I’ve been a radiophile since I was a kid, discovering old dj air checks and radio shows through my dad and uncle. I spent a lot of time listening to Abbott and Costello shows in my room, (I was a weird kid) and finding quirky shows on weekends and late at night on WAMU.
Then I discovered Ed Walker’s Sunday night ‘The Big Broadcast’. Several hours of OTR with Ed telling stories about the shows in between. I loved it, I started listening religiously, going through various stages with each show. For a while I was a huge Lum and Abner fan, then Gunsmoke, then what has stayed an all-time favorite; “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” (The Bob Bailey years OBVIOUSLY) and through that discovered his work as half of The Joy Boys – the other half being Willard Scott – Washington’s original wacky radio duo of the 50s, 60s and early 70s. Being particularly interested in DC area radio I became a fan of finding what I could through websites like http://thejoyboys.com and reelradio.com.
Eventually, I ended up working in the medium I was so obsessed with. While working at a local station in Winchester, doing production, I was tasked with recording a read by none other than the great Willard Scott. Now, I had and have met famous people before, I’m not normally what you call ‘star struck’. But this was different, this was someone whose work I greatly admired. The rest of the world knew him as a weather guy, but I new better. We were left alone to record and I chanced a comment about how much I liked The Joy Boys, well it turns out Willard Scott is about the nicest guy you could ever meet. That man sat in that tiny recording “studio” in BFE and talked to me about radio, the Joy Boys and Ed Walker for almost 45 minutes. I know I went on and on about how much I loved The Big Broadcast and he was right there with me. Before he left he said he would mention me to Ed. I thanked him and thought nothing of it.
A week later I’m sitting in my office and I get a phone call.
“Hi, this is Willard, I’m sitting here with Ed Walker and thought you would like to talk to him!”
I couldn’t believe it, not only had Willard Scott remembered a conversation with some weird kid who loved old radio shows but actually brought me up in conversation and had Ed Walker call me!
It was maybe a half hour conversation. Probably not even that long. But it is one of those cherished moments that you keep in a special place and take out every once in a while when you need a pick-me-up. We talked old radio, we talked Joy Boys, we talked the state of the industry, we talked Jack Benny. It was heaven.
It will definitely be on the highlight reel.
Ed was gracious and kind and a joy to talk to. I won’t go into specifics, because that’s for me, but it was a brilliant conversation with two great men of the industry. When we hung up he wished me well and told me to keep listening. Of course I did, and after V was born she heard it too. I’m fairly certain she has heard more Jack Benny radio shows than any kid since 1950.
In an industry that does not lend itself to kind or genuine people, Ed Walker was a rarity (Same can be said for Willard) his show was a large part of my life and I will miss him on Sundays. But thanks for the wonderful memories Ed.