Archive for July, 2020

Personal Memories of Arnie Ginsburg, Boston Radio’s Legendary D.J.

July 3, 2020

It is hard to overstate just how popular, how much of a teenage idol, disc jockey and radio personality Arnie Ginsburg was during my youth. Arnie died on June 26, 2020 at his home in Ogunquit, Maine. He was 94 years old and had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

In addition to being the top guy on Boston radio back in the 50s and 60s, Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg was a truly nice man.  I speak from experience – I got to meet him up close and personal.

One Saturday morning, probably around 1961 or 62, I was prowling around the Kenmore Square area with my late friend Bobby Sheppard. We found the WMEX studio, which was a small suite on the second floor of a nondescript building near Fenway Park.

We knocked on the door and asked if Arnie was around. He wasn’t, but the guy on duty suggested that we write him a letter and ask if we could visit him.

I went home and wrote that letter. My Palmer Method penmanship was horrible, as always, but apparently it was legible enough.  I do remember my very tactful closing line: “How about it?”

Within a week or two, I got back a nice note from Arnie. He said he would be happy to have me visit with a friend or two. We should just come right before air time and show them the copy of his letter.  Then they would let us in to see his show.

We got there just as Dan Donovan, the “Six to Eight Your Dinner Date” guy, finished up. Over on the back wall above a small stage, we noticed, was a maroon banner with spangled lettering: “The Jerry Williams Show.”

Arnie moved into the studio chair that Dan vacated.  He sat down, with the boom-suspended microphone dangling from above and two big record turntables on the counter. The records that Arnie played would sit on a large metal platter. They turned, along with the rubber turntables beneath them. He would cue up the record to the exact beginning spot, hold it stationary, and then release it so that it started off at full speed. This avoided what they called the “Wow.”

Old “Aching Adenoids,” as he called himself, also had an assortment of toys and noisemakers, like the trademark squeaky carrot and the device that sounded like a car horn.  He was a real pro and thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing.  He moved effortlessly from spinning platters to pitching products.  Just before he played “Till There Was You,” that sweet song from “The Music Man,” he introduced it with “Till there was Woo.” And there was another promotional intro for him, “We Love You Arnie,” taken right from “We Love You Conrad” in “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Of course we heard the famous “Adventure Car Hop” jingle. There was also “Go down to Del’s, 500 Gallivan Boulevard, in Dorchester.  Need a new antenna? A rear-seat speaker too? Del’s will fix it while you wait. Everything will be just great at Del’s.” Arnie “sang” that one himself.

Arnie didn’t mind having three wide-eyed teenagers – Bobby, Steve Doherty, and I – standing right next to him.  He even gave us a piece of air time.  At the end of a live-voice pitch for the Gillette adjustable razor, he asked “Whaddya get?”  And he looked at us expectantly. We weren’t anticipating that, but we all managed to shout “Gillette!”

My mother drove in to pick us up. She was not happy at all that I was out so late on a school night. In fact, she was thoroughly pissed off at me. They wouldn’t open the studio door for her while we were on the air, so she glared through the glass and kept beckoning for us to leave.

We didn’t get to stay until the 10:00 ending time. It was probably around 9:30 that we had to go, so we didn’t get to express our thanks to Arnie in person. I don’t think we truly appreciated at that time how unique an experience we’d just had. I didn’t have the savoir faire to write him a thank-you note either.

But many years later, not all that long ago, I did get to thank him. He was a guest on somebody’s talk show on a Boston station. I pulled the car over, dialed in, got through, recounted this story, and told him how much of a thrill it was and how much I appreciated it.

And now I’ll say it again. Thank you, Arnie Ginsburg. You were the greatest DJ, and the greatest guy too. May you rest in peace.