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Super Jox Lunch group unites for lunch with radio legend Gary Burbank (and all his characters)

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

It’s been dubbed The Super Jox Lunch by non-other than Tribune columnist Mike Tussey, a radio legend himself.

The get-togethers are usually quarterly, held at Barleycorn’s in Lakeside Park – yet the next luncheon was scheduled for October. The fellas – sorry ladies it was a male-dominated group – met Wednesday for one reason – Gary Burbank was in town.

The radio funny-man splits his time between Florida and Northern Kentucky, and when you get a chance to lunch with one of the best in the business – you can’t turn it down.

Burbank was heard daily on 700-WLW Radio from June 15, 1981 until December 21, 2007 – and nationally as the voice of his fictional character, Earl Pitts, in syndicated commentaries.

Gary Burbank (file photo)

“How can we not have lunch with Gary,” was all Tussey had to say.

And with that, the likes of Marty Brennaman, Dusty Rhodes, Jim LaBarbara, (Dangerous) Dan Allen, a Hall of Fame crew from B105 – and too many others to recall rallied to see the man that made Cincinnati laugh from 2-6 p.m. for some 40 years.

“He was, and still would be the funniest man in radio,” said Brennaman, “People in this town were lucky to gain a talent like him.”

That can also be said for the Hall of Fame announcer for the Cincinnati Reds.

Burbank began his radio career as “Bill Williams” at KLPL in Lake Providence, La, then accepted the name “Johnny Apollo” when he worked at KUZN in West Monroe, La.

Then came the move back to his hometown with a stint at WMPS in the mid-1960s and then in 1967 and early 1968 at WWUN in Jackson, Miss.

But it was in 1968 when his life changed.

He moved to Louisville and became an instant hit on WAKY.

“That’s where I officially changed my on-air name to Gary Burbank,” he told the Tribune. “I got it from radio and television legend who was a regular on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In – Gary Owens, “He would announce that he was broadcasting from ‘beautiful downtown Burbank.’”

In fact, Burbank said, Owens did contribute announcements to his radio programs, as their voices were remarkably similar.

In 1973 Burbank left WAKY and moved to New Orleans as Program Director at WNOE.

The traveling continued – as being in radio is quite similar to a minor league baseball player climbing the steps to the big leagues.

CKLW in Detroit/Windsor in the mid ’70s was next and then, back to Louisville for a lengthy afternoon stay with WHAS.

In 1981 he signed with 700-WLW, “that was after I spent some time at WDAE in Tampa,” he said. He originally was the morning personalioty and later moved to afternoons.

“More time for skits,” he said.

And boy did he have a family of characters each and every day.

Earl Pitts, Gilbert Gnarley, Eunice and Bernice, The Right Rev. Deuteronomy Skaggs, Ranger Bob, Riley Gert and Ludlow Bromley to name a few.

Oh, and no one escaped his wit. Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was “Saint CEO.”

Gary Burbank has won several major awards, including back-to-back Marconi Awards as Large Market Personality of the Year in 1990 and 1991.

In November, 2012, Gary Burbank was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

And from the response he received from the afternoon lunch-crowd at Barleycorn’s, his talent was certainly appreciated – and missed.

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  1. Ric Robinson says:

    Gary Burbank was the absolute best! Not just in Cincinnati, but everywhere his syndicated afternoon show aired across the country.

  2. Kevin Fodor says:

    Gary’s talent is absolutely missed by anyone who EVER listened to him, Andy. He inspired me from the time he was at CKLW onward. I wanted to tell him that yesterday and did. He is, in my view a national treasure. I told him that, too. As one who also parodied “Saint CEO”, though not by that name in the 1980’s at WING in Dayton, I learned early on to appreciate Gary’s form of comedy. An art form sorely missed in radio today. I am now proud to know I have made his acquaintance. And yours, too.

  3. Mike Tussey says:

    Andy’s column punctuates the very fabric of the Living Legacy that is GARY BURBANK..Like so many of us early or during our careers felt the magnetism of Gary supreme talent and became huge fans. Through the SuperJox Lunches a few years ago, is when I had the pleasure of meeting Gary for the first time. I was in awe. Every time Gary was in town and joined us, I could feel the magic he brought with him and his colleagues could as well. I am so glad Andy wrote his column about Gary and his distinguished career. I thought about writing a column as well. However, Andy’s column said it all in a loving way. I am proud to say Gary and I are on a personal friend basis now thanks to Ric Robinson who also is another of Gary’s friends too. I have his phone number, he has mine and he chat from time to time. Yesterday Ric and I visited his home in Alexandra for a short time. It was special. Hopefully, we all can get together very soon in November or December. When we do, you can bet Gary’s presence will light up Barleycorns! Thanks Andy..WELL DONE my friend !

  4. I prefer to remain Synomous says:

    First heard Gary at WAKY and later at WHAS. Porky Chadwick morphed into Ludlow Bromley when he moved to WLW. My favorite was the “Synomous Bengal” who called in to talk to Mr. Burbank.

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