R.I.P.Dick Clark: The DJ’s DJ, the eternal MC, knew when to shut up

As a broadcaster, I was in awe of Dick Clark.

Back when disc jockeys didn’t scratch and rap, they talked over the records up to vocals and did their thing during the intros and outros of the songs they played. It wasn’t  a very respectable job. Fun, but not respectable.  Dick Clark made it respectable.

As the DJ entrepreneur, Clark elevated the species. He represented that the disc jockey could do more than just say  “that was…here is…coming up next.”

By knowing how to shut up and play the music, he displayed his genius and made a mint doing it.

Clark was always the class act among DJs. He wasn’t particularly funny, nor witty. He was just pleasant.  He was a “personality.”  He wore a suit and tie. Oh, and did I say, he knew when to shut up.

Clark was definitely old school when I was coming up in broadcasting in the mid-70s.  My very first paid broadcast job was as a rock DJ in Houston, TX, where my claim to fame was being the first to play the Ramones.

At the time, a guy named Howard Stern was liberating the DJ world by actually talking and not playing music.

That appealed to me. 

Compared to Clark, it was downright radical. I don’t  know what Dick Clark felt or what he thought. He was always just a happy, positive  sort, who played the music. Or presented the acts on “Bandstand.”  He knew who the star was. It wasn’t him.

Knowing that made him bigger than any disc jockey around.  I wish I had followed his role.

Clark was the eternal MC who figured out how to make it all work as a business.

His heirs? There’s really only one person out there who came up from the DJ ranks, Ryan Seacrest.

Inoffensive and bubbly, Seacrest is the perfect “that was, here is” guy.

He becomes a star by getting out of the way.

But alas, he’s no Dick Clark, pop culture’s eternal MC.

I can see him at the Pearly Gates now, about to introduce a great new trumpet player named Gabriel….