Several legendary disc jockeys manned the evening hours at WKBW Radio. Five of them are already in the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame. This year, Jack Armstrong joins George Hound Dog Lorenz, Dick Biondi, Joey Reynolds, Jeff Kaye and Sandy Beach in our Hall.
It was an October night in 1970 when KB introduced its newest evening personality. After the 7 p.m. newscast, KB listeners across Buffalo and the Eastern Seaboard were greeted by, “This is Jack Armstrong, your LEEEEEEADAAAAAAAH!” Jack was a unique talent. He mixed the Top 40 tunes of the day with a quick wit, jingles with exploding dynamite and a sidekick named Gorilla, who spoke in a raspy bass.
Armstrong was best known for his famous sign off. Under the Megaton’s Shimmy, Shimmy Walk, Armstrong unleashed a series of catch-phrases, spoken so fast, they were hard to understand. “Hoo hee, HEE HOO! Don’t let your six gun get rusty. It’s been a business doing pleasure with you. It’s been real! Your LEEEEEEADAAAAAAAAH love you all!”
In 1971, Armstrong was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest talking human. Also that year, he participated in WKBW’s annual presentation of The War of the Worlds.
When he left KB in February 1973, Armstrong was such a tough act to follow that the station held a two-week Great American Talent Hunt that attracted some of the nation’s top DJs.
Amstrong was born John Charles Larsh in December 1945. He began his radio career as a 14-year-old in 1960 at WCHL Radio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He worked at various other radio stations in North Carolina. His big break came in 1966, when he joined WIXY Radio in Cleveland. All the evening disc jockeys at the station had to use the name Jack Armstrong. He became a huge hit. The following year, Armstrong was hired by competitor WKYC. Because Jack Armstrong was a copyrighted moniker for WIXY in the Cleveland market, he went by the name Big Jack, Your Leader. He would even taunt WIXY by calling himself Jackson Armstrong. A legend was born. When he left Cleveland, he took the name Jack Armstrong with him.
Besides WKBW, Armstrong worked at several other AM giants: WMEX, Boston; CHUM, Toronto; KFRC, San Francisco; 13Q, Pittsburgh and KFI and KTNQ in Los Angeles. In 2003, Armstrong returned to KB when the station introduced its nostalgia format, including the KB jingles of the early 1970s. Armstrong would voice track his show each day from his home in Greensboro, North Carolina. The delivery was a bit slower. But the quick wit and the energy were still there. Sadly, this was Jack’s last radio gig. KB switched to progressive talk in early 2006. Two years later, John Larsh, a.k.a. Jack Armstrong, died at the age of 63 following a fall in his home.