This is from Tom Hassell:
Great Job. Thanks for the memories. As a teen in rural eastern North Carolina I used to get CK on skywave skip at night and, with all my friends, passed those nights in backwater North Carolina listening to Tom Shannon. A couple of us later had brief careers in radio and I'm sure the influence of what we heard on the great CK (and WKBW too) was there in the background. Over the years I've lost touch with the radio business and it has been interesting to discover there's so much interest in it on the Web. Thanks for the CKLW page. By the way, whatever happened to Tom Shannon? Is he still on the air in the Windsor/Detroit area? When we used to listen to him years ago we concluded that he probably wasn't much older than we were at the time. That would make him 50 something now? My how the time flies.
I grew up in Southern Ontario about 40 miles south-east of London, so CKLW was the station my buddies and I listened to the most. We were just a tad too far west to pick up CHUM-AM, which would have been its main competition. Hamilton had a pop station too, but it didn't seem to be in the running somehow.
Some of the things I remembered about CKLW when I read your page were:
One of the things I really miss about CKLW in its golden age is the variety of music that they played. I think we had a huge advantage over the kids of today. I grew up having heard country, big band, lounge, and some really odd novelty music as well as the Beatles, the Stones, and so on. You'd have to simultaneously tune into 6 stations around Ottawa to get that kind of variety. Of course I hated a lot of what I heard (e.g. I remember particularly vividly the summer that the song "Let it Please be Him" by Vicki Lawrence was popular. They played it to death and I nearly gagged every time). [Vic Doucette notes that "the song Blake Owen is referring to is probably 'It Must Be Him' by VIKKI CARR, not Vicki Lawrence. The second Ms. Vicki is responsible for 'The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia,' also a pathetic waste of vinyl."] Still I miss it now it's gone. What's that line about being careful what you wish for?
I finally tuned out around 1970 or '71. By that time the so-called "underground" stations like CHUM-FM were in full swing. At the advanced age of 16 I was far too cool to listen to the "bubblegum" on "commercial" stations like CKLW, and I found myself going through the same contortions to get CHUM or WCFL (Chicago) as I had done 3 years earlier to get CKLW.
Sometime in the mid-80s I was back home on a visit and I thought I'd tune into the good old Radio 8 to see what the kids were listening to now. I expected to not like most of what I heard, but imagine my surprise when what I found was a really lame talk show. I tried again later in the day but, of course, I heard no music. I wondered what the heck had happened, but now, finally I know. It's obvious I wasn't the only one who'd tuned out. It's too bad, but I guess life goes on.
One other point you might want to add to your page: what ever happened to Rosalie Trombley the Program Director? At least, I think that's what her name was. At her peak, she had a lot of power in the radio business and was fairly controversial. [See comments below. -Jack]
There is a CKLW alumnus working in Ottawa. His name is Fred Ennis, I think, and he writes for the local tabloid paper. Apparently he worked on 20-20 news.
I have one CKLW artifact - it's the brochure they published to mark their very first all time Top 300 weekend. It's dated May, 1967. I'm sure you're dying to know what the top 10 were so here they are (I'm sure I don't need to fill in the artist's names.):
People had good taste in those days, as illustrated by the fact that "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee was relegated to number 300! Incidentally, being one of my prized possessions, I carefully preserved the brochure in the 8 1/2 by 11 manilla envelope it came in. It was mailed from Detroit and the postage was a whopping 4 cents. A lot of rate increases under the bridge since those days!
Well, that's enough rattling on for one night. As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of radio and of popular music and I don't often get a "captive audience" to gab to.
Keep up the good work on the page.
[Jack's Reply:] Thanks, Blake. In regard to Rosalie Trombley, at last report she was alive and well and still living in Windsor, though I am not aware of whether or where she is currently employed. Sometime around the start of 1994 she was in a car accident that laid her up badly for about a year, and by the time of Byron McGregor's funeral in early 1995, she was just getting around again.
For those who aren't aware, Rosalie was the subject of the Bob Seger song "Rosalie", which appeared on his "Back in '72" album. Charlie O'Brien remembers that "Rosalie was well established as the premier music person in radio when I arrived at CK in 1975. She could pick all the big hits, and running into people like Bob Seger in the hall was not a rare occurrence...they were all there to sit with Rosalie and get her to listen to a bit of their music. She had a great knack for judging what was hot and what was to be hot. The DJ's really had no say in what went on the air and Rosie had quite a fiefdom. She had busy weeks listening to music arriving in bundles, meeting with record company promo people...Thursdays were shoulder to shoulder in the CK lobby. Then time calling record stores and compiling the results that went into playlist suggestions and adds for the weekly music meeting with the program director. But at the heart of it she was really a big hearted person who always would easily smile and laugh. When I moved on to London to program CJBK I would call her on more than one occasion and sound her out about some current music releases. She was laid off with many others in a massive blowout at the station by new owners in 1985 and spent several years in Toronto radio at CKEY an oldies station. It's ironic CKEY went downhill later and its powerful 590 frequency was sold to a sports talk station and the music is silent."
[NEW paragraph added
September 16, 1996:]
Rosalie Trombley's son, Tim Trombley, is active in the music business today. There is a Web page about Tim at the Music West '95 site. Here's a partial quote: "Tim joined EMI in December 1983 to work under the head of A & R Deane Cameron. A Windsor, Ontario native, Tim literally grew up in the business where his mother Rosalie Trombley programmed the music at the legendary AM Top 40 powerhouse CKLW. Upon moving to Toronto in 1981 Tim served his apprenticeship working for internationally acclaimed producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, KISS, Pink Floyd). Tim's next position was a multi-faceted position at Dallcorte Records, A BMG distributed label, where he handled Promotion and A & R. ... in the fall of 1988 Tim was promoted to his current position as A & R head [of EMI Canada]."
For more on Rosalie, listen to the audio segment about Rosalie Trombley (the link is near the bottom of the main page, along with other sounds from CKLW).
Dear Jack -- What an enthralling page of
recollections. I have rich memories of CKLW, and though
I've never lived in the Windsor/Detroit area it feels
very much like home. I first heard of CKLW in 1967 --
when the station hired a 19 year old kid from CJGX in
Yorkton Saskatchean. In a couple of years he would be the
News Director, leading the legendary newsroom through its
20/20 heyday. I remember wide-eyed early mornings
watching the newsroom turmoil, listening to the
typewriters clattering, the tapes rewinding, all leading
up to those unmistakable three-notes that began every
newscast. I knew then watching and learning, that this
was the industry for me, though I could only aspire to my
hero's talent. My hero, who brought me into the Big 8
during those visits to Windsor, first on Riverside, then
Ouelette, was Byron MacGregor -- Gary Mack. My big
brother. And today, March 3rd, 1996, would have been his
48th birthday. He is my inspiration everytime I speak
into a microphone. And we miss him very much.
[Jack's Reply:] I think that all of us who used to listen to CKLW share your loss at the untimely passing of your brother. I was personally shocked and saddened to hear that Byron had lost a bout with pneumonia a little over a year ago (January 3, 1995). I assume that you've also found the Byron MacGregor page that Mike Lewis put up. I'll repeat one paragraph of a (much too long) message that I sent to Mike on Januray 5, 1995, just after hearing the news:
Others may mourn the death of world leaders or entertainers, but to me personally, the passing of Byron MacGregor is much sadder. Byron MacGregor was quite possibly the closest I ever had to a hero or a role model; he was the person I'd have liked to have emulated, had only I had been equipped with his deep voice. I used to fantasize about delivering the news on some radio station in the same way that Byron did, knowing full well that I could never hope to sound that professional. As a teenager, when I was alone in my car, I would even sometimes practice saying CKLW promos that I had heard, including Byron MacGregor's close to "CKLW 20-20 News". A few months working at real radio stations was all it took to convince me that some folks have the talent and some folks don't. I didn't. Byron did, in spades.
Thank you, Hudson, for sending your remembrance and comments!
Just a note to tell you how much I have enjoyed your CKLW page on the Web. The audio clips have been a touch of "audio heaven" for me. Having grown up in northwestern Pennsylvania in the 60's and 70's, I spent all of my free time listening to the Big 8. At home I erected a 300 foot long wire antenna directed broadside to the Windsor/Detroit area to facilitate reception on my various radios. It worked like a charm! Virtual studio quality during the day, and quite good at night.
My friends and I would often clock 70-80 miles a night driving around the same 3 blocks in Franklin (Population 10,000), listening to CKLW, along with all the other cars cruising. The highlight of one summer was when we screached to a stop at the town's phone booth and called the contest line. My friend won a silver dollar, and he was quite thrilled.
If "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" then I would like to relate that the local 1000 watt station would have a radio monitioring CKLW and one disc jockey would duplicate the play list song by song! Despite the strong local's signal, we liked the sound of CKLW better, and would only listen if we wanted to hear a "twin spin" of a favorite.
Again, thank you very much, and may God bless
. . .
What a web page! Your counter tells me I was only the 984th person to visit it since January 4, 1996... Gee, where did everyone go? I guess most find it by accident, as I did.
Back when the world was young, I had few chances to hear CKLW's signal, but I knew of it. Some stations, although too many thousands of miles away to be heard, were still widely known. CKLW was one of those. Like KHJ, WKBW, WRKO. But I digress
Your CKLW page is, without doubt, one of -- hell, it likely IS -- the most lucidly written monograph relating to the history of radio that I have ever read. And I've read a whole lot of them. This time, I got a queasy feeling in my gut, sort of like reading an obituary for an old friend I hadn't heard from for a long time.
The analysis of the early demise of CKLW as a powerhouse among stations is excellent. Although probably few outside Canada understood the inevitably fatal strokes introduced by the CRTC, many of us in radio in the US felt for our Canadian counterparts (in border areas, some no doubt felt an inner smile). The inference is also clear that the station would have fallen anyway, as most others did not too many years afterward, but it surely didn't have to go when it did. But, hey! Think of all that Canadian culture that was preserved! And think of all the people in the Windsor area who were protected from a vacuum of radio service by the CRTC action to emasculate The Fox! Oh, well... the US FCC has pulled some real zingers now and then, too. And now, it's just more water which has long since flowed to the sea, washing a lot of broadcast creativity's fertile topsoil with it.
By the way, the mention of PJB's not keeping their pattern intact isn't quite correct. The station referred to as XEROK (they have changed call signs now and then) is the dominant station in North America on 800 kHz by regional agreement. PJB, however, is just off the coast of SOUTH America, and thus was not involved in any such agreements. PJB was (and is) operated by a religious group. Trans World Radio is, however, hardly poor; they evidently have beaucoup bucks. The station is authorized by the Government of the Netherlands Antilles to operate with 500,000 -- that's right, half a MILLION -- watts and a non-directional antenna; consequentially, they really do clobber CKLW in many locations on a bad night. Or even a good one. And there's a little technical touch-up for you.
Thanks for the page, Jack... even though I was not associated with CKLW and almost never heard the station, you've hit me hard with many remembrances of things long gone. I read every word.
I've just finished visiting the CKLW page...I accidentally bumped into it, actually I was looking for the WJR page, so that'll give an idea of my 'demographics'! What a wonderful reminiscence! I grew up in the sixties in Sarnia, Ont. listening to CK. I think my earliest remembrance of that was a DJ named Ron Knowles, 'your swing and sway DJ', and I think it was an RKO station at that time. Do you have any information on a guy named- I think I have this right- Tom Clay who had an evening program around 1964-65, and ran events called 'Beatle Booster Balls'. That, of course, was at the height of Beatlemania, and now that I think about it, he really did overdo the hype!! I'd be interested if anyone remembers this guy or knows of his current whereabouts.
Thanks for remembering the Big 8. I'll check back once in a while to see if you've added anything new.
Hey thanks for a great page! Discovered it by mistake this morning! I used to listen to CKLW out here in Boston when I was in college: '68- 72. My favorite CK story is this: Of course, here in Boston we had Drake's WRKO - but at night, CK came booming in. And all us Drake DJ wannabe's would be punching our car radio buttons back and forth between RKO and CK, matching jingles, seeing what each station was doing differently for the Golden Weekend or Top 300 of all time countdown - driving girl friends crazy listening to Drake jingles. Well, one night, the CK jock, said over the top of the record "The Big 8 with a hit line request going out to Belmont Massachusetts - which is right near Boston - say, don't you folks have a GOOD rock station out that way??????!!!!!" Right up to the vocal in true Drake style. Laughed my a** off!
Thanks again for a great job and great memories!
