It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 36th anniversary of the Chrisman Morning Show. The original show officially kicked off in January 1976 – on the former Twin W (WWPA). After graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Communications in May of 1975 – I stayed in south Florida for awhile job hunting – ran out of money – came back to my hometown of Williamsport for a short stint with the intention of heading back that fall to Florida. And, I stayed – for 30 years. Now I get around with a walker and can’t eat much solid food.
At the University of Miami I got my radio start by doing sports on WVUM-FM (the voice of the Miami Hurricanes). The big highlight was doing Hurricane football and baseball play by play with my original broadcast partner, Roy Firestone. I got my radio comedy start by doing crazy characters with my buddy, Roy Firestone, on our own show. You might remember Roy, a seven time Emmy award winner and his show, “Upclose” on ESPN. Everyone seems to remember Roy from the movie, “Jerry McGuire” and Cubba Gooding, Jr.’s famous line, “Don’t make me cry, Roy.” As I’ve told Roy “you get to rub elbows with the biggest names in sports and entertainment and live in a 4 million dollar house – while my biggest thrill is doing live remotes at Subway.”
My early training for the Chrisman Morning Show came during my SheridanElementary School days when I collected comedy albums and learned entire monologues of the funniest people of all time: Jonathan Winters, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and the Smothers Brothers. That early start helped me win top accolades during my 7th grade year at Curtin Junior High as I received the highest honor of the school year “7th Grade Class Clown.” My life was finally starting to take shape – I was finally on my way!...
The cast of characters has changed a little over the years, but Howard Smith was there from the start, and sidekick Rodney (loincloth and all) joined the show that very first year. Other original favorites, included: Richard Simmons, Mr. Rogers to President George Bush and my all-time favorite, President Ronald Reagan. Leonard, the typical housewife from Faxon, Andy Rooney, Dwayne Dumple, have all been around for 35 years and still make appearances.
In 1987 – thinking I would return to Miami – I was lured away from the Twin to the new 102.7 KISS-FM, and all of a sudden the Chrisman Show could be heard outside of Newberry. When I was lured away from the Twin, new owner Al Dame called and told me “your career is dying over there – get out while you can!. So I did, and with me came all the characters including Cousin Harry, Elvis Smeal. A year later KC – Kathy Collins – joined the show as a co-host. With more new regulars like the Farmer from Mansfield and the Man from Muncy, we decided in 1990 to take the Chrisman Show “live” (2 hour comedy/music variety show) on the road to perform for audiences throughout central PA. The shows played everywhere from Knoebel’s, to Brandon Park, to the CommunityArtsCenter stage. After 11 years, we gave the show a rest in November of 2000. It’s hard to believe that we haven’t done a “live” show in 11 years, but I promise before I’m 80, we’ll bring one back. Those were some of the proudest moments of my career.
In the fall of 1997, when KC fled to Hollywood to be closer to her true love, Sam Elliott (it was rumored she was pregnant with Sam’s baby), the morning show went on a talent search for her replacement. The winner was Gail Bair. Gail’s great laugh, and great personality, has been a big part of the show’s success in recent years. Always a good sport, she has not only had to put up with the boy, but she has also twirled a fire baton in her bra and panties at a volunteer fireman convention (she’s a former state champion twirler from JerseyShore), to French kissing Clyde Peeling’s big snake. It’s now hard to believe it’s been nearly 25 years since I first hit the air on Kiss FM in April of 1987. At the time, I was just wrapping up a four year stint on WNEP TV’s nationally syndicated PM Magazine. When that ended, I kept my hands in television and my love for play by play by starting Cable Sports Productions. Cable Sports, now in its 25th year, produces the high school football and basketball game of the week as seen on Sundays and Mondays now on Comcast Channel 70 with my broadcast partner, Babe Mayer.
When it comes to sports, I can’t leave out the Little League World Series. I have had the pleasure of working every World Series since 1974 with my long time partner, Ken Sawyer.
Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for being such loyal listeners all these years! We’ll see you on KISS FM a little after .