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March 2005

[important]To read in chronological order, start at the bottom and work your way up.[/important]

Eric, Anyone hear anything about 3WS? I caught part of a commercial yesterday about a new all female morning show. I don’t know if this was some kind of promotion or something real! Then I thought that maybe Jim Merkel decided to retire or is being let go. What do you hear on this? Phil Pusateri Penn Hills (March 31, 2005)

Eric’s Response: My warning first of all is to consider what tomorrow is…April Fools’ Day…and if it’s still alive after tomorrow THEN worry!


I couldn’t help but chuckle at the mention of “Hot Smoke & Sassafras” by the Bubble Puppy, since we just added it to our library not long ago. Sounds great out of the top of the hour ID at 9 o’clock on a Friday night! Keep listening to 620 KHB and 770 KFB for more musical developments. – C.I. (March 31, 2005)


Here’s a real test for you. In the early 1960s two guys did a cheap copy of Cordic & Company on one of the then-smaller Pittsburgh stations. It was called (somebody) and King. The King was a guy named Eddie King. They did impersonations of Hollywood stars, politicians, etc., and put them in pre-recorded skits. What I’m looking for is the name of the other guy and the station they were on. I think it might have been WEEP. In late 1962 or early 63 the station had a budget crunch and let Eddie King go, but the other guy stayed on. Any of this sound at all familiar to you? (March 30, 2005)


HI GUYS JUST TO LET YOU KNOW ABOUT WKEG RADIO 1110 AM…IT WAS NOT AFFILIATED WITH A BEER COMPANY…IT WAS OWNED BY THE WADE BROTHERS FROM WASHINGTON PA UNDER THE NAME AS JANUS BROADCASTING…IT OPERATED OUT AT THE PRESENT TRANSMITTER SITE..ITS STUDIOS AND OFFICES WERE ALL CRAMMED INTO A SMALL TRAILER WHICH ALSO HAD THE TRANSMITTER ALSO ENCLOSED…THE STATION HAS HAD VARIOUS FORMATS IN THE PAST…WAS PROGRAMMED AT ONE TIME BY ED SHURLOCK OF WWSW FAME…IT OPERATED AT 1000 WATTS DIRECTIONAL DAYTIME…LATER THE OFFICES WERE MOVED TO THE GEORGE WASHINGTON HOTEL…WKEG IN THE EARLY DAYS WAS BELIEVE IT OR NOT WAS MIDDLE OF THE ROAD FOR MUSIC…THE LAST DAY I WORKED THERE THE PROGRAM DIRECTOR ROD HUNTER GAVE ME A STACK OF OLDIES AND SAID TO PLAY THEM. SONGS YOU NEVER HEAR ANYMORE LIKE THE BUBBLE PUPPY…HOT SMOKE AND SASAFRAZ ETC….I HAD A BALL…ROD TOLD ME TO KEEP IT A SECRET BUT THE STATION WAS GOING COUNTRY…MY LAST SIGN OFF AT THE STATION WAS….TUNE IN TO WKEG TOMORROW FOR A NEW SOUND IN TOWN…THE AIR NAME THE STATION GAVE ME WAS BOB JAMES…ALITTLE BACKGROUND ON WKEG..JOHN GALLAGHER OF WLTJ ALSO WORKED THERE AS A NEWS PERSON…IN CLOSING IT WAS FUNNY WHEN YOU SHUT THE TRANSMITTER DOWN THAT WBT CHARLOTTE CAME BLASTING THRU ON THE AIR MONITOR…HOPE THE INFORMATION IS HELPFUL..SINCERELY BOB SCHARNHORST FORMER WKEG STAFFER (March 30, 2005)


Here’s a link to a Jack-FM article by former Pittsburgher (Uniontown), Mike McVay: http://www.mcvaymedia.com/adltcontmp/acindex.htm. Here is a link to an article by Gary Wall, the consultant responsible for Jack-FM, who lives here in Nashville (you have to scroll ¾ of the way down the page) . http://www.radiomarketingnexus.com/2004/07/. Both guys are friends and really smart programmers. Ed Salamon (March 30, 2005)


