Fun with No Purpose

9 December 2010, 09:26

I was saddened to hear of the death of Rick Gilmour earlier this year. He namechecked me a couple of times on Night Talk, the late-night Saturday show he hosted with Mitch Mann and Monica Gannon on WERE-AM in the mid-1990s. Gilly’s voice was familiar from his frequent calls to an earlier talk show, Livewire with Steve Church (being a frequent caller was a function he performed on many college radio shows as well). Although WERE had cut a big swath in the 1970s, by the 1990s their programming days consisted of syndicated content and brokered (e.g. pay-to-play) shows. None of the commercial stations in Cleveland would dare to air something so ostensibly purposeless as Night Talk, which is precisely why the show was so entertaining.

After the show was abruptly canceled amid controversy, Gilly resurfaced on WERE’s brokered Beer Talk as a co-host, and after a cooling off period Gilly seized the Sunday night slot for The Gilly Show, which I remember for being warmly infamous. (Laughing at the Heaven’s Gate cult was one such Gilly Show premise.) The 29 April 1997 episode proved to be the last: Gilmour tested the limits of the the FCC Safe Harbor policy by reading the opening stanzas of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl just before the show’s 2AM closing. This proved to be too much for then-station manager John Hill.

When Morton Downey Jr. pulled out of his weeknight talk show for 50,000 watt WTAM-AM at the end of August 1997, Gilmour was selected to replace him. The right-wing news/sports station was not always suited to him. By the time I lost track, he had endorsed Bush. Weeknights gave way to a regular weekend time slot, but this soon became an occasional weekend show, and by 2004 he was off the air. A brief aircheck was posted by WTAM after his passing, but the better work is probably completely lost in the air.

Rodney Eric Griffith



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