One of Cincinnati’s most beloved on-air personalities, Gary Burbank was “Bill Williams” when he began his radio career in Louisiana at KLPL/Lake Providence. As “Johnny Apollo,” he worked in Louisiana and Mississippi before becoming one of the first white disc jockeys at Memphis’ groundbreaking WDIA.
It was in 1968 at WAKY/Louisville that Johnny Apollo became Gary Burbank, the name inspired by radio veteran and Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens. This show began Burbank’s move away from music and toward political and social humor, utilizing his growing number of character voices. For his final show at WAKY, Burbank acknowledged his talent for controversy by faking his own assassination.
Burbank spent three years as morning host at CKLW/Windsor, Ontario, where the strength of the station’s signal actually made him the number two morning personality in Cleveland. He returned to Louisville as a top-rated afternoon voice on WHAS before moving to WLW/Cincinnati in 1980, where he enjoyed massive success with characters that included evangelical huckster the Right Rev. Deuteronomy Skaggs, blues musician Howlin' Blind Muddy Slim, and redneck commentator Earl Pitts.
Burbank stayed at WLW until his retirement in 2007; however, as Earl Pitts, he continues to produce comedic commentaries that are syndicated nationally.
Gary Burbank was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.
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