Eric, I’ve been wondering what happened to Ellen Gamble in the mornings on Channel 4, and I’ve checked your “Where are they now?” section a couple times, but haven’t seen anything. I found an article that tells that she has left to “oversee fund raising and public relations at the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.” I got the info from an online article on the Post Gazette’s site (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04211/353283.stm) dated 7/29/04, so you can verify it rather than just taking my word for it. There’s also a little quote from her there. Look at the 5th & 6th paragraphs under the heading “Catching Up.” I didn’t think she has been gone that long, but apparently my concept of time is getting worse as I get older! 😉 Tony (March 30, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Yes indeed. I can’t shed any more light upon the situation than that. But I do remember that is about the time when it happened. Time conception does tend to be one of the “first things to go.”


John, Thanks for the input. Over Easter, I learned that back-in-the-day my dad walked into the Moon Township Radio Shack across from Robert Morris College and they were playing the station in the store. The store is 7-8 miles from the mystery station and they were demo-ing their FM antennas and tuners by pulling in the station, and the clerk said it was just 5 watts ERP. Back in those days, there were many 10 watt licensed stations inthe non-com FM band, so, he just may have been legal after all. FM was still struggling and perhaps the FCC figured what-the-heck. As FM grew, those 10 watt stations were forced by the FCC to upgrade to at least 100 watts or go dark, in a late 1970’s ruling, I do believe. With the big story on the staton in the local paper, including photos of the staff and equipment and studio location, I can’t imagine it was a pirate operation….if it was, that story was the death of it! Loking forward to what else you can find! Bill (March 29, 2005)


Bill – I am too young to remember the radio station in Moon, but I have grown up in here and so has a good chunk of my family. The reason I am writing you (And sending this to the PBRTV Mailbag) is because I think I actually know the story behind the radio station in Moon. It was the location that you gave that was the tip off. One of my older cousins, Dave, lived up the road from my parents house on Hookstown Grade Road. In the early 70s, Dave had all kinds of radio equipment at his parents house. If I remember correctly, he was broadcasting from the house. I do not think he was doing it legally though. If I can find his email address again I will ask him for details, but this sounds like him. He works for Clear Channel nowadays. (March 29, 2005)


Checked out a couple hours worth of music from JACK-FM in Dallas… and wow deja vu… the playlist and mix was very similar to what wydd was doing back in 1984. Looking at the music list it appears as if that incarnation of ydd never left. hmmmm (March 29, 2005)


If we get this format in ‘da burgh, my vote would be to call it MYRON-FM! Yoi! Double Yoi! Triple Yoi! (March 28, 2005)


In response to the note below, I predicted WRRK-FM would turn into a Jack-FM station but it didn’t happen, in fact I don’t know that anything happened, and the ratings continue to show it going down the tubes. Look back on the archives in December and you’ll see my posting on the PBRTV website. My prediction is we will see a Jack type format by years end, probably much sooner. I disagree with 100.7 making that move, but my bets are still on WRRK. Scott Cranberry Twp. (March 28, 2005)


I believe it’s just a matter of time for Pgh. to get a “Jack-FM”. I will predict 96.9 or 100.7 by summer. See blog article -> http://www.radiomarketingnexus.com/2005/03/jack_fm_formt_a.html (March 27, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Any other bets?