Thanks this is a great page and I really enjoyed reading it. It's hard to relay my memories to other people, of CKLW and the great music that they played during the 60's and 70's. When I was a kid CKLW was the station to listen to for variety. One memory that I have more than anything, is going through the tunnel in the family car and the only station that you could pickup was CKLW.
I was really shocked to hear that Byron MacGregor died.
Also after reading your WEB Page I have started reminiscing about Channel 9 CKLW and the shows that came on daily. Bill Kennedy, Poopdeck Paul and Captain Jolly, Razzle Dazzle with Al Hamill (who went on to marry Suzanne Sommers). I could go on and on. Whatever happened to Robin Seymour? I remember the show that he hosted called "Swingin Time". A lot of great Motown stars appeared on that show. Anyway, again I really enjoyed your page, keep up the good work.
[In a later e-mail message, Ron also wondered if anyone remembers the televised teen show called Club 1270 that appeared on channel 7 in Detroit - 1270 was of course WXYZ's frequency, and channel 7 was WXYZ-TV. It appears that the radio stations that were lucky enough to have a "sister" television station took full advantage of that situation in those days! As for being able to hear CKLW in the tunnel, Doug Fernlock <[email protected]> wrote in to note that it wasn't the normal CKLW signal that you heard while driving underneath the Detroit River. CKLW had contracted with Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Corporation to "wire" the tunnel. Doug asks, "Ever notice how much LOUDER it became once you emerged?" and adds that he worked at the Big 8 at the time that the tunnel was wired. I remember a sign hanging over the entrance to the tunnel saying something like "On your radio... In the Tunnel" and I believe it had the CKLW "Big 8" logo on it.]
Over and over the "sound" of CKLW is mentioned without ever giving credit to the man who all made us weak in the knees when we heard his work: Ed Buterbaugh. And nothing about the Gates MW-50 (one of the first ten or fifteen) that allowed Ed to push his wonderfully processed audio into the ether with a minimum of distortion and a maximum of fidelity.
Harrison Klein once commented that he thought he was pretty good at audio until he heard CKLW, ala Buterbaugh, and then he realized that he was only second best.
Only Jim Loupas of WCFL ever came that close to perfection.
[Jack's Note:] If, like me, you are not in the radio industry, you may be wondering "Who are these people?" I wrote back to Fred asking for clarification, and this is what he told me:
Buterbaugh was the CE [Chief Engineer] of CKLW and then worked at WJR. He came, via a short stint in Virginia, from WABC. [Added 9/2/08:] He lived a few miles from the CKLW transmitter site in Harrow, Ontario. As Art Vuolo, Jr. wrote on Michiguide.com, "Ed was the mastermind behind the big booming sound of the station in its hey-day as 'The Big 8.' The signal that he fine-tuned from a cluster of five towers in rural Harrow, Ontario, was legendary." Ed passed away on September 1, 2008 after suffering with bladder cancer.
Loupas was CE of Super CFL during the time of Big Ron O'Brien. Loupas later moved to Houston to do audio consulting work.
Harrison Klein was CE of KING (Seattle) during the 70's and later managing partner of Hammett and Edison, a premier west-coast consulting firm.
One of the people Harrison
"discovered" in Seattle was Greg Ogonowski who,
at one time, manufactured the Gregg Labs Audio Processor.
That box came as close to the CKLW "sound" as
anything ever produced. During the sale of WHN by Emmis
Broadcasting, when they were purchasing WNBC (now WFAN)
the only contractual piece of equipment to be moved from
WHN to WFAN was the Gregg Labs processor.
One of the things that made The Big 8 special was the quality of its Production. Studio Production, such as commercials, promotion announcments and jingles, and On Air Production from the CKLW Operators. The Production Manager that set the "Production Culture" for CKLW was Huey Turnbull, the Production Manager from the late 60's to early '70's.
I know of Huey because in early 1970 he offered me a job at CKLW. I turned him down to become the Production Manager at CHUM. Huey's production at that time was outstanding. Although I only spoke to Huey a couple of times and met him only once I always had the greatest respect for his talent. Any history of CKLW should include Huey Turnbull.
[Jack's note: The photo is the AM sound control room at the (then new) Ouelette Avenue building.]
Thanks so much for the Big 8 CKLW memories. As a radio wannabe growing up in the New York City area, I loved to punch between WABC... WMCA... WKBW... and of course CKLW. In the early to mid 60's there was never a problem with PJB. In 1966 we moved to Atlanta, Georgia where it was tough to hear CKLW with WQXI splattering on them from 790. Also about this time PJB caused much interference in the Southeast U.S. One night while back vacationing in New Jersey (I believe it was Christmas Eve 1967) I listened to CKLW with much interference from PJB. On the air was Paul Drew filling in for Mike Rivers... I'm positive it was Paul Drew. He never gave his name, and I recognized him because he had been the night jock and PD at WQXI Atlanta, just a year earlier. Nice of the boss to let the jock off Christmas Eve and work for him. Wasn't Paul Jewish? I have this on an old air check somewhere to verify. Later that week I airchecked Scotty Regan, who I dealt with years later when he was a Promo rep for 20th Century records. Perhaps my big CKLW thrill was in 1974 when I was working at WQXI Atlanta and we interviewed Randall from CKLW to join the News department. He turned down the job offer. A few years later, Bill Hennes was the consulting PD when I worked at WLCY Tampa in 1976. Bill and I would tie a few on as I sat and listened to all the Great CKLW stories. He even had an aircheck of the guy who went nuts one night on the air and started preaching religion. Who was that D.J. again?? One final question... Did CKLW alter its night time pattern when PJB came on the air? I always heard stories that the Canadian government wanted them to shoot more signal into Canada... and less into the U.S.
Refreshing to see CKLW back in the news, so to speak. What fond memories I have listening to the Drake format with "more music, more often".
While stationed in Viet Nam in 1968 and 1969, I received as asked for from WKNR, an aircheck. The 5" tape was recorded at 7 1/2 ips, and contained only a few cuts from a current playlist. The name on the 5" box it came in was marked, Recorded by: Sean Conrad. I never knew who he was, but believe it was another alias used in production. I still have the box with logo on it, although the tape is gone, but I remember a song called "Fire", and others being recorded on the tape. I also received a off air recorded tape on a 90 minute cassette with all the current CKLW playlist as well. It was then that I decided, (if I survived the war) that I would be a disc jockey at Keener.
About WKNR having a Web Site? I sure would like to create it! I worked at "Keener" in 1971, and later at WCAR and WDRQ. I was at WKNR while it was changing formats, adding a FM signal, "Stereo Island, FM 100". I collected a great deal of air checks, station ID's, promo's, etc.
I also have a 6 hour recording of WDRQ when they went on the air as the first all news/talk station in Detroit. Their first broadcast was a documentary on Detroit Radio personalities going back to WJBK Radio 15, and Jack the Bellboy, and WKMH with Robin Seymour (old Keener) and other stations from the early sixties that included station ID's, and airchecks.
I managed to run into Clark Reid from the WJBK Radio days at Ross Roy Advertising Agency in Detroit, and just two years ago I met with Byron Mac Gregor at a local event at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn. He was a great inspiration to me. We spoke of Jo Jo, and his record, "The Americans". I was saddened and shocked to hear of his death.
I just thought I would add my 2 cents to this site, and maybe get someone interested in collaborating with me on a "Keener" Web Site. The competition would be good.
So as Malissa Mulch (Scotty Reagon) would say, "we'll be right back."
[Jack's Reply:] Dennis, in regard to starting a WKNR page, by all means go for it. I'm sure that many people also have fond memories of Keener. I received a letter (in the U.S. Mail) recently from another former Keener D.J., who says that Keener 13 was the undisputed #1 station in the metro Detroit market from 1963 through 1967 (CKLW pulled ahead in the ratings after that), and he sent some ratings sheets from that period to prove it. So I'm sure that the Keener fans would appreciate having a Web page of their own!
Does anybody remember me - Bob Cordell (Bob Caudill real name) - and my disc jockey show on CKLW in the early '50s? I did the all-night show (or as they call them now "overnights") followed by Toby David in the AM slot. Born and raised in Detroit, I also worked at WJBK all-night ("Corn 'til Morn") and WKMH, morning show (with Robin Seymour in the afternoon). I really loved radio!! So much so that I am currently doing a DJ show, in a taped format, on the Aventura Cable System here in the Miami area. My show is on Channel 26, the audio portion, and the TV screen is used for subscriber information, commericals, announcements, etc. Good ol' Bob is now playing the recordings, as oldies, that he played when they were brand new on CKLW! "Here in My Heart", Al Martino, "Hey, There", Rosemary Clooney, "Cry", Johnny Ray and on and on. And, "big band music" and the music of the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's and little of the popular music of the 1960's. Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin - loaded with the beauty, the quality, all of the "good stuff". Sorry, gang, no rock 'n roll. Very commercial, very corny - I even use adjectives such as "swell" and "grand". My contemporaries love it; and so do I. Even looking for another radio "gig"; maybe syndicated. Before, I get a reminiscing lump in my throat, I better sign off with - The song is not ended, the melody does linger on - forever!!
What a pleasant surprise! My second night on the web and..lo and behold.. a page devoted to the Big 8. Incredible. Sure,(W)ABC had personality, but back then ('71-74) the Big 8 was "grittier" and fresher sounding to my young NY Radio ears. CK was the sole reason I plunked down $22 a few years back for a Lighthouse import!
CKLW always will remain near and dear to me - the station I eagerly awaited after our local 800kc (WLAD Danbury,CT) then-daytimer signed off.
Today I do weekend oldies there and still get a kick in the fall and winter when I hear the CK co-channel in the monitor.
Thank God my GM is a classic radio fan - occasionally he catches me burying a "C-K-L-W" over a Motown intro - in my best Max Kinkel, of course!
Thanks For The Memories!
Hi I'm Paul Alan,
It was nice to finally find the CKLW page. Do the sister stations from Ouellette Ave. have a page too?
Any-hoo, this was just a quick hello!
[Jack's Reply:] Paul, I believe that all the "sister stations" (excluding the CBC stations) are now operated out of the CKLW broadcast facility on Ouelette Avenue. I think they are all owned by the same company now (someone let me know if I am wrong about this). As far as I know, none of these stations have an official Web site (yet).
Hi Jack..just had to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed your CKLW webpage. Growing up in the late 50's early 60's near Pittsburgh, we enjoyed the tight sound of the The Big 8 - CKLW many a night while cruisin' in my '59 Impala. As a top 40 DJ in the 60's I never made it to a station as big as CKLW, only WQAM Miami 1968-70 as John Paul Roberts. Earlier WHOT Youngstown, OH as Jolly Rodger, etc. Thanks for the .wav files too..fabulous. Keep up the good work..it is appreciated.
Just a note to say I remember "The Big 8" from the 60's. I used to receive it in New Jersey at night. I still have my Top 100 list from 1968. It includes a song from a group then unknown on the east coast. It was Bob Segar singing "Rambling Gambling Man". Thanks for the memories. Charlie.
I just wanted to drop a short thank-you for putting together such a great page! As a radio-crazy kid of the late 60s and early 70s it brought back so any memories of sitting up late at night, whenever I could, with an old RCA table radio that I was always twisting and turning to keep up with whatever station I was listening to at the time!
For me, CKLW was an integral part of those days. Even though we had a local rocker here in Rochester, NY (WBBF 950 AM), it never seemed to sound as good to me as some of the major market stations I used to try to pick up - WABC, WLS, CKLW, WCFL, CHUM, and so many others. I must admit that WABC was my favorite (my ultimate goal at the time was to be a WABC jock - but an adult try in small-market radio that showed me to have a voice that was at best mediocre, and borderline talent- so I came to my senses and got out!) but, on many nights when WABC wouldn't come in well, a slight turn of the dial brought in CKLW, to be always remembered by me as one of the smoothest sounding stations around. Until I read your page, I never could remember who the jocks were - but your list brought back names I hadn't heard in years - "Super Max" being most prominent. I also thought that CKLW had the best jingles - I really appreciated the samples in your page - sometimes I will stop in on the page just to play the jingles!
Also, just wanted you to know how great your links are. I have explored them all, and have enjoyed each one immensely. I should have expected as much, given the quality of your page. Another link you might want to add - PAMS Productions is offering duplicates of their original jingle packages on most types of tape for many, many major stations, and is also offering duplicates of their demo packages. Cost I was quoted was $20 per station package on cassette. Cheap at twice the price! Their e-mail address is [email protected], if anyone you know might be interested.
