Sporty Dan was a character in our Senior Play in high school. A disc jockey spinning the all the hits. “That bright good morning voice who was heard but never seen, feeling all of fourth five going on fifteen.” I played Sporty Dan in the play. My thirty seconds was a show stealer. It led to my dream of being the next greatest Disc Jockey following in the footsteps of the great Larry Lujack of WLS Chicago, Cousin Brucie WABC New York. My love of music and my love for gas bagging. This was a perfect fit for me.
I started pursuing that dream at the world renowned Carolina School of Broadcasting in Charlotte NC. I met a few of my tune spinning DJ heroes, those I had worshiped. The best Charlotte had to offer. Let’s hope that wasn’t the case. However I did learn what a cart machine was and how to cut commercials. Headphones were called cans and volume was called gain. As you can tell I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to that form of entertainment.
Growing up in Indian Land, South Carolina there wasn’t but one radio station. 61 Charlotte WAYS. Big Ways radio was the home of rock and roll. The Disc Jockeys were Gods. You had Jack Gale for the morning radio, Melvin for the lady-o , Larry Black takes over at noon. Ride home from work with Mike Greene, then there’s Long John Silver in between and Ron Brandon neath the midnight moon. I don’t remember my name sometimes but I somehow I remembered this little ditty. I met Larry Black once and tried to pick his brain on the intricacies of the radio business. He gave me wonderful insights. Red heads were his favorite and Zig Zags were by far the best rolling papers and Pearl was a underrated beer. Information I found to be valuable later on.
Charlotte had some great DJ’s back in the day. Jay Thomas, Robert Murphy, John Boy and Billy and my favorite Calvin Walker, aka Calvin. Hearing about his death last week brought back memories of the sultry voiced king of this new radio format that had come to Charlotte. FM radio station WRNA-FM was the first of its kind in Charlotte, AOR (Album Oriented Rock). We heard from the likes of Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Moody Blues, Buffalo Springfield and Led Zeppelin. Calvin played this new music that was foreign to regular radio. I wouldn’t have learned not to eat the yellow snow if Calvin had not introduced me to Frank Zappa. I would have never tried to kiss the sky if Calvin had not played Hendrix. Calvin was a 33 1/3 radio evangelist. He was the anti Dr. Johnny Fever. Calvin was more of a Venus Fly Trap for all the WKRP fans. Did I mention his voice. Rest In Peace Calvin. You were the best.
My broadcasting career lasted a very short time. I flamed out faster than Bitcoin. Too many redheads and Pearl’s and the substance that went inside the Zig Zags among other things. Thanks Larry Black.
Disc Jockeys as we knew them back in the day have died. Radio has changed. Radio personalities now are mostly blow hards spewing their political views or some crazy preacher spewing his. We get our music from Spotify, Apple Music or some other streaming service. Some say radio is on its last breath and I tend to agree. Streaming is dominating the music world and radio’s signal unfortunately is fading. Radio just isn’t relevant in the 21st century and it is sad.
Whether Kasey Kasem telling me to keep my feet on the ground and to reach for the stars or Wolfman Jack howling at me the on the Midnight Special, I raise my glass to all. The Disc Jockey. “No static at all (no static, no static at all) FM (no static at all.”
Video by Harry Chapin