This page last updated
Sunday, July 14, 2013
WAKY's Monster Movie Commercials and Halloween Specials
WAKY Halloween Specials
resident and WAKY/WKLO fan Gary Fox provided all of the
content on this page. Read his memories of listening to WAKY
and WKLO here.
recorded between August 1961 and the summer of 1963.
For whatever reason, WAKY, especially in its early days, shared my
interest for monsters, horror movies and stories, echo effects and
electronic sounds. It may have been Gordon McLendon's
influence. After all, he did own a chain of drive-ins, and two of
his own movies were monster movies: "The Killer Shrews" and "The
Giant Gila Monster," both cult classics now. And, based on the
things they aired, I would have bet money that someone at the
station read Famous Monsters of Filmland as I did.
From their two-hour Halloween specials where Jack Sanders
read classic horror stories to the fantastic radio spots for the
latest horror or science fiction films that played in downtown
Louisville or at the many drive-ins, WAKY helped me get my fill of
the fantastic and supernatural. This was before the age of VCRs, so
the radio, the Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times and Famous
Monsters were the only media I had to keep in touch with the films I
grew to love.
Fortunately, my step-father let me borrow his Webcor reel-to-reel
tape recorder and I spent most weekends and all summer waiting for
the latest movie to come out so I could record WAKY's great
commercials. I knew when I saw the movies advertised in the
newspapers that it was time to get the recorder ready on WAKY.
It is easy to understand why these spots fired my imagination:
announcers that put feel into the delivery; creepy music and great
sound effects; and a whole lot of energy. To this day, my favorites
are the ones the local WAKY DJs did, especially for the drive-in
all-night monster marathons.
According to Hal Smith, the DJs would do the voice-over for
the spots and would leave the studio. The production manager, a
fellow named Johnny Workman, took it from there. The
announcers often would not hear the finished product until it aired.
Workman was an audio genius. Using the albums "Themes From Horror
Movies" (as advertised in Famous Monsters!) and "Spook Sounds for
Halloween," he basically had all he needed to round out the spots.
He also used an album that I, after 40 years of searching, have not
been able to identity. It features some especially creepy pieces and
is featured on tracks 8 and 10. If anyone knows the identity of this
music, please let me know so I can sleep at night!
So now listen to these spots that span a two-year, golden age of
local production time frame. Imagine Workman listening to the
announcer, formulating an idea and a sound, choosing the music
"stabs", timing the voice-over and putting it all together. Spot 10
is a sterling example of his genius. I hope you enjoy.
All spots are
in downloadable MP3 format. (The largest is 402 KB. )
Sanders sells the 1961 movie "Konga."
||Jack Sanders in a shorter
version of "Konga". These two spots are actually better than
the studio-released radio spots.
blasts us off for a trio of science fiction movies at the
||Jim Brand again does the
honors for a "Four-Feature Horrorama."
tells us about "The Bat."
||Hal Smith does a nice sell
for William Castle's "Mr. Sardonicus."
Sanders tags a studio spot for "The Pit and the Pendulum."
||Jim Brand does a soft sell
for a quartet of scary flicks. Highly effective.
does his take on "Mr. Sardonicus" for its drive-in run
||Hal Smith and Jim Brand are
featured on what is arguably the best and most heavily
produced spot on this collection. Note the number of pieces
that had to be mixed and the timing involved.
sells "Mr. Sardonicus" once again for another drive-in run.
||Jim Brand again for a
quartet of sci-fi thrillers
Sanders does an effective job on "The Premature Burial."
||Jerry Barr ties together two
studio spots for "Zotz!" and "Mothra."
Sanders ties a studio "Reptilicus" with three other films.
||Tom Perry tags "King Kong vs
Sanders ties a pair of studio spots with two local film spots.
||Jack Sanders tags "Jason and
Sanders adds atmosphere to his sell of "Kiss of the Vampire"
and three others. "Tonight, 13 dead bodies will be given
When WLKY-TV, Channel 32 in
Louisville, began showing the old Universal horror movies on
Saturday nights as Shock Theater in the early '60s, it was Jim
Brand's voice that was used for the opening which featured a series
of five or six classic monster photos placed side by side on a drum
that rotated while he spoke. Tim Tyler served as host later on in
provides the voice intro for WLKY-TV's Shock Theater. Tom
Perry does a character voice in silhouette (as Alfred
Hitchcock) and then promotes Convenient Food Mart as himself
||Jim Brand and Shock Theater
intro without Tom Perry's intro
closes Shock Theater.
