Instigator of “Nicole’s Chihuahua Challenge”  

Nicole is one of our amazing Specs Howard grads – you might call her the traffic person with an edge. 

In an effort to help a worthy cause,she combined her love for animals with what she does for a living.  This web page explains it best:

 As part of Deminski & Doyle’s WCSX morning show, she started Nicole’s Chihuahua Challenge as a result of the hundreds of dogs taken in by the Dearborn Animal Shelter.

These animals lives were saved as a result of authorities shutting down the home of a Dearborn “animal collector.”

Hundreds of the animals removed from the home are now being housed by the already-bursting-at-the-seams Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter. 

Medical care is expected to run several thousand dollars before the animals can be made available for adoption.

Nicole and Shelter personnel explain further on the video posted at the site noted above.

A tax deductible donation can be made by Pay Pal through the shelters’ website or check.  Although operating under contract to the City of Dearborn, 80% of their operating costs come from donations.

Area veterinarian, Dr. Cheryl Good,  (board member and long-time benefactor to the Dearborn shelter) and her staff at Dearborn Family Pet Care are also treating some of the dogs at this time.

Besides reporting traffic on the radio (as part of D & D’s show), Salem, in recent years, has led an interesting life:  She has done everything from offering T-shirts featuring her pet rat (also on D & D’s show) to being one of the 2008 finalists in (sister station) WRIF’s Rock Girl contest.  Perhaps this will be one of her most successful ventures!

Aside from her personal success as that traffic person with an edge, we wish much success to her Chihuahua Challenge cause (to which YOU can contribute) and grateful for the efforts of the Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter. 
- Bob Burnham
“From the showroom window”
Bob Burnham

Last year I had the chance to help out WGPR’s John Mason and his crew when they did their morning show live from Motor City Casino’s Radio Bar.  These are good people on a great station!   John is also the announcer for the Detroit Pistons basketball team.  The chant “DEEEEEEEE-troit… basketball” was started by John.

He spent 18 years as WJLB’s “Mason in the Morning” with a few other stops before arriving at Detroit’s WGPR-FM 107.5.

"The Radio Bar" was one of my independently produced techie projects outside of the Specs Howard School.

WGPR is one of the very few remaining independently-owned stations in Detroit.  I don’t know if it’s true, but my experience has been these type of stations are staffed by some of the most passionate people in radio who love what they do, and while their may not be in the top five ratings-wise, they have a fiercely loyal audience. 

The fact is I’ve been a fan of WGPR for a long time.  At one time, they also had a TV station – channel 62 – which was later sold to CBS and became Detroit’s CBS affiliate when channel 2 switched to Fox.

My favorite show on WGPR-TV was the afternoon dance show, “The Scene,” hosted by WGPR Radio’s (then) afternoon drive man, Nat Morris.  The stations decidedly had a limited budget, but the broadcast talent were the best!

They each had a catch phrase.   On the TV show, Morris would ask the dancers “Are you ready to throw down!?”   And they would reply “YES WE ARE!”    

Morris:  What can I say?  Enough has been said… let’s take it away to our opening spread.”

One of the first times I saw “The Super Scene” (“on the television screen”) was while enjoying frozen fish sticks at a friends house.

On radio, the Nat Morris’ commercials were legendary.  One of my favorites was for Manhattan Coney Island…. 

With KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” in the background, you would think Morris was actually enjoying a coney island when he cut that spot.  It made you hungry just listening:

“Manhattan has come to Detroit!  It’s the best coney island in town with 100% pure ground beef, chili, mustard, onions.  It’s soooooo goooooood I can almost taste it now <sounds of smacking lips! <quick pot up of music>…”

After Nat Morris, Foodey Rome started his show.  One night I rolled some tape airchecking Foodey’s WGPR show completely random and caught the biggest radio party I had ever heard.  That’s the way it was.

Station ID….”…from the best radio sounds in town…doesn’t have to be, but it is…  Double-Hue-GPR Detroit!”

Sponsored time check: <gong>  At the tone the correct eastern daylight time will be <Foodey: let’s make it 7:22 on WGPR>  <gong>  …the time has been brought to you by Old Pro Clothes.  If you want to save your dough, see the Old Pro, Robert Taylor, Old Pro Clothes.  THAT is the sale place!”

The rest of the show would be Foodey, dancing and singing along with the tunes.  His favorites would be followed by catch phrases like “Like that sound, like that sound, like that sound!” or “Aw, mercy!  I just can’t GET enough!”

They were obviously playing actual records at a live remote “from the showroom window of Quality Discount Furniture.”

They would commit what would be a broadcast sin at any other station.   Foodey would pick up the needle and start the record over live on the air, singing and dancing the whole time.  

Eddie Kendricks, one of the original Temptations (who passed away in 1992) had a solo album out at that time called “He’s a Friend.”  I would later visit Kendrick’s record shop (operated by his brother) in the city and buy my own copy.

The title track, “He’s a Friend” was featured repeatly by Foodey during one of his legendary broadcasts.

“The soul continues to roll, doubling up on the action…heh-haa!  This is steady Eddie, Eddie Kendricks…and he’s a Friend of Mine!”

Foodey would proceed to half recite, half sing all the lyrics to the record over the music.

Then finally when the record DID end and he decided he’d played it enough…

“When one ends, another very quickly begins, doubling up on the music, Yours Truly, Foodey, live and direct from the showroom window of Quality Discount Furniture.  It’s the home and king of easy credit that’s right EEEEEEEEEEEEEE-ZZZZZZZZZ…  credit. If you can’t get credit at Quality Discount Furniture, then you can’t get credit – heh-ha! – it’s a simple as that…..”

