Shel Swartz listening to WRKO in 1968 Shel Swartz listening to WRKO in 1968.

Now Crowd Marquee
One of many wonderful WRKO pics from Shel's website!

Now Radio in Boston

Shel, 1998
Shel Swartz today.

The Shel Swartz Big 68 Collection

Shel Swartz operator of WRKO.ORG, writes:

"As a child growing up in suburban Boston, I cannot remember when I was not fascinated by radio. I was unusual for a person my age, as unlike my peers, I listened not only to the local Top-40 giant WMEX, but also to WEZE-1260's beautiful music format, WHDH's MoR format, and WBZ's so-called Chicken Rock format, which evolved from its MoR roots, as Top 40 became popular.

I also enjoyed MoR-Talk WNAC, and when it became WRKO in 1967, I became mesmerized. Although I loved the fun of WMEX's Arnie Ginsburg and the rest of that station's crew - including newsmen like Bill Tower - WRKO presented a more regimented format of music, with credible jocks, who truly knew how to communicate not only with teenagers, but with adults. It was that exceptional talent which boosted WRKO from worst to first within just a few weeks of its inception!

I ended up in radio, working at WMRC/Milford, MA, WFTN/Franklin, NH, and then moved to Florida, where I worked in W. Palm Beach stations: automated Top 40 WNGS (now WOLL), and at news-talkers WPBR and WJNO. Every radio position I attained was influenced in some way by WRKO, and I feel highly privileged to be not just a fan of, but now a colleague and friend of, such luminaries as Arnie Ginsburg, Chuck Knapp, J. J. Jeffrey, Joel Cash, and so many more. As Justin Clark said as he played the last record on WRKO in 1981, Thank you, New England!"

and the Repository thanks Shel for sharing!

[Descriptions by Shel Swartz unless otherwise indicated]

G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.0 Kbps (16Khz)
Don and Gary, WNOR Norfolk, VA, November 24, 1965 (26:16)

. . . Do you think cranberries are healthy?
I dunno, I've never heard one complain . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Don Whitney and partner Gary Lawrence are heard as The First Team on WNOR/Norfolk, Virginia, November 24, 1965. These guys were decades ahead of the Morning Zoo and ubiquitous morning "teams" of the 80's, 90's and now.

This aircheck is complete with funny horn, accent reverb and PAMS Series 14 and 25. Also included: a news report of a U.S. Navy jet crash, classic commercials, and cameos by Dick Clark, Red Barber and Jimmy Durante.

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Shadoe Stevens, WRKO Boston, December 1969 (7:58)

. . . generously doused at regular intervals with buckets of warm Wesson oil . . .

Shadoe Stevens — a classic! This was before Shadoe became famous as a TV actor. I would say he had the hottest personality of anyone at WRKO at the time — except Dale Dorman.

Whenever I listen to this aircheck, I can't help but picture him doing his talkups in an animated fashion. He could not have been standing still while releasing all this energy!

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Joel Cash, WRKO Boston, 1972 (3:39)

. . . Here's Gary, all shined up now . . .

If the aircheck sounds a bit unexciting, it's due to WRKO's (failed) entrance into its jingle-free "album" period. But Joel Cash (filling in here for Dale Dorman) brightens it up.

Joel demonstrates his MoR style, honed at Connecticut stations such as the old WDEE and WDRC. By the way, Joel's voice is still the very same, today.

[Aircheck courtesy California Aircheck]

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Jack O'Brien, WRKO Boston, May 1974 (3:39)

. . . WRKO, now with up to 52 minutes of music an hour . . .

Jack O'Brien was barely 20 years old when he did this show. His background with many photos is presented at the Big68 Website. He was part of the dream team WRKO hired when it cleaned house top to bottom (Dale Dorman excepted, of course), to get itself out of the station's doldrum "album" days.

You can't tell by this aircheck, but Jack is a good ole boy from Georgia. While he loved WRKO, he quit in 1975, as city living didn't match his style. His real-life accent is stunningly southern, and I love it! Today, Jack is a good friend, who is driving a truck for a living, because in his small-town area of Georgia, there aren't any high-paying radio jobs.

But he does make it to the air occasionally, as his wife, Beth, sometimes asks him to do voice work at the small station she does traffic for. I plan to do a live presentation with Jack via the Internet one day...and if you are able to hear it, you will discover a truly lovable gentleman, while being charmed by his accent, y'all. I LOVE this exciting, good-times aircheck. So will you!

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Justin Clark, WRKO Goodbye, September 1981 (2:29)

. . . Living in the past is no challenge . . . We're not discarding the legacy of the past, merely putting it aside, to remember - to cherish . . .

Justin Clark was told his job would remain at WRKO in some form, but shortly after his PD and friend Charlie Van Dyke left and the station turned to talk, Justin was canned as well. This aircheck made me cry.

Justin told me he wrote the entire script by himself, totally unprompted or censored. Listening to this swan song, you feel as if a long-time friend suddenly became disloyal, and went away for good. Today, Justin works at his family's liquor store in the Boston area (McCarthy's Liquors), now three family generations old. Oh, how he needs and wants to be back in radio, where he truly belongs!

WRKO could have survived today, if only the station had taken advantage of its FM way back when.

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More to Come from the Shel Swartz Collection!

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