Again, thanks for what I think is the best page on the net.
So THAT'S what happened to CKLW. Thanks. As a college student spending summers at home in Toledo '66-'68, I enjoyed the breaking Motown hits and other big songs of that era.
Robert N. Downing
Jack -- first of all, love your web site. Secondly, wondering do you (or anyone else on the site) have any airchecks of Max Kinkel when he was with CKLW?? I am a long-time listener to WCBS-FM here in New York, where Kinkel took up residence for 12 years, until he was unjustifiably terminated last year.
If you have anything, let me know by e-mail, ok??
[Note: The e-mail address that Andrea supplied at the time that she wrote is no longer valid.]
[Jack's Reply:] Both Jay Fink and Tim Benko wrote (on the same day!) to tell me that Max is now doing mornings on WCZX-FM (97.7) in Hyde Park, New York (actually, the station is licensed to Hyde Park, but the studios are in Poughkeepsie, New York and the station covers the Poughkeepsie-Kingston market). WCZX is a 3000 watt oldies station that is co-owned with WPDH in Poughkeepsie.
Actually, this might be a good place to mention a video tape that I was recently given a copy of, called "Vuolo Video Air-Chex" Number 12. This is "The WNIC Detroit Radio Reunion Tape" made on May 17-19, 1985. Several former CKLW jocks are featured but there are several minutes of Max Kinkel on the tape. You can not only hear, but also see Max at work!
Other former CKLW personalities on the tape (more or less in order of appearance) include Scott Regan, "Brother" Bill Gable, Hal Martin, Big Jim Edwards, Byron MacGregor and his wife JoJo, Tom Shannon, Gary Burbank, and Pat Holiday. Also on the tape is producer Art Vuolo, Jr. It's a great tape but unfortunately I do not know if it is still available for purchase direct from Mr. Vuolo (but see next paragraph). And Mr. Vuolo is not currently on the Internet [Update: No longer true, see vuolovideo.com]. However, I do have a mail address: Art Vuolo, Jr., P.O. Box 880, Novi, Michigan 48376. As I understand it, Mr. Vuolo is also the owner of "The Radioguide People, Inc." in Southfield, Michigan (voice +1 248 355-0022, or fax +1 248 355-0690).
After I posted the above information, Robert Grimsley wrote with this additional information:
This is my second email. I revisited your page after getting some audio and video airchecks from The Aircheck Factory, whose address is listed on your main page. I first ordered the anniversary audio tapes, and they also sent a catalog. If you ask, they will also send a videotape sheet, and on it is the 1985 "Vuolo Video Air-Chex" Number 12 tape that is mentioned on the 'listener recollection' page, so you might want to update that part of the page with this info. Price is $20 plus shipping. A GREAT tape, you can see what many of the announcers look like and see them at work. There is one priceless moment when one of the DJ's starts imitating Byron MacGregor, then turns around and sees him standing there (he and his wife had just shown up).
A few other CKLW airchecks are in the listing as well.
Thanks again for the great page.
Thanks for a blast from the past,
As a boy I spent many an hour listening to
CKLW. After two tours overseas I came back to Ohio
eagerly scanning my radio dial for my favorites. My old
friend that I had listened to on every radio I had ever
I truly appreciate the time and effort you've put into the CKLW page. When I saw your page come up as a result of an unrelated web search, I was shocked. I immediately found myself chanting the "C-K-L-W" call letters, just as I heard them over 20 years ago.
I know that my story is probably nothing special to most, but after reading your page I feel compelled to share it, so here goes:
Twenty one (22) years ago I only 8 years old and growing up in Pontiac, Michigan. No one in my house cared much for radio. My only exposure to music was from the records my mom and dad had. Somewhere along the line, at probably at a friend's house, I had heard a few songs on the radio and became determined to get my own radio someday.
I finally met with my goal when the church I attended started handing out "gold nuggets" in Sunday school that could be redeemed for prizes. While all the other kids in my class were spending their nuggets on candy and balloons, I was saving every last nugget I could get for a little red AM transistor radio. After months of memorizing Bible verses and bringing neighbors to class, I finally saved enough nuggets to purchase that little red radio.
I only knew of one station in the Detroit area and as long as I lived there, I never remember flipping the dial. I literally fell in love with music listening to CKLW. I remember listening to it in my room and out behind the church after services. I can vividly remember arguing with an adult once over the fact that FM radio could never be better than AM, since CKLW was not on FM.
I have to admit that I never knew CKLW was such a force in radio when I was a kid. I just thought it was a good local radio station. But when my family moved to Florida in 1977 I missed the station terribly. I'd like to say that my love for music inspired me to be a musician or song writer, but that would be too dramatic a claim. But I can say that the memories that I still retain from ages 8 to 11 can easily be associated with the music from that era....... The music that I listened to on that little red radio, permanently stuck on AM800.
Thanks for the Memories,
I was delighted to find the Big 8 page! I was married to Bill Winters (morning man on the Big 8 from Aug 1970-March 1971.) I was a radio kid, and met Bill when we both worked at WPOP in Hartford. I had listened to CKLW since I was about 12 years old, and was super-excited when (I think it was) Alden Diehl hired Bill for the morning show! I personally didn't get to know many of the guys at CKLW, but do remember Byron MacGregor coming to our apartment for dinner! Our daughter was only 2 when we lived in Windsor, but radio's running in her blood. She's promotion director for WDRC AM/FM in Hartford, CT. Thanks for the re-wind after all these years!
Congratulations on a great site!
Just as all of the others who have written, I must thank you for an incredible blast from the past. I grew up in the Ypsilanti area of Michigan (about 20 miles west of Detroit), and was a rabid Big 8 fan from the age of 5 until now. I used to do mock radio shows in my bedroom as a child with a portable cassette recorder, and did my best to re-create the sounds of all those incredible jocks, and radio stuck with me throughout my life.
Over the years I've worked at stations from Macon GA to Detroit, and currently I am the Production Director at WXKR in Toledo. But my biggest regret is that I never got a chance to work at CKLW.
I did manage to work with a couple of former Big 8 staffers while I was a jock at WCZY in Detroit. I worked with Dick Purtan & his morning staff for about 5 years, before taking off to try mornings for myself. One of the treasures I was able to get my hands on from John "Ankles" Stewart (Dick's producer) was a copy of the original Big 8 jingle package right off the master reel. I still put this tape on in my studio, and wish that I only had a chance to be a part of that kind of on air magic. The price you pay for being born too late I guess.
Keep the great stuff coming, and thank you again for keeping "The Legend" alive.
This is going to amount to a love letter. A love letter to a happy time in my life. I grew up listening to CKLW night and day. Here in Northwestern Pennsylvania, at that time, had no station even remotely like CK. Everyone listened, at home, in the car, on transistor radios. The signal came in all the time here. Somtimes it got scratchy, but that didn't matter, this was the Big 8.
I used to play the radio all night, a habit I haven't given up, and CKLW was always on. I discovered the station in 1967 and loved it. I didn't know why at the time, I just did. I now know that I was drawn by the way the jocks were able to inject personality in such small segments, I was drawn by the music of the time, and it was part of our lives. You would go to school the next day and ask if everybody heard the new Marvin Gaye song, or the new Temptations tune, or did you hear that CK was giving away thousand of dollars in cash. We all wanted to get part of that action.
Another reason I was drawn was that I always wanted to be a jock. I practiced on my little reel to reel recorder introing songs and practicing. I knew that I wanted to be one of the guys on the radio. Who knew? I will soon be celebrating my 20th anniversary on the air. I didnt make the big time, but CKLW was gone by the time I got into the business. Like Letterman always dreamed about the Tonight Show, I dreamed about CK. If I was going to leave this area, this is the only station that could tempt me. I sampled other stations, sure, like WABC and WCFL, but always returned to the one that brung me, CKLW.
I have what I call a distinction in the business, in nearly 20 years, I haven't been fired once. Of course, I have stayed with small market stations where there is more security. For ten years, I was morning man and program Director in Greenville Pennsylvania at WGRP, then moved on to WZPR, a 20 Thousand watt regional country outlet covering Northwest Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio. I flirted with talk and news on our AM side for a while, but I am now back on ZPR. I realize that I am a jock and always want to be a jock. That's my legacy from CKLW.
I thank any and everyone who built up the Big 8 and thank you for putting up a web page that has kept me throughly entertained for the past couple of nights.
AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMIN.....CKLW-THE MOTOR CITY.
Since before your sun burned hot in space, and before your race was born, I have awaited......my cable guy!
Keith A. Amolsch
Just a short note to say how much I LOVED the Big-8 site. Our family once had a cottage on Lake Erie near Colchester, so close to the transmitter that the standard joke was that you didn't need batteries in your transistor radio on the beach to pick it up.
The other great thing was driving around the sweeping curve on highway 18 at the site, when all you could get from 530 to 1710 was the Big-8!
My mom used to think I was nuts, sitting in my room at age 12, pretending I was Dave Shafer or Joe Van or Bud Davies or Tom Shannon, spinning songs like "I Got You, Babe," or "Eve of Destruction" (followed shortly thereafter of course by 'tomorrow's Big one' - "Dawn of Correction.")
I did get into the business -- 20 years ago this summer I started in news at CKWW up the street, where I would often run into Bill Gable at the Wandlyn hotel -- truly one of the nicest guys in the world, who always had time for an awe-struck rookie.
And it was a wonderful treat to work with Rosalie Trombley in the 1980's in Toronto.
Anyway, this isn't short at all, is it? I tend to get carried away when I think of the Big-8.
Thanks again, and best wishes.
Well...as a boy growing up in the Motor City and going through the Tunnel to Windsor and Leamington every summer, I'd be able to carry "The Big 8" wherever I went...and usually went to sleep with it at night too! I remember dialing those 7 magic numbers 2-9-8-6-0-8-0 (being the contest line from Detroit) and having to hang-up and do it again (this was the days before the magic REDIAL button on the phone!) because the line was busy. There were a few times that I got through, and I know that I will always have fond memories of the station. I was very excited when they resurrected the format a few years back, and disappointed when it went by the wayside again. Fortunately, the memories are with me and they can't change that.
Maybe someday it'll be back....?
Ray Roney, Clinton Township, MI
[Something] that will be familiar to zillions of readers of your page is the CKLW "hop promos," and the every-weekend and mid-week appearances by CK jocks at local high schools to introduce bands, give away records, etc. During the two-and-a-half years that I was the prime night-time jock on The Big 8, I made just under 300 such stops (I kept records for tax purposes) as far away as central Ohio (most every week in the northern areas of Ohio), the far southeastern tip of the Ontario Peninsula, western Michigan, and, of course, up to the "thumb" of Michigan and all over the Detroit/Windsor metro area. Thanks to a local promotion company that managed almost all of the major local super-bands, we had amazingly big names showing up to play at average high school and junior high hops with us everywhere around the Motor City.
[.....] I'd be particularly appreciative if you'd add some tribute on your page to the role played by those Board Ops. I'm a big fan of them all -- particularly of my trusty (and still brilliant) co-worker and friend Frank Lee (who owns a thriving multi-media production business in Farmington Hills, Michigan, by the way).
[Jack's Note:] Steve did not want me to quote his entire message verbatim, but he did give me permission to pick out passages which I thought would add to the page, and I have taken liberal advantage of that. I did add Steve's tribute to the board ops to the main portion of the page, and a well-deserved tribute it is - in many ways the board ops were truly the "unsung heroes" that "made" the fantastic "CKLW sound" that we all remember!
Please add this to the Classic CKLW page when you do your next update. It would make me very proud to be a part of this great thing you have done for all who loved THE BIG 8!
I just keep returning to the Classic CKLW page! I'm glad to see Steve Jolly's (Steve Hunter) tribute to the contribution that the board operators made to the sound of CKLW.
I operated for Steve many times, and always loved it when he would call for a song that would allow me to put my talents on display by doing a really tight "layunder" into the vocal or "hitpoint" of the intro! It would take a great deal of planning, and we would all practice the layunder on the cue system about 5 times to make sure it would come off flawlessly, with the mixing levels being controlled perfectly.
I used to think that I owned the top of the hour and half-hour breaks, (the most important breaks of the hour) because it was there that you HAD to shine!
Although I worked for some excellent very large Canadian radio stations on-air and in supervisory positions, those times in the control room doing the live production that contributed so much to the fabulous sound of THE BIG 8 were the pinnacle of my radio career!
