Thursday, April 11, 2013

R.I.P.: Top 40 Programmer George Wilson Dead At 84

"In my day, everything came from my belly button and seat of the pants. Today, everything is done from research."
George Wilson
Legendary Top 40 programmer George Wilson Crowell has died of complications from a heart attack suffered about two weeks ago. He had been living in Albuquerque.  He had survived several heart attacks in 2012. 

He was 84.

A Native of Katonah, NY, Wilson started out as a professional baseball player, became a sports announcer and then a DJ in the 1950s.

Wilson gained a huge reputation during the 60s and 70s as PD for WOKY Milkwaukee. He also EVP/Programming  with the Bartell broadcasting and the Star Group.  His background also includes a stint at KIQQ LA in the early ‘80s.

He also served at GM of WDRQ Detroit.  And during retirement, he operated 'George Wilson's Memory Tunes' website.

Rochelle Staab, Wilson’s secretary at WOKY Milwaukee, called him “a brilliant Top 40 programmer, a guy’s guy, a tough competitor, and a true friend and supporter”.

She shared his philosophy:

On programming radio: “Play the hits, talk dirty, watch the bottom line.”
On Vegas: “Always split aces and eights at the blackjack table.”
On horse racing: “Bet the closers at Santa Anita.”


  1. remember him well woky when i was in highschool.legend indeed.I allso live not to far from the family

  2. George was my mentor, I learned do much from him. RIP my friend
    Vince Guillen -Albuquerque..Real Oldies 1600AM program director

  3. George Wilson Crowell was a dominant force at Philly's WHAT Radio between 1965- 67; WHAT broadcast at 1340 kc, and yet, with limited power (especially at night) Wilson showcased it as "Philadelphia's Powerhouse On 1340 am". Although WHAT was traditionally a Soul radio outlet since the late 1940's, Wilson added "Gimme Some Lovin" by Spencer Davis, "Nikey Hokey" by P.J. Proby, and "Green Grass Of Home" by Tom Jones, along with other outstanding Rhythmic top-40 tunes Throw in a big, booming 'churchy' reverb, along with the market's most colorful and energetic deejays (Lee Garrett, Billy Foxx, Ernie Fields, Jerry Blavat, etc.), WHAT became a very hip and groovy alternative to WIBG, WFIL and WDAS. These modifications made WHAT a top choice among white teens and adolescents without being perceived as a 'sellout' to the core black audience. Wilson was also the first programmer to use the moniker "Boss Radio" prior to it being grabbed by WFIL in September 1966. Wilson left WHAT in late 1967 or early 1968, and WHAT eventually lost its luster, as the station's audience began to disintegrate. In 1968 Rocky G (Ellsworth Groce of WWRL) was called in to help WHAT regain it's prominence, and he was very effective. However, upon Groce's departure in mid-1969 the changes he instituted were scuttled and the station fell into a state of extreme disrepair. It's one bright point after 1970 was during Reggie Lavong's era in 1971-72. Wilson will be remembered as an innovator and a pioneer to those of us who recall WHAT'S former grandure during that remarkable era.

    1. CORRECTION, PLEASE: George Wilson was named program director of WITH 1230 Baltimore in July 1965, and left shortly afterwards to program WHAT in Philly, but the date of that move is undetermined. He WAS at WHAT in April 1966, hired Georgie Woods away from WDAS in a major programming coupe