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WEEL, 1310 on the AM band, was one of the DC area's major contemporary hit stations in the late 60s and early 70s. Located in Fairfax, right behind the old Fairfax High School, a team of dedicated jocks pumped out the hits and the fun for many years until the station dropped the music for news in the mid-1980s. Eventually WEEL became religious WDCT and eventually turned to the Korean language, which is the current format. Take a trip back in time, some 20 years, to the days of "13 Double E." Here are some memories from some folks who worked there.....
Skip McCloskey: Before I even got into radio I used to drive from Hyattsville MD to Fairfax VA and answer the request lines for Jack Alix who did nights on Million Dollar Music WEEL. The story is that Jack was trying to get into radio himself and couldn't break thru. His mom actually paid WEEL to let him on the air. Ads would run in the Evening Star (paid for by Mrs Alix) promoting Jack's show. After I started in radio at WHRN, I was hired 2 months later at WEEL. I was there twice. Once as Skip McCloskey and later as Chris Marlow. My most vivid memory was when I did the overnight shift. The night jock (Bill Smith) was told always to lock the dead bolt when he left. Well I never got a key to the station and was literally locked in everynight. It wasn't until Bob Raliegh showed up just before 6 that I had the opportunity to go outside. This posed a problem when (ahem) various listeners of the fairer sex used to drop by for a visit. It didn't take long to discover that the window behind the transmitter next to the engineering bench was just wide enough to squeeze a late night visitor through. Some of the jocks when I was there were Jay Beattie, Larry Cash, Jack Alix, Jack Daniels, Al Guilford, Bill Gable, Bill Smith, Merlin the Magician, Steve Owens, Lou Roberts, J J Justin, Bruce (Jack) Diamond, Jerry Jay and I'm sure there are other friends that my memory fails me on and I beg your forgiveness. Alan Prell was involved in sales when I was there and also managed a local band or two if I recall. Herb Davis was also in sales and did voice overs and Money Movie for Channel 20. Ginny Ellis was the GM and Judy Keller was the PD. Judy was also the daughter of the president of EZ Communications. Later when Bob Raliegh was hired he assumed PD duties. Warren Carmichael was News Director and never missed a beat. He was a tall slender guy but boy you knew when he was in the station. He had the heaviest set of footsteps I ever heard. Jack Daniels (aka Jim Berilla also of WINX) at one time did nights and I followed him on the air. Judy used to air check us from a reel to reel in her locked office. Jack and I had it worked out where I would stand next to her door and he would click the mic on & off. The deck was hooked up to the mic switch on the Gates Yard and you could here the deck starting and stopping with the movement of the switch. We would then simply leave the switch in the audition position until the tape ran out. WEEL went thru several changes. There was Million Dollar Music WEEL. 13 Double E and WEEL...The Music People. The 13 Double E was Bob Raliegh's concept. It actually evolved from him stressing to his jocks to enunciate the E E. Many times the calls would sound like W E L. He made sure each E was sounded distinctly. The Music People slogan came from the PAMS jingle package. I used to listen to Jack Armstrong on WKBW in NY at night. They had a unique jingle package with Music People as the signature. I took some of WEEL's jingles (Gwinsound) and edited them onto the PAMS WKBW demo package that they sent out. They actually didn't sound that bad and Bob Raliegh approved their airing. Well, Thom Bell at WEAM heard them and Oooops! One night at home I got a call from Bob who got a call from PAMS. He told me the station had the option of buying the package or an ugly alternative. WEEL bought the package! I still remember Bob and myself sitting in my parent's basement deciding what cuts to buy. My swan song at WEEL was one evening a cart machine jammed. As I was reaching for another cart and stalling for time I said something like, "well that's what we get for buying our equipment at Sears." The next day I get a call from Bob saying the manager of the local Sears store heard it and demanded that action be taken. Well you can guess the rest. Once again a sponsor speaks and the station jumps! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh radio! SIDENOTE: Before WEEL was on Oak Street, they were in a building that burnt to the ground. This is before my time but as I understand it they were up and running in a couple of days from a trailer while the Oak Street building was being built.
Al Guilford, with the infamous Jay Beattie (background) giving the 'ol one finger salute
Sean Hall: I did time at WEEL in the 70s. At WEEL, I worked for and with Tony Cusimano (nee Ron Morgan), Bradley Field (Jack Casey) and Allan Prell. During Jack Casey's tenure, WEEL was still owned by Art Kellar and run by his daughter, Judy Box. Before EZ sold it, WEEL was doing a gold format (the golden WEEL) where you had to play the records in a prescribed order. Judy would sit home and monitor the station and hotline you if, for whatever reason, you left a song out. All the 45s were in long cardboard boxes with the record numbers on the front of the box. It didn't matter that the record was so cue-burned that the first 30 seconds were unintelligible; you just had to play the songs in their numerical order. Funny that it was a sign of things to come; kinda like a manual version of SELECTOR. When Prell had WEEL (1976), it was a viable local radio station that didn't depend on the usually-basement metro numbers to sell advertising. It had an astonishingly strong lineup for a small station; Dick Hemby, me, Prell and Steve Stefany during the week. Elaina Taylor and Max Cacas did most of the news. Hemby did mornings. Prell did afternoons, but also did the infamous PARTY LINE show from noon-1 weekdays...a sell/swap show that had quite a following. Same for the DATELINE show he did on Fridays. I did what may be the only split midday shift in broadcast history. 10 til noon, then, 1 til 3. I may have been the only midday jock in history to have a real lunch hour.
Neal Stevens: I worked at WEEL in '79 and '80 (Neal at the WEEL taking you down the freeway of oldies). Great place. Had a lot of fun working with Allan Prell and the others. It was a personality-driven format and we had a lot of freedom and were allowed to be creative. Very few liner cards were found at WEEL in my time there. There certainly was a format to follow but we were asked to inject personality into the programs. I don't think any of us when I was at WEEL did not enjoy working there. Others on staff were Prell and his Dateline Show, Pat Banks, Guy Hamilton, Chris Hoffman, Frick and Frack, Chris Stacy, and more. A fun place it was....WEEL, 1310, Northern Virginia's Radio.
Ed Rodriguez: I was only there for a short time in the summer of 1974, but the lineup was Tony Cusimano/ PD, as "Tony Jay," Jack Casey as "Bradley Field" ( the name of the airport in Hartford!), me as "Ed Mitchell," and Loo Katz as... well... Loo Katz! Tony did 6- 10AM, then the rest of us did five hour shifts and the station signed off at 1AM after Loo's show. The main thing I remember about WEEL was that, unlike WEAM, with it's "gulag" security measures and WOHN which was (in those days) out in the middle of nowhere, WEEL had lots of windows where people could pull up and see you on the air. The result was that there always VERY attractive female listeners stopping by with food, sodas and requests. What a place to work when for a bunch of young, single guys!!! Unfortunately, we did our own news in those days and, as he has always been able to do, Loo broke me up in the middle of a news cast one evening. It was just the right look at the right time, but I couldn't stifle the laugh, I snarked, lost it in the middle of a Watergate story and GM Ginny Ellis had Tony can me then next morning. C'est la vie....
To listen to some WEEL jingles click here.