In early 1970, when I joined the BIG 8, I was told by Program Director Paul Drew that I was allowed to make three mistakes in my period at CKLW. "Whether you make them in the first hour, first week, or over 5 years, you're gone from here" were his words! I lasted just about 10 days short of the probation period before joining a very large crowd that also had their "3 strikes"
All in all, it was the best place I ever could have worked, and in doing so, I realized a dream that began in 1965 when CKLW really began to be noticed on the radio dial.
Thank-you for making it possible for all these people to remember the greatest radio station that ever sent audio down a broadcast line! Steve, thank-you for giving us board ops our due after so many years, I love 'ya for it!
Regards to you all, J. Lee Smith
[Jack's Reply:] Your comments about the "three strikes" policy reminds me of a conversation I overheard in a record store somewhere in Eastern Michigan sometime in the late 60's (how's that for specific?!). Anyway, someone who knew someone who worked at CKLW was remarking about the restrictions the D.J.'s had to work under - they could only talk for so long between songs (I think the limit mentioned was ten seconds), the format was tightly controlled, etc. Of course, the way the person talking carried on, you'd have thought that CKLW totally stifled all creativity. Actually, I now realize that it took far more than the average amount of creativity to do what you guys did, and do it within the tight timing constraints imposed by the station managers of that time (and the Drake format). I'll bet I wouldn't have lasted a full day in that situation, so I have a lot of respect for those who had what it takes to keep the tight CKLW sound going without mistakes.
But in passing I will also offer the opinion that perhaps Mr. Drew was just a wee bit TOO harsh - would he really have fired a good board op who made only his third mistake after five years? Talk about expecting PERFECTION!
I'm Bob Steele. I work for CBC Radio which now resides in the Riverside Drive building which used to be CKLW. I enjoy your web site and for someone who grew up in Windsor, appeared on the Jerry Booth and Larry Sands show (a grand prize winner no less), on Swingin' Time with Robin Seymor and listened as millions of others did to CKLW, it contains many memories.
I'm e-mailing you today because I thought you'd be intersted to know that our landmark tower is coming down!...not completely but the height is being reduced drastically.
One group of the guy wires that hold it in position is anchored on property once owned by C.P. (Canadian Pacific). C.P. sold that land to a private developer last year and the new owner wants the guy wires gone. CBC evidently leased the land on a year to year basis from C.P. for a nominal sum. The new owners wanted to renegotiate with the CBC - they now wanted $25,000 per year. Obviously, a cash strapped CBC said no way, the upshot being that the tower will be shorter to a point where it can send the signal out to our transmitter in McGregor, Ont. The job is almost completed now.
Some problems have arisen as a result of the shortening of the tower. Our television reception in the downtown area has been affected..lots of complaints.
Anyway that's it for now...thought you'd be interested to know.
[Jack's Reply:] I'll bet there's a hockey fan out there somewhere that's having a real chuckle over this development!
I'm a "Jock" working at an Adult Standards station (WABY AM/FM) in Albany, New York, and I just have to tell you how great it is reading about one of the stations that made me want to pursue this crazy business of radio as a career. I used to dx and listen to CKLW, along with WCFL (The Voice of Labor), WABC, WNBC and the two local Top 40 stations in the Capital District of New York (Albany - Schenectady - Troy) WTRY and WPTR. I also remember lstening to "Super Max" when he was at WTRY. It's nice to see he's moved upstate from NYC to Poughkeepsie, maybe I'll be able to catch him on the air "Live" again soon. I'll be returning to visit your web site so I can spend more time reliving a part of the reason I'm waking up everyday to go to work at a job that I love. Thanks for stirring up some fond memories and letting me remember a time when the people that played the music were as exciting and fun as the music itself. By the way, the accolade and awards you received for your web page are well deserved.
I don't know how much I can add to the pages and pages of lovingly compiled memories of CKLW and its people, but I thought I might send just a few notes to you...Charlie O'Brien mentioned the last months of CKLW, before the format was changed to Big Band...when some 40 employees both north AND south of the border were handed their walking papers. I have vivid memories of that experience myself - I was morning show co-host at the time.
In 1984, Dick Purtan's former sidekick Tom Ryan, along with funnyman and writer Tom Delisle were replaced by the team of Paul W. Smith, a Toledo DJ, and Erin Davis, who had risen from morning newscaster to the position of morning show co-host (er...that would be me.) We survived the death of the FOX, but not the demise of the Big 8 - in October - just a matter of days after the Detroit Tigers had won the World Series, the staff was gathered for the announcement that many of us would be looking for new employment, as CKLW was changing format and (horror of horrors!) going automated. In a way, given the tension and disappointments that had reverberated around those hallowed halls in the preceding months, it was a relief. But to give you a bit of an idea of the magnitude of this move, the story made it to the TV news that evening in Detroit! "They're changing the locks at the Big 8..." - not unlike a funeral announcement. Not at all.
As one door closes, another opens, and I've surfaced at Toronto's (and Canada's) most-listened to FM Radio Station - CHFI FM 98. Been co-hosting mornings here for 8 years now. And guess which other CKLW alumnus I get to work with? None other than FRANK BRODIE! He no longer goes by his middle names; here in Toronto, our midday host is the immensely popular Mike Marshall (like THAT wasn't a radio name to start with, huh?)
Anyway, just thought I'd put my two cents worth. (or slightly less than a penny U.S.) And thanks for the memories.
Yours very truly,
It was 1969. I was Production Manager of CJOB-AM/FM Winnipeg Manitoba.
The Rock and Roll Radio World didn't know much about Winnipeg then, but we were the home of Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Freddy Turner, Neil Young, Chuck Hanks/Riley/Dann, George Johns, J. Robert Wood, Richard Scott, Bill MacDonald, Ronald J. Morey, and E. Patrick Withrow.
If you don't know who those people are you haven't been paying attention.
It was time for me to leave Winnipeg. Bill MacDonald got a job at CHUM in Toronto. I wanted to join him. J. Robert interviewed me. I wasn't his first choice. He didn't tell who was, but encouraged me by saying that first choice would be encouraged to hire me. I went back to Winnipeg disappointed.
Then some guy named Huey Turnbull called. Was I the best Production Man in Canada?
Would I like to work at The Big 8?
What is The Big 8?
Well, it's the #1 station in Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit.
Never heard of it. Send me an aircheck.
So I called CHUM and told them that I had until noon the next day to make a decision. At 11:30 J. Robert called. I took the job at CHUM.
It wasn't until later that I heard Robert's first choice was Huey Turnbull. He told Huey about me in the interview. Huey went back to the Big 8, was persuaded to stay and tried to hire me for CKLW.
I like so many other just stumbled across The Big 8 page and was quickly taken back in time to a wonderful era. The Big 8 WAS radio then. I remember falling to sleep at night with my 6 transistor radio tuned to CK....there just was no other station that could measure up to this giant.
Growing up outside of Toledo, Ohio and listening to CKLW, I pursued a broadcasting career....of couse the aim was to one day have Bill Drake announce MY name at the top-of-the-hour. I did work at WTTO shortly after Jim Davis joined CK, and was in fact hired there by Jim Felton...also a Big 8 alumni (I can't recall his air-name). Also worked briefly with Pat Bergin (later known as Pat St. John).
I sent many an aircheck to Windsor, but unfortunately never quite made the cut. I did however enjoy nearly 20 years in the business....leaving as Program Director of K-100 (then WKLR) in Toledo to pursue other interests.
Just wanted to let you know that after looking at the graphic of 'CKLW Big 30', I thought I might be able to fill in the other names. I have a copy of the 'CKLW Solid Gold' double LP circa 1968. On the inside cover is a picture of the then current staff, looking like they are dressed in exactly the same clothes as your graphic. Anyway, its looks as if these are the names to go with the faces.....front to back: Eddie Russell, Gary Hart, Daryl B, Steve Hunter, Frank Brodie, Duke Roberts and of course Big Jim Edwards.
One final note...one of the most memorable experiences concerning radio happend back in 1972. I was working at WTTO at the time. It was about 10pm and I had been in the Production Room most of the evening...and the 6 - 10 jock was just coming off of his shift. For some reason, I convinced him to ride with me to Windor so we could 'drive by' the studios of CKLW. Of course once we were there, I had to get in. (NO WAY) The night guard told me to leave or he would call the police. I asked him to hand deliver a note to the on-air guy (Dave Schaffer)...and he said he would. I remember the guard walking back toward the front glass doors, opening them and saying "I could get fired for this!". I could barely walk. He lead us both back to the studio. What happened and what was said is somewhat fuzzy these days. I only can tell you that Dave was extremely cordial, talked to us for several minutes....and there is no way to describe the feeling of standing in that studio and hearing the old "Top of the Hour" id come blaring through the monitor.. not just hearing it but feeling it. I'll never forget it. Jack thanks for the page...I truly enjoyed it.
Thanks for the great memories!!! I used to listen to CKLW in NY and then we moved to North East Ohio (Ashtabula) and even though we could listen to local Ashtabula WREO-AM and Cleveland stations, we would always try to get CKLW. They played the best songs, the widest variety, and more music.
I talked to an older lady the other day that was from Detroit and we could have talked for hours about the memories of both her childhood and mine. I remember listening to some of the songs that had mixed different questions with songs, like having somebody ask "what is your name" and then the song would answer "(singing) Peggy, Peggy Sue", was there ever a name for that type of recording???
I bought an album (LP) from a store in Cleveland that was supposed to be put out by CKLW. I have always wondered if they really did the albums, or if it was something from a local record company that was recorded off the air.
I was in Germany (84-87, when it was still East/West) and was told that there are few radio stations as strong as CKLW, but they have SWF3 which is rebroadcast from many towers at many frequencies, and they said it covered(s) a range as big or bigger than CKLW. My personal opinion is that they are the two best radio stations in the history of radio.
Again, thanks for the great memories.
[Jack's Reply:] I'm familiar with the type of novelty recording you are talking about. Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman made the first such record, entitled "The Flying Saucer", in 1956. After that, Dickie Goodman had serveral more songs of this type (possibly the best-remembered one was "Mr. Jaws"). I'm not sure there was any specific name for that type of recording, though. As for the CKLW albums, there were two - "CKLW Solid Gold" and "CKLW Solid Gold Vol. 2", both on the "Post" label. Unfortunately, these albums contained music only, no CKLW jingles or liners. These albums were promoted heavily by CKLW on the air, and I would assume that CKLW received a commission for each album sold.
I recently submitted a link to your CKLW page which you may be interested in. Like your CKLW page, it is also dedicated to a radio station; Musicradio WABC.
The address is http://musicradio.computer.net (No WWW in the address).
But, that is not the main reason for this message. I want to congratulate you on a terrific page for CKLW. It was the inspiration for my WABC page. These days on the net there are so many pages full of fancy graphics and files. And, they are a lot of fun. But, the best pages are those with content. Your CKLW page has tons of content and I tried to do the same with my page. It is not the graphics or pictures that really make for a great page. It is good writing and enthusiasm.
If you can display some emotion and excitement with content, then you have created a great page. You have done that, and done it so well that you gave me the incentive to do the WABC page. I have similar feelings for Musicradio WABC that you have for Classic CKLW.
And what a response to it!!! I guess you have experienced the same thing. There are SO many people out there who remember these great Top 40 radio stations and have affection for them. It'a almost like giving permission to secret radio freaks to start talking about their favorite station. I receive e mail everyday. It makes checking my e mail the high point of my day!
Now, about CKLW. I was a big time AM radio DX'er (I'm also a ham) and I listened to CKLW frequently. What a sound. Of the Bill Drake stations that I heard (WRKO, WOR-FM) I thought it was the best executed. And, as many of your previous writers have noted, it had that unique sound that smoked its way through the AM broadcast "ether" at night. I was always sure they were way above 100% modulation given the bandwidth. I met Max Kinkel a few years ago. He told me that he was hesitant to start doing a specialty format (as he did with oldies at CBS-FM) because he enjoyed Top 40 at CKLW so much.
Anyway Jack, you did great job with your page. I hope I can come close with the Musicradio WABC page. This stuff is SO much fun.....
[Jack's Reply:] First, thank you for all the nice complements, but please keep in mind that I couldn't have done this page without all the contributions from people that have sent in stories, rememberences, airchecks, etc. Hopefully you will get this same type of participation from readers of your page. Second, I hope we are the first of many pages devoted to some of the great radio stations of the 60's and 70's - the great sound of many of those stations may be forever lost unless someone documents it.
