Harry Harrison (DJ)

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Harry Harrison
WMCA Good Guys 1964.jpg
With the WMCA "Good Guys" (second from left)
Born(1930-09-20)September 20, 1930
DiedJanuary 28, 2020(2020-01-28) (aged 89)
Other names"Morning Mayor"
OccupationDisc jockey

Harry M. Harrison (September 20, 1930 – January 28, 2020) was an American radio personality, primarily in New York City, for over 50 years. Harrison is the only DJ to be a WMCA "Good Guy", a WABC "All-American", and on the WCBS-FM line-up when the New York station flipped to the "Jack" format in June 2005. He was known as New York's "Morning Mayor".

Early[edit]

Harry M. Harrison was born on Sept. 20, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois to Harry Harrison and Mary (McKenna) Harrison.[1] He attended a seminary with the intention of becoming a priest. Bedridden with rheumatic fever for nearly a year, he kept his ear glued to the radio, which decided him on a broadcasting career.[1] He began his radio career at WCFL in 1953, later hosting a morning show at WPEO in Peoria before moving to New York City.

Career[edit]

WCFL, Chicago, Illinois (1953–1954)[edit]

Harrison worked at WCFL as a summer replacement, yet remained there eight months, substituting for the permanent DJs.

WPEO, Peoria, Illinois (1954–1959)[edit]

Harrison became program director at WPEO, Peoria and hosted the morning show as the "Morning Mayor of Peoria."[citation needed] In just six months, Harrison made WPEO the top station.

WMCA, New York (1959–1968)[edit]

In 1959, Harrison joined WMCA, New York, as the mid-day "Good Guy." Joe O'Brien (mornings) and Harrison gave WMCA a "one-two punch" for over eight years.[citation needed] Harrison, along with wife Patti, and children Brian Joseph ["B.J."], Patti, Patrick, and Michael called the New York suburbs "home".

In 1965, he recorded the holiday narration "May You Always", which was released as a single on Amy Records and made the Billboard Christmas singles chart that year.[2]

Other WMCA "Good Guys" included Jack Spector, B. Mitchel Reed, Dan Daniel and Johnny Dark, and talk show host Barry Gray. Harrison became popular with his "Housewife Hall of Fame” feature, and participated in the 1966 WMCA Good Guy picnic. Often, he scored the highest ratings on WMCA. and WABC program director Rick Sklar took note.

WABC–AM, New York (1968–1979)[edit]

In 1968, when WABC morning man Herb Oscar Anderson left the station, Rick Sklar hired Harrison to replace him. Harrison was followed in the WABC day by Ron Lundy.

Every year, Harrison played seasonal songs, such as his holiday greeting "May You Always” in the winter (the Amy records single of this song made the Billboard Christmas charts in 1965), and Allan Sherman's summer camp novelty, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", throughout the summer months.

WABC personalities included, along with Harrison; Charlie Greer, Scott Muni, Bob Lewis, Lundy, Johnny Donovan, Dan Ingram, Bruce Morrow aka "Cousin Brucie", Chuck Leonard, Bob Cruz, Frank Kingston Smith, and Roby Yonge, and Jay Reynolds.

Harrison had a number of "trademark" phrases, such as "Morning, Mom"; "Every brand new day should be unwrapped like a precious gift"; "Stay well, stay happy, stay right here"; and "Harry Harrison wishing you all the very best... because that's exactly what you deserve!” Also, on the last day of every year, Harrison would bring his four children to work with him and at the end of his shift, he would join them in giving listeners New Year's wishes.

Harrison was let go from WABC as the station changed direction in November 1979.

WCBS–FM, New York (1980–2003)[edit]

On March 24, 1980, Harrison became the morning personality at WCBS-FM (101.1), playing oldies music. In 1984, with Lundy joining the station, they were once again heard back-to-back. Harrison would interact with Morning Crew engineer Al Vertucci, Phil Pepe, who reported sports, and joke about "wacky weather" and toupee warnings with Irv “Mr. “G” Gikofsky (weather), Mary Jane Royce, and Sue Evans. At 7:20 AM, Harrison opened the "birthday book" and announced listener and celebrity birthdays.

On March 19, 2003, after a 44-year career in New York radio, Harrison left WCBS-FM, saying "I am not retiring."[3] His farewell to his loyal radio friends (from 5:30 to 10:00am) was held before a live audience at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. It offered old airchecks plus guest appearances by WCBS-FM colleagues Don K. Reed, Bobby Jay, Steve O'Brien, Randy Davis and Dan Taylor, his replacement, as well as his son and daughter, Patti. Harrison took phone calls from Bob Shannon, Mike Fitzgerald, Ed Baer, and Ron Lundy. Songs included Gladys Knight's "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" and the Little River Band's "Reminiscing," before closing with "That's What Friends Are For."

WCBS–FM, New York (2004–2005)[edit]

Harrison returned to WCBS-FM with a Saturday morning show in 2004. It offered two hours of variety and two hours of Beatles music and memories.

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, Harry and "Cousin Brucie" Bruce Morrow were guests on WABC Radio’s annual Rewound show. Four days later, on June 3, WCBS-FM ended its "oldies" format, in favor of the new "Jack" format.[4] However, as a result of listener disapproval, the WCBS-FM Oldies format was brought back on July 12, 2007, in a modernized form.

Legacy[edit]

Death[edit]

Harry Harrison died peacefully on January 28, 2020 at his home in Westwood, New Jersey,[1] at the age of 89.[7] He is survived by his daughter Patti and son Patrick. His son Michael died unexpectedly in 2017 of a heart attack at 53. He lived in Florida. [8] His wife "Pretty Patti" unexpectedly passed away 3 months after Harry retired in 2003. Youngest son BJ died in a car accident in Florida,1996.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Roberts, Sam (2020-01-29). "Harry Harrison, 'Good Guy' Radio D.J., Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  2. ^ "Top Christmas Sellers: Christmas Singles". Billboard. December 25, 1965. p. 12.
  3. ^ Cingrana, Joe (2020-01-28). "Remembering Harry Harrison, Former CBS-FM DJ". WCBS-FM 101.1. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  4. ^ Fisher, Marc (June 12, 2005). "The Folly of Age: Tuning Out the Oldies Format". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b Hinckley, David (2020-01-28). "Honoring Harry Harrison For a Lifetime of Good Clean Radio". Medium. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  6. ^ a b Gifford, Storm. "Longtime New York DJ Harry Harrison dead at 89". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  7. ^ The Great Harry Harrison Has Died
  8. ^ Ink, Radio (2017-07-04). "Harry Harrison's Son Passes". Radio Ink. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  9. ^ Pattih1985"Legendary 77 WABC DJ Harry Harrison Has Died". 77 WABC Radio. 2020-01-28. Retrieved 2020-01-29.

External links[edit]