Artie & the Fontane Sisters Artie (14) with The Fontane Sisters in 1952 during a rehearsal of the Perry Como Show at CBS Studio 54. Photo by songwriter Bob Merrill ("How Much is that Doggie in the Window?")

Artie in 1963 Artie in 1963, from his acting resume

Milton Glaser Illustration
Illustration by Milton Glaser on one of the first WOR-FM promotional pieces. Major Armstrong Award The Major Armstrong Award Artie in Stanton Ad Artie is shown as a "Pick Up Pro" at WOR-FM in an ad for Stanton cartridges (1972). CE Eric Small, PD Sebastian Stone and Kim Olian are shown in the background.

Artie in 1997 Artie Altro, today.

The Artie Altro Collection

It's funny how things work in this business. Murray the K got started working for song writer Bob Merrill. When Artie Altro was 14 years old, he went to a rehearsal of The Perry Como Show at CBS Studio 52. While there his picture was taken with The Fontane Sisters by Bob Merrill, who was not only a top song writer, but worked as a utility man on the show keeping the camera cable clear.

Artie started in the business as a Disc Jockey (morning man) in August, 1960 at WDOR in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. After two years he moved on to WREB in Holyoke, Mass. for a short time, then to WFAS in White Plains, which was close to his home and close to New York City.

Artie says, "I studied acting for a while in New York before going to work as an engineer with WOR-FM in 1966 when the FM's were being separated from the AM stations. There I worked with the original 4 disc jockeys: Murray the K, Scott Muni, Rosko (Bill Mercer) and Johnny Michaels. It was Johnny Michaels who got me the job. We worked together at WFAS."

"A lot of radio history was made at WOR-FM. It was the first FM station to play rock-n-roll, and it was one of the first FM stations to make money. In reality, it put FM on the map. Back then, many people did not have FM radios. The first anniversary party for WOR-FM was at a small theater in Greenwich Village, which later became the Fillmore East, and the headliner on the first anniversary show was Jim Morrison and the Doors."

"Not long after one enjoyable year, programmer Bill Drake took over programming the station. The disc jockeys knew they wouldn't fit and didn't want to fit in the Bill Drake format. It was a very restrictive format in what they could play and what they could say. The DJ's all quit and were replaced by people hand picked by Bill Drake himself. I became supervisor and production engineer. Every piece of production during the Bill Drake years passed through my hands."

"In 1969, I produced a three hour Public service special about Childhood Autism. The special won the Major Armstrong Award for excellence in FM programming and the AMA Award for calling attention to a little known illness. One of the guests on the show was Ruth Sullivan, founder and first president of the National Society for Autistic Children. It was Ruth Sullivan and her autistic son that Dustin Hoffman spent a lot of time with researching his part in Rainman, and it was Ruth Sullivan's son who Dustin Hoffman "copied" for his character in the movie."

"In 1978 when radio was downsizing, I was transferred to WOR-TV which later became WWOR-TV. During my time there I was video tape engineer for Joe Franklin, Morton Downey, Jr., Howard Stern and Richard Bey. I have a good collection of out-takes from these shows, but because of copyright reasons, I can't do much with them right now."

"I first met Mort in 1954. It was at a Wallach's clothing store in White Plains, NY. He was a 22 year old cocky, obnoxious kid. He was 55 when I worked with him again at WWOR-TV. He was then a cocky, obnoxious old man. Some things never change."

Our thanks to Artie for sharing his treasures with the Repository.

[Descriptions by Artie Altro unless otherwise indicated]

G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 44Kbps (20KHz)
WOR-FM New York CRC Series 43 Jingles (06:32)

. . . The Sound Is, Ninety Eight Point Seven . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

The Sound Is WOR-FM, New York, and these bold, brassy and heavily reverbed jingles from Commercial Recording Corporation (CRC) were used in the early days of the station's "rock 'n' roll" music format. They were apparently recorded and broadcast in stereo, however, this exhibit is mono. Still, these babies had a lot of "kick" and they punch through here, too.

"The Sound Is" was the name of CRC Jingle Series #43. According to Don Worsham (The Hits Between The Hits) Doc Severinsen played trumpet on this series.

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G2 5.0 compatible STEREO TOP STREAM 64Kbps (16Khz)
Scott Muni, WOR-FM, April 8, 1967 (07:07)

. . . he has sort of an intuition, he knows what I do before I do it . . .

[Description by contributor Artie Altro

Scott Muni, 1999 Scott Muni, 1999

When WOR-FM was new, each DJ had a favorite engineer. I was the favorite engineer of Scott Muni, and engineered most of his show (except for the required Union breaks.) When my first child was born on April 8, 1967, Scott did a big thing about it on the air — an indication of how loose the format was then.

Unknown to us at the time, the child was born with severe brain damage. She lived with us for 16 years, then went to a group home only a mile from where we lived. She passed away in 1994, at the age of 27, from stomach cancer. I have three other children born after her.

Scott Muni passed away September 28, 2004. He suffered a major stroke in 2003.

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Rosko Resigns WOR-FM, October 2, 1967 (5:25)

. . . When are we going to learn that controlling something does not take it out of the minds of people . . .

[Description by contributor Artie Altro

Rosko (Bill Mercer) worked at KGFJ and KBLA in Los Angeles before moving to New York and WOR-FM in 1966. He quit on the air when he heard programmer Bill Drake had been hired. When management heard him quit on the air, the engineer on duty was called and told not to let him back on the air, so that was it for Rosko at WOR-FM.

Two years later, he turned up at WNEW-FM, and by 1971, joined KMET in Los Angeles. Mercer also worked at WKTU in New York in 1981, and most recently was working as the voice of CBS Sports in New York.

Murray the K and Johnny Michaels also left WOR-FM, for the same reasons. Scott Muni was the only one left. Bill Drake was afraid he would have to wait until the end of Scott's contract, so he cut a personalized ID for Scott Muni, which was never used, because Scott didn't want to work the format either. Something was worked out between Scott & management. Scott moved on to WNEW-FM in New York, where he worked for 31 years. He moved to WAXQ-FM in 1999 for a daily one-hour show, and passed away on September 28, 2004.

William Roscoe Mercer died of cancer on August 1, 2000. This Obituary is from The New York Times.

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Jay Thomas, 99X New York, 1976 (18:29)

. . . you haven't been the same since we spilled that hot coffee in your lap . . .

[Description by contributor Artie Altro

Jay Thomas
Working with Jay Thomas was an experience. The phone calls would be taped during a record, then cued up and played back when the song was over. Some material couldn't be used, but Jay was so involved he didn't know where to draw the line.
Jay Thomas and Rich Patrick Jay Thomas and Rich Patrick
He would say, "Do you think we can get away with that?" I would have to inform him, "No way, Jay!".

Some of the phoners were so good that the questionable material would be edited out so it could be used, but that was even more difficult because time was so limited.

Newsman Rich Patrick, heard on this aircheck, has been with CBS Radio in New York for many years, using his real name: Rich Lamb.

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More to Come from the Artie Altro Collection!

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