Monday, June 25, 2018

RIP Dan Ingram

Dan Ingram has died.  And I'm devastated.  He was 83. You know I come from a radio background and have admired many spectacularly talented disc jockeys from the great era of Top 40. Dan Ingram was my all-time favorite. And I didn’t even live in New York.

For almost 22 years Dan Ingram was the top rated jock on 77WABC in New York. Since the station had such a huge signal he was also a top rated jock in other markets such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He later worked on other New York outlets including WCBS-FM.

I first heard Dan in the mid ‘60s. Growing up in Los Angeles I knew of WABC but had never heard them. So I wrote a letter to the station asking for a sample of their programming. They sent a one-hour tape of a recent Dan Ingram show. Within ten minutes my head almost exploded. This guy was so funny, so quick, so fearless (he often goofed on commercials and the music), had such a great voice, precision timing weaving his content into the intro of records, and somehow managed to communicate as if he were talking only to me. I had heard some great disc jockeys. The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Larry Lujack, Gary Owens, Don McKinnon, but I’m sorry, Dan Ingram was the best. He said more funny things in one hour (and all off the cuff) than anyone else did in a week. And he continued doing that for almost fifty years. It’s utterly mind-boggling.  And if you thought he was funny on the air -- when he turned that mic off that's when the real hilarity took place. 

I’ll bet if you grew up on the East Coast you too are crying right now.

More than just a deejay, Dan was a “broadcaster.” During the famous Northeast Blackout of  November 1965 Ingram drove to the station’s transmitter in Lodi, New Jersey and stayed on the air for eleven hours via a generator anchoring coverage of the emergency.

We met thanks to mutual friend, Jon Wolfert, and I stayed close to Dan for 40 years. We’d get together for dinner whenever my wife and I were in New York or when he and his wife were in Los Angeles. I had a reading in New York of a screenplay I had written and got Dan to read the stage directions. Forget hearing actors playing the parts, I was blown away that Dan Ingram was actually reading words I had written. That’s like Vladimir Horowitz playing a little ditty you had banged out.

Dan also did thousands of national commercials. I once said to him I hear his voice on spots in LA but no one else knows who he is, and he said, “When I walk out of the building I don’t want people saying ‘Hey, there goes Dan Ingram,’ I want them saying ‘Hey, who is that guy getting into a Rolls?”

Here’s a sample of Dan Ingram on the radio, thanks for friend-of-the-blog, Howard Hoffman.



His favorite moment in broadcasting was when he received a fan letter from a young girl who was about to commit suicide. She was listening to Dan, he said something that made her laugh, and that snapped her out of her deep depression. If she could still find things funny she still had things to live for. She thanked Dan for saving her life.

Dan has shaped many lives, gotten generations through tough times, adolescence, power failures, and personal struggles. To me he was an inspiration. And a mentor. For fifty years Dan has kept me in awe… and in stitches. My love and prayers to his family and millions of fans.

People on the radio are invisible. Their presence is in the air. Dan may have passed but that presence, the sound of his voice, and the joy he brought to our lives will stay with us forever. And will go with us wherever we are. That’s the true magic of radio. And Dan Ingram.

47 comments :

Brian Phillips said...

This was THE radio voice of my childhood. I knew who he was, before I knew what a DJ Jingle was. I'd listen to WABC (*ding*) 77 in New York and hear this great guy (couldn't stand much of the music, but the signal was strong) and occasionally I'd hear some singers say, "BETH-ing REM", not knowing that was his "DANNNN In-gram" jingle that was famous enough to be parodied by Chris Berman, whenever football player MARK Ingram was in the highlight reel.

If you'd like to hear more choice Ingram, see the link below. I recommend the "Brief Showers" incident and the tongue twister, which showed you how good he was.

I'll miss him. What an amazing man.

http://www.musicradio77.com/stories.html

- Brian Phillips

slgc said...

This makes me incredibly sad. I grew up on Long Island and spent the vast majority of my life either in New York City or the NYC market. Dan Ingram was the best, and I feel like I've lost a piece of my youth today.

Anonymous said...

"Schickhaus Franks - the most carefully pronounced food in the world"

Xwordz

VP81955 said...

Just read the sad news on Facebook, and immediately came over here for your reaction (and tribute). Dan had the essence of what made Top 40 radio so compelling, and this easterner enjoyed him for years at WABC and its spiritual descendant, WCBS-FM. Thanks, Dan.

Mark, New Haven, CT said...

