RHODE ISLAND RADIO LEGENDS HONORED
RI Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2012. The 5th annual class of inductees honored
Smithfield, RI – In dog years, we’d be turning 35. But in reality, the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame will celebrate its fifth year of existence with another superlative Class for 2012, as the radio industry hits the age of 90 in Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame was established in 2008, celebrating ten decades of history within the radio broadcast industry in Rhode Island, and honoring the men and women who have played a part in its growth. On-air personalities, station management, off-air contributors and technicians alike have all contributed greatly to our airwaves since 1922, and the notable names inducted over the past four years have included such veteran performers as Salty Brine, Sherm Strickhouser, Don Pardo, Charlie Jefferds, Gene and Gary DeGraide, Geoff Charles and Mary Ann Sorrentino – just to name a few.
The Class of 2012 has been voted upon by the RIRHOF’s Board of Directors, comprised of active and former members of the media in Rhode Island, as well as current Hall of Fame members and Associate Members of the RIRHOF. We are pleased to announce our newest inductees:
Tony Bristol – After seeing local DJ (and fellow HOF’er) Mike Sands work at his junior high school dance, North Providence native Anthony Pescarino, a.k.a. Tony Bristol, became obsessed with becoming a DJ. He filed records for Mighty Mike Osborne and carried huge speakers and milk crates full of albums with HOF’er Giovanni & Big John Bina as they provided music for high school dances all over the area. Bina was also responsible for ridding Anthony of his Rhode Island accent. “Tony Bristol” was given his radio name by Gary Berkowitz, who thought he sounded like a local kid and should have a local sounding name. Tony has been a weekend regular, overnight jock, mid-day jock, afternoon jock, music director then Program Director at WPRO-FM for 33 years, and also serves as Program Director for WWLI-FM, Lite Rock 105.
King Arthur Knight – The “King” began his 40 year reign as a member of radio royalty in 1958 in Akron, OH, moving to accept a position as Program Director and afternoon drive DJ at WICE in Providence in 1962. From huge ratings success at WICE, King spent time at Top-40 powerhouse WMEX in Boston as a night jock, but returned to WICE in 1978. It was there he worked with Hall-of-Famer Sherm Strickhouser, and in 1982 he moved to WPRO to work with Hall-of-Famers Salty Brine, Larry Kruger and Bud Toevs. Knight retired from WPRO in 1989, and currently resides in Cranston.
Bob LaChance – a Rhode Islander through and through, LaChance was born in RI, raised in RI, and he passed away in RI in 2000. Blessed with a wonderful tenor voice, he began his career on WHIM as the “Mystery Tenor.” For the years leading into the early 50’s he continued to sing over records during his daytime show – but his family was growing and he needed to supplement his meager broadcasting salary, so he sang nights and weekends at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, Crescent Park, Lincoln Park and half a dozen other venues of the day. In the 1960’s and into the mid 70’s he reluctantly left the microphone for a desk, where he served in sales and managerial roles for Capital Cities (WPRO and WPRO FM) – and later as general manager for WGNG. In 1972, he and his son Rob formed R.J. LACHANCE ADVERTISING – and of course – specialized in broadcast advertising. In 1979 he was named “Advertising Man of the Year” by the Rhode Island Advertising Club.
John Manzi (a.k.a. Big Ange) – Big Ange started his radio career at WLOV, as Jack Andrews, licensed to Cranston, RI around 1960. It was an FM signal, and had the FCC not shut it down for a myriad of violations, could have been a really big gun. But it was too early and there were too few FM radios. So the reasons for the shut down were filed away in the archives of the FCC, never to be brought up again. After short spells at WYNG (now WARV), WNBH and WPRO, Ange (as Andy Jackson) developed his “BIG” personality at WJAR and WKRI. But he is most remembered for his years at WPRO up to and after 1973. He once described himself as “the Cadillac of WPRO radio.” Ange stayed in the business with part-time work at WPRO and WPRV until 2010.
Jim Norman – Jim spent 34 years as the play-by-play voice of the University of Rhode Island football and basketball teams through the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and into the decade of the 90’s. During that time, Jim also served as the Sports Information Director at URI. When he retired, Jim was one of the last in the country to play that dual role. Jim never missed a single game in his 34 years behind the microphone, broadcasting 1286 consecutive games for the URI Rams. Upon his induction into The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame, Jim will have his name in five Halls of Fame, currently enshrined in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, The Words Unlimited Hall of Fame, The Providence Gridiron Hall of Fame and The University of Rhode Island Athletic Hall of Fame. In the 1990’s, Jim was selected by the Providence Journal as one of the Top 40 most influential people in Rhode Island sports over the past 40 years.
