PINE BLUFF RADIO ICON DIES AT 78By Ray King/OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF Pine Bluff's morning mayor died Wednesday, july 16, 2003. Winston J. "Buddy" Deane, the longtime owner and morning radio personality at KOTN, died at Jefferson Regional Medical Center as the result of complications from a stroke that left him unable to speak.
Deane was 78. He was described as "a legend and an icon" by those who worked with him.
Gov. Mike Huckabee, himself a former DJ, said Wednesday that "Janet and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend Buddy Deane. During my years as a resident of Pine Bluff, Buddy became not only a very dear friend but a mentor in public service. He imparted to me a love of community and a desire to serve.
"He was known nationally as one of the most innovative, successful disc jockeys of the 20th century, but his greatest legacy will be his untiring community service and love for his family," Huckabee said. "Arkansas has lost a true treasure."
Deane was born Aug. 2, 1924, at St. Charles and began his radio career at Little Rock. He later moved to Memphis and then to Baltimore at radio station WITH where he was rated the number one radio personality in the city.
He moved to television, where he became the host of a two-and-a-half hour, six-day-a-week presentation on WJZ-TV. "The Buddy Deane Show" was on the air for seven years and was the highest rated local television program in the nation.
Bill Haley and the Comets made their premiere performance of "Rock Around the Clock" on Deane's show.
Deane was named the No. 1 DJ in America in 1962 and, while still an on-air performer in Baltimore, bought KOTN in 1960. He returned to Arkansas in 1964 to assume the management of the station and later put KXFE-FM, a country music station, on the air at Pine Bluff.
For much of the time Deane owned KOTN, he was also the morning DJ. He was known for making telephone calls all over the country, including one to Neimann-Marcus at Dallas. During that call, Deane asked what every item mentioned in the "12 Days of Christmas" would cost.
The movie "Hairspray" and its current Broadway revival are based on Deane's television show in Baltimore.
He sold KOTN and KXFE-FM in 1983, then came out of retirement in 1995, becoming chief executive officer of Delta Radio Inc., and the owner of six stations at Pine Bluff.
"When I was a young man farming, I used to listen to the morning mayor," Jefferson County Judge Jack Jones said. "In fact, I played on their basketball team in the city league, the KOTN (Cotton) Good Guys, and I've still got my jersey."
Jones said he knew Deane for more than 30 years.
"He left his mark in the community," Jones said. "He did a lot for Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, and the community is going to miss him."
Deane's long radio career ended May 1 when M.R.S. Ventures of Tyler, Texas, bought Delta Radio, which included KOTN, KCLA, KZYP-FM and KPBQ-FM from Deane and members of his family.
Steve Warren, who was the program director at KOTN in 1967-68, said, "Deane was one of the original, top 40 DJs at a time when they said rock 'n' roll was a fad that would never last. They wanted him to play Frank Sinatra records.
"He was the best thing that ever happened to a lot of us, and next to my father, he probably had more influence on me than any other person in my life," said Warren, now a radio programmer and music software designer at San Marcos, Texas.
"Nobody did it better," said Marinelle Howard, the former news director at KOTN. "He was truly an icon in the radio industry, and not just in Pine Bluff.
"He was big on local news because he believed people needed to be informed of what was going on, all the time."
Duane Hamann, who was a part of the on-the-air team with Deane for 10 years, said "I didn't realize when I went to work for him who he was, and how popular he was in Baltimore before he came back to Pine Bluff. He was a perfectionist and a professional all the way.
"Working with Buddy was hard work, but it was fun and I learned a lot," Hamann said.
Chancellor Lawrence Davis of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff said "When I think of Buddy Deane, I identify him with KOTN, which was an institution in Pine Bluff, just like UAPB is an institution in Pine Bluff."
Before it was able to put its own radio station on the air, UAPB owned and operated KOTN, employing Howard, and Buddy's daughter Dawn, along with others.
Floyd Donald, vice president and general manager of Delta Four, formerly Delta Radio Network, said he worked for Deane for almost seven years.
"Buddy loved radio, but working for him was an adventure," Donald said. "He brought life to radio. Few of us who worked for him realized how close we were to working with a living legend, because Buddy was just Buddy."
Donald said Deane was always community-oriented.
