| The Southern Ontario/WNY Radio-TV Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

January 5, 2016 8:39 pm  #1

The Disc Jockey
The Disc Jockey
has been on radio since the earliest days of Reginald Fessenden.  Radio program hosts needed to fill time to keep their listeners entertained and played records.  The microphone was placed in the horn of the acoustic record player and deals were made with local record shops to supply music to the infant broadcasting business.

In those days it wasn't a "business" yet. Commercials only really began in 1922 on WEAF New York where the sale of a housing development was advertised for the first time over the new medium.

By 1935 though radio was a big business and WNEW New York decided to stay on the air 24/7 and needed something to play.

Early radio stations set up shop in large metropolitan hotels to pick up the big bands and entertainers performing nightly on their the bandstands of their ballrooms. "Live music" was all the rage because of the poor fidelity of early recordings.  A recording was obvious because of it's lacquer matrix and the limitations of both the finished product and the primitive technology of the time. The earliest recording engineers were chemists.

Presenting the JUNO for "Outstanding Achievement in Canadian Music"
to RCA Chemist and pioneer record producer A. Hugh Joseph

You needed a chemist to mix the wax and get the proper medium to produce recorded sound. The process was mind numbingly tedious and failure to get it right meant starting from the beginning again, and again.
It took a lot of patience.

Even when done perfectly any recording failed to live up to what could be heard on a live broadcast.
Recordings were to be avoided by any respectable radio station, until WNEW began an all night show called "The Milkman's Matinee".

The WNEW host was Stan Shaw Midnight til 7 am and he played the hit songs every night after other stations had signed off for the night.

"The Milkman's Matinee" became really popular not only with listeners, but musicians who listened after they were done for the night.

One of the musicians was bandleader Tommy Dorsey who tuned in at his hotel room after work and loved what he heard.  He loved it so much that he thought the show needed a proper theme song: So he wrote one called (appropriately) "The Milkman's Matinee" which WNEW was thrilled to receive!

Every night at midnight 1130 WNEW began their night show with that song and by the time I tuned in the song had been updated with a new version that I loved! (One of my dreams never fulfilled was to host "The Milkman's Matinee" beginning with The Modernaires, Les Brown and his band of renown! To play the jazz & swing music I had always loved as a child!)

As a boy I knew exactly where the announcer jumped in on the song and his voice seemed to sing over the dance band, hitting all the posts and generating excitement as his passion came across in his voice.

Announcers on WNEW could tell a story and orchestrate it with music in a way that made me feel like a part of the program.  I loved hearing the tales they'd tell and likewise loved the music they used to make the story come to life!
(People wonder where my story-telling style style came from? Now you know.)

This passion was sincere and the impact of a midnight program made "The New Yorker" magazine who wrote (and I paraphrase) that the announcer "rode the needle like disc-jockey through the night" spreading the news like a horseback courier of old.

Ok dj's: Now you know where your name came from!

Last edited by Mark Elliot (January 6, 2016 1:11 am)


January 5, 2016 10:05 pm  #2

Re: The Disc Jockey

I was trying to clarify what year I presented the JUNO.

("Ladies & Gentlemen, members of the academy...") I was on stage in my tuxedo that night high on what we now call "Crystal Methamphetamine" (yes, the stuff from "Breaking Bad") at the time and my memory is pretty fuzzy. (Not pretty, not fuzzy at all...)

My search pulled up this article by Dave Brown, an absolutely wonderful writer and friend who I must have spoken to after the show.

I do remember sweet old Wilf Carter weeping as he was presented his lifetime achievement award on the televised portion of the show. He was so moved that I had paid tribute to the man who discovered him all those years ago. Poor Wilf sounded confused and incoherent excepting maybe to the people in the room who got to hear what I had said.

Last edited by Mark Elliot (January 6, 2016 2:05 am)

     Thread Starter