Radio DaZe: WHYN…yawn
WHYN was not a real exciting station. It was formatted extremely tightly and had a very small playlist. As I recall there were only two “oldies” per hour so the amount of variety was limited. Plus they hung onto songs like the life of the PD depended on it. After a few months I was bored. When I get bored I get into trouble and eventually that is just what happened.
I always felt a little bit like an outsider at WHYN. It started from my first day when I walked into the control room to get trained and saw my resume hanging on the bulletin board. WTF? It looked to me like they were justifying hiring me to the staff. It made me very paranoid. Especially when somebody scrawled “Our next superstar?” on it. There was a LOT of jealousy from a few of the fulltimers who thought they should have gotten the job, rather than this hick kid from New Hampshire, for crying out loud.
I did make friends with the afternoon drive guy, Jerry Daniels, and we traded some good-natured barbs on the air for a while until the PD put a stop to that. Creative thinking was not encouraged at WHYN.
You see, I was quick to discover that the real star of the morning show was not the DJ, but the news guy, Ron Russell. Ron had this real hokey upbeat delivery that bordered on frenetic. He made the news very interesting and had been a mainstay on the station for years. I was just another morning guy. A few times Ron would come in and look at me and just shake his head.
“Do you know how many people you are talking to?” he asked me once.
“All of them,” I responded, being my usual smart ass self.
WHYN did have a huge audience (and I had one huge fan that I will tell you about in a moment) and with it’s massive signal and a ground strap connected to the Connecticut river it boomed over the air. But it was an AM in the time that FM was beginning to make big inroads to the listeners and it’s time was nearly over.
WHYN was guilty of not wanting or knowing how to change with the times. They did the same old promotions in the same old way every time. It was boring and predictable to me and I bet to the audience as well. But they certainly did micromanage every move.
A big yearly promotion was held at Mountain Park, an old style amusement park. They opened the gates for free and gave away all sorts of stuff, free food, etc. The highlight was a stage show by a band. The year I was there they got Donnie Most, who played Ralph Malph from “Happy Days”. Most had a record that sucked out loud (All roads lead back to you) that we had been playing the shit out of to hype his appearance. The record peaked at 97 on the charts. The DJ’s job was to introduce him so he could lip synch his big hit.
The PD and the GM must have generated a dozen multi-page memos about this event. It was planned down to the microsecond. Too bad they didn’t give Donnie the memos as he showed up so trashed that he forget the lyrics to his song. I thought it was hysterical and couldn’t stop laughing. Phil Dee was not amused. It was the beginning of the end for me at “the big 56”.
My biggest fan? I met her at the Forest Park Zoo.
At the time the Forest Park zoo was pretty grim. We used to spend a lot of time in the park (It was free) and one time we strolled though the zoo. James (Jamie) would have been about 2. The only real exhibit was a poor old elephant tied to a stake in this ramshackle shed. It stunk, was dark and was very depressing. But I wanted to show my son an elephant.
So we stood at the railing and I pointed out the large creature to my son, like he could miss it. In the background I could hear a radio playing WHYN.
As soon as I spoke the pachyderm looked right at us. I said in a loud voice “Look, Jamie, the elephant sees you.”
To this day I am unsure what the beast was thinking. I know it it recognized my voice because every time I spoke the thing lunged at us, and made that elephant trumpet noise. Jaimie became terrified and the keeper came over to ask us to leave. Weird, but true.
We had found a cheesy apartment in East Longmeadow, oddly enough. Now we would call it “The Projects”. It was called a townhouse, I guess because it had two floors. Edna had found typing that she could do at home, some sort of manuscripts. It was lot of typing for not much money but she did it because she didn’t have to leave the house and we saved on gas and baby sitters. Edna was big on saving money, which was good because we sure didn’t have much. Since the place was so small she set herself up in closet underneath the stairs. I don’t know how she did it, it was so small that you had to go out to change your mind.
My time off from work was not real productive. Looking back on it I think I may have been clinically depressed. I remember drinking a lot and sleeping a lot. It was a boring existence for the “superstar” morning man of the biggest station in town.
NEXT: Don and Mike keep calling and the end at WHYN gets ugly.