WMCA Trivia and
Little Know Facts
During the famous Sweatshirt Giveaways, WMCA would attract so many telephone calls that the New York City telephone system could not always handle the volume. It became common knowledge that during those giveaways you could talk to other people who were also trying to call in to WMCA. It became a type of dating service where New York and New Jersey area teenagers would meet each other between busy signal beeps on their telephones and set up dates!
Like all great radio stations, some of the great WMCA moments came as a result of the things that just happened by chance but evolved into something much greater than could have been anticipated. Every year, Joe O'Brien would announce Jack Spector's birthday over the air in the morning so his listeners knew about it when Jack came on later that day. Jack's birthday was in July. Well, for just the heck of it, one year Joe gave Jack a second birthday in January. When Jack went on that afternoon and started to receive phone calls wishing him a happy birthday, he asked Joe "what ARE you doing?" Once Jack was in on what Joe had been up to, he went with it and it snowballed into a whole bit that ran every year.
The Beatles song "Roll Over Beethoven" was never released in the United States as a single. It was, however, released as a single in Canada. WMCA had friends everywhere, including north of the border so the station immediately got a copy of it and, as Joe O'Brien puts it, "played the hell out of it". As you might expect, this created quite a stir in New York since the record stores did not have it. Cousins, the big New York record store, was actually forced to rent a truck and drive up to Canada to purchase as many copies of the song as possible because of the huge demand that was generated as a result of WMCA.
The famous "Yea Yea" at the end of many of the WMCA jingles was inspired by John Lennon and The Beatles. On some of the promos recorded by John and The Beatles, John yells out "Yea Yea". So, The Good Guys, at their improvisational best, took that and started yelling along with it. It then evolved into a trademark phrase for the station.
Where did Joe O'Brien's "Benny" come from? When 45 rpm acetate records came out (and Joe was working with Roger Gallagher in the morning) Joe decided to use this "new" technology to record his own voice at 331/3 and play it back at 45 to create the high pitch voice. When he recorded it, he spoke just a little bit slower so that it was more understandable when played back at the higher speed. Back then it was tough to use because of the difficulty cueing the small bit on the record. When tape came out later, it was much easier for the engineers. Originally the effect was called "Nasty" and, as Joe points out, the real trick was in creating the lines and jokes to go with "Benny".
Ed Baer was known as The Big Bad Baer. Why? The story goes that since he was hired as a fill in personality, he was not officially a "Good Guy"... he was the last of the "bad guys" (so to speak). So, they called him The Big Bad Baer.
All of those "Good Guys Songs"... and there were LOTS of them... always used public domain music so they didn't have to pay royalties. And, they were always recorded on Sunday afternoons because that was the only day all six Good Guys were off.
What did the "B" in B Mitchel Reed stand for? Reed claimed it stood for "Beautiful". Joe O'Brien kidded that it stood for "Butkiss". But, it really stood for Burton. His actual name was Burton Mitchel Goldberg.
One time Jack Spector had some young visitors in the WMCA studio. One of the kids asked him what he thought of the disc jockeys on rival WABC. Jack always had a quick answer and this time his response was "Well... they're nice guys... but they're not "Good Guys"!
Gene Knight contributed the following WMCA info/trivia!
1. When Harry was originally hired (1959) at WMCA, it was as a newsman, not a DJ!
2. When Ruth Meyer was assembling the "Good Guy" line-up, it was up in the air until almost the last moment who would do mornings: Would it be Joe O'Brien 6-10 and Harry Harrison 10-1, or Harry 6-10 and Joe 10-1? Ruth decided on the now famous line-up just before the station went on with the "Good Guys" format!
From the book "Rock 100" by David Dalton & Lenny Kaye (published 1977):
"I Want To Hold Your Hand (the Beatles)-- first aired on WMCA radio at 12:50 P.M., December 29, 1963--was released by Capitol the following January." The book credits WMCA with being the first to air the song that started the British Invasion, and of course "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was the #1 song of 1964 on WMCA. (The #1 song of 1964 on WABC? "Hello Dolly.")
WMCA gets its name from the location in NY of one of its earliest studios: The McAlpin Hotel.
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