Welcome to Hy Lit Radio
Thank you for visiting HyLitRadio.com, the official web site
of Radio Legend Hy Lit. Now you can listen live to Hy Lit Radio
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Send Your Pictures
The Hy Lit Picture page is coming. If you have photos and
memories you would like to share with other Hy Lit Radio listeners
please contact Sheri
Jane, Photo Mgr.
What is she doing now?
Sheri Jane was the premier go-go-dancer on the Hy Lit TV Shows. Sheri Jane now has her own dance studio and professional dance videos available at her website: sherijane.com
Do you love the Beatles?
To participate in our exciting Magical Mystery tour with our resident Beatlemaniacs, and share stories and experiences, your pictures, and memorabilia, contact: Patti-Gallo Stenman Patti@HyLitRadio.com
Listen Now, for a magical experience on the internet.
Hy Lit Radio Mobile DJ Services: Having a party?
Hy Lit Radio Mobile DJ and Party Machine services are available.
Contact Sam Lit SamLit@HyLitRadio.com
Hy Lit - A Philadelphia Radio Legend
A Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers member, Hy Lit has been the voice of Philadelphia radio for the last 50 years! He is a pioneer of rock n’ roll radio and has emceed shows with Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and a galaxy of other stars and celebrities during his illustrious career.
Hy has had television shows on WCAU TV Channel 10, WNTA Channel 13 in N.Y., and WKBS TV Channel 48 with a syndicated television show in Detroit, Cleveland, Boston and San Francisco.
Hy has dominated the radio ratings over the years for companies like Storer Broadcasting, Kaiser Broadcasting, CBS Radio, and stations including WIBG Radio 99 and WOGL Oldies 98.1 FM, among others. Hy has won countless awards include the following:
B’nai B’rith Award, November 8, 1957. City of Philadelphia Award, January 17, 1982; Inducted into the Philadelphia Avenue of the Arts Walk of Fame, April 2, 1993. Very first recipient of the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement of Radio Award in 1994. Achievement in Radio (A.I.R.) “Best Show”, November 13, 1997. Radio and Records Magazine named Hy Lit the Oldies Personality of the Year for 1999. Hy has been an outstanding spokesperson for the fight for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. He hosted Fashions for Parkinson’s disease on May 17, 2002 at the Bellevue Hotel for the Greater Philadelphia Parkinson’s Foundation.
Hy Lit…the Goodwill Ambassador of Philadelphia Radio was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame on Friday, November 21, 2003.
1954 - Life Could Be a Dream, Sh-Boom.
On a visit home for the holidays, I found myself in a basketball game in the gymnasium at West Philly High. It was the ‘Philadelphia Players’ against an assembled ‘radio industry' ball team. During that game Charlie O’Donnell (currently the announcer of Wheel of Fortune) fouled me with a slap, and remarked, excuse me. Later down court, when I returned the abrupt foul and promptly replied, "Ex-cuuuse Me", Charlie commented by saying “Hey, that’s quite a voice you have!". Subsequently after the game, we struck up a conversation. While ascertaining my status as a communications major at Miami University, Charlie indicated that he was the program director for 1340/WHAT, a rhythm and blues soul station, and that he had a time slot to fill Saturday morning. Would I be interested? Before I knew it the next day I was at the microphone.
My first record was Beyond the Blue Horizon, by Earl Bostic. I played it at Mickey Mouse speed, and then I opened the microphone, and said “Ahh sh-“. Charlie came rushing into the studio, and said, “You’re gonna be great!” Well the phones lit up. My first request was to dedicate a boss record called Tutti Frutti by the golden voice of the airwaves, Little Richard. So I got on the air, copying the hip style of the listener, and said “Here’s a boss record by Little Richard and dedicated to Baldy Bill, from Drexel Hill”. Little did I know that Baldy Bill was a school principal. I’d hear about this later on. As more requests came in I picked up on the listener’s crazy jargon, and slang, and sent it back out on the air with a rhyme.