"When the ice storm hit, it was full speed ahead," he said. "When we had snow on the ground, and the schools were closed, it was full speed ahead, because he felt like local radio should benefit the community."
Deane was a past president and member of the board of directors of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association and received their Pioneer Award, was named as Kiwanian of the Year and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
He was inducted into the Leadership Pine Bluff Hall of Fame as a lifetime member in 1989, and had received awards from the Arkansas Community Development Program, the American Cancer Society and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, among others.
In 1948, Buddy married Helen. Meanwhile, Buddy exited the military and began his radio career a a station in North Little Rock, Arkansas. A short while later Deane moved to Memphis, Tennessee. While working there, Deane interviewed Stan Kenton, a popular performer of his day. Kenton told Deane of an opening at Baltimore's 1230 AM WITH. Deane auditioned and moved to Baltimore with his family in 1951. Buddy is universally recognized as the first Baltimore DJ to capitalize on the new music of the 50's called 'Rock n' Roll'. Buddy's tenure as a morning man at WITH involved efforts at promoting concerts in Baltimore. One of those featured the irrepressible Bill Haley and the Comets. 'Rock Around The Clock' was a hit in the Baltimore market one full year before the rest of the world picked up on the song. In September, 1957, Deane was hired by one-time WITH associate Joel Chaseman to host a dance show for teenagers on WJZ-TV Channel 13. For the next 6 plus years, every major performer (Elvis and Rick Nelson excepted) appeared on the program. In 1962, 'The Buddy Deane Show' was rated the most-watched daytime show in America.
By 1963, the burgeoning civil rights movement brought pressure to integrate the show. Up to that time, local black citizens were brought on the show on an intermitent basis. In late 1963, Deane met with regulars on the program to discuss the situation. The 'kids' were fine with integration but also expressed a concern that parents would not allow them to appear on an integrated version of the program. Meanwhile, a new station manager had arrived at Channel 13 and in mid December made a behind-the-scenes decision to cancel the show. On January 4, 1964, after a 6 day a week, 2 hour a day afternoon dance habit, The Buddy Deane Show beamed its last transmission over the airwaves. Buddy stayed in Baltimore through most of 1964 as the host of the morning ahow at WITH. Just days after introducing the Beatles on stage at the Baltimore Civic Center, Buddy and his family moved back to Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
From 1964-84, Buddy owned Top 40 KOTN 1490 AM. That station became one of the highest market rated stations in the country. Buddy sold the station in '84, only to take it back in 1996 from the local college. In 1996, WITH celebrated 55 years as a radio station. The format was changed to rock and roll oldies and Buddy ws hired back to do a Saturday afternoon show following fellow WITH alumnus Jack Gale. For the remainder of his days, Buddy hosted record hops in Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and aboard cruise ships.
In early 2003, Buddy sold KOTN and 3 other stations and ended his ownership era. In April, 2003 Buddy came to the Baltimore area for a series of weekend hops. Buddy's last appearance as a performer was Saturday May 17th at the Bel Air Rock and Roll Festival. He appeared with singers Ronnie Dove, Bobby Vee and Brian Hyland. Buddy of course served as the inspiration for Baltimorean John Waters' production of Hairspray! Buddy appeared in the 1988 movie version with a cameo performance. He was scheduled to attend the opening night ceremonies with Waters and long-time associate Arlene Kozak for the stage version at Baltimore's Morris Mechanic Theater. Buddy is survived by his wife of 55 years, Helen Stevenson Deane, daughters JoEllen, Dawn, and Debbie, and their families.
Winston "Buddy" Deane was the man at the junction where Eddie Fisher and Teresa Brewer gave way to Little Richard and Jackie Wilson and Elvis. He caused a generation of baby boomer adolescents to rush home from school every afternoon and turn on the television so they could learn how to be cool. He played phonograph records for a living, and it helped create an American soundtrack.
The death of Deane, the Pied Piper of mid-century Baltimore teens, will symbolize for many the day the music died. He caught a couple of big pop cultural waves that, in the American way, first created him and then banished him - and then created his dressed-up image all over again.
He was there when American music was going up-tempo from the box step to boogaloo and the American conscience was beginning to express itself on race. And he lived long enough to see the story of his television program transformed from a painful episode of racial integration to a triumphantly good-natured Broadway show called Hairspray.
