Larry Morrow book excerpt | Radio | Leisure

BOOK EXCERPT In his book of memoirs, This is Larry Morrow; My Life On and Off the Air (hardcover / $19

.95 / 256 pages), veteran radio personality Larry Morrow tells the story of how he started his broadcasting career and adopted Cleveland as his new hometown. In the following excerpt, Larry shares the story of how the rock and roll station WIXY 1260 changed Cleveland radio and describes the key players behind the scenes. Excerpted from the book, This is Larry Morrow; My Life On and Off the Air © 2010 by Larry Morrow. All rights reserved. This text may not be reproduced in any form or manner without written permission of Gray & Company, Publishers.

WIXY 1260 was now unstoppable. We had all embraced George Brewer’s encouraging opinion that we were the newest and the best. Judging from the ratings, the Greater Cleveland marketplace clearly agreed. The Eclectic WIXY Supermen The core group of the WIXY Supermen did not represent the majesty of speech like our predecessors, Bill Randle and Phil McLean, who were both intellectuals and had been in the Cleveland market for a long time. While we were not academically vacuous, we were out to have fun and were marching to a beat of a different drummer. George made sure the WIXY Supermen were always a unified team. Even though we were all as different as a dog from a cat, George coached, taught, and guided us in our on-air deliveries and assured us the response from our listeners would ultimately crush our competition. George also kept us within ourselves and our individual personalities. If we caused uncharacteristic mistakes on the air, like talking over the vocal of a song, he immediately called us on it and helped us through it. George always reminded us of who we now were: simply the best. Our current successes left us confident, and we knew we could beat our competition by following his plan. Because of our enormously different broadcast styles, there was very little competition between the WIXY Supermen. You would think that with all these uniquely different ego-driven personalities there would be chaos, but the opposite was true. In retrospect, it was surprising to

When Mike introduced me he said. He always made sure he had a beautiful female chauffer him around town and to his record hops while he sat in the back seat. the rest of his body will be here in ten minutes. Lou “King” Kirby Lou Kirby. and white. we did not have a nickname for Mike Reineri. Brookeberger. I can remember riding with him. and had a kingly looking WIXY crest painted on the sides in gold. “It’s for you. maintaining a delicate balance among one another. we referred to each other by our nicknames. so he carried a fake phone in his limo. We all threw in our lots for the betterment of WIXY 1260. I know all the trees by their first name. We called Dick Kemp. He was both . Lou would then make the phone ring and say to the person looking on. with his wife. I live in the woods. Oddly. a green and white seersucker sport coat. Childe. It was the first day of spring. This was before the days of cell phones. “The Duker has just arrived. Lou Kirby. patent-leather shoes. a green and white striped tie.” Dick “Wilde Childe” Kemp I thought Dick Kemp the most extraordinary and entertaining nighttime personality I had ever heard—definitely one of a kind both on and off the air.” I still laugh whenever I think about Mike’s quick-witted humor. Duker. bought a long Cadillac limousine. My King. In the early development stage of WIXY. we partied often at George’s home near the radio station in Seven Hills. There was also the unswerving loyalty to George. While driving into the studio to replace Mike at 10 a. One of his favorite lines was: “I’m the Wilde Childe. He wore a red velvet cape and a king’s crown.m. Cathy. and I was simply.m. whenever we stopped at a red light. Bobby Magic.. “You look like the president of a lizard factory. who made sure we were all well fed. He owned nighttime radio in Cleveland. Jerry Brooke. people couldn’t help but stare at this unusual that there was never a power struggle for fame among us. painted it black. By that I mean his nose is here. The Impish Mike Reineri I can distinctively remember two of Mike Reineri’s very funny Duker put-downs.” The Wilde Childe was paradoxically different. Magic Man. our King. When we were together. I heard him say. and I was fashionably dressed in light green pants with a dark green shirt.” Another memorable Duker put-down happened during one of our daily changeovers at 10 a.