I took over the 9 pm to 1 am time slot of a show called "The Rock ‘en Roll Kingdom ". I was the only white DJ on the station. Practically overnight, it seemed I became the hottest show on the radio. The listeners and I communicated. They called me the Bonnie Prince of Rock ‘n Roll. It seemed everyone in the city was listening, and they locked into ‘Hy Lit’s Rock ‘en Roll Kingdom ’ for the latest and the greatest. It was a magical time for radio; the DJ was king and rock ‘n roll was cool.
It was the early days when rock was young and ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ meant rhythm and blues. I noticed a lot of record promotion men were standing around with new records, begging for an airplay. And apparently, they were prepared to go to great lengths to facilitate that airplay exposure with a multitude of creative measures and incentives. In fact, my show became a venerable circus of record promotion men with all kinds of gifts and goodies vying for airplay favors on my coveted time slot. Rock was young, and I was breaking new records, left and right. It seemed anything and everything I played became an overnight hit. And the record stores were selling them out. Let me say this, I only chose the records that were bonafide hits. I never played any garbage, because I respected my listeners too much. So, on the air, when I said this was a hit, it was a hit. And the ratings bare that out. It was many a night, I said “If this ain’t a hit, I quit”.
My first public appearance was at a record hop sponsored by a girl’s sorority. The place was packed. Soon, all my record hops were all sold out as I became the hottest thing in town. Then came my first stage show. It was at The Arena, at 46th and Market Sts., next door to American Bandstand at WFIL-TV in West Philadelphia. The show had a caravan of early soul recording acts. When it came time to open the show, I walked on stage, and said “Hi everybody, my name is Hy Lit!” It was a black audience and they screamed, “Hey Whitey, get off the stage! Hy Lit is black, and you ain’t Hy Lit! I had a tough time convincing them and the boos the screams and the jeers were the loudest I ever heard. A fellow DJ great, Georgie Woods, from soul radio rival, WDAS, walked on stage and quieted the audience down. He convinced the audience that this was in fact Hy Lit. So I introduced the acts and the sellout show was a big success.
After that, it seemed the name of ‘Hy Lit’ was everywhere. The newspapers were quick to point me out, the kid from South Philadelphia who had captured a tremendous integrated following with this new thing called Rock ‘n Roll.
After a number of months and taking the 9 pm-1 am time slot into a ratings rocket ride, I went to Dolly Banks, (owner of WHAT with her brother William Banks, **WWDB ) and requested a salary increase commensurate with my performance. Her less than hesitant reply was “Don’t get it from me. Get it from the record companies”. So I did.
**WHAT-FM would become WWDB for William & Dolly Banks after a frequency change to 96.5; subsequently WDAS FM would land at 105.3
1956 - Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.
“Yes my friends, I’m here to say, Rock and Roll is here to stay.”
NBC discovers Rock n Roll, and Hy Lit, and acquires him for 1060/WRCV in Philadelphia.
…….“Calling all my beats, beards, Buddhist cats, big time spenders, money lenders, tea totallers, elbow benders, hog callers, home run hitters, finger poppin’ daddy’s, and cool baby sitters. For all my carrot tops, lollipops, and extremely delicate gum drops. It’s Hyski ‘O Roonie McVouti ‘O Zoot calling, up town, down town, cross town. Here there, everywhere. Your man with the plan, on the scene with the record machine.”
Hy drives the beginning of the Rockin’ soulful explosion of the Sound of Philadelphia, playing a major role exposing surprising new talent, artists and groups and bringing many the recognition for what they are now.
In 1956, I began as air talent on 1060/WRCV (Now KYW) in Philadelphia, After being hired away from 1340/WHAT Radio, which had become a resounding rating success. Therefore taking the growing Hy Lit Rock 'en Roll Kingdom' Show to the 10:30pm-2am time slot, on the 50,000-watt clear channel, 1060/WRCV frequency.
