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Man From Mars Productions

Jim Harrington
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Boston program schedule - January 11, 1976
Sunday Boston radio schedule
January 11, 1976.

Q:Eventually you got you foot in the door at Westinghouse. What was it like working at WBZ in your hometown?

A: I'll never forget auditioning for the job, the thrill of landing it and THEN...that first shift on a true 50,000 AM blowtorch. I ran the spectrum of emotions....scared... excited... happy...uncertain...you name it...I felt it. The funny thing was that WBZ had less formatic restraints than WDRC. In many ways...I was left to my own devices. It was a great time at a great station.

 
 

Q: Somewhere along the line you landed a support role in the movie, "Jaws." How did that come about?

A: AFTRA had a casting call for extras. SAG had asked it's sister union to put the call out to its members and, always being interested in film, I answered it. I was the last to learn of it and I asked Charlie without any notice. I mean...I asked if I could take a week off beginning...'tomorrow'. Charlie shook his head...wished me luck...and let me go. I left him in the lurch and he never held it against me. And people wonder why we loved him so much?

Q: You spent the tail end of the 1970s at WCBS FM in New York. Did Jack Miller hire you or have anything to do with your getting that post?

Film star Jim Harrington on the set of Jaws
Film star Jim Harrington on the set of Jaws
 
  Jim Harrington

A: No. Of course I worked with Jack there but I was hired by Bill Brown who was the PD at the time. Jack became PD later. I almost went to WCBS-FM a year earlier. John Gehron, Bill's predecessor, had me down to the station and wanted me to make the move, but Jean was expecting our second child and we didn't think that it was the right thing to do at the time.

Q:Eventually you landed in Pittsburgh where you've been based ever since. What was KDKA like?

 
 

A: KDKA was WBZ in Pennsylvania. Same jingles..same professionalism...same type of signal...same legendary reputation...same excitement. As a side note, I did some fill in 'talk' work at KDKA a few months ago (fall of 2006) and I found the station to be a shadow of its former self. It was depressing and sad. There are still some gifted and talented people there...but it's not the same as it was back then. I guess Thomas Wolf was right..."You can never go home." They wanted me to continue to do some swing work for them...but I passed.

Q:You've done morning drive on several large stations. What do you think of the current climate of radio?

A: Ed...if you don't mind I'm going to cut and paste a blog entry that I wrote for Jerry Del Colliano's INSIDE MUSIC MEDIA blog a couple of days ago. I think it pretty well sums up my feelings about the subject. "For years radio has ignored the 'product'. Back in 'the day' cutting edge programming was essential...now it's hard to find. Conglomerates have homogenized the system and curtailed creative growth. Once there were places where fresh young talent could go to make their mistakes, hone their skills and move on. Once there was a time when struggling stations took creative chances. Radio has lost a lot of it's 'fire' and it sounds like it. Back in the seventies, when I had the good fortune to work at great stations such as WDRC, WBZ and WCBS-FM, the industry was 'alive' with new ideas. Stations took pride in the 'product'. Today the environment is different and radio has no one to blame but itself. Once, back in the fifties, radio blamed TV for an industry wide depression. It's doing the same thing today when it points the finger at new media. But the good news is that radio woke up back in the late fifties and early sixties; it rolled up its sleeves and went to work. We cam do it again, but we have to stop thinking like bankers and get back to thinking like 'creative' broadcasters."

 
  Jim Harrington at WWSW Pittsburgh
Jim Harrington at
WWSW Pittsburgh

Q: Congratulations on getting your college degree in 2006 at Thomas Edison College. What prompted you to go back to school after an accomplished career?

A: I came from a family where education was very important. My dad was Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University and a Boston University Law grad. I was the only one in my family to drop out of college (after my freshman year no less) to pursue a career...and it's been a great career. But...I always felt a 'void'...there was something missing in my life. A few months before my dad passed away (he died in January of 2005), I promised him that I'd go back and get it. It meant a lot to the both of us. He didn't live to see me graduate (I actually got two degrees...an Associates and then a BA in Communications) ...but I think that he knows. And my mom is doing well and she was delighted. I have to tell you that I hadn't worked that hard in thirty-five years. There were no summer breaks or Christmas vacations. I got 105 college credits in just under two years...even the college was impressed. It was sort of an academic land speed record. Try taking a college 200 level math when you haven't seen a math book in over three decades. To say the least, it was challenging....but I did it...and passed with honors. If you know of anyone who is interested in going back to college...a fully accredited REAL college...then I would highly recommend Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, NJ. I did the entire thing as a distance learner...on the Internet. You have to be very disciplined to do it that way...but if you are...it offers an amazing opportunity. I went to the graduation at their campus, which is on the grounds of the New Jersey state capital. I wore the cap and gown in front of a crowd of three thousand and I was never more proud of an accomplishment. I don't know if I'll ever use it in my career...but I'm glad that I did it.

 
 

Q: And how about a plug for your writing efforts...

A: As you know Ed, I'm also a writer. I've written screenplays (DERAILER is making the rounds in Hollywood), SQUEEZE PLAY which was published a few years ago and is available where all good books are sold including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and many other book stores around the world and STRIKE AT THE GIANT which I just finished. I'm still a long way from being a best selling author...but it's a goal. Writing is something that you can do well into retirement...and God knows that I don't want to retire. Life is too interesting.

Even though I haven't seen you in years either...I still consider you to be one of those 'life long friends', Thanks for the opportunity to let me reminisce.

Visit Jim's web site or send him an e-mail.

Cover of Jim Harrington's book "Squeeze Play"
Jim's book cover
 
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