Mike Holyko Honors 3 Of His Favorite DJs Of All Time For National Radio Day.

August 20, 2018

In honor of it being National Radio Day, I thought I would pay tribute to two of my favorite DJs of all time.   These gentlemen paved the way for others, and broke some boundaries doing it. 

The first is Casey Kasem.  Known best for his "American Top 40" show that ran across the country from 1970 to 2009, This trend setter in the radio business helped define "Charting" to the public.   Kasey was drafted by the Army in 1952, during the Korean War.  When he was in he worked on Armed Forces Radio.  Once the war ended, Kasem returned to Michigan.  He got his first professional start in Flint, Michigan on KJBK-AM.  He worked in Buffalo, and in Cleveland, before heading west to California.  where he joined KRLA in Los Angeles.  In addition to his radio career, Casey also was involved with voice over work, and is most known for being "Shaggy" on The Scooby Doo show.  Casey retired from radio in 2009, and sadly, passed in 2014.  On a personal note, I was hooked on his Top 40 show in the 80's and he was one of the main reasons I decided to get into the business myself.  I used to make my own top 40 charts and record them on cassette.  Since my real father and I did not have a relationship, I used to joke, and say that Casey Kasem was my father.  

The second is Wolfman Jack.  Though he had started earlier, and under a different name, it was KCIJ in Shreveport, Louisiana where the persona of Wolfman Jack came to be.  Taken from the Horror movies called "The Wolfman", and using a 50's hipster term "The Jack",  Wolfman Jack was created.  In 1963, Wolfman took his character to the border where he worked for an inter-American radio station; XERF-AM.  He moved back to the states, and managed a station in Minneapolis, Minnesota with KUXL, and later to Los Angeles in 1966.  He was a pioneer of radio, and helped open the door for DJ of various racial and ethnic backgrounds.   Wolfman Jack appeared in George Lucas classic 1973 motion picture "American Graffiti" as himself.  He appeared on several television shows, and other motion pictures.  The Guess Who even wrote a song about him "Clap for the Wolfman".   Wolfman Jack passed away in 1995, but his legacy lives on. 

And third, but certainly not last is Alan Freed.  The creator of the term "Rock n Roll".  Freed started his career in Cleveland when the type of music he played was considered controversial, and risque.  Freed's Moondog Concerts opened the door for all future concerts, and festivals.  Freed not only was a DJ, but helped discover many of the popular artists of the 50's.  He would hear a group or artist on the street corner, and bring him into the studio.  He would have artists audition for him.  In a time when the DJ was king, and changed a station's popularity he was the King.  Eventually he moved his show to New York.  He continued his Moondog shows.  The government was after him from day one, because of his controversial nature.  He was found guilty of Payola (accepting money and other goods for playing of records).  The Payola scandal changed the face of radio forever.   Freed died in 1965, he was only 43. 

So there you have it.  There is much more information about these incredible DJs if you are interested to learn more.