Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bob Crane Bids a Fond Farewell to WICC - August 11, 1956

Fifty-five years ago today, Bob Crane gave his final radio broadcast over WICC in Bridgeport, CT, as the station's morning personality. Within a week of his last show, Bob was on his way out to Los Angeles to begin work at KNX, where he would soon establish himself as radio royalty on the West Coast. During his tenure at WICC from 1951 to 1956, Crane was immensely popular, pulling 65% of the audience share (the percentage of radio stations in the listening area tuned to a particular station during a given period). He had been known to receive fan mail from as far away as Alaska, and his wild on-air stunts generated high ratings.

WICC Promotional Flyer.
Bob Crane (right) with Wallie Dunlap.
Courtesy of Bill Dillane and WICC.
Retired WICC disc jockey and radio personality Frank Derak recalls one of Bob Crane's radio antics. He states, "Before I got into broadcasting, I was a faithful morning listener of The Bob Crane Show on WICC Radio. It was two weeks before Valentine's Day, and Bob got a brilliant idea for an on-air radio promotion. He got on the radio and asked his female audience to send the station Valentine's Day kisses in the mail. The promotion moved into high gear on the second day, and after that, letters, cards, and all sorts of adoring gifts poured into the station - all with big lipstick kiss marks on them! Thousands of deliveries were made to the WICC studios, so much so, that the Health Department served WICC with a notice to stop the promotion immediately. Evidently, they believed it was unhealthy for their postal carriers to handle packages covered with kisses. No one ever heard of a postal employee complaining, but the promotion ended. That didn't stop the kisses from arriving daily for about a month, well into March! This is just one example of the market draw Bob Crane had for WICC, and in one little promotion, was able to generate mountains of fan mail from listeners to the station."

On August 19, 2008, Morgan Kaolian took calls from WICC listeners who remembered listening to Bob Crane's radio show. Several people called in with their memories, including one gentleman, Roger, who recalled hearing Bob's program when he was a kid growing up in the 1950s. Bob had been broadcasting out of the Bridgeport Arcade at the time, and he went down to see Bob specifically to get him to interview him on the air. "I went down there purposely as a kid. I think I might have been in seventh grade. I managed to walk around him in circles, and I got his attention, and he did interview me on the air, live. I enjoyed it, and it made my day!"