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Monday, March 24, 2008

News: Former WKYC radio man Jack Armstrong passes away

Ohio Media Watch is reporting this afternoon that former WKYC radio man Jack Armstrong has died in North Carolina.

Big Jack Armstrong (born John Charles Larsh 1945 to 3-22-2008)... aka Jack Armstrong, Jackson W. Armstrong, Big Jack Your Leader... was a Top 40 disc jockey of the 1960s and 1970s.

First surfacing at WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC in 1960, the 14 year old DJ began his radio career. Personable, friendly, young, and with the ability to talk at speeds beyond that of most humans, Larsh was well liked and well received by audiences. He developed 2 imaginary sidekicks - the Gorilla, who speaks in a raspy bass, and likes women, banana juice, and whiskey, in that order - and the Old Timer, who wheezes, tells lame jokes, and was always getting shot after one of them.

Larsh worked at several stations in the Deep South in the early 1960s, including WCOG in Greensboro, NC, and WAYS in Charlotte, North Carolina. His first big break came in 1966, when he landed a job at WIXY/1260 in Cleveland, OH. The evening disc jockey at this station was always called 'Jack Armstrong,' after the 1930s radio serial Jack Armstrong the All American Boy. With his fast talking, young, friendly approach, Larsh became a huge hit in Cleveland - so huge that floundering WKYC/1100 asked him to break his WIXY contract, and come to work for the 50,000 watt blowtorch in January of 1967.

'Jack Armstrong' was a copyrighted moniker in the market, so Larsh adopted the alias 'Big Jack Your Leader,' and went to work for WKYC. He also occasionally taunted WIXY by calling himself Jackson W. Armstrong.

With WKYC being heard all over the Eastern half of the US, Larsh finally went national. He attracted fans all over the region, and became a huge hit. WKYC was listed as the #3 record buying influence in Miami, FL in that era, no doubt due to 'Big Jack' and the 50,000 watt night time signal that was so strong over the East Coast of the US.

Larsh moved on, working at other 50,000 watt stations like WMEX/1510-Boston, MA; CHUM/1050-Toronto, Ontario, Canada; KFI/640-Los Angeles, KTNQ/1020- Los Angeles and WKBW/1520-Buffalo, NY. It was at the latter that he developed his 'Motormouth' character, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1971 as the world's fastest talking human. Larsh was one of the original disc jockeys hired for the all new 13-Q in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1970s.

Larsh was working for WWKB/1520-Buffalo, N.Y. when the sudden format change in 2006 to liberal talk put him in the unemployed ranks. He passed away on March 22, 2008 at his home in North Carolina.


Read more about Jack on his MySpace page: CLICK HERE

Information courtesy: Wikipedia, Photo Courtesy of Jack Armstrong website

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to listen to him on WIXY and later on WKYC. Also met him at an event in Berea several years ago. Nice guy. I asked him if it was true that he used to speed up the records ever so slightly at WIXY to make them sound a little more upbeat; he just smiled and nodded.

RIP Big Jack. You'll always be "Our LEEEEEDAH!"

9:39 PM, March 24, 2008  
Anonymous Todd Baucher said...

Jack Armstrong was one of a long line of classic Cleveland DJ's...from Alan Freed to Denny Sanders. He was there only for two years, but he left a mark that can't be erased. Ironically, his last official broadcast was on WWKB in Buffalo, just before it changed formats in 2006. He was talking about the anniversary of "The Day The Music Died"; the Buddy Holly plane crash. The music lives on and so will Jack, through the work which still exists on airchecks among traders.

7:31 PM, March 27, 2008  

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