Wild Willy at WHNC New Haven
Bill Hennes, aka Wild Willy Mitchell at WNHC, mid 60's.

Hennes, Bill Gable and Pat Holliday, 1998
Hennes, Bill Gable, CKLW and Pat Holliday, CKLW at the 1998 Motor City Reunion.

Bill Hennes Today
Bill Hennes today, relaxing at home near Wilmington, N.C.

The Bill Hennes Collection

Broadcast Consultant Bill Hennes experienced working in all disciplines of a radio station — from Account Executive and on-air personality to Sales Manager, National Program Director, General Manager and owner.

Hennes grew up in Detroit and started as a part-time DJ at WBRB, Mt. Clemens, Michigan in 1960. In 1963 he developed the character of Wild Willy for the 7pm-Midnight shift at WIBM in Jackson, Michigan. Following stints at WTRX and WTAC in Flint, Hennes took his Wild Willy act to WKLO in Louisville.

His first programming job was at WNHC in New Haven, Connecticut, about which Bill says,

"This was a great place to learn the programming craft. It was a very 'over-radioed' market. Most of the NYC stations, along with Bridgeport and Hartford were audible in New Haven, so it made for a most competitive programming challenge."

In the mid-70's, Hennes was the programming genius behind legendary Top 40 powerhouse CKLW, Detroit/Ontario. From there, he went on to make WMAQ Chicago the #1 country station in the nation. He left his mark of success on stations in Tampa, Indianapolis, Knoxville, and Philadelphia, to name a few.

Logo: Bill Hennes and Associates In 1981, he founded Bill Hennes and Associates, a full-service broadcast consulting company. All About Country Since then, he has consulted hundreds of clients, and is best known for his success with CHR and Country stations. Bill also operates an online trade magazine that connects country radio and music professionals: All About Country (

The Repository thanks Bill for sharing!

[Descriptions by Bill Hennes & Uncle Ricky]


Dan Ingram Audition, WNHC, WICC, 1958 (4:07)

. . . Hi, my name's Dan Ingram . . .

If this is what we believe it to be, the legendary Dan Ingram used this as an audition tape, probably in 1958. Ingram joined KBOX in Dallas in 1959.

Featured: the "On the Dan Ingram Show" jingle (this one preceded the version heard later on WABC by several years), a few sets and a live spot from Dan on WNHC in New Haven. That's followed by a short (and much more relaxed) composite of segments from WICC in Bridgeport, where Ingram was known as Ray Taylor.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.0Kbps (13Khz)
WJBK Detroit Jingles, Late 50's (2:49)

WJBK Formula 45 Record Survey, 1959 . . . Formula 45! . . .

WJBK was the first Top 40 station in Detroit, and this was the first set of jingles for "1500 On Your Sound Dial". Later, WJBK used PAMS jingles, but these came first.

The source of these was unknown when originally streamed in June of 1999. COMMENTS revealed they were custom jingles produced by WJBK in 1957.

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 TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
The Bellboy Dave Shafer, WJBK Detroit, April 1962 (17:38)

. . . where we start 'em and chart 'em . . .

Tom Clay, Jack the Bellboy
The stations that played Top 40 in Detroit in the late 50's and early 60's were "low power" stations, so most of the country missed the experience of these smaller stations.

But Detroit was right there at the beginning, and my first recollection of a Top 40 station in Detroit was WJBK, owned by Storer. It was one of the great Top 40 stations, home of the legendary Tom Clay who did nights as Jack The Bellboy.

Dave Shafer, Jack the Bellboy
Dave Shafer, courtesy The Detroit News.
Storer owned the rights to the "Bellboy" name, and over the history of WJBK as Top 40, a number of different jocks appeared as "Jack the Bellboy". This aircheck, from April 25, 1962, features Dave Shafer in the Bellboy role. Shafer passed away May 7th, 2006 from complications following sinus surgery.

Considering the age of this aircheck, the technical quality is outstanding, and you will hear lots of early PAMS jingles; "A WJBK News Flashback", with the headlines from April 25, 1945; a promo for the NAB and "sister station" promos for WHN in New York and WJW in Cleveland - also Storer stations at the time.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.0Kbps (8.5Khz)
Mort Crowley, WDGY Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN
January 1965

. . . I wish she wouldn't go on with the rugby team like that . . .

[Description by Bill Hennes]

This is a "very rare" aircheck of Mort Crowley on WDGY (a Storz station) from January 1965. The first portion is from about 6:35 until 7:45 AM. Beginning at 36:47, we hear a portion of the 8AM hour from another day.

Mort was one of the very first Top 40 morning guys. He did time at WLS Chicago as the original morning man in 1960 — and he was on the original staff of WKNR, Detroit.

This air check was supplied to me by my good friend Mike McCormick (the legendary former PD of WLS, KQV and WDGY.) Frank Roberts of Austin Texas did the editing.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (14.5Khz)
Paul Cannon, WKNR Detroit, 1965 (6:26)

. . . Steady, cool it, I can see chaos is setting in already . . .

Paul Cannon is heard taking requests from young ladies at a pajama party on WKNR, Detroit, in early 1965.

In addition to his work around Michigan on various stations, Paul Cannon was a Michigan State Police officer. After landing a job at WKNR, he eventually became Program Director, around the end of 1965 or early 1966. Paul now lives in Peoria where he does national Voice-Over work.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
PLAY Wild Willy Mitchell, WKLO Louisville, KY., 1972 (7:24)

. . . bringin' on a big, bad batch o' boogie, man . . .

Wild Willy Mitchell was the air name used by Bill Hennes, heard here subbing for Brother Love on WKLO, Louisville, Kentucky, in 1972.

We knew Bill Hennes was an energetic fellow, but this this high-energy performance was an amazing surprise. Here's a consultant that really knew how to turn it up!

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G2/5.0 compatible
Ted "The Bear" Richards, CKLW March 1974 (2:33)

. . . Somebody get me on the stairway - I got to get to heaven somehow . . .

Ted "The Bear" Richards is heard in this all-too-brief sample of CKLW on March 29, 1974. This one is cut very tight and every splice precedes prime stuff. "The Bear" was outrageous, fun and funny!

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Chuck "Hot Ticket" McKay, CKLW Detroit, 1975 (16:32)

. . . I'm what you call your 'Hot Ticket' on the radio . . .

The self-proclaimed "Hot Ticket" was Chuck McKay, who had been temporarily scheduled overnights on CKLW in 1975. Program Director Bill Hennes, who became aware of McKay's inexplicable performance via an early morning phone call from the station engineer, writes:

"He went nuts on the air. Today, instead of blowing him out, I would hire him and pay him big money for the same act."
McKay was correct - this performance got him a "hot ticket" right out of the radio station - never to return - that very morning.

McKay, (real name Jim Welch), died of natural causes in Phoeniz, Arizona, in 2008. He was 59.

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TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (8.5 Khz)
CKLW Detroit Extreme 20-20 News (07:04)

. . . he picked up his genuine, Willie Mays, Powerized, Lightnin' Strike Louisville Slugger baseball bat . . .

[ Description by Uncle Ricky, contributed by Bill Hennes ]

This composite of CKLW 20-20 News features Lee Marshall and Grant Hudson who demonstrate all the legendary sensationalism of Classic Top 40 news — without the bells and whistles.

Instead, we are treated to terribly clever writing and an Armageddon-like delivery of stories about horrible accidents, murders and rape.

Such newscasts were an unforgettable part of the CKLW of this period.

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The Bill Hennes Collection has been part of REELRADIO since June 20, 1999

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