Wednesday, June 17, 2009

590 MIGHTY MEMORY #548






PHOTO INDEX: FORMER WARM PERSONALITY PETE GABRIEL NOW AND PETE GABRIEL THEN ON WARM SURVEY SHEET.


THE MIGHTY GABRIEL RETURNS


Pete Gabriel showed up in WARMland the other day and a reunion broke out. Gabriel was on the Mighty 590 from 1968 to about 1971. Known as a Gentle Giant and one heck of a WARM softball softie, Gabriel first did the 10am to 1pm shift then gravitated toward the 1pm to 4pm slot until finally doing drive time from 4pm to 8pm. Here's Bill O'Boyle's recap on Pete's visit and reunion with other WARM staffers from the Times Leader:
Four men gathered at Cooper’s Waterfront Restaurant in Pittston on Monday to reminisce.
You might say it was an evening filled with WARM memories.
Pete Gabriel, Jerry Heller, Harry West and Joe Middleton shook hands, hugged and smiled as they recalled their years at the Mighty 590. All four were employees of Susquehanna Broadcasting when WARM ruled the airwaves in the 1960s.
They were part of WARM – the AM radio station that in its heyday had 60 percent to 70 percent of the radio listening audience tuned in every day. The powerful 5,000-watt station reached beyond Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Hazleton – its signal pierced the air all the way to Manhattan, Philadelphia, Binghamton and even the New Jersey shore.
WARMland, as it was called, erased the lines of demarcation between counties and towns – creating Northeastern Pennsylvania – and just about every baby boomer and beyond remembers the jingles, the Sensational Seven, record hops, and WARM days at Rocky Glen and Sans Souci parks.
That’s what Gabriel, Heller, West and Middleton wanted to talk about.
“It was a time that will never be repeated,” Heller said.
They told story after story, laughing and sometimes bordering on tears as they recalled events and co-workers who have since passed on.
“What a great time that was working with all those guys,” Gabriel said. “There was such camaraderie; we all got along.”
Gabriel was at WARM from 1968 to 1971. He brought pictures and memories to share with the others. And they had their own stories as well.
“Pete hasn’t seen these guys in a long time – years – and he still feels that closeness from when they worked together,” Middleton said. “They were a team.”
They remembered Len Woloson, Terry McNulty, Ron Allen, Tim Carlson, Bob Oliver and George Gilbert – all deceased – but not with sadness, rather with joy and laughter. They talked about “Little” Joey Shaver, Jim Drucker and Tom Woods who couldn’t make the reunion.
“I’ve never worked with a better group of guys,” Gabriel said. “And I’ve never worked for a station that treated its people better.”
West said the guys haven’t kept in touch much since the station’s heydays, but that will change now. They already talked about getting together again – soon.
“Frankly, there’s not many of us left,” Gabriel, 71, said. West just turned 79, Heller is 69 and Middleton is 60.
Heller served as WARM’s news director and the station placed great emphasis on news.
“I was living in Illinois and I answered an ad for news director at WARM that read: ‘One of America’s great radio stations is looking for a news director,’” Heller said. “That really did sum it up.”
Gabriel and his wife, Sandy, live in Youngstown, Ohio, and they stopped in the area on their way to a family reunion in Plymouth, Mass.
“When I read the story about Harry (West) and WARM in The Times Leader, I was really happy to see a lot of the guys were still around and I wanted to look them up,” Gabriel said. “It was such a great time back then – the kids, the music, the events, and the fun. What station today would allow a personality (McNulty) to pass around a can of pineapple to people who weren’t even in the building?”
The “Sensational Seven” became the “WARM Good Guys” – a collection of on-air talent perhaps seldom seen in radio then, before, or since.
Four of the “Good Guys” ate dinner, laughed a lot, then hugged and vowed to meet again.
It will always be WARM for them.
One of the songs that hit the top 10 while Gabriel was at WARM was Tracy by the Cufflinks:

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