Dan Ingram, NYC Top 40 Radio Legend, Dead at 83

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Dan Ingram in the 1980s

For listeners of rock ’n’ roll radio in New York during the classic era of the ’60s to the ’80s, there were several great stations to choose from and numerous legendary disc jockeys filling the airwaves. Dan Ingram, a mainstay on 77 WABC (AM) Musicradio for more than two decades, and later WCBS-FM, was arguably the best of them all.

Ingram died yesterday (June 24) at age 83 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His son reported that Ingram died after choking on a piece of steak.

Born in Oceanside, N.Y., on Sept. 7, 1934, Ingram began his broadcasting career on the Hofstra University (Long Island) radio station before taking jobs at several stations, in Bridgeport, New Haven, Dallas and St. Louis, in the late 1950s. Beginning July 3, 1961, Ingram went to work for WABC, where he remained until the station switched to an all-talk format in May 1982.

Ingram was known for his quick-talking style and humorous banter and wordplay. Calling himself “Big Dan,” his signature greeting of “Hey, Kemosabe!” welcomed listeners throughout the height of the rock era. Holding down the afternoon spot on WABC, he was on the air on Nov. 9, 1965, when the entire Northeast experienced a power blackout. An air-check of the moments leading up to the outage displays Ingram’s quick-witted manner, turning the confusing moment into an amusing one. Listen to it here.

Ingram in the ’60s

Ingram, who called his show “The Ingram Flingram,” and, self disparagingly “The Ingram Mess,” among other made-up names, was known as a master of “talk up,” the practice of speaking over a record’s instrumental introduction and ending his spiel at the very moment the singing kicked in.

Ingram also hosted “The Other Dan Ingram Show” on WABC-FM in 1967, playing blues and jazz. After WABC “Musicradio” switched to the talk format, he went to station WKTU from 1984-85 and, in 1991, WCBS-FM, the oldies station, where he worked weekends for 12 years.

Ingram was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.

Related: What were the top hits on WABC in November 1967?

Listen to a 13-minute aircheck of Dan Ingram on WABC in the early 1960s

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Jeff Tamarkin

Jeff Tamarkin

Best Classic Bands Editor Jeff Tamarkin has been a prolific music journalist for more than four decades. He is formerly the editor of Goldmine, CMJ andRelix magazines, has written for dozens of other publications and has authored liner notes for more than 80 CDs. Jeff has also served on the Nominating Committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and as a consultant to the Grammys. His first book was 'Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane.' He is also the co-author of 'Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc.,' with Howard Kaylan.
Jeff Tamarkin
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  1. Sam Stagmorgen
    #1 Sam Stagmorgen 25 June, 2018, 10:26

    Sad to hear of the loss of the one of the early radio DJs that shaped my career as an announcer. Back in the 60s we could catch the clear channel stations only at night when all the local stations would shut down for the night. New York, Chicago, and other citiy’s stations brought the best music to us over the airwaves. Thanks for the good times and the inspiration Kemosabe.

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  2. edd the head
    #2 edd the head 25 June, 2018, 11:22

    My wife and I met with Dan (81) in NYC after his WABC shift for advice on my entering the voice-over field. He was very gracious, yet serious, on just how tough it is to break-in. He acknowledged my talents in amateur theatrics, but he cautioned us on the price to be paid in pursuit of this goal. Dan said “90% of the work today is being done by 10% of the talent . . .and getting up at 5 a.m. to race downtown to hear an audition director say ‘not today, Dan’ is often part of the gig.”
    He suggested I use my voice in a sales venue. “There you have an audience, steady income, a predictable schedule, and a better chance for a successful marriage”. Dan paid for the drinks, then rushed off to an evening audition nearby. I followed his advice and my wife and I will always be grateful for sharing his wisdom and concerns with us. God bless you, Dan, and Thank you.

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  3. OldiesDiva
    #3 OldiesDiva 25 June, 2018, 12:44

    End of an era – in more ways than one – RIP, Big Dan….

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  4. eisus1
    #4 eisus1 26 June, 2018, 01:34

    So sad to hear of his passing. Growing up in the Bronx in the 60’s & early 70’s, WABC & Dan Ingram was all we listened to. His show was always great. That we also share the same last name was a topic of conversation on more than several occasions!
    RIP Dan.

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