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Imus In the Morning with Robert W. Morgan, 66 WNBC New York | July, 1973

The Imus in the Morning show was barely two years old when Robert W. Morgan, a veritable legend by 1973 in Los Angeles dropped by the WNBC studios.

We’re not sure what the impetus was that brought these two morning show icons together in the same room, but imagine the polished Morgan sitting across from an unkempt man in a pair of jeans, boots and a cowboy hat. Despite the West Coast/East Coast differences, one could imagine the morning show that could have developed had both men teamed up on the same station, with the hilarious antics of Don Imus leading into the incredible professionalism and wit of Robert W. Morgan.

One can only guess what lead to this chance on air encounter, but early on in this recording, Imus comments that both men were up for the Billboard Disc Jockey Of The Year award, and that Morgan was doing a tour… mentioning that he would be in Boston the next day.

Remembering our history, we recall that Robert W. Morgan was to join his friend “The Real” Don Steele at KIQQ Los Angeles, where Bill Drake had gone from after KHJ.

Note the jab at crosstown WABC’s Dan Ingram by Morgan. There was a very large on-air rivalry between WABC and WNBC, not unlike baseball’s Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, and while WABC was professionally silent about it, the WNBC jocks frequently took any opportunity to poke at the alphabet station.

The very best of this is hearing Robert W. Morgan Morganize people… After all, why would YOU want to be Morganized?

Listen, and while you’re getting Morganized, realize why you’ve arrived at Radio’s History Channel!

660 New York WNBC

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  1. One impetus was that Morgan had just been sacked by RKO General, bitterly off the air at KHJ, and sitting out a 6-month non-compete in LA. His next stop was Drake-C henault’s K-100, but that was a ways off.

    RKO asked Morgan and Steele to each take a 20% pay cut. Morgan didn’t show up for work the next Monday (KHJ said he was “on vacation”); Steele worked a couple more days, then he left too. That was the first week of July 1973.

    The stories of Morgan’s last days at KHJ in late June-July 1973 are defiant. Paul Drew was VP/Programming for RKO General radio, having just been elevated from KHJ’s PD after RKO Radio President Bruce Johnson replaced Bill Drake. RKO was penny-pinching a bit, and asked Drew whether he needed to have two high-paid drive-time personalities (RKO was likely still bitter from the Morgan/Steele walkout just 4 years previously). Drew said he didn’t need both to be high-paid, but said he’d rather keep Morgan if he had to make a choice.

    Meanwhile, Drew brought in Sean Conrad from KYNO to be KHJ’s PD, and it was hardly a rousing success, internally (ratings-wise, Conrad’s KHJ was still #1). Conrad was unfortunately out of his element, and the veteran KHJ jocks–Morgan, Wade, Elliot, Steele, Williams–ate him alive. Drake hired him to do some fill-in at K-100 later.

    After Morgan’s “vacation,” Drew met him at the airport with a “Welcome Home Robert W.” sign. Morgan walked right past him…

    And onto New York.

    Going on with Imus allowed Morgan to be back on the air, stay relevant–even in a place that wasn’t his market–and allowed him the opportunity to vent and air grievances, still within the listening area of major RKO stations WOR and WXLO.


  2. Imus and Morgan were best friends, introduced in 1968 by an Imus neighbor who worked at KHJ when Imus was living in Hollywood and working for the Union Pacific Railroad. A year later, he’d get his first radio job at KUTY, Palmdale (70 miles north of Los Angeles).

    In 1972, Imus took a week off from WNBC and went to Los Angeles for an industry gathering. He spent a couple of mornings subbing for Hudson and Landry on KGBS, then did a morning on KHJ with Morgan.

    Well, part of a morning. The two stayed out all night and then went to KHJ. Both were clearly less than sober and the PD sent them home around 8…an hour early.

    This aircheck is just after Bill Drake, Robert W. and The Real Don Steele left KHJ. Morgan was going to Boston to be part of the WBZ Grease Reunion weekend and stopped in New York to hang with Imus.

    Imus had ulterior motives…he wanted WNBC management to add Morgan and Larry Lujack to the lineup (but not in mornings). Imus’ idea was Imus in the Morning, Lujack middays, Morgan in the afternoon and Wolfman Jack at night.

    Never happened. Morgan went back to L.A. and in December, joined The Real Don Steele and Bill Drake for the launch of KIQQ (K-100).


  3. The reference at :18 in, where Imus says Morgan is going to work at KFI in Los Angeles, is because Drake was negotiating with Cox to take over the programming at KFI. The deal fell through and Drake moved on to KIQQ. KFI would wait four years before going Top 40 under John Rook.


  4. Also..1973 was way before Imus’ boots and hat phase. Here’s a picture from around that time:


  5. “We’re not sure what the impetus was that brought these two morning show icons together in the same room..” I do. Imus was mentioning the Boss jocks of the LA region and then he started talking about the main man. Robert W. He wanted to meet the man…that’s how it came about. Is there the follow up segment where Imus’ Billy Sol tries to heal Robert W?? Classic!


  6. What a great airchexx from two great radio icon’s and close friends. After listening to the airchexx, I would have to say, what a team they would have been if they would have teamed up together on the Radio. The banter between the two was so good. It’s hard to believe that RWM has been gone almost 15 yrs. There will never be another one like him. I would have to agree Robert W. Morgan trying to Morganize the NY callers was classic. Since RWM didn’t Morganize any of the callers that day, this is to all of you airchexx fans out there from Robert W. Morgan high above-ZAP!! your Morganized. May he RIP.


  7. Pat:

    Imus and Morgan met in 1968 and had been friends since. And the Billy Sol heals Robert W. happened a year before this aircheck…at KHJ.


  8. I don’t know the timeline, but both ended up doing work for NBC Monitor as well.


    • hey Nick! haven’t seen you here in a while! How’s everything?


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