I grew up in CT--started listening to the radio at 8 (in 1968) and went from WCBS all news to WABC and WNBC in the early 70's...it was Top 40 heaven. Dan Ingram took me all the way through high school and college and I LOVED that closing of his and prayed he would not talk over it each night at about 5:58pm. the Tri Fi drum closing is just fabulous and so was he. Quick witted, it seemed like he could say and gat away with anything. If you grew up in the Northeast and listened in the car or on Long Beach Island NJ in the summer, it was the soundtrack of your life. He was the conductor. There were other great voices too--Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy-all great too. WNBC before they sold their soul to become WFAN was the same. Great top 40 music...But Dan Ingram was the king. Never duplicated...sometime impersonated but he was the real deal...and just awesome. RIP. Great man.

Rick said...

Never heard him because I've lived my whole life in Southern California.
Thanks for sharing this. Clearly one of the best deejays I've ever had heard.
(Rick Libott)

Tom Asher said...

We discussed this before on here, which I appreciate you answering my Friday Question... but Dan was on our Radio Mount Rushmores. Tremendous loss.

E. Yarber said...

A story he said would be in the last chapter of his autobiography:

On Dan's last day at WABC, he received a letter from a fan who told him she'd been a battered child. She stood on the Brooklyn bridge with her transistor radio.

"You made me laugh, and I didn't jump."

Anita Bonita said...

Two things about Dan Ingram:

First, he had the most impeccable sense of timing of anyone on the planet. In my ad agency days, I had the privilege of producing commercials for which he did the voiceovers -- and I distinctly remember the day that engineer Arnie Rosen, God rest his soul, said, "Dan? That was :43-and-a-half. Can you do it in :43?" Next take was :43 on the nose, followed by a salute and Mr. Ingram's exit from the studio.

The second is more recent. Pre-merger, I was at an AFTRA meeting during which Dan was being honored ... and I had to get up there and inform the Powers-That-Be that a bill they were championing would help musicians, but would kill Radio As We Knew It. After my soliloquy, I went up to Dan to apologize for raining on his parade ... and he grasped my hands and said, "No, it had to be said. I'm proud of you."

I carry that with me to this day. Jeg elsker deg, Kemosabe.

Ralph C. said...

I listened to WABC in the 1970s as a kid. Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, too. Sad news.

Pete Grossman said...

Oh, such a bummer. Living in the NYC suburbs, I was weaned on his program. Always loved his voice, tone, and humorous gymnastics. Ah, and The Word of the Day, always fun. Word is, from now on, God is having Dan step in for his announcements. RIP, Kimosabee.

Kent Cross said...

Do you still have the tape? Would you be able to play portions of it on your Podcast? I'm a West Coaster and never got to experience him growing up. I was an "Emperor Gene Nelson" from KYA guy myself.

Gene F. said...

I listened to WABC all through my teens, and Dan was the best. Too many great lines to recount, but my favorite was when we would introduce "Ma Belle Amie" as "a song about Ralph Bellamy's mother."

Joel Keller said...

It blew my mind when I found out the guy doing those bright, smiley voice overs for, say, Era detergent was the same guy who had the gruff, funny voice as the guy on WABC. I was a kid during the end of his AM tenure, but my parents listened to ABC all the time in the car; they were pre-boomers, so album rock wasn't their thing, so it was either ABC or CBS-FM. So I heard Dan a lot, especially in the mornings. I remember being disappointed when Ross and Wilson pushed him to afternoons (I was around 10). But then ABC went all talk and I soon moved on (to Z100, who eventually hired none other than Ross Brittian).

Here's a video of Dan doing his thing on CBS-FM in 1992, long after his WABC days ended. Love the visuals of him laughing and having a grand old time telling his zingers as songs started playing. It also showed that he still had the touch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBr308F3lIA

KLAC Guy said...

To this day, I can't listen to Herb Alpert with saying to myself- "Herb Alpert and the teeny weeny brass." Wherever Dan is "laughing and scratching" now, I'm sure Tri Fi Drums is playing loudly and it's time to "broach the coach." Thanks for a wonderful tribute, Ken. I am having trouble seeing as I type through the tears. Goodbye Kimosabe.

Joe said...

The Honor Group of the Day is people who loved Dan Ingram. We're all sad.

Thanks for the laughs and rest in peace, Kemosabe.

Tudor Queen said...