From 1957 to 1964, when both television and rock 'n' roll were muscling their way into the national consciousness, Deane played music six days a week on the tube. In Baltimore, where he was the local version of Dick Clark's American Bandstand, Deane was an earth force for a generation that began with post-World War II innocence and ended asking a question that seems simple now but shook the country 40 years ago: Why can't white kids and black kids dance together on television?
Deane never had an answer, and always claimed he never tried to stop it. For awhile, black youngsters were given one day a month to appear on the show. Then, for awhile, one day a week. It wasn't enough, and it missed the point. They wanted to be able to dance on the same show with white youngsters.
As Dean always saw it, he was just a guy hosting a dance party at an awkward hour of history. The public schools were newly integrated, and so were restaurants and movie theaters and swimming pools. But the dance floor was different. It was intimacy in a public place, and some people found it offensive.
"Not me, I didn't care," Deane claimed after the show was pulled off the air. Years later, in interviews and in private correspondence, he said, "It was just the times. The kids said they didn't care if we let black youngsters on the show. Hell, they were going to school together. But they said their parents didn't want it."
He saw himself as a victim of circumstances, and of timing. But, for a long time, he was the biggest thing on the airwaves in Baltimore. He was a disc jockey on the old WITH (1230 AM) radio station who played weekend record hops and noticed, "The kids weren't asking for Eddie Fisher songs. They wanted Bill Haley and the Comets."
It was the dawning of rock 'n' roll, and Deane was smart enough to catch the change from radio to live television, and from pop to rock.
How big was Buddy Deane? He used to boast that every rock star except Elvis appeared on his show, singing their latest hits and juicing the Top 40 sales charts. But Deane knew something else, which local TV's Miss Nancy Claster had discovered a few years earlier with her Romper Room show: Kids love to look at other kids.
Deane's real stars were his Committee members, who made the show the centerpiece of their lives and became such endearing hometown heroes that, four decades later, they're the modern stars of John Waters' Hairspray on Broadway.
How big was Deane? In neighborhoods all over town, kids bolted home from school to watch his show and catch the newest dances (the twist, the mashed potato, the stroll, the pony, the locomotion, the hand jive, the madison) and the newest fashions.
If you caught the 33rd Street bus (as I did) each afternoon from City College, where the girls from Eastern High boarded a block later, you picked out the Buddy Deane stars immediately. They seemed such working-class goddesses in their black eyeliner and their cathedrals of hair that an awed hush descended, with each Baltimore Transit Co. bus transformed into a kind of silent, sweaty shrine.
The girls had their cardigan sweaters buttoned up the back, their straight skirts barely reaching the knee, their cha-cha heels and hair teased to within an inch of its life. Forty years later, their names are still remembered - Mary Lou Raines and Consetta Comi and Linda Warehime - all members of what Waters once called "hair-hopper royalty."
And the guys, with their pegged pants from Lee's of Broadway, and their pointy-toed shoes and drape haircuts that the Everly Brothers themselves might have envied.
How big was Buddy Deane in Baltimore? He helped define an era: of music and fashion, and of young people trying to figure out who they were and, ultimately, how they were going to live with their fellow citizens.
How big were the Buddy Deane kids in Baltimore? For a while, my brother Mitchell dated a girl whose older brother was a Committee member named Doug Constantine. I asked my brother what it felt like to meet Doug.
"Like I was meeting one of the Beatles," my brother said.
That's how big The Buddy Deane Show was.
John Waters has a lot to say about his quirky characters in the stage version of 'Hairspray'
By Blake Green
August 14, 2002
Long before the cliche "bad hair day” was ever coined, every day was big hair day in 1962 Baltimore -- and a lot of the rest of the country. Filmmaker John Waters, Baltimorean to the core, immortalized that cultural phenomenon in 1988's "Hairspray,” which stands as a hilariously tacky monument to the teased, lacquered and (too-often) bow-bedecked coif considered fashion in the 1960s.
Waters, himself a cultural phenomenon, is a consultant on the new Broadway musical, based on the film, that opens tomorrow at the Neil Simon Theatre with a healthy advance and lots of buzz -- the good kind that holds. Just like it's been blasted by a cloud of hair spray (extra firm).
