Waco took his program across town to WNYN, where, on October 4, 1970, it became a regular Sunday afternoon feature for a dozen years.
With pianist Stanley Black's Starlight Serenade as his opening and closing theme, Waco included regular segments of an "Old Time Radio" program, a "Comedy Classic," and a "Big Band Remote of the Week" during each program. Also, he provided commentary about the musical performances, such as dates and personnel, and reminisced about the various big band celebrities he became close friends with, including Tex Beneke, Stan Kenton, Bob Eberly, and Stumpy Brown.
The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way!
by Music Librarian CHRISTOPHER POPA
November 2008; revised July 2011
A native of Cleveland, OH who traveled across the country and overseas in various positions, he has been known for years as "Northern Ohio's Voice of the Big Bands."
His cousin, Joe Penner (a comedian who uttered such catchphrases as "Oh, you nasty man!" and "Wanna buy a duck?") had introduced him to the enjoyment of radio.
Penner would take him along as a young boy to sit in the audience and watch various radio programs, including "The Lone Ranger" and "The Green Hornet," being broadcast nationally from station WJR in Detroit.
Ironically, Waco never was employed full-time in broadcasting, but since the 1940s has, as a radio host and personality, played an incredible number of hours of big band music, interviews, and other features, and has emceed many concerts and dances around the region.
given name Richard Michael Waytko
birth Sept. 16, 1927, Cleveland, OH
military service U.S. Air Force
wife Margie B. Waytko, b.Jul. 16, 1933, m.1952, d.Sept.
25, 2008, cancer
daughters Rhonda Moscariello; Resa Ann Marino; Rochelle
full-time employment incl. bank branch manager; public
relations and advertising, Diebold, Inc., Canton, OH,
18 yrs.; sales manager, Sheraton Hotel, Canton, OH;
director of sales, 356th Fighter Group, Canton, OH
radio stations incl. WHBC, Canton, OH, 1967?-70; WNYN,
Canton, OH, 1970-1982; WHLO, 1982-1992, Akron,
OH; WCER, Canton, OH, 1996-2011
Making a selection from his personal library, estimated at more than 75,000 recordings, in 1996.
At a WHBC microphone, ca.1968.
Waco has retained the same basic concept ever since.
For 10 years beginning in 1982, he was heard on WHLO in Akron, OH.
In 1989, he was inducted into the Akron chapter of the Radio Hall of Fame.
After being off the air for four years, he found a new home starting on March 9, 1996 at WCER in Canton, OH, where continues to host a weekly program, "Dick Waco's Original Big Band Show," on Saturday mornings.
Waco trained for his radio career with a high school radio English course.
While working in cryptography (ciphering codes and radio transmissions) in the Air Force for 22 years during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, he moonlighted as an announcer with the Armed Forces Radio Service.
During his military duty, he received 15 national and foreign decorations and awards, and was active with Armed Forces Radio in Europe and the Far East.
In the mid-1960s, he was hired as a weekend newscaster by WHBC Radio in Canton, OH.
After he put together a three-hour tribute to bandleader Glenn Miller for the station and it received positive audience response, he was given the go-ahead to produce additional big band shows which aired on the weekends.
We all eventually became friends and I'm grateful to acknowledge that in recent years, he has kept in close contact with my brother and has been very kind to occasionally dedicate selections by Harry James to my mother, who remains one of Waco's loyal listeners.
Waco always signed off his program with the phrase, "Remember, it's nice to be important... but it's much more important to be nice."
As of the conclusion of his November 22nd, 2008 broadcast, he had been on the air a total of 4,000 hours in his current series on WCER.
Despite the old saying, that "all good things must come to an end," I was happy to know that directly because of his dedication and enthusiasm, the public could still hear big band music on the radio in northeast Ohio and, in fact, anywhere, online via WCER's website, wcer.us.
An advertisement for a two-part special
which aired Dec. 24 and 31, 1972 on WNYN.
He began his broadcast career on WBOE in Cleveland, OH in 1943; introduced his big band show in April 1968 over WHBC in Canton; and, counting his days on WNYN, WHLO, and WCER, hosted his 35th "New Year's Eve Dancing Party" on December 31, 2010.
But even if he finds no new outlet for the music, Dick Waco can hang up his headphones... with pride... for a job well done!
"Dick Waco back on air with his 'Big Band Show,'" Alliance [ OH ] Review,
Mar. 14, 1996, p.22.
Dan Kane, "Big-band era never ended for Dick Waco," Canton [ OH ]
Repository, Apr. 26, 1996, p.E-3+.
---, "On the beat: Dick Waco returns to Canton airwaves," Canton [ OH ]
Repository, Mar. 18, 1996, p.D-3.
---, "On the Beat: Nostalgic Night," Canton [ OH ] Repository, Dec. 25,
Flo Lynn, "Dick Waco: Turning up the volume on big bands," Stark
[ County, OH ] Magazine, May/June 1996, pp.32-36.
David Lee Morgan, Jr., "Extra: Big bands harken back to the past,"
Akron [ OH ] Beacon Journal, Dec. 10, 1995, sec.AA, p.1+.
---, "Big band back on the air: Veteran emcee, radio deejay returns with
new program, Akron [ OH ] Beacon Journal, Mar. 17, 1996.
Myrna Mullen, "Waco's love affair with radio, big band sound torrid as ever,"
Canton [ OH ] Repository, Mar. 28, 1980.
"Waco Broadcasts WNYN's 500th Big Show," Canton [ OH ] Repository,
Apr. 29, 1980.
send feedback about Dick Waco via e-mail
An advertisement for a Tommy Dorsey
special which was broadcast on WNYN.
Choosing a Benny Goodman album from his collection, ca.1980.
In our household, it was my father who first listened to Waco's program nearly 40 years ago, on a small transistor radio.
I can still recall hearing Waco play such Tex Beneke records as Lone Star Moon, The Blues of the Record Man, and At the Flying "W" in promotion of a "Music Made Famous By Glenn Miller" concert -- starring Beneke, Ray Eberle, and the Modernaires with Paula Kelly -- which was held at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH on August 5, 1971. That was some impression he made on me!
When a local organization, the Alliance Area Garden Center, announced a community bus trip to that show, my brother and I anxiously reserved seats. Before the program started, we spotted Waco calmly sitting in the pavilion, holding a pile of framed photographs. (Just teenagers, we recognized him but didn't dare approach him.) He later made his way on stage to introduce the show.
"It was great and I enjoyed it very much," Waco recently commented.
On July 6, 2011, came word that WCER had been sold and would no longer carry his program. Only four days earlier, he had reached show number 1,544, which equaled 4,664 hours on the air.
In an e-mail message to friends, Waco said, "I'm just sorry I was not given the opportunity to advise my listeners of the change and to thank them for their loyal support over the years. God Bless Them All!!"
Glenn Miller played the Waco Ballroom on Lake Wawasee, near Syracuse, IN on July 11, 1941.
Dick Waco in Hawaii,
March 9, 2010