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[Description by contributor Tom Kent]
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Thank you, Lord! Oh, we made it!
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Art Vuolo sent me this aircheck from Tim Benko's "Windy City" Airchecks Collection. It was my first night on WLS. I had no idea Tim was taping and I remember how nervous I was. This was the station I had always dreamed of working at and there I was. I do remember the adrenaline being off the chart!
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I grew up in NC, and listened to WLS on the skip at night on my little transistor radio. I would fall asleep with the earplug dreaming about working at WLS. One night, when I was about 12 years old, I decided that was a worthy dream. So I set a goal. It would be my goal to work at WLS by the time I was 25. I was 24 when I went to work at WLS on March 1, 1980. I turned 25 in August of that year.
Prior to WLS, I was doing afternoons at WGCL in Cleveland. I was at WLS in 1980 and 1981. John Gehron was the PD.
I had a board op most of the time, but on the weekends, we ran our own board. We had a lot of freedom with the format, as I recall. We had some choice in the oldies selection, but we couldn't play with the currents too much. We had a music log and a program log but again as far as the music went, there was flexibility. Gehron was a great guy to work for.
But there was absolutely no flexibility regarding the Union and the rules concerning equipment. The only time I could touch any of the equipment was during non board-op hours, and then it was strictly limited to the equipment in one particular studio. Once, I made the mistake of pulling my aircheck skimmer out of a tiny little cassette deck right in front of the board op. I got a call from Gehron the next day saying they were going to file a grievance for that offense because we weren't allowed to touch anything. We even had a girl that came in called a "record turner" who got paid to put the needle on the record to dub to carts.
One of my fond memories of WLS was being in a big staff meeting in the conference room. Gehron was holding court and the mood was very serious. All the legends were there, Landecker, Lujack, Little Tommy, Jeff Davis, Yvonne Daniels, Brant Miller we were all in this HUGE serious meeting. There's Larry Lujack sitting there with his tattered jeans, old flannel shirt, western hat with his cowboy boots propped up on the conference table showing absolutely no respect for any kind of authority. All of a sudden, there was this thunderous loud clank and everybody broke out into laughter. Our production director, Art Wallis, was leaning back trying to be cool like Lujack, and his chair flipped over. It's just one of those real life moments when you realize: We're all human and this is just another radio station.
Right after WLS, Brother Jon Rivers hired me to work at CBN in Virginia Beach on a new satellite radio network called "Continental Radio". It was the first satellite radio network ever, and I still think WLS was the greatest top 40 station ever!