NBC at the time also required me to do an additional show called 'Sinatra and Company', in the early evening, under the name Johnny Dollar. All this to compliment the NBC radio network feeds featuring news on the top & bottom of every hour. Ironically, Sinatra and Company became a ratings success, as well as the Rock 'en Kingdom, which was primarily doo-wop & soul (known as race music at the time). In the true spirit of NBC, the big wigs from New York traveled to Philadelphia to see why this local phenom was so popular, not only in Philadelphia but also as far away as Boston late at night, where Rock & Roll was initially banned. (Sky wave on the 50,000-watt 1060kc B-1 clear status channel actually worked when the ground system was maintained). NBC, not quite up to date on the growing trends, concluded that the Rock & Roll Kingdom should add some Sinatra & Company. It just so happened that WIBG had called me day's earlier, requesting my presence.
*1060/WRCV was NBC owned and operated, and therefore carried the ‘NBC Radio Network’ with local cut-ins, similar to what network morning news shows resemble today. Most daytime programming was news, issue or feature oriented. The two music shows Hy hosted were part of only a handful of long form programming segments that originated from Philadelphia that otherwise were not covered by the network. ‘Sinatra & Company ’ was heard on the network in selected NBC radio markets as the local news segments concluded. Whereby the network affiliate would announce: "We take you now to Philadelphia for Sinatra and Company, with your host, Johnny Dollar".
1957 - The Ten Commandments of Love. W-I-B-G, Wibbageland, Wonderful WIBBAGE in Philadelphia.
By mid 1957 I had moved in to the 6-10pm slot, at 50,000 watt, WIBG, where I would remain throughout the 60’s. When George B. Storer bought the station, prior to my arrival, he decided to keep the call letters WIBG, which stood for 'I Believe in God'. However, he was intent on fading out the block programming in favor of a more consistent sound around the clock, Rock & Roll.
Hy would achieve the highest ratings in Philadelphia history with a 71 share of all listeners, as Hy dominates AM radio through the sixties, where it’s what’s between the music that counts.
1959 - At the Hop.
You can rock and you can roll it, do the stomp and really stroll it at the hop. Where the music is the latest and the jockey is the greatest, at the hop. Do the dance sensation that is sweepin the nation at the hop…...
While DJing in radio, Hyski hosts WCAU TV’s Block Party on Channel 10 (CBS). Philadelphia dances up a storm on TV and at Hy Lit Record Hops nightly, to sell out crowds wherever he appears, throughout the land.
Hyski also travels to New York to host the weekly ‘Rate the Records’ TV show on WNTA TV Channel 13.
Hyski brings the ‘King‘, Elvis Presley to town and hosts a multitude of spectacular shows at the Uptown Theater with major recording figures and other local disc jockeys like Georgie Woods from WDAS.
Hy would hire a youngster named Joe Tamburro, to assist in the record hops, and who would change his name to Butterball and eventually program WDAS-FM, where he is today.
1964 - Hyski, the Beatles and Beatlemaniacs
In the late summer of 1964, there was a rather unusual excitement building throughout the entire Delaware Valley that something rather historical was going to take place. A group called the Beatles, part of a British musical invasion was landing in the United States for one incredible tour. Earlier that year, representing all the fans in the city of Brotherly Love, I traveled to New York’s William Morris agency, to book this new, and as of yet unseen ‘in person’ group.
In the week before September 2, 1964, I would hear from Frank Rizzo, who eventually became mayor, and was currently Captain of the Philadelphia Police. He had called to say his boss and children wanted to meet the Beatles. I said you got it. But there is a problem. We’re being outnumbered by the fans. So Rizzo Said, “The only problem you have is getting them into convention hall, and I’ve got an idea”.
Frank and I arranged to have the Beatles smuggled in, from Atlantic City, where the day before they were performing at the Jersey Shore. While a decoy limousine procession traveled up the New Jersey White Horse Pike, a Hackney’s fish truck, carrying the Beatles, slowly rolled up the Black Horse Pike, and casually passed thousands of screaming fans, into the food service entrance at convention hall.
And so it had worked. We held a news conference that the Beatles are in the building.
