Dan Ingram: The Passing of a Legend

Dan Ingram

The voice of legendary disc jokey Dan Ingram was forever stilled on June 24, 2018. Yet his legacy will continue to live on not only through his heirs, but through the many airchecks and videos that survive from his glory days during the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s at powerhouse station 77 WABC AM, and his dozen-year stint at WCBS-FM from the 1991 to 2003 (as well as other “guest” appearances before retiring permanently from the airwaves in 2007).

What can one say about someone like Dan Ingram? Words are the tool of a writer’s trade, yet words fail me when trying to describe the man known variously as the Thinking Man’s Deejay, the Greatest Top Forty Deejay of All Time, and the Deejay’s Deejay (just to name a few of the honors bestowed upon him). Big Dan, as he was also known, was so many things to so many people—a husband and father, a friend and colleague, a public figure whose work was very well known even to people who were unaware of the name and face behind the voice. It’s not an exaggeration to say he was idolized. He worked at several different radio stations during his storied career, but to millions of people who grew up in the New York/New Jersey metro area during the ’60s and ’70s, he will forever be remembered for his radio show on WABC-AM, which he would often refer to as “the Ingram Mess,” “the Ingram Flingram,” or “the Ingram Travesty.”

Daniel Trombley Ingram was born on September 7, 1934 in Oceanside, New York, to musician parents. He began broadcast work while in his late teens and was heard on several radio stations, including WIL in St. Louis, Missouri, before landing what would arguably be his best-known gig: Afternoons* on New York’s WABC, where he remained until the station switched to a “talk” format on May 10, 1982. Twenty-one years is a long time to be doing anything, and for the entirety of his tenure at the 50,000-watt station—which at night could be heard in at least 38 of the 50 U.S. states—Big Dan managed to make every day, every show, fresh and new by combining routine elements such as the “Ingramisms” he would become known for (like “Kemosabe,” his affectionate salutation for fans, friends and listeners; and “jeg elsker deg” — Norwegian for “I love you”—a phrase with which he frequently ended his shows) with totally unplanned, unrehearsed jokes, wisecracks, and one-liners. His ability to “talk up” the intro to a song, his words perfectly timed to end just as the vocals of the song began, was awe-inspiring.

Dan’s passing at the age of 83 shouldn’t have come as a shock. After all, he was getting on in years and by many accounts had been suffering from ill health for a long time. Yet it was a shock, as it often is whenever someone larger than life, who seems to just keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny regardless of any health issues, departs our planet. After all, Dan outlived many of his WABC contemporaries, including Ron Lundy (his best friend and another former WIL alum), Chuck Leonard, Charlie Greer, Bob Lewis, George Michael, and Herb Oscar Anderson (who left us in 2017) just to name a few. But in a very real sense, the passing of Big Dan Ingram was, not to overuse the phrase, the end of an era. Paraphrasing something that Allan Sniffen, proprietor of the excellent Musicradio WABC tribute site and Rewound Radio, said during his live-and-now-archived tribute to Mr. Ingram on June 26, it wasn’t as if there was any chance Dan would be returning to radio even on a part-time basis. That ship had sailed a long time ago. Yet just knowing he was still here among the living, that he was still breathing the same air as us, was comforting. That this is no longer the case is little short of devastating.

Just as there will never be another phenomenon like The Beatles in our lifetime, so there will never be another Dan Ingram. May he rest in peace.

*except for a brief period doing the morning-drive show


Keep scrolling for more content, including relevant tweets, Facebook posts, audio/video of select airchecks and commercials (one of Big Dan’s best-known “side gigs” was that of a voice-over artist), and additional online writeups.


See also:

Dan Ingram page on Wikipedia

WABC Musicradio 77 Tribute Site and Rewound Radio (Allan Sniffen)


For a great read, check out Chris Ingram’s book about his father, Hey Kemosabe: The Days (And Nights) of a Radio Idyll. (Click on the image below to go to the Amazon product page.)

 


Tweets:

On the Web:

Dan Ingram, Irreverent Disc Jockey, is Dead at 83 (New York Times)

Famed Radio DJ Dan Ingram Dead at 83 After Choking on Piece of Steak Amid Parkinson’s Battle (People)

Powerhouse Disc Jockey Dan Ingram Dies at 83 (NPR)

Dan Ingram Dead … Voice of New York Radio (Newsday)

Commercials and Airchecks:

Dan Ingram on WABC-AM, June 12, 1964 (from this page on the fantastic WABC Musicradio 77 tribute site, a destination highly recommended for its wealth of airchecks, photos, and reminiscences)

The following is a perfect example of Dan Ingram’s ability to think on his feet: A portion of his broadcast from the afternoon of November 9, 1965, when unbeknownst to him a major blackout was about to hit most of Northeast America; and the start of his show the next day (November 10)

A typical ending to Dan Ingram’s show, featuring his closing theme, an edit from Billy May’s “Tri Fi Drums”

Dan Ingram on WABC-AM, July 4, 1968 – from the Audiomack uploads of Mark Yurko (who’s shared a bunch of gems on his page from WABC among other stations!)

