In June of 1972, as the remnants of Hurricane Agnes struck the heart of Wilkes-Barre PA, flood waters of the Susquehanna River rose to over 41 feet and surged over the city’s levees.
As the flooding and subsequent devastation became known, WCRV first began to broadcast a request to our listeners for donations of flashlights and batteries to be sent to residents who were without power.
Well, that simple request led to a non-stop radiothon for more than just flashlights and batteries.
Within a couple days we had collected enough non-perishable items from the citizens of both Warren and Huntingdon counties New Jersey to fill three large moving vans.
Chucky and I led the caravan and delivered the items to the relief areas setup in Wilkes-Barre.
After the delivery was made, we were asked to meet with the Mayor of Wilkes-Barre and were rewarded with Keys to the City.
Some more memorable happenings at WCRV included benefit concerts for the Hackettstown Hospital.
We had arranged benefits in past years with regional artists like Billy Terrell and Ray Dahroughe, who had recorded and released records as Terrell & Dahrouge.
This time we wanted to set our goals a little higher and decided to try and bring a national star to the Tri-County fair.
My sights were set on one of my all time favorite performers.
After a few phone calls I was negotiating with Memphis based Judd Phillips, brother of Sam Phillips, the founder of the legendary Sun Records.
At that time, Judd was the manager of Jerry Lee Lewis.
We worked out the details and signed the “Jerry Lee Lewis Show” to appear on Sunday, July 23, 1972.
Jerry and his entourage would land in their private jet at the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton airport.
After appearing for our benefit, Jerry Lee would then head back to A-B-E and then on to his next stop, an appearance later that day at the Delaware State Fair.
To pick up Jerry Lee, I arranged for limousine service and then at the PA/NJ state border, we had a NJ State Police escort!
I rode in the main Limo with Jerry Lee and he told me that day that he had not had a limo/police escort since some of his wild early day appearances on 1950s TV shows like Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen and the Dick Clark Saturday Night show!
I will never forget how difficult it was for Chucky B to get a sponsor to donate an upright piano for Jerry Lee’s performance that day.
I believe he had at least two sponsors lined up, and then they would call him back to cancel, always talking about Jerry’s reputation with pianos.
Chucky finally got another music store to commit and provide the piano by AGAIN explaining that Jerry’s reputation was from the OLD Jerry Lee, not the NEW-Country song singing Jerry Lee.
Any fan of Jerry Lee over the years knows that his live shows will always fluctuate between Country, Rock, Blues, and even some Gospel.
In fact, during most shows, not even his backup band would have a clue what he would sing next.
By the end of our Hackettstown benefit concert, like always, Jerry Lee saved the best for last.
By the middle of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” he had climbed on top of the borrowed piano and was stomping it as good as ever… just like 1957.
After the show, examination of the piano showed quite a bit of overall damage inflicted by “The Killer”.
The Music Store came and picked up the piano, and I don’t believe they ever advertised again on WCRV.