for everyone so when Mr. Richmond and Associates came to town they had to tke lunch in the hallway or up on the 3rd Floor lobby because Bob refused to send out for lunch saying if my employees can't eat in the office neither can you. My Hero!

Beverly Burch, Sue Gardiner & I used to act as hostesses when the station did Promo Parties for visiting celebrities and we all helped with mail-outs and contests. Boy did Bob love to give away money in those days! The Missing "W" contest, cars and $25,000 at a pop when other stations gave away T-shirts and records. He had trade accounts with different clients and the prize closet had everything you could imagine!

Bob encouraged all of us to come up with ideas to improve the station or the ratings and we were Number 1 all across the board regardless of age, time of day and the fact that we played Top 40 in a town that was pre-dominately Black or at least very conservative. I swear, we had old folks in the home, bikers, good-ol boys and gangsters listening to WPGC just to win money. The Salesmen didn't have any air-time to sell because we were sold out in all times for six months in advance. One year we raised the rate card 3 times and still the spots sold. They were reduced to selling spots when someone cancelled - didn't happen very often.

 


Ken (Mezger) Carpenter remembers:

During 1963 & 1964, WPGC did live remotes from the Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center in Langley Park. They did the 10AM - 2PM Bob Raleigh (Rolle Ferreria) show the 1st two weeks in June-July-August. The Chief Engineer, Wayne Hetrich, allowed me and another boy named Bob Medve to set up the table, sign, mixer, mic and cord each day. Each day we showed up and set up everything and took it back down at 2PM. At 13 years old, we felt very important!

One day, General Manager, Bob Howard showed up unexpectedly to do the show. While a record was playing, the person running the control board at the station would get his instructions and "cue word" from the announcer on the air. At one point I heard Bob saying something like, "OK if you keep missing my cues I'll come back there and clean house today". His on-air name was, "The Mystery Voice." When I saw this spectacle, I just started laughing
and couldn't stop for a long time, but I wouldn't let him see me laughing.

 

 

BD Howard writes:

I remember well the glory days of WPGC during 1960's. Bob Howard was my father.

My dad was born Robert Howard Rosenthal. As a youngster growing up during the depression, listening to the radio was an important part of his life. He was born just over a year before the 1929 stock market crash. He worked his way through Ohio State University as a women's shoe salesman (a job he hated), graduating at the age of nineteen.

My parents met while both attended OSU. Upon his graduation, he began his radio career at WVKO (1580 AM) in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and legally changed his name by dropping the last name. While under the tutelage of station manager Bert Charles, he became a deejay, a sportscaster, a salesman, an emcee at big band concerts, etc. He learned every facet of the radio business while working seven days a week for a whopping $50 per week.

Of possible interest is his grandfather's story. My father's father's father came to America from Romania in 1890, settling in Key West, Florida. He finally brought his wife and four children over in 1899, the same year that my grandfather was born (the first family member born in the U.S.). They moved to Tampa in 1915 and ultimately had a total of ten children. Tragically, this family patriarch was accidentally shot and killed just a week after my dad was born.

My brother Steve was born in '51 and I came along in '55. In '56, my dad left WVKO to take his first management job at a station in Burwick, Pennsylvania. He left about six months later, to take the job of station manager at WAQE in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. About two years later, he came to WPGC.

As a kid of perhaps six or seven years old, I did a few spots for WPGC airplay. I particularly remember singing the jingle for Foley Ford, 'Get your Ford from Foley Ford, it's the thing to dooooo'. My brother and I were the big kid and the little kid on the block, giving safety tips to kids in PSA's. The union put an end to that!

I remember that when Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side' came out, WPGC played it with its interesting themes but cut out the word 'colored', just as when the 'Ballad of John and Yoko' was played, the word 'Christ' was deleted. Although I understood the controversies they wished to avoid, I thought that they should either play these songs intact or just not play them. (Whereas equalization is now used to suppress something for airplay such as the four-letter words found in many songs today, back then they edited a tape so that the word and that beat were deleted, repeatedly breaking the rhythm of the song).