WAKY Halloween Specials
I don't remember exactly when WAKY
started doing their Halloween specials, but I do remember catching
the end of some of them after I got in from Trick or Treating in the
early sixties. I remember hearing an especially chilling story that
Jack Sanders read as "The Great Pumpkin." It had something to
do with a man who had a skeleton hand chained to a wall in his
house. The hand escaped and killed him. They later found it on his
When I became a teenager, I gave up going out Trick or Treating and
instead took joy in dressing up and scaring the little spooks who
came to my door. I decided I needed to record the Halloween special
in hopes of getting that story that had haunted me so long.
The Monster Marathon aired at 8 PM on Halloween night in 1964. I was
delighted when Jack Sanders came on and read that chilling story. I
had it on tape! It wasn't until 1999 that I learned that it was a
short story called "The Hand" by Guy de Maupassant.
The special was a work of audio art. With a moody intro by Jack
Daniels and many vignettes and stories, it kept me glued to the
radio for two hours. Using the albums "Famous Monsters Speak" and
Arch Oboler's "Drop Dead", it was a thrilling theater of the
mind. When Jack Sanders came on with his Great Pumpkin stories,
things really got chilling. I heard familiar music from "Themes From
Horror Movies" and that elusive production music album that played
throughout his narration of "The Hand." It was magic. The production
value was excellent.
1965 saw a shift from the somewhat adult mood of the special to a
more kid-friendly format. The Great Pumpkin was there with his
chilling stories but Arch Oboler's bits were replaced by stories
from the album "Alfred Hitchcock's Ghost Stories for Young People."
Presented in a light-hearted manner, the stories were ghost stories
but in a tamer vein. Surprisingly, the special aired on Sunday
morning (late Saturday night) at midnight, the beginning of
Halloween day. Those kiddies that lasted had to stay up until 2 AM!
By 1966, the special had become a 30-minute new reading of Poe's
"The Black Cat" by Sanders. The special is an atmospheric piece, but
lacks the soul of the 1964 version. This special aired on Monday
evening, October 31st, at 9 PM, if memory serves me correctly.
By 1967, I was in college and lost contact with WAKY and WKLO. I am
glad I had the foresight to record these specials which highlight
the talents of so many fine people.
Technically, these pieces have held up pretty well through the
years, although I did have to balance and equalize some of the
selections. I lived in Louisville's South End when I recorded the
1964 and 1965 specials, so, by the late evening time they came on,
the signal was weaker than in the daytime and would often fade in
and out. I had to replace two small parts with new recordings due to
the fact that the original signal faded out momentarily. I tried to
give the new sections an old sound, but it is harder to made a new
recording sound old than it is to make an old recording sound new!
By 1966, we had moved to the East End and the signal was stronger
for the 1966 special.
THE WAKY MONSTER MARATHON (1964)
For many years I played this
special every Halloween. It is fascinating how each story comes to
life in the mind and can still bring goose bumps even after all
these years! Jim Brand does a promo for the special with Jack
Daniels hamming it up in the background. Jack Daniels as Alfred
Hitchcock intros the special. Jack Daniels sets the mood for the
evening's terrors to come.
From the 1963 album "Famous
Monsters Speak" Gabriel Dell performs the excellent
"Dracula's Return!" The first of Arch Oboler's vignettes "I'm
Hungry" has a surprising and gruesome ending. The Great Pumpkin
(Jack Sanders) issues a chilling invitation to the listener. THE
CLASSIC! "The Hand" by Guy de Maupassant. Jack Sanders reads,
accompanied by some of the most effective and moody background music
ever. Oboler's "The Dark" is not for the squeamish! Oboler's "Taking
Papa Home" features Bea Benadaret in a chilling situation.
Jack Daniels as Alfred Hitchcock.
