Joining some big names in New York radio, WCBS-FM evening DJ Ron Parker has found his own niche with audiences.
Parker has been with CBS-FM since shortly after the station went back to Classic Hits from the jockless “Jack” format in 2007.
At the time, Parker wasn’t too familiar with listeners. But he wasn’t a complete novice either. He did some fill-in work at Z100 in 1991.
Parker, a Bronx native who also lived in New Jersey growing up, got a radio greats crash course every day.
“In those fine formidable teen years, I got a really good dose of 1010 WINS, WABC, WMCA,” Parker remembers. “Like any young kid who wanted to get in radio… [I] just listened and taped the guys.”
He’s proud to still have many airchecks of the classic DJs in his collection.
Parker reminisces about meeting Dan Ingram and “Cousin” Brucie after the jump.
Before making it onto the air, Parker got an early thrill—meeting the great Ingram.
While attending the University of Georgia, Parker was a campus representative for Warner Bros.-Reprise records. During that time, he had built a friendship with WABC weekender, Frank Kingston Smith.
Smith let Parker and his friend come to the studio. It was in 1972, on a shift change, that he met Ingram for the first time.
Parker’s chance encounters with Bruce Morrow date back even further.
“I believe he came to our school once in New Jersey for the School Spirit contest,” Parker recalls.
He also saw Morrow do his famed live remotes from the Palisades Amusement Park.
And so, the seed was planted. Parker has worked in many markets, including Houston and San Francisco.
But to gain the true notoriety he couldn’t pass up on an opportunity, as Brian Thomas, WCBS-FM program director put it, to “become part of New York radio history.”
His hiring was just weeks after the station turned over from the ill-fated “Jack FM.”
“The return of CBS-FM was certainly one of the biggest radio comebacks I’ve ever seen in my career,” Parker recalls.
Prior to Parker joining the station, Thomas assembled a staff with some of the best jocks in the business. From CBS-FM veterans Dan Taylor and Bob Shannon to accomplished New York DJ “Broadway” Bill Lee, the station had a familiar sound with music and announcers.
While it was a gig Parker had to accept, the question of whether he would fit in with those established voices was unclear.
“In the first year there, I was on the station, my biggest worry was ‘will I be accepted?’ …I felt confident that I would be able to get a New York sound.”
Parker persevered with listeners. Several times in the past two years his nightly show has reached number one. His 7 p.m. to midnight show heard Monday through Thursday night (Parker also does Sunday afternoons) also pulls in big numbers with men and women 35 and older—regularly either number one or two.
Despite his modest success, he is aware that “longevity in the New York City area, really, really rules with listeners.”
Of course, he has a special place in his heart for those beloved callers to his show that helped him gain popularity.
His other love of working at CBS-FM is participating in Turntable Tuesday.
“It’s a great feature the station does. It really shows the depth of music that the station plays.”
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