Sunday, December 9, 2012

590 MIGHTY MEMORY #439

WARM’s Harry West. 
  

WHEN HARRY WENT TO COLLEGE 


It was a nice, seasonable day in the summer of 1975. I was the news director of WRKC FM radio at King’s College in Wilkes Barre. King’s had yet to start its Bachelor of Arts Communications program so there was a dearth of commercial radio and TV personalities being talked about on campus. (The student newspaper, The Crown did an interview with then WBRE anchorman Franklin D. Coslett). At the station we had decided to try and bring speakers in from the real world of radio. I was given the assignment of getting speakers. My first choice was my boyhood idol Harry West. Harry West was one of the first people I followed on the radio. Like thousands of youngsters in WARMland I listened to his antics. But I also considered what he did, radio as a career path. 
Harry was about two years back from his foray into major market radio at KQV in Pittsburgh. West returned to WARM on July 13th, 1973 and it was like he had never left. When I called him, West readily agreed to a time and date. Harry arrived on time and I gave him a brief tour of King’s. He addressed about 40 students wgho were active in the radio station. A few Jersey and New York students were prepared to be unimpressed because they had grown up listening to Cousin Brcie, Dan Ingram and other major market radio stars. But Harry wowed them too with his down home philosophy, his engaging manner and his brutal honesty about how hard the radio business could be. He was only scheduled for an hour but stayed for two opining about FM radio (then in its infancy) as well as college radio. He told us that what he found with college radio in Northeastern Pennsylvania was that there was an element of professionalism he hadn’t seen elsewhere. I don’t think it was a line of flattery but even if it was, we didn’t care. Afterwards I think we sent Harry a bottle of Dubenet Wine for his trouble. 
I did not personally hear it but my dad told me that when Harry opened his show the day after, he said, “Well friends, after all these years, I finally got to college and I might not have flunked!” He then went on to talk about his visit for about three minutes. He lauded out attention and questions as students and then said it was his pleasure to speak to us. Even after all these years, so many of those people who attended that “lecture” say, “the please was all ours”. These impromptu “free” community events were just another hallmark of why WARM Radio was so popular.

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