I got an email from John Harper this morning. An aircheck of mine has been placed on the Northeast Airchecks site¹. I went to take a look and give a quick listen. The aircheck is well over 30 years old.
Geoff Fox WPEN Phildelphia 1978. (12:40) For the last 25+ years, Fox has been meteorologist at WTNH-TV New Haven, but back in the late 70’s, he was jocking at WPEN in Philadelphia. WPEN was a significant force in those days, known as great sounding adult contemporary station. Fox doesn’t disappoint as a jock (and for that matter as a meteorologist either!) Aircheck was contributed by Steve West.
As I was looking down the list or recordings I saw: Bud Ballou WMEX. That’s Bud on the left.
I knew Bud when I was in college and worked at WMEX Boston (making $1.60 per hour!) where he was a jock. I think it was Bud who told me to have a different autograph and signature–strange and probably worthless advice I still slavishly follow.
Geez — long way to go for this story about WMEX.
Back in engineering sat two tape cartridge machines connected to a electromechanical clock device. Every minute one became ‘hot’ while the other silently advanced to the next cut. When the on-air disk jockey hit a button the ‘hot’ machine fired and played a jingle sung WITH THE TIME! There were 720 (12×60) separate jingles each sung for a single minute of the day.
“The time in rhyme is six twenty three on the new W-M-E-X.”
That makes this all quite strange since WMEX was run as cheaply as humanly possible. Spending this kind of cash didn’t fit the station’s story. Max Richmond, the owner, managed the place and he watched every penny–every one. Wikipedia says:
“Max Richmond was reportedly a challenge to work for, with his alleged micro-managing and abrasive personality…”
The station cut a deal. A few minutes of each hour the jingle sang,
“The Westclox time is five oh nine on the new W-M-E-X (or the appropriate minute).”
WMEX saved a ton of money while having these custom jingles because Westclox footed the bill. That would be a good radio story since these timecheck jingles were quite rare (I haven’t heard them since I worked at WMEX and seriously doubt a copy still exists). There’s more.
In the studio on the audio console sat the button to make it all work. Next to the button was a note. “Do not play between :10 and :20”
They got the jingles. They never played the ones with the Westclox commercials!
¹ – An aircheck is how disk jockeys show off their work. It’s a recording of a radio show that only includes the parts when the mic is on. No commercials (except live reads) and no songs save the first and last few seconds.