Big Jack Armstrong

Big Jack Armstrong

Infobox Radio Presenter
name = Big Jack Armstrong

imagesize = 180px
caption =
birthname = John Charles Larsh
birthdate = December 4, 1945
birthplace = Chapel Hill, NC
deathdate = March 21, 2008cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Obituary | date= | publisher= | url = | work =Greensboro News and Record | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ]
deathplace = 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)cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Obituary | date= | publisher= | url = | work =Cumby Family Funeral Home | pages = | accessdate = 2008-04-28 | language = ] , aka 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. [cite news | first=Frank | last=Stasio | coauthors= | title=The Journey of Big Jack Armstrong | date= | publisher= | url = | work =North Carolina Public Radio | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ]

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. [ cite web|url= |title=jordangenealogy |accessdate=2008-03-30 ] His father once served as the Acting Dean of UNC's School of Pharmacy [ cite web|url= |title=Inventory of the Office of the Vice Provost for Health Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1932-1997 |accessdate=2008-03-30 ] .

Personable, friendly, young sounding, and possessing the ability to talk at speeds beyond that of most humans, Larsh was well liked and well received by audiences. He held a Guinness World Record for "fastest talking human alive" at one point in his career.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title= Fast-talking, rock 'n' rolling DJ silent at 62 | date= | publisher= | url = | work =Greensboro News and Record | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ] [] He developed 2 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 catch phrases, spoken over the instrumental version of the 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.

"Don't get none on ya, do it twice, be nice. It's very nice to be important, but more important to be very nice. Let it all hang out, drag it in the sand, and make a deep rut. People who live in glass houses shouldn't...A bird in the hand makes it hard to blow your nose. One good turn takes most of the blankets. You can lead a horse to water, but don't push him in. Nothing smells any worse than a wet horse, or you can lead a horse to water, push him in and teach him the backstroke, then you've really got something. Wash your face in the morning, neck at night. Love is life, life is love. Light your own candle and the world will be a much brighter place. When you get to the end of your rope, tie a little knot, hang on and swing. Stay calm, try to adjust. You can't live with 'em or without 'em. hoo hee, HEE HOO! Don't let your six gun get rusty. It's been a business doing pleasure with you, it's been real... and your LEEEEEEADAAAAAAAAH love you-ah!"

He would also include messages to his children in the signoff, spoken in the Gorilla's voice. []


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. 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, OH. 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 blowtorch in January of 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 #3 record buying influence in Miami, Florida in that era, no doubt due to 'Big Jack' and the 50,000 watt night time signal that was so strong over the East Coast of the US. []

Larsh moved on, working at other 50,000 watt stations like WMEX-1510 in Boston, MA; CHUM-1050 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; KFI-640 in Los Angeles, KTNQ-/1020 in Los Angeles and WKBW-1520 in Buffalo, NY. It was at the latter that he developed his 'Motormouth' character, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1971 as the world's fastest talking human. Larsh was one of the original disc jockeys hired for the all new 13-Q in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1970s.

Larsh was working for WWKB-1520 in Buffalo, N.Y. when the sudden format change in 2006 to liberal talk put him in the unemployed ranks. cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=WWKB-AM ADDS JRN’S SCHULTZ, MILLER AND PRESS | date= | publisher=Jones Radio Networks | url = | work =Press Release | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ] cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Take it Easy | date= | publisher= | url = | work =Buffalo Pundit | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ] He died on March 22, 2008 at High Point Regional Hospital in North Carolina.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Obituary | date= | publisher= | url = | work =Cumby Family Funeral Home | pages = | accessdate = 2008-04-28 | language = ]


External links



* [ WKBW Top 40 tribute site (scroll down for Jack's audio introduction)]
* [ Audioclips at Aichexx website]
* [ WIXY-1260 tribute site (click on "Air Personalities" for audio clips)]


* [ Video of Jack Armstrong at WIXY-1260 reunion in 1988 on WMJI-FM]
* [ Video of Jack's famous sign-off line]

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