Monday, October 5, 2009

Jerry Sims, a.k.a. Sonny Martin At The 1963 Arkansas Fair!

(Click on the above for a bigger picture of a handsome young man! bs)

KAAY, always in the middle of any kind of promotion, wanted to be very visible at the Fair. A.J. Lindsey, Doc Holiday/Program Director (I am going to have a problem referring to him as the "Late" A.J. Lindsey for a while) , wanted me the spend the fair duration in a KAAY Sailboat on top of the entrance to the fair. The promise was that the boat was brand new, and all finished out inside to make it very comfortable. Well, it wasn't. Very unfinished, with just a plywood bed and an electric blanket. I had a menu from a nice restaurant up the street, and used it to order any food delivered, whenever I wanted. We also had a telephone and a microphone for me to do my show, and cut-ins with other jocks, whenever I was available. If I was awake in the middle of the night (candy apple hits side of USS Emperor Holiday), I called in for a while.

The appearance was a big hit and lots of fun. As always, we had our set of unforeseen problems. Hurriedly put together as it was, we did not have a sail. Some local ladies sewed together enough sheets to make a sail, and we painted the big KAAY on it. The sail helped cause our biggest problem. Ya see, the boat had to be built up on a wooden frame. I had a ladder to climb up into it in the rear. Then when the north wind came, the sail caught it enough to nearly blow boat and skinny D.J. into an anxious crowd. Engineers quickly came out to cut holes in the sail. I later took down the sail when the wind blew so hard that the whole frame lifted in the rear. The whole promotion was a great success, so much so, that the Fair said "Never again". We kept the entire entrance stacked up. I had a rope/basket contraption rigged up to allow people to send me up "stuff". I had stuffed animals all lined up along the edge, and so much food that I had a hidden garbage bag for it.

I never thought about being unsafe, even after the fair had closed for the night. For those familiar with the fair location on Roosevelt Road, you would guess... that I would not want to spend even daylight hours there today.

One of the attractions that year was Sonny James, who had a decent career with "Young Love" and others. I got word that he listened to us and wanted to visit me. He wouldn't fit in the "Teddy Bear Sling", but did come by and sent up autographed pictures, etc. Come to think of it, Sonny Martin may have been a bigger hit than Sonny James on that trip.

Because of the major entrance clog, the fair officials moved us next year to a "Fall Out Shelter" between the Hall of Industry and Barton Coliseum. The late Tommy Riggs (Rock Robbins) got that call. No one but us ever knew if he was in there for sure. There were no windows. His bath did not look like Soji Tabuchi's either. He had a camper toilet with plastic bags. I will not repeat his comments to me over that one. Fall Out Shelters, it seemed, were very tight. Kept nuclear stuff out....odors in.

Speaking of toilet facilities: My sailboat had a portable toilet, about 5 feet high, with enough chemicals to last for the week. Because it was so tall, the only place to put it was right under the entrance to the boat. Sitting on this monster, my head had to stick out the top of the boat. Midway fans would see me waving to them, and have no idea what the bottom half of my body was up to.

None of us got extra pay, or even thought about asking for it, for such adventures. It was just a very exciting part of our job. We all considered ourselves very lucky to have been part of this great radio station adventure.

Jerry Sims.....aka Sonny Martin....1962-1967

1 comment:

  1. Great story!

    I went to see a promotion for a mobile home park. They had a girl in a bikini encased in a rectangular object made out of blocks of ice. One could speak with her via a CB walkie talkie. This was around 1964. While the other guys were drooling over her beauty, I kept trying to figure out how she could go to the bathroom. There didn't appear to be any type of toilet facilities. She was lying on her back, and there was a breathing vent through ice blocks. I'm guessing the inner blocks were probably clear plastic instead of ice. Jerry's post stirred my memory on this stunt. I won't be able to sleep tonight because I'm going to wonder about the bathroom thing again. It was two o'clock in the morning when I was there, so they didn't remove her for the night.

    I don't remember any of the major Chicago stations doing anything like Jerry described. If anybody remembers anything else like this, please post it. Visibility is more important than most of us are aware.

    Dick Biondi, who was from WLS, flew over the local shopping center and dropped many ping-pong balls from a helicopter. The balls had numbers printed on them, and one was supposed to visit each store to see if the balls he or she collected were a winner for that store. This was visibility, but the whole stunt was over too quickly. The group of ball collectors consisted mostly of kids, so it would seem the stores gained very few new customers. WLS was the only winner from this stunt. Dick Biondi and I both remember it, but most of my friends who attended have long forgotten about it.

    KAAY always had something exciting going on for the general public. I was always envious because I lived too far from Little Rock to ever participate in any of the promotions. I was only able to hear the nighttime deejays, so I was only able to hear Jerry once. I really felt shortchanged

    Ron Henselman