Brad Pierce – Pierce began his broadcasting career in 1969 as host of his own afternoon show on WARV while a junior at Cranston High School West. Upon graduation in 1971, WJAR Program Director Brian Wallin chose Brad to work with future RI Radio Hall of Famers Gene DeGraide, Jim Mendes and Chris Clark. Later that year, Brad morphed into Shadow Morgan - the newest Good Guy at WICE. When King Arthur Knight left for WMEX in Boston, Shadow was promoted from overnights to evenings at the Mighty 1290. Brad’s stint as On-Air/Program Director at WGNG from 1973-76 yielded unprecedented ratings success for the station and forced a format change at former Top 40 powerhouse, WICE. From 1976-85, the Cranston native anchored afternoons at JB-105, followed by time spent at 92-Pro-FM before moving to Los Angeles, CA in 1987, where he continues his work for the Dial Global Network.
Dave Richards – Dave came to WWON in Woonsocket (now WOON) in 1971 at age 16 and found a home, spending 34 of the ensuing years as morning radio host. Starting as a part time announcer, Dave has performed nearly every job at the station, participating in community events too numerous to mention, and in 1990 became owner/operator of WOON. He still hosts the venerable Coffee An’ program every day, in addition to performing his many other duties running the station, having now spent 41 years (and counting) at the same spot on the dial…and continuing to serve the listeners of the Blackstone Valley.
Eddie Zack – Born in Providence and making his home in Warwick, Eddie Zackarian (“Eddie Zack”) started his singing career with his brother Richie and recording artist Dick Richards. In 1939, they formed the musical group “Eddie Zack and the Dude Ranchers,” and for more than 60 years his music was heard on local radio stations. Zack began his career at WHIM in 1947, and his group was also a regular performer on WJAR with a nationally distributed program heard on more than 100 stations. His band was one of the first to appear on television when TV was in its infancy, and Zack performed throughout the Northeast with some of the biggest names in the business – Eddie Arnold, Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash – just to name a few. Having recorded more than 80 songs for major studios and producing 40 albums for two different record companies, Zack has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and the Rhode Island Country Music and Heritage Halls of Fame.
Also added to the Class of 2012 is the recipient of the 2nd annual Shepard Award, named for John Shepard III and Robert F. Shepard. The award honors an important contributor to the business and support of Rhode Island radio during his or her generation through leadership, dedication, achievement, innovation, and spirit. The Shepard brothers, grandsons of the founder of Shepard’s department stores, are recognized for their remarkable efforts as early commercial radio pioneers and innovators, for launching Rhode Island’s first radio station in 1922, and for their keen sense of radio’s full potential.
The 2012 Shepard Award winner is Gary Berkowitz. For over 40 years, Gary has been involved in every aspect of the programming and management of radio stations across America. In retrospect, nothing has had a greater impact on Gary's radio career more than his fledgling years at Rhode Island’s renowned WPRO stations. While attending Emerson College in Boston, Gary started as an intern at WPRO. He quickly transitioned into the weekend DJ, better known as Gary Daniels and then onto the night time slot following the legendary Big Ange. However Gary's real goal while in Providence was to convince then-general manager, Warren Potash, to change the beautiful music format of WPRO's sister station. In April of 1974, Gary's nagging paid off when he was appointed Program Director of the new rebooted Top 40 WPRO-FM. Assembling a young, innovative staff with a contemporary sound, Gary rechristened the station "92 PRO FM.” It was a youth-driven, exciting era for radio and 92 PRO FM would play a major role ushering it in.
After two successful years in Boston at WROR, once again Gary returned to Providence to help Capital Cities re-build PRO-FM, as well as its heritage AM station, WPRO. Within one book under Gary's leadership both PRO stations were number 1 and 2 in the market. Gary left in 1984 to program Detroit’s WHYT and WJR, and later established Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting in 1990, with the purpose of helping Adult Contemporary Stations achieve higher ratings. Today, Gary represents North America's highest rated AC stations owned by major groups such as CBS, Greater Media and Mapleton Communications.