HARVEYS LAKE — Memories were shared Sunday afternoon between friends, family and listeners of popular WARM DJ, Harry West.
West is leaving Northeastern Pennsylvania to relocate to Pittsburgh, and friends Beverly Jean Johnston and Denise DeLuca organized a celebration for him at Grotto Pizza.
West and his radio show on “The Mighty 590” station is part of the Wyoming Valley’s heritage.
Political blogger David Yonki, who came out to celebrate West’s going-away party, said West was his “boyhood idol.” Yonki rememered riding his bike to all of West’s remote spots.
“My aunt would call my mother and ask what I was doing in Scranton,” Yonki, who lived in Pittston as a child, said. “And my mom told her ‘Harry West’.”
A few dozen people came out to suprise West. Johnston said they got West to come out by telling him he was “meeting Clark (Kuschke) for a drink.”
“They got me,” West admitted.
As tables were pushed together so those who remained towards the end of the party could be near the voice of the Wyoming Valley, Johnston asked West how he felt.
“I feel better than than I did 10 years ago,” the 86-year-old joked. “I feel great.”
Johnston said she grew up in WARMland, as the Wyoming Valley, including Scranton and Hazleton, was called. She grew up in Ashley and remembers WARM as being “everywhere.”
Always interested in radio
West recalled how he was interested in radio at 10 and 11 years old. He grew up in the Reading area and used to visit the radio station near his house.
“Straight after high school,” West said of when he got into radio in his hometown.
Times Leader records show West came to WARM in September 1959, left for Pittsburgh in 1969 and came back to WARM in 1973. He left WARM in 1992. WARM left the air in April 2009, but returned a few weeks later. In September 2014, WARM went silent due to transmitter failure. The station resumed broadcasting in December 2014 and is now known as CBS Sports Radio.
Johnston called West a legend. West, however, disagreed with the characterization.
“He never looked at himself that way,” West’s niece, Lois Samilenko, of Sanatoga, said.
At WARM, West had a protege: Joe Shaver.
“I learned alot from him,” Shaver said.
Shaver remembered how he would be on a remote spot for WARM, come back into the office and tape a promo peice. In the morning, if West didn’t like it, he’d pull it from the play list.
“That’s not you, (West) would say,” Shaver remembered.
Also there to share in the day was Clark Kuschke, the second person West met when he was at WARM. Kushke worked in copywriting — writing the advertisement — while West was the day personality.
“I remember you walking in,” Kuschke said to West before he left.
Kuschke, West and Joe Middleton were the self-proclaimed “Three Mouseketeers.” Every Friday night, the three of them would go out — a tradition that started when Kuschke was paying an insurance premium in Wilkes-Barre and West walked in.
“You said, ‘Hey Clark, how ya doing?’” Kuschke said. “We went down to Murray’s for happy hour.”
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko.