morning there was an old jingle rolling around in my head. To
the tune of the Warner Brothers cartoon intro, it went "It's
Jerry G on
the Big PG." Just had to see what Jerry was doing these days.
I ended up spending most of the day on amandfmmorningside.com.
What a great site!
entry was fun to see. Let me update you. I retired from WorldSpace
in May 2008, shortly after my 62nd birthday. WorldSpace went under
the following Fall. In fact, when we came back from my retirement
lunch we discovered the company was unable to pay the entire staff
that payday. It went downhill from there. More on WS later.
I was PD at 98.7 in LA it was easy listening KJOI when I got there
(March '89), and "Touch 98.7" when Viacom bought it
and let me go (May '90). Alan Hotlen (who hired me and was the
Ops Manager) invented a new format mixing light jazz and sensual
AC, a precursor to the Smooth Jazz format. It was doing well but
unfortunately Viacom replaced it with their wimp rock format,
which promptly failed because it had already been beaten to death
Growing Up With WPGC
I didn't work at WPGC until near the end of its heyday, my relationship
with it goes back a lot farther. I started listening about 1961,
and became a big fan in early '63 when I got my driver's license.
That spring a lucky encounter at Glen Echo led to my buddies and
me becoming pals (and more) with a bunch of young ladies who attended
a DC Catholic girls' school. To our everlasting surprise and pleasure,
they thought public school guys were cool! We immediately had
two things in common: The Mighty Mo at New Hampshire Ave. &
East-West Hwy., and WPGC. The girls seemed to follow the DJ's
everywhere, and of course we followed the girls. We followed them
to dances, concerts, and most especially hung around the Summer
remotes at the Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center. Radio was getting
in my blood.
that summer my friend Jim and I figured out who had the keys to
the Good Guys Car. It was a used Chevy Impala convertible, and
all summer they were broadcasting clues to the person who had
the keys. Jim narrowed it down to somewhere in the Hampshire-Langley
Shopping Center. His last name was a color, and his first name
was the same as a local department store. When they broadcast
the clue "Ask the manager of a furniture store" we knew
it had to be State Furniture - one of PGC's biggest advertisers.
I tore up to the store (only blocks from my home) and found some
dork with his arm in a cast waiting for the manager. His story
was that he was sitting in his car at the Hot Shoppe across the
parking lot, looked up and saw a furniture store. Years later
I was talking about it with Walt
Rubin, and he told me the contest was (surprise!) rigged.
The guy with the keys was Morton Brown, by the way.
same year my then-girlfriend asked me to drive her over to see
a sick aunt. One of her girlfriends came along, and when we got
there they asked me to wait in the car because their aunt wasn't
up to meeting me. So I sat there for about an hour, after the
girls disappeared around the corner. Only later did they admit
their "sick aunt" was Harv
Moore! That's as close as I ever got to meeting Harv. I never
had the chance to work with him. Wish I had. What a talent!
Bob Raleigh (Rolle Ferreira) was a different story. My first
radio job was as a summer relief board op at WWDC in 1966. Bob
was there by then, and we became friendly. He was my first radio
mentor. He spent the summer doing his show from Glen Echo, so
I didn't get to work with him except for a couple of weekend shifts.
I have never seen anyone who enjoyed being on the air as much
as Bob. The times I board-opped for him were an absolute blast!
I learned a lot from him at the same time.
funny how your memory works. I'll always think of Marv
Brooks as "the new guy". The girls dragged us to
see him at a few record hops, too. That's how I recognized him
when I was working nights at the Hecht Co. in Prince Georges Plaza.
As always, Marv had a beautiful girl with him. I had just started
working at WMUC,
the campus station at the University of Maryland. I approached
him and told him I was interested in working in radio. He was
very friendly and spent a half-hour talking radio with me. He
couldn't have been nicer, and with that gorgeous young lady waiting.
I always remembered that later in my career when guys wanted to
ask me questions.
ten years later I would see Marv now and then, as we both worked
the freelance commercial circuit. Marv was very good, and had
a reputation for chasing down every bit of work he could find.
Once, Marvin Himmelfarb of the Abramson-Himmelfarb agency engaged
Vincent Price to do spots for a local Mercedes Benz dealer. Supposedly
Marv told him "Marvin, I can do Vincent Price!!" One
job he did get had me sworn to secrecy at the time. When Marvin
got the Capitol Cadillac account, he wanted a sophisticated sounding
African-American male for their radio spokesperson. Marvin told
me he auditioned every African-American male he could find, but
the best guy for the job - hands down - was Marv
Brooks. He had the gig for years.
an aside, among the other WMUC
alum who worked at WPGC: Gentleman Jim Madison #1 [Walt
Rubin], Loo Katz,
Greg Cole, former
Suitland High classmates Skip
Nelson and Columbus,
and Gene Baxter.
