Jack Pyle

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Jack Pyle worked in the Philadelphia broadcast market for decades. He was truly a pioneer in the medium of radio and television. He was the ultimate broadcaster. In 1950, Jack worked for KYW Radio.

Wilmer Henninger, a visitor to our website e-mailed:

Do you happen to recall the theme song used by Jack Pyle? This has been bugging me for YEARS! I wrote to KYW, but the consensus there was wrong. They said, Glenn Miller's "Slumber Song", but I clearly remember a different tune.

Ed Johnson, a visitor to our site says that Jack Pyle's theme song was Glen Gray's version of "Smoke Rings." It was also Gray's signature theme.

Richard Salvucci, a visitor to our website e-mailed: ...Jack loved "Smoke Rings...", but I don't think he ever used it as a theme. I remember Pyle's morning show on WRCV when I was growing up, and he used "Slumber Song" there....

Bob Lineburger, a visitor to our website e-mailed:

I was interested in your brief write-up on Jack Pyle, but more so on the question of his theme songs on WRCV. I remember very distinctly both of his theme songs - one at the beginning and one at the end of his show. The introductory theme was an obscure Glen Gray piece called "Was I To Blame For Falling in Love With You" which was recorded on one of Gray's later LPs. (I've never seen it since.) "Slumber Song" was his closing theme.

I'm not sure if these themes (either or both) were Jack Pyle's themes or whether they were the themes used by all the disc jockeys for WRCV's big band format of the day.

Broadcast Pioneers member Skip Clayton, a veteran radio hand in Philly for decades e-mailed:

Before Jack got to Philadelphia, I know he worked in Charleston, South Carolina, Nashville and Cincinnati.
He started with:

I'm In the Market For You by Harry James.

Then he changed to:

Stardust by Artie Shaw.

While he was in Cincinnati, he did a special music show on Sunday and wanted another theme.

He used Slumber Song by Glenn Miller.

Jack liked it so much he kept it as his theme and used it on his radio shows at KYW, WRCV, WIP, then he he want back to WRCV, later was at WCAM and WPBS.

His first job at WPBS was doing the Saturday Night Big Band Wagon from 8 pm to midnight. The theme song for that show was Starburst and we used Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra's recording.

On November 1, 1965, he started doing the morning show  at WPBS from 6 to 9 am and used Slumber Song.

He also started hosting a program Monday through Friday for one hour, called "Smoke Rings" which he would voice track earlier in the day. The theme song for that was Smoke Rings by Glen Gray. It was a two hour program and Hal Moore hosted the second hour.

Jack died on April 27, 1966. I was his last producer and the last Big Band Wagon we did which aired on April 23rd was an hour each beginning with Count Basie followed by Jan Savitt, Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. That was one great show but then again, they were all great.

During the fifties, radio personality Jack Pyle did the weather on Channel 3, WPTZ (and later on WRCV-TV). Here's an excerpt from one of those broadcasts entitled, "Jack's Almanac." It dates about 1956 and was his last program. While this was on television, we only have the audio.

On Friday, November 20, 2009, Jack Pyle was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame."

We heard from Dave May, formerly of WBEN Radio in Buffalo. He e-mailed:

I was searching the web for an old song I remember as Starburst and came upon your page for the late great Jack Pyle. I knew the cut was done by Glen Grey and the Casa Loma Orchestra, and as a long ago disc jockey in a little radio station (WGSA in Ephrata, Pa.) remembered Jack Pyle (WRCV was my station of listening choice in the 50s and 60s) using this song as a theme. I also found that the original title was “Was I To Blame For Falling In Love With You”, and I located an MP3 that confirmed this was the tune. Apparently Grey had recorded this tune with its original title way back when, but later recorded it again with the title Starburst on an LP – I think it was on Capitol records. At any rate, the cut was used universally on WRCV for all the music shows as I recall, so it does not eliminate the other themes mentioned as being used at some time by Pyle. I was Program Director for WGSA at the time, and we adopted Starburst as the theme for our music shows as well, which is why this memory is so strong.

We received an e-mail from Jeff Karpinski, a visitor to our website. He writes:

As someone who grew up in Philadelphia during the 1960s and loved the radio of that era, I was very pleased to find the Broadcast Pioneers tribute to Jack Pyle. While I never had the honor of knowing him personally, I was associated with a number of his colleagues who encouraged my devotion to the music of the Swing Era.

That said, please allow me to confirm one statement on the tribute page and correct two others. Jack used a number of different theme songs but Slumber Song was almost certainly the tune he used most often. It was his practice to wait until the softer measures near the end of the recording, then bid the audience goodbye with the phrase "... and you have a real large Wednesday!" (or whatever day of the week it was, of course! ) Some years after Jack's sad passing a couple of us in college radio adopted our own variations of his send-off in tribute to his influence.

Unfortunately despite his strong recollections, the statements by Dave May contain two inaccuracies. First, the bandleader in question was named Glen GRAY rather than "Grey". Second, while the songs he mentions have somewhat similar melodic lines they are definitely not the same tune. "Was I to Blame for Falling in Love with You" dates back to the late 1920s. It was recorded by artists as diverse as Richard Himber and Louis Armstrong, and was the theme of the "Studebaker Champions" radio show for a number of years. "Starburst" was written in 1944 by Eddie Finckel and Gene Krupa as the latter's theme song. Both were recorded by the 1950s-vintage Casa Loma Orchestra - "Was I to Blame" appeared on an LP titled "Solo Spotlight", while "Starburst" was released on a couple of different albums including "Sounds of the Great Bands" and "Themes of the Great Bands".

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Audio originally donated by Atlanta, Georgia voiceover announcer Jerry Immel
Photo originally donated by Jane Kellem Anderson, Judy Lee's daughter
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All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com