Most of the features presented on NEO Airchecks have thus far focused on the highly energetic, upbeat sounds of some of the region's Top 40 stations of the past. While this week's entry continues that trend, it is in fact a two-fer. The first minute of the recording is a portion of an overnight show hosted by Big Barry on WHLQ/106.9 in Canton (now WRQK) somewhere in late 1971. Our newest contributor Jerry Coleman briefly explains the aircheck's origins:
"A friend and I visited him one evening...He was very good and I had hoped he would make it down to Youngstown and sign on with WFMJ, but it never happened."
This recording dates from shortly after the station was purchased by Susquehanna Radio Corporation, which changed the previous call letters from WNYN to WHLQ, the latter callsign a reflection of the company's ownership of Akron's WHLO/640.
Since this aircheck is from slightly before your editor's time in the business, NEO Airchecks would like to know more about Big Barry. Who was he, and where else did he pop up on the dial? Any background information from our more senior readers would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to drop us a line or two at firstname.lastname@example.org
The remainder of the recording is a portion of a "Twilight Melodies" program aired during December 1971 on WBBW/1240 in Youngstown. If the WHLQ aircheck is a good example of the youth-oriented sound of Top 40 radio of the era, then WBBW is on the opposite end of the programming spectrum. In short, this was one of the area stations that parents likely listened to more often than not. The full-service/easy listening format of the period is represented here with primarily instrumental music and a relaxed announcing style by the host, who doesn't say his name here. Any help identifying the personality would be appreciated by the editor. [Editor's note: Since this entry's original posting, we've been informed that the announcer is Stan Vitek, an evening personality who was with WBBW from 1971 until 1989. From there, he moved to WQXK/105.1. He remained with the country giant until 2009.]
WBBW was, for many years, the primary competitor for crosstown juggernaut WKBN. What WBBW had going for it in those days was a stable of talented hosts, such as Dan Ryan, Nick Anthony and Dick James, all of whom are mentioned in the aircheck. It would continue to be a thorn in WKBN's side well into the 1980's, when Ryan was lured over to his rival to host a long-running midday talk show. By then, WBBW had transitioned to a news/talk format that stayed in place until the early 90's.
Jerry Coleman again provides the story behind the aircheck:
".. I just happened to hear that You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra was coming up so I punched the buttons on the Ampex to get this short but interesting clip. WBBW was thought of has an "old fogy" station because of the slow music they played... You will note the reference to the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever which came out in '71. "