There were nights when AM reception conditions were such that I could not receive CKLW, but WABC was just booming in. I remember listening to Cousin Brucie and some of the others late at night. I doubt that the magic (or the production values) of radio in those days will ever be recaptured!
My story comes from 1981.
I was the afternoon announcer at WLAD (800 AM) in Danbury, Connecticut when I received a call from a woman who was upset about our programming.
"You play such beautiful music at night and your talent is so wonderful... but in the daytime you have awful music and the person now on the air has no talent."
I was the person then on the air.
Actually, she was listening to CKLW after daytimer WLAD signed off. The "wonderful music" was the big band/nostalgia format that followed the "Big Eight" that we all remember.
Mike in Florida
Enjoyed your CKLW page...I listened many evenings during the 60's and 70's here in New Jersey.
I'm surprised that you don't include a picture of their QSL card!! Do you want one for the page? I can scan mine and forward it.
[Jack's Comment:] As you can see, I took Bob up on his kind offer. For those who were not into the radio hobby, what would happen is that a listener would send a radio station a reception report (describing what they heard and how well the station was coming in) and then maybe the station would send back a "QSL" card such as the one shown, to prove that the listener had indeed heard the station.
I was born in a small town outside of Detroit, but was a military brat and moved around quite a bit so I didn't grow up there. By the time I left active duty myself in 1969, my father had retired from the Navy and moved back to Michigan. Needless to say CKLW became my favorite radio station. It was of short duration though, as I went back into the Army in 1971 when the automotive industry was in a slump. Whenever I went back to Michigan to visit in the years followed, I always knew I was almost home when I could turn in CKLW as I drove north up I-75. Just thought I'd share that with you.
Back in the mid 60's to early '70s CKLW was the station we listened to. We lived midway between Dayton, Ohio and Lima, Ohio. We always knew when it was 9:00 PM, the station disappeared when they cut the power back. I still have a record album from the Big 8 Jocks sold around 1969.
My favorite memory is "Secret Search for the Edge of the Turning World" soap opera. But I can't forget Ranger Bob. The first year or so we always wondered what Celsius was when they gave the temperature.
[Jack's Reply:] Actually, I don't think it was so much a cut in power as a change in the directional pattern of the signal. Because AM radio signals travel much further at night, many stations sign off the air at dusk, and most of the stations that remain on the air must make adjustments in either signal strength or directional pattern of radiated signal to protect other stations on the same frequency. I don't think that CKLW cut their power, but I do believe that they changed their pattern to try and put more energy toward the east and north... they were, after all, a Canadian station, so the CRTC probably wasn't real interested in seeing them pump all their energy toward the U.S. at night.
Just a comment on a minor point after perusing your wonderful page: XELO (The old calls) / XEROK is not and never was directional. The reason that CKLW is directional (and all the other Canadian stations on 800 like Montreal, Moose Jaw, etc.) is to protect XELO that is the North American primary station on 800.
TWR is directional only to steer the 500 kw signal according to the language used. It is not and never has been a "poor" station. They have had one of the finest technical facilities on the planet with some of the best most dedicated engineers known. TWR, by being on a non-treaty signatory territory (Bonaire) simply parked themselves on a nice channel and drove the more close by occupants elsewhere.
I've just spent the last 3 hours reading and listening to the airchecks on your "Big 8" page. As a suburban youngster growing up in Mt. Clemens (15 min. North of Detroit), for my 7th Christmas I recieved a transistor radio, and I was hooked. I had that radio everywhere I went, tuned of course, to CKLW. It was only natural, that's the station mom & dad had playing constantly, but now I could take it with me. Many a summer, all through the neighborhood, you could hear all my friends' radios...tuned to the Big 8. The first radio contest I ever won, I think I was 8 or 9, was an album from CKLW. I remember it well, they were giving one album away per hour. Elton John, then Tony Orlando & Dawn....I wanted to win that Elton John album soooooooo bad. Well, I finally got through, but they were giving away Tony Orlando that hour. Oh well, I had won something, albeit Tony Orlando, from the ONLY radio station there was, at least as far as me and my friends were concerned. They say you can never go back, but you've proved them wrong. If only for a little while, I was once again an 8 year old boy, "hoppin & boppin" on the front porch with my buddies to CKLW.
Thank You and, WELL DONE.
Jeff Zimnickas, AEMT
I listened to CKLW in the early 70's, and loved it. Actually the first station of this 'format' I loved was WKLO, 1080 from Louisville, Kentucky. They had a format that seems to have been directly copied from CKLW, which I discovered shortly thereafter.
I have a few questions:
CKLW and its imitators seem to have employed reverberation in their sound. Is this true, and how?
It seemed like the stations also speeded up the records just slightly, to jazz things up and make the other stations sound slow by comparison. And it didn't seem to affect the pitch - was there a device they used to perform this magic?
Thanks for a great page. I also loved WLS and WCFL from Chicago, mostly for their humorous DJ's. I always disliked WABC; they seemed lethargic by comparison, sometimes even talking over the beginning of the record.
[Jack's Reply:] I don't have the answers you seek, but I will say this much: Sometimes when I hear an older song played from a CD, or on an oldies station of today, it seems slower than I remember it. I personally do not believe that the stations speeded up the records (until someone in the know says otherwise, anyway), in part because the equipment to do that without changing the pitch would have been rather exppensive back then. On the other hand, bear in mind that radio stations didn't go out and buy their records at the local K-Mart; instead they received "broadcast pressings" (is that the correct terminology?) from the record manufacturer. I suppose it is possible that some record manufacturers (which certainly would have been able to afford the equipment) COULD have produced slightly speeded-up copies for radio stations, though I'm not sure what incentive they'd have to release a faster version to the stations. I'd welcome any knowledgeable comments on the points raised by Mr. Grimsley (one response follows).
You and Bobby Grimsley are right--CKLW (along with many, many other top-40 stations) sped up their records. This was done to make the station sound 'brighter' or 'more lively' than the competition, in hopes that listeners would appreciate the more upbeat sound. Usually, turntables were sped up about 2 to 2.5 per cent. In my disc jockey days, I'd worked at stations where the turntables were bumped as much as about four per cent. Sometimes, though, this really hacked up the sound of a recording--for example, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sounds absolutely HORRID sped up.
Sometimes, record companies would cooperate with the stations. Two examples that I can recall (and I'm sure there are others), are Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue," and Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street." In both cases, the 45 rpm singles issued to the radio stations contained noticably sped-up versions compared to the versions on the LPs. Imperial Records was in the habit of bumping up most of Fats Domino's releases. A recent, 4-CD box set of the "Fat Man" has many of these songs being played back at their originally recorded speeds for the first time.
In a famous (at least among jazz fans) case, Columbia Records released the seminal Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue" from a master tape that they didn't realize ran too fast. Trumpeters all over the world tried to copy Miles' licks--and they couldn't understand why Miles could hit the notes, but they couldn't. It's because the master tape was unintentionally played back at the wrong speed, changing the pitch of the recording! For about 30 years, all the recordings of this wonderful album were heard in a way the artist never intended. A few years ago, whoever now owns the tapes (it may still be Columbia) decided to re-release the album on CD, but with the tape played back at the proper speed. There was a hue and cry among jazz fans--many thought that, after so many years of hearing things the wrong way, the record company was tampering with history, and should have left the recording alone.
I don't know when the equipment first came out--I didn't see it until the mid-80s--but I know of at least one electronic device, called a Harmonizer, which can change the pitch of a recording. It would be a simple matter to speed up a turntable to pick up the tempo of a record. then feed that signal into a Harmonizer, and use the device to drop the pitch of the recording. There may well be recent, more sophisticated equipment now available--since I've not jocked for almost ten years, I'm a little out of date when it comes to technology.
Hope this long, rambling message helps!
[Jack's Reply:] And thank you, Vic, for the quick response (less than 24 hours after posting Bobby Grimsley's message!). Of course, nowadays anybody with a sound card in their computer and the proper software can change the speed or pitch of an audio sample (music or speech). But in the sixties the equipment to do this was brand new... I remember reading an article about this technology when I was a teenager.
Read the piece on The Page about speeding up records. As you noted, some stations speeded everything up by adjusting the turntables. The problem with that was that everything was speeded up.
At CHUM, there were a number of records we speeded up over the Top 40 years....but how much each was speeded up depended on the song. We did this by dubbing the records to quarter inch tape and then winding splicing tape around the capstan. We then transferred the song to cart. One song from that era that most everyone speeded up a bit was Killing Me Softly (With His Song). Perhaps your readers will remember others.
Another subject someone might like to address was editing records, which happened quite a lot particularly in the mid-seventies. In fact, I heard once that CK Production Manager, Huey Turnbull edited an Elton John record that the record company reissued with his edit. Two edits that I recall doing at CHUM were I'm A Man by Chicago and The First Cut Is the Deepest by Keith Hampshire. Copies were sent to all the stations in the CHUM Group.
[Jack's Reply:] Thanks, Warren. I am aware that records were edited for any number of reasons, from removing lyrics considered a bit too racy to changing the length of a song to promoting the radio station. The one I remember was a song called "Life is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)" by a group called Reunion. It seemed that just about every major radio station had their own version of this song, with the words "the radio" replaced by some reference to the station - so that on CKLW it became "Life is a Rock (but the Big 8 Rolled Me)". In Chicago it was "...but CFL Rolled Me" (on WCFL, of course) and so on. Then, of course, there were the songs where the name of a local DJ would be inserted (there are a few examples on the "American Airchexx" segment that you can listen to via the link on the main page). But that is something different... those edits were doubtless provided by the record companies themselves (to encourage extra airplay of their records!). Here we are talking about edits made at the station itself, and I'm not that familiar with those. Anyone know more about this?
I still keep in touch with Randall Carlisle, my old CK news buddy, who is the top tv anchor in Salt Lake City. He is the one who turned me on to the CKLW web page. I would like to hear from any of the old crew that wants to communicate.
I am an attorney in Southern California and kept up my radio career until 1988 at KRLA in Los Angeles. One of the key reasons I got hired was because of my CKLW background.
I grew up in Toledo and my memories of hiding under the covers with my cheap transistor radio (after my folks had gone to bed) still stand out in my mind. I was 13 years old and living in Toledo when I first heard a record on CKLW by a new group (at least it was for me) by a girl group called The Supremes. It was called "When The Lovelight Starts Shining In Your Eyes".......it totally blew me away!!!! I initially thought that it was a Phil Spector record (of which I considered to be fantastic), but the dj said that the girls were from Detroit. Hmmmm, a Motown sound that didn't sound like Motown. I was in LOVE!!!! Thus started a life time love affair with Diana and the girls, Martha, Marvelettes, etc. My record collection is bursting with extremely hard to find Motown classics and I feel that without Motown I would not be able to appreciate soul music. Thanks to CKLW and following their record surveys faithfully (they were words from "God") I was able to keep up with the current music scene. I have many CK surveys from days of yore......which I have collected and reflect on every now and then.
I remember my folks let me go to my first BIG out of town concert/type affair. The Beatle Bash with Tom Clay at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. I even have the record interview "Remember, We Don't Like Them....We Love Them" that he recorded when he went to England to interview the Beatles. Anyways, these are some of my fond memories of CKLW during the sixties,
[Jack's Reply:] Thanks for the message, Gary, your experience parallels mine in many ways... I used to lie in bed at night and listen to CKLW as well. In fact I visited a friend in Toledo for a week during the time of "The Legend" format on CKLW-FM, and once again I turned on a radio at night before I went to sleep for the first time in years... and I honestly felt like I was 16 again for just that brief time (for me, hearing "The Legend" during that week was better than a week on a cruise ship!). Only a couple of minor nits to pick with Gary's message, though. First, I believe the correct title of the Supremes record in question was "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" and Gary is right, it was a great record, one of the Supremes' best. The only other thing I would add is that while the CKLW surveys were impressive, I don't think they were exactly carved in stone and brought down from a mountain by Moses, or anything like that! However, it must have taken some effort to compile those lists, and we can thank whoever at CKLW (probably several people over the years) took the time and effort to produce these lists each week.
Good grief, a CKLW page! I stumbled across this by accident while researching something else. I'm an ex-Detroiter (moved to California in 1979), but listened to CKLW relentlessly after the untimely death of WKNR (arguably the greatest radio station ever) in 1972. I also did an interview with Tom Shannon during his second run on the station in the late 70s. FYI, I also have a near-complete collection of CKLW surveys from the first one (Monkees on cover) in 1967 to about 1979 or so. Up for trading if anyone's game. I would love to fill in my gaps on WKNR and WJBK surveys if anyone has them. Would also love to know the whereabouts of Scott Regen, the greatest announcer to ever grace the Detroit/Windsor airwaves. Let us know if we can help.
