Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two Mr. Dee-jays

A quick "drive-by" look at the charts of a couple of radio dee-jays today, one from each side of the Atlantic ocean, both born the same year, as it happens. One is, sadly, long gone; the other very much with us, but about to leave his long-running BBC breakfast show.

From the BBC in the UK, Sir Terry Wogan, from the USA, the late Wolfman Jack.

Sir Terry is a national treasure in Britain, in the way no single radio dee-jay could be in the USA because of the vast size of the country. The UK is roughly the size of a big state or a couple of smaller ones, the BBC reaches every home and is simply a part of British life for which there is no exact US equivalent. Also, Terry Wogan is more than just a dee-jay. He has presented his breakfast show for over three decades, as well as a variety of other radio commentary - and some TV interviewing and game shows. His trademark warm personality, quick wit, good humored chat and great sense of fun transmit to his audience with a clarity quite rare in broadcasting. I guess he would translate more accurately as the UK's Johnny Carson, but Mr. Carson wasn't known as a dee-jay, so in that context he's not quite right here.

Tomorrow will be Sir Terry's last breakfast show. He's not leaving broadcasting altogether. He has other shows planned, much to his fans' relief. I've listened to his lovely Irish brogue on "Wake Up to Wogan" for longer than I care to remember, he sent me off to work with a smile on my face and a song buzzing around in my head for years. Even since I've lived in the USA I've continued to listen to his show on the BBC's "listen again" facility, almost every day.

I notice that benign Jupiter will return to its exact natal place in January 2010 - as Terry gets used to his constant newfound morning freedom.

Born in Limerick, Republic of Ireland on 3 August 1938. Terry's natal Sun conjunct Mars in Leo accounts for his warmth and unflagging energy. Mercury, the communcator and Venus the artist in precise Virgo (Mercury's rulershship) point to his unfailing professionalism and discretion. He somehow manages to skate around "iffy" jokes and innuendo, sent in by his listeners, without giving offence. His Sun is square Uranus and trine Saturn (much like my own, though from different signs) - what this reflects, I reckon, is a healthy disregard for convention whilst still managing to stay within reasonable limits. I'll miss him!

From the USA we have Wolfman Jack. One of American radio’s most distinctive voices, “Wolfman Jack” was born Robert Smith in Brooklyn, New York on January 21, 1938.

A longtime fan of radio, Smith first hit the airwaves as “Daddy Jules” on Newport News, Virginia station WYOU-AM. In 1962, Smith became “Big Smith” for station KCIJ/ Shreveport, Louisiana. Here, he drew upon his love of horror movies and rock and roll to create the raspy-voiced, howling persona of “Wolfman Jack.”
In the mid 1960s, the Wolfman crossed the border to Mexico and joined the 250,000-watt powerhouse XERF-AM. With his mix of verbal antics, and raw rhythm & blues, Wolfman Jack developed a radio personality that seemed to send energy and attract attention across North America. His howls and yips, and the blues and hillbilly records he spun blanketed much of the United States all night long. In between cuts, he would hawk plastic figurines of Jesus, coffins, and inspirational literature, and exhort his listeners to "get yo'self nekkid."

Soon, the national press was beginning to take notice, and stories began to surface in Time, Newsweek, Life and major newspapers around the world. Leading recording artists like Todd Rundgren, Leon Russell and Freddie King wrote chart-making songs about The Wolfman, and his popularity spiralled upward. Still, questions persisted: Who is Wolfman Jack? Where does he come from? What does he look like? Only Bob Smith knew all the answers, and he was keeping them closely guarded.
For all of his fame, many of Wolfman Jack’s fans had never seen him until 1973, when he appeared in George Lucas’ hit film American Graffiti and began an eight-year stint as host of NBC-TV’s Midnight Special.
“Wolfman Jack” died on July 1, 1995.
Information from:

Wolfman's Sun and Jupiter in Aquarius are more or less opposite Terry Wogan's Sun/Mars in Leo. I wonder whether Fixed sign Suns are good for anything regular and long-running. I suspect they might be.

It was said that Wolfman Jack drew upon his love of horror movies and rock and roll to create his raspy-voiced, howling persona, one of radio’s most distinctive voices, and a far cry from Wogan's soothing Irish brogue. Wolfman's Mercury, planet of communication is in Capricorn, bringing any over-the-top Aquarian antics back down to Earth. Taking care of business was his prime motivation. His Sun is square Uranus and sextile Saturn, a similar configuration to Terry's, bucking convention yet keeping within the bounds of decency - harder for a Sun Aquarian to do than for a Sun Leo, I guess, but his Capricorn Mercury is key.


Shawn Carson said...

hi twilight,
everyone loved the wolfman, and his venus/ pluto opposition illustrates the way he was able to blend the horror movie theme of wolfmen and popular music. aspects to uranus from both mercury and jupiter show his unusual broadcasting style. saturn at the aries point indicates that his career had an impact on the world at large, while the sextile from sun to node aided him in his creativity.

Wisewebwoman said...

Terry is one of the slender connective threads to my mum who died in 1971.
She absolutely adored him on Radio Eireann in the mornings and was devastated when the BBC stole him away from her.
Wolfman Jack has been portrayed in movies so many times it is hard to separate myth from reality.
Great post.

Twilight said...

Shawn ~~~ Good points! Never having heard Wolfman Jack "in the flesh", I can't comment much more, and have to rely on what's written, and told to me. Thank you for adding your thoughts from real experience. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Oh that's a lovely connection to remember! We do tend to feel affection for our breakfast dee-jays in general I think. It must be something about the early morning mind, often half awake and half asleep. ;-)

I'm ignorant about Wolfman Jack, so had to do a little research, in order to offer a wee bit of astrology to those on this side of the pond, who probably have never heard of Terry. I haven't seen any of the movies - or if I have, I didn't realise that they were based on Wolfman J. :-)

R J Adams said...

I must admit I've never heard of Wolfman Jack, but the 'passing' of Terry Wogan (though, thankfully not in the more usual sense) left me feeling quite depressed. I guess its another of those 'end of an era' moments that serve to remind us how damned old we're getting?

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Yes - eras are ending with too much regularity for my liking these days! I listened to Terry's last breakfast show yesterday on the "listen again" thingie, but couldn't bear to hear the last number played: "The Party's Over" - so I switched that one off and never did hear his "last words". :-)