I was brought up in the metro New York market and listened to WABC pretty much exclusively. Dan Ingram was my favorite DJ by a large margin. I can still sing out his name the way the station bumpers had it - "DAN In-grum!" I especially enjoyed him over the holidays when ABC ran its end-of-the-year top 40. I had a friend who also listened and we would keep track of the songs and where they ranked, using special notebooks bought for the season. We'd call each other constantly - "Did you get number 22 yet?" "I've got ten through fifteen" "Why do they keep playing 44?" - and it was hard to get me to sit down for dinner. I'd wolf down my food, get permission to leave the table and run back upstairs to the stereo in my room.

Needless to say, my parents thought this was incredibly stupid. And now we can get all this information on line, if it even matters anymore. But Dan Ingram and his warm, accessible voice remain a very happy memory. RIP.

J Lee said...

One of the things that people would rag on AM radio about by the 1970s was the DJs talking too much and becoming parodies of themselves. And in a lot of cases, it was because they were trying to be like Dan Ingram, but couldn't, because they simply weren't as fast thinking and as skilled verbally as Ingram, who was the Robin Williams of DJs (or Robin Williams was the Dan Ingram of stand-up comics).

Try and find the unscoped air check of Big Dan from 1964 at the height of the Beatles invasion that's played over the Memorial Day weekend for the past 20 years, either on WABC itself or on Rewound Radio through the musicradio77.com website. Amazing.

Brian Phillips said...

To expand on KLAC Guy's comment: "Tri-Fi Drums"(Ingram's end theme) was from an album called, "Wild Stereo Drums!" (or "Wild Hi-Fi Drums!" on the mono copies), and it features, Stan Levy, Alvin Stoller, Irv Cottler, and the Billy May Orchestra.

Trivia note: It's a LONG song, and the excerpts he use are from the middle and the end.

- Brian Phillips

Dan Reese said...

I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania in the 1970s where we received local stations and Philly stations. But I always tuned down from the local top 40 station on 790 AM to listen to 77 WABC. Loved Dan Ingram and Ron Lundy. I can still hear the reverb and the awesome chatter. The Honor Group of the Day. To this day if the temperature is 77 I hear Dan saying “it’s 77 WABC -D-grees!” An important voice in the soundtrack of my youth. May he Rest In Peace.

Andrew said...

Off the subject (sorry), but Ken and commenters, take a look at the new Tracy Ullman video on the "woke support group."

D. Scott Williamson said...

Growing up in Northern N.J. (One town away from where Cousin Brucie lived) Dannnnn Ingram was The Voice of WABC from its Music Days up to the change in '82 to Talk Radio. WABC was one of the 5 push buttons on the AM side that NEVER changed.
Today the answer is "I'm a little Sad" to Dan's daily question "How ya doin', kemo sabe?" Thanks for years of great memories.
ScottOnCapeCod

Mike Bloodworth said...

Growing up in Los Angeles I never heard Dan on the air. However, in one of those amazingly ironic coincidences, last night KCET (Public television here in L.A.) showed the documentary, AIRPLAY: THE RISE AND FALL OF ROCK RADIO. It showed clips and air-checks of many classic D.J.'s including Dan Ingram. If you've never seen it, part of the film is about how the corporate mentality sucked the life out of the rock, radio stations. Including the elimination of the "personality" disc jockey. I genuinely miss those days. Its sad to say, that even with satellite and internet radio and podcasts we'll probably never see their ilk again.
M.B.

benson said...

RIP to a legend, but for what it's worth, so many laughs as people are recounting story after story of one of the greatest of all time.

@ Anita Bonita, I guess one of the other things that is tough about getting older is how far too many names we now have to attach the words, God Rest His/Her Soul.

Sid said...

Like many others commenting, Dan Ingram was the soundtrack of my youth. Condolences to you Ken, and to his other friends and family.

The main sentiment I experience when an icon like Dan passes: Where have all the years gone???

Best expressed in a quote that Dan did not say, but one that is very much in his character. "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Peter said...

Ken, thought you might enjoy this article ridiculing the moron-in-chief and his reaction to a restaurant kicking out Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
https://www.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/25/politics/donald-trump-red-hen/index.html

Will you be visiting the Red Hen in Lexington to thank them for their wise decision?

justsomeguy05 said...

I grew up in the NYC area, and started listening to music with the Dan Ingram show. The #1 record would be played exactly every hour and 20 minutes.
At about the time I started listening, the song "Clap for the Wolfman" (by The Guess Who) was a semi-hit. At the time Wolfman Jack was was working for the other big top-40 station in NY (66-WNBC). Will always remember Ingrams little snide quips along the line of the Wolfman looking "like he has the clap". r.i.p.

