Monday, June 10, 2013

1160 Club

At the height of his radio career, Dave Garroway hosted a late-night jazz program on WMAQ-AM in Chicago. It was one of the most important programs in the history of Chicago Jazz and is hard to over-rate in it's significance. He had a deep smooth voice and it matched his taste in music. He followed that with wild success in television. More here.

Garroway wasn't a Chicago local. He was born in Schenectady, NY in 1913. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and became a lab assistant. that didn't work out so he tried being a salesman. While pedaling books in New York he had a chance meeting with a woman who ran the pages at NBC. He signed up in 1938 and was running errands in no time. While there he attended NBC's school for announcers. It's been said that he graduated almost dead last in his class; 23rd in a class of 24.

After graduating in 1939, Garroway dumped his page gig got a job at KDKA-AM. He got a reputation there as a roving announcer. He did stories from hot air balloons, a U.S. Navy submarine in the Ohio River, and from inside a coal mine. But in 1941 like many others he enlisted in the Navy in WWII. . While stationed in Honolulu, he hosted a jazz radio show when off duty.

After he returned from WWII, Garroway became a DJ at WMAQ-AM. There he hosted a series of radio programs: The 1160 Club in 1946, the Dave Garroway Show in 1948, Reserved for Garroway in 1952, and Dial Dave Garroway from 1950 to 1953. In 1954 he started another program Fridays with Dave Garroway that ran into 1955. But it wasn't just broadcasting that made Garroway. He also hustled hard to organize jazz concerts, creating what's now described as a "Jazz Circuit" of local clubs in 1947. He brought jazz to a level of prominence in Chicago that it had in few other cities. From 1949 to 1954 he hosted Garroway At Large. a somewhat experimental TV variety program. NBC carried it live from Chicago. In 1951, he became the first host of NBC's Today Show which had had to co-host with a monkey. He stayed on until 1961 despite being bitten by the monkey. He went back to radio and hosted the NBC program Monitor.

He was voted the best DJ in America in Billboard magazine in 1948, 1949, and 1951. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But despite the success and accolades he suffered form depression. He shot himself  on July 21, 1982. He was 69 years old.