Dan Ingram, Celebrated Top 40 Disc Jockey, Dead at 83
Ingram made his name over a celebrated 50-year career at Top 40 stations, most notably at WABC in New York. Defined by his irreverent and edgy style, Ingram later switched over to the oldies format at WCBS-FM – but he never lost his impish attitude.
"I like to have fun with my listeners," Ingram told The New York Times in 1993. "I like them to use their minds. I like them to say, 'I don't believe he said that.' But I don't like to do sleaze."
Born on Sept. 7, 1934, in Oceanside, N.Y., Ingram began work at smaller outposts like New Rochelle and Bridgeport before moving into Dallas and St. Louis. He was with WABC from 1961 until the station switched to a talk format more than 20 years later. Ingram was subsequently at WKTU, where he was replaced by a youngster named Howard Stern, then finished his career with a dozen-year stint at WCBS beginning in the early '90s.
His live, scriptless over-the-air broadcast spanned the oldies gamut, "unleashing a stream of doo-wops, dip-dips and sha-na-nas from Ruby and the Romantics, the Mello Kings, the Beach Boys and the Dell Vikings," the Times enthused. Ingram did the rest.
"One of the funniest DJs ever," Ken Foote, program director at CBS DFW, told CBS New York. "Best known for his quick wit, fast pace, and ability to 'talk up' or pre-sell a song so that you didn't tune out. Great satire, as well."
After playing the song "At the Hop," a 1958 hit by Danny and the Juniors, Ingram once quipped that "they're called Danny and the Postgraduates now." The King of Rock 'n' Roll became "Elbow Parsley" in his fertile imagination. "I'm either gifted or cursed with a mind that works in weird ways," Ingram told the Times.
That kind of humor made Ingram a consistent afternoon-ratings hit, and eventually he became widely imitated. "He was ahead of his time," Bruce Morrow, a fellow WABC and WCBS DJ, told the New York Daily News. "He was witty and sarcastic and, years before the so-called shock jocks, he had that little tinge of blue."
He also hosted CBS Radio's syndicated Top 40 Satellite Survey, and a jazz program on WABC called The Other Dan Ingram Show. Ingram was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007, four years after leaving WCBS.