As a kid growing up in Moon Township in the early 1970’s, for a brief time there was a low-power FM station in Moon Township. Probably 1971-73? Being less than ten years old at the time, I don’t recall the calls or frequency, and have never heard it mentioned again. It certainly was not a pirate operation, as it was featured in a fairly big story in the local weekly newspaper (Coraopolis Record or perhaps the defunct West Hills Bulletin?) As I recall, the station was run by some high school friends, broadcast limited hours, lasted a few years but went dark as they grew up and went off to college. They broadcast from a 1950s’60s-era ranch-style home on Hookstown Road, across the Montour Expressway and up the big hill opposite from what is now the Robinson Town Center mall area. I only lived a few miles away and reception wasn’t good, they probably had 10 watts ERP. They erected a very short, light-duty mast, maybe 15-30 feet above roof-line (this is a very high plateau area) , and used a couple of Radio Shack “stereo S” FM-receive antennas as their transmit antennas When I drove past that area on a recent family visit, I could narrow down the house to one of 2 or 3 along that road today. Was this all a very vivid dream,or does anybody have any recall of this homegrown early Moon Township FM operation? Bill Gruber; Program & Music Director; WAPS 91.3 The Summit; Akron, OH; www.913thesummit.com (March 26, 2005)


Hi Eric — I’ve enjoyed browsing your mailbag and noted a few helpful comments that I was able to use in my webwork. I’m George Chastain, aka “E-gor” for some of the artwork I do, and for various monstrous websites I created and maintain, notably “E-gor’s Chamber of TV Horror Hosts”: http://myweb.wvnet.edu/e-gor/tvhorrorhosts/ which currently has nearly 300 entries about television personalities from all over the country and a few foreign countries, with more reported to me every week! I’m writing about a new set of pages I just recently posted about a subject that will interest some of your audience, television horror hosts from the area. The site, “Pittsburgh Horror Hosts”: http://myweb.wvnet.edu/e-gor/pittsburghhorrorhosts/ is of course largely dominated by information about local legend CHILLY BILLY CARDILLE and his long-running “Chiller Theater” show — but I also have links to data about a number of other hosts, including: * SIR ROGER (Bob Drews), the original local “Shock Theatre” host on WTAE in the late 50’s; * GEORGE EISENHOWER (I understand he wore some sort of costume but if he used a monster name I haven’t discovered it yet), host of “The 13th Hour” on KDKA, also in the late 50s; * COAGULUS, COUNT VON THIRSTENBURG and TARANTULA from WPGH’s “Scream-In” in the late 60s – ?; * GHOST HOST, a Baltimore-based host who was syndicated on WPTT in the late 70s; * SCORPIO from WPGH in the mid 70’s; * HAUNTED HOLLYWOOD, the syndicated show that succeeded “Chiller Theater” on WPXI (voiced by actor JOHN CARRADINE); * SPOOKY SPECTRE, 90’s host from California University of Pennyslvania TV; * MR. SCHLOCK, late 90’s Pittsburgh cable-access host; * Yes, even COUNT FLOYD, the fictional host that comedian Joe Flaherty played in SCTV skits — based on Pittsburgh shows he watched as a kid! There’s also a link to an online reprint of an excellent article about Appalachian horror hosts in general, including GAYLORD and FAT DRAC from West Virginia. My information about some of these folks is far from complete, and I’d especially like to discover the missing names of the people who played the characters, details about the years the shows were on the air, and PICTURES I can use on the site. I’m also hoping for help with the BIG job of compiling a complete list of the movies Chilly Billy showed over the years: http://myweb.wvnet.edu/e-gor/tvhorrorhosts/chillyshow.html I’m sure some of your readers will be able to help with this quest, and I’ll certainly give full credit for any information or leads. I’m hoping to publish one or more books on the subject eventually, but I need to track down a lot more information first! Thanks for the use of the hall! George “E-gor” Chastain I’ll keep an eye on your mailbag for feedback, but people can also feel free to contact me directly: E-mail: chastain@mail.wvnet.edu (March 21, 2005)


In response to Bob Lawson’s email, he is undoubtedly thinking of Abbie Neal and her Ranch Girls, which I remember seeing frequently (along with Dormont’s Slim Bryant) on WDTV. I also listened to her radio show on 860 (not sure whether it was still WHOD at the time).One of the many other Pittsburghers that was an Abbie Neal fan is Lou Christie. Lou has an Abbie Neal tribute page and CD available on his website: http://www.lou-christie.com/abbie.html. Ed Salamon (March 21, 2005)


