Thursday, July 15, 2010




If you are of a certain age in WARMland you of course remember the greats on WARM. But there were other radio stations and personalities in the market. One guy wildly popular with young music fans was WILK’s Tim Earl. Earl did fills in during the week but hosted very popular weekend shows which went head to head with WARM Radio. Years later, Earl says he owes that success in no small measure to his co workers at WILK but also members of the WARM family. Here are his thoughts:
I must tell you, the folks of WARM radio were directly responsible for my career choice, my life in broadcasting and a life-time of wonderful memories. Their kindnesses to their listening audience were extraordinary. I was fortunate enough to work with so many in the WB-SCR market who worked for, against, with, or through the wildly successful Susquehanna Broadcasting (then) station. Now pushing 60, I find myself wondering more and more about what took place behind the doors at WARM: The management line-up, the corporate attitudes, their planning and decision-making. We have all known about the on-air talent, the news department reputation, the promotional excellence and the ability to sell this great radio station. I’d like to know more about, what David Letterman refers to as, the “pin heads” (broadcasting executives) who actually ran this battle-ship of broadcasting in the 60’s and 70’s. George Gilbert, Harry West, Pete Gabriel, Joey Shafer, Terry McNulty, Bob Oliver and Jerry Heller (he NEVER misspoke or stumbled…..not in all the many, many years I listened to WARM) just a few of the many names I remember so fondly. We lived on a farm in Carverton. Reception gave us WARM because, as I later found out, your antennae array was line of site to our farm. We could see the blinking red towers every night. When I asked my parents what they were, they told me they were put there to keep planes from flying into the mountain. They did not know. How could they have known? The lights were in the direction of Falls, PA. We had an old radio in the cow barn and it, too, received WARM’s signal the strongest so it was on every morning and every night seven days a week. Radios (ambient sounds) keep the cows content during the feeding and milking process. Not exactly a promotional tool, I’m sure (!). We listened to WARM all during my school years. I’d prepare for school (Dallas school district) listening to Harry and, for a period of time, Len. I believe Harry took his shot at Pittsburgh as I learned much later in life.
Harry West gave me the inspiration to search out more in the 60’s evolution of radio broadcasting. While doing a remote in Edwardsville, I skipped band practice to go watch the live broadcast. Charlie Morgan was the engineer and was running the “board” while Harry did the show and mingled. Harry took a few minutes to talk with me (not on the air). The advice he gave was priceless. He told me you had to have a “thick skin” to be in the business. At the time, I really wasn’t sure but had a pretty good idea what it meant. He certainly has had to live that literally and figuratively over the years. When they had time for a break, he and engineer Morgan walked away for awhile and asked me to “watch the equipment” while they were gone. My God, they could have handed me million dollars and it would not have had the impact of those few minutes! Just one of those moments that will be with me forever. Thank you, Harry.
I will also remember the day one of my buddies and I drove to the studio in Avoca and looked in the window of the studio just to prove to ourselves that The Pineapple Feature really was a put-on. Oh, Terry McNulty, what a funny, funny guy with his weekly spoof. I loved it. And, of course, we had to endure the Weekend Ring A Ding Ding weekends for Stegmaier Beer.
As I started to fantasize on being a radio announcer, I searched some of the other stations while working on all the homework in Jr and Sr High. I found WILK and in the evening hours started to pick out some of the clear-channel powerhouses like WBZ and WOWO. Listening to Dan Ingram on WABC was a treat as well. I was really starting to like this radio thing and luck would have me meeting WBAX Polka Weekend DJ and sports announcer, Dick Whittaker. He invited me to run the board and spot for him during the football games. By that time, I was hooked on radio. Joey Shaver recruited me to the Radio Academy (I don’t recall the actual name). I was just about to commit and decided, on the advice of friends, to do the Penn State-Lehman broadcasting program and, at the last minute, went in that direction and actually switched, before the first day of class into Electrical and Electronics Technology instead of broadcasting.
Well, I’ll cut to the chase, WARM gave me the inspiration for a career in broadcasting. I worked for Bob Neilson at WNAK (my first on air and I believe Tommy Woods was working there after WARM as well), the Fioranni’s at WPTS and Roy Morgan at WILK. Eventually I got to Erie, PA for most of my career (after a short stint in Kentucky… Berea and Winchester). I, too, got a shot at Pittsburgh (like Harry) and got beat up pretty badly there (figuratively). That is where I really found out what “thick skin” was all about. I had about 10 years of radio and 15 years as a TV Weatherman (WSEE and WPXI). Just as Harry West, Charlie Morgan and Dick Whittaker helped me get started, Art Pallen (KDKA Radio) and Bob Kutzma (KDKA TV Meteorologist) helped me decide on the switch from radio to TV many years ago. After years with WRIE Radio, WSEE-TV and WPXI-TV, I left broadcasting and now live in Dallas, TX working for my own little company as a placement firm for IT and Telecom professionals.
Thanks to all who take a moment of their time to lend a hand, say a few words, offer advice to younger people seeking career advice and input. You never know how a small gesture will be received, appreciated and used to help and guide. Mr. Gilbert, you helped make a radio station one of the true Great Ones. I was so fortunate to enjoy the station and receive some very sincere advice from more than one of your staff. Many, many thanks!


Anonymous said...

Just for the record, I believe that there was only one "T" in Whitaker. Dick was with WBAX, of course, and had a show from noon 'til three, as well as handling the night time edition of "Speak Up". He also served as their sports announcer, and played the role of "the old timer" in the Miner's Bank weather segment of Johnny Margis's early morning show.
("JM in the AM").
Dick was a wonderful fellow, and probably was worth three times what they were able to pay him.
He left the area, and ended up working for the Air Force in Colorado, if I'm not mistaken.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit of a long time since the above comments were made. I was messing around with my tablet and found all the info about
Dick Whitaker. He was my brother!!!! Unfortunately, he passed in 1993 of lung cancer,but most definitely is not forgotten. He did leave the radio business,but moved to Utah (not Colorado) to work for the Army (not AF). Thanks for your kind words about him. He was the best.

Anonymous said...

I remember when Tumbling Dice by Stones came out in 72 - Tim Earl played it on WILK like 10x in a row lol - happy times!