‘Hey Kemosabe’ Brings Front-Row Seat for Musicradio WABC Era

KemosabeIt was a magical time in New York radio. Musicradio 77 WABC was the center of the universe for any Top 40 fan. But 77 was also the hottest spot on the dial for the country’s most acclaimed jocks.

Chris Ingram has placed us in the middle of that frenetic era. His new book, Hey Kemosabe! The Days (and Nights) of a Radio Idyll (Dog Ear Publishing) gives readers an equally fast-paced look at some key moments. (And I’m not just saying that because of my gig as 77 WABC street reporter!)

Yes, Ingram has some familiarity on the subject. His dad (who recently turned 80) is Dan Ingram. He is so revered for his radio work, specifically the more than two decades as afternoon DJ at WABC. Ingram is usually on the short list of greatest Top 40 jocks of all-time, and regarded by many as the best.

The junior Ingram does point out in the foreword that the book is “not a biography, nor is it a history book.”

But if you were expecting “the names have been changed to protect the innocent,” think again. They’re all here: Ingram, Cousin Brucie, Ron Lundy, Chuck Leonard, and Rick Sklar.

WABC-philes fully versed in the station history and airchecks may remember some of these memories, including Ingram famously trying to speed up a record, but the Blackout of 1965 winning the battle.

The stories may not be in complete chronological order, and there may be a few typos scattered (e.g. Lennox Hill Hospital), but the anecdotes don’t suffer.

We’re alongside Leonard as he faces the toughest night of his career, doing an on-air shift hours after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Readers will also explore Ingram attempting to make the move to another medium.

The book is a brisk tale of only 159 pages. However, where the fiction ends and the facts begin is a grey area. By not hiding any names, though, Ingram makes all events seems plausible, if not likely.

It’s an enjoyable, behind-the-scenes look, albeit with a hint of make-believe, at a powerhouse station with some powerhouse personalities.

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