When the Wilkins Amateur Hour (with the Wilkins EZ Credit Girls) was on the air, my mother and her sister performed. I would love to find any recording that was made of them. It was in the 40’s. Please help me. Thank you. Connie Janitor (March 20, 2005)

Eric’s Response: I am not sure whether such items would be available now. Since WJAS (who carried the Amateur Hour) has shifted owners (and callsigns) a few times since those days, it’s very possible that the shows would be missing in action. Maybe someone can help…that’s what the mailbag is for!


hi do you have any info on a country music program in the 1950’s (i think it was sponcered by wilkins jewelry). it was an all girl show. i think one of the girls name was gail (not sure) she played the bass. bob lawson from cincinnati oh (March 20, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Not sure of what you are looking for. But I’ll put it out there!


The answer in regard to It seems to me that a number of years ago, I came home to the old answering machine (the kind that used tape) to hear the thing rewind for quite a long time…for only two messages. The first one was nobody, but the second was Barbra Streisand singing “Evergreen” followed by a 99.5 WGAY station ID and then into the next song. (Pure coincidence by the way…this was before I was familiar with that station.) Anyway, how does a radio signal call you on the phone…and leave a message at that?

Obviously someone called your house from a business based in the Washington, D.C., area that used WGAY as their on-hold music. As your answering machine picked up, they got a call from someone else and had to put you on hold. So your machine recorded the on-hold music. Send my prize to me in care of Hillside Psychiatric Clinic, McKeesport Hospital (March 17, 2005)

Eric’s Response: Really now? Who said anything about a prize?


In regard to a 2/13/05 email -Bob O’Brien was Bob Leszchek when he wrote “Solid Gold Scrapbook” for me at United Stations in the 80s. He was a young guy with a great appreciation and knowledge of older music, and had sung in an acapella group and then the Duprees, which is when I met him. He was at KOLA 99.9 FM in Riverside Ca. until recently. I’m not surprised he hosted a syndicated show, given his experience with US. Ed Salamon (March 14, 2005)


Eric, In answer to the “where are they now” questions… Lee Arthur died of brain cancer several years ago. Ted Eckman (Captain Jim on WIIC) has also passed away. Bill Currie moved to Seattle so his daughter could take care of him. He has had serious health problems for some time. Don’t know about Dennis Holly. He actually worked at KDKA-TV (weekend anchor) but left around 1977 for a station in Baltimore. Have no information on his whereabouts. Gary (March 9, 2005)


Hi, If you are updating your “Where Are Thety Now” listings, you should include Asa Aarons who is now in the NY market where I live (Stamford CT). Back in the days when I lived in Kane, McKean County I remember watching his consumer affairs packages on CH 11. Just wanted to bring it to your attention. I enjoy your site. P.S. I used to work at a station who’s studio and transmitter was in Wilcox, Elk county that was able to put a respectable signal into the parking lot of the Monroeville Mall. Quite a feat…Bob (March 7, 2005)


Hi Eric, Does anyone here know whatever happened to Lee Arthur, former female sportscaster on KDKA-TV in 1974, Cap’n Jim from WPXI-TV, & Bill Currie, from KDKA-TV, & Dennis Holly from WTAE-TV? I met them back in the 1970s & was wondering if they are hopefully alive & well elsewhere. I hope someone can help me with the answers. Some photos of them are included on a section of my fan web site located athttp://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Lobby/3212/local.html Thanks. Ron Newcomer (March 6, 2005)