1964 - Philly Beatlemania begins
Philly Beatlemania begins with a riddle on a cold December morning. Hy Lit - Hyski O’Roonie McVoutie O’Zoot, the No.1 jock on WIBG, the city’s AM powerhouse-walks out to his car. On his windshield are the letters “B” and “E”. The day after that there was an “A”, followed by a “T” the next day. Each morning, another letter was added. By the end of the week the message on Lit’s windshield was complete: “The Beatles are coming!”
It’s February, 1964 and WIBG jocks Hyski & Joe Niagara are knocking back complimentary beverages at a swanky “Meet the Beatles” cocktail party at the Plaza in New York (see picture above). Hyski staggers out of the cocktail party with one thing on his mind: getting the Beatles to Philadelphia. The next day, Lit calls William Morris, the Beatles booking agency, and asks what it will take. “Twenty-five thousand dollars,” they say. Hy doesn’t even blink. He’ll be there tomorrow with a certified check. The Beatles will be on his doorstep on September 2nd.
Within weeks the Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan, which commands a Super Bowl-sized viewership, and overnight America falls hard for the Fab Four. Tickets go on sale in May, starting at $2.50 for the nose bleed seats and topping out at $5.50 for the floor. Convention Hall’s 13,000 seats sell out in 90 minutes. A mini riot ensues when word of the sellout reaches the scores of Beatlemaniacs still in line for tickets. Hyski will be hit up with so many VIP won’t-take-no-for-an-answer ticket requests that when it’s all said and done and the Beatles have left, he’ll be out $5,000. In fact, the whole thing will turn out to be a really big headache, with the suits at the station giving him guff about that stunt he pulled on a Bulletin reporter who was writing trash about Beatles fans the day of the ticket sales. Hyski gave up the reporter’s office number on the air and told listeners to call him up and scream in his ear. The Bulletin guy complained to his boss, who then turned around and gave Hy’s boss an earful when they were out on the back nine together. At which point the boss comes back to the clubhouse, calls up Hyski and tells him he’s off the air for a couple of days. No pay. On top of that, Hyski’s getting static from the local 7-UP guy, one of the stations biggest sponsors, who had been demanding exclusive pouring rights for the concert through the station. Hyski told Mr. 7-UP no. He didn’t need this crap from some soda jerk, and Hy cordially invited him to shove it. The 7-Up guy threatened to stop all soda sales. Hy said, “So what, you ever hear of water?” Well, the station brass wanted to suspend him for that too, but Hyski wasn’t having it. He was untouchable, and he knew it. He reminded them that he took a bullet for the team back in ’60 when payola hit the fan, off the air briefly and now he was done taking bullets. He wasn’t interested in going on another ‘vacation‘. “You suspend me and I’ll resign and take the Beatles with me,” Lit said. And that was the end of that.
1964 - Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.
UHF TV turns on America. Hyski A-Go-Go and the Hy Lit TV Show’s on WKBS TV Channel 48 begin a seven year run in syndication to all Kaiser station’s in Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, and San Francisco, as Kaiser aluminum turns on UHF TV stations in the major markets.
All the major recording stars appear. Stars like….. Otis Redding, The 4 Tops, Diana Ross and Supremes, Lloyd Price, Marvin Gaye, Three Dog Night, The Isley Brothers, Joe Cocker, The Delfonics, The Intruders….. and hundreds more.
WKBS TV was one of five UHF Kaiser Corp. stations put on the air in 1964 in selected major markets. Kaiser had deep pockets and launched with advanced state of the art video, recording and editing studios, locally at 3201 S. 26th St. in South Philadelphia in a custom-built warehouse across from what was then the ARCO refinery (now Sunoco).
The Hy Lit Show was one of the first to air music and video as composite production components. The programming vignettes had a multitude of visual montages, many of which Hy has archived along with the entire recorded ‘Music Video’ catalogue from his show here at HyLit.com. We are looking at a promotion to make them available via HyLitRadio.com next year. Stay tuned.
Sheri Jane becomes Hy’s legendary Go-Go dancer and now has her own web site…www.Sherijane.com Sheri-Jane is fine and doing well. Hy speaks with her on a regular basis, and she even stops by semi-annually from Tennessee. There is an early photo of her, an e-mail address with a link for her on the top of the HyLitRadio home page. She has a fond recollection of the show. I'm sure she’d love to hear from you and exchange some memories.
