Radio Broadcasting History
440 International
Radio People
Favorite Radio Stories (Bs)
Bill Ballance

I am not involved in the radio field. I was just an avid listener of Bill Ballance and the other jocks on KFWB (98) "color radio" as they called it in the early 1960s.

I chuckle each time I recall a joke that Mr. Ballance told. I remember the exact location I was at in Fullerton, California when he told it. It was very simple...he asked the listeners "What is the similarity between a woman and a frying pan." A brief pause for thought, then he answered "You have to have them both hot before you put the meat in." He was instantly off the air. It seems, I recall, that someone sat in for him for about 3 or 4 days. The comment, by todays standards, is mild. But it was sure funny at the time.

He was pulled off the air at least one other time for a joke about a cherry pie, but I don't remember it.

Your site is really nice. I'm sure the folks involved in radio will make great use of it.


Dennis Davis
Boise, Idaho

Todd Baker

When at KLYK in Longview, WA, Todd became intoxicated on the the air under the supervision of the Washington state patrol, being given breath tests in 15 minute intervals.

After an hour and a half he became too drunk to run the board, having downed a shot of Jack Daniels every fifteen minutes. At the end of the 4-hour show, Todd had put away an entire bottle of JD!

Needless to say the state patrol wouldn't allow him to drive home (like he could have) so Todd was provided with a patrol car ride home where, in a drunken confusion, he flipped on the officer's flashing blue lights.

It took him 2 days to recover. The station's phones rang off the hook for a week, and no, he didn't air-check the show!

Big Jim

Joe Benson & the Dead Mouse

Gosh, I hope that this story is not contagious, a bad omen or worse...common to your stations, too, but here's another true "slice of life" in small-town broadcasting. Funny and...human. Check this:

A new saleswoman was hired for our new A/C FM just two weeks ago. Very nice, very attractive but with a familiarity of office equipment, especially computers, that would embarass a three-year-old.

I walked into the station this afternoon to a somber silence. It was one of those "Who died?" atmospheres. Our saleslady was at her desk, looking like she had just run her best client over in her car.

The office manager, was quiet. The promotions director was quiet. It was quite a disheartening feeling.

I asked, "What's the matter, gang?" The saleslady spoke up. "The GM won't be in today, afterall." I said "Well, heck, that's OK, I'll help you, what's up?"

"Well...she called a few minutes and said to let you know that her mouse died."

"Her mouse died?" I asked, with perplexity written all over my face.

"Her mouse died." Came the reply. Everyone in the office was as silent as a, well, a mouse.

I looked around. Straight faces everywhere. I was now believing the story. After all, I once worked for a woman GM whose dog had died and it was very traumatic. So, why not a mouse?

"And that's not all," the sales rep said dejectedly, "She's locked out of her house and that's why her mouse is dead."

I looked around again. Heads were bowed in reverence.

Now, I was really in trouble. The whole station upset because of a damn MOUSE?

And the GM locked out of her house?

"She said," according to the sales lady, "her windows were locked and she couldn't get out. She's so upset because she was trying to get in, I think. I don't know. Said the mouse was on a pad and couldn't move."

I sat down. It was going to be one of those moments, I could tell. But I had a hunch...

I asked where our GM was calling from. "Well, she called from home, I guess...maybe a neighbor or something."

Mouse died. Windows locked. Mouse on a pad not moving. I was beginning to catch on, I hoped.

"She said she was going to put the mouse in a bag and bring it into you to take care of," the sales rep said, misty eyed. "Please, Joe, don't let her bring that thing in here. I couldn't take it. The poor mouse."

"Uh, look. I think I know what happened. Do you know anything about computers?

"No. I'm computer literate," she said. At the point, the whole room erupted in laughter that could be heard for blocks.

After explaining what a "mouse" (a dead one at that) "on a pad, not moving" and "locked Windows" was all about, she was, like, real embarrassed, but a good sport about it.

Our GM, when finding this out, in one of the truly fun moments of my broadcasting career, just about fainted in laughter.

"I'm giving HER the dead mouse tomorrow!" I was told.

Film at 11. Join us.

Joe Benson

PS - I got the GM a new mouse. It's on its pad and appears just fine.

Joe Benson

Joe Benson - Hurricanes, Goose Pate & Elvis

In 1979, as a mid-20ssomthing consultant/programmer for 6 formats at the William B. Tanner Co. in Memphis, I got to live on airplanes a lot. Doing sales, consulting, research, format installation...the whole thing.

It got to be quite a frenzy, with about 100 stations, to keep up. It finally took it's toll when I was in Spokane, San Diego, Chicago and lastly, to Key West, Florida on one "road trip."

