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In the three decades that I spent in radio and nightclubs as a DJ personality in the clubs and as a morning wiseass to host and co-host morning shows at radio stations I have never had a letter to the editor written about me.
My biggest success came in nightclubs. In the 90s I was the opening act weekly at a comedy club. It was concurrent with my days in sales at Star 104.1 & WPOP in Hartford. The biggest impact that I ever would come years earlier at a rock club that had closed to reopen as a personality driven DJ at the first discotheque in the late 70s. I was hired as the Thursday night DJ and it fit well in my schedule as a morning guy and Program Director at an album oriented rocker, Waterbury’s WQQW.
The program director that owner Dick Camerlin had believed that if you had a different DJ every night that things would never stale. I had no idea whether it was a good plan.. I just wanted one night of money and fun. The club opened on my Thursday night where I got the 20 or so folks (in a club that officially held 250 but could squeeze in 300. I thought it went well and I looked forward to the next week. On Saturday morning I got a much panicked call from Dick. He said the Friday’s DJ was a disaster and we need to talk. He also begged me to work that night and with a new daughter and the first of the line of my marriages, I frankly needed the dough. So I went in early to “talk”.
Dick started the meeting with the fact that he had spent over $100,000 to renovate this club and its fate would rely on the DJs. And I was the one that was going to get him there. I explained that I was flattered but I already had a demanding morning show and was in management. Dick asked how much money I was being paid. I had no reason to lie. Although Waterbury is not big time radio, as the morning host and PD I was doing just fine feeding my family and making my car payments and the like. I got the gig because legendary WPLR PD Jay Crawford loved the show that I did at WILI in Willimantic. Anyway, at this point Dick said, “I’ll double it.” All of a sudden I was listening to him. He asked if I accepted the money would I have any other “demands.” I did.
I told him to fire the Program Director. I didn’t need his help at all. Then I said that I would purchase all the music and just charge him cost. He agreed and said that one time a DJ bought tunes he ripped Dick off big time. He said, “Gary, (my handle for most of my career was Gary Hunter) you are welcome to buy yourself some music. Just don’t keep 90% like the other dude had done. I would have not even considered buying myself albums with HIS money and yet now I had his permission. I always hired the DJ(s) to work when I did not. How did it work out?
We had 50 people that night. Enough to fill the dance floor if everyone danced at once. They did. They loved my contests and giveaways. They liked my jokes and music. Within three weeks we had three hundred every weekend night. It was a great party that lasted three years. I was able to buy my family a three bedroom condo and with a second kid on the way things were looking up. A little over three years later I left. I was ready for the rest of my life. It was the best gig that I ever had. No corporate bull, I picked the music and he opened two more clubs where I hired the DJs and bought their music. (You should see my record collection.) I always wanted to rent the club out on say a Saturday night (While Dick still owned the building he had sold the operation to various new nightclubs. I never got around to it.
Then in 2010 a woman would contact me to say that those three years were the best of her life and she was going to have a reunion. She said it would not work if I were not there. We decided to meet to talk about it. That lady, namer Katheryn became my wife (third if you are counting) in October 2012. I receive a similar email a month or so ago from the man who wrote this letter to the editors in the New London Day (a huge southern Connecticut newspaper). This made my day. It’s good to get this acknowledgment all these years later. Maybe a reunion isn’t such a bad idea.
To read the newspaper, click on it…