A TRUE Radio Legend Has Left Us
My pride in being a native New Yorker is bench marked by the fact that I had the honor and joy of listening to broadcasting legends who inspired me to embark on a radio career and afterwards becoming dear friends with them while still active behind the microphone. In turn they all taught me the fundamentals of being a personality who shares a one-on-one association with the audience as my goal is to talk "to you", not "at you". And I give special credit to a gentleman who was a TRUE inspiration to me as my mornings would not be complete until I listened to his pleasant and soothing voice to get my day motivated and he had a unique and natural on-air sound to back that up.
I share this news with a heavy heart as we lost the legendary Harry Harrison on Tuesday. He was affectionately known as "The Morning Mayor" in the Big Apple. Harry had the distinct honor of being instrumental in the heyday of top 40 radio as he began his tour of duty in New York as the midday personality on WMCA-AM. Harry immediately gained a loyal fan base and was affectionately known as one of radio's "Good Guys" during his 9 years on the air as he teamed up with other seasoned pros including Joe O'Brien, Jack (Jake) Spector, "Triple D" (Dandy Dan Daniel), B Mitchell Reed and Dean Anthony.
In 1968, Harry was hired at crosstown rival WABC-AM and became one of the most identifiable voices in morning radio as he garnered the highest ratings between the hours of 6 and 10 am until his sudden departure in 1979. He truly was appointment radio to start your day by playing the best hit music and dispensing all the necessary information needed before listeners headed out the door plus a companion on the car radio whenever the commute in the 5 boroughs became arduous at times. He had the honor of sharing the microphone with TRUE legends that were also instrumental in Music Radio's ultimate success. They also became dear friends and mentors in my life. A dynamic rotation which also included Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Cousin Bruce Morrow, Chuck Leonard, George Michael and Johnny Donovan. They all contributed in 77's # 1 status as the MOST listened to radio station throughout the 1970's.
WCBS-FM was Harry's final stop in my ol' home town as he also handled wake up duties on "New York's Oldies Station" as he was truly in his element playing the BEST music from the 50's, 60's and 70's with an assortment of talent sharing the microphone with him on daily basis including "Engineer Al" Vertucci, Debra Wetzel and Sue Evans delivering news headlines twice an hour, Bill Schweitzer and Phil Pepe provided sports updates and always a barrel of laughs with then WCBS-TV channel 2 weather man Irv Gikosfsky (aka Mr G who still delivers his meteorological prognostications on WPIX-TV's 10 pm news). Harry was hired in 1980 and was also re-united with Ron Lundy back in 1984 and were back-to-back on the air once again as they were at 1330 6th Avenue. Cousin Brucie, Jack Spector, Dan Ingram and Ed Baer also joined the CBS-FM air staff during Harry's tenure as he continued his unique brand of entertaining his loyal and faithful audience until he retired in March of 2003.
In November of 2019, Harry had the golden honor of being inducted in The National Radio Hall Of Fame at Manhattan's Gotham Hall as his contributions to the broadcasting realm will NEVER be forgotten.
Harry Harrison left us just months shy of his 90th birthday as he recently battled multiple health issues. I offer my sincerest condolences to his children, Patti and Patrick. The last time I saw him was at the memorial service of his son, Michael and as I mourned with him, he still asked me how I was doing in my radio career. I told him that WSBS was my perfect fit and his response was "You are enjoying what you're doing and that's what matters". I truly keep these motivating words with me in my heart as he also advised me to "be myself" and treat my audience with the utmost respect. I truly value his advice to this day.
In closing, I'll favor you with a pair of Harry's famous phrases that he used on the air each and every day: "Every brand new day should be unwrapped as a precious gift" and when signing off: "Wishing you the BEST: that is exactly what you deserve". Well said if you ask me. His memory will ALWAYS remain eternal and everlasting.