Category Archives: wwdb

RIP Irv Homer

Legendary Philadelphia radio talk show host Irv Homer passed away last night after suffering a heart attack while speaking at Eastern University. He went out in a way I’m sure he would have liked – talking to the people who loved him.

As someone who became addicted to talk radio as a teenager in the 1970s, Philadelphia’s Talk Station WWDB 96.5 FM was the place to be and Irv Homer was the voice, and in many cases, the voice of reason. In an industry today where talk show hosts are either to the far left or the far right, Irv was dead center, and in many cases he shot holes in both sides with logic and common sense.

Before, after and even during the golden WWDB years Irv talked at other places on the dial, always on the air and always fighting the good fight, teaching us all to think for ourselves, read between the lines and be critical of the status quo. He warned constantly of becoming one of the sheeple and told us all to be critical thinkers.

We have lost a crusader, a defender, a friend, and a father – not just a radio legend. I offer condolences to his family and friends everywhere. Irv will be greatly missed, and radio will not be the same again.

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Radio Pioneer Frank Ford Dies at 92

Frank Ford passed away today from complications from stroke. Frank Ford was one of the innovators in talk radio, and radio in general, having been in the business since 1937.

The ‘father of talk radio in Philadelphia’ was also an owner of the Valley Forge Music Fair, as well as Auto Sport Importers. In his radio career he worked at WIP, WCAU, WHAT, WPEN, WFLN, WDVT, but is most known for his time with Philadelphia’s most beloved and most missed talk station, WWDB-FM.

Ford retired from talk radio in 2000 when WWDB changed its format to music. Talk radio hasn’t been the same since. He was 92 and is survived by his wife, Lynne Abraham, District Attorney of the city of Philadelphia. We have truly lost one of the legends of radio. He’ll be missed.

The Rock Is Back

The rock is back.

Um, yeah.

*yawn*

Just in time. ‘Cause I just got XM Radio for my birthday.

At 5 PM today WYSP 94 FM in Philadelphia changed its format. Again. Now we’re back to rock, progressive hard rock from all indications, and away from talk as it had been for a few months. Two hours into the the Kidd Chris Show, with guests Opie & Anthony in town for a special event, the format changed. The first three songs played were “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Back in Black” by AC/DC and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana as if to strengthen the point. Most notably, Kidd Chris did not come back to finish his show.

Now I’m a talk radio fan just as much as I’m a radio fan. I love music and I love radio.

I was the kid in high school who carried a boombox with me everywhere. I was the kid who knew all the new music, sometimes before the radio played it. I knew and listened to every station on the dial FM and AM. I bought everything and made mix-tapes on an almost daily basis. In college I embarked on dual careers in radio and in music journalism. I have several thousands of songs on my iTunes and reload my iPod almost daily. Nothing makes me happier than my music. So another decent music station in the normally dead zone of Philadelphia radio is a good thing, right?

Maybe.

As I said I’m also a talk radio fan. I’ve been one since the mid-1970s listening to Larry King and then WWDB-FM with their all-talk format. I know talk show hosts as well as I know music. I have as many fond memories of Irv Homer and Richard Hayes as I do of Kate Bush and David Bowie. Over the years, talk radio flourished and changed, mostly in part to the wildly successful efforts of Howard Stern, along with his imitators and innovators. Stern at WYSP soon led to Opie & Anthony coming there as well. My tastes soon followed, more in line with O&A than Stern.

When Stern left for Sirius satellite radio, some said that was the end of terrestrial radio. Having listened to David Lee Roth, who replaced Howard here in Philly, I would tend to agree. Fortunately O&A returned to replace Roth, and suddenly I didn’t miss Stern all that much anymore, if at all.

The part that excited me was that along with the return of O&A, WYSP seemed to be making a stand as a talk station. The Barsky Show that followed O&A was certainly better than the immature tripe going on over at NJ 101.5 FM and had a fun quality to it, always enjoyable to have on. Even Matt & Huggy had an endearing quality. My real faves though had to be Loveline and John and Jeff shows that covered overnights.

I love Loveline, not just for the information given or the entertainment value of the hosts and guests, but for the callers. Callers to these types of shows are demented. The same appeal holds for me with both Drs. Joy and laura, neither host do I like, but their callers provide me with hours of entertainment. I’ll also miss John and Jeff who were an intriguing second choice when Coast to Coast AM had an uninteresting topic that night.

Of course all of this is a shame. I highly doubt WYSP’s new rock format will be enough to regain the ratings edge they may have lost, and no matter how good the music is, it won’t anywhere near as interesting as any talk program could be. I wish them luck, because other than listening to an Eagles game in the car I probably won’t be listening to WYSP again in the near future.

As I said, I recent got XM satellite radio. With that I can listen to Opie and Anthony (as well as full broadcasts of Coast to Coast – damn you 1210 AM) so I don’t see much use any longer in WYSP. And besides, there’s so much programming I’d rather listen to on the XM, I don’t need many terrestrial stations that much anymore.

Shame. Good luck, WYSP.

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