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The Limousines are ready to go. Three Lincoln stretches and one Cadillac stretch. We ran a few 30sec commercials on the air everyday for D & L Limousine Service. Limo business began to pick up.
Larry Hayes and Larry Hicks had the talk show’s heating up and the station began to make noise in the community. The community leaders from as far away as Toms River and Cape May began requesting to be guest on the popular WUSS talk show, “LETS TALK ABOUI IT”. House hold names at that time were people like: Senator Persky, Mike Mathews (Mayor) Jim Usry (Mayor) Pierre Hollingsworth (NAACP), Redinia Gilliam (1st black women VP Bally’s Hotel Casino), the Mosee Brothers, Commisioner Willie Clayton, Gene Doren, community activis Kaleem Shabazz, Ms Lillian Bryant, Ben Fizgerald, Leroy Brown and Bill Tennan (NAACP Plesantville Chapter), Plesantville's Police Chief Ralph Peterson, councilmen Hill, and Green, Lou Rawls and almost every sport figure and star that played the casinos and more. The worlds play ground was becoming a much bigger city than it's population indicate. Atlantic City is on an island about 15mi square. At that time the population was less than 30,000. Majority African Americans, most were not registered voters. The Cities people worked all summer on seasonal jobs like chamber maids, janitors, odd jobs on the board walk. Those who held fulltime jobs all year would work part time during the tourist season. A lot of jobs were fun jobs that lasted until Labor Day. After that everyone would file for unemployment until next spring. Resorts International Hotel and Casino got the surprise of it’s young life when no one showed up for work after Labor Day. Everyone thought the casino would close until next springs and went straight to the unemployment office. Resorts had to contact the news media, including WUSS to let the people know that they were there to stay. Year round. That was funny.
A self acclaimed sale manager for WUSS before we arrived named Joel Stevens said his old manager, HY LIT, said to him once that this station would never do good in the ratings. In the 2nd ever ratings taken in Atlantic City had WUSS gaining ground on other stations in the market. Our line up was getting stronger. We hired some DJ’s that at one time worked for the station such as Curtis Grey, who’s slogan was “Midday and Grey”. From North Carolina, he had one of those smooth Quiet Storm type voices that the ladies would Ooo over. Ed Keys, a local guy who ran the board for one of the popular midnight talk shows. George C Watson, a young man from down in the Keys who work part time mostly. Very dependable. He first had somewhat of a struggle with his accent but he was determined to get it right. He did. He had a very unique voice sounded real good on the radio. Lady "Dee" Rollings started with WUSS as an intern who never had on air experience with strong determination to be a lady DJ, She's still on the air today at a local Atlantic City radio station, Most of the jocks there or on air personalities did not have to go through what most of us experience jocks had to go through with having to make yourself certified for radio broadcast. You see, back then the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) required anyone who operated, adjust, and maintained a radio transmitter and receiver readings was required to have a 3rd Class Radiotelephone Operator License with Broadcast Endorsement. The test consisted of a lot of things DJs of today don't even have to worry about. You had to know Some Morse Code, electrical math, circuits, modulation, aircraft signals just to name a few. If the country were to come under attack you could be the 1st one to receive the signal so you had to know what was happening and what to do if something like that would occur. I was one that was not very happy about young DJs just walking in off the street and go right on the air with no license required. We had to bust our butt to pass that test. Anyway it’s not required anymore. We did have some popular jocks come through there. Jimmy “Early” Byrd from Boston famous for arranging the historic meeting with Boston Mayor and Entertainer James Brown in 1968 when riots broke out over the shooting of DR MARTIN LUTHER KING. The mayor used Brown to help ease the tension in the City. It worked.
Standing: Larry Hicks, Rev Leroy Griffith, Curtis Grey, Jimmy Byrd
Sitting: Lee Sherman, Larry Hayes, Dee Rollins, Bob Shivers Rev Andrew
Melba Moore & Curtis Gray
Dee Rollins, TeddyPendergrass, & Lee Sherman
Dean Rynolds, Jimmy Byrd, & Bob Shivers
Now Limousines are rolling and the stations ratings are going up. There’s an up coming election to change the current form of city government from the commission form of government to a Mayor council form of government which will also include for the first time a African American candidate running for the mayor’s office. The Boss thought that the only chance an African American would have is if more people were registered voters in Atlantic City. The Boss decided to start a voter registration campaign using the help of the NAACP alone with WUSS. He set up a meeting with the head of the NAACP Atlantic City president, Pierre Hollingsworth. At that time Hollingsworth was already one of two African American City Commissioners. The other being Horace Bryant. So for three months WUSS held remote broadcast at various venues around town to get people registered before the General election in November.
