Monday, February 21, 2011

By the mid 1970s Bob Smith had become one of the most celebrated stars of radio and television as the legendary Wolfman Jack. His Friday night TV show on NBC, “Midnight Special” shared the TV music spotlight with ABC’s “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.”
Wolman’s nationally syndicated radio show was on WNCI and it seemed every taxi-cab in Columbus had a neon lighted sign on its roof advertising his program, as well as every COTA bus and anywhere else the station could advertise.
In 1975 the station brought him to Columbus for a Valentine's Day promotion that was held in the Scotts Inn Motel at Sinclair and Morse Road-also the home of the radio station.
The night that he flew into Port Columbus International Airport I got a call from E. Karl and he told me to mess up my hair and put on anything with a WNCI logo and get to the airport.
The Wolf was due to arrive within the hour. It was late at night and since I received the call while I was in bed my hair was already a mess so all I needed to do was to find my cleanest “Go to bed with a friend" t-shirt and make tracks for the terminal.
When I got the there it was clear that the other station staffers had gotten the same surprised phone call because we were all wearing different WNCI themed shirts. When Wolfman entered the terminal I remember being in awe of his seemingly bigger than life presence. He was taller than I thought he would be, even a little stockier.
Dressed casually in a blue denim shirt and jeans and wearing turquoise necklaces, bracelets and rings, the man was impressive.
I had already met some of the other syndicated radio stars of the era including Casey Kasem, Dr. Demento, and Flo and Eddie- who were actually Mark Volman and Howard Kalen of the rock group The Turtles. WNCI carried their syndicated programs as well. But meeting the Wolfman was special. The guy was absolutely likeable, a lot like the other DJs working for the station, just more famous.
The staff at WNCI then was Dave Anthony our mid-day jock- who also hosted a Sunday night jazz program, which was another radical idea that Phil Sheridan, our general manager allowed on his rock station.
Our morning guy Charlie Pickard aka "The Chaz" who was considered for years the best production man in the market. Mike Metzger our resident philosopher and afternoon drive host, Jay Michaels and "Easy Ed" Hayward at night, and myself.
Compared to those talented hippies I was just a kid still honing my craft.
Another member of our radio commune was our music director-Damon Sheridan. I was surrounded by the guys who helped WNCI in its early assault to knock off the great and powerful WCOL. This by the way was E. Karl’s mission in life at that time.
He used to say that he would someday turn 22 South Young Street- the site of the 'COL studios into a parking lot. Today they are sister stations, and instead of a parking lot the Young Street address is a sandwich shop.
The night Wolfman came to visit us he was taken at his request to White Castle where he ordered something like thirty burgers. And after ordering he asked the rest of the group… “Do you guys want anything?" Thirty burgers somehow did not seem like enough for a guy like that and it was truly a great rock & roll moment for us younger guys hoping to one day become the next big radio thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment