Holland Cooke Media

aircheck (AIR-check) n. recording of a radio show, used to review talent performance.

I always recommend that talent NOT listen to airchecks right away.  Wait at least a couple weeks, and you'll hear LOTS more than you'd hear if you listened in the car on the way home from doing the show.  Try it, and you'll appreciate what a whack-on-the-side-of-the-head it was for me to find this old tape of me on WPRO (AM), where I hosted 7-midnight 1974-1980.
"Later, I worked bigger markets, and made bigger money, but I never had a better on-air job."
Even then, we all knew we were in a radio Camelot; that "it doesn't get any better than this."
<<< NOT Tony Orlando!
We were owned by the best company in the business back then, Capital Cities Communications, which eventually bought ABC.  Our GM was Dick Rakovan (now Senior VP/Stations, Radio Advertising Bureau); the PD was Jay Clark (who left us for WTIC/Hartford, left there for WABC/New York, then became head of programming for Sirius Satellite Radio); and our sales manager was Bill Campbell (later CEO of Charles River Broadcasting). And I'd stack-up our on-air staff against any station anywhere back then.
The more I listened to this old show, the more I heard.
This recording is much less about me than it is about Rhode Island in 1977.
We had no idea...
...how complicated life would become.  Soon.  In just a few months, The Great Blizzard of '78 would paralyze New England for a week.

Meantime, the summer of '77 seemed pretty darn carefree.

The Viet Nam war was over.  Voters had banished the last bastion of Watergate, punishing Gerald Ford for pardoning Richard Nixon, by replacing him with Jimmy Carter.  Rhode Islanders who visited New York City came home raving about the view from atop the World Trade Center towers.  Joe Garrahy was governor, and Buddy Cianci was Providence mayor (the first time).  It would be a year before "Saturday Night Fever" replaced AM radio's diverse Top-40 playlist with a seamless, sound-alike 150-beat-per-minute disco din.  At the movies, we howled at Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies.  "Charlie's Angels" was a TV show.  Internet???  1977 was before fax machines!

In 1977, our biggest beef was gasoline prices, which averaged an outrageous 64 cents per gallon.  Remember, it was just a few years earlier that we lined-up to gas-up, on even or odd days.  Thus the Grand Prize -- and four equally-economical Second Prizes -- that we gave away in the summer-long contest you'll hear promo'd at the very beginning of this aircheck.

Click here to listen in RealAudio
Click here to listen in WindowsMedia
And if you're from R.I. -- or a REAL radio nerd -- Click here for "liner notes."

NINE! Count 'em, NINE cart machines. I thought that was really cool.
And for you youngsters, that object in the foreground is "a turntable."
But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Before I got the 7-midnight gig, in September, 1974, I worked weekends for the summer, commuting from Springfield. Here's The First Memo, after my very first weekend...

With Salty, years later at a WPRO reunion.

The Pro Personalities (HC, center, with L-R: Gary DeGraide, Larry Kruger, Jimmy Gray)

My first book. WJAR and WGNG were still contending. FM? Not QUITE yet.

"Live, from Midland Mall..."
Below: Instant winner! (I'm still amazed we didn't cause traffic accidents.)
Bro. Bill and I award a Doobie Brothers LP, when we spotted her Pro bumpersticker.
Hey SHE stopped.
Some motorists would zoom away, terrified, as we swerved toward them in heavy traffic.
(About HC's coif: DON'T ASK. It was the '70s...)

HC and The Brother schmooze a local looker.

HC, Bobby Vinton, Gary DeGraide, at Colt State Park after the '76 Bristol Parade

"Live, from TV12!" HC works the fishbowl at yet-another Jerry Lewis Telethon.
And before she escaped to TV12, Barbara Hamilton did WPRO News on HC's show.

One day, we named the building after him. GM Dick Rakovan unveiled the surprise.