62 WHEN, The Legend
62WHEN deserves legendary status. So I thank Jay Flannery and everyone else responsible for this truly inspiring website. I love reminiscing about WHEN
because it was a turning point in my life and I learned a tremendous amount when I had the privilege of working there.
My story starts at SU before I was hired. I had made an about face in my college career after discovering I was a verbal person rather
than a math person, so I changed majors from Mechanical Engineering to Communications. I enrolled in the Television Radio program. I
learned that there was to be a meeting for people interested in student-run WJPZ. Mike Roberts was JPZ’s GM and he conducted the meeting.
The first thing that struck me was Mike’s amazing voice. Dick O’Neil also spoke. They were both so professional it blew me away.
They played an aircheck with Mike, Dick, and another cool guy named Rick. The aircheck absolutely rocked and everyone in the room was just amazed
at how great these kids sounded on a radio station they practically built themselves.
The school’s FM station, WAER, was a nice facility, but you had to jump through so many hoops to get on there that I never did even one second on the air.
The JPZ guys said more people got hired for "real world" jobs from JPZ than AER anyway. JPZ was almost like the WHEN farm team. Dick was the PD at
the time and he was on WOLF (w – OOHHHH – lf) 7-midnight. Mike had the same shift at HEN, so they were actually professional competitors. But even Dick made it very clear
that the ultimate gig was at 62. Vic Johnson, Tony Rizzo, and a few others graduated from JPZ right to the Entertainer.
Dick was my boss at JPZ and I started on a 3am-7am shift. (You really had to earn your way at the time.) Little known trivia factoid. I was actually
JPZ’s GM at one point. Mike Roberts eventually left WHEN and Dick was immediately hired to replace him. One day Dick took me for a tour of the studios.
I knew right then that’s where I wanted to work, so I sent Bob Carolin a WJPZ aircheck. It was very scary for me because Mike and Dick would talk about
Bob like he was God.
Some time passed and I didn’t hear anything, so I got up my nerve and gave Bob a call. He was very nice and asked when I could start. What? Why didn’t
you call? I was going nuts here! (That’s what I said on the inside.) Frankly, I don’t think he was thrilled with the aircheck. The JPZ style was the loud,
fast talking Top 40 jock, not the relaxed conversational style of WHEN. He later shared with me that I said "right now" too much, but that’s what he
did when he started. I really think the mere fact that I had worked at WJPZ with all these great guys is what got me the gig.
Vic Johnson trained me my first night. He was great. He obviously loved his job and the station. He had a lot of fun with people (especially girls)
calling in. The equipment looked and sounded fantastic. I was in Heaven! I can relate to Vic’s stories about Rick Wright, doing the news, and WJPZ.
Vic said you gotta turn the channel off every time or next time you hit the button, nothing would happen. You jocks know what I’m talking about. It got me lots of times.
That first summer, the summer of SEVENTY nine, was great. I got lots of work filling in. I would usually do Dick O’Neil’s 7 – midnight show. Even
if Dick wasn’t off, they would move him to the daytime slot, and I would do nights. I don’t think I ever did a daytime on-air shift, but I can’t tell you
how proud I was to be on the WHEN team with Jay Flannery, Dick, Bill Carey, and Bruce Siegel. I just thought they were the coolest, funniest guys in the world.
On top of all that I, a car guy, who’s car thing had to remain dormant while going to school and getting a job, got to drive the Heavy Chevy and then – be still
my beating heart – the loud, brash, glass pack muffler and four speed equipped, ‘62 Heavy Vette! Are you kidding me? I’m getting paid for this?!
I was in love with Cindy Thomason because she would give me all the fairs, picnics, and stuff. I got to cruise all over the greater Syracuse area
looking for bumper stickers. I was in Auburn cruising with my buddy and some girls held up a sign that said, "Nice Car!" It was a scene right out
of American Graffiti. (Auburn was some distance from Liverpool. I put lots of miles on the Vette while I was at HEN.) I even drove as a pace car
at the Syracuse Mile. Due to the statute of limitations, I can now reveal that I did a full throttle run out of turn four past the grandstands. It
was glorious! I also got to make a trip to Watkins Glen for the Grand Prix. Can you say ecstasy? You know stations don’t do stuff like that any more.
