SOME WWDJ LAST DAY'S MEMORIES
BY DAVE GARY
Afternoon Talk Show Host - 570/WVMI- Biloxi, Mississippi
I literally remember the first week the station signed on with its top 40 format...in May 1971. "Rainy Days and Mondays" by the Carpenters, and "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" by Lobo immediately come to mind. I must have been in 9th grade at the time. What distinguished 97DJ from WABC at the time was that 'DJ took pride in playing a lot of records you were hard-pressed to find anywhere else in NYC, certainly on the AM band. I can still recall key examples from 1971, such as Delaney & Bonnie's "Only You Know and I Know" (Fall of '71, perfect song to follow a fast jingle); "Rings" by Cymarron (references James Taylor being on the stereo in its lyrics); "Resurrection Shuffle" by Ashton, Gardner & Dyke and a chillingly soulful instrumental called "K-Jee" by the Nightlighters---played on some black NYC stations, but largely ignored by the other city top forty outlets. In February of 1974, while a senior in high school in Rockland County, I decided to call 97DJ PD Sean Casey to see if I could get an intern position at the station. My timing was amazing ...two months before this legend would fold. Casey invited me to stop by, mentioned there had been some staff cutbacks, and that I was welcome to help out as a record librarian, post office courier, coffee maker, and all-around errand person. I gave up my Bamberger's stockboy job at Nanuet Mall, and jumped at the chance!
I had the privilege of doing the manually written "pre-programming" of music played on 97DJ for at least an entire week in March, 1974. Some pretty adventurous current songs were included, among them, "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" by Rick Derringer (played even in morning drive), and "Still...You Turn Me On", an awesome Emerson, Lake & Palmer song that, to my knowledge, was never made into a public-consumption single (but appeared only as a promotional radio station "45", or otherwise on the Brain Salad Surgery LP).
The mood in the building was pretty somber with news of the impending format change. I was most impressed with the personable ness of Howard Clark, who, despite being recently demoted from all-nights to weekends when 97DJ began signing off at midnight, made this intern feel like a million bucks--welcoming any and every question I had. Here was a guy from Louisiana who was able to genuinely enjoy the moment of being on NYC radio, and who was even studying photography at one of the area colleges at the time. With news departments generally outsourced to metro traffic nowadays, we forget that even a top forty station like 97DJ actually had newscasters---some pretty damn good ones. One was Don LeVine (an attempt to make Levine sound Italian, I think!), who had the classic pro delivery on the air, along with fantastic comedy shtick and impersonations off the air. Another was Jerry White, who taught me how to read news copy during his breaktime. Of course, I never had the chance to be on the air at 97DJ----heck, I wasn't even 18 years old when the D-Day came. However, I'm glad that I can at least say I got in the door.
Afternoon Talk Show Host
[WWDJ Cover Page]