The Death Of A Disk Jockey… Of Disk Jockeys

lee baby sims

I had lunch with Bob Hardt today. Bob’s the radio friend I wrote about a few weeks ago. Like all radio people we mourn its loss, because radio meant so much to us.

I grew up thinking the disk jockeys I listened to were hot stuff. They were.

Radio isn’t like that anymore. To a large extent the voices on the radio have become inconsequential in a dying medium. Sad.

I got this note a few days ago from another radio friend named Bob, Bob Lacey in Charlotte. We met my first day on-the-air when Bob taught me how to operate the board.

Here’s his tribute to Lee Baby Simms. Lee was the kind of guy we wanted to be, sight unseen.

Hello to all,

Lee Baby Simms died two days ago of cancer in Northern California, he was 72.

He was a good friend of Bram Rigg, playing the record, and at least once opening a show for us in some large club near Hartford, I think. I believe Richie and maybe Mike or Peter sat in with him on air one night at WPOP. I think he also was the MC at the Oakdale for the Turtles/ Paul Butterfield show, and went on WPOP the next night talking about how that audience was from two very different planets.

He was the coolest guy on air, a white guy from the south, with a black jock’s pacing and biting observations. He worked something like 40 stations, and like many air personalities, was uncomfortable with people he didn’t know well. He was the hired gun who took the hard jobs. The period during which he was going up against the great Joey Reynolds on WDRC, turned staid Hartford into the most interesting nighttime radio market in the country.

When I auditioned for a radio job in always lovely Fall River, Mass., I tried to imitate Lee Baby. It did not work, you can’t steal or invent cool, but I lifted a couple of his signature phrases which were recognized by the consultant who once worked with Lee in Phoenix. He thought it was amusing to hear a 19 year old do that, and gave me the job for a sweet $158 bucks a week. Thank you, Mr. Simms, I needed that job.

The last time I talked to him was in the late 80’s when I was working for a week in Honolulu. I heard him on the radio, called him up and we chatted for a few minutes about the 60’s scene in CT. He was gracious, but I could almost hear the meter ticking. Not a man to live in the past, he portrayed himself as caring only about warm weather, women, and short hours. An enigma. His career ended a few years ago in Phoenix.

A listener sent me the attached story on him. I don’t know the guy who wrote it, but he got The Lee Baby.

I hope you all are well, best wishes,

6 thoughts on “The Death Of A Disk Jockey… Of Disk Jockeys”

  1. I loved radio during the fifties and sixties. WDRC am and WPOP am in Hartford, Conn.
    had great jocks and I spent many hours with them. During the summer at the Connecticut beach, I was all ears for the wonderful disc jockeys on WABC, WMGM, and WINS radio. My “Cousin Brucie” is still playing the hits on Sirius Radio and I try to catch him when I am in my car. Joey Reynolds was a one of a kind disc jockey and he provided many hours of fun. I doubt that he can be duplicated. Yes, am radio in the fifties and sixties was unique and probably will not return.

  2. > Lee Baby Simms died two days ago of cancer in Northern California

    Lee baby didn’t die from cancer. He committed suicide.

  3. Lee Babi Simms was one of my heroes. I was 13 when I met him at a KCBQ promotion at the San Diego Zoo Easter of 1969. I had been facsinated in radio broadcasting from an early age, about 7 and at age 10 thru 12 listened to a lot of Armed Forces Radio as a Navy brat in Subic Bay, The Philippines where I discovered the short serial Chicken Man, the same duo who later did The Tooth Fairy. Upon returning to The States we landed in San Diego and I found Wolfman Jack on 1090 XERB. I was in love! At the only dance I attended in junior high KCBQ morning man Happy Hare was spinning the records so I braved an introduction and got his autograph. I had never listened to AM Pop but got hooked. I was lucky enough to have very cool parents who let me and my younger siblings attend the KCBQ thing at the Zoo. There I met Lee Babi who was very kind to me, just a gawky 13 year old. I called him a few times when he was on the air and he even dedicated a song to me on the air using my full name! Lucky me, I started my own radio career at age 25 and was gainfully employed for over 20 years in every time zone in America. I even got to work with Harry “Happy Hare” Martin who was by then head of sales at KSON in San Diego. It felt like full circle. A year ago or so I ran an internet search for Lee Babi and was saddened to hear he had taken his life. I wanted him to know how he had influenced me and that I’d had a successful career, great numbers and lots of fun as a radio gypsy largely influenced by him. I’ll never forget him.

  4. Sorry, a “White jock from the South with a “black jock’s pacing””? There’s no “ethnic” way of performing on the air.

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