10 Questions with ... John Records Landecker
March 19, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WOIA/Ann Arbor, MI: 1964-1965. MOR-Talk. Top 40 on Saturday morning.
- I started as a janitor and did various shifts when asked, including Classical music. Eventually got my own show from 9-noon on Saturday. It was the only time the station played Rock music.
- WTRX/Flint, MI: Weekends. Summer of 1965. Top 40.
- WERX/Wyoming, MI (a suburb of Grand Rapids): A daytimer. I did late afternoons. 1966-67. Top 40.
- WMSN/Lansing, MI, The student station at Michigan State University: Various shifts in 1967. Top 40.
- WILS/Lansing, MI:. Started playing tapes on Sunday morning. Ended up with my own show 10p-1a, 1967-68. Top 40.
- WIBG/Philadelphia: 1969-1972. Started out as Scott Walker. After a change of ownership I went back to John Records Landecker. Top-40. 10p-2a, AMD, then 6-10p.
- WLS/Chicago: 1972-1981, 6-10p and 2:30-7p. Top 40
- CFTR/Toronto: 1981-1983, Morning drive. Top 40
- The Loop/Chicago: Afternoons, 1983. AOR.
- G-106/Chicago: Mornings late 1983-1985. Top 40.
- WCKG/Chicago (G-106 after a format change): Mornings, 1985. AOR.
- WLS/Chicago: 1986-1989, nights and afternoon drive. Music/Talk.
- Power 108/Cleveland: 1990-1992, Top 40. Morning drive.
- WJMK/Chicago: Morning drive, 1993-2003. Oldies.
- WGN/Chicago: Weekends and fill-in, 2004-2005. Talk
- WLS/Chicago: Weekends and fill-in, 2005-2008. Talk
- 94.7 The True Oldies Channel/Chicago: Afternoon drive, 2007. Oldies.
- WIMS/Michigan City, IN: 2009-2011, middays, afternoons. Talk.
- 947WLS-FM/Chicago: 2012 to the present. Nights. Classic hits.
1) What was the inspiration to write a book?
A combination of things ... being out of work, being urged to do so, and realizing I have some good stories to tell.
2) These days, some jocks are heard in multiple markets via voicetracking on multiple stations. You were heard in multiple markets on one station. Paint a picture for us of what it was like rocking most of America nightly on WLS-A.
The best picture ever painted of those days at WLS was done by NPR's Scott Simon in a piece that ran on All Things Considered: "Its 6 o'clock in the Central Time Zone. The homebound traffic from Chicago's Loop stalls on the river bridges that run north and south out of the city. Four floors up off Michigan Avenue, in a small studio lit by the white shine of a single lamp, John Landecker prepares for his show by reading the names of records he will be playing that night from a computerized list. Audience surveys show that within several hours his voice will be carried into 32 states and heard by nearly six million people ... the sound of it all is something relentless, smooth and seemingly unstoppable."
3) At WLS-A, you had the freedom to do some very creative bits, the most famous being "Boogie Check." This is a freedom that most air personalities don't enjoy anymore. Do you think that type of radio will ever return?
The freedom to be creative and inventive is part of what drives all successful entertainment regardless of the medium. If it's not found in radio, it will be found somewhere else.
4) When you were at WIBG in Philadelphia, prior to WLS, you did a promotion that I thought was brilliant... a presentation in the schools, demonstrating how music is recorded. How did that idea come about, and how difficult was it to execute?
The high school assembly program in Philadelphia was the brainchild of Richard Akins, who worked for Rick Trow productions. They already provided multimedia educational assemblies to high schools. It was Richard's idea to have WIBG pay for it in exchange for me coming on stage at the end. It worked so well I took the idea to WLS and we did it for a couple of years in Chicago.
5) You are highly active on social media. What tips would you give to jocks who are working on their social media skills?
I love the idea that you think I'm highly active on social media. I barely know what I'm doing. If I don't know how something works, I ask someone who does. I'm not up to speed on Twitter, but it's there. I use Facebook to promote the show. I put up show prep to see what kind of reaction it gets before I use it. Broadcasters should pay more attention to content than social media. Who care where it is if it's crap?
6) Looking back, how would you describe your first radio gig?
I was in high school when I walked into my first radio station on a dirt road across from a dairy farm. It's the best time I ever had in radio. Everything is new! I remember how excited I was to learn how to cue up a record. What's that, some may ask?) So THAT'S how they get the songs to start when they want them to!
7) What are the best and worst songs that you've played on the air over the years?
The best and worst songs I've played on the air? This could go on forever. Liked Motown. Liked the Stones better than the Beatles. Like Hard Rock. Dislike wimpy songs. There were soooooo many wimpy songs. Want me to pick one? Ok. "Muscrat Love."
8) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
9) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I held small pigs while they were castrated.
10) What advice would you give to young broadcasters who are just starting out?
The one thing I would tell all broadcasters starting out is what I would tell anyone starting out anywhere: If you have a passion for it and you think it's fun, do it ... no matter what you hear.
What's the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
Saying "Fuck" on WLS in afternoon drive ... the story's in the book.