Randy Roberts, WUSL-FM, 1979
Randy Roberts, WUSL-FM, 1979

WFIL Rockin' in the Cradle of Liberty
I Love You Philadelphia WFIL

The Randy Roberts Collection

Randy Robert Cockerham (Randy Roberts) writes:
In the 1950's and 60's most radios were tuned to WIBG Radio 99 in Philadelphia. The station had a great sound. It was exciting and always interesting. Much of the early rock and roll music was introduced to listeners over WIBG. Equally important were the program hosts who presented the music like Joe Niagara and Hy Lit. Their knowledge of the music, the artists, and their electric personalities would make WIBG a lasting memory to those who listened to Radio 99.

During the mid to late 60's another station took the lead with the new sound of "Boss Radio." Soon listeners from the Jersey shore to the Pocono mountains would be tuning in to 560 on the AM dial to hear the WFIL "Boss Jocks" playing more music, much more music, and the most music. And speaking of music, how about the Beatles, the Beach Boys and of course the Motown sound. The hot new sound of Top 40 radio was perfected with talented personalities such as Doctor Donald D. Rose, Jim Nettleton, George Michael, Long John Wade, and Jay Cook, just to name a few. WFIL really was Famous 56 in Philadelphia!

In January of 1979 I had the opportunity to work for Jim Nettleton who was program director at US1 WUSL-FM (sister station to WFIL). It was a wonderful experience and one of the best times of my broadcast career.

It is my pleasure to share some of Philadelphia's greatest talent.

Thank You, Randy!

[Descriptions by Randy Roberts and Uncle Ricky]

TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10Khz)
PLAY Jim Nettleton, WDRC Hartford, 1965 (11:08)

From November 26, 1965, here is "Diamond Jim" on WDRC Hartford, Connecticut. Nettleton's smooth and consistent style makes even The Big D Recipe sound appealing.

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TOP STREAM 16.2Kbps (8Khz)
PLAY Jim Nettleton, WFIL Philadelphia, 1969 (4:36)

This aircheck from July 4, 1969 features the Operation Hometown promotion, saluting servicemen overseas. The promos are voiced by Tom Tyler and Jim Nettleton. Jim also makes mention of the late Jay Cook (WFIL PD), as "my little bitty buddy."

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TOP STREAM 32.0Kbps (16Khz)
PLAY Jim Nettleton, WABC New York, 1969 (11:07)

Here is Jim Nettleton on his first night at WABC, New York, October 4, 1969. It includes an introduction from Cousin Brucie. The first day at a new station could send many running into the night screaming, but Jim holds his own on New York's "Musicradio". On The Radio Greats Reunion with George Michael (WOGL, 1996), Jay Cook describes WABC as Jim Nettleton's "nirvana".

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Jim Nettleton, WDRCJim Nettleton at WDRC. (courtesy of Man from Mars Productions and the WDRC Oldie but Goodie site.)

''Aside from his obvious talent and dedication to broadcasting, Jim Nettleton is one of the nicest people I have ever known.

It was a pleasure to be with him and sit in the studio and observe.

His career has been consistently successful, almost always on the air, mostly in Philadelphia. Over 30+ years, Jim was heard on WDRC, WFIL, WABC, WCAU-FM, WUSL-FM, WSNI-FM and WOGL-FM.''

- Randy Roberts

Jim Nettleton passed away Sunday October 4, 2009, after a lengthy illness. He was 69.


PLAY Jim Nettleton, WFIL Philadelphia 1969 (4:28)

... for heaven's sakes after all already? ...

Jim Nettleton (WDRC, WABC, WCBS, WCAU, WOGL) is super-smooth and supremely satisfying in this tight & tasty treat from 1969 WFIL.

Check out the production on the "Name Game" contest!

Aircheck courtesy of Man from Mars Productions, edited by Randy Roberts.

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PLAY Dr. Donald D. Rose, WFIL Philadelphia, 1970 (5:41)

... We Ain't Got Nothing Yet, except an 'F' in English ...

Dr. Donald D. Rose is heard "laughin' and scratchin'" on Famous 56 WFIL in 1970.

Also included: the great PAMS (Series 34) Another Hour of Music Power jingle.

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Jim O' Brien, WFIL Philadelphia 1972 (2:58)

... as Beulah the Boss music lady tabulates your votes...

The late Jim O' Brien shines in this all-too-short sample of Famous 56 in 1972. As always, WFIL's powerful production elements are part of the fun. Note also the Call for Action promo, a reminder of a time when the privilege of owning a broadcast license (even a little AM license!) required broadcasters to generate clever programming to meet their responsibilities to the public interest.

While the public interest is forgotten these days, there's no doubt that Jim O'Brien was of great interest to the public in Philadelphia, which he called home until his tragic death in 1984.

Aircheck courtesy of Man from Mars Productions, edited by Randy Roberts.

