Hello From Bwana Johnny
("Your Beauty On Duty")
Hello World! John has asked me to make some written verbal comments about WWDJ on the anniversary of the demise of it. Boy that's a tough challenge. WWDJ was so unique, so creative, so audience captivating (although the ratings never showed it) that it is really hard to put into words what the entire experience was like. The only thing that really comes to mind is fun. The entire WWDJ "thing" was really just old friends getting together to have fun. Mike Phillips and I had been friends from our hometown of Portland, Oregon. Nick Anthony, Al Brady, Gary Russell had all worked together in Cincinnati. In fact Al and I were roommates. The only additions to the mix were Bill Bailey and Ronnie Grant. Both of these multi-talented performers joined the "fun" crowd head on. In fact Bailey named a cat of mine. I love cats by the way. Was having trouble figuring out a name for this cat that had just appeared at the house I was renting. Bailey suggested "Why don't you name it Boogie... you could take it to remotes and promo it as Bwana and the Boogie." Well... the cat was instantly named.
WWDJ was weird. The studios were in Hackensack, on the slough, just across from the world famous Hackensack Two Guys store. I remember we had the Brooklyn Mets on the schedule when we hit the air. The next year when the contract was up there was a huge celebration. Clients were invited to the Hackensack "oasis" to help in the festivities. After that the nighttime ratings went to hell. Gee! Gawd! Yada Yada!
The best part like I already said was the fact that we were a "family". We had fun together on the air and off the air. Nick Anthony is one of the great Program Directors of the century. He knew how to handle and manage people, without anyone feeling they were being programmed or manipulated. There were always gatherings at Nick's place. It was all part of that "family" atmosphere that came across so vividly on the air.
Promotions were a big part of our assault on NYC from sponsoring Easter Sunrise Services in Central Park, to the "Magic Bus", to a talent contest I co-emc'd with Monte Rock III at Palisades Park.
Getting involved with the audience on a one-to-one basis was a major part of our "in their face" attack. We were out and making ourselves individually and collectively known in the community. I remember one Friday night after the show going on an adult beverage safari at Esposito's in Ridgewood. The place was always packed and a bunch of us were out on the corner shooting the B.S. and talking with one of the Ridgewood police that were always keeping an eye on weekend nights. I had been involved in moving from Waldwick to Montvale so my 1967 T-Bird was full of "stuff". I told the officer how much we appreciated what he was doing and that we all chipped in to buy him something appropriate to express our feelings. At this point I reached into the backseat pulled out and handed him a roll of toilet paper. Without hesitation he came back with "no, no. I've heard your show. You need it a lot more than I do." We all broke out laughing. It was a great comeback. It's hard to put this incredible fun time into words. The best way for me has always been to answer questions. I know you have bunches, and I would love to answer them all. Or at least make up a great answer. So just get your questions in here to the website, and I know John will be on my butt to make sure I answer them all. And it will be fun. Most importantly thanks to everyone who enjoyed what we were doing. Like I've said we were really having "fun" and I'm glad you were too.
Love you all and thanks for making it all worthwhile.
[WWDJ Cover Page]