Man From Mars Productions
was WWRL in Boston, another was WDRC. They were interested, but
didn't contact us personally at first. Buck Forker, former Sales
Manager of WNEW was the GM of WDRC and he called the General Manager
of WHOL to question him about us. Buck
telephoned from Hartford while we were appearing in Philadelphia,
told us he was interested and wanted us to go to New York ASAP to
meet with Buckley and Jaeger. We told him we didn't close in Philly
until Saturday night and he said they'd like to meet right away
and could we be at their office in New York early Sunday morning.
We caught the 5 AM train from Philadelphia and were at their NY
office, chatting and drinking Ambassador 25 Scotch with them at
seven-thirty Sunday morning. By ten, we had hammered out a deal
and signed contracts, prepared by their private secretary, who welcomed
us when we arrived. She also poured the drinks.
I recall, we met with Dick Buckley and John Jaeger in December of
59 and started at WDRC shortly after January 1st, 1960. Eddie and
I arrived in Hartford on a Sunday morning and rented the top floor
of a huge Victorian on East Blue Hill Avenue, several blocks from
the station. That night we met with Buck (Victor) Forker and Charlie
Parker at the station. We brought with us, the large sound effects
door through which our characters entered and left. The door was
confiscated from the SFX department of the defunct WSAN Drama Workshop,
in Allentown. Until that moment, although we had spoken with Buck
via telephone, we had never heard of Charlie Parker, who proved
to be an instantly likeable guy.
Sales Manager, a blatantly unfriendly man, whose name escapes me,
was also present and I sensed an instant dislike between him and
Eddie. Frankly, I wasn't too crazy about him either. Apparently,
whoever was on the air that night had taped their show, since they
sent us into the broadcast studio with a program log and copy book
and had us ad-lib a half hour, while they watched and listened from
the control room. One character we used that night was a Hartford
insurance agent, who was a threatening hoodlum trying to sell us
health insurance. Buck and Charlie Parker laughed a lot. The Sales
Manager stomped out before we finished. Eddie said he was probably
Bacon or Faye's brother-in-law. I figured he resented the changes
Buckley Jaeger brought to his comfortable world. In any event, we
didn't exchange a dozen words during our tenure at WDRC. The following morning at five we hit the air.
At first, WDRC put Bob Bacon and
Dick Fay together for a two-man
morning team. Did you ever hear them, or even meet them, or were
you and Eddie hired as replacements with no knowledge of your predecessors?
John Jaeger had told us about the Bacon and Fay show, but we never
met them. As Buck Forker related in his letter to John Jaeger, he
simply believed we would be more suited for AM drive. Russ
Naughton was never mentioned.
During your time at DRC the whole shooting match was in Bloomfield
at the transmitter building. What was the facility like? Did your
show rely much on recorded drop-ins and what kind of equipment was
used? Had they installed cart machines or were they playing sound
effects back from records?
Bob Coe engineered our show every Monday and Dick McGuiness, a young
ex-Marine, engineered the rest of the week. Eddie made up a goofy
voice for Dick and we used him as a sustaining character. Several
times a week, we'd go through his lunch pail on the air and reveal
it's contents, usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Stein did most newscasts. Bud
Steele and George Freeman
shared time on the others. All three were terrific and truly big-league.
In keeping with the John Jaeger philosophy, made famous at WNEW,
they used actualities and scooped other stations as often as possible.
When there was a plane crash in the news, all airline commercials
were instantly cancelled. One morning, while we were on the air,
a 727 crashed in an Indiana cornfield. I believe it was Bud Steele
who contacted the farmer who owned the field, by telephone and scooped
the country. He put him on the air live and the guy related how
he had discovered and walked among the wreckage. He graphically
described the ghastly scene, complete with body parts, blood and
gore. Eddie and I nearly threw up. We didn't know how to follow
the farmer. Mainly, we just did time checks and played music, without
trying to do comedy.
WDRC facility was quite good as far as we were concerned. We worked
at a table in a large, comfortable, dimly lit studio. The engineers
union forbade us from touching any equipment and we used hand signals
to start the music and commercials. We received special permission
to have a turntable in the studio for the few drop- ins we used.
There were no cart machines and all sound effects were on record.
Outside the studio and a short walk down the hall, was the huge
record library, Bertha Porter's domain.
On the other side of the studio was the production room. The offices
were in an area behind the control room.