The Change In Format
finally got to work at WPGC after PD Bob McNeil fired me from
In the Spring of 1983, General
Oates hired me as part of their transition to Adult Contemporary.
Talk about mixed feelings: The mainstay radio station of my youth
was going away, but - hey - I needed a job! Personally, I think
the station could have altered it's music far less, and still
picked up most of WASH's
started out doing a night time oldies show, while Jeanne hinted
Steele and some on-air personnel were soon to depart. It should
be noted that the call letter change from WPGC to WCLY (Classy
95) resulted in a near-insurrection by the air staff. To the last
person, we were all opposed to it - vehemently! It seemed to most
of us that AC was a natural transition for much of WPGC's core
audience, and there was no need to blow off the calls to reflect
the format change. We thought the heritage was a plus; management
thought the opposite. Glenn
Potter -- brilliant as ever. Rumor had it that the image line
was to be "Sassy Classy 95", but morning man David
Burd swore he'd quit before he'd say that on the air.
and Burd were
the first major contribution of legendary Program
Casey. Jeff's voices were brilliant. Watching him work was
like seeing someone channel another personality. After David left,
I did the morning show with Jeff for a while. He was pleasant
to work with on the air, but there was no real chemistry. David
had a knack for words that I've never heard in anyone else. Even
stuff he said off the air. For instance, he called sad ballads
"cheese pistol specials." When I asked him what that
meant he said "You know" and made the gesture of sticking
a gun in his mouth. One of our staffers was addicted to colonic
cleansing, which David called "butt hoovers". When Baker
and Burd reunited
one of their characters was a spoof of Major Montgomery of Montgomery
Donuts fame. They called him "Bud Hoover, the Donut Mover."
Starling and I met at WASH,
but knew of each other before that. I knew him as the crazy guy
doing traffic from an airplane; he knew me as the crazy guy who
owned a caboose. [I did, but that's a story for another website.]
We were friendly at WASH,
and when we teamed up at WPGC he became my best friend. Under
Al Casey, we
did a virtual two man show with one in the air. The mic and radio
in Walt's plane were so good, the engineers had to back them off
so he wouldn't sound like he was in the studio. College Park Airport
was close enough I could see him take off from the studio window.
Days he was grounded he just came into the station. Damn, we had
fun! We even did our own promotions. Walt came up with "John
Dowling's Washington", which rewarded listeners with special
events, like a private tour under the Lincoln Memorial or a performance
at the Kennedy Center with a reception. We did about two dozen
of them. Someday, I'll tell you how we got sued over the number
of buttons on Teddy Roosevelt's statue. At one point we were beating
Trumbull and Core in our target demo. At least that's my memory,
and I'm sticking to it. That all came apart under Program
Director, Alan Hotlen, who also steered the station even more
was a great and good friend who gave me sound advice both professionally
and personally, and never stopped looking out for me. I can only
hope he'd say the same about me. I still miss him, a lot.
word about Ben Hill, who took over from Jeanne
Oates as General
Manager. He'd been an Adult Contemporary Program Director,
but decided to take the station toward what it is today. At least
he restored the call letters. I've been fired more than once,
but his was the, uh, Classiest. He said "You play a hell
of a violin, but we need a saxophone."
last years in radio were the most fun. Ed Rodriguez [WPGC may
be the only DC-area station where Ed hasn't been heard] hired
me to voicetrack a country radio show at WorldSpace Satellite
Radio, which had satellites that covered Africa, Asia and Europe.
Yeah. American Country Music. It was one of their most popular
channels. After Ed left to work with Steve
Kingston at WINX-FM on the Eastern Shore, I took over his
job as PD of the UpCountry Channel. The other two guys on the
channel were the very talented pair, Marty
Dempsey and Scott
after I began working there I also met another guy who did the
morning show on our European Pop channel [UPop] which also aired
on XM. He immediately reminded me of Tiger
Bob Raleigh [Rolle Ferreira]. Ted Kelly [Eduardo Ventresca]
was another Northeastern Big City Italian-American boy who loved
radio. We hit it off right away, and in addition to my other duties
I became a sidekick on his morning show. By the time we wrapped
it up, we were doing the Ted Kelly World Party on four satellites
[XM and WorldSpace] across 17 time zones in 154 countries. We
got phone calls and emails from Nashville, Bangalore and Nepal.
We traveled to the Brit Awards [for the British recording industry]
and broadcast live from Abbey Road Studio 2, the unchanged Beatles
studio - with a parade of international recording acts. If you
Google it, you can still see some of the WorldSpace Sessions at
Abbey Road. And almost every day, I laughed so hard I got dizzy!
Ted and I are still close. I couldn't have asked for a better
final act in radio.
days, my wife Denise and I split our time between a condo in Rosslyn,
VA and a home near Naples in Bonita Springs, FL -- where I hear
Barefoot Larry Justice
might be my neighbor.