Radio

Published on December 14th, 2016 | by Alan Cross

6

Bob Washington, The Voice of All Those K-Tel TV Commercials, Has Died

When I was growing up outside of Winnipeg, everyone my school was divided into tribes based on which of the city’s top 40 stations they liked the best. I was hardcore 1470 CFRW. Some preferred 58 CKY. And then there were those who swore by 630 CKRC.

I never listened to CKRC much–I found their processing and their song rotations too annoying (one spring, I actually mapped out with uncanny accuracy when the station would play Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke”)–but I did like their morning man, Bob Washington. Sunday morning were the best when the station broadcast “Wash & Ash Read the Funnies,” which involved Washington and his news sidekick reading the weekend comic strips from the Winnipeg Free Press in character voices. It sounds weird now, but that Sunday show was a huge hit.

Bob Washington was even more famous for doing all those overblown K-Tel TV commercials. K-Tel was born and headquartered in Winnipeg and head honcho Phil Kives tapped Wash to do the voiceovers for all their spots.

Washington must have made a good chunk of change from the dozens of spots he did. Patty Stacker. Miracle Brush. Dial-O-Matic. Record Selector. And Veg-O-Matic was such a hit that Dan Ackroyd spoofed it on SNL.

Bob Washington died December 10 at the age of 82. A full obituary can be found here.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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6 Responses to Bob Washington, The Voice of All Those K-Tel TV Commercials, Has Died

  1. jeff brown says:

    Alan, I once saw an interview with Phil or whoever it was who started the K-tel craze, what interested me was him admitting that he actually crossed the border and bought cheap American records that he rebranded as K-tel….true?

    Love your show here on 88.5 in Ottawa, my only claim to fame is making breakfast for Supertramp when I was a cook at a Sheraton hotel back in the 70’s but I also worked the Voodoo lounge concert as a favour for a good friend who was a manager for Capital security….my job that night was to hang out with Mick’s ex wife and two of his daughters while they watched the show from the best seat available, the mixer!
    I left my car on Gladstone ave that day and walked to Landsdowne park, when I returned after the show it was surrounde with traffic pylons, apparently the filme a scene for their video “streets of love” there earlier…..wonder if my car was in it, never looked.

    cheers

    jeff

  2. Drew says:

    This is truly a sad day. K-tel was my introduction to record albums. Bob Washington was the guy who told me all about them. I would then tell my parents. Miraculously, the latest K-tel album would then appear under the Christmas tree, in my Easter basket, or wrapped with a bow at my next birthday party.

    Did you know K-tel released separate versions for the U.S. and Canada? The titles and artwork were the same, but some titles and artists were different. I’m guessing this was due to music licensing issues.

    Finally, on to radio: CKRC/63 and 58/CKY were both great stations. My grandparents lived between Devils Lake and Grand Forks, ND. CFRW didn’t make it there on either the original 1470 frequency or after the move to 1290. But CKY and CKRC were loud and clear. I always loved listening because they played songs not heard on my hometown stations in Minneapolis. (This was long before I learned about Canadian content rules.) Two DJs that immediately come to mind are CKRC’s Roger Kelly and Raccoon Carney on CKY. I have airchecks of both on my site if you’re interested.

    “Get K-Tel’s Mindbender! 22 original hits! Original stars! $4.99 for Reck-Kord, 8-track tape, FIVE Ninety Nine!” R.I.P., Mr. Washington

    • Alan Cross says:

      You have airchecks of those guys? I’d LOVE to hear them!

      • Drew says:

        Alan, my site is radiogeekheaven.com. Just scroll down and you’ll see them all under “Classic Radio Airchecks.” Alphabetically by call letters.

        The Roger Kelly aircheck is from October, 1978. I was 14 when I recorded it. Raccoon is from July, 1983. Also from July, 1983, I also have a bunch of short clips from most of the Winnipeg stations. Grandpa had a large fringe TV antenna on a tower pointed at Fargo. To get the Winnipeg FMs, I loosened the mast bolts, turned the antenna, and connected it to my Pioneer boombox. That got me CHIQ, CHMM, CITI, and CKWG, Enjoy!

  3. Douglas says:

    Wash and Ash read the funnies. Now there’s a trip down memory lane, Alan. Along with the K-Tel spots, of course. Speaking of trips, going to visit relatives or family friends in the north end from where we lived in the very west end of Winnipeg, Westwood, often meant driving down Inkster Avenue, right past K-Tel International’s head office. Pulling up an album folder on my phone has nowhere near the connection or experience, let alone physical impact, as grabbing one’s favourite album from the Record Selector.

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