Before the election WUSS help register almost 3000 people to vote. Election night saw one of the biggest voter turn outs in resent memory. AC elected the first African American Mayor. James Leroy Usry a republican. He was the assistant superintendent of the Atlantic City School District and an ex professional basketball player. Usry narrowly won the race in a recall election against incumbent mayor Mike Mathews. He served as mayor from 1984 to 1990. He was succeeded as mayor by Jim Whelan. Usry supporters claimed the race was rigged to put a white person back into office. Usry died at the age of 80 in 2002. While Usry was mayor he promised to help WUSS land those very important national add agencies that by rule always bought 3 deep in any radio market. When it came to Atlantic City they would skip over WUSS and buy the forth station..
WUSS really needed some outside help in terms of getting national ad agencies to buy radio ads from us. The new commissioners got together and voted to appoint The Boss a position at the ACMUA department. One of he newly assigned duties was to sign the pay checks for everyone who worked in water works department. Local adds started to come in and the station began meeting pay role for a while. Oops, not so fast the IRS is beginning to request the back pay owed from the previous administration. Something to the tune of about $300,000 or more in back taxes. The station was hitting it's mark in collections for the first time. $60,000 a month was the most we’ve seen in collections so far. Not bad but most was from local merchants, mom a pop businesses and a couple of casino’s. The mom and pop places couldn’t keep that pace. That’s why it was so important to have the national agencies on with a regular schedule.
WUSS The 3rd Most Listened to Radio Station in South Jersey
The Mayor never came through with the help he had promised. Now the IRS has scheduled a Sheriff sale of all the stations equipment to gather some of the money the stationed owed them. None of us knew what the future would hold. News about the Sheriff sale was in the Atlantic City Press news paper. People on the street, (the street committee) started spreading rumors that WUSS was about to be sold. Low and behold, the day of the sale (Auction) JC showed up just as the auction was to begin and bided about 30 or 40k on the equipment and it was sold to him for the highest bid. Now the debt with the IRS was settled and they got $40,000 for their trouble.
Revenue for the station was always up and down up and down, never steady income. Most of the time we had to resort to the money the Limo’s was making, which wasn’t a whole lot, or do remote broadcast from one of the area’s clubs. Even those job were taking it's toll on us. Some nights we would have to literally fight just to hold down the door at these places. One night Larry Hicks our #1 talk show host was holding the door at a club called The Wonder Garden when he had an altercation with a couple of young bucks who insisted on coming in with tennis shoes or sneakers on when that wasn’t part of the dress code at the time. Sneakers didn’t cost $200.00 like they do now. He finally got them to leave. Then suddenly one of them doubled back and while Hicks had his back turned the young buck snuck him with a left hook that knock him the f*&k out. When he gained consciousness the young buck was gone. He didn’t really see which one it was. There was however a young guy who’s name I think was young Ragsdale who saw the whole thing and said he knew the guys. Hicks asked if he could take him to this guy. Young Rags, as he was sometimes called said I’ll bring him to you if you just want to even the score. Hicks being a product of Kansas City’s west side forgot about the professionalism we were to display in public and told young Rags to go get him. Sure enough the next day while I was closing out my show for the day on the air and Hicks rushed into the studio and said “Sugar come go with me the young buck that cracked me is out here”. I tapped Mickey on the way down stairs and he and I followed Hicks out into the parking lot where there were four young guys including young Ragsdale approaching the radio station parking lot. Hicks not knowing which one was the one that hit him, asked which one of you MFs hit me with back turned. Young Rags pointed out this little stocky dude who was about to say something smart but couldn’t get it out before Hicks cracked him with the same left hook he got hit with. The other two acted like they wanted to join in but I step forward and said just the two of them. Mickey was standing by me with his arms crossed looking like he was about to get a flash back from Nam, where he served as a MP. They were swinging pretty hard at one another when an unmarked police car pulled up with this cop who we knew later as Dinky. Tall slim guy with years on the force. Got out of the car and shouted ‘what the hell’s going on here” I explained briefly what was happening. I guess the young buck was hoping to be rescued but Dinky told them to take it on the side of the building. You should have seen the looked on the young bucks face. It looked liked something from a Shaft movie. All and all the two shook hands and called it quits. New friends were made.