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Hy Lit & Joe Niagara, WIBG, 9/10/77 (11:04)

...The years have taken a lot out of this guy, and taken a lot out of the old girl...

Hy Lit, at WIBG in 1967. (Courtesy
Hy Lit Radio.)
During the '50's and 60's, Philadelphians tuned to the "Queen Mother" - 99 WIBG. Leading the way for Top 40, WIBG left an everlasting mark on Philadelphia radio.

Two of Philly's best, Hy Lit and Joe Niagara, were along for the great ride, and are featured here in the last hour - as heard September 10, 1977.

Joe Niagara passed away following surgery on June 4, 2004. Hy Lit died of heart and kidney failure, following knee surgery, on November 17, 2007. He was 73.

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Dan Donovan, WFIL Philadelphia 1977 (7:43)

...They're burying Wibbage this week...

Dan Donovan's enthusiasm is infectious in this aircheck, made during the last week of WIBG. This treasure, provided by Man from Mars Productions was edited by Randy Roberts for exhibition here. It showcases the exceptionally tight and exciting WFIL presentation.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.0Kbps (16Khz)
WIFI Philadelphia, Composite, 1977 (6:12)

... offering you one thousand dollar bills ...

Don Marino, Jeff Robbins and Jim Reed are heard in this composite of WIFI-FM in the Spring of 1977.

Also included: A classic ATCO International Raceway spot promoting a Farrah Fawcett lookalike contest, voiced by Shapp and ATCO Jack.

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Terry Young, WCAU-FM, 1981 (3:47)

...I don't talk fast - you listen slowly...

Terry Young, "The Motor Mouth", one of the fastest talkers in radio, entertained Philadelphia listeners on WCAU-FM, another Hot Hits station (consulted by Mike Josephs.)

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George Michael, WOGL-FM Radio Greats Reunion, 1996 (23:41)

...It was my good fortune to be the first, and at that time, only white fella promoting records for Motown...

The quality is excellent on this one, and it's a real treat. George Michael (of NBC's Sports Machine) is at his best on this Radio Greats Reunion from May 10th, 1996. Broadcast on WOGL-FM, Philadelphia, George talks with Jay Cook about "Boss Radio" and the "Boss Jocks" from 56 WFIL.

George Michael died from complications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia on December 24, 2009. He was 70.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10Khz)
Q102 WCAU-FM Philadelphia Hot Hits Reunion 1998,
Part One

. . . All I know is I played that as a current . . .

Part One of the Q102 WCAU-FM Hot Hits Reunion was recorded on Saturday, January 31, 1998, and Billy Burke, Christy Springfield, Terry Young, Bob Garrett and Pete Michaels are featured in-studio; Bill O' Brien and Herb Denninberg are featured in a short aircheck.

Included: PLAY From July 1982: Terry Young locks himself in the studio and plays Valley Girl over and over.

Contributor Randy Roberts recorded and compiled this exhibit.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10Khz)
Q102 WCAU-FM Philadelphia Hot Hits Reunion 1998,
Part Two

. . . He gets a hundred thousand dollars per spot ... and what am I, I'm in Albuquerque . . .

Here's Part Two of the Q102 WCAU-FM Hot Hits Reunion, recorded on Saturday, January 31, 1998. Live Q102 segments feature Billy Burke, Christy Springfield, Terry Young, (and his five-year-old daughter!) Bob Garrett and Pete Michaels, Bill O' Brien and Ted Kelly.

WCAU airchecks include a Burke and Young composite beginning at 1:04. Another composite featuring Burke, Young, Springfield, O'Brien and Mike Kelly starts at 12:04. Barsky In The Morning, Rich Hawkins, and Glenn Kalina are heard in a third composite beginning at 20:54.

Contributor Randy Roberts recorded and compiled this exhibit.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (12Khz)
Q102 WCAU-FM Philadelphia Hot Hits Reunion 1998,
Part Three

. . . Some people never grow up . . .

Part Three of the Q102 WCAU-FM Hot Hits Reunion is a reel treat! In live Q102 segments, Joe Mama joins Billy Burke, Christy Springfield, Terry Young, Bob Garrett and Pete Michaels, Bill O' Brien and Ted Kelly.

Its great to hear the phone action with original WCAU-FM Hot Hits Listeners. At 12:50 we are treated to a "History of Hot Hits WCAU-FM" composite featuring the original airstaff. Toward the end, we hear how long-time Philly promo king Matty Singer tipped the news of the upcoming format change to oldies (WOGL).

As Terry Young says, "they didn't hand me Number One Disc Jockey on a silver platter. I went out there and earned it." That meant personal appearances, and a radio station willing to support that kind of community involvement. That stuff is hardly important now, but when your boss could only own two radio stations in your market, it was the difference between getting by and getting ahead.

Our thanks again to contributor Randy Roberts for recording, compiling, and making this exhibit available to REELRADIO.

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  The Randy Roberts Collection has been part of REELRADIO since July 28, 1996

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