This mental scrapbook, bursting its binding with pictures, emotions and bigger than life recollections, has just flipped open to one of my best-loved characters. Some of my favorite people in the world are stored among these memories.
I open it up from time to time and must always wear shades. Careful, don't wince. That's just the blazing light reflecting off of one of radio's most brilliant, shining examples. That's Frank Terry, one of the original Boss Jocks.
As far as being a disc jockey goes, playing hits on the radio in the 60s and 70s, was, for most of us, the pinnacle. Being chosen as a Boss Jock meant you were among the best of the best. It was more than a high point in a radio career, it was the Golden Fleece. Frank Terry belonged there, fit in as naturally as green felt on a turntable.
Just starting out as a Boss Jock, I had heard rumors between the legendary tales of Robert W. Morgan and the Real Don Steele, of a "James Bond of DJs" who could travel, trouble shooting, from one Boss station to another and sound as if he had been there all the time. Moreover, you felt you knew and loved him all that while. He had little personal attachment to his past achievements to get in the way so, without that sort of demanding ego, when on the air, he really was your friend.
Off the air, too.
Growing along, learning the business, I was able to hear recording of his work, Like so many other "baby DJs," I listened and looked up to him. On the air, his easy style of delivery and attitude of sharing was a college education, a broadcast seminar and a wonderful, entertaining example of how to do it right the first time.
Years marched forward, I made it into the realm of the Boss Jocks. I started at their Fresno facility, KYNO, and worked my way up through San Diego, San Francisco , then L.A. When I became a Boss Jock worked alongside him, he was more approachable than many others. No investment in his own personal history was too big to block his friends from view. Not all that common among those in show business. I have had associates surprise me with their ambition and near desperate motivation to grab the limelight. Frank was already center stage in his own soul, thus comfortable to be with and always easy to communicate with.
We laughed often, long and hard, from a place deep inside, as if we had known each other all our lives. Instant family. Frank was like that, the epitome of the word, "inclusive."
When our career paths went in different directions, he seemed to fit in seamlessly at every station, no matter what kind of music and programming they were presenting. Frank seemed to effortlessly make it all his own, the mark of a professional and self starter. This was my chance to see his ability to adapt to any show, any audience. It was another education altogether, seeing how diversified he was on other music presentation, their various formats.
I heard he had moved to the northern part of the state. I heard he was not well. I heard he conquered the illness. I made plans with friends for a trek north to visit. But, before we could motor up that way, the news arrived that Frank had passed on.
Today, I still find myself looking up to him in memory. Now that he's moved on, he still manages to impress, still sounds and looks good. You can hear many examples of his air work, showcased at the official Disc Jockey Museum, the "aircheck channel," www.ReelRadio.com, where "the beat goes on."
New DJs and pod casters: look him up, listen to his ease and fluency, learn from the best. You can find him in various web niches. Frank Terry, remember him. He was the 007 of DJs, a jock's jock. But on the air he was none of that. He was simply your good and reliable friend.