Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That Guy from Night Court

If you're like me you know John Larroquette only as Dan Fielding, a character on the NBC sitcom Night Court which ran from 1984 to 1992.  A Louisiana native, he grew up in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and it was there that he went into radio.This was long before he moved to Hollywood, became a star and won a few Emmy awards.

In May of 2013, Larroquette was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of New Orleans. It's a nice gesture from the University, for a local son who never actually went to college. Instead, Larroquette went into radio career, most notably under the on-air name Judas or Brother Judas on 98.5 WWOM-FM. Of the name he said "“It was a nickname I had as a boy... As a good Catholic kid, the most [profane] thing I would ever say was, ‘Judas Priest,’ as the Holy Cross brothers did. So I got to be known as Judas. New Orleans, Catholic town, free-form radio Judas was a good name to have.”

Different versions of the story give different dates. One source says WWOM-FM was progressive rock as early as 1966, another places the date in 1971. I find the latter date incongruous. Whenever it was, 600 WWOM-AM, and 98.5 WWOM-FM were both playing beautiful music and the two split with the AM side moving to religious programming and the FM side going Underground playing a mix of AOR and progressive rock. Other DJ names you might recognize from there include Jim Turner, Stuart McRae and Charlie Matkin. Their 58,000 watt FM station blanketed the metro. (For the record Larroquette also spent some time on air at  WNPS and WRNO.)

WWOM-AM changed called WVOG-AM, standing for Voice-Of God. WWOM remained on 98.5 as Mother Radio.The license was owned by then Lieutenant governor James Noe. Sr. He let his daughter, Gay Noe Mclennan manage the station. She was later replaced by her brother James Noe, Jr.  The station was in a death struggle with the more pop leaning AOR station 99.5 WRNO-FM. Also in the fray was WTIX-FM which played straight rock n' roll and was programmed by Todd Storz himself.

In 1972 WWOM it changed to WIXO which it held for two years as a straight ahead Top-40 station. It signed back on months later as WYLD playing Urban Contemporary. By 1974 Larroquette was already in Hollywood doing voice overs.