Next is a laid back commercial for the Chi-Lites appearing live at “Henry’s Lounge, 7645 Fenkell” (which is still in business today as Henry’s Palace).

It was apparently a live read or at least a live ad lib by Foodey with a mellow Chi-Lites tune in the background:

“…aww, it’s a show you don’t want to miss, with Eugene, Squirrel, Marshall, Doc…the Chi-Lites… 18 year olds are always welcome and there’s always plenty of free fully attended, lighted park-KING.”

It was delivered by Foodey’s incredible and expressive Voice of God, both literally and figuratively, that few African Americans on the air could touch to this day.  

The Chi-Lites were not a Motown act, but were from Chicago, but had major mellow hits like “Oh Girl,”  “Have You Seen Her” and later “Toby.”  

WGPR’s programming and especially Foody Rome in the early days were major influences to me along with all the great top 40 rock jocks on at the time on CKLW, and the original WDRQ. 

Often without thinking, I would actually borrow one of their catch-phrases on the air myself ("Foodeyisms"?)

At least once, I managed to slip that Eddie Kendrick’s tune on the air myself long after it had dropped off anyones charts.  I soon knew all the lyrics and could imitate Foodey’s memorable performance on the radio.

We were such big fans of Foodey that a skit was used on the air featuring “Brother Clarence” answering a series of nonsensical questions in a manner we thought Foodey himself might.  Some of us would even slip in the “Foodey scream”

Radio is SUPPOSED to be fun.  That’s why I got into it, and never really left.

Such antics, however, would hardly be tolerated on radio today, as there are few broadcasters and programmers remaining who have roots in the early days.  But at WGPR, the spirit is still there today.

Thanks, WGPR for entertaining us the way you have. 
And especially thanks to Foodey, Nat Morris and Mason.  
Bob Burnham

The last time I wrote about local Detroit radio, there were good things happening.  Unfortunately, some of those good things turned sour.  Nobody ever said things were easy for anyone, no matter what business they’re in.  But I do tend to always twist things around to try to find a positive side, or at least a humorous side.

 When I was 12, I build a 2-story “Shack” in my parents backyard, complete with heating and cooling, lights, built-in-the-wall radio, intercom system and fully carpeted and cozy.  It had a “back-up” power system consisting of a bank of 6 dry cell batteries in case some one accidently on purpose pulled the main power plug.  

 I called this structure “The Shack” because that’s what it was!!

Once upon a time, between radio jobs, I briefly worked for Radio Shack (really!).   We called it Radio Shack.  Now Radio Shack is changing their name to “The Shack.”
“Our friends know us as ‘THE SHACK’ says their website.

It's like PINE KNOB MUSIC THEATER...how many people call it DTE MUSIC ENERGY THEATER?

MY SHACK really WAS literally a SHACK filled with radio, where I listened to all the great talent who were on the air back them.  Some still are:  Dick Purtan, Warren Pierce and a host of others.

“THE SHACK” of today (the store that is) is a retail outlet that sells whatever electronic gadgets seem popular.  To their credit, they sold the first affordable home computer – the TRS-80-- that used a cheap audio cassette player to store data.  Floppy discs and hard drives still had not been invented.  

But for the store of today, what a dumb idea – taking the RADIO out of the SHACK. 

Radio can’t be THAT dead, can it? 

What would happen if Burger King became known as ‘THE KING’ (reminds me of their TV commercial character that creeps everyone out).  Well, I wouldn’t eat there, that’s for sure.

Sometimes management gets some quirky marketing ideas that don’t quite make sense.  On the plus side, it DOES get attention and any kind of attention is better than being totally ignored.  But when it causes forced lay-offs, it’s obviously a bad thing.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to our friends at THE SHACK.

Maybe I’m wrong about THE SHACK, but I still wish them the best.  There has been many times they saved my day (in real radio) by having some odd-ball part in stock.  Even if they don’t sell HD radios and their employees don’t have a clue as to what HD is, they remain one of the few survivors of the electronic and appliance stores that used to be around.  R.I.P. Lafayette Radio Electronics, Allied, Burstein-Applebee, Highland Appliance, Ollie Fretter and most recently, Adray Appliance.  It’s been fun, but at least we still have THE SHACK.

SPEAKING OF RESTING IN PEACE….  A shout out to a long lost pal in radio, Tom Patterson, A.K.A. Tom Donovan, A.K.A. Tom Deyh.  We knew him best simply as “T.D.”    Tom and I worked at a few stations together, and he was quite a character. He was a Specs Howard graduate of the 1970s, and worked in radio in Traverse City, Flint and to a lesser degree, in the Detroit area at stations including WTCM and Southfield’s WSHJ. 

Apparently, during the past few years, he became quite ill.  He passed away August 2nd at the young age of 53. Tom’s “Uncle Louie” was Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson.   Tom and I had been out of touch for 20 years.  I have a tape of Tom then at age 22, hosting a live talk show.  I know this because Tom was flirting with a young female caller on the air and they compared stats as they quizzed each other.  What a character, but a character in a good way looking back on those years.

“T.D.” was actually pretty good on the radio, at times emulating WCSX’s John O’Leary (whose show he was a fan of in O’Leary’s WABX days).  

Thanks for the memories, Tom. 
Your promo for the Car’s first album on your infamous “Weekend Feature Segment” will never be forgotten.