The Dick Summer (re) Connection Chapter 8

The Dick Summer (re) Connection, Chapter 8

“Wolfman Jack” in New York and Carl deSuze in Boston. The magic they made was as different as any two big time wizards could possibly conjure. But they had a couple of things in common; a huge love affair with the magic radio box, and a gentlemanly fondness for my lady Wonder Wench. This isn’t an attempt at a complete biography of these guys. It’s just a few personal memories from working with both of these two radio giants.

“Wolfie” first. And yes, that’s what he liked to be called by the other guys at the station. Bob Smith from Brooklyn, New York was a comic book character with a huge heart. The screaming and ‘wolfin’ while the mic was open was his act. The quiet shuffling through his liner cards and sometimes singing along while the records played was more like who he really was. Wonder Wench was a very regular guest in the studio, while I was getting ready to go on the air. The thing she remembers best; “He was always a gentleman to me. He was very comfortable.” Maybe it would interest you to know that I’d say basically the same thing about him. He was a very comfortable guy.

That’s not to say that he didn’t know how to howl when the moon was full. As a matter fact the phase of the moon didn’t really have much to do with it when the music got to Wolfie. Black music especially. Race music is what they used to call it before the great Alan Freed made it mainstream. Wolfie was a black man in white skin…a white man who could definitely jump. And nothing was safe from getting knocked over in the studio when Wolfie was up and jumping. But sometimes, especially after he had been naughty, things were kind of quiet while the records were playing. I mentioned liner cards, and those of you in the business probably thought it was a misprint. Liner cards are usually station position statements that a Program Director wants the guy on the air to read at pre-determined times. Stuff like, “More music, less talk.” Wolfie’s liner cards were different. They contained his, “statements to my honeys.” Sometimes quick snippets of philosophy… kind of like the stuff in Johnathan Livingston Seagull. Sometimes just barely disguised pick up lines. Sometimes the words really didn’t make much sense at all…except when Wolfie was saying them. When Wolfie came to WNBC, “Cousin Brucie” was still at WABC. The WNBC promotion department took a series of ads featuring tombstones with “Brucie”s name on it, and captions that said something to the effect that Wolfie is here, and Brucie’s time had come. That never happened. And ironically, when Wolfie left WNBC, “Cousin Brucie” came over to our side. Wolfie was as New York as the Brooklyn Bridge. He made his radio reputation on the west coast. But if you ever wonder where he kept his heart, look at the call letters on the microphone in almost all his pictures. They read WNBC.

Carl deSuze was WBZ’s morning man from the dawn of time. A graduate of the Very Blue Blood Bowdoin University, Carl was a personal friend of the Kennedy family, and spent significant time with them in Hyannisport. He was the only guy I ever worked with who arrived at the station wearing a cape. And some mornings it made him look like Dracula. I met my lady Wonder Wench while we both worked at WBZ. She used to prepare the log, and part of her daily routine was bringing Carl his breakfast. Asprin and coke. That’s what he had for breakfast. Mrs. W. Wench’s memory of Carl was, “He was dangerous. I never dared to walk behind the control board while he was on the air.” I didn’t particularly like that about Carl. Carl wasn’t funny. Carl was seldom interested in the music. And Carl was almost never on time. He used to drive me nuts, because for most of my time at BZ, I did the all night show, and I wanted to go home. When I asked him why he was late one morning his excuse was that a “cougar be-set me on the highway…eyes blazing in my headlights.” During his month long summer vacations, Carl went abroad each year to gather material for the coming year’s lectures. While the rest of us picked up money doing record hops, Carl made his extras by addressing groups on subjects like Geo-Politics. He was definitely a man of the very blue blooded-est people. But he had something about him that made him the guy everybody wanted to hear first thing in the morning to let them know the world hadn’t stopped while they were asleep. I never understood what it was, until one morning when the world did stop. It was the day of JFK’s assassination. Remember this was Boston, Kennedy’s home town. WBZ had a first rate line up of air talent, Dave Maynard, Jeff Kaye, Bob Kennedy (no relation, but scheduled to be the first host of ABC-TV’s new wake up show) Bruce Bradley, and me. Like everybody else in Boston, we were numb. Nobody knew what to do, what to say, how to say it. Except Carl. Carl commandeered one of the station’s mobile units, and went to Boston Common. He spent I don’t know how many hours on the air there, surrounded by the tombstones of the Revolution’s heros, and a milling crowd of their stunned great great grandchildren. He just talked calmly, about his personal memories of JFK and his family, and their place in history, and the history of their place…Boston. It was such a lesson in the absolute power of being real. And being real on the radio. And being part of the culture of the city. I tried to put into practice his lesson a few years later when I was on the air the night when Martin King was assassinated, and there were riots in the Boston neighborhood called Roxbury. And it looked like the city was ready to explode.

