Do you remember when radio had personality? And personalities?
One of my favorite bloggers, Ken Levine, does. Besides being an Emmy-winning writer (he used to write for the likes of “M*A*S*H” and “Cheers”), he was also a disk jockey in Los Angeles in the late 1960’s and early ’70s. He is forever waxing nostalgic about the old-fashioned DJs who used to provide comedy and contests between the songs.
I share Mr. Levine’s nostalgia. I grew up in a tiny Illinois town named Lexington, which is about two hours south of Chicago. Every morning I would hop on the school bus, whose radio would be tuned to WLS, the Chicago station that boasted of “50,000 watts of power” and whose signal still reaches 38 states at nighttime. In the mornings, WLS would treat us to the deep-voiced tones and risque humor of “Super Jock” Larry Lujack.
Mr. Lujack was such a radio legend that when he died in 2013, he rated an obituary in The New York Times. His show was replete with recurring segments that were eyebrow-raising at the time but would hardly evince a shrug today, such as “Animal Stories” and “The Cheap, Trashy Showbiz Report.”
But my all-time favorite segment of his was a daily serial titled “The Adventures of The Tooth Fairy.” The premise was that a dentist named Newton Snickers (voiced by Chicago voice-over artist Dick Orkin) became so obsessed with his job that he declared himself the genuine Tooth Fairy and decided to do the job for all of America’s good little boys and girls. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the adults who saw Newton in his fairy get-up and didn’t realize his earnest intentions.
I’ve embedded one of the “Tooth Fairy” audio segments below. I don’t know how it will play to the uninitiated, but humor-wise, it’s definitely in the “Rocky & Bullwinkle” mode. A couple more segments of the show are available on YouTube. For a brief history of the show, click here.
So did you have a favorite radio “jock” when you were growing up? If so, please share your story with us.