It was in his borderline Southern city in the early '60s that a teenage Waters was a fan of "The Buddy Deane Show,” a local version of "American Bandstand” wildly popular with his peers, many of whom dreamed -- just like "Hairspray's” butterball heroine, Tracy Turnblad -- of being super-cool regulars on the show where dances like the Madison and the dirty boogie were introduced.
"But it was a class thing,” .Waters recalls. "In my neighborhood the show was not cool. But I loved it. They [the dancers] were my imaginary friends. I used to watch the show and draw exaggerated hairdos and make up fictitious biographies for all of them. I even danced on the show -- twice, both times the dirty .boogie. Then I smoked pot and that was all over. My friends radically changed. No more Buddy Deane.”
Two years later the show itself disappeared. In "Hairspray” the plot revolves around the efforts of Tracy and her friends -- black and white -- to integrate "The Corny Collins Show,” which in 1962, like "The Buddy Deane Show,” had only white dancers except for the one day of the month deemed "Negro Day.” "Why can't every day be ‘Negro Day'?” the guileless Tracy wants to know.
"Hairspray” has a happy ending -- except for the bigots -- but in real life "The Buddy Deane Show” went off the air, Waters says, because of civil rights issues. "No one knew what to do. The kids' parents wouldn't let them dance on TV with blacks -- and I bet they wouldn't today, either. What show on television shows blacks and white kids dancing together?”
Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.
By BEN NUCKOLS
Associated Press Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) - It was perfect after-school television: "American Bandstand" with local flavor, "Total Request Live" with your friends. "The Buddy Deane Show", which ran on Baltimore¹s WJZ-TV from 1957 to 1964 and was the basis for John Waters' "Hairspray", had the city¹s teens in its thrall for 2 1/2 hours a day, six days a week.
"It was the highlight of my career," says 77-year-old Winston J. "Buddy" Deane, a bit wistful for the days when he had his finger on the pulse of everything hip.
The live show was straightforward enough: kids dancing to their favorite tunes, from "The Twist" to "The Madison" to gimmicky numbers like "The Roach," in which the dancers mimicked stomping bugs and spraying them with pesticides.
The musical stage version of Waters' 1988 movie opens on Broadway Aug. 15. The story about an overweight girl who wants to become a regular on the thinly fictionalized "Corny Collins Show," makes one significant departure from the real TV show: Deane¹s show was not successfully integrated after a stirring civil-rights struggle.
Unlike the hard-line segregationists depicted in the movie, WJZ-TV¹s managers wanted the show to integrate. But white Baltimore wasn't ready. "The management of the station did not realize that Baltimore was very much a Southern-oriented city," Deane says from his home in Pine Bluff, Ark. "They asked each kid (on the show's committee of regular dancers) what they thought about integration, and they said, "Well, it's OK with me, but my folks won¹t be happy." That was the general consensus."
It was the refusal of white parents to let their children dance with black kids that led to the show¹s cancellation, says Deane, who even had a cameo in the film. He appeared briefly as a reporter in a scene outside the governor¹s mansion as the chief executive is besieged by protesters demanding immediate integration.
"Buddy always has been very nice to me," Waters recalled. "He said I treated the memory of the show well. I gave it a little happier ending than it had in real life."
Otherwise, "Hairspray" is faithful to the details of Deane¹s show, from the breathless viewer telegrams that Deane read on the air to the elite committee.
"I was on OThe Buddy Deane Show" as a guest, but a guest was so looooow," said Waters, who was a faithful TV watcher during his Catholic high school days in Baltimore. "The committee danced every day on the show but half the people on the show were guests. The committee¹s jobs - they couldn't dance with each other except every second or third record - were to dance with guests, who were the low-life viewers."
After the show¹s cancellation, Deane went back to his native Arkansas and resumed a career in radio. He's completing a deal to sell the four stations he owns. He occasionally returns to Baltimore to host his signature record hops.
As for "Hairspray," Deane is perfectly happy that the movie - and now the musical - have cemented his legacy. Does he plan to see the show? "I don't know. It¹s a long trip to New York from Pine Bluff, Ark., and my wife has been ill. She couldn¹t travel. I'd love to be invited, though."
And Waters certainly wants him there.
"I learned so much about fashion and hair styles and makeup and pointy-toe shoes," Waters says with a sigh. "I still wear pointy-toe shoes because of "The Buddy Deane Show.""
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