WCVL Don Riley on the air at his hometown station, WCVL

as Jerry Riley at WAAM
Don as Jerry Riley, WAAM Ann Arbor

Don Riley at WDRQ
Don Riley at WDRQ, Detroit

Caricature of Don Riley Today
Caricature of Don Riley (today)

The Don Riley Collection

Don Riley writes:

"My parents told me I was reading record labels by the age of three. However, I recall thinking the song length on the record meant the time of day the song was recorded ("Boy, those places are really busy between 2 and 3!"). I also remember riding in the car at night and hiding from the big red-blinking towers of a local radio station. I was sure they were gonna get me! Eventually they did.

I started my basement radio station at the age of 12. I was listening quite a bit to WLS in Chicago then; Dex Card in the afternoon, Ron Riley and Art Roberts at night. Later, I discovered WCFL with Jimmy P. Stagg, Barney Pip and Ron Britain. I neglected my basement radio station (and almost everything else) at 14 when I started working Sunday morning on my hometown radio station, WCVL in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

My Top 40 career began in the 1970's with WAAM Ann Arbor, WDRQ Detroit and WKMI Kalamazoo, Michigan. While at WAAM, I was nominated by Billboard magazine as one of the five best Top 40 air personalities in the USA and Canada for market size of less than a million. I still enjoyed my habit of listening to Chicago radio, especially John Records Landecker on WLS and Larry Lujack and Big Ron O'Brien on WCFL. WIBC Indianapolis was also a major influence, especially Chuck Riley who worked afternoons from the late 1960's until 1977 (Chuck was also at KOMA in Oklahoma City). I eventually worked at WIBC, 1982-1983. When we played oldies on the weekends, it was a thrill for me to play the same promotional singles of songs that I had heard originally on WIBC.

I was the operations manager of WKOA and WASK-AM-FM, in Lafayette, Indiana for 17 years, not far from those big red-blinking towers that were after me years ago. Twenty-five years later, my radio career happily brought me back to WIBC in Indianapolis as a reporter/newscaster. In 2013, I'm now working in public radio as the local host for All Things Considered at 90.1 WFYI Indianapolis, (and using my real name: Don Hibschweiler)."

The Repository thanks Don for sharing!

[Descriptions by Don Riley]

Larry Lujack, KJR Seattle, July 22 1966 (10:06)

. . . they refuse to put flouride in the water, but sewage - that's fine . . .

The pages of Larry Lujack's biography, Superjock, come alive on this aircheck. Larry called KJR "the best rock 'n' roll radio station that has ever existed."

You'll hear some of the Lujack trademarks that would later make him a legend in Chicago radio at WLS and WCFL.

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Charlie Tuna, WMEX Boston, May 1967 (12:36)

. . . This is Chas, the chicken of the radio . . .

In Superjock, Larry Lujack recalls how he drove cross-country from Seattle for a job in Boston at WMEX. On the way, he heard Charlie Tuna on KOMA in Oklahoma City and recommended him for an opening at WMEX.

So, here's Boston's brand of Tuna just prior to Charlie moving his can to California and becoming part of "Boss Radio" history.

You can hear more of Charlie at www.CharlieTuna.com!

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
PLAY Ron Riley, WLS Chicago, December 10 1967 (9:41)

. . . where you see vultures flying around, Weber will be right under them . . .

Ron Riley was one of the original "Swinging Seven" air personalities when WLS switched to Top 40 in 1960. His long-term "feud" with morning man Clark Weber was still going strong in this aircheck.

Also included is the British Billboard, the top songs in England for the week.

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Ron Britain, WCFL Chicago 1970 (9:36)

. . . when are we gonna grow up . . .

Enjoy the creative genius of "The King B"! Ron Britain followed Barney Pip at 10pm and you really believed that angry mob outside the studio wouldn't let him get on the air!

Plenty of those wonderful "Big 10" TM jingles are showcased on this aircheck.

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TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
Robert E. Lee, WCFL Chicago May 1970 (8:49)

. . . Robert E. Lee gives great radio . . .

There are not enough o's in "smooth" to describe Robert E. Lee. WCFL's midday man played the hits and nailed those live commercials within jingle donutes, a feat that Chicago air personalities were called upon to do in many spot breaks.

Robert E. Lee made it all sound so easy.

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TOP STREAM 44Kbps (10Khz)
Larry Lujack, WCFL Chicago, June 6, 1975 (50:13)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (24:59)



. . . Nobody wants phony smelling eyes . . .

I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan on June 6, 1975 when I recorded WCFL and Larry Lujack, which was booming in that day. I slapped a fresh reel of tape on my Sony recorder and caught almost 50 minutes, until the tape ran out. It was Superjock's 35th birthday.

A 'scoped version of this was released by California Aircheck in 1997, on Classics #C-200.

Larry Lujack passed away on December 18, 2013. He was 73.

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TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
The Life of (Don) Riley, WAAM, WDRQ, WKMI (6:25)

. . . Can I spell that for you? . . .

Part One: WAAM Ann Arbor, 1976
I started in Top 40 radio as Jerry Riley ("we already have a 'Don' here; pick another name"). Our studio was at the transmitter site, which kept me in total isolation from the rest of the station staff during my show. This encouraged me to go off the deep end creatively, which I did often!

Part Two: WDRQ Detroit, 1977
I changed my name back to Don Riley ("we already have a 'Jerry" here; pick another name") and started late nights 10pm-2am. WDRQ was staffed with incredibly talented people and I did my best just to keep up with everyone!

Part Three: WKMI Kalamazoo, 1979
One of the few successful AM Top 40 stations left in 1979. WKMI had deep roots in Top 40 and an in-ground swimming pool just outside the GM's office! This aircheck is from the afternoon drive shift. Tight formatics and fun promotions created by our GM, Bob Salmon, made WKMI a fun radio station!

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A Special Exhibit in The Don Riley Collection...

Mel Blanc Associates SuperFun Demo, 1967

The Don Riley Collection has been part of REELRADIO since November 1, 1998

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