West, born Harry Westcott was fond of telling the story of how his parents got him a crystal radio set when he was a boy. Harry retold that story for years. He started his radio career in Reading but then moved up to the Scranton area when WARM Radio rocked the local radio industry and changed formats in 1958. The outlet went from a standards type of music to rock and roll. It was an instantaneous success. When Harry joined WARM Radio he came onboard as a newscaster for WARM First News First.
After morning deejays Harry Newman and George Gilbert moved on respectively to other markets (Newman) and responsibilities,(Gilbert) Harry was made the Morning Man. Harry’s show, part of the dominant WARM format became a huge success. For the next decade he was the cornerstone of WARM programming. His show consisted of wry humor mixed with sledgehammer irony and downright corny, but well delivered jokes. Harry West became the morning jolt for all of the WARM audience which was called WARMland.
As a young boy wanting to get into radio, Harry was my broadcast idol. If there was a remote he was at, I’d ride my bike to it if he was in range. He was always gracious, kind and encouraging. As a teenager I interviewed him for a rock and roll column I was writing. In college at Radio station WRKC FM my friend Jim Gibson had him speak to the station staff. As a broadcaster myself at WVIA FM, I gave Harry a tour of the station when he was on Auction 44. He had just returned from York the year before.
Harry West was a radio legend when radio actually meant something back then. Now with competing entities, broadcasting, especially locally based stations are just cookie cutter shells of earlier days. There are some people in their 30s and 40s who have no memory of Harry or what he brought to the community and that is unfortunate. But there are those in my generations and others who have fond memories of The Harry West Show. His career never made him a rich man. Broadcasting in local markets never puts you in a high tax bracket. But you touch lives every day. Inform people. Inspire others. Create a memory for times gone by. Age and infirmity took the physical presence of Harry West away from all of us. But the mere mention of the name Harry West brings a smile to every face and a fond memory that links generations back to a time when life was simple and dare I say kind.
For those who want to relive those memories and carry Harry with them in their hearts, please come to a celebration of his life on Saturday October 12th from noon to 4pm at The Grotto. Harry enriched all of our lives with his career. In many ways, because of how many lives he touched, Harry West died a very rich man. Beloved and remembered fondly, frozen in time in our memories.
Harry with Sue Henry when she interviewed him at WRKC FM for WILK Radio.Harry's show is on this WARM retrospective we did a few years back.