Rock-n-Roll DJs: My brief crush on Jack Rose #AtoZChallenge

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.

WENE Radio Center in its heyday. Located on Main St. in Endicott, N.Y., WENE 1430 AM radio was the soundtrack of my teen years.

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

Press and Sun Bulletin. Jack Rose had the afternoon time slot on weekends.

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!

WENE Top 40. The “Big Parade of Hits” for February 8, 1964.

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!

WENE disc jockeys and staff back in the day. I never met Jack Rose — 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.

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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20 thoughts on “Rock-n-Roll DJs: My brief crush on Jack Rose #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Another great story, Molly! I remember when AM radio had a novelty quality in the 60s that changed as pop music evolved. Early in the decade there seemed to be more variety, mixing the styles rather than staying in a single genre like radio does now. It’s amazing to think how those golden oldies were brand new sounds back then. No one would have dreamed the groups would hang around to become medley shows on PBS telethons. The WENE jingle montage was super, a real time machine of sound that instantly took me back to that time.

  2. I just love your youthful diary entries. I guess after an hour plus telephone conversation, you felt like you had a new friend/crush and so he became just Jack. I can relate to those crushes, although I never had one on a DJ. It is fun to look back at ourselves at different times in our lives – and at your life too!

  3. When you’re young you do crazy things you’re amazed at when you reach a more stable age! I didn’t talk to DJs on the radio, but when I was in my late teens and early 20s my thing was to ask orchestra leaders at places where a date had taken me for dinner dancing, if I could sing with them? A couple of times the answer was yes and in one place in particular the next time my date took me there the orchestra leader actually came to our table when they took a break and asked if I’d like to sing with them again! I think back on that now and wonder how in the world I had the gall to do such a thing. Good grief. But youth makes us think anything is possible. 🙂

  4. You were so confident ringing that DJ! To this day, if ever I am called to be on air (and we are talking like maybe twice in my life) I get so choked up with fear and embarrassment, you are lucky if you get three words out of me. And yes I can’t believe you were on the phone for an hour and a half. That’s amazing. A different world back then that’s for sure.

  5. I’m amazed DJs had enough free time to chat so long with their fans in those days. I would have thought it was a pretty manually intensive process to keep things on track for their shows.

    Did you ever look him up in later years to see what happened to him?

    1. Top 40 was probably not as challenging a format as what today’s DJs deal with — so I think the WENE crew may have gotten bored with it and looked forward to the fan calls. Alas, I didn’t think to look Jack up in later years — my own life was moving so fast in the sixties, especially after I left of college, that I more or less left Endwell behind.

  6. How fun! I remember calling into radio stations in the 70’s and 80’s for various contests. Never talked to anyone famous though I did win Mariah Carey tickets. LOL!

    1. Thanks, Deborah. Yes, my teen diary entries were so enthusiastic that the punctuation is just one exclamation mark after another 🙂

  7. Obviously I was a boring teenager. It would never have occurred to me to contact the DJ. Great that the station encouraged the interaction though I have to wonder what would be made of that today.

  8. Oh boy, what a story! Sounds pretty fun to have this relationship with a radio disc jockey. But not so different from now I guess, with the new ones that are accessible by the internet.

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