Happy 80th birthday to the greatest Top 40 deejay of all time, Mr. Dan Ingram! Actually, to call Dan Ingram a “deejay” is to greatly oversimplify things—he was (and is) so much, much more than that. Funny, witty, with such a fast, clever mind—and an extremely commercial-sounding voice, which he used to great advantage over the years, providing voiceovers for countless TV and radio ads. An ability to talk up each record right up to the point where the artists began singing, as well as the ability to deal with broken “carts” and unexpected dead air (and, on at least one occasion, a major blackout!). AND, most important to me personally, an ability to make listeners double over with laughter at his jokes and ad-libs. To this day, listening to Dan’s old airchecks from 77 WABC (which I do quite often), I frequently end up crying from laughing so hard! Big Dan, a very happy birthday to you and many more. You have brought so much joy and happiness to my life, and although I wasn’t what could be called a battered child, you did cheer me up many many times when things at home were not so great. You’ve lifted so many of us up, made us smile, made us laugh, and inspired countless folks to go into radio. You’re my absolute favorite radio personality, then, now and always. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents and brilliant mind with the world … and thank you for being you. Many happy returns, Kemosabe.
A partial Dan Ingram timeline (courtesy Wikipedia):
- 1958 — WICC, Bridgeport, Connecticut (under the name Rae Tayler)
1958 — WNHC, New Haven, Connecticut
1959 — KBOX, Dallas
1960 — WIL, St. Louis
July 3, 1961 — May 10, 1982 WABC, New York City
April 1984 — December 1986 Hosted CBS Radio’s “Top 40 Satellite Survey”
1984–June 1985 — WKTU-FM, New York City
October 1991–June 2003 — WCBS-FM, New York City
For a more comprehensive history of Dan Ingram’s radio career, the best single source on the web is Allan Sniffen’s fantastic website, Musicradio 77 WABC, which contains a wealth of airchecks and interviews. A great place to start is the WABC Airchecks page. For a great example of Dan’s wit, scroll down to 1965 (airchecks are in chronological order, by year) and listen to the audio file that features Dan’s intro and outro to Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” which is pure genius but so typically Dan. Another wonderful page to check out is the Interviews section, which has a bunch of, well, interviews with Dan (among others) through the years; the one with Allan Handelman of WQDR in Raleigh, North Carolina, from November of 1982, is particularly noteworthy as featured within the interview is a treasure trove of airchecks from as early as 1954(!), including some belly-laugh-inducing commercials that Dan read live on the air on 77 WABC; listen to his creativity with those for Bohack Supermarkets and Marcal Paper Products! And there’s a page called The Evolution of MusicRadio WABC which features airchecks solely by Dan Ingram, from his first year with the station, 1961, to 1982 when 77 WABC switched its format to talk radio.
—> EDIT (9/7/16): What better time than Big Dan’s 82nd birthday to include this link to Allan Sniffen’s fantastic tribute to Dan, The Life and Times of Dan Ingram: In His Own Words. This wonderful six-hour retrospective originally aired on Rewound Radio on July 2, 2016. Extremely well conceived and edited, a fun history lesson disguised as entertainment (or vice versa), this show is a must-listen! <—
A few samples of the genius of Dan Ingram:
Aircheck from the summer of 1969 (so pristine it appears to have been recorded from the FM simulcast), on Airchexx.com. Great example of Dan at his best!
Castro Convertible commercial (audio), with which Dan sings along (sort of) and goofs around a bit, but then reads the copy with his usual professional aplomb
Dan Ingram’s closing theme, which is actually an edit from “Tri-Fi Drums” by the Billy May Orchestra. (From the Musicradio 77 WABC website.)
Hawaiian Punch ad (audio only), featuring one of Dan Ingram’s many commercial voiceovers
The Northeast Blackout (audio from November 9, 1965)—like most of the rest of the northeastern United States, Dan had no idea what was happening when the lights began dimming and his music, jingles and prerecorded commercials began slowing down, but listen to how he gets through it until the station completely lost power during the news broadcast, then his professionalism the next day after everything had been restored to normal