Friday, August 22, 2014

Blast from Your Past - Book 1, Excerpt 1: DJ Ron Riley

Beginning with this article I'll periodically post excerpts from Book 1 (1954-1959) of the Blast from Your Past series. I'm hoping this will inspire me (more) to finish Book 2 and inspire you to read and relive the best days of Rock & Roll Radio. ~ Enjoy the moment ... again! LR 

Chapter 1 excerpt from Blast from Your Past! Book 1

Oh, my papa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my papa, to me he was so good
                “Oh, My Pa-Pa,” Eddie Fisher’s #1 hit, January 1954
Not quite Rockin’ & Rollin’ yet!

(Read this fast and loud!) I’m Rockin’ Rochelle coming to you from BFYP-FM (Blast from Your Past-Full Moon), broadcasting to the world from sunny Cal-i-forn-i-A!
We’re spreading music and mayhem throughout the land, with lively behind-the-mic tales of your favorite Rock & Roll Radio DJs from yesteryear!
Poodle skirts, saddle shoes, bobby sox and ducktail hair, hiphuggers and peace signswe’re ready to ROCK!
Let’s go trippin’ down mem’ry lane and check out those wild-n-crazy guys and gals who kissed your ears with Rock & Roll music for the souuulllll!
First up for your platter-spinning pleasure … a real Midwest Rock & Roll DJ treasure.

Best known at WLS/Chicago, Illinois

Ron Riley … or did you know him as “Ron ‘Ringo’ Riley”? How about “Smiley Riley”? With stints at WLS-Chicago, Milwaukee’s WOKY (pronounced “walky”), and even his own Bowling for Dollars TV show, Ron never wanted to be anything other than a deejay.
Come on-a My House,” Rosie Clooney crooned to the impressionable, adolescent teen. It was the early 1950s and Ron Riley headed to downtown Chicago often, eager to watch the guys in the fishbowl radio studios spin Rosie’s platters.
“I just knew that was what I wanted to do,” Riley said, reminiscing. A child of the ‘40s, “there wasn’t a lot … well, not really any, Rock & Roll music then, so I grew up appreciating all types of music – big band, mostly. When not selling insurance, dad’s greatest fun was playing sax and clarinet with local dance bands on weekends. There was always music in our house.”
Young Ron realized that even the disc jockeys didn’t know what to do with Rock & Roll. How do you introduce something so feisty and unpredictable to a radio world previously ruled by big bands, boozy ballads and smooth talkin’ gentleman announcers?