Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Crossing the Line

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Crossing the Line

Article excerpt

In spite of what he said, "Records" was not his middle name, but that didn't stop Gary "Records" Brown from becoming very popular among the St. Louis "oldies" crowd. Few people, however, know that he got his start here as a disc jockey on a "black" radio station.

Gary Brown was hired at KWK by Bernie Hayes in the summer of 1970. Hayes remembers him "asking to observe us While we did our air-shifts ... Gary also volunteered to relieve anyone who wanted time off. We utilized his services and he became our main substitute." The stable of jocks at KWK during that time included Jim Gates, Al Waples, Donn Johnson and newsman Al "Scoop" Sanders, along with Hayes.

Gary Brown lived on The Hill and he loved to brag about his Sicilian roots, a trait that entertained the KWK jocks. He also loved the camaraderie of the radio world and the world of professional musicians. Hayes has fond memories of the night Gary accompanied him when they took Earth, Wind and Fire band members on an all-night tour of East Side clubs.

In the early '70s, Brown got a chance to move to Kansas City, where he was a jock at KWKI-FM, again with a black format. He always enjoyed telling the story of a personal appearance of all the station's announcers at Municipal Auditorium. Before a concert all the announcers were introduced. Brown, who was last on the list, came running out on stage to shocked audience silence. None of his listeners had realized what his ethnic heritage was. His fellow jocks whooped it up and the audience followed suit.

Brown once told interviewer Patrick Murphy that his interest in radio went back to the early '60s when he used to catch the bus to KXOK's Radio Park on North Kingshighway. He'd hang around watching Ron Elz do the "Johnny Rabbitt Show," picking up techniques he later used as an oldies jock at several stations. …

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