R. Alan Campbell
Broadcast Pioneers member R Alan Campbell was born and raised in Upper Darby. He says, “I grew up listening to Philadelphia radio stations: WFIL with Skipper Dawes and The Magic Lady and Leroy Miller in the early morning reading his listener birthday greetings before I went off to school; Visiting with Bill Campbell, at WCAU’s old downtown studios at 1622 Chestnut Street and Hearing Doug Arthur’s Danceland on WIBG”
As a teenager interested in radio as a career, he became what would be called an intern today at Westinghouse, KYW (later to be NBC’s WRCV) at 1619 Walnut Street. There he’d ‘go for’ DJs Mac McGuire, Vince Lee, Bob Benson and the staff. He also worked with Mac on his channel 3 TV show and later with him at WPEN, "The Station of the Stars," 22nd and Walnut. Campbell relates “Mac would put me in a small studio and help me practice reading radio copy. He told me never to apologize for making a mistake when you were reading copy on the air. Chances are only a few people caught it, if you apologize then everyone knows it.”
Campbell’s first on air job in Philadelphia was in the summer of 1960 as an announcer and board operator for WTEL, the area foreign language station in North Philadelphia. In the fall, he enrolled in communications at American University in Washington, DC, where he produced programs for WAMU and the Pre NPR EERN (Eastern Education Radio Network).
He also took part time announcing positions with a few area stations including WTTG-TV, WQMR, WASH and WBAL. This led to accepting an offer to join the radio recording unit of The US Air Force Band at Bolling AFB, DC. As a Singing Sergeant, he recorded the various components of the band. He also produced and occasionally announced programs including the radio series "Serenade In Blue." He set up audio for various band events at The White House, Watergate Amphitheater and The Capitol Steps. His last year in the Air Force was as a newscaster at the AFRTS network and AFKN, in Seoul, Korea. During this period his voice was heard via cart-tapes as afternoon host on Philadelphia’s new WDVR-FM.
R. Alan Campbell
Returning to home near Philadelphia he took a brief announcer position with WJBR where he was heard by his former manager from Washington, DC who invited him to return to WQMR and WGAY-FM where he became News Director.
Campbell returned to Philadelphia in the late 1960’s announcing at WPBS on Domino Lane (Roxborough antenna farm) working with Pat Landon, John Trent and Jack O‘Reilly. He worked for a few years at WFLN at 8200 Ridge Pike when the classical AM and FM station was an affiliate of NBC. He occasionally filled in at other area stations. A big break came in the early 1970’s when he joined the ‘Eyewitness’ news team at WLCY-TV (ABC) in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL market.
A change in ownership allowed him to move on to the West coast and Hawaii for a change of scenery and almost 20 years of long term simultaneous radio work at KUMU AM-FM, as News Director and classical music host at KHPR, Hawaii Public Radio. He was elected to the Honolulu City Council Waikiki board and also served on the board of Ballet Hawaii. Campbell also appeared in TV commercials, several theatrical and ‘made for TV’ films including several episodes of ‘Hawaii 5-O’ and ‘Magnum P.I.’
In the mid 1990’s, Campbell and his wife left Honolulu for Texas where they owned and operated their own FM station. For the last decade of his career Campbell produced programming for KUAT Communications at The University of Arizona. In retirement, he operates BeautifulInstrumentals.com, an easy listening Internet radio station streaming about 50,000 monthly tune-in hours to listeners all over the world.
Campbell recalls many memorable moments in his broadcast career. “Solving a problem for First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy after encountering her in the East Room of The White House. Coverage of the JFK funeral both as radio reporter and in the Air Force cordon of 300 during the JFK funeral procession with the Kennedy family and heads of state from all over the world. Dancing with Ginger Rogers, breakfast with Stephanie Powers and Robert Wagner, lunch with Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon at the National Press Club. One on one dinner with Van Cliburn. Producing three radio concerts with Arthur Fiedler. Sharing dinner table with David Brinkley at the 14th Emmy Awards. Partying with Hawaii 5-O cast. Honolulu friendships with Dolly Parton and Tom Selleck. Interviews with numerous politicians and celebrities. Memories no doubt very similar to most of my peers with careers in a fabulous industry, Broadcasting!”
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo and bio originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member R. Alan Campbell
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