Robert Smith. Let’s face it, if you’re Robert Smith and you want a career in radio, you’re going to change your name. You’re going to try “Daddy Jules,” in Newport News. You’ll see how “Big Smith” sounds in Shreveport. But you hear the legendary Alan Freed calling himself “Moon Dog,” and you like the singer Howlin’ Wolf, and one day it comes to you – “Wolfman Jack.”
The Wolfman became a cult figure as a DJ on border stations in Mexico that broadcast in 250,000 watts – five times the legal limit in the U.S. The Wolfman’s trademark gravelly voice and howls could be heard all across the country. And because he wasn’t doing Saturday appearances at the local car dealership, his very absence helped create a shadowy presence – a disembodied voice of a man whom everyone knew, but seldom saw.
As his fame grew, Wolfman Jack became the voice (and sometime host) of the long-running Midnight Special music show. While his radio show was syndicated nationwide, he had his biggest moment playing himself in George Lucas’s wonderful American Graffiti. And appropriately, he’s in the National Radio and Broadcasting Halls of Fame. Here’s a great memory – the song “Clap for the Wolfman” as recorded by the Guess Who: