Radio Personality Leigh Taylor
62 WHEN Radio -Syracuse, NY

"In Her Own Words"

Syracuse radio stations 62 WHEN Syracuse, NY The Big 62 WHEN
My time revolved more around the great times at 980 James Street when the station was owned by Meredith in the early 70s and radio was radio. I was hired by Jim Ashbery as his secretary. On my job interview I was wearing black nail polish and he said he thought he’d take a chance on this crazy girl. I shared an office off to the side of Jim’s with the very talented Mike Andrews. John Patton was GM at the time and WHEN Radio was in it’s heyday as a personality driven adult contempory radio station. The nice thing about this was we were also a TV station, and we had some of the greats in TV. From Ron Curtis, Nancy Duffy and Jack Morse to my buddy Al Roker, it was pretty amazing. Of course we had the great Rod Wood in radio news and it was always a fun day when you ran into Rod on your way to your office in the morning. Sometimes we’d dance down the hallway on the way to work. I’ll never forget Rod harping about the hookers at the Ramada Inn in Liverpool mumbling something about a bust there.

Phil was the morning man, and some mornings came sooner than others Phil liked to party! We all did, and many a night I believe Phil came in from an all niter. Many a morning the all night man would have to wake Phil up to get him on the air. It was always fun to watch him try to get through morning drive when those days happened. Phil had a temporary Class 3 license at the time and time was running out. We both took our exam in Liverpool. I passed, Phil didn’t. Capt. Gordon (Spooner) had to fly Phil to Buffalo to re-take his exam. I think Dr. Al Jones (back with the hits) did mid-days at the time, Jack Mindy was afternoon drive, John Simmons was evenings and I believe for a short while when I was there Roy Taylor did overnights. Terry O’Shea was doing some shtick for Phil at the time and eventually replaced the overnite person as The Coyote. When Gordon went on vacation I replaced him doing traffic reports under the handle (Pvt. Galore). We had fun flying over the city and reporting traffic conditions. One time in particular was quite memorable. In those days the way the station was monitored was with a transistor radio being held to your ear and listening for your cue. Gordon called Jim one New Years eve while doing afternoon drive traffic reports. He told him his batteries ran out. Jim sent me to Sair Aviation to meet Gordon in between his reports to give him fresh batteries. It was a cold, dark, snowy ride to the hangar. When Gordon landed he asked me if I wanted to go up and I said sure why not. Once we took off he told me he shouldn’t have really been flying in that kind of weather. Needless to say I was glad when we landed.

Doug Brode as our entertainment critic and he conducted many great interviews in the production studio, once I remember meeting Patty Duke and John Astin. There was a weekly Call to Action show produced by Mike Andrews. We worked with some young high school students from Junior Achievement who wanted to pursue a radio career. Does the name Skip Clark sound familiar? Yup, he was one of them. The girls had a softball team at the time. Myself, Audrey Wilkes, Kathy Mindy and Nancy Duffy were some of the people involved.

Jeff Laurence (WOLF)eventually joined the gang in Radio Production, with his ballsy voice, I think it was just before Mike Andrews left for Naples. Jeff was another talented individual doing great production. WHEN studios were always the place we wanted to be and hung out even when you weren’t on the clock. With a number of people we tried to put together "jock shouts". They didn’t come out that bad, and I’m sure somewhere in my collection there maybe a "Leigh Taylor" one or two.

Linda Arnold was in charge of promotion at the time. She worked closely with the Call to Action people. The one big promotion that Linda Arnold was in charge of was WHEN Radio Has Gone Bananas! The station got a contractor to make this gigantic banana. It was erected downtown on the side of I think, the Goldberg Furniture store on Salina St. in downtown Syracuse. John Simmons stayed in the banana for a week or so until someone answered their phone "WHEN Has Gone Bananas". Prior to the launch of this promotion the Mayor of our fair city Lee Alexander was in the hospital. Bud Stiker asked me to make a loaf of banana bread to be delivered to Alexander’s hospital room, saying, WHEN Has Gone Bananas. He didn’t die so I guess it was good. LOL

After Mike left to become PD at WRGI in Naples, Florida he began calling me to ask if I might like to come down there to work. I was ready to make the move, but Mike thought better of it and first let Jim Ashbery know I was planning on leaving. Jim Ashbery in turn offered the Sunday night show to me. That was the beginning of the Night Lady (Leigh Taylor) on WHEN radio. Sunday nights were great, and I had a little company with my good friend Al Roker who worked just across the hall in TV. I still have this vivid picture in my mind of Al running from one end of the studio window to the other back and forth whenever I played Philadelphia Freedom doing his jazz hands and with that great big smile. Actually a month or so ago while watching the TODAY show it was flashback Thursday and they said that Al’s favorite song was "Philadelphia Freedom".  Brought back a lot of good memories.

Eventually Jim Ashbery went on to WFBL radio where he put together a team including myself (Leigh Taylor, The Nite Lady), on Super Radio! Of course when I got a "real job" I still did radio for many years part-time, so WHEN Radio was not a stranger to me, although it was now owned by Park Broadcasting. When I returned to WHEN/WRRB studios at 620 Old Liverpool Rd. it was not the same. However, this is where I began my love of country music and when asked if I wanted to go down the hall to the WHEN studio instead of WRRB I said I thought I’d like it better on the country side. There are many good memories of my time on James St. And that name "Leigh Taylor"? At the time Roy Taylor and Chip Lee (Leigh and Taylor) had left the station so Jim Ashbery decided to have Jeff put the two names together and voilá...Leigh Taylor was born!!!

Leigh Taylor
December 2013

Ed. Note: You can see a cartoon Al drew especially for Leigh here.

Radio Personality Leigh Taylor- 62 WHEN Radio Syracuse - Early 70s - 980 James St When I Grow Up I Wanna...


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