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“Back In Time You Scratchy Old Record”

23 Sep

All of us that love radio have one station that stands out in our memory.

The station that caught our ear and will forever mean something whenever we hear the call letters mentioned.

For me, that station is WWRL.

In the 1960s and 70s WWRL was as great a station as WABC, CKLW, KHJ, WFIL, and WLS.   Unless you grew up around New York it’s a station you might not know.

WWRL broadcast from Woodside Queens on 1600 with 5,000 watts.  Not exactly prime real estate on the radio band.

I grew up in the suburbs of North Jersey.   Not exactly in the prime coverage area of the station.

It was the first Soul Station I ever heard.  I’m sure it’s the reason The Dells, The Originals and Charles Wright And The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band are still some of my favorites.

In those days, I always had a Motorola AM transistor radio with me.  I do mean always.

It was good enough to pick up the signal until the pattern change at dark.

WWRL had an amazing talent line up in that era.

The morning show was hosted by “The Dixie Drifter”, Enoch Hawthorne Gregory.

Jeff Troy who later worked at WRKS did midday, Jerry B afternoons.

Al G later on WPIX worked there, as did Chuck Leonard of WABC.

One of the most outstanding talents was Gary Byrd.  His ‘Gary Byrd Experience’ or GBE was the first time I  heard someone rap.

Gary did his own rap bits and later recorded an album for RCA.

Then there was “The Chief Rocker” Frankie Crocker.

Fast Frankie was one of my early heroes on WMCA, but he had left WWRL by the time I discovered the station.

These guys all had personality.  Frankie needs no introduction.  He was one of a kind.

“If Frankie Crocker’s not on your radio, your radio’s not really on”.

I still have the letter written on WMCA letterhead when he wrote back to me about how to get into radio.

Go to college was his suggestion.

Perhaps my all time favorite on WWRL was Hank Spann, “The Soul Server”.

Hank had a huge voice, I loved how he’d work the records with rhyme.  He was tight too. I never heard him miss a post.

I was thinking about Hank and all of the greats at WWRL today because his son Tone sent an email saying his Dad’s health isn’t so good.

Hank suffered a stroke and congestive heart failure earlier this year.  He struggles with Alzheimer’s now.

Keep him in your prayers.

And as Fast Frankie would say,

Hank

“May you live to be a hundred, and me a hundred minus day.  So I’ll never know that good people like you have passed away.”

“Peace, Love, Truth and Soul.

How I’d love to hear him introduce an oldie right now.

“Back in time you scratchy old record….”

The Soul Server is one of a kind.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2008 in Radio programming

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 responses to ““Back In Time You Scratchy Old Record”

  1. johnny goyen

    September 24, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    While reading your story about memories of WWRL, “The Dixie Drifter” Enoch Gregory caught my attention. There was an R&B #8 Hit in the summer of 1965 called “Soul Heaven” It was a tribute to Dinah Washington, Nat “King” Cole & Sam Cooke. I knew a DJ did the hit. I didn’t realize until now that it was Enoch Gregory at WWRL. By the way, I still have a few copies of “Soul Heaven” on 45 Roulette #4641. Thanks for taking me way back. Johnny Goyen Austin,Texas

     
    • mark rose

      January 18, 2010 at 6:07 am

      hi,my name is mark rose i am a d.j.for 20years i click on reply for johnny goyen i read you was talking the dixie drifter i know his cousin.and i remember wwrl that was the soul soul station back in the 70’s what a time and a time for real music and of course mr.hank spann i was trying to get in touch with his son.i still d.j.my dusty records and i still collect you mention you have a couple copies of the record by ENOCH GREGORY.IS IT POSSIBLE I CAN PURCHASE ONE OR OTHER RECORDS YOU MAY HAVE.MY E-MAIL IS BEATTS@OPTONLINE.NET HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU

       
  2. Eddie Lester

    October 18, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Hey Jon,I go way back to WWRL! I remmeber Jerry Boulding(Jerry B) Al GEE, ECT! Hank Spann was so cool that he even influenced a few of my friends to go to Radio school ! Funkier than a crippled crab without a crutch!,Lets go to work!! If its real what you feel ,then it must be my love jones comming on,HEY NOWWWW!!! This is Hank Spann inside your muzzziccc mind!!, Micheal, Marlon ,Tito ,Jermaine,Jackie!!!(when introducing a J-5 hit!! 2 steps to rear and gonna get out of here—I am in the wind New York —-Later!!!!!!! Many memories of that station!!!

     
  3. alanfurst

    October 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Eddie those are lines I haven’t heard in years. I would love to hear some airchecks of the station. Too bad there isn’t a WWRL tribute site on the web.

     
  4. Del Brown

    October 23, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Drop In at the opening of Hank Spann’s show : ” Hank Spann! The Soul Server! Turn Your Soul Loose! (Hank)”It’s 6:59 in the Big Apple. Here I am and I came to jam! This is Hank Spann, with the boogie in your mind. And the baddest jams I can possibly find. Brotherman, Sister too if you can. I invite you to parrhtay, with every muscle in your body! Put your foot on the rock, pat it, and don’t ya dare stop! These are the sounds in the hip town that have just got to be hot! Right now, it’sthe Blackbyrds with Happy Music! Come on NY, Let’s Go To Work! Anytime I think of my childhood in Corona, & E.Elmhurst Queens it always includes The Soul Server. “Digging you more, than a hundred pounds of juicy Barbecue!” “Just About as Funky as nine cans of Wet Magic Shave”. “If your name is Judy, I want you to get up and shake your booty!” I was inspired by Hank Spann, and during my 13 year radio career, during the 80’s and 90’s I had the priveledge of speaking with him on the phone, while he was the GM of a LA. station, to tell him he inspired me and he was so gracious. I asked him if he had any of his airchecks from the Super 16 days and he didn’t. As long as I’m alive The Soul Server will never die. Because he’s always with me. Most New Yorker’s were jockin’ The Chief Rocker, I did too. But Hank was the party starter. I’m glad to see some of the old school rappers finally mention him and give him his props. I’m saddened to hear that he is ill, but I’ll always appreciate the good times he brought to me when I needed a pick me up. And in closing: “This is it, I’ve got to split. But until I return to burn remember,: Be nice to somebody short, because you never know when somebody short may have to be nice to you. I’ve got to take 2 steps to the rear, and get on outta here! I’m in the wind NY! Later!”

     
  5. alanfurst

    October 23, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Del thanks for the posting. I love when people remember the lines from a great jock 30 + years later. It would be great to hear airchecks again. Isn’t it great how one guy can connect with two kids living in different areas? That’s great talent on a very powerful medium.

     
  6. LYDIA HINTON

    October 29, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    LET’S NOT FORGET HAL ATKINS, HE WAS SUCH AN INTEGRAL KEY IN THE WWRL FAMILY. I GREW UP WITH HIS DAUGHTERS IN EAST ELMHURST, QUEENS IN THE 70’S. IT WAS SO SAD WHEN I LEARNED OF HIS PASSING ..AND THAT WAS BACK THEN AS WELL. I WILL MISS ALL OF THE GREAT VOICES OF SOUL RADIO BUT I AM SO GREATFUL TO HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE TO HAVE HEARD THEM ALL

     
  7. alanfurst

    October 30, 2008 at 3:08 am

    I would love to see a WWRL tribute site on the web. So many great talents when through the station and deserve to be remembered.

     
  8. Vicki aka The Kid #2

    December 16, 2008 at 3:01 am

    I too remember listening to Hank Spann but at Radio Station WAOK in Atl, GA. before he came to NY; Listening to Hank is what started what I call my Addiction to RADIO. When I first started listening to Hank, I called him at the station one day and asked him was he reading the stuff he was saying from paper or was he making it up and his answer was no he was not reading from paper, some of it he had heard other DJs say but mostly he was making it up along the way. Over the years you would hear different DJs use some of the same lines but two lines that I never heard anyone else use were ‘Hey Now’ and ‘Hey Hey’;

    “The preceeding portion of this notion was transcribbled, transcribed, boiled in oil and french fried. Always be nice to somebody short, you never know when somebody short wants to be nice to you…….”

    God Speed Soul Server…thanks for the memories!

     
  9. mike baril

    January 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    is there anywhere to hear any audio of Hank Spann…im a local airpersonality in new york and i have have heard so much about Hank Spann but never heard his voice.

     
  10. cliff

    September 13, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Frankie “Hollywooooodd” Crocker. Those were the days when the DJs had personality.

     
  11. Radio Syndication Talk

    October 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Hank passed away yesterday. I loved him and like many of us from a couple of generations in New York, Hank was The Man! I won my first radio prize from Hank (it was probably the only one)and when he and Frankie were doing afternoons (Hank at 2 and Frankie at 4) I was a fiend switching back and forth between BLS and RL to catch their breaks. Later when I was a program director Hank and I established a relationship and I made sure to remind him every time I saw him that he was my reason for getting into the business. To this day part of the pleasure of listening to oldies from that era is hearing Hank over the intros in my head. Hey noww..Thank you Soul Server. Come on!!!

     
    • alanfurst

      October 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      He was my favorite of all the RL jocks. Frankie had moved on to WMCA by the time i discovered WWRL. It was one of the all time great radio stations.

       
  12. Karen Gee

    October 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Del:

    Great posting I also grew up in Corona E. Elmhurst loved loved loved Hank Spann and had the pleasure of meeting him once at WWRL in Woodside. He was very talented and an asset to WWRL I miss radio as I knew it back then. RIP Hank Spann

     
  13. Teddy Mahan

    January 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Al Gee was “Your fabulous Mr. Too Sweet. Youngblood Manipulating the air waves of your Radio. Al Gee The Master”. With You’d Better Go by Derek Martin, as his exit song, he was my favorite D.J.

     
  14. mark rose

    January 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

    HI,I REMEMBER HANK SPANN AND THE ENOCH GREGORY THAT’S ONE REASON WHY I BECAME A D.J.I STILL D.J.MY DUSTY RECORDS.TRYING TO CONTACT HANK SPANN SON AND JERRY B FAMILY IF ANYBODY HAS ANY INFO ON THEM PLEASE CONTACT ME.I AM ALSO A RECORD COLLECTOR IF ANYBODY HAS ANY OLD DUSTY RECORDS PLEASE COPNTACT ME TOO.MY E-MAIL IS
    BEATTS@OPTONLINE.NET

     
  15. Robert Hollywood Swinton

    October 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I echo everybodies sentiments for sure but especially Del Brown. I, too, had a lengthy career in radio and Hank Spann and Frankie Crocker were my primary in inspirations. The Soul Server was a poet of funk and he sat on the throne by himself. I borrowed from him freely but I always told people where I got it from. As you can hear he lives in my heart as well.

     
  16. joseph l schara

    September 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    my favorite radio station growing up in flushing,, who used to say the “i am going to set the needle to the track and seperate the soul from the wax??????: there was more to it but i cant remember it all now i have been trying to find the complete verse for years????
    any help would be appreciated,, QuoVales@aol.com,, t/y t/y

     
  17. Carl Fountain

    January 24, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Oh yes I remember listening too WWRL SUPER 1600 as kid and the memories I have are golden can’t ever forget guys like
    Enoch Gregory (The Dixie Drifter)
    Happy Hal Atkins(The House Wife’s Pal)
    Jeffrey Troy (The Real Mcoy)
    Gerry B.
    (The Soul Server) Hank Spann
    (The GBE) Imothep Gary Byrd
    Frankie(Love Man)Crocker
    Al Gee
    Rocky G.
    just too name a few I remember going too the record shop and getting that piece of paper with each and everyone of there pictures on it man oh man I wish I still had that does anyone know where I can get it if you do I can be reached @347-984 3513 my name is Carl T.Fountain thank you so much

     

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