As anyone who has read about our Tape Radio station, we’ve often noted that of we consider our “Original 5” WTIT DJs, only Johnnie Walker has joined me for all the twists and turns. Gypsy Grillo has been my friend since I was in fourth grade. When WTIT started in 1967 Gyps sat in on most sessions. I think mostly because his best friend at the time was Bouncing Billy, who hosted the first WTIT show with me. He wanted to just watch, so we called him our “Chief Engineer”. Our first year in 1967 we had a ton of guys try WTIT, but really besides me, it was Bouncing Billy and Galloping Gary that launched what we called “The Big Station” or “The Big T”. Gyps decided to take the plunge in June of 1968. On what was his first “official” night, he brought a friend. The guy played Little League on Gypsy’s team and both (now 16) went to watch their old team on the same night. Gyps invited him to be on first show. He became Johnnie Walker and he and Gyps launched their first show as “The Team Time Show” since it was the team that brought Johnnie to us.
When I wounded up at a private school my junior year in high school, a half dozen guys became DJs. I always said it was because we went to a boy’s school and I knew tons of girls from public school. But besides Billy and Gary, it was Johnnie and Gypsy who made it all work. In fact, the other DJs refereed to the five of us as “The Family”. And to this day, it’s how I feel. I grew up with those four guys. Over the years we all lost touch, except
for Johnnie and I. Before say 2010, I had not spoke to Gary since 1995 at my second wedding. Gary was our Political Chief. It’s the roll that Bob Smirnoff took over in 1985, and Rock Rolling took over from Bob in 1987. It was no surprise to me that at that reception in 1995 that Gary and Rock really hit it off. They have become friends over the years. When Gary made a surprise visit to a recording session in 2014 it the first time that four of the Original 5 had recorded together since 1973. Rock was there and really enjoyed to do a session with Gary.
So now we lose Johnnie Walker. If it were not for him Tape 138 in 1982 would have been our swan song. Through his encouragement we went on to bring in another starting five with Cos taking over for Billy, B.B. Bacardi taking over for Gypsy and Bob taking Gary’s chair. Because we recorded weekly, a lot of comedy was produced by that crew. But by 1990 another five would record. As I mentioned Rock took over for Bob, Mic Dry and later Midnight took over for B.B. and Captain Morgan took over for Cos. But it was always Johnnie and I who would make the
recordings and teaching easier to adapt to for whoever the new guy was. We effectively will become a trio after Johnnie leaves. Bouncing Billy & Rock Rolling will help us move forward. Billy lamented recently, “I finally return and then Johnnie leaves? It’s not fair.” When Johnnie heard that he said, “I was here all along, pal. It was you who left us.” But I view Billy’s return now a blessing. It would have been hard for Rock and I to take it on alone. And Billy mentioned that he has a friend he’d like to check us out with. So, it will take a while, but I think we will get to five again. We always seem to land on our feet.
So I’ve been working on Johnnie’s last recording session. I want to have as many guys there as possible. I’ve already contacted Galloping Gary, Midnight and Gypsy. So far two of them plan to
join us. My wife has suggested a stripper. Which is strange in a lot of ways. We’ve only had a stripper with us once. It was during our 20th Anniversary that my first wife “surprised” us with. Now my third wife wants me to do it again. Things get very circular in life. It’s like recording with the old guys. I never saw that coming. I hope we can do it one last time. Before Johnnie leaves us for Colorado. I don’t know how well I’ll throw that last party, but I do know one thing. We are really going to miss him.