Best, Mike McDowell
What a great page you have established for CKLW. That's the first account I have had of who came out for Byron's funeral. Clark Weston and I worked the odd shift together. I'd love to contact him and also Grant Hudson ... I'll come back and follow the links.
One of the guys in the CFBC newsroom brought me a piece of wirecopy about the funeral ... They'd heard me speak of him so many times, his death impacted on people who had never heard or heard of CKLW.
I considered Byron a friend as well as my News Director, and we had many a conversation away from the madding crowd. I remember one night particularly when we sat down in the lounge of the Viscount Sheraton down the street, and he told me of the concerns he had about the growing nastiness in the newsroom (it was negotiation time with NABET).
I was hired essentially because "nine four FM News, Windsor's News Voice" had been neglected and management decided to do something. I remember Grant Hudson and I sitting at the big "lazy susan" in the middle of the newsroom, and at 10 to 4 Grant says "all ready"?? Now I'd just hit Windsor, hadn't had a briefing from Byron, and I was sort of waiting, I dunno, for the tour maybe??? Nope. "You're on at 4" says Grant. Steve Abhrams op'd the board, and I managed to get my mouth around Wyandotte and Tecumseh... Great stuff!!! I have many other good memories...
I came back to Saint John after leaving CKLW in the mid 70's, and became News Director of CFBC, and although the writing was toned down I encouraged the hard, or as Grant Hudson would call it, the "formal" style of news show delivery. Once, driving through the area, Ginger Jones, (Gwenneth Price-Jones) called up and asked ..."are you the same Derek Chase ??"'' etc etc. Anyway, she promised to copy me her air-check collection and didn't. (Helloooo)
I am now Deputy-Mayor of the City, and therefore have taken a necessary leave from radio news. If I am crushed by political defeat, I expect to be back on air, deliriously happy, by 8 AM the following morning!
Congratulations on a terrific page and thanks for the mentions. Surprised you caught my shot at Paul Drew on WGRR a few weeks back. I came to CKLW in August, 1966 to replace Bud Davies on the morning show. Still don't know why they (a) ditched Davies who was pretty good, or (b) thought I was a morning man. I'd done nights at WSAI, Cincinnati for 5 years. Former 'SAI salesman named Hal Tower had gone to CK' about a year earlier and promoted me to the RKO General big shots. Alden Diehl was PD. Nice guy. But CK' was running a weekly play list of 100 or so songs. Bottom of the list was getting more play than the top. Maybe because the bottom had all the stuff by local artists appearing at jock's record hops. CK' had some impact because the east side of Detroit couldn't hear #1 rated WKNR at night. But 'KNR was on top and CK' was second-best. Paul Drew replaced Diehl in early '67. He tightened the play list to 30, put in his red light phone and told everyone he was listening 24 hours a day.
Shortly after he got there he asked me if I would do nights. I said "no" and a week later he canned me. Though he really was a nasty little man with no personality, he did a masterful job of first implementing the Drake sound and blowing WKNR off the map. As my stay was only 9 months, I never kept contact with the folks I worked with. Joe Van was late morn jock. Believe he went to Toronto. Ron Knowles was Noon to 3, about a year ago he was doing weekends for Satellite Music's big band-nostalgia format out of Dallas. Haven't heard him lately. Don Zee did all-nights. Heard he passed away recently. What about Tom Shannon? Back to Buffalo? I remember a board op named Marv Martyne. Good guy. Wonder what happened to him.
I came back to Cincinnati, sold radio time for a year, went into the stock market, back to weekend radio at WKRC in the '70s, WLW in the '80s and now WGRR. In politics, I'm Hamilton County Auditor. First Democrat elected county-wide here in 20 years. Have some old CK' memos and memorabilia plus an air check or two tucked away. I'll check it out and let you know.
[Jack's Reply:] Thanks for the comments, Dusty. From the comments I've received, I don't think you are the only one that didn't care that much for Paul Drew as a person, even though we have to give him credit for making CKLW the #1 station we remember. As for his dislike of instrumentals, I find that a bit funny because one of my all time favorite instrumentals was a little known recording that I first heard on CKLW, called "You've Got To Pay The Price" by Al Kent (on Ric-Tic records). I have not heard that recording played on the radio since the 60's (and it's not been re-released on CD anywhere - I wonder if anyone even knows where the master tape is anymore?). Anyway, about the only station that gave it serious airplay was CKLW. Perhaps that was before or after the days of Paul Drew?
What wonderful memories you brought back. I was a teenager in Bala-Cynwyd, PA in the sixties. We had WIBG in Philly and of course WABC boomed in like a local. But at night the stars came out on the radio...WLS, WCFL, WKBW, KYW (Cleveland; now all-news here in Philly), WBZ and of course CKLW.
The aircheck tapes I just received brought back memories of trying to win those contests... on September 5, 1971, I finally won and scored a copy of 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' from CKLW. Still remember the Canadian number...1-519-252-5555. That phone call cost more than the record. Some things have gotten cheaper (Long Distance calls) and others extinct (45-RPM discs).
I was always amused by the time difference... 'Its 10:00 at the Big 8, 9:00 in Detroit'. Kind of like no daylight time in Phoenix.
Thanks again for an outstanding page. Sent it to my printer...56 pages, 48 minutes, well worth it.
[Jack's Reply:] And it just keeps getting bigger... unfortunately I think I will be forced to break it up into multiple pages soon. As for the time difference, Daylight Savings Time in the United States was regulated by state law (and later federal law, after the energy crisis of the early 70's), but as I recall, daylight savings time in Windsor was enacted by the city council, and for whatever reason, in some years Windsor had it when Detroit did not, or perhaps it was the other way around. I just found it curious that (in the 60's at least) it was left up to individual municipalities in Ontario to decide whether or not to observe daylight time!
Well...they do just keep on comin', don't they?
What a pleasant surprise to find a love letter to one of the all-time great radio stations. I've just spent two hours of my Sunday morning catching up on people I worked with at "The Big 8" and with people who have shared "The Big 8" experience. I've not been one to "keep in touch" with lots of the people with whom I've worked (from CK the only two were the late Bill Winters, who I worked with again at CBS-FM and who I felt was one of the greatest talents we had and had the best pipes in the business, and Chuck (Chip) Hobart who I had worked with in New Haven and who I talked with about a year or ago from his home in Vermont) so this is great!
I was on the air at CK from January through March of 71--I was the first voice of 71--"And now ladies & gentlemen.....etc" "a new year and a new voice..." I left with an offer to join WWWW to do "anything I wanted" nights but, instead went back to New Haven working with Bill Hennes ([email protected]) until WNHC was sold to Cap Cities. The sale included a local sale of WNHC FM (which would turn into WPLR) and the new owners asked me to be its PD. Unfortunately, they didn't want an FM version of CKLW--which is what I would have given them--so I stayed on as air personality before moving to an OM position in Providence. I could still listen to "The Big 8," though but lost interest after the move downtown--the "sound" probably had something to do with that crappy studio.
I believe the assessement that CKLW's demise was due mainly to FM penetration and cancon is spot on because the talent that populated those airwaves was unmatched then and is unmatched even today. I'm pleased to have worked there!
Hi Jack. I finally checked out the CKLW Web page. Nice job.
First, I was at CK from the summer of 1979 to January 1990. I started on the all night show (when the signal boomed across the northeast U.S.). After a couple of years I moved to 6 to 10 p.m. (when Ted Richards moved to afternoon drive). When the station tried to "bring back the Big 8" on the FM band, I was the afternoon drive jock. (By the way, I've read in a couple of places that Charlie O'Brien was the P.D. My memory is that he was the Music Director). So you got the dates I was there. Certainly the very tail end of any "glory days", but nonetheless still a thrill to have CK on my resume.
When I got there Dick Purtan & Tom Ryan had just started on the morning show, so the spotlight was still on the station. Bill Gable hired me and I'll probably always remember him picking me up at the Windsor Airport, and driving me into the station and showing me the clocks and the music sheets and the GOLD book. I had worked that morning at CFTR in Toronto, but sleep was the last thing on my mind heading into my first all night show. (Bill Gable hung out in his office most of the night...how many P.D.'s would do that?)
I met Dick Purtan when he arrived (probably late) for his show at 6 (I still keep in touch with Dick), and met his then producer/sidekick Tom Ryan at the same time. (Tom has become a good friend of mine in the 18 years that have passed...we had dinner together last night). And life goes on, and so have I for too long. To sum up, when I left CKLW-FM, I went to Oldies WKSG/Mt Clemens/Detroit for 3 to 7 p.m., then to WOMC for weekends/fill-in/production, and in October of '92 to afternoons at Oldies 104.3 WJMK in Chicago. (However, I haven't totally left Detroit. My wife Beth and I have a home in suburban Detroit, and a condo/apartment in downtown Chicago. The best of both worlds.) So although I spend too much time at the Detroit and Chicago airports, life is good!
My brother-in-law told my father-in-law, who told me, about this web site.
I was a Transcription Operator at CK from '72 to '77 (just before the strike). I worked with Johnny Williams, Ted Richards, Mike Kelly, Bill Gable, Ted Anthony, Max Kinkel etc.
It was refreshing to see this web site. It sure brought back a lot of old memories. I have a box full of tapes from shows I did and other stuff. I don't have a reel-to-reel tape player so I don't what kind of shape the tapes are in (over 20 years old). I do have a 28 minute "collage", on cassette, of my best stuff (lays etc, Johnny Williams "My mama told me not to come, but I did anyway...), that I listen to every once in awhile.
I visited Pat Holiday, a few years ago, at MIX 99 (Toronto) where he was Program Director. I think he has moved on but I would be interested in knowing what happened to people, including other TT Ops: Tom Ryan, Larry Menkin, Jose Llombard, Roman Hurnacki etc.
I am a computer consultant now but I still think back to my to "radio" days. I left CK about a week before they (NABET) went on strike.
I was looking for a site were I could find someone who'd buy a bunch of 78's I found while cleaning out my parent's basement (the house in which I grew up listening to CKLW)...and up pops The Big 8!
...And what timing. I'm back in Detroit after ten years -- a lot has changed and it was nice to run into some nostalgia about something that felt so unique.
I would like to lodge a friendly disagreement with you, though. About 20/20 News. Get Real! -- It was Cheezy as Hell and you know it! But that's why we loved it! Byron McGregor made our parents squirm as he melodramaticly intoned something like "Neighborhood children watched in horror as the charred and still soldering bodies of their friends were pulled from the rubble of their burned-out house." Maury Povich has got nothing on him. By the way, here's something of interest to you, no doubt. While cleaning out this basement, I found a copy of a 45 of Byron McGregor reading a letter to the editor called "The Americans." Remember how he extols the virtues of his Friendly Neighbors to the South over the Westbound Strings rendition of America the Beautiful?
This was fun, thanks a lot. I'll visit again.
Great page. Long ago, '75-76, Doug Fernlock (research director in CK's Southfield office, and sometimes-newsman) introduced me to Gary Burbank. That led to a part-time job writing scripts for Gary's show: The Reverend Deuteronomy Skaggs (who asked the brether'n to fork over that "Green Salad of Salvation" -- $11.17....[it was always $11.17] and praise the Lord!); Thelma Hooch the Breakfast Pig (who was the queen of sexual innuendo, as well as the chief tormenter of Mayor Coleman Young); the Maharishi Dia-per Rashee (the mystical monk who gazed at the stars and always saw earthly delights). Gary brought me into CK as a copy writer; Herb McCord stuck me in the basement where I banged out commercial scripts and spewed out stuff for Gary to turn into solid gold -- he was amazing to hear; even more amazing to watch. He disappeared into whatever character he portrayed and -- for those brief moments -- he was a breakfast pig; he was a deranged minister. Gary was brilliant.
He conferred on me the name "Crazy Bill," which stuck -- then and long after my one-year "Landed Immigrant" status expired and I left CK. What a shame. I was having the time of my life.
I lost track of Gary. Whatever happened to him? And his friend Len (last name?), who was part of the CK news team? Gary was one of the finest people I have ever met. A real gentleman. A supreme talent. And a complete nut. Totally wacko. I hope to see him again some day. I'd like to know that he's "still crazy after all these years."
