Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — WHOT

WHOT Good Guys

Classic “Gangster” Poster of the WHOT Good Guys

“Yes indeedie-doodie-daddy.”

You know you grew up in Youngstown in the 60’s or the 70’s if you recognize that classic greeting by disc jockey Boots Bell on WHOT, the home of rock and roll in Youngstown during those years. Boots Bell not only was popular on the radio and at local dances but was also a communications professor at Youngstown State during the years we were in college.

Boots Bell was part of a team of disc jockeys collectively known as “the Good Guys” and included at various points Johnny Kay, Jerry Starr, Allen Scott, Johnny Ryan, “Big Al” Knight (the “all night” disc jockey), Dick Thompson and Smoochie Causey among others during this period.

Early mornings I would get up to Johnny Kay reading school lunch menus and shave and wash up to the upbeat tunes coming over my transistor radio. My wife remembers her mother turning him on just in time to play the Monkees “Day Dream Believer” at full volume with the line, “cheer up sleepy Jeannie” (her middle name is Jean and this was mom’s way to try to get her out of bed!).

Many of us would go to bed at night listening to “Nights in White Satin” with those haunting closing lines “breathe deep the gathering gloom”. In between, during the day, we would listen for the “cash call” amounts and try to be the right caller to win the jackpot. We would listen for the top 40 tunes each week and the top 100 countdown at the end of each year that seemed to take a good part of the day.

WHOT Days Ticket courtesy of my wife

WHOT Days Ticket courtesy of my wife

The Good Guys were fixtures in the Youngstown community, taking there turns appearing at dances all over the area. I remember watching them play basketball against the teachers at Chaney High School. One of the most remembered community involvements of this group was at WHOT Days at Idora park, where there was a special admission to the park for the day and they broadcast live.

Youngstown was a rock and roll town with a garage band in every neighborhood. WHOT captured and magnified our love for this music during what many of us think was the greatest era of rock and roll–from Buddy Holly and the Drifters in the 50s through the Beatles and the British invasion to the psychedelic music of the Doors and Cream in the late 60s. I listened to all of these late at night with a headphone plugged into my transistor radio so that my folks would think I was sleeping (and indeed they learned to check because I usually fell asleep with the radio on and the earphone still playing).

Most of us grew up listening to WHOT on the AM dial at 1330. Later they had an FM station at 101.1 (still known as Hot 101 in Youngstown). Eventually the AM station moved to 1390, which later became WNIO.  But back in the day, all of us had our transistor radios or car radios tuned to 1330, which was the voice of rock and roll in Youngstown.

What were your memories of WHOT?

 

 

15 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — WHOT

  1. I remember the time well when Boots and Jonny Kay came to town. I think they “saved” WHOT. Once they got involved WHOT’s audience really increased. I had Boots for a couple college classes after I got back from Viet Nam. I still remember the oral question from the final exam, but won’t say it here. I think he had a degree in electrical engineering also. He had a great memory. I remember when I saw him at Southern Park Mall about 5 years after I took his class.
    he spotted ma and called me by name.

  2. Hi Bob, I hope you don’t mind that I shared this on the Boots Bell Facebook page. My brother Chris and I thank you for your wonderful memories of our Dad and about WHOT. It was such a simple, innocent time and you captured that perfectly. Thank you!

    • Thank you for writing. You always had the sense that he was so glad you were listening. I’ve had several comments of people who interacted personally with your father, all of whom spoke highly of him. He really was a Youngstown icon!

  3. Bob,
    Just discovered your blogs. I lived around the corner from Boots Bell when he lived on the corner of Canfield Road and Arden Blvd, and I was married to Johnny Ryan from 1973 to 1983. Any chance you have a high-res or larger photo of that “Good Guys” poster? I would live to have it. I live in St. Louis and Jupiter, FL now. JR lives in Framingham, Mass.

    • Sallie, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this was a low res photo I found online (no attribution). Used to love listening to both Boots and Johnny Ryan!

  4. ……Boots Bell had a account at my dad’s hardware store…Kirchner Hdwe. on Glenwood& Parkview. He did come in a lot wearing his high black boots back then. He was funny to talk to with that booming voice. He was a very kool guy for his time…..Great guy………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Top 10 | Bob on Books

  6. Hey Bob,
    I realize your blog post is close to a year old now, but I just discovered your blog via Facebook. I’m 29, so my “Good Guys” were the jocks of the ’90s, but they had every bit of impact on me as Boots and the original “Good Guys” did on the youths of the ’60s and ’70s (though I’m sad I missed out on the Idora Park dances my grandma tells me about)! It was in listening to the HOT-101 jocks of the ’90s when I first discovered my dream of being an on-air personality one day. I’m now the morning drive jock on a pop station in Cambridge, Ohio, and a lot of what I do is influenced by those guys and gals. Also, I was in a stage production in Sharon, PA last year, and appropriately enough got to play the role of the DJ on an oldies station. Realizing the area I was performing in, I ad-libbed a “yes indeedy doody daddy” and nearly got a lump in my throat, getting to mimic the guy who popularized the phrase and probably performing in front of people who remembered hearing the originator say it.

  7. I had the honor of sitting in one of boots bell classes at YSU in 1978 or 1979 , I was skydiving at the Cleveland sport parachute club .I told him I was a skydiver jumping at this parachute club and he wanted to come out to check out the jump club, Boots bell came out to the parachute club with his son , who was a very young boy and rode up to altitude on the D C-3 . A lot of the skydivers were from Youngstown and knew who Boots Bell was ……………I remember on the way to altitude they said “spin a stack of wax”………… Any way I flew airplanes at the Cleveland Sport Parachute School for 6 years then went on to fly for USAir then Southwest airlines……………..if anyone remembers this email me johnhabovick1957@gmail.com

  8. Bob, I was the original “Transistor Sister” of my neighborhood, Parkwood. I rarely had the earpiece out of my ear! I listened to all the jocks you described and remember the lyrics to many an old song!

    Thanks for the memories! Enjoy your blog immensely!

  9. Another great blog entry, Bob! I just wanted to add that the FM side of WHOT was originally WRED (“The Country Gentleman”.) I loved the fact that the two call signs combined into RED HOT.
    Like most teenagers of our generation, I had little use for country music. But I worked at the Lawson’s store in Mineral Ridge, and the weekend manager insisted on playing it there. The first week was agony, the second week, not so bad. By the third week, I was singing along to a Dave Dudley song! It was also my first exposure to the beautiful voice of Porter Wagoner’s young singing partner. I remain a huge fan of Dolly Parton.

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