WOWI - What a Time We Had! (Part two)
Living at the New Albany Inn was like living in a sitcom without the commercials. It was like a family (but everybody talked to one another.) There was a nice lady who worked afternoons at the front desk. She had an ironing board and a steam iron. I was the closest thing to a personality in town (Frank Parker stopped to tie his shoe on the front step in 1954.) So being a sweet old soul, she would iron a shirt for me now and then and when I'd come downstairs all spiffy, she would always say, "You're in show biz!" and she would tell me about that shoe tying thing. Once I had to buy her a new iron, after the one she had blew up. (The handyman filled it with moonshine.)
WOWI was starting to have an underground feel. I bought a Honda 50 to go back and forth to the hotel. The first afternoon I had it, I practiced riding it by going around and around the station. Terry Armstrong was on the air reading live spots and promos. The studio window was open and Terry could hear me coming, and he started reading faster. I went faster as well and came past the window yelling, "Woo Hoo!" and the poor kid would crack up. What he didn't know was I was waiting on the far side of the building with the window to the office open so I could hear when he would start doing something live, and I would take off. This went on quite a few times and every time I'd come by woohoo-ing he'd laugh and say, "There goes Adam again." Terry was a nice young man. I hope he reads this some day and remembers how much fun it was.
In the summer of '64 we had the first (and last) annual WOWI Listener Picnic. We did trade-out for hot dogs and hamburgers, coleslaw and baked beans, also sweets. Russ the owner did his magic act. Snyder had some of his groups stop by and Fordyce brought in a guy he knew who had a tandem motorbike who gave rides. Listeners sent in postcards for a drawing and the winners could come with their families (and parole officer if necessary.) Covered dishes were optional but anyone bringing a casserole with potato chips on top would have to sit in the station and listen to a record of Milton Cross singing I-Eat-A. A really great time was had by all.
A few days after the picnic Fordyce went on the cabbage soup diet. He bought a hot plate from an eviction sale up the street and started giving the Terminix man competition. After a few days I asked him to start brewing it at home. Not only did it make the studio smell like a Hungarian boarding house, but when he turned on the hot plate the transmitter made a buzzing sound and the ON AIR light just said AIR. He said I was being too picky and besides it kept the paperboy from coming to collect. Shortly thereafter he gave up the diet (having gained six pounds in a week.)
A few weeks later I was sitting in the studio wondering why I didn't recognize my pants (never drink a six pack before you go to the laundry-mat), when two young guys walked in. The one guy (who I guess worked there on Sundays) said, "Adam, this is Dale Reeves. He listens to you all the time and can do all your voices." I only had two voices; one belonged to me and the other belonged to Eddie Lawrence. But Dale did lots of voices and he had me laughing in no time. What I find amazing is that in a span of six months I met two teenagers who had exceptional natural ability for radio – Dale and Larry Kenney. And we have been friends for 55 years. They paid their dues, town to town, up and down the dial (but neither of them worked in Cincinnati.) But they both worked at WOWO, a big banger in Fort Wayne, and also in Chicago and Cleveland. And they both had big careers in New York, doing radio and voiceovers.
The New Albany Inn had an enclosed courtyard where I parked my Honda 50. The handyman planted some tomato plants in his wheelbarrow and tended to them every day, even moving them around to follow the sun. The vines got bigger and bigger with a few little flowers - but that's all. So one day I had a friend pick some little bitty tomatoes off a neighbor's plant, and that night around midnight, armed with a flashlight, green thread and a needle, we went out and sewed the little green dudes on the handy guy's traveling bush. The next day at first he was happy. After taking a closer look he was crabby and disappointed. That made me feel bad, so I told him I was sorry and gave him a half a gallon of something I bought in the woods. "You can drink this," I said, "but don't put it in the steam iron."
Back row: Gerry Fordyce, Adam Jones, Terry Armstrong
Front row: Gene Snyder, Joe Fletcher, Russ Wittberger
The New Albany Inn
WOWI Survey September 1964
Mr. and Mrs. Fordyce
Adam with cigarette on Honda 50
(Shortly after this picture, quit smoking forever)