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Dedicated in memory
its Barefoot Larry
on, lets not tarry.
the Larry Justice Late Date Show.
got naked feet.
plays music sweet.
Larry, get on with the show.
- Jingle by Jerry G, 1962
Larry Justice worked at WPGC for exactly one year from February
14, 1962 - February 14, 1963. The original Bob
Ferrar) followed him in middays when Larry left for WIBG / Philadelphia
then moved on to WMEX / Boston
to work for Max Richmond,
owner of WPGC & WMEX. From
there he went to WBZ / Boston and WROR / Boston. He moved into
station ownership in the early '80's. Larry now lives in Naples,
Florida with his wife of 45 years, Beverly.
Larry Justice takes over the WPGC airwaves
Monday, August 6th, 1962 at the start of his shift at 10AM, midday
personality 'Barefoot' Larry Justice took over the airwaves of
WPGC, locking himself in the control room and played the same
record (Len Weinrib's 'Prez
Conference' - see details below) over and over again until
station management met his demands for a pay raise.
Six months after joining the station and 2 months after having
been promised an unrealized pay raise, Larry took matters in his
own hands. Listen
now as he berates newsman David
B. Simmons (who ironically finishes Larry's shift as 'Jolly
David B'), then talks with the Morning Mayor, Jerry
G from the news studio.
General Manager Bob
Howard, long known for his showmanship is heard next, attempting
to reason with Larry.
Further evidence this was a planned event is revealed as Larry
gradually makes on air 'concessions', allowing the News to air,
then agrees to run the commercials, has live spots read by others
and eventually lets Jerry G
in the studio.
As the drama unfolds, listeners start calling up the station en
masse. Supposedly, numerous fans of Larry begin congregating outside
the station and form a mob. Management pleads on air the situation
not turn violent.
and afternoon man 'Big Ol' Fat
Ol' Deano (Dean Griffith) is heard warning Larry his job is
on the line as Bob Howard wants
to fire him. The story makes the national news wires as heard
from a David B. Simmons newscast.
Following this, Bob Howard
does fire Larry on the air but Larry refuses to come out of the
padlocked studio and continues playing the same record over &
over ad infinitum.
After nearly two hours of holding the airwaves hostage, Bob
Howard agrees to let him keep his job and gives Larry the
long overdue pay raise and a contract in writing at which time
he finally vacates the studio & David
B. Simmons finishes his shift.
like this today are passé but 55 years ago something like
this was unheard of. Speculation as to management's foreknowledge
& approval of the stunt seems certain since all they had to
do was take control at the transmitter site.
In any event, real or planned, the stunt worked and gained national
attention for the station as well as a ton of talk in the market
for many years to come. Over half a century later, you be the
Incidentally, the song Larry played repeatedly for two hours was
a novelty record called 'Prez
Conference', a parody of the Kennedy administration by Len
Weinrib. It did not chart nationally on the Billboard Hot 100
but because of the local nature of the material was a minor hit
song preceded the Grammy winning 'First Family' comedy
album by Vaughn Meader in 1962 by about 90 days. For historical
reference, the Larry Justice stunt occurred approximately 15 months
before the tragic JFK assassination.
years after the fact, Larry himself has confirmed the stunt was
done with the foreknowledge of Program
Griffith but not General
Howard (widely known for his showmanship, he had no problem
playing along with the stunt).
issue of not having received a promised pay raise was the real
life impetus for the event. KLIF
/ Dallas had offered Larry a job at a higher rate but because
he wanted to move back East after serving time in the Army in
Missouri, he accepted WPGC's offer.
listeners actually came down to the station to protest management's
refusal to give Larry his raise. One gentleman with a gun was
escorted out of the building!
Jerry G writes:
remember much (it WAS over 40 years ago !!!) I do remember being
completely surprised by the event, so much so that I totally forgot
the lines we'd been rehearsing for weeks!
have just finished looking and listening to the WPGC website and
am stunned at the volume of material that has been collected.
What a FABULOUS job putting the site together....There are many
websites of current stations that do not compare with the 'PGC
site. Dedicating the site to Jim
Collins is very thoughtful.
was very fortunate to have grown up in Little Rock in the Fifties.
As a radio junkie, I had access to stations during my high school
years (54-55-56-57) that I would not have had in a major market.
During my junior and senior years...I actually worked on-air at
the first Todd Storz / Gordon McClendon type top 40 station in
Little Rock. Everything we did was a FIRST. I had the pleasure
of working with a jock named Dewey Phillips, Sam Phillips brother,
and since I was only 90 minutes from Memphis....always had Elvis,
Jerry Lee, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, et al, hanging
around the station asking us to play their records.
coming to DC:
I was discharged from the army...I wanted to move East...to the
big markets...so when I had the job interview at 'PGC...I jumped
at the opportunity. With $20 bucks in my pocket...I jumped an
army transport flight (free) from St. Louis to Andrews Air Force
Base (all night)...interviewed with Bob
Howard and I was offered the job at 'PGC. I lied about my
age...I was only 22 and afraid that he would not hire such a young
& I moved there Valentine's Day 1962...and sort of like Robert
Redford in "The Natural", hit the air like we
had been there all our lives. I was very blessed with natural
talent and to start a career during a time when personality was
encouraged. Bob Howard and
Mac Richmond recognized that
talent and were able to direct and develop it. I owe everything
I have to those two icons. I was also a Program Director's worst
nightmare when the formula and research boys started programming
stations in the 80's and stifling talent.
Howard tried to change my real name...Lawrence Kirk Justice...to
some stupid off the wall stage name and that was the only major
conflict we had....we compromised and settled on Larry Justice...however
he insisted on 'Barefoot' Larry Justice, friend of all the 'Barefoot'
housewives. How do you think that would have played in 1968 when
they were burning their bras? I was never crazy about 'Barefoot'.
taking over the station:
the "take over / lock in" a major mob of fans gathered
outside the station on Southern Ave. and the PG County police
had to be called to control the crowd. Wow! What a hoot. Bob
Howard was threatened for taking advantage of a country boy.
I should have stayed at 'PGC another year instead of going to
Philly and then to Boston.. Another year to enjoy the success
instead of another challenge.
his subsequent career:
the 80's, I purchased a class B FM on Cape Cod (60 miles from
Boston) and our little company, Justice Broadcasting, grew to
five stations reaching from Vermont to Ft. Myers, Florida...hence...that's
how we settled on Bonita / Naples as our home...climate!!!!! However,
I realized that ownership was not all it was cracked up to be
when the bank insisted that we had to FIRE people to improve the
bottom line. Coming from the talent side made it even more distasteful
so after ten years of that...I sold everything and settled in
to go back to my roots and utilize my God given talent...I went
back on the air but SW Florida is bad radio and you cannot make
any money. I had to choose between working in Boston with the
horrible winters and making great money or living in SW Florida
on a golf course with the beach and boating only 5 minutes away....easy
choice...but I miss being on the air....would love to do a Saturday
night Oldies (60's-70's) show....60's music was the best....Motown,
Supremes, Four Tops, Smokey, Temps, great rock era with The Beatles,
Stones, et al !!!!!
were all at the right time and right place for Radio History.
We are survivors !! Once
again, THANK YOU for preserving great memories for so many of
infamous novelty tune Larry played incessantly!
Click label to hear a clip of it. Hear the instrumental
on image for enlargement.
on images below to see enlargements.
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