Did My First Gig with Tri County Band… And the Rise & Fell (Once Again) of CKLW, the Big 8
02-11-2008
I actually viewed the CKLW “Rise and Fall of the Big 8” press screening in the same breath as did a first public performance with the “Tri County” band.

In fact, I skipped a band rehearsal just to catch the screening of the CKLW special!  I already owned the DVD.  In fact, loaned my copy to a few Specs Howard instructors a few years ago and subsequently, many students asked where they could get a copy.
The answer is here:www.radiorevolutiondvd.com/

Seeing this again on “the big screen” this time provoked me to dig through my CKLW remnants.

During the Christmas of 1981, I was out of work, but not out of reel to reel recording tape!  I airchecked a full 24 hours of CKLW and caught many of the legendary CK jocks who were still there:  Tom Ryan was filling in for Dick Purtan, Johnny Williams, Charlie O’Brien and Jack London were all part of this broadcast day, along with Ted Richards.  The sound quality (especially for AM broadcast of 25 years ago) is astonishing.  The tapes for the most part, held up over the years.  

The following year, I would do an afternoon drive stint myself at WKHM in Jackson, Michigan, to be followed by my return to WAAM in Ann Arbor (thank you, Jimmy Barrett!). But CKLW was always a “reference point” for me.  

By then, CKLW was already on its downward spiral. Their format was more adult oriented (similar to ours at WAAM). Not surprisingly, on an aircheck of me dated May 1982, I sounded frighteningly similar to CK’s Ted Richards. 

During my air shift, several times I plugged the jock who followed me, as any of us would normally do.  He was relatively new to the station, and broadcasting in general, but a great guy to work with.

Before my aircheck tape ran out, it caught the first words of the jock after me:

“It’s 8 O’clock, this is WAAM, Ann Arbor.  Hello!  I’m Ken Kal and these are the Beatles…”  

I just heard the 1982 tape this past weekend that probably hadn’t even been played until now.

Yes, Ken Kal, the future voice of the Detroit Red Wings was one of my co-workers!  Yes, Ken sounded the same back then as he does today.

A few years ago, while I was producing a sports talk show that aired on the local Fox Sports affiliate, Ken actually confessed that he did, indeed work with the so-called “World Famous Bob Marshall” (that would be me!) when his career was just getting started.

This weekend, while driving home from my band gig in Commerce Township about 2AM, I had punched up News Radio, WWJ 950.  Anchoring the news was another WAAM colleague of the past.. AND Specs Howard graduate, Jeff DeFran!  

Jeff is also not just a great talent but a helluva nice guy.

“Way back”, he also participated in the comedy skits on my WAAM shows called “The MisAdventures of Fred Heller, Boy DJ.” What a good sport!  He often got the part of “Fred,” our afternoon drive guy who I enjoyed a friendly on-air feud with.  

Although the real “Fred” was only in his early 20’s, he had some stinky cigar smoking attributes, and mannerisms that I took delight in exaggerating in my script.  He was actually a great on-air talent, and another good guy.

The plots of my skits were about as thick as strangling ones self on headphone cords, or starting a broadcast school and blowing it up  (I think I was poking fun at Specs Howard, since Jeff back then was a recent Specs grad).   But these shows were major Production and editing projects that contributed to some of the most creative moments on local radio.
Mostly today, I appreciated the fact I was surrounded by such talents who so willingly jumped in when I threw one of my corny scripts at them!

Radio was (and is) all of our “passions.” 

So what about my first gig with the “Tri County Band”?

It was the “Winter Sucks” party put together by two families. It’s something that they had done annually before I arrived in the band.

I have done so many band shows, DJ events, remote broadcasts, etc that even though this was a new band and a different group of people, it was pretty much business as usual for me.  I had no concerns.

Playing bass with these people (on anyone) I know from experience, the amount of energy I personally put in will directly impact how the shows goes.  I gave it 102% as did everyone else and the crowd response was amazing.

Playing music and practically anything else including radio and multi-media work carries with it the same philosophy to win:  Act like you care and give it your full effort.  Play it, or Say It like you MEAN IT, without being phony (that part is just as important). 

Do that, and you WILL succeed!
A lot of people don’t quite “get it” and when they put in a half-hearted attempt, they get results like you’d expect.  The world owes you NOTHING, but if you show the world you KNOW how to party, and are RELENTLESS in that pursuit, you will be rewarded sooner or later.  Even if it’s a crowd going nuts, and numerous people shaking your hand saying “You guys ROCKED!”  Sometimes that’s all that is necessary.


Besides the people mentioned earlier who are successful in broadcasting, my congratulations for the success of this past weekend goes to my bandmates, who got out there and Kicked Some Serious Butt with me:

So let’s name ‘em! Tom Scola, who is the center of the universe with this group, guitarist virtuoso and singer went above and beyond the call of duty pulling this off,

Kelly Wishart, who was the one belting it out during some of best moments this weekend.  Doug Lewis…hey, some of the best bands have keyboard players who can also sing.  Doug is one of those.   Shawn Whiting, the rock-solid other half of the rhythm section with me. He also shares double duty in the “other” band, Wherez My Limo, who I will also plug at some point in the future.  Again.   We also have a new harmonica guy whom I met for the first time that night.

My hope also at some point in writing these blogs that I can get some of you actually show up at one of our shows, but MORE importantly, are somehow encouraged to move forward with YOUR OWN pursuits, dreams, fantasies or whatever.  

When you actually DO IT, they turn into reality, which is the best part.  

If you can’t come to a show for various reasons, naturally, YOUR COMMENTS are always appreciated and could actually trigger another rant of some sort.  Love or hate letters are fun for ME to receive.

See you soon.
Bob B

 

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