HEY ERIC WHAT IS UP WITH RADIO HERE IN THE OHIO VALLEY ALL OF OUR STATIONS SUCK BAD WE HAVW FROGGY CRAMING 4 DIFFERENT STATIONS SIMILCASTING THE SAME CRAP DOWN OUR THROATS WOMP FM RELLY SUCKS NOW THAT JOHNIE O IS ON KOOL 105 AND AFTER 10 AM THAT STATION STINKS THEN WE HAVE ALL THE CLEAR CHANNEL STATIONS WHO PLAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN WE HAVE NO DESCENT STATIONS TO LISTEN TO I VOICED ME OPOIN TO CINDY TAYLOR P.D. AT WOMP SHE NEVER GOT BACK TO ME I REMEMBER WOMP IN ITS HAY DAY PLAYED FANTASTIC MUSIC BUT THESE DUMB FROGGY PEOPLE WILL NOT GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO SHINE ANYMORE THEY EVEN BROUGHT IN SIMILCASTING THIS BOB & SHERRI PROGRAM IN THE MORNING THEY SUCK THIS IS THE WORSE THING THEY COULD DO DO YOU HAVE ANY CONNECTIONS AT KEY MARKET PLEASE PASS THIS ON IS THERE A DESCENT STATION OUT THERE I GREW UP LISTENING TO THE 80’S & 90’S MUSIC AND I LOVE THAT STUFF I OFTEN LISTEN TO STAR 100.7 WHEN UP THAT WAY THEIR SIGNAL IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO REACH US HERE YOU LOOSE IT COMPLETLY ON THE HILL IN WEIRTON LET ME KNOW IF YOU HERE OF ANY CHANGES I REALLY ENJOY READING THE FEED BACK FROM YOUR FANS ON YOUR SITE KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK THANKS CLIFF (March 6, 2005)


Hi– Could you please help me with something. In posting info about Forever’s acquisitions in State College this week, your Central PA correspondent has posted “Forever also assumes control of Classic Rocker WBUS and WRSC-AM. Needless to say this now means the only stations in the area NOT under Forever’s rule are WGMR (Revolution 101) and Philipsburg’s THE BUZZ.” That’s not correct. The #1 station in State College, WZWW-FM (95.3/3WZ) is owned by First Media Radio, a fairly large player in its own right (24 stations in 5 states, including 5 in Central PA). We’re definitely NOT “under Forever’s rule.” Thanks, Mike McGough, District Manager/General Manager First Media Radio/3WZ State College (March 6, 2005)


Eric, Take Note: The Dame radio stations in Johnstown and State College were sold to a company owned by Pittsburgh lawyer Nick Galli. The deal was pproved to sell to “2015 partners” last week. The firm, however, is financed and operated in conjunction with Forever Broadcasting. Kerby Confer’s Baltimore (with an Altoona connection) group. Format shifts are underway in State College where the combined company will control 90% of the stations that are strong enough to “stop on scan” on a car radio in the towns. Same is true in Johnstown. Just FYI Greg (March 4, 2005)


These may help answer your questions about Johnstown’s Swank Building … http://www.jaha.org/Swank.pdf and http://tribune-democrat.com/articles/2005/02/12/news/news05.txt. (March 4, 2005)


Eric: I think that the “Marcy” that is being asked for is Marcy McFarren from the old WDVE days. If I remember, she followed Paulsen and Krenn and even was on board during the “Jimmy and Steve” days. I think that she was also a teacher in the Ringgold School District in the Mon-Valley. Drew Gordon (March 3, 2005)


They are right WKRP was in the flem building.. and perhaps the Brill Building pertained to the music business I believe possibly Phil Spector..and Sonny Bono.But again what does the swank building stand for? Vito (March 3, 2005)


Hi Eric: Last time I talked to Hersh, he was selling cars out by the airport here in Pittsburgh – that was about a year or so ago. I was thinking about calling him to see how he is coming along with his affinity for guitars. Most radio folks are either frustrated or budding musicians. (I steal licks off of records when practicing my electric bass…) Will give him a buzz and see what is up. Thanks. Mike Kirven (former 104.7 maven – WYDD, WXRB, WJJJ) (March 1, 2005)


I hate to disagree with Vito, but he’s incorrect. “WKRP” was located in the Flem Building in Cincinnati. (A. Nonno Maus) (March 1, 2005)