Almost every original “boss jock” from WFIL, Philadelphia is now gone.
Frank Kingston Smith is still alive and using his considerable skills announcing airshows. Old pilots never retire.
Dave Parks succumbed to a short illness at his home in San Diego a few days ago.
Parks spent many years as a jock at WFIL and then went on to be a successful program director at KS103 San Diego.
He was funny.
A great guy to be around.
In fact his radio station WFIL was legendary.
Consultant Mike Joseph hired all the original jocks.
But Joseph’s M.O. was to install the format, give advice for about a year and install another program director.
WFIL had no shortage of good PDs not the least of which was the master himself, Jim Hilliard.
Jim was great with people.
He understood the format of the day – Drake.
And in my view had the ability to calm the feathers of ownership when the station went further than they were comfortable with.
An early slogan for WFIL was “Tune In, Turn On” from the “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out” LSD days of Timothy Leary.
How great was “Tune In, Turn On”?
Eventually they settled on “Tune In / Famous 56”.
But WFIL was owned by Walter Annenberg and Triangle Publications. The top management was, well – old and constipated.
I don’t know how they ever approved turning WFIL into a Top 40 station but they did it reluctantly and seemed to get bent out of shape a lot.
When Dave Parks was known for being “Dave Six Pack Parks” with a reference to a six-pack of beer (not his abs), ownership didn’t like the drinking imagery for the young target audience.
The Daver became “Dave The Rave” Parks with jock logo jingles and all.
Jimmy Hilliard found a way. Without him and the team he inherited of great radio communicators, WFIL would have just been another station.
I wished Dave happy birthday greetings recently on his last birthday, he said, “Still getting up in the morning so I guess I’m still OK”.
Jocks like Dave Parks were hard to find even back then.
Even harder to find today.
Not because they aren’t out there, but because radio is no longer about relationships.
Dave Parks and his fellow jocks spent a lot of their free time out in the community with the audience. They weren’t in a studio voice tracking or trying to do two shows simultaneously in real time the way Cumulus is doing content for Westwood One affiliates and their local stations to save money.
Dave and company took the market by storm and became a big revenue producer for Triangle and then LIN when they bought it.
They didn’t have to sell 5 second spots the way iHeart routinely does.
They limited commercials.
Charged the best rate they could get.
In other words, Jim Hilliard and his “Boss Jocks” attracted a large audience and the salespeople sold it – the old fashioned way.
If radio is ever looking for where it went wrong, yes, consolidation was one big mistake, but getting in the way of DJ/listener relationships was the other.
In fact, 95 million Millennials grew up without a relationship with radio and the industry is suffering now because of it.
Dave Parks will be missed along with what he stood for.
Talk to Jerry privately here.
See a complete list of my previous stories here
- iHeart, Entercom & Cumulus
- Lew Dickey's Next Venture Heating Up
- Cumulus Troubles
- Entercom in Worse Shape Than Originally Thought
- iHeart Bankruptcy Leaks
- Voice Activated Radio Listening on Smart Speakers
- The Fear of 8 FM Stations Per Market
- Entercom’s CBS Synergies
- Cox Radio – Seller or Buyer?
- iHeart’s New Buyer, Layoffs, the Rise of SiriusXM