In this special blog we pay tribute to Dan Ingram. Dan was the top rated American top 40 DJ for almost 22 years on 77 WABC NY. In this excerpt from Richard Factor’s blog, we hear about what it was like to work as Dan’s engineer in the halcyon days of radio.
Dan Ingram woke me up the other day…
I was listening to WABC-AM when he introduced the Seekers record I Will Never Find Another You by saying it was about a Scrabble player trying to spell the word “uvula.” I was just dozing at home when I heard his intro and had a major Ingram chuckle.
That “other day” was in 1968, almost exactly fifty years ago. That specific chuckle, along with laughs, guffaws, chortles, gasps and the occasional bout of wide-eyed astonishment, wasn’t my first nor my last. Dan Ingram’s radio show was a mighty magic amalgamation of myriad marvels merged in majestic magnificence, with mirth, merriment and melody.
Sadly, Dan Ingram won’t be waking me up any more. He died a few days ago at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the age of 83.
I’ve heard it said that Dan Ingram was the best DJ of his era, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the best DJ ever. I’ve not only heard it said by others, I’ve said it myself. Many times. Maybe I’m biased, though. It was my privilege to have worked with Dan as his “engineer” in the halcyon days of radio, when WABC was the biggest station in the world. My tenure was as a “vacation relief” engineer in the summers of 1964 and 1965, and then as a full-time employee until sometime in 1968. Of the many hundreds of broadcast engineers who worked for the American Broadcasting Company, I, an FCC-licensed but inexperienced kid of 20ish, somehow found myself across the board from Dan and the rest of that crowd: Cousin Brucie, Bob Dayton, Herb Oscar Anderson, Bob Lewis, Ron Lundy, Chuck Leonard, Roby Yonge and Charlie Greer.
Big Dan Ingram and I were very similar in one respect. We’re both big. About the same height and weight at the time. But Dan had the microphone, and all I did was push the buttons at his cue. He developed what I hope was an affectionate nickname for me: The Evil Ox. […] Dan used it on the air often enough that listeners grew familiar with it.
The Heen and the Hern were real, but they were just gadgets. Dan’s genius turned them into characters.
Dan came from a musical family, and was very well attuned to pitch as well as timing. He was noted for detecting a tiny pitch change in a record as the generators wound down during the great Northeast Blackout of 1965. Far more entertaining was a prank I played on him on April Fools day, (probably) 1975. We had just started making a product that could change the pitch of live material, and I took a little trip up to visit my buddies at WABC. “May I connect this, please?” Starting with a tiny pitch change on his voice fed into his earphones, I continued to drunken-sailor territory. Needless to say Dan handled it with aplomb and humor, and neither I nor my new product suffered the physical abuse to which we were arguably entitled.
Of course Dan was a bit of a prankster himself, usually at the expense of the poor guy reading the news on the hour. The “brief showers” story is legendary.
Here’s Richard’s complete blog post and remembrance about his work with WABC’s Dan Ingram; for more on his early days in radio and with Eventide, check out Gear Club podcast Episodes 6 and Episode 7.
Richard’s blog: http://www.priups.com/riklblog