Artie Breyfogle said...

Stellar post Ken...He is in MY Top five Top 40 jocks...Glad he is up there spinning them and cracking up the Angels up above...

Ken said...

Sad news. He did what has to be my favorite intro to a song ever on WCBS FM. He dedicated The Neville Brothers' "Tell It Like It Is" to Pee Wee Herman just as the song went into the "If you want, something to play with" line.
A part of my youth is now gone.

geonicholas@gmail.com said...

“That’s Hamilton, Joe, Frank Reynolds and the entire Eyewitness News team...”

YEKIMI said...

It's amazing what stations & DJs we can remember from our childhood/teenage/early adult years....and the songs that would never make the cut today. I'm sure when I'm on my deathbed and somebody may ask me what AM stations I listened to while growing up, I'll be able to yell out WLCY, WSUN from my Florida years and WAKR, WHLO, WGAR, WKYC, WIXY, WHK, WHBC, and more in my Ohio years. I've heard Dan Ingram airchecks before and they always amazed me. Even though I was in and out of radio in the blink of an eye [and "on the beach" more often then not] I've met some pretty awesome DJs that were fairly famous in my area that I idolized over the years and some of them that became friends. I've also met quite a few that wouldn't hesitate to stab you in the back if it met they could get a dime more than you or try and get your time slot. DJs whose names I can remember over the years include Imus when he was at WGAR for a year before getting hired at WNBC, The "Real" Bob James [which I'm sure he "borrowed" from the Real Don Steele], John Lanigan, Vernon with A "V", Phil Gardner, and many more.

Cojones Wagner said...

During the extended WABC on-air shutdown, they brought a mob of former personalities back to say goodbye in groups of 2 to 4.

Ingram complimented a fellow DJ by saying he had "a voice like a pawnbroker's shop." It was one of the best "one Mississippi... two Mississippi... three Missis... OHHHHH" dirty gags I've heard.

sueK2001 said...

I'm a Midwest girl so Dan Ingram isn't as personal a loss as it is to some. My condolences to you Ken..and to all those who were touched by his humor. Sometimes, it's the laugh and the song that gets us through the day. Disc Jockey's are a thing of the past..and I fear this new generation will never know the comfort they give..especially when you're a lonely geek that just wants someone to reach out in the night....I listened to that Ingram sample. Classic DJ work there. Strong presence and a realness to it too. I aspired to be a disc jockey once. I am not sure I ever came close to being great but it was fun to try.
My hero DJ Dan Donovan died a few years ago. I wrote my blog tribute to him.

Tracy Carman said...

There's not much that I can add that hasn't been said more eloquently by Ken and others. I still remember the dog days of Summer in the sixties listening to Dan and Cousin Brucie on my transistor radio while boating in Old Saybrook. Calling him "legendary" is being humble in oh-so-many ways. Rest in peace, Kemosabe!

Unknown said...

Hi Cousin Ken (you are actually my cousin, unlike Cousin Brucie),

Dan Ingram was THE BEST!!! He improvised so many fun bits, it's impossible to pick the best ones (although I liked the intro to Mrs. Robinson where he asks for dee-dees and doo-doos, holds a mirror up and there are doo-doos and dee-dees, then he asks where are the two u's just before Simon and Garfunkel start singing, and here's to you, Mrs. Robinson). He inspired me to get into radio...a blessing since I've had my share of fun in it and a curse since it turned out I have solidly mediocre talent.

I met him once as part of a college project in 1977 and did a God-awful interview. I'm glad you got to have a real relationship with him.

Oh, I did briefly work with his son, Chris, at WCAP in Lowell, Mass in the 1980s. He was at the beginning of his career and I believe he's doing well at a station in the New York suburbs. A very nice person, too. If you're in touch with him at all, please pass along my condolences.

Rob Thaler

DOuG pRATt said...

I'm a "friend of ME," so please let me embed a link to my own blog post about Dan Ingram. I was one of the lucky ones who grew up listening to Big Dan on Musicradio 77WABC. http://www.dograt.com/2018/06/25/the-disc-jockeys-disc-jockey/

Cap'n Bob said...

When I moved to NY in 1961 Dan and WABC were my rock station. He quickly became my favorite and a few parenthetical quips of his have stayed with me all these years. When he put on a Chuck Berry record he asked, "When did he get out of jail?" During a weather report he read, "There's a nip in the air--a little kamikazi pilot up there." And when he played The Stripper he's hoot and howl in the background. RIP, old pal.

