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  In June, 2001, Ken Griffin replied to a series of questions about his radio career.  
 
Ken Griffin at WPOP

Q: You spent lots of years on Hartford's airwaves. Where was home originally?

A: I'm from Waterbury, CT. and started at WBRY at the age of 14 in 1951; youngest DJ in station's history. (In 2001 I mark 50 years in radio.)

Q: When you were a kid what people or stations did you listen to? Why did you choose radio for a career?

A: As a kid at WBRY I got to know their p.m. drive guy, Lou Dennis, who went on to become national promotion director of Warner Bros. Records in Burbank. Alan Freed was also a hero, and I got to work for him in 1959 at WINS.

Q: You were still quite young when you hooked up with Sal Mineo doing press work. How did that come about?

A: Sal Mineo and I were friends since 1954 and I helped set up personal appearances and press for him, as well as writing articles for "teen mags" on his behalf. (Was devastated when he was murdered.)

 
 
Billboard - March 14, 1964
Billboard Magazine - March 14, 1964

Q: What were the circumstances surrounding your move from WHYN to WPOP (were you looking or were you recruited)?

A:While at WBRY in 1960, a Mercury promo man Hermie Dressel became a friend. He lived in New Britain and was a former manager for Woody Herman. He liked my act at WBRY and suggested to Zack Land at WHYN that he hire me, which Zack did, and I did 10am-2pm daily plus weekly TV dance show on Channel 40 till WPOP wooed me away for better money (all of $200 a week!) in 1964 or 4, or whenever.

 
 

Q: Was it Jim Gearhart who hired you?

A: I think Jim Gearhart was the P.D. then, but Phil Zoppi owned the station which was at 410 Asylum St., downtown Hartford, where I met Joey Reynolds who was doing nights. You said he left before I got there, but I'm fuzzy on that. Maybe I met him before they hired me, I forgot but we became and are still fast friends.

Q: During your years at POP (1964-66) there was a parade of program directors. If this order is correct I think Jim Gearhart was replaced by Ev Wren, then Art Wander, then Sam Holman, then Woody Roberts slid in just as you left for WDRC. How did you survive them all?

A: You got the list of p.d.s exactly right in that order. I got along with all of them. Actually Ev Wren was G.M., not P.D.

Q: When did Fats and Rocky join you - in Springfield or Hartford? And clear up the confusion…were they boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife?

A: I created Fats & Rocky to have somebody to talk to on the air. I think I had them married off at some point, since they had 2 kids named Pebbles and Pebblina. Never could get the baby voices down, though.

WPOP ad - June 27, 1966

Q: Tell us about the Order of the Black Socks.

A: To be honest, I can't recall what madness mentality of mine created the Order of the Black Socks. Seemed like a good idea at the time. And, ironically, I heard from a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra recently who still carries his card!

 
 
Ken Griffin's Order of the Black Socks membership card from WPOP Billboard - December 11, 1965
 
 

Q: Connecticut produced some pretty decent bands. Any memories of Big Al Anderson and the Wildweeds? Or Lance Drake and the Bluebeats?

A: Knew Al Anderson very well. He joined NRBQ, where he still is, I think. And I discovered Lance Drake and The Bluebeats at a bowling alley in Brewster, NY, got them a Columbia record deal. Lost track of him, though he quit the group to become Scott Morgan, WDRC DJ at one point.

Q: In early October, 1966 you suddenly turned up in your normal shift but on a new station. Is it true that some loyal POP listeners took your jump to WDRC personally?

A: I made the switch to DRC strictly for money. Charlie offered me $350 a week, $75 more than I was making at WPOP. Never felt the "corporate" image at DRC, since contrary to popular belief we didn't have to wear ties and jackets.

 
 

Q: When Dick Robinson left DRC's daily airwaves for sales he continued doing weekend shifts. The two of you had some regular shtick-the Dickie/Kenny changeover….

A: DRC was only a 7-year blip on my radar (radio!) screen, so I don't remember the Dickie/Kenny changeover.

Q: "Scene of the Unheard" was pretty ahead of its time. Whose idea was the show and did you choose the tunes yourself or did others have input?

The Hartford Courant - October 11, 1966
 
 

A: "Scene of the Unheard" was Bertha's idea to introduce the "new age" music. I didn't care much for it, but it seemed to work. When Charlie wanted to put me in charge of the FM side and do it there, I was insulted, like it was a step down from prestigious AM. What a schmuck I was. I remember saying to him that FM would never amount to nothing so I quit and went to LA, landing PM drive at KGOE in Thousand Oaks, and finally meeting Chuck Southcott at KGIL, a Buckley station, snagging the evening shift.

Stayed there 3 years, went to KIIS, then quit altogether to open my own company, American Media Systems in Newport Beach, where we ran radio schools at 7 California stations putting the students on air at night. Great concept. Made a fortune, did voiceovers, an in-flight monthly show on TWA. Got bored in 1979, came back east to DRC, WRCQ, WMJQ (POP's FM), WWYZ. (Jeezus, what a comedown, eh?)

 
 

Ken Griffin at KGIL

Ken Griffin's autobiography

Q: Would you talk about some of your later ventures with Joey in Los Angeles?

A: Joey in L.A. He had a jingle company called "Up Your Ratings" in the 70s. I worked with him on that and liaison with Drake-Chenault stations, including KHJ. Basically we partied all the time, but got to be friends with a lot of the Hollywood "elite." Can I drop a few names? Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Rod Roddy, Frank Slay, George Carlin, Jerry Bishop, Wink Martindale, Gary Owens, etc. That's enough.

Q: Who were the really fun guys to work with?

A: Who was fun to work with? All of the aforementioned guys. Especially miss Lou Terri, Sal LaRosa, John Sherman and Tom Shovan who died.

Pretty soon you and me will be the only ones left! Thanks for the memory trip you took me on. I'm writing "The Radio Chronicles: (50 Years of Broadcasting Zaniness)" which will probably be finished on my death bed. Stay in touch.

Ken Griffin (e-mail)

In April 2002 Ken published his autobiography, A Great Face For Radio - The Memoirs of a Broadcasting Buffoon.

He died on September 28, 2010 at the age of 73.

 
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