Mirth on Memory Lane
by Kerry Peace (PD, DJ 1979-1981)
Friends, I had some memorable experiences in my WIDB days, triumphs and tragedies alike. The day Slaga handed over the keys to the Program Directorship embodies the former, while the night John Lennon was killed is over-qualified for the latter.
But it’s the silly things I remember best. They just seemed to be in the air at WIDB, ready to ignite at a moment’s notice. Some return in a flash as indelible images (“JOEY RAMONE ATE THIS BREAD!!!”) and some inspire a more substantial reminiscence. Below is one of a handful of my favorite silly WIDB episodes. Fair warning: I don’t swear to recalling events exactly as they happened, etc, disclaimer, fog of war, blah-blah, woof-woof…
SILLY THING #2: THE BRIGGSMAN COMETH
Not sure how much mere words can add to the picture above. Briggs Gordon worked at WSIL-TV from the mid ‘70s into the ‘80s. He did sports and, of infinitely more interest to silly college students, hosted an afternoon children’s show, The Funny Company, as the fictitious old-timer “Uncle Briggs.” Many of us watched him religiously, cheering the appearance of Banana Man or Sally Safety, and reveling in the airing of Three Stooges shorts and Deputy Dawg cartoons. I remember experiencing profound cosmic joy (and more than a tingle of silly) upon opening an issue of Rolling Stone one day to see a full-page color picture of Bob Dylan putting on Briggs’ infamous “cartoon eyes.”
Imagine then, the surprise, delight and outright head-scratching at the station one night, when Gordon showed up out of nowhere in full “Uncle Briggs” get-up. He wasn’t there long, didn’t have much to say and turned down an offer to go on-air. Just passin’ through, I suppose. He did pose for a picture though, and as you can see by the grins plastered on the faces of Don D’Agostino and myself, it was akin to being photographed with a Pope. A very, very silly Pope. Sadly, Briggs Gordon died way too young in 1987. “Yessir, we’re goin’ to Sesser!”