This week’s Top 5 is different from any we’ve ever done before. It’s from WIND in Chicago, dated May 15, 1958, but instead of writing about the music on it, I want to write about the five jocks pictured on the survey. Each has a place in Chicago radio history.
Don Quinn: I know the least about this guy. There was a Don Quinn who wrote the old-time radio show Fibber McGee and Molly, which was produced in Chicago. Based on a bit of online research, I can’t tell if the Don Quinn at WIND in 1958 is the same guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was.
Bernie Allen: A native Chicagoan who appeared as one of the Our Gang kids in the movies during the 1930s. He’s best known (to me, at least) for his stretch at WLS, holding down various afternoon shifts throughout much of the 1960s. Scroll to the bottom of this page to hear him in 1967.
Milo Hamilton: Known as a baseball broadcaster and still doing Houston Astros games today as he approaches age 80, Hamilton was between play-by-play gigs in 1958. He filled the gap doing music shows and news at WIND, and told an interviewer recently, “I had the #1 rated music show in Chicago but then new management came in and they wanted to change the format so I was out of work.” It happens. Believe me.
John Doremus: Radio geeks, particularly in the Midwest, know Doremus as one of the greatest voice artists ever. Often heard late at night (and stone perfect for the time slot), he hosted various music programs in Chicago and in syndication, and did commercial voice work for clients all over the country well into the 1980s. In 1964, his company pioneered the concept of in-flight music on airplanes. (I am surprised at how little there is about Doremus online—especially the lack of airchecks. He’s got a voice you’d certainly recognize.)
Howard Miller: The top personality in Chicago radio during the 50s and 60s, his star fell rapidly in the wake of his controversial comments following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, which revealed him to be a hard-right law-and-order type who wanted police to kill rioters protesting the assassination. According to a 1969 Time magazine profile, WIND yanked him off the air, and it took a lawsuit to get him free of his contract. He remained off the air for several months before WCFL hired him, and although he swiftly returned to the top of the ratings, he didn’t last long at ‘CFL. He bounced around to other Chicago AMs in the 1970s and early 80s before becoming a station owner, and dying in 1994.
(While researching the jocks in this post, I learned that two other Chicago personalities of note died recently. Eddie Hubbard, who was at WGN from the 50s to the 80s, died from injuries suffered in a car crash last March. He was 89. Hubbard is best known, probably, for hosting the morning show before Wally Phillips took it over in 1965. He also hosted an afternoon show on WGN, and occasionally, an evening show called Music Unlimited. When I was a kid, my father often listened to it in the barn while milking his cows at night. Also, longtime Chicago newsman Jim Frank died late last month at age 66. He had recently retired from WBBM after working all over town, including WIND, WMAQ, and WCFL, where he anchored news on Larry Lujack’s afternoon show in the mid 1970s.)
From the WIND chart, I’m posting “Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu” by Dicky Doo and the Don’ts. When the adults of 1958 complained about that noisy, stupid, rock and roll music, this is the kind of thing they meant. The group was a studio creation from Philadelphia; it recorded on the Swan label, in which American Bandstand host Dick Clark was a silent partner; “Dicky Doo” was the nickname of Clark’s young son. So yes indeed, the song got promoted on American Bandstand, albeit discreetly, and it became a modest national hit. I’m posting it not because it’s especially good—it isn’t—but because it’s one of those records many people have heard of without actually hearing. And also because it amuses me to think of mellifluous Milo Hamilton saying either “Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu” or “Dicky Doo and the Don’ts.”