My dad knew little of the current music they played on the air; he preferred the big band sound that he grew up with (Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, etc.) when not monitoring the station. He never understood the psychedelic culture of the late sixties and tried not to air any songs with drug references, although the more subtle ones ('Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', 'White Rabbit', etc.) were aired. He was quite entertained by the names of some of the bands, his favorite was 'Big Brother and the Holding Company'.

During the '60's WPGC was always being played in my house. Whenever my dad heard something he didn't like (such as dead air), he would call the DJ and explode with an abusive tirade that I found embarrassing. I remember hearing of that episode when Bob Raleigh (Bill Miller) crawled through the roof after locking himself out of the studio. After that, my dad always liked to call him 'Tiger Dumb Raleigh'.

My folks split and my dad remarried, and he and Solange had twin daughters, Nancy and Yetta (named for my dad's mom, who passed away in '66). It was Yetta's curiosity that found this site.

My dad once tried to parlay the minor celebrity of being Mr. Soundoff into a failed attempt at running for congress during the mid '70's. Had he sought my advice…

As he approached retirement, he amassed a collection of movies from the era of his youth in VHS format. Then, he collected baseball cards from this same era, an effort to replace a prized possession from his youth that had been thrown away by his mom several decades earlier. These complemented his enormous collection of albums from this era.

On the Studios & Offices:

I remember that awful location at 4421 Southern Avenue. One opened the door next to the bus garage, only to be greeted by a very long flight of stairs that led to their facilities. The studios and offices themselves were not bad, but the neighborhood had already begun a long downhill slide that never seems to bottom out.

I remember the move to the new facilities on the second floor of the Parkway Building. The building was set into a hill and the studios were located along the rear of the building; pulling back the curtain over the control room's window revealed a wall of dirt - the rear exit to the parking lot was located on the third floor. This building had an excellent, easily accessible location, just off the Baltimore / Washington Parkway and just two exits inside the D.C. Beltway. But like much of Prince Georges County, eventually the area and even WPGC itself changed. Still, I am amazed that no one wanted this commercial location and that the building is gone.

I remember when 'PGC added the FM simulcast, at first broadcasting until midnight and then 'round the clock. FM broadcasting had existed for ages, but very few owned FM radios so it was not commercially viable until around 1966, when FM radios first became widely available, especially in cars.

On the Competition:

WEAM and WINX were the primary competition as rockers (WWDC was more adult oriented and so was more the competition for advertising than for the youth listening audience). These stations broadcast on AM only, and as FM caught on, with its superior signal and sound quality (especially once FM stereo arrived), WPGC kicked ass! WPGC was perhaps the first rocker on FM anywhere, and they fueled the early growth of FM in the DC area.

But they needed it; their AM signal was fairly weak and since the AM shut down at sundown (per the FCC license) they were at a distinct disadvantage by not being heard at all during the evening or the early predawn hours when many arise for work or school. In fact, it is remarkable that as a daytimer they were as successful as they were in competing with and often beating their full time competition prior to the emergence of FM.

On Max Richmond:

I remember many of the people associated with WPGC from those days. I remember that Max Richmond (the station's owner) had two girlfriends (hideous old broads, in my humble opinion), and apparently neither of them knew about the other. So as a kid, I was coached whenever I was to encounter one - this one's name, and that I was NOT to mention the other one.

On Bill Prettyman:

Bill Prettyman lived quite far from the station and was very much the workaholic. He and my dad would compete to see who could get to work first, both often arriving before 6 AM.

On the Office Staff:

I remember Dee Masano as a serious, efficient woman who was probably a key person in the business operation. I remember that I liked Bev Burch primarily because she once gave us a puppy.

On the Air Personalities:

I remember the real names of Dean Griffith (it was not Dean Anthony, his name on NY radio), Davy Jones, a couple of the Bob Raleighs, etc.

As a kid, I was struck by the fact that so many thought of these radio personalities as major celebrities. Perhaps it was because I saw them occasionally while to most they were much less accessible, but compared to musicians, sports figures, movie or television stars, or even politicians, I saw them as being a bit lower in the pecking order.

