Hiring Bob Cruz For WABC
The Inside Story from Inside the PD's Office
Bob Cruz on WABC
March 13, 1976
Bob Cruz was hired to replace Jay Reynolds. When Reynolds' contract was about to expire, Rick Sklar and I discussed renewing it but we both felt a change was needed. At this point in time, Sklar was the Operations Director and I was the Program Director. Rick and I felt the 5 AM to 6 AM hour had become more important to ratings and needed more energy. Also, Dan Ingram had staged a one man "sick out" for an entire month to renegotiate his contract and among other things, he became the only regular WABC air personality to get Saturdays off. Saturdays were important to our ratings and we were concerned about the impact of not having Ingram doing his Saturday show.
One day Sklar and I sat down to listen to tapes that had accumulated from jocks around the country who wanted to work at WABC. As one might expect, very few were of our caliber or "sound." When we put on a tape from Bob Morgan, we couldn't believe our ears. We even called in secretaries and other station executives. This guy sounded exactly like a young Dan Ingram! We even wondered if Ingram were playing a prank on us.
Never making a decision based on one unsolicited tape from a jock we never even heard of, Rick and I called friends at stations in Morgan's market to get clandestine aircheck tapes without Morgan's knowledge. It turned out he was only a young, weekend jock in Florida. Not exactly drive time, and not exactly big time. But the tapes we received from our friends confirmed that Bob Morgan was indeed just as good as the tape he had sent us.
We flew Bob to New York to talk about joining WABC, and to get a feel for what kind of guy he was. Bob was an Adonis and could have been the cover boy for GQ! He was about 22 years old (not very old to be coming to WABC), had a blond afro, blue eyes, a big smile with big pearly whites, the body of a exercise fanatic, and a golden tan. He was also very personable and likeable. It turned out Bob Morgan was not Bob's real name, just the name he used on the air. His real name was Bob Cruz. Strangely, with a name like Cruz, he did not fit the stereotypical image of an Hispanic. Bob explained that his father was from Puerto Rico, but his mother was Irish. Hence, the blond hair and blue eyes.
Cruz confided he had grown-up in Levittown, a Long Island suburb, and Dan Ingram was his lifelong idol. As a kid, he would go into his closet and make believe he was a WABC disc jockey. He would try to impersonate not only Dan Ingram's style, but his actual voice quality and mannerisms. In time, he became adept at imitating just about all of the jocks on WABC.
I decided I wanted Bob to use his real last name on WABC, but Bob was reluctant. I thought in a market like New York, it would be very positive to have an Hispanic join our on-air team. Bob on the other hand, had grown accustomed to using Morgan as his last name, and had a thing about having a one syllable first name and a one syllable last name. He didn't think it was melodic, especially for jingles. Needless to say, the Program Director gets the last say.
As I listened to Bob's aircheck while dubbing it in my recording studio some 23 years later, I must say I am proud of Bob Cruz. He was a great jock and had the WABC "sound." Bob's tape from 23 years ago sounds as good as if not better than any Top 40 jocks of today, even some of the jocks on CBS-FM. He was also a great voiceover announcer. When he first came to WABC, I introduced Bob to a friend of mine from college, Diane Morrison. Diane was a talent agent with one of the hottest talent agencies, the J. Michael Bloom Agency. Diane also recognized Bob's talent, took him under her wing, and trained him for voicing commercials for national ad agencies. Cruz became very successful very quickly, and became "the voice" of 20 20 and the Olympics on the ABC television network, in addition to scores of national commercials.
Besides doing the all night show on WABC, Bob Cruz became the permanent replacement for Dan Ingram on Saturdays and when Dan was on vacation. We asked him to do his greatest Ingram impression, not say his own name, and play Dan's jingles frequently. If you weren't listening closely, you might think Dan was there. At least that was the philosophy. But any Ingram fan knows better. Still, the station sounded sensational when Bob was filling-in for Dan, which is all we could ask for.
Overnight success can have negative side effects. Suffice it to say that the other jocks and management never voted Bob the most liked person at the station. Bob was his own worse enemy off the air.
Bob Cruz passed away prematurely, a victim of lifestyle. He was only about forty years old. Per his wishes, at his memorial services in Florida, a flock of white doves was released to fly off towards the heavens.
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