Breathing a little better after the Sheriff’s sale we went on doing radio the way it should be done. Among the people with the people, for the people. By now a couple years has gone by and we were house hold names in Atlantic City. We took our microphones around the country to broadcast any event involving the uprising of black people every where. We where regulars at all the Black Mayors Conferences. Every year, no matter where it was being held. We were not just sending sound bites of news conferences we would broadcast the entire conference meetings either live or pre-recorded for broadcast later. We felt we unlock the doors for the black community in our area to hear about things that were taking place around the country and the world. You’d be surprised at how many black people living in and around Atlantic City, N.J. who had never even been to Philadelphia (55mi away) the country’s forth largest city at the time. Even New York City was only a two hour drive away. So many began to depend on WUSS to bring the real news to them. Especially where blacks were involved. Some people didn’t even know about “Stand Your Ground” laws. Laws that were created by white law makers, mainly to work against the young uneducated black person. At first, these laws where put into place in areas where black population was very low and poverty levels was very high. It was our responsibility to bring the news and information to them. For example when the Missing Child Murders was happening WUSS raised over 30k to send to Atlanta, where these murders of young black kids was taking place. “The Atlanta Child Murders, known locally as the "missing and murdered children case", were a series of murders committed in Atlanta, Georgia, United States from the summer of 1979 until the spring of 1981.” WUSS would do broadcast marathons to raise money using local celebrities like Mayor Usry, and any of the cities councilmen and women, Miss New Jersey during that time was Ms Lisa Sommerour Perry who was a product of the Atlantic City area. National Stars like Lou Rawls and Melba Moore, George Clinton, Stephanie Mills and so many more.
"Lady" Dee Rollins
Miss New Jersey 1986
Lisa Summerour Perry
Marlon Jackson & Brown Sugar Lee
George C Watson
By every aspect of the game we were winners in the community. But we were still WUSS the Black station. We could never land those big national accounts long term like the McDonalds the Burger Kings, Coke Cola and so on. Sure we got a bone or two every now and then. You see The Boss was being sought after by some big money grippers that could have made him a very rich man. He really did want to be a rich man. But he was the kind of man that refused to sell out his people. Those of us who were traveling the journey with him didn’t understand at the time the kind of pressure he was experiencing from not only the community but city leaders, even the mob. The real mob. Every one pulling at him from every end. No one would turn loose the ducketts.(money) to help keep us afloat. Everybody wanted something for nothing. The Boss would give it to them. Sometime we would ask him why would he let them ( “Mob” members) have a limousine and driver for little or nothing most of the time. His belief was, “It’s better for them to owe you than for you to owe them”. As far as city leaders were concerned, most just wanted to see us fail from the very beginning because we were outsiders. Of course we couldn’t say that about everyone. There were some who would beat the street in our favor all the time, but there were others looking to get in position to have financial favors done for them using their influences as city officials. At the time some of them were too new to have an edge on connections that would be beneficial for WUSS. I can honestly say that Commissioner Willie Clayton City Clerk Ben Fitzgerald, and a very strong community activist, Kaleem Shabazz, and Willie Gainer were really instrumental in opening what little doors they could for WUSS.
WUSS Engineer Harold Hill
You could put your finger on a number of reason WUSS didn’t fair financially well during this period. One, we didn’t have a super sales team to create the best ideas as far as going out and really attacking those agency’s (in New York and Philadelphia) that always gave excuses for not buying our station for advertising. Even though the ratings showed we were a good buy. They would always stress to our sales people that they were not trying to reach the locals. They wanted to spend money far away beyond Atlantic City to get scores of people from as far away as Baltimore and DC, NY and Connecticut and so on.
There came a time when the city of Atlantic City used what I called reversed psychology. They were willing to give the boss a job, and they did eventually. In the beginning Horace Bryant, one of the strongest figures every to serve in Atlantic City government went to his grave saying that as long as he lives, Larry Hayes would never run anything in this city. Those two never really became friends. Even in his death that statement seemed to hold true. But when Atlantic City changed to a Mayor, Council form of government The Boss was offered a number of positions with the city. He eventually took a top position with the Atlantic City water works. We all began taking side jobs. Just trying to survive, TO BE CONTINUED.