Jack Sanders reads a story I have
forgotten the title of, but I remember owning it in an old monster
magazine in the early 60s. Very atmospheric. (Catch the WAKY
Automatic Time Tone!) Jack Sanders adds atmosphere to Poe's "The
Black Cat." Arch Oboler intros "A Day at the Dentist's." It keeps
growing! Oboler's "Chicken Heart." "The Laughing Man" brings us the
'ultimate in horror.' A Halloween rock instrumental. A classic WAKY
HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR (1965)
Taking a more kiddie approach to
Halloween, this special combined some of Jack Sanders' readings and
most of the 1962 album "Alfred Hitchcock's Ghost Stories for Young
People." Hitch introduced each story and John Allen read
them. Also featured more prominently here than in the 1964 special
was the use of the main title music from the TV series "One Step
Jim Brand does a spot for WAKY's
hidden pumpkins promo. Jack Daniels as Alfred Hitchcock promos the
Halloween Spooktacular. Jack Daniels as Alfred Hitchcock opens the
show. Jack Sanders, as The Great Pumpkin, welcomes you to his tales
of terror. Sanders reads Maupassant's "The Hand." Sanders reads an
unknown horror story. Jack Daniels bridges the stories with an ID.
John Allen reads "The Haunted and the Hunters." The real Alfred
Hitchcock introduces "The Magician," and John Allen reads. Another
bridge with Jack Daniels as Alfred Hitchcock.
Gabriel Dell performs the story
"Dracula Returns!" Another ID by Jack Daniels. Jack Sanders reads
Alexander Woollcott's "Full Fathom Five." John Allen reads
"Johnny Takes a Dare." Jack Sanders reads Poe's "The Black Cat." A
station ID. John Allen reads Saki's "The Open Window." John
Allen reads "The Helpful Hitchhiker." John Allen reads "Jimmy Takes
Vanishing Lessons." Alfred Hitchcock closes the show with "One Step
Beyond" in the background. Jack Daniels gives a time check and the
31:25 - 11,047 KB
Jim Brand opens the show with a
moody introduction. Jack Sanders, as The Great Pumpkin, reads Poe's
"The Black Cat" with no background music but with heavy reverb. It
is interesting to note that by this time, Sanders had been gone from
WAKY for over 2 years due to his "scandal" with an underage fan. I
do not know if this was a new reading that was sent to a friend at
the station or an old reading that was used. I guess the station had
associated Sanders with Halloween for so long that they didn't want
to buck the tradition. New listeners to WAKY at that time probably
didn't know who The Great Pumpkin was or his station history. Brand
closes out the special and it ends with the classic Halloween
Gary Fox Remembers WAKY and WKLO
I vaguely remember when WAKY hit the
airwaves. As a youthful 8-year old, I was not a radio fan. Growing
up, I remember my parents listening to a country station and Johnny
Cash became my favorite singer. But several adults I knew were
talking about how WAKY, that "wacky" radio station, had played some
song over and over for either one or three days, whichever story you
want to remember. I was intrigued.
I don't remember when I started listening to WAKY but several things
remain in my mind from the early days. I remember Bill Ward
and his alter ego Bertha Boomer discussing things in the
early morning hours. I remember Jack Sanders and Hal Smith,
my two favorites. Jim Brand came on the scene and he became
one of my favorites, as well. One night, while returning from a late
show at the drive-in, I remember hearing Sam Seeburg on WAKY.
It was after midnight, and I recall hearing his automated speeded up
voice between the records. (I am not sure who the voice was, but he
sounded chipmunk-ish or robotic). He was eventually replaced by a
live announcer - Jack Grady, "The Milkman."
As I grew older, WAKY gained in prominence in my life. I remember
some crazy promos they did. Jack Sanders sat on a flagpole; Jim
Brand broadcasted from underwater in a neighborhood pool; Hal Smith
would broadcast from the WAKY pool where a kid would yell, "There's
a frog in the water!" I remember calling WAKY one day early in the
summer and asking the phone receptionist if the WAKY pool would be
opening soon. I knew it was staged, but I called just to play along.
Her long pause and non-committal answer were priceless.
In 1960 or so I obtained a WAKY Kooky Hat, a giveaway at some
sponsor. It was two pieces of 1/2" foam rubber cut into triangles
and glued together on two sides. It had five or six long foam pieces
sticking out of the point. It was blue, I think, with yellow pieces.
I don't remember what it was trying to promote.