-- Bill Clayton -- (CK class of 75-75; AKA "Crazy Bill")
I have just discovered this page and it brings back some great memories. I was an announcer at the Big 8 for a brief time in 1971. In fact, I'm the guy at the front of the line on the chart you've posted. I was called Eddie Russell, "Fast Eddie Russell" and did swing which consisted of a couple of overnight and evening shows a week. I was part of RKO's attempt to Canadianize the station. Paul Drew went accross Canada looking for a few Canadian jocks. He hired Daryl B. from Vancouver, Gary Hart from Winnipeg and I was in Regina Saskatchewan. I'm not exactly legendary from my stint at the Big 8. I believe My tour of duty was only 8 weeks. I'm afraid Paul Drew was a little too much for me to take and I resigned the day after he had called me an countless times on the bat phone. I was staying at the imfanous Holiday Inn on the Detroit river. All new jocks got put up there. I remember checking out the morning I resigned. I was certain that they'd stick me with the bill if I quit first. Paul Drew made me work out my last two weeks. He called my mother in Winnipeg and talked to her for more than half an hour telling her that I was making the mistake of my life and that she should do everything in her power to get me to change my mind. I never did get my last pay check. They instead sent me a bill for my charges at the Holiday Inn. Paul's parting words to me after my last show was that I was an idiot and would probably end up a drug addict or alcoholic. My only other claim to fame is that The Big 8 produced a Gold double album that it sold that summer and I'm on the inside, one hand outstretched with the peace sign, the other with a peace sign. Sadly I lost my copy in one of my many moves.
The order of the people on The CKLW BIG 30 are, front to back, Eddie Russell, Gary Hart, Daryl B, Steve Hunter, Frank Brodie, Duke Roberts and Big Jim Edwards.
My real name in Norman Vidler although my radio name, with the exception of my stint in Windsor, is Gary Russell. I continue to live in Canada and am still in the industry. I'm the Vice President - General Manager of Z95.3 / C-ISL in Vancouver. I've just celebrated my 30-th year in this incredible industry and still utilize some of the things I learnt at The Big 8. It was a special station and I would have gotten more out of it had I been a little more mature. I was only 21 and had been in the Biz a mere three years when I landed at CKLW. Thanks for the page and I can contacted at [email protected]
Dear Jack: I was thrilled (I even got goose bumps!) when I found the CKLW
page! You see, for several years I worked as a record promoter in Detroit
and as any one could tell you... the high point of the week was your Tuesday
(then they moved it to Thursday) summons to present your newest releases to
Rosalie TROMBLEY. It was very true that Rosalie could make or break your
records. And if your latest release was dog do-do you could count on Rosalie
to let you know in no uncertain terms! I was priveliged to meet most of the
jocks and staff. If you ever need a few new stories please let me know.
Greetings, An interesting article to CKLW. I used to listen to it in the 60's and 70's. I was wondering why Van Patrick ("20/20 news") was never mentioned in your article. He had a deliberate voice to deliver the news. I believe those were the days the station was known as "Giant CK." Living in Connecticut meant listening to the Big one here: WABC.
You sure put out a great article. I too am a radio buff, with a small stint in Tampa, Florida while I attended college. CKLW came in loud and clear at nite as did 77/WABC. We'll catch you again soon.
Regards. F V
P.S. Some of us Connecticut people still listen to the former WKBW....Buffalo. Now WWKB, Real Country 15!
[Jack's Reply:] I remember Van Patrick too... thanks for correcting the oversight!
I'd like to thank CKLW at this time for:
-- Getting me hooked into a rough & tumble radio career, which I am currently out of at the moment (There will be T&R's of me available at each exit to take as you leave).
-- Using CKLW-isms while working in Toledo radio in the 80's at WERC & WCWA (weather & temp forcasts...)
-- The urge to get a license plate which says "CKLW BG8".
-- Getting me to pay $10 for a CKLW Solid Gold album at a used record store...
Let's see, I first got hooked onto The Big 8 in 1972, when I was 5 years old. For the next 11 years, I would make CKLW my primary station to listen to when I was living in Medina County, Ohio. (WIXY & WGAR were the other 2). I would tape songs off the radio, and even some of the commercials, although I only have a small fraction of what I had made then. I would somehow make my folks listen to it wherever we went in the car. And I would call the contest line (298-8822) when I would be at my Aunt's house in Livonia, MI.
Then one Sunday, what was the last weekend of the infamous AM format, (I believe it was US Thanksgiving weekend of 83?) something just didn't sound right as we were heading back home. Sure enough, I remember waking up the next morning only to hear big band music. Thinking I bumped the tuner overnight, I franticly searched for CKLW only to find that The Big 8 had died.
Not too long after that WGAR in Cleveland jumped to country (WIXY went bye-bye in '76 or '77), and I was without a good AM station to listen to (all I had in my car through high school was AM).
When I attended the University of Toledo in the spring of 1986, while doing my own version of The Big 8 on college radio, someone told me that the CK sound was back, this time on FM. At first I though it was a joke, but when I heard the familiar CKLW jingle on my stereo, I was literally bouncing off the walls for nearly 2 weeks, listening to it for what seemed to be 12 hours a day!
Well, enough of my biography! In closing, I'd like to share some additional moments in no particular order ala the lyrics to "Life is A Rock":
Jo Jo & the Big 8 Bird, Byron & the 20/20 News staff, Bill Gable, Super Max, Tom Shannon, Dave Shaffer, Dave Reynolds, Scott "What Time Is It?" Miller, Joe Evans, Pat Holiday, Johnny Williams & his "Wolfman Jack" impressions, The Ryan Company, Dick Purtan, Ted Richards
"The Album of Your Choice from Harmony House", "It's Farmer Jack Savings Time", "Make Each Day A Levi's Day, The Connection Has A Way", "Motor City Weather...Cleveland has __ Degrees, Toledo has __, and Detroit has ____. That's ___ Celcius", Boblo Island, Cedar Point, Big V & Perry Drug Stores.
CKLW in AM Stereo, The Top 8 at 8, CKLW playing Sheriff's "When I'm With You" in 1982 -- seven years before it became a big hit across the rest of the US, Doug & The Slugs, Gary & Dave, Lighthouse, Alexandre, Voggue, Crack of Dawn.
Hopefully, some additional CKLW memories have been triggered for you after all that. I hope to have a website up & running by spring to show off more memories and airchecks. Till then, I invite all to keep in touch with CKLW shop talk.
T. Jay Dexter (WERC & WCWA, Toledo OH),
I worked at WKNR from 1968 to 1971. Knew (and know) Tom Shannon, Dave Shafer, Joe Donovan, Grant Hudson, the late Byron MacGregor, Scotty Reagen, Paul Cannon, Russ Gibb (on the FM side..in fact I was in the station the day Uncle Russ "broke" the "Paul (McCartney) is dead" story. What a day that was!) and many others. I also worked at WXYZ.
I still work in radio as a freelancer doing commercials, voice-overs, on-camera industrials, etc.
Let me know if you'd like more info. Enjoyed the page.
Hi Jack! Love the website on CKLW I live in Sandusky,Ohio and I am 34yrs old I was weened on the big 8 and remember listening ever since I can remember! one question I have is I swear I can remember a CKLW album that came out possible late 60's? I was very young and hardly remember it ..did it happen? and can it be purchased today??
Thank you, Chuck Darling
[Jack's Reply:] There were actually two "CKLW Solid Gold" records... one had a gold cover and the other a white one. I would be VERY surprised if you could buy one today, unless you found someone who didn't know what they had. My only advice would be to start visiting garage sales!
Just discovered The Classic CKLW page, pretty cool! Just a couple of quick comments for now, just for accuracy-sake. First of all, so nice of Steve Hunter to remember me so well by identifying me on the cover of the CKLW music guide that you show, only that is NOT me! I'm sorry I can't tell you who that is. In fact, I didn't even work there in '71. I was at CK in '69 and '70. I can send you some CK guides with my picture on it and probably some other cool CK stuff if you tell me where to send it. I've been on New York radio now for 24 years (starting in 1973 at WPLJ doing afternoons, and for 10 years now on WNEW-FM). After three years of doing mornings, I've just moved back to afternoon drive on 'NEW doing 4 to 7PM. OK, that's it for now, continued good luck on this, it's a whole lotta fun. Let me know if I can be of some help for airchecks, pictures, or whatever. All the best.....
[Note: Pat later sent an e-mail with the following updated information:]
... I thought I'd send an update and some comments. I'm still listed as having worked at CKLW in '71. [Sorry, that was an oversight, it's fixed now. -Jack] Actually, I worked at CKLW in 1969 and 1970. I'm probably the youngest Big 8 jock to have ever worked there, having been hired right after my 18th birthday, hired by then PD Jim O'Brien.
I also may have the distinction of being the only guy to simultaneously work as a jock AND a newscaster. Before becoming a full time DJ there in '70, I was doing three overnights a week, two days a week I'd drive around the CK Camaro gathering news actualities, and on Wednesday nights I'd pull a news-shift, doing the 20/20 newscasts on The Big 8. (I'd also fill in doing booth announcing on CKLW TV, Channel 9). It was quite a busy schedule for an 18 year old, rather "green" native Detroiter, but I loved it and was able to learn from the best!
From CK I went to WKNR in Detroit, then to WRIF, and in '73 moved to New York's WPLJ where I stayed until 1987, segued to WNEW FM where I remained until the format change in '98, and since then I am at Sirius Satellite Radio. It is now May 2000 and Sirius Satellite Radio will be providing 100 channels of programming coast-to-coast in your car. 50 of those channels will be music, commercial free. I'll be programming several of our rock channels, as well as being on the air. For more, check out our web-site at http://www.siriusradio.com/ and my e-mail address is [email protected].
Scott Primeau recalls one particular CKLW station I.D.:
I remember an older station I.D., that was played a lot in the early to mid 60's during the early Motown era. I have never heard this I.D. since, and I am surprised as it is very soulful.
So you recall this I.D. and if so, are there recordings of it around? Please let me know.
Kudos on a spectacular website in honor of CKLW. I lived in Detroit in the late 70's and listened to CK regularly. In fact, some nites I still do. When my dial says 800 and the station is loud and clear, I know I am listinging to the powerhouse of Southern Ontairio.
For some time now I have been thinking about Dick Purtan and wondering if he is still on the air. If you have any knowledge of his whereabouts I'd appreciate it. I loved his morning show.
[Jack's Reply:] Dick Purtan is still on the air in the motor city - he's the morning man at WOMC 104.3.
Was just driving to work this morning over here in England, stuck in traffic as usual, when I noticed the car in front of me had a STAR FM sticker in the back window. I began to think back, since I am originally from Canada, about all the different radio stations I used to listen to during the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. I thought about the best, and to me, CKLW was the one most connected to great times and magic summers. The place where we would pick it up was Sauble Beach Ontario on those long weekends back in the 60's. Ordinarily, being from Elora Ontario, we could not get CKLW, even at 50,000 watts but up at the beach it was the ONE. Man, we would park the car by the cottage, straighten out a couple of coathangers, wrap them around the car aerial and stick the other end in the ground. Then we would pour beer over the ground where the hanger was, every so often and blast the radio away. We thought it just doesn't get any better than this.
So, today I thought "Let's get on the Net and look up CKLW and maybe they would send me a sticker over here in England and I could drive the locals crazy trying to figure out where CKLW was". Any chance?
20 Eskdale Gardens,
PS. My son-in-law is Ken O'Brien of Energy 1200 in Ottawa.
Congratulations on a great looking page! I was employed by CKLW-FM for a period of time in 1973-74. I was part of the operators crew of the time and when the FM station went country, did a morning air shift on the week-end. When the station announced a desire to automate, I was offered a second air shift on the weekend but felt that I had to stay in the business full-time (probably a bad decision). Anyway, I too was a big fan of the Big 8 during my teen years and enjoyed working for such a professional broadcasting organization.
I left Ontario for 18 years after being at CKLW and on my return was very surprised to see the drastic changes that had occured at the station. I did enjoy though, still hearing the voice of Tom Baroni on the air doing national ads for the Big V drug store chain. That guy was one hell of a great commercial writer and taught me quite a bit about producing in my time at the station.
The one thing which I was surprised not to find written up on your page was reference to the coup of the engineering department in having an antenna installed in the Windsor-Detroit tunnel so that listeners would never lose the Big 8, even in the tunnel. I remember thinking that it was a unique, and very clever idea.