But obviously, these guys were a big part of the daily lives of many listeners, some regular listeners even felt as though they had a relationship with them. As local media personalities, they were much more accessible than the national celebrities, they could be seen at remotes and other appearances, and they might even be reached by phone (especially if one knew the secret phone number).

I remember thinking how bizarre it was that so much of the on-air talent made so little money compared to the salesmen, since it was the talent that developed the listening audience required before anyone would want to buy ad time. I guess to some, the popularity and celebrity was almost compensation enough.

My dad discouraged my even considering getting into radio, he often called it a 'whore's business'!

On Dean Griffith:

I particularly remember Big Ol' Fat Ol' Dino as a really good guy, and it is sad to hear of his passing. I thought it strange that they took the name Griffith from the stadium where the Senators played, which itself was named for the original owner of the team, as if they were related.

The intelligence and candor of his comments probably should not surprise me. He was absolutely correct about my father's problems resulting from his excessive weight loss, the result of amphetamines prescribed by some quack for this purpose, and his ensuing hospitalization. His bizarre behavior in that Mr. X episode was no doubt fueled by these terrible meds. From then on, his emotional demons would haunt him and he was indeed prescribed several medications, and no doubt working for him could be as difficult as living with him.

On Harv Moore:

My dad hired Harv Moore out of Kentucky and he seemed to stay with him forever (very few others stayed for very long). My dad and I had a falling out in '72 (my folks had split a couple of years earlier), and when we reunited ten years later, he was in Buffalo and Harv was still working for him doing his morning mayor shtick. I felt as though I had stepped into a time warp; he seemed to be, after Dick Clark, the world's second oldest teenager.

On Cousin Warren Duffy:

I remember Cousin Duffy's '68 Cadillac - his brand new gold convertible was painted with a psychedelic scheme that most thought bizarre. It was no doubt very cool to some, but most thought that he had ruined the car and destroyed its resale value, although I often explained that he could simply have the car repainted.

On Davy Jones:

I remember Davy Jones was a really nice guy, he would invite me into the control room until my dad forbade this (none of the other jocks permitted this but for a moment or two). I remember riding in that quick '68 'Vette mentioned elsewhere on this site. (A small block, it ran incredibly well, although he insisted that the only modification done was he'd replaced the camshaft.)

As a teenager, my taste during the '70's grew more towards what was at first called 'album rock', then 'progressive' or 'underground' radio. I hated disco! WPGC was more of a 'strictly commercial' station (get the Zappa reference?) and my dad was not thrilled that I preferred to listen to WMAL FM (which became Q-107) and WHFS (when it was located in Bethesda where I went to high school).

Many of the folks at WPGC, including my dad, smoked cigarettes in those early days, so it should not be a surprise that for some this tragically led to an early demise. My dad did eventually quit (although he complained that he missed them for the rest of his life). Unfortunately, he never did exorcise the demon of overeating, that is, until he was overtaken by the terrible illness that eventually stole his life at such a relatively young age.

Today, when I meet someone from the D.C. area, occasionally I'll mention in passing that my dad ran WPGC during the '60's and some baby boomers still seem impressed all these years later. But on the rare occasion that I reveal that he was Mr. Soundoff, many still immediately remember him to this day. And I am often told that my voice sounds very much like his did.

My reply to this is always, 'Your response is welcome!'

 

 

Photos


With Chief Engineer, Wayne Hetrich in 1968 


With B. Prettyman (l) & Nils Seibold (r) in 1968

Circa 1973

 

 

Print Materials

Print Ads

Click on the images below to see enlargements.

 

American Top 40

© Billboard, 09/05/70

 

 

'I Won $1,000 Cash'

© The Washington Star News

October 1973

 

'WPGC AM/FM IS No.1 Again'

© Broadcasting Magazine, 05/27/74

 

Miscellaneous

Liner Notes: Cousin Duffy's Original 22 Smash Hits album

 

 

 

