In this week’s issue… Mourning a New York radio icon – Boston AM heading back to the air – Format changes in NW PA, Upper Valley – EMF’s Jersey Shore vacation – Buffalo broadcasters go national for Hall of Fame – Toronto’s new(-ish) CHUM, and newer AM
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Dan Ingram, one of the signature voices of New York’s legendary WABC (770) from 1961 until 1982 and then a vital part of WCBS-FM (101.1) in its golden years, died Sunday night at age 83 in Florida after several years of failing health.
Ingram was a native New Yorker, born in 1934 in Oceanside on Long Island. He attended Hofstra College, worked in the area at WNRC in New Rochelle (now WVOX) and at WALK in Patchogue, then spent three whirlwind years growing his career from WICC in Bridgeport to WNHC in New Haven to KBOX in Dallas to WIL in St. Louis – and then back to New York at Mars Productions, where he eventually talked his way into WABC’s afternoon job, which he started on July 3, 1961. While his shifts would change – there was a move to mornings in the late 70s and then back to afternoons – Musicradio 77 would remain his home right up until his last “Hey, Kemosabe!” on “the day the music died” in 1982.
Ingram was not only an iconic part of Musicradio 77 on AM, he was also the creator and host of “The Other Dan Ingram Show” on the backwater that was then WABC-FM (95.5) in the sixties, where he played blues and jazz starting in 1967.
Along the way, “Big Dan” was the voice on the air at WABC when the 1965 blackout hit. He was the voice of the famous 1971 boast that WABC was only 13th in the ratings… “in Pittsburgh!”, and he was the very last voice of Musicradio 77 on that day in 1982 when WABC switched to talk.
When Musicradio ended, Ingram was slated to become a key part of the “Superadio” syndication service, keeping the feel of WABC going nationwide. After that venture failed to launch, Ingram went into syndication anyway, hosting several national shows and spending a year on WKTU (92.3). And then in 1991, he joined other former WABC colleagues up the dial at WCBS-FM (101.1), working weekends for 12 years until departing on this very week 15 years ago. (It’s the final item in our “This Week in NERW” segment at the end of the column, ironically enough.)
Ingram was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007 and returned to WABC several times to appear on the Memorial Day “Rewound” segments, but he would never again hold a regular shift on New York’s airwaves after 2003.
“He was to radio what Johnny Carson was to late-night TV,” wrote his WABC colleague Howard Hoffman early this morning on Facebook. “What Willie Mays was to baseball. What Mort Drucker was to MAD Magazine. He was the gold standard. It can’t be described. It had to be heard. When you come across how many people say they got into the radio business because of listening to him growing up, you’ll know how powerful his charisma was.”
“Jeg elsker deg” was how Ingram would often sign off over his signature closing music, “Tri-Fi Drums” – a Norwegian “I love you” to his wife, Anita.
“Big Dan” was beloved by generations of New York radio listeners – and an inspiration to a generation of radio people who followed him (including his son, Chris, who’s been working in radio in the area for decades.)
Share your memories of Dan Ingram in our comments – and we’ll have more on his legacy in the next issue of NERW.
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