Rob Frankel Profile
By Scott Benjamin
Rob Frankel is the
primary tape restorian for WABC Rewound.
It takes an incredible amount of work to clean up old tapes which frequently
includes putting the music back into the original aircheck.
Rob pulls it off every year!
Rob Frankel, who is a producer and the tape restorian for the annual WABC Rewound, said he was a little intimidated about approaching legendary Musicradio77 air personality Dan Ingram last spring on a cruise trip that took place shortly after the tribute show aired.
He wasnt nervous about speaking with former longtime WABC night air personality Cousin Brucie, since they had worked together some years ago on specials for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
He is one of the best people to work with, Rob said of Bruce in a May 13, 2008 phone interview with Musicradio77.com
He asked Johnny Donovan, the host for Rewound, to introduce him to Dan.
However, Johnny, who was a Musicradio77 air personality from 1972 to 1982 and still works at the station, said he even is sometimes hesitant about approaching Dan, who is considered the ultimate Top 40 air personality.
I finally introduced myself to Dan and he recognized my name and spent five minutes talking about how much he appreciated my work, said Rob, who is the senior producer at ABC Radio, working primarily on Flashback.
He has been restoring air checks since 2000 for Rewound, which is broadcast each Memorial Day.
Initially, he did about four hours for the 2000 show, and has restored all of the air checks since then for the yearly 12-hour tribute to WABCs musicradio days, which ran from 1960 to 1982.
Interestingly, Rob said that he and Johnny and fellow Rewound producer, Peter Kanze, all initially listened to WMCA growing up before becoming fans of WABC.
Rob, who lives in Teaneck, N.J. said that he started listening to WMCA in late 1965.
They had quite a collection of talent, he said of the AM station at 570 on the dial, which included Joe OBrien, Gary Stevens, Dan Daniel, Jack Spector, as well as Harry Harrison, who would move from mid-days at WMCA to morning drive at WABC in September 1968.
Rob said that he discovered WABC in late 1966 when he happened to listen to the Top 100 Hits of the year.
I listened to Dan Ingram for the first time and there was something special, he said.
Rob said the two WABC air personalities that impressed him the most were Dan, who was on in the afternoon, and Bob Lewis, who was known as Bob-A-Loo and who did overnights for a while and then later handled Sunday mornings and fill-in shifts.
Dan Ingram could play the same song two or three time during the same show and come up with another clever introduction for it each time, he said.
You could listen to Bob-A-Loo Sunday morning with his high energy and then that same night listen to him do a completely different show on WABC-FM and not lose any credibility, Rob said
He was one of the pioneers of FM progressive radio, and he got it right, he said.
Both Bob and Dan will be among the former Musicradio77 air personalities who will be featured on this years Rewound, which will air May 26 starting at 6 a.m.
In fact, there will be a replay of a February 1964 Bob Lewis air check that Peter Kanze says reflects the exuberance of WABC as the Beatles made their first tour of the United States and the station was starting to emerge as a major force in music radio. There also will be a WABC-FM air check of Bob.
Some of my best work has been on Rewound, Rob said of his restoration of tapes, some of which come as cassettes that include parts of shows that were recorded a generation ago by listeners.
It is one of the things that I am most proud of, he said.
Rob said that part of the reason he started taping air checks in the 1960s was that he couldnt always afford to buy the hit records at the stores.
However, he said that he started to tape not just the records, but the air personalities ad-libs and live commercials from his childhood home in Levittown, Long Island.
Sometimes what the air personality has to say is more interesting than the song, Rob said. I came to appreciate that it was a slice of life that could never be replaced.
When WMCA started going through changes in September 1968, I first realized that things in radio dont last forever, Rob said of the changes in management and the departure of Gary Stevens and Harry Harrison.
He said that he did his first restoration in 1975, while in college, when a friend gave him a telescoped air check of Gary Stevens last show at WMCA from Sept. 18, 1968.
Oddly, it was only a one-hour show. Three days later, Harry Harrison did his last show at WMCA, and then began the morning shift at WABC two days after that.
I wanted to recreate the listening experience, he said regarding his efforts to insert the music to the edited recording of Gary Stevens last show.
I obviously have gotten better through the years, but I thought it was a good job for a first restoration, Rob said.
When the Internet got established I discovered that there were more air check collectors than I could have ever imagined, he said regarding the numerous radio fans that have collections of their favorite stations.
