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WAKY's Monster Movie Commercials and Halloween Specials

WAKY Halloween Specials

Former Louisville resident and WAKY/WKLO fan Gary Fox provided all of the unique
content on this page. Read his memories of listening to WAKY and WKLO here.

These commercials were 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. )
Spot 1 Jack Sanders sells the 1961 movie "Konga."
Spot 2 Jack Sanders in a shorter version of "Konga". These two spots are actually better than the studio-released radio spots.
Spot 3 Jim Brand blasts us off for a trio of science fiction movies at the Kenwood Drive-In.
Spot 4 Jim Brand again does the honors for a "Four-Feature Horrorama."
Spot 5 Hal Smith tells us about "The Bat."
Spot 6 Hal Smith does a nice sell for William Castle's "Mr. Sardonicus."
Spot 7 Jack Sanders tags a studio spot for "The Pit and the Pendulum."
Spot 8 Jim Brand does a soft sell for a quartet of scary flicks. Highly effective.
Spot 9 Jim Brand does his take on "Mr. Sardonicus" for its drive-in run
Spot 10 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.
Spot 11 Jim Brand sells "Mr. Sardonicus" once again for another drive-in run.
Spot 12 Jim Brand again for a quartet of sci-fi thrillers
Spot 13 Jack Sanders does an effective job on "The Premature Burial."
Spot 14 Jerry Barr ties together two studio spots for "Zotz!" and "Mothra."
Spot 15 Jack Sanders ties a studio "Reptilicus" with three other films.
Spot 16 Tom Perry tags "King Kong vs Godzilla."
Spot 17 Jack Sanders ties a pair of studio spots with two local film spots.
Spot 18 Jack Sanders tags "Jason and the Argonauts."
Spot 19 Jack Sanders adds atmosphere to his sell of "Kiss of the Vampire" and three others. "Tonight, 13 dead bodies will be given away..."

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 its run.

Cut 1 Jim Brand 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 on camera.
Cut 2 Jim Brand and Shock Theater intro without Tom Perry's intro
Cut 3 Tom Perry 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 grave.

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.


Download Part 1
29:35 - 10,0403 KB
Download Part 2
28:40 - 10,079 KB
Download Part 3
34:38 - 12,178 KB
Download Part 4
20:03 - 7053 KB

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 jingle.


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Download Part 2
40:14 - 14,145 KB
Download Part 3
29:08 - 10,246 KB
Download Part 4
19:27 - 6843 KB

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 Beyond."

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 special ends.

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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 jingle. Boo!

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' home."

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 ReelRadio website 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!