Dick Biondi
WKBW, Buffalo
Increase Records INCM 2005
Released June 1970
Resume/Where is he now?

Dick Biondi
Weeknights: 9:00 PM - 12:00 Midnight

“The Wild I-tralian Is Back!”

Dick Biondi, known as the "Wild I-tralian," "Big Mouth," and "The Screamer," is back on the air at WZZN-FM, 94.7, Chicago’s True Oldies Channel, weeknights from 9p to Midnight.

This "Wild Italian" began his radio career in New York state and made his way to Chicago in 1960. He joined the staff of WLS and was heard in over 38 states and in Canada during his 9PM - 12 Midnight shift. In the early 1960's, thanks to the giant signal of WLS covering 40 of the original 48 states, Dick Biondi was the nation's #1 disc jockey, with a pulse rating averaging a 60 share of the national audience. He was an original, with his own style that few even tried to copy. During this time, Biondi wrote and recorded the novelty "On Top Of A Pizza" song which sold over 11,000 copies!

Dick left WLS in 1963 and traveled to Southern California, where he became involved in the music business, introducing The Beatles at Hollywood Bowl and the Rolling Stones at Long Beach Arena. Biondi eventually took his show on the road with the Dick Biondi Road Show, introducing various artists and bands to local high schools in Southern California, such as Bobby Sherman, The Knickerbockers and many more!

Dick came back to the Midwest in August 1984 and introduced a new Oldies station to Chicagoans - Magic 104, MAGIC 104.3 WJMK. Biondi says, “Chicago is my favorite city because the most loyal people in the world live here.” Now Biondi is back on the air where he belongs at 94.7 FM, Chicago’s True Oldies Channel!
Dick is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Radio Hall of Fame.

Click here to e-mail Dick Biondi

SIDE ONE (19:42) Dick Biondi Theme You Talk Too Much - Joe Jones (2:30) St. Mary's Record Hop Plug Tears On My Pillow - Little Anthony & The Imperials (2:05) WKBW Big Weather Baby, You Got What It Takes - Brook Benton & Dinah Washington (2:42) Wardynski Sausage Commercial What In The World's Come Over You - Jack Scott (2:39) Biondi's Pick of the Week: Finger Poppin' Time -- Hank Ballard & The Midnighters (2:30) Budweiser® commercial See You In September - The Tempos (2:01) WKBW station ID SIDE TWO (22:33) Alley Oop - The Hollywood Argyles (2:55) Gillette Commercial and Jingle Stay - Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (1:37) Genessee Beer Commercial Running Bear - Johnny Preston (2:33) Elvis Presley Bit The Big Hurt - Toni Fisher (2:09) L & M Commercial Because They're Young - Duane Eddy (1:59) Norwich High Record Hop "Thank You" Fannie Mae - Buster Brown (2:48)

It's 1960 and the CRUISIN' series goes to WKBW in Buffalo, New York, where Dick Biondi exercised one of the most powerful sets of lungs in pop radio. Good old screaming Dick Biondi - "the wild Eye-tralian, the supersonic spaghetti slurper" (his own description), a man who could read at random from the real estate classifieds and make it sound like headlines for Armageddon. He went to Memphis and picked leaves from Elvis Presley's lawn, awarding them to his listeners. On holidays the "Big Noise from Buffalo" devoted three hour to telephone greetings from the top recording stars. Daily he joked with his radio pals and hollered at his listeners. He read commercials in a high-pitched shriek, dedicated songs to everybody's certain someone in a breathless, lurching wail that traveled seventeen Eastern states. (Mail came from as far away as Havana and Greenland.) And he ate peanut butter and sauerkraut pizzas on the air and told knock-knock jokes so corny they made you suffer. Almost half of the Buffalo audience was his. It was listen to Biondi, or else.

In a way it was as if Biondi were trying to pump some enthusiasm and excitement into a scene that was sagging pitifully. In 1960 the Congressional payola probe continued; in Philadelphia alone twenty-eight disc jockeys were canned. Rock also lost two more of its early stars, as one auto crash took Eddie Cochran in England (hospitalizing Gene Vincent) and another took Johnny Horton as he was en route to a show in Nashville. Even in the music there was death, as Ray Peterson sang about a stock car driver who entered a race to win money for a wedding ring, crashed and sang as his final words: Tell Laura I Love Her. (Of course dozens followed right along, recording saccharine smash hits of their own.) Rock and roll's demise, like that of Mark Twain's, had been greatly exaggerated - music with a beat still dominated sixty per cent of the Top 40 - but more than Biondi's screech was needed to bring things back to an exciting peak.

Not all was gloom and doom, certainly. Elvis was back, after all - appearing in a film about an Army tank sergeant (natch!) called "G.I. Blues" and warbling just like the good old days. Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson and several others of real talent had hits.

Historically the scene was equally mixed. (As usual.) The French joined the nuclear power club by exploding an A-bomb in the Sahara. Francis Gary Powers and his U-2 reconnaissance plane went down in the Soviet Union. (President Eisenhower got caught in a lie when he said he didn't know anything about the U-2s.) Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina. Cuba began confisticating American-owned factories on the island. After spending twelve years on Death Row, Caryl Chessman was executed. The first sit-in was held in a Woolworth's in North Carolina. And John Kennedy was elected President.

Other events of the year (some headlined, some unrecognized publicly):Pittsburgh took the World Series from the Yankees...George Martin (who'd later produce records for the Beatles) was named to EMI's artist and repertoire staff...Allen Drury's "Advise and Consent" was given a Pulitzer Prize..."The Apartment" (starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray) got the Oscar for best picture...and Bob Dylan was a freshman named Robert Zimmerman at the University of Minnesota.

You Talk Too Much by Joe Jones was an unusual record hit. It didn't really say anything more than was in the title, it had a slurpy saxophone sound from the Fifties, and it was musically as well as lyrically repititious. But the singer's voice (he also wrote the song) gave it a unique sound. And it was a time when simplicity was a virtue. It sold in the millions.

Another million-seller - an oldie from 1958 - was Tears On My Pillow, a song featuring Little Anthony's reedy voice talking/singing a plaintive tale about a guy who'd be willing to try again if only his girl would come back to him.

Baby, You Got What It Takes was the popular result of pairing two of the finest vocalists of the period, one from rhythm and blues (Brook Benton), the other from jazz (Dinah Washington). Blending successful solo voices wasn't a new idea, and it wasn't a bad one, either.

Jack Scott was eighteen when he made his bandleading debut in Detroit, twenty-two when he began writing songs for a friend in jail. What In The World's Come Over You was one result of that inspiration.

Hank Ballard had two hits in '60. One, he had as a writer, having composed The Twist, which was a Number One song for Chubby Checker (although the dance didn't reach craze proportion until two years later when it was Number One again). The other he sang with his band, the Midnighters. This was Finger Poppin' Time, an exciting fast shuffle. Ballard had been one of the real pioneers in rock, responsible for many of its R&B antecedents, such as Work With Me Annie and Annie Had a Baby.

Because the record buying audience averaged out at something between puberty and trigonometry, many of the most popular songs were about school or summer vacations. See You In September by the Tempos was about both.

The novelty song has been a staple in popular music far longer than the song about school. Each year there are about half a dozen that work their way up the charts and in 1960 one of them was Alley Oop, named for the comic strip caveman, written by Dallas Frazier (normally a country composer) and sung by the Hollywood Argyles.

Here is the (typical) history of a group. In 1955 Maurice Williams, Henry Gasten, Willie Bennet and Charles Thomas won a talent contest at Barr High School in their hometown, Lancaster, S.C. They called themselves the Charms. By the time they got to Nashville in 1957 they were calling themselves the Gladiolas and they recorded a song that Williams wrote, Little Darlin'. It was a hit, but not for them. (For the Diamonds, a jazz group that had recorded it for laughs. That's irony for you.) Next they called themselves the Excellos, and, finally, the Zodiacs. Also, finally, they had a hit: Stay, another song Williams wrote. And it was their last hit.

Now here's the odd story of a song, Running Bear, which had an Indian brave with that name leaping into angry rapids to swim to his Little White Dove, who jumped into the boiling river from the opposite side to swim to him, and they drowned together. (Typical 1960 fare: long on sloppy sentiment, short on believability.) It was inspired by a Dove soap commercial and was written by J. P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper, one of the rock originals who was to die in a plane crash shortly after Running Bear was recorded. You can hear him on the record, contributing some of the "oo-gahs." The artist singing lead, by the way, was JohnnyPreston.

Toni Fisher's hit, The Big Hurt, probably was the first record to use "phasing," an electronic process that sounded like the wind blowing through an aluminum Christmas tree. It's theme of lost love was not new.

Duane Eddy, the man who invented the "twangy" guitar was introduced on an earlier volume of the CRUISIN' series, when he played his first million-seller, Rebel Rouser. His second gold record came for Because They're Young, which was the title of Eddy's first film. Like his earlier song, it was one of the year's few instrumental hits.

Fannie Mae was another of the girls who appeared in the songs of R&B and like most of the others, she was causing some cat some misery. His name was Buster Brown and he wanted her to come home, and at least tell him what was wrong with him. A bluesy rocker, with harmonica, an instrument not often heard on 1960's hit parade.
- Jerry Hopkins

CRUISIN' THE FIFTIES & SIXTIES: A History of Rock and Roll Radio. Conceived and recreated by: Ron Jacobs/Production and Research: Ellen Johnson and Jere Alan Brian/Engineering: John Horton/Art Direction: Paul Gruwell/Cover Art: Mike Royer/All selections are the original performances as released on the following labels: Alco: The Hollywood Argyles/Climax: The Tempos/End: Little Anthony and the Imperials/Fury: Buster Brown/Herald-Ember: Maurice Williams/Jamie: Duane Eddy/King: Hank Ballard & the Midnighters/Mercury: Brook Benton & Dinah Washington, Johnny Preston/Roulette: Joe Jones/Signet: Miss Toni Fisher/Top rank International: Jack Scott/Special thanks to: Peter C. Newell, WKBW Radio. Produced by Increase Records, a division of Watermark, Inc., Los Angeles, California. © 1970 Increase Records.

The unofficial tribute website to WKBW is here:
Thanks to the "J-man", Jason Colflesh, for this information.

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