PEPPY IS STILL FULL OF PEP AFTER 25 YEARS ON THE AIR
Miami Herald, The (FL) March 19, 1986
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Staff Writer
Seated behind a faded plush console in WKAT’s studios, resplendent in a
billowing blue dress and elegant blond coiffure, Peppy Fields looks like a queen
Her court is gathered around her: Aaron Slachter, Fields’ long-time
chauffeur and go-fer; Irene Gould, a former musical comedienne who still carries
her reviews in a tote bag and
rarely lets a minute go by without paying Fields a compliment; and a few
other friends who drop by between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday mornings, when
Peppy Fields’ House Party is in full swing.
Her kingdom is her telephone callers, all but a few of whom are
regulars, who phone in weekly for a dose of Fields’ motherly wisdom:
“Peppy, when are you going to have that doctor on the show again, the
one who prescribed cod liver oil? I’ve been taking it for months, and never felt
“Then what do you need to talk to the doctor again for?” Peppy retorts.
“Just keep taking the cod liver oil! All right, dahling?”
Fields has been doing this kind of live radio for the better part of 25
years, beginning with Doing the Town With Peppy Fields on WMBI in New York,
which was renamed House Party when Fields moved to Miami Beach in 1962 and began
broadcasting from the Lucerne Hotel on WEDR.
Those were the days when House Party hosted the best entertainers
passing through a tourist-healthy Miami Beach. Jackie Gleason stopped by five or
six times, accompanied on occasion by such stellar veterans as Milton Berle or
Six years ago, after a few years’ hiatus, Fields brought House Party to
WKAT. The big stars have long faded from Miami Beach’s entertainment scene, and
House Party now relies on local talent.
Headlining the show last weekend was Ruth McMann, a local Irish
songstress. Accompanied by pianist Sally Kaye, she led the studio guests in
several Irish melodies and prompted the callers to sing their own favorites.
Pearl Williams, the former star of the Place Pigalle, called in to contribute
her booming vocals. Columbus Smith, former star of the Miami Beach revue A Man’s
Gotta Sing, crooned Danny Boy.
Lacking the polished mass appeal of contemporary radio, Fields’ show is
scheduled in a less-than-desirable time spot. But, as small audiences often are,
Fields’ listeners are fiercely loyal.
Every year or so, she gathers them together in a Peppy Fields’ Love-In
at a local restaurant. The next Love-In takes place on March 30, at the Pompeii
Italian Village on Biscayne Boulevard. Fields is taking $12 reservations now,
which include lunch, a donation to help send a group of abused children to
Disney World, and of course, a few sing-alongs. Don’t wait too long to reserve a
spot, because over-capacity crowds at past Love-Ins have forced Peppy to limit
the guest list to 100. Send checks payable to Peppy Fields, 4747 Collins Ave.,
Miami Beach 33140.
Rumors about Rogers
Responding to rumors that he plans to leave WINZ (940 AM) and return to
his former employer WNWS (790 AM), talk host Neil
Rogers says he intends to honor his contract with WINZ — as long as the
station holds up its end of the deal.
“I’m not satisfied with what is happening here at the station, but I
have a contract and I don’t intend to go back to court again,” said Rogers. He
did that in 1984, in a contract dispute with WNWS. “This station is in a state
of flux right now, with no (permanent) general manager and rumors that it may
be sold. Everybody’s walking around wondering what’s going on. The sales staff
is also in a state of flux, and it’s traumatic trying to live like that, not
knowing what your income (from commercial sponsors) will be from week to week.
“I’m keeping my options open, but it’s very premature to say that I’m
leaving. I intend to honor my contract as long as they (station management)
Rogers has nearly two years left on his contract with WINZ. However,
WINZ management released Bill Calder from his contract recently when Calder
decided to move to WKAT.
Effective last weekend, Rogers switched weekend shifts with Mike
Spindell. Rogers is now heard from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturdays and 9 p.m.-midnight
weeknights, and Spindell from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.
What can a radio station do when its ladder of success runs out of
rungs? WAXY (105.9 FM) faced that problem recently when it became apparent that
music director Kenny Lee had outgrown his post. The next step up from music
director is program director, but that spot has been filled for 10 years by
veteran broadcaster and local legend Rick Shaw.
So instead, WAXY created a new management position for Shaw, that of
“executive director of programming,” and promoted Lee to Shaw’s former position
of program director.
What does that mean, exactly?
“I’m still in charge of programming, but I now have more time to get out
and do co-promotions with the TV stations, as well as go on calls with the sales
people,” said Shaw. “Frankly, at my age, I just can’t appreciate a lot of the
new music — Kenny’s on top of that, and he’s also very good with computers.”
Hoping for Majic
When Sconnix Broadcasting Co. purchased the former K-102 FM and WRBD-AM
frequencies and properties early last year and changed the FM to “contemporary
adult” Majic 102.7 FM, its good intentions were to build Majic into one of the
leading contenders in the local contemporary music radio market.
While Majic has cast its spell on a modest audience (ranking a 1.8 in
the last Arbitron radio ratings), it hasn’t come as far in a year as its owners
and management might have hoped.
But 1986 may yet be the year for Majic. With the recent sale of rhythm
and blues WRBD (1470 AM) to Sunao Broadcasting; the ongoing construction of a
modern studio and office building in Broward County; a new program director
(Jerry King); and the anticipated move (probably within weeks) to the high-tech
Gannett antenna tower, the folks at Majic are gearing up to blast their signal
into Dade, Broward and south Palm Beach counties.
photo: Peppy FIELDS
Memo: RADIOEdition: FINALSection: COMICS/TVPage: 3E
Index Terms: BIOGRAPHY FIELDSRecord Number: 8601220612
Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald