John Rook at KASL
As Johnny Rho at KASL, Newcastle Wyoming, 1957

John Rook at KOBH, 1958
As "Johnny Rowe", KOBH, Hot Springs, S.D., 1958


John Rook and Petula Clark The Program Director of Gavin's Station of the Year, with Petula Clark, 1968


John Rook at WCFL
WCFL, Chicago, 1973

John Rook and Associates

John Rook in Idaho
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, 1995

Rancher John Rook
JR, on the Ranch

The John Rook Collection

In 1971, Superjock Larry Lujack described John Rook as "the greatest program director of our time or any other time". In a 2001 R&R article, former ABC executive Bob Henabery is quoted as saying that "Rook understood the importance of doing everything right. He was a masterful Top 40 programmer."

Born October 9, 1937 in Chillicothe, Ohio, Rook had an early introduction to show business as a teenager at The Pasadena Playhouse (with Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo).
John Rook and Eddie Cochran
John Rook and Eddie Cochran, 1959
Later, in Hollywood, he appeared in the Wild Bill Hickcock series and My Man Godfrey with June Allyson and David Niven.

But it was his close friend and legendary rock 'n' roll star Eddie Cochran that convinced Rook he should try radio. And he did — first in Wyoming, and South Dakota, then KALL in Salt Lake City and KTLN in Denver,
Johnny Rowe at KTLN
Johnny Rowe at KTLN Denver, 1961
where Ken Palmer at KIMN recommended him to Hal Neal at ABC Radio.

In January of 1964, John joined KQV, Pittsburgh. As an ABC program manager, he "filled in" as Johnny Rowe doing mornings at WABC/New York during the AFTRA strike of 1966. He stayed at KQV until his 1967 move to Chicago as Program Director for WLS. By mid 1968, WLS had risen to #1.

WLS was named "RADIO STATION OF THE YEAR" by Bill Gavin in 1968. During this period of time, no Chicago radio station out-rated WLS. The station was number one in all Pulse and Arbitron books with a total audience of 4.2 million listeners each week. Quoting WIP Philadelphia OM Tom Bigby, "When WGN had a 12 share, WLS had an 18."

In 1969, Rook was named "Radio's Man of the Year". (Can you guess the names of the 1969 WLS airstaff?) Bill Drake wrote to him, "It pleases me that the rest of the country thinks as highly of you as I do." Rook left Chicago to work briefly for Drake-Chenault and Draper-Blore.

But in 1972, he returned to Chicago to perform what Billboard Radio Editor Claude Hall called "a miracle" at WCFL, Chicago, and then went on to consult some of the greatest Top 40 radio stations of the '70's as John Rook & Associates.

In the early 80's, John had been programming KFI, Los Angeles for several years. He wrote, "While I loved programming, it was time to be the P.D. of the entire station. I scraped every penny together and purchased my Spokane FM in 1983."

In 1988, he moved back to Los Angeles to program KABC for eight months, and then returned to managing his own station. He added more stations to his original Spokane purchase, and he sold them all in 1997. He then moved to his "little horse ranch" south of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He passed away on March 1, 2016.

I first met John Rook in 1976, when he consulted KAFY in Bakersfield, and when I contacted John in 1996, he heartily endorsed the Repository project, and he continued to be involved with the growth of REELRADIO. His early participation in this site was a major factor in our success. Thanks, John!
- Richard Irwin ("Uncle Ricky")

[Descriptions by John Rook unless otherwise credited]

WCFL Jingle Composite, Part One (13:18)

. . . Chicago is a W C F L of a town . . .

[Description by Richard Irwin]

From the early days of Chicago Top 40, here are some fabulous Chuck Blore (Draper/Blore) WCFL jingles. Thanks to those who filled in the blanks (see COMMENT, below.)

This is a W-C-F-elegant composite! Where else could you hear lyrics like these?

One more that won more in its prime, one more time!
WCFL Retro Spectacular!

Now we proudly pledge allegiance
to the station that we love,
to the friend that we depend on,
we sing the praises of

There's a dazzling and ingenious variety here, including "As much a part of Chicago as", "WCFL in love with Chicago" , and "Happy Air Your Ears Out Day". The outstanding instrumental thematic beds are my favorite; they swing! And last but certainly not least, don't miss the powerful and stylish Voice of Labor news opener.

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WLS Radio, John Rook and the Jingles WLS will always be remembered as a great Top 40 station, partly because of their memorable jingles. Through the years, WLS used a number of jingle packages — ALL with a unique musical signature that remained consistent despite numerous programming changes.

John Rook presents The WLS Jingles, with some history about his time in Chicago.

G2 5.0 compatible  TOP STREAM 44 Kbps (MONO) - Upgraded January 20, 2010
The Anita Kerr Singers WLS Jingles, Composite (27:54)

. . . Radar Weather Eye, Sam Holman, Mort Crowley, Jim Dunbar, The Chipmunks?, Dick Biondi, Gene Taylor, Personality!, Remember?

The Anita Kerr Jingles were the brainchild of WLS President and GM, the late Ralph Beaudin, the man that took the station rock. He had done so well in Pittsburgh at KQV that he was moved to Chicago. The package was recorded in Los Angeles, if memory serves me right...

G2 5.0 compatible  TOP STREAM 44 Kbps (MONO) - Upgraded January 20, 2010
The PAMS Series 18 WLS Jingles (05:03)

Bill Meeks at PAMS cut the Series 18 jingles and delivered them to the late Gene Taylor, GM, former jock and PD, before I arrived. Taylor's PD was Clark Weber. It was against Taylor's wishes that I was installed as PD by ABC Radio President Hal Neal, Jr..

Weber had added some of the Series 18 jingles. Upon my arrival at WLS in 1967, I found both the Anita Kerr and Series 18 jingles on the air. At that point, WCFL, under Ken Draper's direction, had already beaten WLS.

RA 3.0
The PAMS WLS Acapellas (01:03)

... Basic Logo, More Music, Slow Logo, Chicago Weather, The Big 89, Hitparader One, Happy New Year, Merry Christmas to Chicagoland, Art Roberts, The Windy City, Larry Lujack ...

When I decided I needed shorter jingles — and acapellas — I called Bill Meeks at PAMS and asked for some studio time. PAMS' Jim West and I produced them. My account rep was Alan Box, who became a major group owner with EZ Communications.

GM Gene Taylor thought these jingles were horrible. They "didn't sound like WLS". He resisted all moves to modernize. I had to seek out Hal Neal's approval to get these acapella jingles on the air.

These were the jingles in use when WLS dominated the Chicago Top 40 Battle in the late '60's and early '70's.

RA 3.0
Awe-Inspiring PAMS/WLS News Intro (:26)

(just some transitional music)

I left WLS for Drake-Chenault. Bill said he wanted a programmer, but Chenault wanted a sales guy. Within a year I joined Draper-Blore as a VP of Programming, and a year after that, started John Rook and Associates. WCFL was one of my first clients.

RA 3.0
WLS/PAMS Solid Rock Jingles (3:46)

... Yesterday, Chicago Weather, Solid Rock, Jock Intro Bed, ID, Basic Logos, A Mountain of Music - The Rock of Chicago Is, Larry Lujack - SuperJock, Number One, Hit-Parade Bound, Exclusive, Plays More Solid Rock ...

The Solid Rock jingles came during the tenure of Mike McCormick as PD. He brought to WLS many of the talents from KOIL, Omaha — Fred Winston, Gary Gears — were both from KOIL.

I had brought in Paul Kirby from WRKO as PD and hired Larry Lujack for afternoons at 'CFL, and we beat WLS soundly.

RA 3.0
WLS "Boogie Check" Composite (1:34)

...John Records Landecker, Hey Now Boogie Check #1, MusicRadio, Logos, The Best Music, Boogie Check #2, Terminate this Boogie Check!, Wolfman Jack, Don't be Nervous...

John Records Landecker arrived after I had left WLS.

All PAMS jingles are the copyrighted property of PAMS of Dallas.

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RA 3.0
PLAY Long John Silver, WNOE New Orleans 1962 (18:31)

. . . and remember friends, hardly anybody lives in Murphy canyon . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

The high-energy performance of Long John Silver, aka: Bluebeard, is wonderfully showcased in this hour from legendary WNOE, "located in the Sheraton-Charles Hotel", in New Orleans Louisiana on November 30, 1962. WNOE had to be one of the most exciting Top 40 stations in America during this period, and this aircheck includes a very "New Orleans" playlist, great production, classic jingles, and that "super-reverb" button!

Bud Connell programmed WNOE in 1960 but was probably not consulting the station at the time of this aircheck (according to comments.) This is genuine "variety" radio. Note the showcased excerpt from Vaughn Meader's classic First Family, along with multiple promotions and contests: News Tip of the Week, Santa's Bike Shop, Scrambled Song, Men in Space, and Reindeer Race (mail-in and phone-in versions!) And there's a chilling and timely ten second news tease, too.

Long John Silver turned up two years later with Jack Gale at Sis Kaplan's BIG WAYS (610) in Charlotte, N.C. I remember that he really wore an eye patch, and he was the local nighttime DJ that I listened to in high school, and the first jock I heard use the term "submarine races". At WAYS, I don't remember "Bluebeard", but I do remember his Wonder Dog Blue. By then, the phrase "boulevard of better ballads", heard here, had become the "boulevard of better ballads and broken dreams". (corrected via listener comment). He stayed at WAYS for at least five years, and was married in a WAYS promotion that included a public ceremony at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Finding this aircheck in John Rook's many contributions was a special treat for me. Long John Silver was a lot of fun, and in listening to 1967 airchecks of myself (at 16), I hear his influence. Many who came of age in Piedmont Carolina between 1965 and 1970 will remember him, too. Someday, maybe we'll get to hear him on WAYS.

In the meantime, this aircheck is one of the site's best for me, demonstrating nearly all the things that I truly loved about this era of the Top 40 format, on one of the greatest Top 40 stations of all time. Special thanks to John Rook for this outstanding exhibit.

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RA 3.0
Dick Biondi, WLS, 5-2-63 (11:39)

...Our third anniversary, they wouldn't even give us our birthday cake. They're so tight they squeak...

[Description by John Rook]

Dick Biondi In the early 1960's, thanks to the giant signal of WLS covering 40 of the original 48 states, Dick Biondi was the nation's #1 disk jockey, with a Pulse rating averaging a 60 share of the national audience. He was an original, with his own style that few even tried to copy.

(Dick Biondi airchecks provided by Tim Brown, Rural Route #1, Box 12, Bonaparte, Iowa 52620. Photo courtesy of Rick Devoy, Waynesboro, VA.)

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Steve Rizen, KQV, Pittsburgh, 4/29/65 (10:01)

..I am happy in my work...

[Description by John Rook]

Steve Risen

In the 1960's I was program director of KQV.

"Big" Steve Rizen was mid-days with newsman Bill Jennings.

(Shown: Big Steve Rizen)

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Dave Scott, KQV, Pittsburgh, 4/28/65 (12:25)

..the hip-swingin' Shindig gal dancers, doin' the Frug, the Jerk, the Watusi, the Swim...

[Description by John Rook]

Dave Scott

"Daddy" Dave Scott was afternoon drive. (Al Julius is featured with news.)

This is vintage Top 40, when KQV was Pittsburgh's number one music station.

(Shown: Daddy Dave Scott)

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 16.2Kbps (8 Khz)
Dave Tucker, KBOX Dallas, 1966 (3:28)

. . . Neimann-Marcus and K-BOX proudly present . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

All Top-40 historians acknowledge the early contributions of KBOX, once home to Dan Ingram. All of the KBOX we've heard is prior to the great success of Gordon McLendon's KLIF in Dallas. Who would have suspected that the station would be still be going strong in 1966? Great production values here, including a custom Budweiser weather jingle I've never heard before. Unfortunately, this aircheck is way too short and the fidelity is marginal.

It's a "Dusty Weekend" and Dave Tucker is playing "Double Dusties". This is a notable recording because it's the only recording of the legendary KBOX in 1966 that we've found. We couldn't identify the jock without Steve Eberhart's help. (Thanks, Steve!)

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Hal Murray, KQV, Pittsburgh, 6/9/67 (15:44)

...Groovy Q-V!

[Description by John Rook]

Emperor Hal Murray

Al Julius was the morning news man and Hal Murray was morning drive. Hal came to us from KDWB Minneapolis and KFWB, Los Angeles, thanks to my old friend Chuck Blore, and Al had worked with me in Denver.

Shown: "Emperor" Hal Murray, 1964

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Barney Pip, WCFL, Chicago, 9/1/67 (24:24)

. . . Send a dollar tonight, friends . . .

[Description by John Rook]

In September of 1967, programmer Ken Draper, fresh from success in Cleveland, had WCFL making its first move against WLS. Barney Pip was making major audience gains at night and was well on his way to becoming Chicago's night time Pied Piper.

Joel Sebastian is also heard on this tape's production. This is early WCFL, back when personality was king and the battle between WLS and WCFL was just beginning.

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RE-ENCODED G2, TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (8Khz) 3/10/2002
Art Roberts, WLS, Chicago, 4/16/67 (01:02:27)

...Per-son-al-ity, Radio 8-9-0, in Chicago!

[Description by John Rook]

Art Roberts, 1969

This classic recording of Art Roberts features 62 minutes of Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song, Art's Sunday night Oldies show, from April 16, 1967.
Art Roberts - Truly a great talent. At night, Art owned Chicago and most of the nation thanks to the giant signal of WLS... 40 states at night. He was hired to replace Dick Biondi who had a 51% share of the audience.

Art's first rating book was a 62% share of the audience. His natural, entertaining delivery gave him the ability to actually ad lib a commercial without the listener realizing it was a commercial.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
Art Roberts, WLS, Chicago, August, 1968 (49:00)

... WLS, 89 in any man's language ...

Jim Scully and Art Roberts with the day's mail
Jim Scully and Art Roberts going over the day's mail
Thinkin' Out Loud
The cover of Art's book, Thinkin' Out Loud
[Description by Art Roberts]

"The third great program director I had the pleasure of working with is John Rook. In 1967, a rumor was racing around the station that John was being hired, and his orders were to clean house. Get rid of everybody. I had at least a dozen calls warning me that the "party was over." Now, I have always believed that rumors were forty-percent fact, which leaves a lot of questioning room. Besides, there were two people I dearly liked and trusted, Mike Joseph, a consultant, and Joe Kolsky, a record executive with Roulette Records. They both called to me tell me that John had an undeserved reputation.
Art Roberts was born in New York City and passed away March 6, 2002 in Reno, Nevada, following a stroke. He was 70. This aircheck features 49 minutes of Art's midday show from August 1968.
He was a brilliant programmer who would guide the station to new heights. I believed them. When John arrived, I asked if we could have lunch. He thought that would be a good idea. We walked down the block to the Executive House Hotel to get away from the crowd, and sat down in a quiet corner. I told him about the barrage of negative calls, and what Mike and Joe had to say. We talked about WLS, where it was and where he felt it should be, his programming philosophy, and how I might help him reach his goal. We walked back to the station, friends. And have remained that way to this day. John turned us into "The Big 89". As he predicted, the station did soar to new heights."

--Art Roberts, Thinkin' Out Loud, ©2000 Bar 5 Publishing

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Art Roberts, WLS, Chicago, 8/22/68 (3:10)

...The BIG 89!

[Description by John Rook]

Upon being named program director of WLS, I moved Art from nights to mid-days and appointed him Music director of WLS. He had a great ear for picking the hits. He also believed in what I call the Ed Sullivan format... variety.

(Art Roberts airchecks provided by Tim Brown, Rural Route #1, Box 12, Bonaparte, Iowa 52620.)

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RA 3.0
Larry Lujack, WLS, 12/29/68 (11:27) quit school and make a little money - that's what you'll make - a little money...

Larry Lujack, 1969 [Description by John Rook]

Larry Lujack, "Lawrence of Chicago"... was king.

I was touched when ol' Lar volunteered to work during the Christmas holidays, and on a Sunday... "so the guys can be with their kids".

[Aircheck by California Aircheck]

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps, 8Khz
Jim Quinn, KQV Pittsburgh, 1968 (59:25)

Play Scoped The Original RA 3.0 Exhibit 'SCOPED (13:43)

. . . laughing and scratching and causing trouble . . .

[Description by John Rook]

In the mid-60's I hired Jim Quinn from WING Dayton for KQV, Pittsburgh. He became the pied piper of nighttime radio for Groovy QV.

Thirty years later, Jim is still on Pittsburgh radio, and he's on the web, too.

The reverb you'll hear on this aircheck was added after I had departed for WLS. No radio station I ever programmed, including KQV, ever ran an echo chamber.

REELRADIO UPDATE: February 1, 2009 - The UNSCOPED version of this aircheck is now available. The original exhibit was contributed by John Rook on November 8, 1998.

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RA 3.0
Dick Biondi, WCFL, 1-3-69 (10:16)

...Big 10 3-Day Golden Weekend...

[Uncle Ricky notes:]

Dick Biondi continued as a high-profile personality at Big 10 WCFL in the late 60's and early '70's.

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RA 3.0
Larry Lujack, WLS Chicago, August 1970 (8:22)

... Send 50 cents for your poster of Susan, along with your name and address because we don't know where you live ...

[Uncle Ricky notes:]

Larry Lujack on powerhouse WLS - Afternoon drive in Chicago, August, 1970.

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RA 3.0
Steve Lundy, KFRC San Francisco, 1971 (4:00)

... Good afternoon, y'all ...

From the Tyler, Texas Morning Telegraph, May 1st, 1999:
Steve Lundy
Steve Lundy, from KFRC San Francisco 30, October 25 1971 (Courtesy Lee Hower)

"Steve Lundy, one of America's legendary deejays, died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas. Lundy, whose real name was Jack Foshee, gained fame as a disc jockey at some of America's greatest radio stations. His trademark, "Stevie in the nighttime" phrase was heard during the heyday of Top 40 radio on KILT in Houston, KFRC in San Francisco, WLS in Chicago, WNBC in New York, where he won disc jockey of the year, and most recently on Oldies 94.5 in Houston. Lundy started his career at a local radio station in Tyler. He was born November 3, 1942, in Tyler, and lived in Houston since 1970".

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RA 3.0
Larry Lujack, WCFL Chicago 7/11/72 (17:52)

... I'm Larry Lujack on WCFL, where I belong ... this station shall rise from the ashes, I'm not kidding ...

[Description by John Rook]

In 1972, I was consulting WCFL, Chicago. Ol' Lar' accepted my offer to do afternoon drive.

Super CFL was born and Larry Lujack became Superjock. He put WCFL on top in the Chicago ratings.

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RA 3.0
KTKT Tucson 1976 Composite (21:29)

... for more than a decade ...

[Description by John Rook]

KTKT, Tucson certainly qualifies as a legendary Top 40 station. Besides making major contributions to the national radio talent pool, for at least twenty years KTKT owned Tucson.

During most of the '70's, I consulted KTKT. Roger Collins was Program Director and morning drive. This tape was sent to me as an aircheck in 1976 - thus the personal introduction at the start, aimed at getting my attention.

The voice of the station was WLS' Lyle Dean. In addition to Roger Collins, this tape includes Ed Alexander, midday; Don Beecher in afternoon drive; John Lee Walker, evenings; and Mike Daniels, overnights.

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G2/5.0 compatible
TOP STREAM 32.0 Kbps (14 Khz)
Lohman & Barkley, KFI, March 13 1978 (15:18)

... Doctor tells me I'm allergic to Ted ...

[Aircheck Courtesy of California Aircheck Classic Issue #39]

G2/5.0 compatible
TOP STREAM 32.0 Kbps (14 Khz)
Lohman & Barkley, KFI, September 5 1978 (16:58)

... You rob a bank, and put that money in a Savings & Loan ... however, there are severe penalties for early withdrawal ...

[Aircheck Courtesy of California Aircheck Classic Issue #162]

[Description by John Rook]

Al Lohman and I first met Roger Barkley when he was program director of Cecil Heftel's KIMN, Denver, in the late 50's.

Little did we know then we'd all be working together at KFI, Los Angeles, twenty years later - me as program director and Al and Rog with their cast of characters: Maynard Farmer, Leonard-Leonard, Dr. Corwin Chester Sternhill, W, plus Marv Howard, Morgan Williams, and Bruce Wayne's KF-Eye in the Sky.

Masters of the ad-lib, Lohman and Barkley were consistently rated #1 in Los Angeles morning radio for more years than any other radio act.

This is vintage L&B... original, unplanned... simply the best morning show in radio.

Roger Barkley passed away on December 21, 1997, at the age of 61.
Al Lohman passed away October 13, 2002, at the age of 69.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10Khz)
Ron O'Brien, KFI, 1979 (59:04)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (11:12) (original 3.0 version)

... You can take off your hardhat now - Skylab is back ...

[Description by John Rook]

Picture of
Ron O'Brien
I discovered Ron O'Brien in Des Moines, Iowa radio in the early 70's. After KTLK Denver, and WCFL Chicago, it should have surprised no one when I moved Big Ron to the nation's most powerful AM station... KFI, Los Angeles.

Big Ron O'Brien's career was on fire... and his talent went on to enhance WFIL, Philadelphia, and KIIS-FM, Los Angeles.

Ron O'Brien died from complications of pneumonia on April 27, 2008.

(This exhibit was originally 'scoped and debuted on January 5, 1997. The complete version debuted on May 4, 2008. One song was excluded at the tape side change.)

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
Jack Miller: A WCFL Retrospective, August 1979 (29:20)

... Draper had the concept of radio being theatre ...

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

On June 12, 1979, the Chicago Federation of Labor sold WCFL, the only radio station in the world ever owned by organized labor, to The Mutual Broadcasting System. In August of 1979, Jack Miller produced this 30 minute retrospective which focuses on the programming and personalities on "Big 10" between 1964 and and 1976, when the format changed to beautiful music.

Jingles, airchecks and interviews from Jim Stagg, Dick Orkin, Joel Sebastian, Ron Brittian, Larry Lujack and veteran newsman Howie Roberts are featured. You'll also hear a Capsule Countdown from 1967 in this excellent and all-too-short tribute to the great Top 40 years of The Voice of Labor.

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RA 3.0
Jack Armstrong, KFI, 1980 (8:23)

... If you remember those, then you're probably about my age, and I'll get to the Social Security information for us in just a second ...

[Description by John Rook]

Jack Armstrong - The All American Boy. I remember first hearing Jack on WKBW Buffalo, N.Y., and WIXY, Cleveland, OH., in the early 1960's. I was most pleased when Jack agreed to do afternoon drive at KFI in the early 1980's.

Jack Armstrong passed away March 22, 2008 at his home in North Carolina.

[Aircheck by California Aircheck]

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...enjoy these additional exhibits from
The John Rook Collection

The John Rook Collection has been part of REELRADIO since September 1, 1996

Reel Top 40 Radio Repository ©1996 - 2016 REELRADIO, Inc.