Updated 04/19/2012 06:21 PM
Clark’s memory lives on in CNY
The family of Dick Clark says there may be a public memorial, but there will be no funeral service for the long time entertainer, who died Wednesday at the age of 82. Clark is being remembered across the country, but as YNN's Bill Carey reports, many in Central New York have very personal memories of Dick Clark.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- You knew you had made it in the 1950s if Ralph Edwards came to call with his program “This Is Your Life.”
In November of 1959, at the tender age of 30, one of the most recognizable faces in America, Dick Clark, had clearly made it.
For years, Clark had set the country's musical agenda on a television dance show “American Bandstand.” But every story has a beginning and for Dick Clark, that beginning was in Central New York.
Clark and his parents had moved from his boyhood home in Mount Vernon to Utica when Richard Clark became manager of a small radio station, the place where Dick Clark would first consider his future.
“While I was working in that mailroom, I used to go in and sit with the morning disc jockey. A guy named Danny Fusco at WRUN in Utica,” Clark had said.
On WRUN's low-rated FM station, Dick Clark made his broadcasting debut.
“I used to give the weather forecast and throw it to Ithaca or Albany or something. I suddenly realized one day that there were like three farmers and two geese listening. But I would get sweaty palms. That was my first time on the air. Never intended to be on the air,” said Clark.
After high school, he made his way to Syracuse University. He thought advertising was his future and took business management courses. But, by chance, he signed on as a disc jockey at the campus radio station, WAER. Not long after, he was ready to take his first professional job at a legendary Syracuse radio station WOLF.
“A weekend job. And it started at a dollar an hour. Every time I talked to Dick he said, remember Ron, always mention, I made a dollar an hour,” said Syracuse Radio and Music Historian Ron Wray.
It takes more than a dollar an hour to live on and Clark was soon back in Utica, testing a new medium as a news anchorman on WKTV. That job did not last long. Soon it was off to Philadelphia.
Clark never forgot his roots, returning occasionally to Syracuse.
In the early 90s, the city launched a Walk of Stars outside the Landmark Theater, designed to honor those who got their start in Syracuse. Dick Clark was honored in 1993.
Two years later, the Walk of Stars faded away, just a curiosity for those who take the time, these days, to stop and look.
Syracuse has long since forgotten about its Walk of Stars. But it was an honor that Dick Clark never forgot.
Ron Wray says it was an event that always made Dick Clark proud.
Wray said, “This is really a big deal to me that my hometown, well, he called it his hometown because it was his college town, would do this to honor me in this fashion.”