Sepai Saturday 568. R is for Rock-n-Roll DJs: My brief crush on Jack Rose. Eighteenth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
The soundtrack of my early teens was WENE 1430 AM — our local radio station on Main St. in Endicott, N.Y.
The station went Top 40 in 1962, six months before I turned 13 — and rocketed straight to number one in the Triple Cities as we Baby Boomers started to tune in.
Sure, I still listened to Detroit, Boston and New York City mega-stations when they boosted their signals late at night — but their disc jockeys were faraway idols, reachable only by letters.
Jack Rose takes my call
The WENE disc jockeys, however, were just a phone call away — and that’s how, at 14, I started calling Jack Rose, who had the afternoon slot on weekends.
I heard on air that WENE was refusing to play a song by Eric Burdon and the Animals. So I phoned the station to complain — and Jack Rose took the call. This was definitely teen diary material!
Aug. 8, 1964. [DJ] Jim Scott said today that he didn’t like “House of the Rising Sun,” so I called WENE to talk to him. I got Jack Rose and talked to him. Jack said, “Well don’t worry, pretty soon it will be on the survey and he’ll have to play it.” He’s really a SHARP guy!! I’m gonna call him back later tomorrow!
Aug. 9, 1964. Called Jack. He said “call back at 6” and we talked for 1.5 hours! He’s 6’ tall, age 23, goes to Harper [College] and is real sharp. He’s a real panic to talk to.
Rock star proxies
In the Top 40 era, WENE disc jockeys were like rock star proxies — popular and idolized from a distance, yet accessible enough for a phone chat. And I was not the only one dialing the station!
Lots of local teens were calling WENE in the early 1960s. And before long — much to the consternation of our mothers — my best girlfriends from the block and from school were also regularly chatting with their own personal DJs.
Fast forward to now and I was surprised to discover — in the audio history below — that the station actually had a policy of encouraging WENE disc jockeys to spin records at local hops and to get to know their teen fan base.
Well, no wonder they always answered the phone when we called!
Here today, gone tomorrow
Alas, as with most of my teen crushes and idols, Jack Rose was here today, gone tomorrow — on to greener pastures in Radio Land, as I got over him and moved on with my teen life.
Nov. 8, 1964. Called Jack! He’s gonna work at WARM [in Wilkes Barre, PA] or WINR [in Binghamton].
Nov. 15, 1964. Well, he’s gone! Jack (Rose) got the job at WARM (590 am – 9-12 noon weekdays!!). We talked for an hour today. He promised he’d write me. And he will. I cried for a while, but he will write.
Nov. 22, 1964. Jack’s last day at WENE! Lots of kids called him up to say goodbye!!
Dec. 8, 1964. Got a letter from Jack Rose! He’s a doll for writing. Next letter I’m going have him send me his pic! Dyin’ to see him!
A cherished brush with celebrity
And that was the end of that. I never did meet Jack in person — and he never sent me a photo. So I only got to know him through his dulcet tones on the air and on our regular phone calls.
Yet for a teen girl like me, living in small suburban Endwell, chatting with Jack Rose was one more cherished brush with celebrity — right up there with kissing Gene Pitney and having my Dave Clark 5 Fan Club announced in the local paper
Up next, S is for Space flights, Sweater sets and Slam books. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time! Meanwhile, please visit this week’s other Sepia Saturday bloggers.
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