I found myself getting burned out, exhausted and, frankly, a bit under the weather. With constanly checking in with the home office, the studio operation and other addition to "remote controlling" the programming functions, I was beat.

A client of ours wanted a new A/C format for his big 100,000 watt FM and I was the guy to set it up. After a couple of days, it was time for a little R&R.

He and his wife took me to the "Hookilau Club" exotic, fun, boisterous bar/niteclub.

I was ready to turn it loose, so to speak...and did. One drink became another and another. Until it was suggested that I try the house speciality...the huge 22oz "Hurricane"...complete with Hurricane glass, of course.

The waitress said that if I could drink one and walk, the second was on the house. If I could drink that, too...I could keep the glasses.


With a club full of patrons and me feeling no pain at that point...or since, for that matter...I downed 'em both like I had just had a quart of orange juice.

We got up, took the glasses. Paid the tab and left to thunderous applause.

I was feeling, well, fine.

We got to their luxorious condo and I was still feeling "not bad."

The GM's wife had prepared an elegant gourmet dinner for us.

I don't know gourmet for raw fish. I don't eat gourmet. I never will.

But being, literally, three sheets to the Hurricane wind, and it didn't matter. I didn't know what I was eating...and frankly didn't care.

Until the GM said, "Damn, that's good stuff. What is it?" Mrs. Gourmet Cook said, "Pate'...goose pate, dear.)

Oh, man.

The room started spinning like a Michael Jackson record.

Round and round and round and round.

I'm eating goose shit. I'm going to die if I don't throw up first, I thought...

The Hurricanes were starting to come on-shore, if you catch my drift. I started to sweat, looking at these piles of what looked like doggy excrement sitting on my less pile than before, because I had already eaten it.

I didn't think about what it was, except it tasted like what doggy doo must taste like. Duck I like. Goose shit I don't.

I thought about ruining the entire evening by tossing my cookies...Hurricanes and all...on the nice lady's table. But, somehow, I didn't.

But I was sick as a dog. Or my goose was cooked, one or the other.

Get me back to the Key Westerner, quick.

Off we go...the car ride not sitting well with me, now two hours after the trip to the Hookilau.

Once inside, I, well, you know. It was not a pretty sight. All over the place. I destroyed it. Did not want to be around when maid service came around the next morning, for sure. Hell, parts of that goose and its pate were on the walls, ceilings, floor, beds, everyplace but where it should have been.

And now...the rest of the story.

I passed out. Gone. Flying in the Hurricane with the gooses.

2 a.m. The phone in the room rings.

"Huuuuullllloooo (hic)" I managed to say.

"Hi, Joe...this is Lanny Wheeler (Dan Robins) at WWWE in Cleveland. Now, Dan and I were good friends and he'd never done a stunt like this before. I was so drunk, all I could say was "Who?" Bang. I'm halfway passed out again.

He wanted to talk about Elvis...since is was a two years after Elvis died, and who better to talk about Elvis than this guy's friend who actually lived in Memphis. Right.

Dan had called my office and my quick thinking staff, who recorded all night, patched him through to me on the 800 line. Thanks, guys.

We started talking about "Elvis. Elvis who? Who is this?" It became one of the funniest bits ever. It lasted all of 10 minutes. I was absolutely ridiculous...and even sounded like Elvis, there, for a couple of minutes. Dan was laughing so hard and just kept prodding me into doing stupid stuff and, only because I knew instinctively to play along...I did...not knowing what the heck I was saying or doing.

I passed out, again. Bombed, but, apparently, quite funny.

Haven't heard from Dan in a long time, but will always remember this story. (See Miracle on 440 Street for Joe's reunion with Dan.)

So, everytime there's a hurricane warning, I pay respect by renting a motel room and staying in bed for two days, with the phone off the hook.

Joe Benson

Kit Beuret

Nagged management at KGU-Honolulu to change automated oldie evening format to Jazz-Fusion in 1976. Within one year had a 17 share in the evening.

A few years later station switched to talk and fired all the jocks. Clerk at unemployment office remarked, "I wondered when I'd get to meet you. I think I've met all the other jocks in town at one time or another." That was when I decided to quit radio and get an honest job.

Kit Beuret

Dick Biondi

Dick Biondi went from WKBW in Buffalo, New York to Chicago (WLS, I guess) at the end of 1961 or very early in 1962. He was at the Big KB when I joined the Navy in Buffalo in October, 1961, and, to my surprise, I heard him in Chicago when in boot camp at Great Lakes, which I graduated from in January, 1962. [I figured he knew that I was such an avid fan that he followed me.] Actually, he was alway in hot water with the "Well Known Bible Witness" station, usually for some hyped up pub stunt, such as introducing a new song on the air when a later jock was supposed to, or tying up traffic in downtown buffalo with something outragous.

