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Fred Gray

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Fred Gray worked at WPGC from February - October, 1958. He was hired by PD, Gene Winters and left for WEAM late in the year. He later worked at WDON and WGMS. Today, he runs the eBroadcast Center, producing videos for various commercial clients.



Fred Writes:

On the 'Mr. PG Is Walking For Retarded Children' Promo

I was a WPGC AM disc jockey working for Maxwell Evans Richmond, and I am aware that there are stories about an incident I was involved in. The stories relate that I was “fired”. Nope. Read on to learn the story of Max’s biggest hoax. It is true.

Richmond, known as “Mac”, owned WPGC, licensed, to Morningside, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC. WPGC was a strict daytime station operating with 1000 watts and 250 watts close to sundown, but with this mighty signal strength was unable to reach all of the metropolitan area. By the way, Ed Walker (The “Joy Boys” and WAMU) had worked there before me, he was REALLY GOOD; to get the current weather and temps, Mac had him make his way to the aux studio, dial the weather, and copy the forecast with this pocket brailler, and get back to tag the record before it ran out.

Mac was a shifty promoter, a liar, and paid his “air personalities” almost nothing. He invented a fake contest game that promised to award “a new Admiral Color Television Set” to the first person who followed the rules and identified a mystery man that was alleged to be walking the streets of Washington DC. The on-air copy went like this:

[Sound: walking footsteps] Who … is … Mr. PG? [Sound up, fade] Mr. PG is walking. Walking for Retarded Children. Listen carefully to these clues. If you believe you have found Mr. PG, simply walk up to him, tap him on the right shoulder, remember, the right shoulder, and say to him, ‘Are you Mr. PG, of WPGC, Color Radio, walking today for retarded children?’ If you are correct, you win! Now, here is this hour’s clue:

LOCAL ANNOUNCER – ad-lib any description of a nondescript male person. Like “Mr. PG is 5 feet 10 inches tall, and is wearing a brown overcoat…” THEN AD-LIB any possible street or area, like “Mr. PG is walking on Connecticut Avenue NW.”

The intro was taped and played on the air each hour by the hapless DJ on the mighty Ampex 600. You put a tiny reel of tape on the feed spindle, threaded it through, cued it up, and started it by turning the start knob manually. Every time. Every commercial. News clips. Advertising spots. Everything.

Mac hired me to work on his station for absolutely no pay whatever, in 1958 for the entire Spring and Summer. He liked my performance so well he made me the “morning man” and soon had me cracking jokes and doing my schtick like a pro. He made me hold my nose and talk in a funny voice pretending to be a talking red-bulb thermometer! He had me pitching “Muntz TV” with a “free home demonstration”, whilst touting all the wonderful features of this cheapie TV model. You had to keep your pitch freshened up, and you had to keep pitching until the phone lines all lit up. (Jordan 8-6677) Sometimes it bombed and you had to know when to quit, probably about 5 seconds before every listener changed stations. They had a “Top 100” music survey, probably written by the Payola-providing record promoters. But hey, it was good material.

I remember having the Everly Brothers sing “Wake Up Little Suzie” and “Dream Dream Dream” over my shoulder into the studio microphone to accompany their hit ’45 on the Cadence label. We pitched the Eddie Leonard Sandwich Shops, and I still can almost remember the addresses of all of them. Well, I decided to return to college that Fall. In an instance of true moral ethics, Mac said if I’d stay on another 2 weeks he’s increase my weekly pay from ZERO to 40 dollars.

OK, back to the “Mr. PG” promotion. Here’s what was wrong with it:

(1) It was entirely fake.

(2) It was logged as a PSA because it mentioned “Retarded Children”.

(3) It probably got some people socked in the kisser for touching and annoying men on a public street.

(4) It was aired mercilessly over and over for weeks.

I had taught myself how to edit recording tape by marking the decision points with a china marker, cutting the tape on a primitive splicing block, then mating and sealing the sections back together. I proceeded to create a masterpiece, and on my last day in the studios at 4421 Southern Avenue SE, over the WM&A Transit Bus Repair Facility, I left the edited substitute tape where it would be used and played. They ran it for a few days, maybe a week, before any of the idiots actually listened to what the recorded voice was saying: “…… "Are you Mr. PG … of WPGC, Retarded Radio, walking today for Color(ed) Children?....” Sweet!

Hear the original promo likely voiced by Gene Winters.

Hear the edited version.

The footsteps used in the promo were from Les Elgart’s “Walkin’ and Whistlin’ Blues.” The hum was on the original record. He recorded it in 1955 just one year after he recorded “Bandstand Boogie” which was played thousands of times as Dick Clark’s theme.



1) Add WPGC Music Survey from June 15-21, 1958 and jock photo.

2) Add Music Survey to Playlists page.

3) Add photo to Gene Winter's page.

4) Create Pages for John Mack, Alice Renee and Bob Bartel. Add photos for each.

5) Add promo to Promos page.


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