If you happened to be listening to WPON yesterday noon, then you caught Jukebox John's excellent interview with legendary DJ Tom Shannon. What a treat! Back in the 60s, as a teenager with transistor in hand, I logged a lot of hours listening to Tom Shannon on the airwaves from CKLW - that equally legendary cross-border radio phenomenon. For those of you who might not know the particular geography I'm talking about, CKLW was (and still is, but no more rock and roll) a Canadian radio station located in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit. Back in the AM radio heyday, "CK" served a huge listening audience on both sides of the border. Their jingle was "CKLW...the Motor City." That ought to tell you how it was. Oh, those were they days all right!
Back then, most DJs had jingles and slogans of their own, to promote their shows. Tom Shannon had "The Sun Never Sets on the Shannon Empire" (fitting for a guy who started out in Buffalo, worked in the Rose City/Motor City, Denver, and in Tennessee). Speaking of Buffalo, Shannon had a jingle for his Buffalo show, too. You'd recognize it if you heard it today; it's set to the tune of the classic 60s instrumental, "Wild Weekend." Just to prove the truth behind the old saying "Learn something new everyday" - I found out during yesterday's interview that the jingle came first! Shannon and buddy Phil Todaro wrote it, and once it got playing, everyone liked it so much they turned it into a hit record, done by the Buffalo band, the Rockin' Rebels. Now, I have to admit that this is not a startling bit of previously-unknown trivia. You can easily find it documented online, but like much info on the web, if you don't know to look for it, you might not find it...and I simply hadn't yet. Anyway, Tom and Jukebox John chatted for almost 90 minutes. You can imagine what that meant to a trivia addict like me! One mystery still remains, however. When I was writing the Introduction to my book, Papa Do Run, I mentioned that I was searching for some 60s radio trivia, namely the Detroit/Windsor DJ who debuted the Barbra Streisand hit, "People." It was a memorable moment, and I really hoped to talk to someone who might remember the broadcast. For a while I was in contact with some people in the Windsor area who knew Tom Shannon, and who I'd hoped might be able to find out for me, but alas, nothing came of it, and the book went to print without the answer. Yesterday, there wasn't enough time to take many calls at the station, but Tom Shannon has promised he'll be back, so maybe next time I'll be able to ask him, and perhaps finally solve the mystery. It's kind of my own personal holy grail of music trivia.
Well, these days Tom Shannon is retired on the west coast - and pushing 70! - but he's still as fresh and entertaining as ever. It was great to hear all his stories from his radio (and some TV) days. Unfortunately, the interview isn't archived on the WPON site, but I'll include a link below to some bios of famous CKLW DJs. Tom Shannon's in the third from the top. There's also link to a 1965 CKLW air check that has not only Shannon, but a show promo by Chubby Checker, and an old Pepsi commercial (could that be Joanie Somers??) too. Enjoy!
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.