20/20 News was the brand of newscast heard on the Bill Drake programmed radio stations throughout the US and Canada. I grew up listening to 20/20 news on The Big 8, CKLW out of Windsor, Ontario. Most people listening to top 40 or rock and roll radio tuned out when the news came on..but not 20/20 news. The energy, the style, the delivery, the writing was pure entertainment. A 20/20 newscast had the ability of grabbing your attention and sucking you in. There was no way you were going to tune out.
At WGRD we did 20/20 News but it wasn’t the real deal. Not like the legends J Paul Huddleston at KHJ in Los Angeles, or Byron McGregor at the Big 8, CKLW. No, all of us DJs did a two hour news shift under a different name. That was, until 1972 when we got serious about news and hired a real news director. Jeff Wasson came aboard but he wasn’t with us long. Then we brought in Corbett Brattin. Corbett was an excellent news director and on air news man. But he was picked off by a larger market. Then came Brad Reed. The guy had a voice like Grant Hudson of CKLW fame. He was a bit nuts but he was good. Damn good. He snarled through the news. We loved it. For some reason he called everyone “dust”. I think he was with us about a year before returning to his home in Indiana.
And then there was Bob Hendryx. I was somewhat surprised that he was hired because he sounded too green. But not for long because here’s a story that, as God is my witness, really happened. But caution: there is a little rough language coming but it’s important to the story
Program Director Ron White and General Manager Don Anderson hired the legendary J Paul Huddleston to work with Bob. But all the DJ’s were required to attend the training sessions. I was in awe. The real J Paul was actually here! J Paul was renown for ending his newscasts by drawing out his name. “this is Jaaaaaayyyyyyyyy Paullllllllll Huddleston, KHJ 20/20 News.
First session – J Paul tells us that when he’s done with training, Bob Hendryx would be better known than any of us. Really?!
Huddleston would bellow. He wasn’t a soft spoken person. “You’ve got to F..k the public! Huh? “Your copy has to be brief, write like people talk, F..k that wire copy crap. Rewrite everything…redundancy kills”.
Alliterations were big. The more sensational, the more outrageous, the more flamboyant, all the better. Use of the pregnant pause drove home a point. “F..k the public! “ We were all taught breathing and vocal cord exercises. I still use those exercises to this day.
J Paul’s prediction came true. Bob Hendryx became the star of WGRD.
As far as I know, only one radio station in America is doing the 20/20 News thing. It’s on the Bill Drake’s first boss radio styled station – KYNO in Fresno. Owner John Ostlund and programmer Jim Roberts have recreated the boss radio sound complete with 20/20 news. And they managed to get some old guy out of retirement to do it.