Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Second Thought...

Today, a case where my thinking has changed, and one where it hasn't.  The latter goes first.

Jack Griswold passed away last week at the age of 86.  He did mornings for 26 years on WEJL, followed by stops at WSCR and WWAX.  Even in the old radio days, 26 years in one place is a major accomplishment.  I liked Jack's style-- folksy without being corny, a great community oriented broadcaster in every sense of the word.

I liked Jack on the radio.  I liked him even more after meeting him, and that never changed.  It was in the twilight of Jack's long career, at WWAX.  WWAX started as a little daytime station at 750 on the AM dial, from a studio in the Williamson Building in beautiful downtown Olyphant.  I had friends there, and I was invited in for a tour shortly after it signed on.  It looked fun-- a simple, bare bones radio station in a storefront on the main street in a small town.  It was what radio was meant to be.  Jack and I chatted a few times over the years-- always a professional in front of the microphone, a gentleman on and off the air.

Unfortunately, WWAX was a severely underfunded operation.  It changed hands a few times, and it's now in the hands of a religious broadcaster.

Staying with radio, I've done a 180 on Casey Kasem.  He did the countdown show American Top 40 for decades.  I was never a big fan.  First, the show was on WILK and I was a faithful WARM listener, so I didn't tune in that often.  When I did listen, I thought Kasem was a little too wordy and full of himself.

Sirius XM runs old American Top 40's weekends on the 70's channel.  I now really, really look forward to it.   I never viewed Kasem as a major music expert.  Then and now, it appears he blows in, reads the script in that wonderful voice of his, and blows out after 20 minutes.  The glory of the show is in the presentation.  It's superbly produced, and so slick.  I don't think there's ever been a show of its type done any better, and the production values hold up today.