Burbank began his radio career in his hometown of Memphis at WMPS in the mid 1960s, where he was known on the air as Johnny Apollo. He continued to use that name in 1967 and early 1968 at WWUN (Jackson, Mississippi). In 1968 he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he became an instant hit on WAKY-AM.
It was at WAKY that Billy Purser officially became Gary Burbank, a name taken from radio and television legend Gary Owens, who as a regular on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In would announce that he was broadcasting from "beautiful downtown Burbank."
Burbank left WAKY in 1973; his final program there was an elaborate prank in which he pretended to be fatally shot by a disgruntled listener. At that point, he moved to New Orleans for a brief stint as program director of WNOE. From New Orleans, Burbank went on to CKLW in Detroit/Windsor, and then back to Louisville for a successful, lengthy afternoon gig on WHAS-AM. Burbank left Louisville again for a brief spell in Tampa, Florida at WDAE, but moved to the Ohio Valley in 1981 when he signed with WLW, originally doing morning drive time but later moving to afternoons. It is there that he has enjoyed his greatest success.