1965 - I Know it’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,
But I Like it.
The first time Mick Jagger would perform in Philadelphia, was for Hy Lit at convention hall to a major sell out crowd. Herman’s Hermits was the opening for the show. Again, Frank Rizzo, Chief of Police, keeps law and order for the overflow crowd.
Did you know that one of the first stations in Philadelphia was WLIT, owned by the LIT Brothers department store in the 20's and 30’s? It later merged with WFI, owned by the Strawbridge & Clothier department store to form WFIL. The department store families and their respective companies initially underwrote and established early radio broadcasts to sell their wares.
Gimbel Brothers department store was another such entity that had a broadcast frequency. Strawbridge and Clothier, Gimbel Brothers and Lit Brothers were all across the street from each other on either side of Market St. and each had their hammock antennas on top of their respective flagship department stores in center city Philadelphia.
1966 - Its Only Words.
The Hy Lit Hiptionary. Hy creates a dictionary of all the hip expressions from throughout his career.
Hy had a language all his own that could communicate with all the teenagers and young adults of the day. So many hip and unique expressions that let you know he was talking to just you, and only you.
1968 - A Piece of My Heart.
Hyski launches Underground radio. The beginning of FM Radio. Hy Lit Pioneers FM, with artists like Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Cream, the Moody Blues, the Who, Iron Butterfly and many more up and coming artists...
It was late 1968. WIBG had a decade long run at the top of the ratings. I personally garnered a 71 share for my Sunday night WIBBAGE hall of fame show and had 40+ shares during the week. Subsequently as a result, we were sold out, usually with 20-22 minute hourly commercial loads. When WFIL flipped to top 40 in late 1966, they basically ran commercial free for a good solid year. When WIBBAGE was playing commercials WFIL was playing music. So the listeners began to have to wait to hear their favorites on WIBG. It was only a matter of time before they would catch us. I personally went to Storer Broadcasting Management and suggested they raise the rates and cut the commercial load. But that fell on deaf ears. By late 1968, Storer Broadcasting's answer was to bring in Paul Drew, who implemented an emulation of the Paul Drake que card format. It was less talk, one-liners and a limited music rotation selection. Never a fan of the Drake type format, and having lost confidence in the accumulating management errors, I accepted a position as Vice President/General Manager at 105.3/WDAS-FM, and created HYSKI'S UNDERGROUND, a format that was a new wave of album oriented music. Simultaneously, I was also required to work the 'SOUL PATROL' 1480/WDAS AM 1-4pm daily for the first year. Ironically, this was not the first time I was on FM radio. I was already heard on FM through the 50's & 60's on Wibbage simulcast 94.1/WIBG-FM, and even earlier on 105.3/WHAT-FM (1340/WHAT simulcast), which ultimately after early frequency changes became WDAS-FM.
My initial WDAS-FM staff was Ed Schiakey, Michael Tearson, Larry Magid (Electric Factory Concerts), T. Morgan, Gene Shay, Wayne Joel, Steve Marko (WIP's Steve Martarano) and Rod Carson (now with KYW Traffic. ROD was also an anchor newsman at WIBG during the 60's).
WIBG requested my return in late '69, and I agreed after I worked out an arrangement to continue with my WDAS FM duties while doing 12-3pm on WIBBAGE. That didn't work comfortably beyond a year due to the work overload at WDAS FM as FM radio was showing some movement in popularity.
1973 - Let's Boogie Down.
Hy segued to WIFI 92 FM in Philadelphia, as Fm top 40 makes major gains with the audience against WFIL. Also does weekends at Wilmington's 1380/WAMS AM Wilmington DE.
1975 - Do the Hustle.
Hyski Launches Disco Radio in the World's Playground on Atlantic City's 1490 WUSS AM. It becomes the 'Mountain of Soul' for South Jersey, beating Merv Griffins 1340/WMID at the shore.
1975 to 2005 memoirs coming soon.
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