NY Daily News — David Hinckley item on Bob Jones, published Jan 1, 2013
New York Times item on Bob Jones,
published Jan 6, 2013
WNEW1130.com – Dec. 31, 2013
In Honor of Marty Wilson
In Memory of Bob Jones
The story below about Marty Wilson’s turn as the Matinee Milkman, was due to be posted on this site next Sunday, January 6, 2013. But the publication date has been advanced because the piece contains references to Bob Jones when he hosted the “Ballroom,” and “Matinee” and for a few years shared the Matinee marque with Marty in the early 80’s. Bob died yesterday, Sunday, Deccember 30. See the “Bob Jones Passes” post directly below this one and the “Comments” note Marty sent about their years of friendship.
Recognizing, as the 1970’s drew near to closing, that it had been on a failed mission trying to appeal to all listeners of all ages and all tastes in popular music, WNEW sought to restore itself as the great conservator of the Great American Song Book.
In 1979, George Duncan, head of Metromedia’s Radio Division, appointed Jack Thayer as General Manager. Thayer had joined WNEW in sales in 1959. By 1974 he was President of NBC Radio. Now returned, Thayer’s task was to reverse WNEW’s ratings, revenue and reputation decline, and to make the diminished Big “W” big again.
Thayer revived the “Make Believe Ballroom” (the progrsm title and theme music had been retired in 1972) on October 6, 1979, with William B. Williams hosting the morning edition and Bob Jones presiding over the evening version. The “Milkman’s Matinee” was put on the schedule seven overnights a week with Al ‘Jazzbeaux’ Collins hosting five of them. Ted Brown was on in the morning. Other shows were hosted by Marty O’Hara, Jonathan Schwartz, Ray Otis, Bob Haymes and Jim Lowe, who would become Program Director in 1982. It was early in this retro revamp that Marty Wilson came along. Here, below, is a note he sent when we asked Marty to tell us more about the time he became part of the Milkman’s DNA.
“I think I did my first weekend Matinee in the Spring of 1980. I was on a week- to-week basis through the end of May. Then it was ‘It’s yours unless we tell you otherwise.’ ‘Jazzbeaux’ was the weeknight Milkman at the time. Toward the end of June he went on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was filling in doing the show 7 days a week.”
When the world should all be sleepin’
Then the melody comes creepin’
Till you want to sway
It’s the milkman’s matinee
“By the middle of July, ‘Jazzbeaux’ left WNEW and I was offered the position of Milkman working Mon-Fri nights (technically Tues – Sat). That lasted until GM Jack Thayer left Metromedia. (editor’s note: Jack Thayer, in 1985, joined Gear Broadcasting as COO and Exec. VP) Shift changes were made. Bob Jones was back as the Milkman, and I was back as the Weekend Milkman, Sunday and Monday nights. I was also given the Saturday 6-10 AM shift as well as “Jukebox Saturday Night” from 7-Midnight.”
If you hear a band a-swingin’
And you hear somebody singin’
It’s no cabaret
It’s the Milkman’s Matinee
“On “Jukebox Saturday Night” I introduced a request format where I recorded telephone requests from listeners and played back the phone calls and played the records they asked for. During that time Bob Jones left the station. There was also a brief period of time when Gene Klaven returned to do Saturday Mornings from 8-12 and I worked Friday night from 2-8.”
That’s the time the sandman hasn’t got a chance
Although, baby it’s late
Cupid looks around for new romance
While the milkman syncopates.
“That lasted until 1987 when I left for good. I will say this, Jack Thayer presided over a time when the station was in a new age of popularity. After the era of “Chicken Rock,” Jack “put it back the way it was.” There were people who said that the music was for old and dead people, but I always countered with, “How many 400-year old people are lining up to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre? Classics are classics.”
It’s a shame that in the #1 radio market in the country, you can’t hear Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra on the radio.”
Cast away your cares till dawnin’
Every thing’s Grade A
The Modernaires are singin’
And Les Brown’s swingin’
At the Milkman’s
The Milkman’s Matinee
But, it became darker with the dawnin.’ In the mid 80’s, Metromedia Chairman, John Kluge, started selling his radio and television stations. WNEW-TV became WNYW-TV flagship station for Rupert Murdock’s Fox Television Network. WNEW-AM was bought and sold a couple of times, and in 1992 became WBBR, home for Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Business News.
Came the time the milkman didn’t have a chance
Oh woe, it was too late