Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Boom Booms

There were two DJs who used the name Boom Boom Brannigan on air. Both are deceased. One just two days ago. Our more recently deceased Boom Boom was named Joseph Motto and used the name as a disc jockey at 1540 WPTR-AM in Albany New York. Brannigan would stay with that station until 1974. Many obits already claim erroneously that Motto was there for 50 years. If that were the case he'd have started there in 1924, that's four years before he was even born!  It seems ridiculous, but he was such an institution people are willing to believe it.
Then there is also the second  Boom Boom Brannigan, more infamous than famous.  He too was a Yankee, hailing from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His real name was Bob Klingeman. But Klingeman's fame did not come from his home land. It came from the time he spent aboard a pirate radio ship, the Laissez Faire in the UK.  It broadcast "Swinging Radio England" on 1320 AM (227 meters). His Show was called the B.B. Spree. Previously he spent some time at 1400 WFEC-AM in Harrisburg, and 1000 WIOO-AM in Carlisle, PA. But in 1966 and 1967 he was a Who’s Who in Pop Radio.  he made the 1966 edition actually though they incorrectly list his real name as "Bob Wayne"  I'll quote below:
"Boom Boom is a man with a double life--apart from deejaying on Radio England under this name, he also broadcasts over the Britain Radio wavelength under his real name Bob Wayne. That's not the only remarkable thing about this nineteen-year-old from Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania--he made his radio debut at thirteen! Born on July l7, 1947, Boom Boom--or Bob--was educated at the Central Dolphin Senior High and showed an interest in radio almost from the age he was old enough to appreciate it. He was also interested in musical instruments and can ploy the four-string guitar, mandolin and banjo... Six-foot tall, Bob has blond hair and hazel eyes. In his off-duty hours he likes model railways, sports car racing and ski-ing. He speaks French, admires R&B artists like Edwin Starr, Stevie Wonder and The Miracles, reads the novels of Frank G. Slaughter and maintains his favorite pastime is--chasing girls! Whether or not he catches them, Boom Boom has a big female following over the airwaves of 227."
After SRE shut down in 1966 he returned to the states and worked at WROV in Roanoke, Virginia and then 910 WPXI-AM. He was killed at the age of 20 in November 1967 in a tragic motorcycle accident. More here and here. Believe it or not, these two men who were born 20 years apart and died 30 years apart are connected in radioland. I'll get to that shortly.
Joseph Motto started out as “Ronnie Victor” in Buffalo. He started his career in Utica New York on 1310 WTLB-AM. In 1961 he relocated to Albany and became Boom Boom Brannigan  on WPTR-AM.  He wore  velvet jackets and dark sunglasses, and drove a Cadillac. he was Elvis and the Beatles rolled into one. In truth He stayed with WPTR for 13 years. But this career did last five decades. He left WPTR for WABY-AM in 1979 where he became a talk show host. Some histories list Boom Boom as on the air at 1160 WABY in 1974, this is not possible. But it's close. I'll explain.

1170 WMVI-AM signed on the air in 1979 as a  250 watts, daytimer. Joseph Motto was the original owner, but the call letters didn't become WABY until 2002. But that is not the first use of the WABY calls in Albany. Previously they were on 1400 AM from 1932 to 2002. In 1971 the station dropped MOR for Oldies,  and returned to Top 40 in 1973 which is what attracted Motto no doubt. they went all news in 1976. he began buying radio stations. He bought WMVI in 1993 and when the WABY calls began available on Christmas of 2002 he scooped them up.  He sold the station to Anastos Media in 2000. It still plays oldies and standards today. The original WABY (now WDCD) on 1400 is now a WAMC-AM a public radio outlet. Motto did a little on air at WCSS in the mid 1990s, and popped back into WPTR while it was an oldies station, becoming their morning man and PD in the late 90s. He stayed until 2004. He even did a quick stint on WYJB in 2006. 

So what's the connection?  They never worked at any of the same stations and Joseph Motto's career completely envelops that of the relatively obscure Bob Klingeman. Yet they are only separated by one degree. They both knew a WPTR DJ named Larry Dean. He joined the pirate staff of the sea-borne “Swinging Radio England" in 1966 like Klingman. But Larry also brought with him a tape of the PAMS jingles from WPTR. Rather than produce new jingles they re-used the ones he lifted from WPTR. Several pirate DJs changed their names to fit the jingles. But it was Bob who became Boom Boom, lifting the name from an American DJ he never met. He may or may not have used the name in the states;  reports differ.