Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Song #459: "Rock Me Jerry Lewis"--Mike Elliot and Bud LaTour (1986)

This novelty song represents a much deeper story, and a good opportunity for a long overdue appreciation post concerning my radio career.

My first professional radio jobs were at an AM/FM combo in the wonderful town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, tucked away smack dab in the middle of the Berkshire mountains of Western Massachusetts, an hour east of Albany, New York. I began on weekends on WUHN-AM, a Big Band/Adult Standards station, and a few months later snared my first airshift on the FM, WUPE, an Adult Contemporary format. It was Sunday mornings from 2AM to 8:30AM. Yes, the dead graveyard shift. I got three hours of music, then played over three hours of public affairs programming.

In the end, the best part of that shift (after the brilliant quiz show "Ask The Professor", Google that sometime...) was meeting my relief. The full-time overnight DJ, the brilliant Mike Rancourt, known on-air as "Mr. Mike" took Sunday mornings. That's how we met. Quickly, we bonded.

He started having me call his weeknight show at 12:45AM as "Rob Lowe" to present "The Road Report". Yes, I actually phoned in from my college dorm and gave a traffic report for Pittsfield in the dead of night. His show was filled with those bits, including novelty tunes at the bottom of every hour, which is where I was introduced to today's song, produced by two Phoenix DJ's in honor of the legendary comedian and philanthropist for whom I've always had great admiration.

"Mr. Mike" taught me two very important things that have served me well, when I have remembered to apply them, in my radio career:

1) Have fun.
2) Don't take yourself too seriously.

Our working relationship lasted just less than a year before I moved back to Virginia. We lost him way, way too soon several years ago. I'm sure grateful for all the times we hung together, along with the other important member of a crazy trio, Brett Provo, who continues in New England radio to this day in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

From the "Overnight Pajama Pizza Party" to the time we recorded the three of us "colliding" into an oncoming train, we had some crazy times. I'm sorry that what few young adults trying to forge a radio career of their own don't have opportunities like that one I was blessed to have in Pittsfield.

Miss you, Mr. Mike!  :)

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