Again, thanks for the homepage. It was nice to see all those remembrances put together for us all the experience again.
[Jack's Note:] Carl had not yet found this comments page when he wrote (I knew this because the tunnel installation is discussed above). After I wrote back to him to let him know about this page, he sent these additional comments:
Thanks for the response Jack.
No, you're right. I hadn't gotten to that series of pages yet. I was overwhelmed by the amount of effort that has gone into your pages and the massive number of contributions. I started out as a board operator in radio in London, Ontario and although I was never a technician, I was always interested in the mechanics of radio and was a bit of a "gadget" nut. Some of the engineering things really fascinated me. I remember Ed Buterbaugh, who was chief engineer at CKLW; I recall him playing with a household door chime and modifying it so that it played the CKLW jingle when someone pushed the doorbell to get into the station after hours. That guy sure did have some time to play!!
I met a great bunch of very professional broadcasters at CKLW, and it is nice to see that they have such a dedication and love for the station. I hope that some of the "FM-94" people also contact these pages once in awhile. While they probably never had the exposure of the "Big-8 staff, I know that they were all proud of the station and were highly professional in their attitudes. I have lost touch with all of them but hope that they are all well, and doing well. On air there at the time I was there were Bas Jamieson, Ron Burgoyne, and Bob Bowers. I have not heard anything of them for years. I know that Bas returned to Newfounland after leaving CKLW but have no idea where Bob or Ron are today. The program director was Croft McLelland and Ron Foster was in the library. I believe that Al Foster was chief operator. If you know of any of these fellows, I would like to know how they are all doing.
Again, thanks for your response and keep up the great work. When the new owners took over, I was hoping to hear CKLW come back out of the background to some of the great glory that it once had. Perhaps it still will!
Don't know if you are the person to ask... Are there tapes of Robin Seymour's show "Swingin' Time" available? The show was on CKLW in the mid-60's.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
[Jack's Reply:] I would be very surprised if any are available, simply because home videotaping equipment wasn't yet available back then (many homes still had tube-type black and white TV's!) and Channel 9 has gone through changes of ownership - but I have no idea what they may have stored in a vault somewhere. If anyone knows anything about this, please let me know.
This is AMAZING! From time to time people I meet as a country radio consultant ask about my days at CKLW, but I had no idea there was the depth of interest shown by your site and the wonderful contributions to it.
I have often said that if I had known people would still be interested 25 years later, I would have worked harder! I was 22 years old when I arrived at the Big Eight and -- having grown up in the South -- had never heard CKLW until I flew in from Denver for the job interview. Sometimes ignornace IS bliss!
Interestingly enough, I was with two of my former colleagues last week at the Country Radio Seminar here in Nashville. Gary Burbank was our first house guest in our new home and Bill Hennes moderated one of the CRS panels.
A small correction: I came to CK in October, 1973, and left in June, 1976 -- not '77. Good thing, too, because I just got our before the infamous NABET strike.
Thanks for caring enough to put in so much work on your site. Feel free to list my E Mail address if anyone is interested.
"Cosmic" Bob Moody
[Jack's Reply:] I've changed the year, and added your e-mail address to the contributors list. What amazes me is that even country music fans are asking about CKLW. Back in the "Big 8" days, no self-respecting teenager would have been caught dead listening to a "yee-haw" station!
How do... I'm originally from Toledo,Ohio... now living as a music writer/soon to be financial advisor in Pittsburgh and there were many stations that led me to a career in radio in Toledo/Pittsburgh and there were many personalities that were big influences on me as a radio personality that I own all credit to, but there was the Big 8, the station that I worshipped as a kid growing up in the North end of Toledo.
I wasn't allowed to listen to the FM "Hippy" stations in Toledo, I was allowed to listen to K99-Toledo, WOHO and CKLW. It had all the music that I listened to, I remember very well 20/20 News and was in shock when I heard via the Internet that Byron MacGregor died, another radiorat from WERC/WXUT in Toledo who worshipped CKLW told me about that...RIP
I had a laid back approach to radio that was influenced by the CKLW jocks, and that was pretty useful when I did my stint at WXUT/WERC and it was really hard to try the Big Time Radio approach to non-commercial radio (i.e. the stations in Pittsburgh didn't get it!!!). But I'm glad that I did listen to CKLW as a youngster and that got me going in radio and music, if it wasn't for CKLW, I would have started in pre-law at the University Of Toledo (1986) but here's what my media/radio influences were...
stations: CKLW-AM, WOHO-AM, WKLR-K99, WIOT-FM, WCWA-AM, WTOD-AM
Thanx for the memories (my god,I'm only 29 and I shouldn't be saying that)
Dennard Summers(aka Mike Summers)
Can't believe your in my back yard (Nashville) after reading your post of the big 8. It brought a tear to my eye....(very well done). I'm just an old radio guy turned consultant that longs for the new comers with creative talents like those at CKLW/WLS/WABC/KIMN/WAKY/WCFL/WJR/KHJ etc. I would like to have your thoughts on radio today....personality...production....etc.
Thanks for your time
Wow, another piece of my life on the web. I was "Earle Fredericks" at CKLW in 1969, and Dick Smythe hired me from CKLW to come to CHUM (when he came back for the CKLW Christmas party).
I have a few recollections and I do know that there are probably some things I can fill in. Noting:
Hal Martin (real name Mike Spears) left to go to WYSL in Buffalo, he was at CKLW in '69.
Tom Rivers, worked at Keener (WKNR stood for Knorr Broadcasting) until moving to CKLW then eventually moving to CHUM and later to CFTR in Toronto.
Steve Madely and I pretty well traded jobs, the first time out of three in nearly 30 years that our paths would intersect. He came from CHUM to replace me and I came from CKLW to replace him. We both got raises, so it was more like a hockey trade.
He followed me as News Director at CFGO in Ottawa in 1978, and He has now begun writing the newspaper column in the Ottawa Sun that I used to write.
I'll be signing up for the mailing list too, and please feel free to use my name and email on the site.
And remember, Jack, "CKLW pays one thousand dollars for the best news tip of the year plus a weekly cash award. When you see news happening, call the hotlines at 254-CKLW in Windsor, 961-NEWS in Detroit."
"Motor City Weather...just ahead of MUCH more music with Frank Brodie, LOOK FOR sunny skies, hi 68, clear tonite low 58, MURC Index 115, HEAVY air polution. It's 66 degrees in the MOTOR CITY, and that's what's happening June 15, 1969. (tymp roll)"
And if it were a sustaining newscast, we usually had a General Tire spot "The young wheels from General Tire are here" and there was a 4 second trailer over which you did the top of the weather.
Thanks for letting me reach out and touch my youth. I haven't felt
this sentimental since I managed to spend an hour with Buffalo Bob
Smith, the host of the Howdy Doody show.
This page of yours is truly amazing. I have been looking at it and my heart is longing for the "old days" of "GREAT" music and the beginning of some of the best years of my life. Born in Detroit, raised in Center Line and then moved to Utica in the mid sixties. Spent most of my time listening to CKLW and loved it all. Attened Woodstock in '69. Still embrace the old days gone by.... an aging flower child you will find behind this computer screen -- even have on a headband today. Sometimes throw on my old bells and beads and drive the kids nuts. I let them play their music as loud as they want... was a promise I made to my self YEARS ago when the folks would always holler "TURN THAT STUFF LOWER!!!!" I swore I would never "say that to MY kid!" So now I am listening to all their stuff as terribly loud as I played my stuff...
I guess I am rambling, but to have found that site that evoked such memories for me... you did an amazing job on the site and have sent the URL to my sisters for their enjoyment as well... Super graphics as well... I AM impressed!!
Take it easy Jack...
I LOVE your CKLW page. It means a lot to me because I grew up with my father being at CKLW in the early TV/Radio days. I also worked there briefly in the Data Processing department near the end, with Marg Richards.
Do you recall my father, Don West?
You dear man. Here I was...cruising the 'Net tonite, thinking about my "Radio Past", CKLW was to be one but wasn't, and what do I find? The most amazing compendium of CKLW lore in my life.
I don't know about you but there never has, or never will, be any radio station as great as the "Big 8" was. Ironically, I now live in Dallas and I'm looking for a radio gig once again. The fodder of my youth was spent pining for the moment of when I could jock at the Big 8. I almost did, too. It was 1976, the station was in utter managerial turmoil because the Engineers were on strike---picketing right out front!---and I almost weasled my way into the overnite shift. I spoke with Dick Bozzio (sp?) who was the head of RKO programming. He 'hired' me but it didn't come to pass because of the "Canadian Thing." To this day, however, I still put CKLW on my resumé because I can. It's my proudest achievement and I never even worked there! That's how 'ate-up' I am about CKLW.
By the way, I found your page with the [former web site] address. Thanks for the great job on your web page!
P.S. Saddened to hear about Byron.
What a marvelous web page and a great set of remembrances. But hey, a great radio station like CKLW deserves nothing less! I don't know what else to add to the electronic stack of compliments you've deservedly received...I'm glad you're helping to keep the memory of CK alive. Let me add my own recollections.
CKLW was an inspiration as I got into radio in the mid-70's. Before then I grew up in Chicago and went to college at Indiana University, and loved listening to the great rockers in those areas...WLS, WCFL, WAKY. I was on the back side of CKLW's night pattern so reception wasn't too good, but I tolerated the fading and interference anyway because the station was so great. I was fascinated by the station's overall tight and smooth sound, its unique mix of motown soul, rock and pop, and its BIG news.
In 1976-77 I worked as a jock at WMEE/Ft. Wayne about 150 miles from Detroit and CK's daytime signal there was good. By then the station sounded a bit less frantic than its earlier days -- even 20/20 news had dropped the ole 'blood & guts' approach! And that famous CKLW audio processing sounded so good, the richest and brightest AM music sound I've ever heard. The lineup at that time was Tom Shannon, Pat Holiday, Charlie O'Brien during the day, with Bill Gable and SuperMax at night, and I listened for hours whenever I could. One day on a weekend I was sunbathing at my apartment complex with my car radio blaring CKLW when my program director happened to walk by and disapproved that I wasn't listening to my own station! Well, TOO bad....
One night in April 1977 me and a WMEE engineer, Jeff Goode, decided to drive up to Detroit just for the hell of it and see if we could visit CKLW. The station seemed to have a lot of visitors that night for some reason, and after a spirited discussion with the security guard over various differences between the US and Canada, he let us in! SuperMax was on the air and he spent a few minutes chatting with us, what a nice guy. I also snapped an in-studio picture of SuperMax with my trusty Polaroid. I also remember that night Jeff and I tried to crash a lavish party at the just-opened Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. The security guard there took a look at us, dressed in tee-shirts, cutoff jeans and sneakers and promptly kicked us out! At least CKLW was friendly to strangers.
I rolled a lot of tape on CK during that time, and it's still a pleasure to listen to those airchecks. The radio job market took me west in 1982 to Denver and I lost track of CKLW. Radio has always been a changeable business, but now that I finally understand how the magnificent giant died all I can think is....what a shame.
I did news for a number of years at stations in Indiana and here in Denver, but I'm mostly out of radio now except for producing a weekend syndicated talkshow. Radio is damn near impossible to get out of your blood, and it's a kick to see this fine tribute to such a great station. Thanks again, Jack, and keep up the great work.
P.S. I'd like to hear from anyone who has copies of CKLW's day and night coverage maps.
I spent many hours when I was a teen in London, Ontario listening to the evening DJ on CKLW from 1956-8. I can't remember his name but his theme song was "Take The A Train". Can anybody remember who he was and what happened to him?
[Jack's Reply:] Well, let's see, I would have been about five years old back then, so I don't think I can help, but perhaps someone reading this would know the answer? If so, please copy your reply to me so I can put the answer in this space.
Its's nice that so many people have fond memories of CKLW in the 1960s, but what about the 1940s? What about the Early Morning Frolic, clearly received in northern Ohio? Where are those two guys? Someone must know.
For the time they played some choice music (first place I ever heard Big Noise from Winnetka) and their commercials were hilarious.
I grew up in Detroit in the 60's and listened to CKLW and watched Captain Jolly, etc. on TV. Now I live in Burbank, CA. I just did an Alta Vista search for "Captain Jolly" and came up with your website.
Do you know of any vintage videotapes where I might be able to see some of the old TV shows broadcast back then? Especially Captain Jolly if they are available, but I'm also interested in others such as Bill Kennedy, etc.
Thanks for any help you might be able to offer in this search.
Best Regards, Richard Miller
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