Oct 11, 1999
Back on The Prowl - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
On that ‘Black Tuesday’ in May when CKNW axed so many of its popular personalities, one of the saddest unceremoniously dumped, was Jack Cullen. Cullen started on ‘NW back in 1945, as a DJ and had been with the station for almost 46 years doing his program called The Owl Prowl. The Prowl, was a nostalgia program that played music, comedy shows and old time radio. The good stuff, like Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Sinatra, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and more. It was a popular fixture on local radio for all those years, and attracted some big name guests for the sharp Mr. Cullen to interview. He had some big name guests come in over the years for interviews, from Marilyn Monroe to Nat King Cole to everyone in-between. I was a big fan of his program and listened almost religiously, weekdays from 9:00-midnight. In 1996, CKNW cut his show to weekends, and earlier this year they cut him off completely. Jack was known to have an extensive library, from which he culled his materials. Over 20,000 items of tapes, transcriptions and CD’s graced his collection, which he eventually sold to ‘NW in the early 70’s.
Jack who’s in his late 70’s now, was very forthcoming with me and kind. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him, and it’s been nothing but a pleasure. Cullen’s full of great trivia and facts, you’d be amazed at his knowledge. I had written him a letter with an extensive list of questions, so I expected a written response with all the ‘dirt’, from all his wild parties at the Cave or Isy’s. Well, one afternoon just after Christmas, the phone rings and it’s the one and only Jack. That raspy voice, rasped by years of the drink and cigarettes, bellowed out with great remembrances about all the biggies he’s met over the years. We must have talked for a half an hour. I appreciated what he did, and when I found out what ‘NW did in ‘96 and this past May, I registered my complaints publicly with the station. Jack was very bitter towards ‘NW for cutting him off in 1996, and I’m sure incensed at his firing. I met up with him at a benefit at the Chan Centre a couple of years ago, and he publicly bitched about ‘NW brass, for putting him out to pasture. He’s a feisty old coot, that Jack.
Late last week I learned through my pal, Joe Leary that Cullen is back on the air. AM1040, now carries The Owl Prowl with Jack Cullen, weekdays from 8:00 to midnight. CKNW isn’t the same anymore. Joy Metcalfe is at The Bridge and Jack’s at 1040, Hal Davis is dead, Bill Hughes is retired... I guess I’m looking for that old ‘NW charm. Good to see Jack back, and I hope he’ll be on the ‘Prowl’ for years and years to come.
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