(UN-EDITED) Herb Oscar Anderson or HOA. They called him the morning Mayor of New York. He was my teenage musical curator on New York’s WABC 77.0 radio from 1960 – 1968. I began listening to music back in 1960 when HOA arrived at WABC until he left in 1968 – when I entered my post beatnik pre-hippie college years. Where did the music start? Elvis for sure. Connie Francis and Jim Reeves were there. The great Marty Robbins singing “El Paso.” Chubby Checker, Brenda Lee and Roy Orbison were playing through my 8 transistor radio with the single ear plug. They were certainly all friends of the Morning Mayor HOA. He was the Jockey that taught America that not all Rock n’ Rollers were bad – still mixing in some big band sounds and speaking sweetly to the post 50’s stay-at-home housewives. I think the last song he might have introduced me to was the Beetles “Hey Jude”.
Now, I was going to interview him on the I Heart Radio show “Yak About Tech”. The first question people had was “What does HOA have to do with Tech?”
Way before my theatre days in London and New York. Years before most of you knew me as the founder of Blue Marble ACG, (a legendary internet marketing company), there were a couple of 14 year old Brooklyn boys in the 1960’s addicted to their radios and music. We divided our time between WMCA 57 (first on your dial) and WABC 77, the progenitors of New York Rock and Roll. My friend Andrew Levy and myself, depending on who the DJ was, would go back and fourth between the two. We would take turns. I’d listen to Herb Oscar Anderson, he’d listen to Joe O’Brien (with his sidekick, Benny). In the evenings it was Dan Ingram or B. Mitchell Reed (BMR). But we listened. It wasn’t long before we knew what we wanted to do.
Our respective families knew we were obsessed with creating our own radio station. If memory serves me right, I think we wrote our very first business plans at 13 or 14 years old. We were going into competition with WABC and WMCA. Andrew created WAML radio and I created WDJY. We took our plans to our parents. His family, better off financially than mine, bought him a Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. Some days after school, we’d go to work at his house creating our shows. As it was his tape recorder, we created WAML first. The show was a combination of songs recorded directly from the “Victrola” and recording our favorite show personalities from the radio. In the interview with HOA, I told him that he was a guest on my show years earlier.” We would physically splice the recordings of him from the radio directly to the recordings that we made so it would seem as if HOA was our guest.
After a few months, my dad surprised me with my very own reel-to-reel. It was a knockoff of the Webcor called Lucor. It would do just fine. Days on end, I would do nothing else but tape new shows. I’d interview all the people living in my apartment building. I’d borrow “singles” from my family and friends to record. I’d have all the popular DJ’s on and mimic my favorite talk show personality Barry Gray of WMCA fame. I was now ready for WDJY to not only compete with WAML, but with WABC and WMCA. The competition was on.
I was envious of Andrew living in a private home while we lived in a 1 1/2 half bedroom apartment where I shared a room with my brother. But then it occurred to me that I could use this to my advantage. I knew I needed a distribution channel. So, HERE COMES THE TECH.
During the old Bell Telephone days, phones were rather simple gadgets. Only a few rudimentary technologies were involved. It was easy to get your hands on old phones. People were upgrading to colorful Princess phones and tossed the old black ones. One day, I decided that I would connect two old phones so that my brother and I could play “telephone” using real phones instead of cans and strings. I learned that there were three wires that went into the wall; one was for power, the two others were for the in and out going sound. The phones didn’t need much power to carry sound. A few D Cells did the trick. I had enough wire to run the phones from one room to the other. After I took care of the technology end and placed the phones in two different rooms, I yelled for my brother to pick up the phone. When he did and I heard him say hello, I was Alexander Graham Bell for a moment.
Andrew and I along with some friends whom lived in the apartment building devised a plan to put our newly formed telephone system in place. The plan was to wire up five friends apartments. It called for running wires through each apartment and out the fire escapes. It took a month or so to acquire enough wire, phones and to put our D cell power plant in place. When it was completed, we needed a way to tell one another when to pick up the phone (we had no switches or system to actually dial). One ring on the (parents) apartment phone meant pick up our phones. It worked like a charm.
It also meant that if everyone picked up the phone at the same time, I would have an audience. And that I did. After school each day I’d make my 1/2 hour recording of the “Yak” show on WDJY. I’d call the friends, they’d pick up and I’d play the recording into the handset. I had a distribution channel and was in competition with WABC and WMCA. They say that Herb Oscar Anderson and WABC had the largest radio audience in history with a respective 8 million listeners. But as my colleagues in the marketing sector know, my 5 listeners were targeted better.
Listen to the Herb Oscar Anderson interview. and coming… COMING PART TWO: GETTING TO KNOW HERB OSCAR ANDERSON and an era explained.
Listen to Herb Oscar Anderson @ http://www.wosnfm.com/common/page.php?id=221