Mornings come all too early to my home atop Wolverton Mountain. I roll out of bed around 5:30am and wander downstairs to workout. After sweating for thirty minutes, I shave and shower. Still in my early morning, semi-groggy state, I make a pot of coffee and try to complete the process of waking up. The one thing that gets me going is listening to John Records Landecker on WJMK, 104.3. Between selections of oldies, he provides for his listeners several hours of humorous conversation.
I have always been intrigued by Landecker's radio personality. One morning while listening to his show, I decided to try to get an interview with him. After several calls to work out the details, he suggested coming in during the last hour of the show so that I could take the pictures that I needed for the paper and for the Internet story. Then after getting off the air, we could do the actual interview.
Arriving at the radio station, I introduced myself and started to take pictures. I had hardly started to snap some candid shots when I found myself engaged in conversation with him that turned unexpectedly into the interview. Sandwiched between records and commercials, I did my interview. It took me the better part of the interview to relax. It is hard to get comfortable when the producer says, "Three seconds before the next commercial." However, Landecker fielded my questions and didn't miss a beat segueing into the next record, introducing commercials, or bantering with his on-air staff. The interview itself was fun and informative, however; the process of watching a disc jockey at work and doing an interview showed me how relaxed he was playing records. I guess that is one of the reasons that John Records Landecker is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Al: Your show's format is fast-paced
until 9:00am, and then it changes becoming less frantic and
slower-paced. Why the change?
Al: The mix of records with conversation intrigues me. What is the appeal of this format?
John: I don't really know, but I do know that people like it. If you look at the ratings, the majority of the highest rated morning radio shows, they are either totally talk or a mixture of talk and records. Whether the shows are political or shock talk, or like ours, most have talk as a major part of the format. I like the mix of records and talk; it works well for us.
Al: Do you ever get tired of hearing the oldies over and over again?
John: I have to be honest with you, even though I grew up on this kind of music, I don't listen to this type of music all the time. When I go on vacation, I make it a point not to listen to oldies stations. I know that I need a break sometime.
Al: If you were deserted on a desert island, what kind of music would you want to have with you?
John: Well, I guess some Mozart, Motown, and the Stones. Nobody has ever asked me that, but that's the kind of music that I'd want.
Al: Tell me about your back ground and how you wound up here at WJMK.
John: l went to high school at Ann Arbor, Ml. I attended Michigan State and majored in communication arts. My first job after college was in Philadelphia at WIBG. I was there for three years before coming to WLS in '72. There was a period of time that I didn't work in Chicago. But, I finally returned about three years ago to WJMK.
Al: Is it true that your middle name is Records and that was your mother's maiden name?
John: Yes, indeed. That's true; Records is my middle name!
Al: You have mentioned on the air that you have been married several
times. Do you have any thoughts on marriage?
Al: Your early-morning program is fast-paced
and you seem always up and eager to serve up more entertainment
for your listener. How do you handle this frantic pace? You are
even doing an interview with me while you're on the air.
For example, this is Elvis week. He died twenty years ago this coming weekend. What more can you say about Elvis that hasn't already been said thousands of times before? Well, Elvis had fourteen televisions at Graceland. I asked my listeners to call in and talk about their earliest memories of their first TVs. We had callers telling us about watching wrestling in 1946!
This week also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Beatles tour. A listener called in and said how she has a jelly bean that George Harrison stepped on.
This program deals with nostalgia to a certain extent, but it is also contemporary. That's it--nostalgia in a contemporary setting. Or you could say it is contemporary in a nostalgic setting. Cutting-edge nostalgia. That's what this show is all about-cutting-edge nostalgia.
Al: What sort of control do you have in putting together your broadcast team that creates this cutting-edge nostalgia for your listeners?
John: Chemistry is the important thing. At other stations, I've inherited a team with mixed results. I have enough control now. But, if I were ever to go to another station, I would replace all the existing staff with my present team. I hope to be here for another ten years, but if I were to leave, I wouldn't hesitate to get rid of the people that were there and put in my people.
John, you were very accommodating about allowing me to interview
you. Why did you consent to giving me this time? This interview
isn't going to put you over the top when it comes to ratings.
What was in it for you as a celebrity?