disarmingly charming and dangerously playful. or every once in awhile. wearing just his Bermudas and no shirt. Why didn’t you call?” Dick Kemp responded. I thought I’d peek in the studio just to say hi to the Childe. singing to the music. this was the mid-’60s. the only one missing was Childe. There was a radical on-air distinction between our different approaches to the audience. and peanut butter right. including Norm. And the ratings reflected it. For example. Attendance was mandatory. When he arrived.” which drew a burst of laughter from all of us. just before women’s liberation gained momentum and women began leaving home for the workplace. and they wouldn’t shakin’ if it wasn’t for the breeze. when most women were home during the day. jelly tight. . you could hear and see in the distance the Childe riding his motorcycle down our 100-yard dirt driveway. We also had phrases that our audience knew and loved. you’re late. “I didn’t have a dime. Ain’t nothin’ cookin’ but the peas in the pot. “Childe. I was known around the radio station as “Mother Morrow” because of the time of my shift. all of them with the same funk and rock style that they were delivered. and they wouldn’t be cookin’ if the water wasn’t hot. Dick was the Wilde Childe in every sense of the word. There he was with his headphones on. by all admissions. I’ve given you some of Dick Kemp’s. I’m jam up. Mine were: I’m here to get your heart to quivil and your liver to bivil. I’m here to put a little glide in your stride and some slip in your hip. Norm said. but we had to be dressed for the occasion. Ain’t nothing shakin’ but the leaves on the trees. Halfway through the meeting. our most unique entertainer and the most talked-about WIXY personality by teenagers. When the meeting began. I knew these catch-phrases had caught on when people would come up to me and repeat one of them. which not only meant that we all had to be there. Remember. Dick Kemp was. stark naked! Another memorable episode with Childe occurred when Norm Wain called a WIXY staff meeting to meet our national sales reps from New York. One night when I dropped by the radio station to pick up my mail.

I would say.” The hook was from Tommy Roe’s 1970 hit. I called between fifty and sixty people because so many hung up on me.. Just eighteen months later. “Hi.” I’m still not sure who added the phrase “peanut butter right. and I work at this new radio station called WIXY 1260.” The song immediately sold 10. Mrs. when we weren’t that popular.Childe Goes Platinum? At this time. many WIXY 1260 listeners give me credit for that phrase. it had the names of over 17. with all the profits going to charity. we were building our station unlike anything the market had ever seen and has not seen since. “Jam Up Jelly Tight. I told him my plan was to visit shopping centers on the weekends and introduce myself to as many people as possible. the Childe made it quite popular. Ramping It Up During my first two years at WIXY. Williams. When they picked up the phone. If you’ll listen to me today I will mention your name. I’m Larry Morrow.000 people whom I had spoken to and had crossed off when they told me they listened to the station. I gave a picture to each person I met and asked them to listen to me on WIXY 1260. I was married to Pam Conn. and by 9:15. the phrase was so popular at WIXY that I began using it from time-to-time. . All of us were appearing at three to five record hops a week. I can vividly remember asking Norm if I could have one hundred pictures made of myself. The one souvenir of my six years at WIXY was the phone book.. To this day. I would begin calling at 9 a. After Dick Kemp left for our McKeesport. due to WIXY’s explosive growth.m.000 copies. I wouldn’t leave the plaza until all the pictures were gone. the appearance of a WIXY DJ at a shopping center would draw a crowd of two thousand. almost every person I called listened to WIXY. station. I would spend an entire hour trying to get ten people to agree to listen to me. when the station finally caught on. During my first two years of making those calls at 9 a. I had spoken to ten people and they all said they would listen for their names. In my sixth year at WIXY. Although we wrote part of it for him. and we wrote a song for the Wilde Childe on the new CLE-Town label called “Wilde Childe Freakout.m. I would cross off the name of the person I spoke to so I would never make a duplicate call.” Starting year three. Pennsylvania. Norm encouraged me to begin calling people from the White Pages every day before my air shift. In the early days of WIXY. As I made each call.

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