"Well, I'm a write a
little letter, I'm gonna mail it to my local DJ.
Yet, it's a jumpin' little record I want my jockey to play."
Chuck Berry, 1956
Chuck Berry penned the first and
finest ever musical tribute to the mighty, mighty rock 'n' roll radio DJs of the
time as he began our generation's own declaration of independence
1930s and '40s, radio was the no. 1 entertainment medium. But by the early '50s,
with the introduction and rapid growth of television, radio was badly in need of
a booster shot in the arm. Then came rock 'n' roll, along with its endless
supply of 45-rpm records being released at a frantic pace and its focus on the
new, teenage market. Suddenly, it was the age of rock 'n' roll radio, and the
mighty DJs soon became its powerful pied pipers. We listened to them as they
entertained us and brought us
― in our bedrooms, in our basements, at the beach and on the dashboards
of our cars. And they were a big part of our lives –
every single day!
was clearly the most seminal figure in the
popularization of rock 'n' roll, not just in New York, but everywhere in the
nation, and not just on the radio, but on TV and in movies. He
was, and is, the undisputed father of rock 'n' roll. But although he was the
first to bring the "Big Beat in popular music" to most of us, soon he
had many imitators
also dishing up daily doses of
rock 'n' roll on New York AM radio in the
them was Freed’s primary New York rival since 1955, Peter Tripp
(the "Curly-Headed Kid in the Third Row"). When you didn't like the song
playing on WINS, you
moved your dial just a curly hair to the
right on the AM dial (only fora few minutes, of course) from 1010 WINS to 1050 WMGM, where you found Tripp, pioneering Top 40 radio on "Your Hits of the Week."
And, of course, in addition to some of the most popular radio DJs who were
sometimes also on TV, there was the king of the television dance show DJs, Dick
Clark, and his nationally broadcast "American
Bandstand" every afternoon and later (in
City area only), Clay Cole.
But AM radio
ruled rock 'n' roll, and WINS definitely ruled the New York City rock 'n' roll
radio airwaves. By the time Alan Freed was fired in 1958 and went briefly to
WABC before being fired again in 1959 in connection with the congressional
payola hearings, he had been joined at WINS by Paul Sherman (the "Crown Prince"
of rock 'n' roll), fast-talking "Cousin Brucie" Morrow
(later, the top jock at WABC),
Jack Lacy ("Listen
to Lacy") and hands-down, the most popular and distinctive of the Freed successors,
Murray the K.
Kaufman (also known as "Me-us-urray Ke-us-aufman" and the "Grand Kook"), with his "Swingin' Soiree" ("a-a-ah-bey,
cooma sahwah sahwa-a-a-ah"),
creative inventor of "submarine race watching" and the "blast from the past."
Until 1965 (when WINS was
sold, and it switched to the all news format it still has today), Murray the K was the undisputed king of New York City
rock 'n' roll
among the earliest rock 'n' roll DJs, however, was a fellow by the name of
Douglas Henderson. Never heard of him, right? Well, (if you are a guy) you
probably knew him but only as
The Ace from Outer Space."
(If you are are a gal, you probably didn't.)
Until 1958, when Murray the K's "Swingin' Soiree" took over the all night
timespot after Alan Freed, if you went searching on your radio for more rock 'n'
roll music every weekday night following the 11 p.m. signoffs of both
Freed and Tripp, you probably ended up closer
to the top of the dial at 1280 WOV where you heard Jocko blasting
on his "Rocket Ship
Show," broadcasting in his own brand of rhyming jive patter (for which he is now
widely acknowledged as the
father of rap music). Later,
beginning in 1959, WOV became "WADO Radio," where Jocko could still be
Visit these special pages
to hear, once again, selected highlights of rare sample broadcast recordings
(audio clips called "radio
airchecks") featuring the voices of
three biggest stars among your favorite NY DJs of the 1950s. They are all
gone, now, but let us help you remember
do not deserve to be forgotten.
Click on one of the old radios at the left and below:
Click here to read
"Cousin Brucie" Morrow''s reaction to this
website received in November 2007.
Click here to read about the likely origin of the "Mee-us-surry"
© 2000-2016 by Howard B. Levy and
Inc. All rights reserved.