Thursday, October 15, 2009

The “Joy” of Ed Walker

It was in about 1963…while growing up in the Washington D.C. area when first I discovered the genius of Ed Walker. My ear was glued to a small “Crown” transistor radio ( I can even recall the color as baby blue) as I laughed through the “The Joy Boys” radio show! Oh my head…..what a blast it was to listen!

Upon reflection I now know how radio in that era could be so magical. As I listened, I began to dream of someday broadcasting over the airwaves! A big part of that dream was fueled by Washington D.C. radio legend Ed Walker.

Ed Walker was born April 23, 1932, in the Chicago suburbs. He became a Washington D.C. radio personality in the early 1950’s.

From 1955 to 1974, Ed Walker teamed with Willard Scott (the very same Today weatherman and the original Ronald McDonald!) as co-hosts of the nightly Joy Boys of radio program which was an awe inspiring cavalcade of improvisational comedy radio.

The Joy Boys was spontaneous humor with sketches and characters set-up by Willard...then Ed would follow with a quick wit, character voices and sound effects ALL manufactured in the studio live. He used all kinds of gadgets ...the trash can, shoes on sand, a door opening and closing… name it Ed would capture the sounds!

The “Joy Boys” program began on WRC-AM, an NBC owned-and-operated station, moving in 1972 to WWDC-AM.

Please take a moment to view the YouTube link to the last "Joy Boys" show on WRC in 1972.

It was in the fall of 1973 that I was fortunate enough to work with Ed Walker and Willard Scott. I was a part time on-air jock at WWDC and for many weeks I would follow “The Joy Boys” show. My dream had now reached reality! I recall my first greeting from Ed as one as if we had known one another for years! I went from a bunch of nerves before going into the studio to feeling relaxed and calm once I interacted with Ed. I was thrilled to be performing!

Ed Walker is not only an amazing talent but the world’s nicest, and most generous guy! His infectious laugh and consistent smile is a hallmark. Those of us lucky enough to have worked with Ed, know just how important he is in inspiring excellence and overcoming challenges in life.

In the mid 1990’s, I called Ed to request his help. I had the pleasure mentoring a young student from Emerson College in Boston. He was so excited to begin a career in broadcasting but felt he may never reach his full potential because of his physical challenge. He was blind. I knew if anyone could inspire this young man it would be Ed Walker. So we coordinated a conference. When the young man engaged in conversation with Ed….his face lit up….showing the obvious signs of barriers lifted and an exciting future ahead!

Ed Walker too has been blind since birth.

This year, Ed Walker will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in the category "Local or Regional - Pioneer."

On October 3rd, Ed Walker was also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Quarter Century Broadcasters Club.

Congratulations Ed and THANK YOU! It remains an honor to be your friend.

Inside Studio A………..I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

You can hear Ed today! He hosts a weekly four-hour Sunday night program, The Big Broadcast, on WAMU-FM, featuring vintage radio programs from the 1930s to 1950s, such as Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Show, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Superman. Walker began hosting The Big Broadcast in 1990 when his friend John Hickman discontinued hosting due to illness. The show started in 1964, the longest running program on WAMU.

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