The Cousin Bruce Morrow "Party Tape"
Played at Bruce's WABC Farewell Party: August 7, 1974
Produced by Glenn Morgan
Bruce Morrow's departure from WABC in 1974 was big news. Even bigger was that he was moving over to competitor WNBC to compete with his former station. Even so, WABC program director Rick Sklar gave Bruce a big send off. He was allowed to do a "final show" which is very unusual in the world of radio. And, the station gave Bruce a big going away party. As was tradition at Musicradio WABC, whenever someone left, a "party tape" was produced and played at that party. This is Bruce's tape.
The more you know about WABC, the funnier the jokes on this "Party Tape" are. With that in mind, here is a guide to some of the references on the tape:
First, a joke is made of Bruce's radio name.
The tape then pokes fun at Cousin Bruce's days in ZBM in Bermuda.
Bruce's first New York radio job was at WINS in 1958. The twist was that he was hired during an AFTRA labor dispute while the regular WINS DJ's were out on strike. Rick Sklar was then assistant program director at WINS. On this tape, Rick himself makes fun of the situation that existed when Bruce started at WINS. Rick also makes fun of WINS P.D. Mel Leeds who was suspected of being involved in payola. The references to the French works of art parody Leed's investments in expensive paintings.
One thing WINS was known for was penny pinching at every opportunity. For example, when New York Knicks Basketball was carried by the station, they used standard phone lines instead of broadcast lines to feed the signal back to WINS to save money. At the time it was illegal for a radio station to use a standard phone line for broadcasts. There is an aircheck on this tape which feature Les Keiter broadcasting a basketball game as the operator tries to break in. Keiter couldn't hear her so he continued describing the game as the operator's attempts to break in were broadcast over WINS. Bruce was, apparently, standing by in the WINS control room that night and was stuck with having to come on the air to try and explain this situation to listeners.
A joke is made of Brucie's classic story of how he got the "Cousin" attached to his name. (To hear Bruce tell the real story, click here.)
One of Bruce's early WINS airchecks is featured with one of Bruce's classic "Beach Party" bits. It segues into a Palisades Amusement Park parody.
The references to Murray the K concern Murray's successful maneuvering to get Bruce off WINS so that he could take his shift. Bruce was never fond of Murray after that incident (which forced Bruce to relocate to Miami's WINZ).
Hal Neal hired Bruce at WABC which brought him back to New York. That is parodied.
Bruce's on air WABC appeal for Ringo Starr's St. Christopher's medallion is also parodied. The actual aircheck of Brucie interviewing Angie McGowan (who found the medallion) is featured here. This was, in reality, a big moment for both Bruce and WABC.
One night after a presidential address, WABC ran a Cousin Bruce jingle instead of the "Star Spangled Banner". That aircheck is featured here.
Hal Neal pays a humorous tribute to Bruce since he was the person who had hired him there.
Then current G.M. George Williams also pays a humorous tribute to Bruce.
Wally Schwartz, another former WABC G.M. also pays tribute.
The most funny of all is the tribute from Howard Cosell. Howard really roasts Bruce on this tape. You can tell this was 1974 from Cosell's Watergate references (Richard Nixon resigned the presidency two days later on August 9). Ironically, Cosell's comments about WNBC weren't too far off the mark as things turned out!
The tape then makes a very funny "prediction" as to what Bruce would be doing a year later on WNBC. They even got Murray the K to do a bit here. That was REALLY funny for those who knew the story of how Murray had forced Bruce out of WINS years earlier and Bruce's attitude toward Murray. It's amazing that WABC got Murray to do this... no doubt something Rick Sklar came up with.
Listen to the credits at the end. Also very funny!
Now, with that background, click here for the tape:
As an epilogue to the tape Glenn writes:
Cousin' Brucie was loved by everybody at WABC, and he returned their love. Rick Sklar and I produced the going away roast tape. But the tape was topped by Bruce himself.
He presented Rick with a puppeteer's rig. At the end of each string was a spark plug. This was payback for Rick's quotes in Billboard, saying "disc jockeys are puppets and I'm the puppeteer who pulls their strings," and "they're like spark plugs...one goes bad and I plug another one in" (paraphrased). I'll never understand why Rick let himself get quoted like that, but he did have another side to his personality.
As I recall, when Bruce gave Rick the gag present, a hush fell over the entire staff gathered for the party in studio 8-C. Nobody knew if it was safe to laugh, until Dan Ingram let out with a roar. The ice melted instantly, we all laughed, and the party continued until Bruce walked to the elevator for the last time.
There was not a dry eye in the entire station.
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