Big Jack Armstrong
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|Big Jack Armstrong|
|Birth name||John Charles Larsh|
|Born||December 4, 1945
Chapel Hill, NC
|Died||March 21, 2008
High Point, NC
|Show||Jack Armstrong Show, Jack Armstrong Go-round,The Jack Armstrong Experience|
Big Jack Armstrong (born John Charles Larsh on December 4, 1945, in Durham County, North Carolina; died March 23, 2008, in High Point, North Carolina), also known as Jack Armstrong, Jackson W. Armstrong, and Big Jack Your Leader, was a top-40 disc jockey of the 1960s through the 1980s, and an oldies DJ until 2006.
His parents were John Edgar Larsh, Jr., who was a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, and Ruth Ella Neal. His father once served as the acting dean of UNC's School of Pharmacy.
He held a Guinness World Record for "fastest talking human alive" at one point in his career. He developed two imaginary sidekicks - the Gorilla, who speaks in a raspy bass, and likes women, banana juice, and whiskey, in that order - and the Old Timer, who wheezes, tells lame jokes, and was always getting shot after one of them.
Larsh was known for his distinctive signoff. At WKYC, it was a few catchphrases, spoken over the instrumental version of The Beatles' "And I Love Her". On WKBW, he used "Shimmy Shimmy Walk II" by the Megatons. On most stations, he used no background music. Eventually, it became a Motormouth extravaganza, spoken so fast it was hard to understand.
Larsh began his radio career at WCHL in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1960 at the age of 14 as an after-school and weekend job. He also worked at WCDJ in Edenton in the summer when his family would go back home during summer break. At some point, he worked for WSSB in Durham, but the time frame is unclear.
Upon graduating from high school in 1964, Larsh moved to Atlanta, where he got an FCC First Class engineer's license, while working on the radio at WDJK. His parents enrolled him in Guilford College in Greensboro in the pre-med course. Larsh dropped out almost immediately, having gotten a radio job at WCOG.
In early 1966, WAYS-AM in Charlotte had begun 24-hour operations. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations at the time required that any station must have an engineer on duty at all times the station was on the air. When Larsh applied for a job there, the station quickly saw an opportunity to fill two sets of shoes with one person, since Larsh already had a First Class license. He was hired to fill the overnight shift.
At WAYS, Larsh met Jack Gale, a seasoned veteran of both the radio and music business who would become his mentor. Larsh later remarked, "Jack (Gale) has forgotten more about the radio business than I've ever known." When asked, he would always cite Gale as one of his major influences.
Larsh's first big break came later in 1966, when he landed a job at WIXY-1260 in Cleveland, Ohio. The evening disc jockey at this station was always called 'Jack Armstrong' after the 1930s radio serial Jack Armstrong the All American Boy. With his fast-talking, young, friendly approach, Larsh became a huge hit in Cleveland - so huge that floundering WKYC-1100 asked him to break his WIXY contract, and come to work for the 50,000-watt station in January 1967.
'Jack Armstrong' was a copyrighted moniker in the market, so Larsh adopted the alias 'Big Jack Your Leader', and went to work for WKYC. He also occasionally taunted WIXY by calling himself Jackson W. Armstrong.
With WKYC being heard all over the eastern half of the US, Larsh finally went national. He attracted fans all over the region, and became a huge hit. WKYC was listed as the number-three -uying influence in Miami in that era, no doubt due to 'Big Jack' and the 50,000-watt night signal that was so strong over the East Coast of the US.
Larsh moved on, working at other 50,000-watt stations such as WMEX-1510 in Boston; CHUM-1050 in Toronto; KFI-640 in Los Angeles, KTNQ-1020 in Los Angeles, and WKBW-1520 in Buffalo, New York. At the latter, he developed his 'Motormouth' character, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1971 as the world's fastest-talking human. He participated in WKBWs 1971 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, a modernized version of the original done by Orson Welles in 1938. Larsh was one of the original disc jockeys hired for the all-new 13-Q in Pittsburgh in the early 1970s. In the late '70s, he could be heard on Indianapolis' 1310 WIFE before it went dark. Larsh also worked at KFRC, The Big 610 in the early 1980s, dominating the midday, late-night, and overnight shifts at the station. His late career was spent doing mornings at WMQX Oldies 93 in Greensboro, NC, and voice tracking nights on Entercom Communications sister station WWKB in Buffalo.
Larsh was working WWKB-1520 in Buffalo, New York, when the sudden format change in 2006 to liberal talk put him in the unemployed ranks. On March 22, 2008, Larsh died at High Point Regional Hospital in North Carolina, as a result of injuries suffered in a fall down very steep stairs at his home.
- "Obituary". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "Obituary". Cumby Family Funeral Home. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Stasio, Frank. "The Journey of Big Jack Armstrong". North Carolina Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "jordangenealogy". Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "Inventory of the Office of the Vice Provost for Health Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1932-1997". Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "Fast-talking, rock 'n' rolling DJ silent at 62". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved 2008-03-30.[permanent dead link]
- "WWKB-AM ADDS JRN'S SCHULTZ, MILLER AND PRESS". Press Release. Jones Radio Networks. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "Take it Easy". Buffalo Pundit. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-03-30.