The Dick Summer (re) Connection – Chapter 12

The Dick Summer (re) Connection – Chapter 12

“Mouth vs. Ear” was something like a combination lunch period food fight and study hall at the Robin Williams High School for Wayward Wise Guys. Barry Manilow and Pat Cooper played. So did battalions of New York City Cops and Firefighters … and thousands of people who were just tired of living all week under adult supervision. It was a Friday night fun free for all. It didn’t start out that way. NBC had to do a couple hours of “Talk” every night on their New York station, WYNY-fm. Naturally they wanted to do it when they figured talk would do their music ratings the least harm.

That’s why the midnight to 2AM segment of my show every night was “talk.” I never saw any reason that “talk” had to mean “dull.” So my talk show featured psychics, soap opera stars, anchor people from the city’s tv news programs, and on Friday nights … “Mouth vs. Ear.” “Mouth vs. Ear” was sort of a quiz show. The questions were never trivia, they were the kind of things the average guy should know if he were paying attention to anything. Stuff like how many printed letters in the English language are the same both right side up and upside down? What’s the last stop on the BMT “N” train? Who’s the Secretary of the Treasury? (How would you have done with those three questions … BEFORE GOOGLE !)

Mouth vs. Ear started innocently as a simple back and fourth question and answer session between the audience and me. But my lady Wonder Wench often came to the station with me on Friday nights, and she’s very smart. So she started whispering answers to me. I figured why whisper … holler … come on, it’s New York. Then my buddy Mario and my brother Geoff started showing up, and Jerry, and Jim, and Roy, and our sons Mark and Kurt, Hank, and Lisa, and Olga, and Angela, and Peggy, and Peggy’s sister Ellen … you get the idea. We had a packed studio, and except for some of the ladies, NO ADULT SUPERVISION. But the most unusual thing about Mouth vs. Ear was that I told the audience (the ear) right in the beginning that we (the mouth) were going to win, because if necessary, we’d cheat. We had an opening “Rap” that went: “Have no fear, the Mouth is here. We’re gonna win and lick the ear. If you think your question is hard, we’ll hoist you on your own petard. We the mouth cannot be beat, because when all else fails, WE CHEAT.” And that’s what we did.

To this day, I think it was the most honest quiz show ever broadcast. I told people we were cheating. Therefore if we didn’t cheat, we’d be cheating. We also had a softball team called, of course, “The Cheaters.” We played volunteer fire departments, the Playboy Bunnies, a girl’s school staff of Catholic nuns, and anybody else who would field a team, promote our game, take up a charity collection, and supply the beer. We usually got creamed on the field, but of course that didn’t matter, because we cheated. So the next night, I always announced that we’d won 9 to 2. The cops in the Bay Ridge Brooklyn precinct where I grew up flew their chopper to the game, complete with an officer dressed as a clown who made everybody laugh and gave prizes to the kids. And we raised more than $10,000 for various charities each year several years in a row.

One Christmas, we bet the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree against a couple of brand new fire trucks. We won, but we let them keep the trucks. One of those trucks, plus most of the guys who rode on them didn’t make it through what happened a few years later on 9-11. (Thank you guys…and rest in peace.)

I just found a recording of a few minutes of Mouth vs. Ear, and it’s part of this week’s “Good Night” audio download at . So if you have fond memories, or if you’re just curious about the most unusual weekly quiz show ever broadcast, give it a listen. And if you’re a fan of either Barry Manilow or Pat Cooper, you’re in for a treat. They were both on the show that night.

For a while, I was on the air from 10 PM to 6 AM, because they fired the 2AM to 6AM guy and they asked me to do both shows for a while. They let me record the first four hours of the Friday night show and play it back from 2AM to 6AM, because unlike Don Imus who was usually late on his Monday through Friday morning show, the Saturday morning host, I think it was Steve Warren, was always on time. New York is the original 24/7 city, and the whole Mouth vs. Ear crew almost always went to Little Italy or China Town for a middle of the night end of the week snack. Pretty often, the restaurant would have the radio on, and usually we were listening to ourselves. What a lot of fun. Some time drop me a note at and remind me to tell you about the Mouth vs. Ear Friday night when Jim and Mario had a calamari eating contest at the restaurant with the dent in the door … where one of Gambino’s boys went to his eternal reward.

Ironically, the station dropped Mouth vs. Ear when the ratings showed that it was drawing better numbers than the music format. The program director said, “it interrupts the flow of what people expect of our programming.” I got fired shortly afterward. It must have been something I said.

Along with a few minutes of Mouth vs. Ear, this week’s “Good Night” audio download at has a bedtime story called “I Miss You.” It’s part of the Lovin Touch Personal Audio CD. “I Miss You” is the only story on any of the CDs that was actually recorded during a live broadcast. The story itself was written, but the lead up to it was just a bundle of feelings that came out of a guy who was really hurting, in the middle of a very late night radio show. There was a problem in my relationship with my lady Wonder Wench. The words weren’t planned. They just happened. All these years later I’m glad they did.

Next week: kicking the transmitter, just missing the naked lady, and Whitney’s Wonderful Wedding Song.

3 Responses to “The Dick Summer (re) Connection – Chapter 12”

  1. Bob Conklin says:

    While I can’t say I completely recall the Mouth vs. Ear program, I do fondly recall your opening “rap” as the first place I ever heard the word “petard” My memories are being awoken by reading with great fondness the words of who in M-H-O is a consumate word-smith!
    Rock on Mouth and yea I am glad you guys cheated!

    PS, I did download this pod cast and it was great to hear the voices of the past as they were, unrehearsed and unscripted!

  2. Robert Cohen says:


    I’m sure many people have said this, but I’ll just add my two cents to the fact that there never was, and never again will be, a staff of entertainers as great as you, Carl, Dave, Jay, Jeff, Ron, and Bruce at WBZ in the l960s. Thank you for the article about the man responsible for all the magic…Al Heacock. I got into the radio business after Al’s days were done and was fortunate enough to work for a guy with many of Al’s passionate qualities..the late Charlie Parker at WDRC in Hartford. But back to ‘BZ and something I remember fondly…it’s Labor Day and I think the year is l965 and it comes up on the final 3 minutes of music programming before the news and talk block begins. I’m not l00 percent sure but I think it was you who was on, and “And Your Dream Comes True” by the Beach Boys comes on, and as the record ended, the DJ said, “what a beautiful way to end a great summer”. For some reason nothing has ever touched me like that. Such class. We all miss hearing you on the air. Continued good health and best wishes!

  3. Joe Fan says:

    I was a young kid that loved the radio. Listening to a little transistor radio secretly under my pillow at night. I remembered “Mouth Vs. Ear” and the times I would fall asleep only to wake up in the middle of the night and be listening to the rebroadcast. It was weird because I would think “Didn’t they ask that question already?” not knowing it was a repeat. I was young probably 10 or 11 so your show appealed to a wide range of people!

    Good to see you still kicking.

    Take Care,
    Joe Fan