The last cigarette commercial Dan Ingram ever did

Dan in the flesh! A couple of miscellaneous videos

Facebook Tributes:

Daniel Trombley Ingram
September 7, 1934 – June 24, 2018

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Herb Oscar Anderson: Farewell to the Morning Mayor of NYC

Sad news for fans of 1960s New York radio—the legendary Herb Oscar Anderson has passed away, according to a post by his son, actor John James, on Herb’s Facebook page. HOA, as he was known to all of his friends and listeners, was 88 years old.

Herb Oscar Anderson was born on May 30, 1928 in South Beloit, Illinois. His mother (both of HOA’s parents were Swedish) spoke very little English, and when his father passed away, young Herb was sent to the Odd Fellows Orphan’s Home in Lincoln, IL. He eventually relocated to Wisconsin, and found his calling during his teen years while reporting on high-school sports. HOA wrote for the Jamesville (WI) Daily Gazette, whose parent company also owned radio station WCLO. He applied for work at the station once it dawned on him that it took the on-air personality some two minutes and change to read copy that he, Herb, had taken four hours to compile (and which would end up in the circular file at the end of its extremely brief lifespan). Deciding that devoting two minutes to a topic was better than four hours, HOA promptly switched careers and never looked back.

After working at various radio stations including WROK (Rockford, IL), WBBO (Orlando, Florida), and WBBM (Chicago, IL),  Herb was hired at WABC in New York. He hosted a show on the ABC network and sang live with a band, but eventually left the station. Almost immediately, Herb was snatched up by WMCA, also in New York, where he remained until 1960 when he returned to WABC just in time for its switch to a Top-40 format. Herb left WABC in 1968.

Herb resided on a farm in Hoosick Falls, New York, where he stayed during the warm-weather months; in the winter, Herb and his wife, Terry, lived in the Vero Beach area of Florida. During the last several years of his life, HOA hosted a weekly one-hour show called “Conversations” on radio station WOSN-FM, and kept in touch with friends and fans via his page on Facebook. In 2013, the late Tom Pierce shot a video of Herb as the latter was recording a segment for one of his shows; every couple of months or so, HOA would re-share the video to his own Timeline so that it would remain on top for all to see—and hear.

Herb Oscar Anderson passed away on Sunday, January 29, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Terry, two sons, and a daughter.

***

In addition to his informal title of Morning Mayor of New York, Herb was also known as the Singing Disc Jockey. His longtime theme song was this Lawrence Welk-influenced ditty, “Hello Again” (audio only):

Herb also famously re-imagined Bert Kaempfert’s buoyant “That Happy Feeling” with original lyrics (audio only):

Edit (1 February 2017)—Herb Oscar Anderson tribute video by Art Vuolo:

Additional sources for this writeup:

Profile of Herb Oscar Anderson by Scott Benjamin (on musicradio77.com)

Audio interview with Herb Oscar Anderson by Ronnie Allen (on jerseygirlssing.com)

Happy 80th Birthday, Dan Ingram!

Dan Ingram, Musicradio WABC

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

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Herb Oscar Anderson: On the Air at WOSN FM

Legendary radio jock Herb Oscar Anderson, who was the morning deejay at Musicradio WABC (770 AM) in New York City from 1960 to 1968, continues to serve up some wonderful music at his current station in Vero Beach, FL. HOA can be heard every Saturday from 2:00 – 3:00 PM on WOSN, 97.1 FM. Although the station doesn’t stream over the Net, Herb’s shows are archived on the site every week.

Herb Oscar’s radio programs are very entertaining and well formatted. He starts off each week’s show by singing his theme song, “Hello Again,” live with prerecorded music; and during the show he will sing another song or two, quite often a tune from the Big Band era. He presents songs from multiple eras and genres, mainly from the 1960s and ’70s, the recordings many of us grew up with, and quite a few of which he’d presented during his tenure at 77 WABC. You never know what you’ll hear during HOA’s broadcast; his shows are always full of pleasant surprises.

To read more about Herb, and to listen to and/or download Herb’s Saturday shows, please visit this page:

97.1 Ocean: WOSN FM.