I would like to thank Doug "Bobby" Finck for taking the time to write this story up for the web page.
How Doug "Bobby" Finck(Robert K. Oliver) came to New York Radio & what happened afterward
Let me give you story of my short stint at WWDJ, how I got there, what I remember, and what happened immediately afterwards. In the winter of 1973, I was a senior at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I was doing the 7-midnight shift at WELM (1410 AM) in Elmira, NY. As a side note, two of my college DJ mentors had graduated from IC a year earlier and were working at WAXC in Rochester (Bob Savage and Doug "Greaseman" Tracht). In any case, I decided to enter the Billboard Magazine, DJ of the Year competition )much to their amusement). I received an Honorable Mention and on the strength of that, I decided to apply for a weekend gig at WWDJ that was advertised in the Hamilton Report in May of '73. As it turned out, Al Brady had been one of the judges in the Billboard competition and when he came across my tape and resume he called me up and asked me if I would consider working weekends and being "on call" for a station approximately 250 miles from my apartment in Ithaca. I raced down and immediately accepted the job. During the employment interview Al looked at my resume and said that he wanted to change my name to give it a more "uptown" sound. While this idea came as no surprise you can imagine my shock when Al suggested that I become "Bobby" Finck! I never imagined that my last name would stay but my first name would change! The weekend job turned into a lot more hours when Joe Conway quit to go and work at WXLO in Manhattan and I started working the all night shift. The summer of '73 was a DJ fantasy. At age 22, I had just graduated from college but had very little experience (three small AM stations in tiny markets). Suddenly I was working at one of the hottest stations in the country! Bob Bernacki was the GM and I think Bill Brown was the News Director. There was a lot of turnover and every time someone left, I would be moved into their shift on a temporary basis. I worked every shift, included a one week stint in morning drive after Mike Philips went to work at WXLO. Interestingly, whenever I worked a fulltimer's shift, I was paid what they had been earning. I had never seen so much money! I was in awe of all the jocks, many of whom were legends in the industry. I found it hard to believe that just weeks before, I had been reading about these guys in the trade journals, then suddenly I was chatting with them between records (carts, actually). I thought Mike Philips was the nicest guy in the world. Steve Clark had some unbelievable stories (which I believed in total!). Howard Clark was one of the most interesting guys I'd ever met. Bwana Johnny scared the daylights out of me. He was wild, crazy, and very outspoken! Marc Driscoll was the coolest guy in the world. He and Steve Clark (who was always wearing a leather hat) had a great time on the weekend shifts. Sean Casey was a gentleman and a classy guy (who seemed to have a great grasp on the big picture of life) and Al Brady was my benefactor! Against this background I had the time of my life! In late August of '73 I was working a midday shift when the "hotline" range. Because Sean (who had replaced Al Brady as the PD) was in the building I figured he would have just used the intercom if he wanted something. So I couldn't imagine who was calling (I had never dared to give the number to anyone!). When I picked it up it was Al. He said, "I know you can't talk right now, but I want to talk to you about coming to work at WXLO...come and see me this afternoon when you get off work". Then he hung up. As soon as my shift ended I raced out the door and drove to 1440 Broadway. Taking the elevator up to the WXLO floor made me realize the difference between a "New York" station and a Hackensack station. Al offered me the weekend job (again) and told me that Sean was probably going to be angry when I resigned since I would be the third jock that Al had hired from WWDJ (by then, 97DJ). Al told me the job was mine but that he would not count on me until after I went back, resigned, and called him to confirm that I had resigned. I'm not sure whether Al figured that I would not have the nerve to resign, or that Sean might talk me out of quitting, but in any case Al wanted to hear from me the next day. I stayed until Labor Day weekend to help out Sean. My final shift on 97DJ was a Saturday morning (midnight to 6AM) shift. When I got off the air, I raced back to the Bronx where my girlfriend was. She drove (while I slept) up to Oswego, NY, where our friends were getting married that afternoon. I was the best man and had to be fitted for a tux and given my duties. We got there, got the tux, did the wedding, made a speech, had a glass of champagne, then jumped back into the car. My girlfriend drove back to the city (while I slept) and I got to WXLO just in time to go on the air at midnight. It was a very long and grueling experience! I stayed at WXLO (there are a lot more stories about that place!) for just over a year until I decided it was time to start pursuing a career in broadcast management (which had been my college major). I moved to Maine (because of the great skiing and the ocean) and spent five years in sales and sales management at an FM station (which Bob Pitman was consulting...WJBQ). Then I moved across the street to be GM at WIGY-FM in Maine. At that point I was offered an equity position in the company owned by the guy who owned WJBQ. It meant that I had to spend a year or two fixing a problem station in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, so we (I married the girl who drove me to Oswego) moved to PA. Two years later we were back in Maine and I was running the group of stations (two AMs and an FM). Eventually my partner and I decided that 80/90 had created too many radio stations and that it was time to look elsewhere. We sold the group of radio stations, acquired a UHF TV CP and built WPXT (one of the original FOX affiliates). During the course of building and running WPXT (FOX51), we put together an LMA deal with a local minister who also had a UHF CP. In 1996 we sold WPXT and the LMA for WPME (now UPN35) to Pegasus Communications and Media of Philadelphia. I'm still working for them in Portland, doing less with the day to day operations and developing Internet and DTV strategies for the broadcast group.. As I reflect on the 30 years in broadcasting, the most fun I had was running my own board in the Hackensack studios of WWDJ!
[WWDJ Cover Page]
E-mail John at PORCAROCPU@Aol.com