Wolfie and Carl. Opposites in every way. But who were they really… inside. Bob Smith from the streets of Brooklyn, and Carl deSuze from Blue Blood Bowdoin. I liked and respected them both. But it’s worth remembering that my lady who knew them pretty well, was wary around the blue blood, but comfortable in the den of the Wolf.

QUICKIE NOTE – Please go back to and click on the “Good Night” audio download. (It’s free.) There are two audio downloads each week. There’s a list of them right in the middle of the page. Left click to play one, right click to save is. They’re fun, and they’ll help you get to sleep.

Next week, sexy Angela with the long finger nails sneaks up behind me at night at WNBC and the Artistic Generosity of Michelle Genereux, who is changing the face of the Personal Audio CDs.

4 Responses to “The Dick Summer (re) Connection Chapter 8”

  1. Bob Kuller says:

    [Carl deSuze was the only guy I ever worked with who arrived at the station wearing a cape.

    Actually, I believe it was Bary Gray on WMCA who was an earlier capester.

    “The Good Guy Lineup

    The original group was Joe O’Brien, Harry Harrison, Jack Spector, Don Davis, and Jim Harriott. In the fall of 1961 Dan Daniel was hired and Ed Baer joined two weeks after Dan.

    Interestingly, throughout this entire period WMCA kept one call in talk program hosted by Barry Gray which ran on weeknights from 11 to 1 AM.

  2. Jim Doran says:

    Carl de Suze remained an eclectic and eccentric figure throughout his long tenure at WBZ Radio. Listening to him gave me the impression that I would never pass muster to mow his lawn. To paraphrase the late comedian George Gobel, he made me feel as if he was a tuxedo and I was a pair of old brown shoes. He seemed to have little regard for those outside of the Boston Social Scene. I was from a local suburb, which he referred to as a “Sub-Bub”. His prescence on WBZ made it somehow acceptable for “stuffed shirts” to listen to the proffered Rock and Roll, as well as R&B. This, in my opinion, added to WBZ’s base audience. I never believed for one minute that Carl listened to those styles of music when he was not on the air.
    Dave Maynard, Gil Santos, Gary LaPierre and Joe Green,in contrast, made me feel as if I was a part of a group of old friends.Between the music, they discussed family, food and local issues. They were always touting one charitable cause or another and inspiring good deeds all around.
    Ahh!! The Wolfman. If his show did not send your very spirit rocketing skyward, you were either deaf or deceased. If music was the picture, Wolfie was the perfect frame for it. The selections he presented were enough to start your feet moving and your hands clapping. His howling in the backgroud, along with all his other antics created sheer ectasy among his listeners. He presented the music like your mother presented a Sunday Dinner she had just spent hours preparing for you, hovering around while you savored each and every morsel.His brief romantic interludes were like chocolate on a salty pretzel, a wonderful and unexpected contrast.
    Your Lady Wonder Wench demonstrates great judgement of character, except where choosing a mate is concerned. I guess love is truly blind.
    Big Hug!!

    Jim Doran

  3. Neal Braverman says:

    Dear Dick,

    For years I have been wondering what ever happened to the Master of THE BOSTON SOUND and I used to listen to the Subway whenever I could. For many years I attempted to get Bruce Arnold and Harry to Speak and consider a reunion as I was trying to do a fund raiser for the Victims of Violence within the City of Boston. Harry is best friendswith my best friend as well as being a distant cousin of mine according to my mother. I did get to speak to Bruce and he agreed to do the reunion as long as he was the feature!!!! So it did not happen and then years later Harry,Eric and Jack played incredibly well at I beleive it is called Ryles in Cambridge and they called themselves Orpheus in Process, They sounded great and Harry played guitar and he did some really great originals I remember one especially about MY Wife I beleive was the title.

    I guess I was both a Dick Summer and an Orpheus groupie and those days bring me back to so much times of personal peace and pleasure. You and I did meet on several different occasions, but I was just a fan! Please know I am so glad to hear about Orpheus the new group and I am eager to hear them when they play local to Boston and I am also very pleased to know you are still in the business and doing well. Dick, thanks for decades of great memories, Sincerely, Neal Braverman

  4. Alex says:

    I’ve seen several arguments over the years that citing OA articles makes it easy for readers to verify that authors are accurately representing their sources, while citing TA articles makes this difficult and protects authors who want to blow smoke.