Everyplace we went, people just loved that car. And Cindy really was great to work for.
Although I never did an on-air day shift, I did work daytime once (some serious 62 trivia). I pinch hit for a vacationing Bruce Siegel.
Bruce was one of my heroes at the time. His production was outstanding, his voice was awesome, and he was funny as they come. To say I
was honored to do production that week would be an understatement. I got to play with all the cool gear, and have my voice on in the daytime!
My first spot was for Holiday Ford. (The Yes Men. Anything you say goes!) I still have a copy. To top it all off, when Bruce returned, he
wrote me a real nice note that ended with, "If I wore a hat, I would doff it to you." You never forget words of encouragement from people you respect.
Another Bruce story. One day there was a buzz at the station. A bunch of guys gathered in the production studio to hear some
stuff Bruce was working on. He had produced some very professional stuff that, well, let’s just say it wasn’t intended for on air use. Everybody was
just howling with laughter. It really exemplified the spirit of fun and camaraderie at the station.
I got to be a star at the Basebreakers games. It was another way that the staff got to be friends and build that special bond. I tried to get Bill Carey
to call me a "weekend personality" rather than "part timer," but hey, I was just glad to be there.
With all the fun, 62WHEN had a high standard of excellence. I learned that the hard way one night at a staff party when Ed McKee, who made his living
selling our on-air product, told me in no uncertain terms what he thought of my work.
Just after I got hired, they replaced Paul Kelley on mid-days with a guy named Joe Gallagher. As it turns out, I didn’t mind losing the gig to Joe because
he was hilarious. I would listen, and I couldn’t wait for the songs to end so I could hear Joe. I couldn’t believe how creative and original he was.
Ray Diorio was the consummate professional. Often I would precede Ray on Monday mornings. Ray often looked like Monday morning when he came in, but when
he flipped the mic on, he had that Ray-smooth sound. It was sad to hear of his passing.
I wanted to be the afternoon guy though. Jay Flannery was the pro’s pro. I loved his style. He always sounded like he was having a blast. I think it’s
because he was. Everyone loved him. He was kind of the ring leader for all the shenanigans that went on at the station. (Editor disputes this point ;-) )
The next year, 1980, I landed a mid-day slot in Rome NY. I moved there, but kept my weekend gig at WHEN because, well, it was WHEN. I was literally working
7 days a week. It was great.
I finally got the call to do my dream shift, PM drive. Only it was in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. I moved there and brought everything I learned at WHEN
to my new job at WBVP, and it went over very well. Again, I believe that just being associated with WHEN got me those jobs. After a few months, I met my
wife Lori, and I’m still in Beaver Falls in 2013. Only I pursued the car thing rather than the broadcasting thing. My communications education and experience
comes into play during interviews and at speaking engagements. I won the Top Alcohol Funny Car title at the 2009 NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
The speed was more than 256 miles per hour. It was in a white car, Heavy Vette style. You can go to You Tube,
and type in something like "Bobby Martin, US Nationals,"
or just "Bobby Martin Racing" and you can hear one of those interviews in that WHEN-inspired style.
Since it was a radio station, a lot of memories are aural. Here are some.
"The Entertainer, 62 WHEN, Syracuse!"
"Newswatch 62, a 24 hour service of WHEN!"
"I’m Bill Carey (in that unique way he would say it), it’s 34 degrees." (in that unique way he would say it)
"Renda Kimball (in that rhythmic way she would say it), 62 WHEN."
The shouts! I really thought I made it when I got my own shout!
"BOB MARTIN!! The Entertainer. . ." I still have a copy of that, too.
We also had carts that just said stuff like:
"I’m Doug Brodie"
WHEN taught me how to reach for the stars and how to be a professional. I owe a lot to all the people I came in contact with there. Thank you. I will always remember you.
Ed. Note: You Can Also See Bobby In Action... HERE... HERE...