Monday, November 9, 2009

Congratulations And Thank You, Ed Walker!

One of my true career Obi-Wans was honored over the weekend.  DC radio legend Ed Walker, who spent decades sharing the microphone with Willard Scott as one of the "Joy Boys", was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.   

Ed and Willard were about as close as you could get to being "bad boys' on the radio back in the 1960's, which is to say NOT very naughty, but still very funny.  As a boy, I knew them more through Willard's exposure on television more than I ever really did from their radio program, which was on the air during the afternoon and evenings.  You can see and hear the Joy Boys, and learn much more about their careers here

I really came to appreciate Ed once I arrived at WMAL, where he hosted a Sunday morning Big Band program, "Play It Again, Ed".  I was fortunate to be Eddie's producer for two years - it gave me a chance to sit and watch a master at work, and to absorb some of his humor and professionalism. 

Most people familiar with Ed Walker know he has been blind since birth, but I don't think anyone realizes how little that matters to Ed.  When we worked together, Ed ran his own audio board, played his own commercials, and even cued his own records. In fact, he ran a tighter ship than most people who have eyesight.  It was a wonder to watch him work, and it provided me with a valuable lesson - that the biggest handicaps people face are the ones we don't allow ourselves to overcome. 

Working with a blind person was also a lesson in how the rest of us take things for granted.  Eddie has a vast record library in his basement, and when I used to go to his house in Bethesda to help him prepare for a show or for a DJ gig, I would often help him gather his stuff.  Ed would open the door and invite me in, and inevitably,  I'd have to ask him to find a light switch, because it was always pitch black in there... Eddie had no need for lights! 

One of my jobs was to drive Ed to public appearances, and more than once, I would miss an exit on the Beltway because he and I would be in the middle of a conversation, and he would "forget" to remind me to exit.  Maybe Ed could have used a better driver! 

Otherwise, Eddie is just like any other guy.  He enjoys a good drink, a good smoke, and a pretty lady.  More than once, Eddie would get a hug from a woman out in public, and he would make his own judgement of her looks with his hands - not in a lecherous way, of course!  But after she'd walk away, Eddie would always ask, "How'd she look?"

Even as he closes in on his eighties, Ed is still working, hosting the old-time radio show, "The Big Broadcast" on WAMU Radio in DC.  I run into him every couple of years, and he's always ready with a dirty joke or a piece of industry gossip, along with a big smile and a firm-as-ever hansshake.  The Radio Hall of Fame is lucky to have him! 

Congrats and thank you, Ed!

1 comment:

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