Sound Files

Sound Offs

01/06/65 Kids Smoking - :37
07/10/66 Noisy Dogs - 1:08
08/30/66 Lack Of Sidewalks - 1:02
12/24/66 Banged Up Car Doors - :59
02/04/67 Boys Shooting Birds - 1:00
03/25/67 Construction Noise - :46
Aug. 1967 Littering - 1:03
08/09/68 Phoney Phone Calls - :42
08/10/68 Excessive Road Speeds - :47
08/11/68 Kids Gorging Themselves - :40
08/12/68 Sirens At Night - :45
08/13/68 Beltway Signs - :50
08/14/68 Kid Vandalism - :44
08/15/68 Post Office Blues - :44
05/27/69 Bad Fad - :38
1969 Mud Flaps - :36
1969 Abandoned Pets - :38
1969 School Supervisors - :43
07/20/69 Bank Security Guards - :36
07/20/69 Radar Speed Traps - :50
09/11/69 Unattended Children - :35
Fall 1969 Visitor From Chicago - :48
12/31/69 Accident Sideshow - :38
12/31/69 Model Rocketry Ban - :35
03/11/70 Washington Birthday Sales - :44
01/01/71 Draft Lottery - :46
April 1971 Guidance Counselor - :41
08/12/71 Hospital Parking - :43
10/11/71 Overworked Waitress - 1:04
12/31/71 Abortion - :48
12/31/71 Veterans Hospital - :54
01/01/72 Give Blood - :59
01/01/72 Parking Problem - 1:01
04/10/72 Big Words - 1:10
04/12/72 Trash Troubles - 1:04
05/01/72 Permanent Stickers - :47
08/27/72 Name Calling - :45
08/27/72 Speed Bumps - :55
Oct. 1972 Spoiling Movies - :56
01/01/73 Wax Poetic - :45
01/31/73 Movies On Too Late On TV - :44
1973 Machines Taking Over - :39
9/30/73 Jumping Through Articles - :46
11/21/73 Health Care - :37
Nov. 1973 Inoperative Brake Lights - :32

 

Promos

1966 Man On The Street Montage - 3:52
01/01/67 Captain Good Guy Yoo Hoo Club - :55
Aug. 1967 As 'The Riddler', Chewing Out
a jock about the Missing 'W' - :19

 

Sweepers

Approx.
1959 - 62

Headline Deadline Open - :13

Approx.
1959 - 62
Headline Deadline Close - :14
Aug. 1967 As 'The Riddler', with Missing 'W' Legal ID - :13

 

Contests

08/30/66 Good Guy DJ Derby - :51
04/10/72 Good Guys Baseball - 1:40 (w/big Wilson)
04/10/72 Good Guys Baseball - :59 (w/Johnny Jones)

 

Miscellaneous Audio

07/10/66 As Ed Sullivan for Bob Raleigh (Bill Miller) - :08
Mar. 1967 Captain Good Guy Birthday Club - 1:05
03/25/67 Captain Good Guy Birthday Club - :51
03/25/67 Dockely Dockely Doodily Doo - :02
1968 Convention Hotline Report - :37
Nov. 1968 Magic Carpet Ride underground show poetry - :51
01/01/72 Fine & Dingle Dandy - :01
1994 Harv Moore & Marv Brooks from WXTR on:
Production, Bob Howard & sweatshirts
- :56
1994 Harv Moore & Marv Brooks from WXTR on:
Bob Howard & Lustine Chevrolet spots - 1:55
1994 Harv Moore & Marv Brooks from WXTR on:
Missing 'W' contest & Bob Howard
- :57
1994 Harv Moore & Marv Brooks from WXTR on:
Marv coming to town, & 'house' DJ names
- 1:23
1994 Jack Alix from WXTR on:
Bob Howard, Capt. Good Guy & Mr. Soundoff
- :27
1994

Bob Raleigh (Rolle Ferreira)
& Caroll James of WEAM from WXTR on:

Bob Howard, house names & Jamboree Jones
- :39

April 2002

Dean Griffith (Dean Anthony) on:
Bob Howard & 'Mr. X' taking over WPGC - 3:13

April 2002 Dean Griffith (Dean Anthony) on:
Bob Howard & Phyllis Diller - :33
07/28/04 Davy Jones on: Bob Howard - 1:04
07/28/04 Davy Jones on:
Bob Howard in Charlie Scheu's Corvette - :39
08/28/06
08/28/06
08/28/06

 




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