Thursday, December 29, 2011

HISTORY OF SYRACUSE MUSIC - CHAPTER 16 - BALLOU LEAVES, DALE DORMAN ARRIVES (Updated 11/1/ 2014)

By 1965, radio program consultant Art Wander had moved from WOLF AM-1490 to WNDR AM-1260 and in a great radio coup he brought Bud Ballou with him. Bud was now with the station he had fought for almost two years and with him was able to bring most of his loyal audience. Soon he had his own television dance party show ala Dick Clark on WNYS-TV-9 (now WSYR TV-9) and unlike a few predecessors in that medium prior it was a huge success. The "Bud Ballou Show" combined the hit songs of the day, local bands, and top national recording acts that toured the area. Freddie and the Dreamer (I'm Telling You How), The Shangri-las (Leader of the Pack) were just a few worth mentioning. His TV show, the Beatles, the British Invasion and his eminence popularity led to offers from larger radio markets and soon Ballou departed for Buffalo's WKBW Radio AM 1520 a 50,000 watt giant. There was also one other reason for his departure, his name was Dale Dorman.

When Bud  Ballou and Art Wander moved to WNDR, WOLF was stymied. They had just lost not only one half of its management-programming team that had brought the biggest success in its history, but also the most popular disc jockey they ever had. Ev Wren searched for a replacement for the night time spot. He first tried newsman Don Lancer, then Fred Winston (bassist with Carmen &  The Vikings) and neither could take on Ballou. Meanwhile, in the morning slot, a certain Dale Dorman was causing trouble. Brought in from Homer, NY (via Norwich, NY radio) in September 1964. Dorman was the prototype of today's popular morning man: clever, witty, entertaining, and quite a bit risque!

Too risque for 1965 Top 40 mornings. Complaints were becoming more and more frequent; Dorman was too "far out". Where Ballou had taken pot shots at WNDR, Dorman slashed at them viciously. He openly mocked the station, its music and its disc jockeys. It was all a bit too much for mornings, but maybe ? just maybe.. It would work at night. Wren took the gamble putting Dorman on the air opposite Bud Ballou, and let him loose.

"Syracusans know how to break that boredom, they tune in WOLF and Dale Dorman". So went the new Eve Wren's jungles, and tune in they did, every night. Dorman gave Ballou no peace, he demolished him with every trick he could think of. Bud Ballou's real first name was "Dudley", so on came a "Goodbye Dudley" campaign complete with jingles. Dorman even mocked WNDR's location in the often flooded Dewitt, NY  site calling it "Radio Swamp". He was even rumored to have called Ballou on the stations live request line and swore at him. He then beat him in the radio ratings, the first time WOLF had been able to do this in the evening hours.

The careers of Dorman and Ballou have paralleled each other in many strange ways. If "karma " exists, it surely played a part in both their lives. First Dale and Bud were fierce rivals in Syracuse a few years later they worked back-to-back at the same station in Denver, Colorado. Later they both would wind up the bulk of their careers on opposite stations in the Boston market.

With Ballou out of the way, Dorman assumed his place as the "King of Night Time Radio". Although his tactics seem a bit cheap in hindsight, Dorman was indeed talented in his own right. He was the funniest jock Syracuse had ever heard, and the most unique. Everything about his was different, including his voice--so unlike the stereotyped deep voiced DJ's who were just starting to come into vogue at the time. Dorman was totally unpredictable..you literally never knew what might come out of his mouth. Nothing was sacred to "Fatty Doorknob" as he was nicknamed.He put down commercials he had to play, even WOLF itself or the F.C.C. it didn't matter. It was an incredible era in Syracuse radio. Spurred by Dorman's success, WOLF became one of the most innovative medium market radio stations in the country.  They broke many many hits before the major markets and began producing a stream of talented announcers who would go on to fame and fortune in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and other top markets. Dorman too was lured away by concultant  Bill Drake and sent to KYNO in Fresno, California (Aug 1965) and then in an unprecedented move returned to WOLF (Syracuse) and re-established himself as one the city's all-time most popular dee jay on January 28, 1966

 With him came new California sounds the Syndicate of Sound "Little Girl" & "Rumors", the Golliwogs (later to become CCR w/ John Fogerty) "Fragile Child", Love w/Arthur Lee "Hey Joe". Along with a unique  fantastic version of the song "Hey Joe" by Tim Rose. More super songs hit the WOLF charts (1964-66) that may not have received Top 10 success but were just great songs. The Remains "Once Before" (1964), Unit 4 +2 "You Never Been In Love Like This Before" (1965),  Rockin Berries "You're My Girl" (1965), Barbarians "Moulty" (1965), Barry & The Remains "Why Do I Cry" (1965), Rockin Ramrods "Don't Fool With Fu Manchu" (1965), The Creation "Makin Time" (1966), The Wailers "Out of Our Tree" (1966) and Link Wray & The Raymen "Ace of Spades."

Dale also connected with the local Syracuse bands as well. Bobby Comstock's Lawn Record release "I Want To Do It" hit the Top 5 and new Syracuse University band Otis and the All Night Work's hit with "Don't Put All Your Eggs" (Lloyd Baskin, Billy Elmiger, Herb Flower, Steve McCord and Syracuse native Otis Smith) and then followed it with their Cameo Records release "Honey & Wine". Meanwhile another SU band the Fallen Angels received heavy airplay with their song "Bad Woman".

The Fallen Angels (Dave Stevenson, Jay Kerr, Chris Bandler and Richard Zepple ) flourished during  1965-66  performing the music of   The Yardbirds, Animals, Rolling Stones, Zombies plus 25% original material. The Fallen Angels who's music was described as "Rave Up Music" were one of the earliest local band to ware their hair super long and the first to show the SU campus there was something other than rhythm and blues. Dale Dorman really jumped on this band using them as grand prize winner in his "Get The Point Contest" won by Scared Heart Academy... but they were not allowed to play by school officials. The band also performed in the late summer of 1966 at Club "Au Go-Go" at the New York State Fair with special guest Sandy Bigtree. The Fallen Angels toured the east coast including many clubs on Long Island & New York City (including Trudy Hellers in the West Village). Their fantastic song "Bad Woman" had been recorded on tape in the basement of  a SU Fraternity House and received heavy airplay on WOLF, but it wasn't released on disc till 1970 by Ron Wray.

WNDR hosted a contest to send fans to Shea Stadium to see the Beatles on August 15, 1965. Before some 55,000 screaming fans (including Dave Novak) The Beatles performed the following- Twist & Shout, Baby's In Black, She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket To Ride, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, Act Naturally (Ringo, changed from the scheduled- I Wanna Be Your Man)), A Hard Day's Night, Help & I'm Down. This concert was said to be the largest gross ($304,000+) in the history of show business. WNDR repeated the contest for The Beatles August 23, 1966 concert at Shea.

But, as Bob Dylan was singing "Times Are A Changin," Flower Power  and the "psychedelic" movement were beginning to spread from the West Coast, where "underground radio" was in its formative years. In wild events- Dorman  would occasionally stay on all night and play music by "The Fugs" or the "Mothers in Invention." or play album tracks aimed at the Syracuse University crowd. Dale's scavenger hunts brought more great interest. One night he chose a bowling ball and pins and tried to bowl down the stations hallway only to have the ball implant itself into the wall. This impression of the bowling ball stayed their till the station was remodeled a few years later. Dale Dorman  then served as the mc for the Rolling Stones concert at the War Memorial, July 6, 1966.

Meanwhile WNDR was slow to respond, Art Wander had spent time in the Big Apple as part of the first progressive station there WOR-FM and back in Syracuse he did inaugurate a late night album show on WNDR. WOLF was in its heyday, yet its hard to believe it was losing money. Eventually in August 6, 1966 the station was sold and became semi-automated (taped shows by Jim Olsen, Don McMaster  and other), and Dale Dorman, Dale departed WOLF for the last time Sept 19, 1966. Fred Winston James K. Davis, Johnny Van and others all left for bigger and better things and only Jim Sims remained. Sims became program director September 19  and brought in record collector-historian Ron Wray (18,000+ oldies) to help with the Saturday Night Oldies Show. Sims live broadcast aired daily from 8 to midnight and 7 to midnight on Saturdays. The program remained the same till June 25, 1967.

 June 26 1967, WOLF switched to a modern country music format (Sonny Ledet, Dick Tacker, Jim Sims, Johnny Gardner & Bob Casey) leaving the TOP 40 market to WNDR, which experienced a renaissance in popularity. WNDR's deejay lineup included "Big George" Plavacos, Ron Thompson, "Dandy Dan" Leonard, "Happy Jack" McNamee, Dave Laird, Fran McGrath (Count De Creep and Mac & Maude) and Jim' O'Brien. This lineup would remain unchanged for years.

But all in all, radio seemed stagnant in the late 60's compared to the Ballou-Dorman Golden Age, It's never been the same since, Bud Ballou died from a stroke in Boston in 1977, a year later in the same city Dale Dorman was fired after almost ten years as morning man on WRKO. Dorman continued with a television show and continued residing in Tewksbury. Mass

Dale Dorman update- October 2014- - We are sad to report that on Tuesday October 21, 2014 Dale Dorman passes away in Tewksbury. Mass at age 71 after a long illness. He ended his broadcast career in Boston area for almost 40 years.  He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2010.....Without question Dale influenced the like of many of us Syracuse radio folks including Jim Sims, Howie Castle, Don Bombard (Don Shannon), Nick Caplan, Lee Goodman, Fred Horton and myself. The "King of Syracuse Nightime Radio" will be deeply missed..

 Here are a listing Dale broadcasting travels (raided in nearly Homer, NY)- WCHN AM (Norwich, NY), WOLF AM-1490 (Syracuse, NY (Starting in Sept 1964 to Aug 1965 and again Jan 28, 1966- to September 19, 1966) KYNO- Fresno, Ca ) 1965-66), after returning to WOLF in 1966 he landed at KFRC- San Francisco (1966-68), WRKO-Boston (1968-78), WXKS-FM (1978-2003), WODS- Boston (2003-2008). Dale was also an on-air broadcaster for WLVI TV during the 1970's & 80

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