Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The Friendly Giant Was Anchored By A Fraim
For over a decade, John Fraim was the morning host for WTVN radio in Columbus.
Since Columbus radio was my broadcast reference point, and WTVN was the strongest of signals in my neck of the woods, I cut my teeth on Fraim's morning show. I first became aware of Fraim probably about 1968. My understanding was Fraim came to Columbus in the early 60's, maybe around 1961 from Indiana via WSAI in Cincinnati. His first job was in the news department and prior to becoming a music host he was news director and Taft Broadcasting's Washington Correspondent. He took over morning duties at WTVN in December, 1965. For years, I believed that Fraim replaced Maurice Jackson, but further research found that a handful of hosts handled the morning position between Jackson and Fraim. (Edited update: Jackson left the morning show in August of 1960 and a number of people filled the slot between Jackson's departure and Fraim's taking over in the morning. Among morning hosts after Jackson were Bob Ancel, Dave Hull, Tom George, Johnny Dollar and Dave Logan) Someone with more information or a better memory may have additional hosts I've over looked.
I would often brag on Fraim's popularity in Columbus, but was often told that JP McCarthy of WJR and Wally Phillips on WGN were far better personalities. You can have your favorites; Fraim at the time was mine.
I always enjoyed the Special Reports (short piece usually written by Fraim discussing a news item or other information pieces) and his The Way They Were segements featuring a song by a Big Band artist complete with background information about the piece or the artist. Fraim also bantered with news director Bill Patterson after the 6:30 news segment, usually ending the segment with a joke or pun that segued into a jingle and back to music.
In 1976 I had the honor to be hired by WTVN hosting the overnight weekend shifts. I handled Friday night from midnight until 6 am Saturday morning, Saturday night from midnight to 9 am Sunday morning and Sunday night from midnight until 5:30 Monday morning. I would be the first person to welcome Fraim to the studio on Saturday and Monday mornings. (I've often wondered if he felt welcomed by this young radio rube!)
Fraim had the reputation among the air staff of being difficult. Many of those before and after me in the overnight slots would often find negative ways to portray him. Personally, either I was a fool and never noticed it or because I went out of my way to be decent to him, he returned the favor.
I also worked with him at the time his wife was dying from cancer. On more than one occasion, he would phone from his White Oak farm stating he would be late because his wife had been ill or needed his attention. What a thrill it was to do a half hour or so of his show with his numerous listeners. Yet I knew his heart was aching as he watched his wife lose her life.
In 1978, I was let go by WTVN and migrated to WRFD to host a big band show. A year or so later Fraim too left WTVN over a reported tiff with management over working Saturday mornings. At that time, many major market hosts were beginning to only work 5 day work weeks instead of the previous normal six day load. Fraim too landed at WRFD as morning host and general manager. While I was only a weekend staffer, Fraim would pop into the station to catch up on paperwork. He would stop by the studio, express some pleasantries and then be off to his work.
Fraim's tenure at WRFD wasn't long as he left to join WCOL as morning host, broadcasting from the former observation deck of the Lincoln Leveque tower that had been converted into an apartment for him. After a few years, he joined WBBY as news director and even later owned a radio station between Logan and Athens, Ohio.
The last I heard of Fraim was that he was living in the rural Laurelville area and doing some free lance writing.
During his many years at WTVN, he was our morning friend. Below is John Fraim today.