Some of them have been contributors to WABC Rewound.
It has given me access to a lot more material, Rob said.
He started his higher education at Nassau Community College on Long Island as a psychology major.
WBAU, the campus station at nearby Adelphi University was seeking volunteers from other campuses, and Rob applied and began his career.
Rob later transferred to the State University of New York at Oswego, where he worked with, among others, Al Roker of NBCs The Today Show at the campus station, WOCR.
We could tell that he would be the one that would move on to special things, he said. But you didnt think that he would become the icon that he has become on Today.
Additionally, Rob also worked at the other campus station, WRVO, and at the local Top 40 commercial station, WSGO.
Rob was considering a career as an on-air personality, but had second thoughts after hearing a Pete Fornatale, then at WNEW-FM, give a talk at the university n which he said that, To be on the air you have to believe that thousands of people are interested in what you have to say.
After considering those words for Pete - who now is at WFUV-FM, the Fordham University station - he decided that he might not be as comfortable on the air as he would be in production.
According to the bio that accompanies Robs air check collection at www.reelradio.com, after graduating from SUNY-Oswego in December 1976 with a bachelors degree in Communications he opted for the network/syndication route and worked as a producer/engineer for the Progressive Radio Networks NewsBlimp and as head producer for Drake-Chenaults 48 hour fantasy concert, SatCon 1. Rob later worked for the legendary RKO Radio Networks and then Radio Today Entertainment, which became part of ABC Radio in 1998.
He said that in the early years he completed his WABC Rewound restoration work in April, about a month before the show aired. However, he said that more recently with ABC under new ownership, he has finished the restored air checks by January, although something can be bumped if a new piece of great audio comes in.
Rob said he has been aided by improvements in technology.
With two-track and then eight-track analog, it was trial and error, he said of the former systems. With digital, you can more things around like pieces in a puzzle.
You can do things in a fraction of the time, and there are so many more things that you can do, Rob said regarding the work he does with the digital Microeditor system.
On another topic, he credits Allan Sniffen, the web master for Musicradio77.com, for being partly responsible for Rewound being established in 1999.
It was the first radio tribute Web site, and I think it became the model for the ones that followed, Rob said of Musicradio77.com.
Allan provided proof that there was a large level of interest in WABCs Musicradio days, he said.
I think the CBS-FM radio reunion weekends also played a part, Rob said of the oldies stations use of former New York City radio personalities on air shifts on tribute weekends that were held in the 1980s and 1990s.
He said that there is plenty of WABC Rewound material for the foreseeable future.
We have a tremendous amount of 70s material to keep us going, but the 60s is at the point of diminishing returns, Rob said.
He said some items have never surfaced, such as a long-form quality-sound air check of former WABC night air personality Scott Muni, who left the station in 1965.
We dont have an air check of Cousin Brucies top 20 countdown on a Tuesday night, Rob said. That is interesting. It also is interesting that Ive never heard an air check of a Dan Daniel countdown show from WMCA.
I think that WABC was at its best from 1968 through the mid-1970s,he said when asked about the highlights of the stations 21-and-a-half years with a musicradio format.
A new dimension will be added this year with the airing of an air check of current WABC morning talk host Don Imus from his years at 66 WNBC, when it was a musicradio competitor of WABCs.
I wish I had run a tape on his first show in December 1971, Rob said regarding Imuss debut in New York City. I dont think that that air check exists.
I listened to him and I listened to Harry Harrison, Rob said. I enjoyed both of them.
The thing that struck me when Imus first came on was how different and how subversive his show was, he recalled.
Rob has two children.
Jason, 21, has his own disc jockey business that handles weddings and birthday parties.
Hes someone who is very talented, Rob said.
Alyssa, 17, is a junior in high school, and is starting to look at colleges that she might attend a year from this fall.
Rob said that he listens to WABC Rewound at home each year and periodically checks the Musicradio77.com message board in case I want to comment on something regarding the production of the show.
He said that Saturday Night Oldies, which Mark Simone began hosting in December 2005, has provided a boost to WABC Rewound.
When we first heard about Saturday Night Oldies, we thought that it might take away a lot of the importance of Rewound, Rob said. But the two shows have actually complemented each other.
One of the shows is about yesterday in the here and now, and the other is devoted to air checks of what really was on the air back then, he said.
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