The Sign At 2212 Walnut Street

There was a thermometer mounted on the brick next to the fire escape’s door. I’d always refer to the temperature on the “95PEN Weather Fire Escape!”

I just got a tweet with a blast from the past.

Candy Egan Perri @kuteskatergirl 7h
@geofffox I just drove past the WPEN building, it looks exactly the same. #Philadelphia

It’s still there! The WPEN sign along the eastern edge 2212 Walnut Street in Center City Philadelphia. Considering WPEN hasn’t been at 2212 since the late 70s that’s quite an accomplishment.

Chalk it up to benign neglect. It’s probably cheaper to leave it where it is than pull it down.

I started at WPEN late in 1974. It was the WKRP of Philadelphia–bad signal, underfinanced and AM. Even in ’74 music on AM was a tough sell.

We played oldies. We had a good product. That alone was not enough. We just couldn’t compete.

At one time WPEN was a big deal. It even provided the seed that made Dick Clark a big deal.

If any program can be designated the prototype for Dick Clark’s legendary dance show, that distinction goes to WPEN’s 950 Club, named for the station’s location on the AM dial. Originated in 1945 and hosted by the popular duo of Joe Grady and Ed Hurst, the 950 Club was the first radio show on which a studio audience was invited to dance to records being broadcast over the air. The show, which saluted a different high school each day, quickly became the focus of the area’s bobby-sox set, who, seeking admission, deluged WPEN with two to three thousand pieces of mail each week. – American Bandstand
Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire

That studio was still there, in a terrible state of disrepair, when I arrived. It even had a name: The William Penn Room. Could it be more Philly?

I loved that building.

There was a fire escape at the end of the 3rd floor hallway, just past the studios, where you could go for a smoke (I was a smoker). We also went to try and catch a glimpse of the Moore College of Art girl’s dorm at the corner.

The statute of limitations has expired, right?

A big metal thermometer was mounted on the exterior brick next to the fire escape’s door. On-air I’d refer to the temperature “On the 95PEN Weather Fire Escape!”

I’d never before worked in a commercial district right in the middle of a big city. It was much more exciting than a suburban office park or studios built at the edge of the towers. It made me feel more grown-up, more professional.

WPEN was my favorite job in radio. It’s nice to have this reason to remember and smile.

I hope they never take down the sign.

On The Passing Of Dick Clark

Is it possible? Was Dick Clark the last survivor from the live black and white era?

Dick Clark has died.

I met him once. It was at 95PEN (WPEN) on Walnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia. He once worked there. Me too. He was cordial.

I also did a talkback satellite interview with him one New Years Eve on Channel 8. He was in Times Square. It was promotion for the affiliates. Nothing worth noting.

I’ve watched him all my life. I was a little young to watch Bandstand myself, but I was around when it was on and caught it in passing. There was also the Beech-Nut Show (It’s flavor-ific) on Saturday nights and Where The Action Is weekday afternoons.

What you saw of Dick on-the-air was important, but his professional life was much more complex. A very successful businessman, he owned most of the shows he was on! He also owned a lot he wasn’t on including a few made for TV awards shows.

I’ve heard he was less than happy he was only an employee on Pyramid.

Dick Clark was very interesting as a performer. He was exceptionally consistent. There are no memorable Dick Clark moments because his performance had no highs or lows! He was always the same.

That being said what he did was very good. There are few who came close. And he worked fast! Dick was not a “Take 2” guy. Doing voice tracks or ins-and-outs with few takes saves a lot of money over the long run.

Dick was very wealthy. Very, very wealthy. He watched and earned every penny.

My friend says Dick was really the successor to Gary Moore. Dick’s obvious successor is Ryan Seacrest who possesses the same skillset.

Is it possible? Was Dick Clark the last survivor from the live black and white era?