Edition #1281
Week of February 4, 2024


Station: WGAR Cleveland
Date: February 3, 1978
Time: 50:41 (unscoped)
           22:48 (scoped)

The Real Bob James got his nickname after someone suggested "Bob James" was too plain and needed jazzing up. He did, but Bob James - Real or not - could never be accused being plain.

James started his career at WNIO in Niles, Ohio, but soon moved into the big time in WWDC Washington, D.C., WZMX Hartford, WKIS Orlando, WMIL/WOKY Milwaukee, WNBC New York and the Voice of America. He was outrageous on the air, pushing the limits of comedy and creativity with every show. One of the fun things he did in his time at WGAR Cleveland was the "Parade of the States", where he would ask people to call in and give their location. It was a DXers dream, and just a sample of the off-the-wall stunts James would do.

The WGAR marketing people didn't lack in creativity either. Contributor Dan Haber tells us this fascinating story...

"On the aircheck you sent, there’s a bottom of the hour ID in which the stentorian-voiced announcer intones, “1220 WGAR Cleveland. A Ron Whitman station!” And then they jingle into a song. The Ron Whitman one would air for 24 hours and then the next day, it would be replaced by “1220 WGAR, Cleveland. A Dale Patterson station.” And the next day, a new name would appear.


They would air a different one of those every single night and when I was a kid listening, I always thought, “wow, how many people own that place anyway?”


Many years later I got my answer from Bob himself. The station would send their sales reps out to try to sell what was then the #1 rocker in the city and one of the biggest outlets in all of Ohio. But inevitably, they’d run into someone who'd say, “Ah, no one listens to the radio. And it's too expensive. Forget it, I’m not interested.”


So they’d go back to the studio and use the guy’s name in their bottom of the hour I.D., which would run 24 hours straight. Well, you can guess what happened next. Because 'GAR was such a huge ratings grabber with a 50K signal, family and friends would start calling the guy’s wife non-stop at home saying “Hey I just heard your husband mentioned on the radio.” She'd tell him about it when he got home. 


The kids at his children’s school would come up to the offspring and say, “Hey, we just heard your dad’s name on the radio!”


And the phone at the would-be customer’s place of business would start ringing with people saying, “Hey, I didn’t know you owned part of the radio station!”


After 24 hours of this, it was hoped the guy would realize how much reach and influence 1220 had, and the salesmen would go back out the next day and tell him that if they could make that much of an impression on people in a single day, imagine what an entire advertising campaign could do spread over weeks or months.

Enjoy The Real Bob James on WGAR (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy The Real Bob James on WGAR (SCOPED) here.

(The Bob Pondillo Collection via Dan Haber)

More from the Bob James Museum here!


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