Monday, April 18, 2011

Graveyard Shift

After a lengthy hiatus from the humble blog, your editor is happy to return with the latest discoveries from the world of airchecks. This week NEO Airchecks spotlights the overnight personality, represented here in a 1973 recording of Big Al Knight on WHOT/1330in Youngstown. He was the alter ego of longtime WHOT PD Dick Thompson. Many Mahoning Valley residents still recall how they speculated about the true identity of Big Al.

What may come as a surprise to some readers is the fact that Knight's airshift was voicetracked, long before the word and practice was as common as it is in today's radio industry. As you'll find out later, the secret was known among the area's radio folk, and at least one personality at a rival station was happy to fill in the listeners on that fact.

Thompson would stay with WHOT well into the 1980's before a short-lived retirement from the business. He would return to radio at WNIO/1540 in the mid-90s, stay on board through the station's eventual transition to 1390, then depart for WSOM/600 in 2001 with former WHOT and WFMJ personality Johnny Kay. Both retired in 2007.

As mentioned, Big Al's presence on Memorex caught the attention of a crosstown rival. Steve "Baby" Michaels, then holding down overnights at WFMJ/1390, regularly took shots at his competitor. An example of this can be heard on a 1971 aircheck of a New Year's Eve broadcast with morning man Ted Alexander. Michaels' "tribute" to Big Al can be heard beginning at 11:38, followed by a purported reponse from his target.

Special thanks to NEO Airchecks friend and regular contributor Jerry Coleman for providing these airchecks.

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