/s/Marty Prater (Previously with Caughill-Palitz, Inc, Honolulu).

Dick Biondi

Dick Biondi was an important part of my childhood in Chicago I guess around the early '60s. My friends and I loved his outrageous sense of humor. I remember he was always talking about "moose moss" for some reason and my best friend and I dyed a bunch of string green and gave it to him as moose moss when he made a personal appearance. He was funny when we gave it to him and I still have the picture he gave me...
Biondi - Aug/Sept 1960
From: Karol Mavis

Dick Biondi

Hello ... enjoy seeing all the old KRLA jocks and their stories. Here's one for you.

In the late 1960s, my band, Mickey Aversa and the Invaders, were the KRLA Road show band. In 1967, we traveled with Dick Biondi on a two week tour for the United States Job Corp. We traveled to seven western states and entertained the Job Corp troops. I've attached a few photos of the tour that include Dick.
click for full size photo
The band at the KRLA studios in Pasadena ... as we wave goodbye.

click for full size photo
Myself, Mike (Mickey) Aversa, presenting Dick with a copy of our record: Love is a Wonderful Thing.

click for full size photo
The Job Corp troup traveling on the bus to the next show. Dick is on the left.

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The troup at a local stop in Oregon.
The guy standing behind Dick is Chuck Negron, who eventually became the lead singer for 3 Dog Night.

Mike Aversa
Aversa Music & Guitar Lessons
Yorba Linda, Orange County, CA

Memories of Boston Radio

I love your 440:Satisfaction site! Even though I only worked in the radio biz in Boston for a few summers as a college student, it brought a lot of those days back.

Probably Not Enough to Use Dep't: In 1961 there was a really nice guy named Joe Jeffries working as a DJ at Boston's WMEX, and I believe he was doing two shows a day, one under his own name and one as Melvin X. Melvin, a name used by several DJ's on WMEX. I didn't see Joe's name on your list, but I'll bet he's out there somewhere.

One-Line Story Dep't: As an assistant engineer at WMEX, I was the guy who installed the wire from talkmaster Jerry Williams' studio into the control room so that he could ring a bell to wake up the engineer for the commercials!

Heartwarming Story Dep't: I got my summer job at WMEX because they had fired a union engineer. He was soon reinstated, so I was out of a job again. I finally got called and hired by WEZE, and later learned that the reinstated union engineer had called all over town to find me a job because he felt bad about displacing me. And we had never even met! It kills me that I can't remember his name, but I owe him bigtime: I had that WEZE job for four summers, and it paid my whole tuition to MIT.

Night Transmitter Engineer Story Dep't: As the summer vacation coverage transmitter engineer at WEZE, I got all the night shifts from everybody's rotation, so maintenance night always fell to me. Part of that job was topping up the distilled water in the old transmitter's cooling system - distilled because the water, in ceramic pipe sections, literally stood off the 10,000 volts on the transmitting tubes. One maintenance night I was dumping in a couple of bottles of water and heard a terrific *bang* in the transmitter room. It was the sound of all the breakers blowing, putting us off the air. It turned out that the water delivery guy had brought *spring* water instead of distilled, and the stuff conducts like copper. It took a day or two to get that pumped out and get back on the air!

Those Wasted Ampex Machines Dep't: When I worked at the WMEX transmitter there were two big, nearly-new Ampex 350 tape recorders side-by-side in the back room. These were not used for day-to-day recording or the like - their sole function was to be the tape delay for the "swear button" on the Jerry Williams talk show! A tape started on one machine, went through both sets of heads, and was taken up on the other. It wasn't a loop: it had to be rewound every night. The setup generated about a three-second delay, adjustable by moving one machine or the other. However, since the studio and the transmitter weren't in the same city, the signal from the button in Jerry's studio was sent to the transmitter over a dedicated, leased phone line to operate the cutout relay. This was the only function that those two $5000 machines ever had! It still hurts to think about it!

Miscellany: My father, Jack Memishian, was chief engineer of WMEX for a while in the 30's or 40's when it was owned by Al Pote. I think Arnie Ginsberg, who was still there as a DJ when I was there in '61, worked for him when starting out as a junior engineer. I was hired at WMEX by John Parker, who was chief engineer there in the early '60's. George Jowdy was chief engineer at WEZE in those days.

Keep up the good work! If anything useful occurs to my feeble memory, I'll send it along.

Jack Memishian (the second one)
Newton, Mass.


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