Edward said...

It is hard to believe it is 37 years ago that I was listening to WABC-770 AM in the spring of 1981 on the day the music stopped and the station switched to a talk format and also became the flagship station the NY Yankees. I listened to FM radio for music but knew I would not want to miss the last day of the WABC-770 music era.

Big Jay Sorensen said...

Your sometimes Radio partner loves what you said above. I did cry when I heard the news...and it wasn't from cutting onions. I got to tell him directly (as thousands probably did) that only 2 people truly gave me the radio bug that has lasted almost 50 years now..I said, "You Mr. Ingram, and Joey Reynolds." To which he relied, I am glad you mentioned me first." Spoken as he had just been interviewed on 66 WNNBC by Soupy Sales, and was leaving to head toward an elevator. We had a nice handshake moment. I have not washed my hand since.
As Joey's sidekick for many years, the best interview I ever heard with Big Dan was when Joey and he had a one hour conversation on WOR. At first Dan looked like a deer in headlights, but Joey was masterful about getting Ingram to open up. Radio lost one its best fromthe mid-to-late 20th century.
B. Big Jay Sorensen

JR Smith said...

"And the honor group of the day is..."

Oh my, what a loss. Dan Ingram is solely responsible for my short but wonderful career in Top 40 radio. Growing up in Upstate New York, I was able to grab WABC's daytime signal and of course, their clear channel signal boomed in at night. Remember listening to him on my transistor AM portable--that amazing WABC signature sound with all of the reverb. Ingram was perfect hitting all the music posts and of course those amazing JAM jingles! And I wanted to be just like him -- of course, that was impossible. Dan was my inspiration and I did Top 40 and album rock and even a little...disco!

RIP Dan Ingram.

Dave Mason said...

Ken,

Dan was one -of -a kind...there will never be another. He seemed to perform his craft flawlessly and while it sounded off the cuff you know his mind was working overtime. I met him at the WABC studios shortly after the format change was announced-it was a happy/sad occasion for me knowing that he'd disappear from the ether (which he did for us long-distance listeners). While at K-Earth in 2013 we did a "Who's that ghost" weekend where the jocks would tease the next upcoming "ghost"-and invite listeners to check in and win on our website. I wrote all of the "clues" -and the jocks read them. Shotgun Tom, Jim Carson and even Charlie Tuna were reading MY words on the radio, as written. Your writing has been performed by some of radio and TV's greatest yet to read that you were bursting with pride when a radio icon like Dan Ingram was reading your words made me smile. Not everyone gets to feel that rush-and more importantly not everyone can appreciate the significance to those of us who are-after all these years-still in awe of this business and those who have been a lasting part of it. Thanks for your awesome tribute to America's Kemosabe.

James OHara said...

Aside from the "great blackout" broadcast, the funny brief showers incident and the suicide save, Dan was always on 77 WABC through nothing-happening August summer days and played a lot of crappy music he didn't like over and over and over.
Thank you Dan, wherever you are, for getting us through the lean years as well as the memorable times.
Jim

Kosmo13 said...

The Dan Ingram bit of cleverness / naughtiness that has stuck in my brain 40+ years is the insertion of his Name-Jingle into the silent pause in the Tony Orlando and Dawn song "Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?"

We were very happy
Well, at least I thought we were
Can't somebody tell me what's got into her?

[sung] "Dan Ingram!!

A house, a home, a family
And a man that loves her so

letting listeners know exactly who / what had gotten into Sweet Gypsy Rose and corrupted her.

Even in 2018, if I hear that song, my brain inserts the words "Dan Ingram" into the pause.

Anonymous said...

I was just a kid in a small town on Long Island (Central Islip) and Dan made me feel like I was cool and "in" on all the jokes. It was a crazy time (the late 1960's, early 1970's) and not once did Dan convey any negativity. I do recall him playing "Get Together" by the Youngbloods like 3 times in a row once. But his respectful clowning around with the music I loved will always stay with me, like his pronounced "AHHH" during that break in The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations." What a guy. -Tony Madejczyk

Pattye Stringer said...



Dan Ingram! The smartest, funniest DJ of the mid 20th century!

I'm from Philadelphia, and listened to our "locals" (Hy Lit, Joe Niagara) as well,

but no one ever made me laugh the way Dan Ingram did. RIP, Kemosabe.


The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

sorry for your loss Ken.

rob leonard said...

Do you still the cassette WABC sent you?