Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Duker's Got You Covered!

That was the phrase that most of us identify with “Big Bob Stoehr” aka “Duke Roberts”, who began his second run at CHUM (he'd been “Gary Duke” in the late 60's) in 1973.  Duke was from Scranton, PA, I believe his family owned some furniture stores there.  He brought with him an impressive resume which included some of the premiere stations in some of the top markets of the day.  Stations like WIBG in Philly, CKLW in Detroit, KFRC, San Francisco and many others.  He had a BIG voice, and was considered quite a catch when Bob Wood convinced him to return to CHUM.  Even with the track record he brought to the station, he fit into “The family” like a glove.  No ego issues with this guy, he was one of the gang from day one!

Duke was cut from the same mold as Terry Steele, a straight ahead, no nonsense kind of performer with an uncanny knack for communicating with listeners on a one to one basis.  The most important quality a top-40 jock could have at the time was the ability to “tune in” to what the listener might have been thinking or experiencing at the time, and to paint word pictures in their minds.  These are qualities that are sadly lacking in today's radio environment.  Duke was a master at saying just the right thing in as few words as possible.   He could communicate one-on-one and get his message across over the 10 second intro of a song every time, and do this over and over again.  To sum it up, Duke was the perfect afternoon drive radio personaality!

Duker didn't hang with the rest of us much.   He didn't drink as far as I know, so he never attended the many beer soaked “meetings” at the Red Rooster.  Likewise he never showed for the post staff meeting get togethers at Seniors restaurant on Wednesdays.   With anyone else that would've implied a prima donna attitude but not with Duke, the guy was friendly and approachable at all times, and we all thought the world of him.  Duke was never seen without the company of a gorgeous babe on his arm.   He was a good looking, personable guy who attracted beautiful women like a magnet, but eventually settled down and married his Canadian girlfriend Betty Lou.

Duke could be a little weird, though.   He had a Doberman Pincer he called “Little Duker” that he used to bring with him to the station for some reason.  My old op Rick Murray swears that, when Little Duker was a pup, he stepped outside to encounter Duker teaching the dog the proper way to take a leak on a bush!  Hey, I'm just telling what I was told!

Duke has always regarded his time at CHUM as the best of his long radio career.  As he told the “Rock Radio Scrapbook” website:

“1050/CHUM was the finest station and company that I ever worked for, both before and after.  And that's looking back from today, both as Gary Duke and Duke Roberts, just three years apart in 1973.  When I see Warren's List mail and CFTR jocks talking about all of the fun they had on the air, all I can say is WE at CHUM had fun and discipline and we all treated it like a business.  Maybe they weren't as blessed as myself, getting to work for JRW (J. Robert Wood) and 1050/CHUM more than once."

All that is true, we were a disciplined bunch and damned happy to be there as well.  But Duker, for cryin' out loud, the dog could've taught himself!

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