Jonathan Schwartz

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Legacy DJs | 0 comments

The son of composer Arthur Schwartz, Jonathan Schwartz worked at New York’s WNEW FM and AM from 1967 to 1986. A true scholar of the Great American Songbook, Jonathan entertained listeners with unsurpassed knowledge of composer’s song writers, singers and jazz artists. His music playlist was eclectic and can be described broadly as “The Great American Songbook”, with a high concentration of pop, jazz and pop standards and Broadway show tunes, augmented by music of nearly any popular style that has influenced twentieth century American tastes, including rock, classical, and big band. Schwartz is known for his on-air stories about his interactions with Frank Sinatra and other famous people, mostly song writers, singers and musicians. Jonathan is also known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Sinatra.  Sinatra himself was amazed by Schwartz’s knowledge of every song he had ever recorded. Schwartz is a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, a fact that he mentions frequently on his shows, despite being a well-known New Yorker. His radio program occasionally features heroic baseball stories. Commenting on radio in 1984 Schwartz said “I think it’s criminal to go on the air without an intimate knowledge of every record by each of the artists. Not only one album, but every album, every song on the album, every note.” Still broadcasting today Schwartz airs on WNYC and Sirus. Listen to a Jonathan Schwarz WNEW-AM aircheck from...

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Gene Klavan and Dee Finch

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Legacy DJs | 0 comments

In 1952 Gene Rayburn left WNEW to pursue a career in Television.  WNEW needed a new partner and interviewed over 300 people for the coveted position. Aspiring reporter Gene Klavan applied for the position thinking it was a temporary career decision; a detour from his pursuit of a television career. Gene embarked on a career with WNEW for a mere 24 years in the morning spot. In the first few weeks, Klavan brought a new level of craziness to the show “Anything Goes”.  Dee Finch was the straight man, Klavan was the comedian.  Station manager Bernice Judi had to tone down Gene’s rapid fire style.  According to Klavan: Ms. Judi coached him “You don’t have to do every accent….. You don’t have to do every impression…. take it easy, coast a little bit”. For the next fifteen years, Klavan and Finch changed the face of morning radio for commuters and families. New Yorkers were presented a new radio experience.  Children getting ready for school could listen with their parents while eating their breakfast cereal.  Commuters on the parkways could reduce the burden of New York traffic with a little humor. Vaudevillian in style, this format was copied by radio stations across the country. For the next fifteen years, the partnership flourished.  Klavan commented on Dee Finch in 1984: “He was spectacular. He was more than a straight man. People say a straight man, but he had a marvelous sense of humor.  A great voice and a fetching laugh.  I mean if he laughed even I couldn’t help it, I would break up, basically he was a really good actor.  He adlibbed, we never prepared anything, even though I used to hope we would sometimes.  He had a great understanding of what we were doing.  We were two minds without any.” Dee Finch retired from WNEW and radio in 1968. Gene Klavan went solo and left WNEW in 1977. Klavan wrote a biography in 1964 “We Die at Dawn,” that largely focused on the morning show. He followed it up in 1972 with “Turn that damned thing off”, a book about the news media industry. In 1977 he moved to 710 WOR for an afternoon slot and left radio altogether in 1980. He later became a commentator at WCBS-TV in New York, a host for the AMC channel, and a columnist for Newsday. Klavan’s sons, Andrew Klavan and Laurence Klavan, are best-selling authors and screenwriters Klavan’s thoughts on early days of WNEW under Bernice Judis management: “We always looked as handsome as we could. Judis used to say we’re appealing to women and we have to look sexy.” Listen to Gene and Dee “Anything Goes” promos from...

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Pete Myers

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Legacy DJs | 0 comments

Pete Myers joined WNEW-AM in the early 1960’s.  He had made a big name for himself in Cleveland radio during the height of the Rock and Roll craze.  Ultimately the immensely talented Mr. Meyers moved to New York to become a radio talent at WNEW.  Myers owned the afternoon slot. Former WNEW-AM Dick Carr recently reflected on Myers: Dick Carr’s Big Bands Ballads & Blues, April 12 2012 “It was when I was being recruited by WHK, Cleveland in 1959 that I first heard “Mad Daddy.” He was really Pete Myers working in his character guise evenings on Color Radio WHK, one of the great top forty stations of all time. As “Daddy,” he was a wickedly rhyming, echoing, WHK rock and roll night time deejay. Here in the land of Oohbladee, Mad Daddy giggles with all the glee Clappin’ and flappin’ to make it happen Every night after every day, On 1420…Color Radio…WHK. In 1967 when he was no longer “Mad Daddy,” Pete Myers, was one of WNEW’s smoothest deejays. Once an actor who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Pete was one of my favorite WNEW people. My office had a clear view down the hall towards the studios in the 565 Fifth Avenue, New York home of radio station WNEW. Pete’s on-air shift ended at 4 PM and when he left the studio, I could see him coming up the hall approaching my open door while wearing his unmistakable plaid hat with a little feather tucked in the ribbon over the brim. Pete would wear a sly grin like he was sneaking out after his show trying to escape. Often I’d invite him into my office and always try to relax him…get him to laugh…let him know how much I enjoyed his work…make a suggestion here or there…but never fail to give him something positive to take with him. Pete Myers was a complex individual that understood what made great radio. But he was at least two people, maybe more. His Mad Daddy character was a smash in Cleveland. Pete’s maddening rhymes, intros and clever bits in between fifties rock and roll were legendary. But, the guy who worked for me as the smooth mid-afternoon personality of WNEW was not Mad Daddy and could never be again after the memorable one night experiment that caused a negative uproar from the traditional WNEW audience. The one night GM Jack Sullivan gave him a shot as Mad Daddy, the switchboard almost exploded. Jack felt the WNEW image was threatened and Mad Daddy could never be. But Pete returned to WNEW without his “Daddy” masquerade and smoothly handled the 1-4 slot between William B. Williams...

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