I remember listening to Jack Sanders' Ocean View Drive 45 and
thinking it was a cool song. Jack's show was fast-paced and he had
his own style. He came up with some catchy phrases that punctuated
his show. I remember him telling his listeners to watch out for
those "fender benders and bumper jumpers, grill grinders and
radiator rammers while cruising down that boulevard of broken
taillights" and how he was always "squeezin' the trigger on a few
high-caliber forty-fives" which, to a pre-teen, was cool banter.
In 1962, WAKY ran a series of self-promos that hyped the station's
appeal. Each began, "And now, another W-A-K-Y Unsolicited
Testimonial," and followed that with a play on words. I remember
five of them and they went something like this: "Hello. I'm Moby
Richard...I'm a fisherman, you might've guessed that. I listen to
this station because it wails." "Hello, Ehrlen Meyer Flask here, I'm
a pharmacist. I listen to this station because they give you the
right dope." "Hello, I'm Jet Jackson, I'm a pilot. I listen to this
station because they're in the air everywhere." "Hello, I Nutsy
Quigg. I'm a salesman. I listen to this station because it's a big
deal." "Hello, I'm Plunger Polowski and I'm a plumber. I listen to
this station because it's my friend." At the end of each testimonial
there would be this horn honk or some such sound. I thought they
were pretty creative.
For a pre-teen who was interest in unusual things, WAKY seemed
geared to me. They had the sonovox, electronic sounds, echo reverb,
monster commercials, Halloween specials, and clever DJs who played
music I was soon to fall in love with. And they did crazy things.
As I grew older I became aware of another station in town...WKLO. I
don't remember them doing any crazy stunts, but I do remember liking
their DJs. They made good use of reverb and had sonovox jingles, and
used some really neat weekend promo jingles that I grew to love as
much as any song. WKLO seemed to be a little more laid-back than
WAKY, and their playlists, in the very early 60s, ranged from adult
pop to the new rock and roll. I liked Paul Cowley and
remember thinking that one day I would be in high school and could
go to one of his live Hi-Fi Clubs of the Air. I remember his
sign-off: "Ice up the Coca-Cola, Jeanette, Honey, I'm-a comin'
I used to stay with my grandmother each weekend and during the
summers, and I remember switching back and forth between WAKY and
WKLO to follow my favorite DJs. I remember listening to Jim Brand on
WAKY and switching to WKLO for Ed Bowman, only to return to
WAKY for Jack Sanders. Sometimes I would change: I'd listen to
Allen Bryan mid-morning and always to Hal Smith in the evening.
There were times I'd listen to one station solely for two weeks or
so and change to the other. I remember that WKLO used to have
special "oldies" weekends they called "Treasurama." I enjoyed every
minute of it all.
As I became a teenager, things changed, including my tastes. Hal
Smith was gone, and now Jack Sanders left. WAKY's new blood seemed
hyped up a little too much for my tastes and I eventually called
WKLO my favorite. Surprisingly, with the British Invasion, my radio
listening waned, and I spent more time listening to records. I tuned
into each occasionally just to keep in touch. When I learned to
drive and got my first car, WAKY and WKLO both became my companions
again. Several names come to mind from that time frame: Lee Gray,
Al Risen, Weird Beard and Johnny Randolph.
Bill Bailey was there, too, but he was not my favorite. WAKY had
some guy named Lance Corporal Leon McDuff in the WAKY Hot Air
Traffic B'loon giving, what I thought, was fake traffic reports.
By the time I went to college in Bowling Green, a town 120 miles
south of Louisville, my radio habits changed to local stations by
necessity: I could only pick up WKLO in the early evenings and WAKY
was out of the question. I lost contact with the stations as I
married and the army took me to Hawaii. By the time I went back to
Louisville, music had changed, my tastes had changed even further,
and WAKY and WKLO just weren't the same. I had outgrown them or they
had outgrown me.
As I grew into full adulthood, and jobs took me to Missouri, the
past came back through various oldies stations -- especially WHB in
Kansas City. I began to long for the good old days. I had a few
airchecks of Weird Beard and some recordings I had made from
WAKY which I grew to treasure. I worked at a couple of radio
stations through the years but it wasn't until I found the
that I fully understood what Top 40 Radio was. The internet has been
a godsend, and now, thanks to the WAKY/WKLO
website, I can fully appreciate and relive the glory days of Top 40
Radio as I knew it.
Thanks to Gary Fox for sharing!