AFTER ARRIVING AT KXOK IN 1964 Don Pietromonaco -as Johnny Rabbitt- had captured the Night Time audience of both teens & young adults within a very short period of time. As I stated in the Rabbitt Tracks Section of this WebSite, Don was a consumate performer & entertainer. His communication skills had been honed to their highest levels. It showed, and was heard, everytime he turned on the mike.
Therefore, his listeners were locked-in solid to his 7-Midnight Show, Monday thru Saturday...with a special Rabbitt program on Sunday. And his fame was spreading not only locally but nationally ! For example, Don was featured as "Johnny Rabbitt: DJ/Radio Personality of the Month" in great full-page stories like those profiled in these two best-selling mags, which both hit the newstands in December, 1965 !
ACCORDINGLY, as his ratinge kept soaring, many sponsors waited in the wings to try and get on-board the "Rabbitt Express" and have him pitch their products ! And, the ever-vigilant KXOK sales staff was right there all along...coming up with ideas for various sponsors to use in their latest ad campaigns. One of those was the Pepsi-Cola Company (PepsiCo).
PEPSI-COLA HAD ITS BEGINNINGS IN 1898 when it was created in New Bern, North Carolina, by a young pharmacist named Caleb Bradham. It would go on to be consumed not only in the USA, but to markets around the world. Through the years it had various advertising campaigns that included singing jingles: "Nickel Nickel", "Pepsi-Cola Hits The Spot", "Be Sociable, Have A Pepsi", and, "Now It's Pepsi For Those Who Think Young".
But, by the mid-60's, the newest and hipest "happening" was aimed at a new wave of "baby boomers" it was entitled "Come Alive ! You're In The Pepsi Generation ! ". PLUS, Pepsi had added to their list of soft drinks with a Diet Pepsi, and, a lemon-lime mix called Mountain Dew.
WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE IN MIND, this rare Demo Aircheck that you're listening to was a custom-made sales presentation, recorded in a production studio, trying to acquire Pepsi as an exclusive sponsor for The Johnny Rabbitt Show on KXOK. Ironically, this Demo has an extremely personal meaning for me:
"THE ADVENTURES OF BATRAB & GOONO !"
AGAIN, IF YOU'VE READ THE Rabbitt Tracks Section here on the WebSite, you'll note that I created a concept for Don to use on the show. It was based on the super-hot, soaring, "Batman" craze of 1966, and just before we opened "Bruno's Batcave". It was a short, comedy "serial" that could air occasionally on The Johnny Rabbitt Show, and would feature both Rabbitt AND his alter-ego sidekick, Bruno J. Grunion, and was entitled "THE ADVENTURES OF BATRAB & GOONO".
Never having heard this Demo before a few years ago, I didn't know that it had been included in this 1966 presentation, and was truly honored as this is the Pilot Episode, the First Episode of the "Batrab & Goono" Series !
IF YOU'RE FROM ST. LOUIS, OR, A ST. LOUIS CARDINALS BASEBALL FAN, you'll understand the timely humour in this Episode of "BATRAB & GOONO" as Inspector Cervantes asks the dynamic duo to investigate an area filled with plants called "stadiumus growthus" & "Anheuser Bushes". And, after researching the area, Rabbitt says they'll build it into an arena they'll call BUSCH STADIUM.
Fun Facts About This Episode of "Batrab & Goono":
1. "The Adventures of Batrab & Goono" Premiered on The Johnny Rabbitt Show at KXOK/St. Louis on Tuesday, April 12th, 1966, and you're listening to the Pilot...the very first episode !
2. Busch Memorial Stadium, built by the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals - the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Corporation - was brand new at that time and had its Grand Opening Celebration on Thursday, May 12th, 1966 ! That's why it's easy to lock-in the time frame of this recording from between late-April or early-May, 1966.
3. ALSO, the Mayor of St. Louis at the time was A. J. CERVANTES, and Don added him into the script as "Inspector Cervantes" which tied the whole thing closer to a great local angle...for the "Johnny Rabbitt Show" and the Sales Department !
I sincerely hope you enjoy this short, but important, Time Travel Trip to the sounds of the Rabbitt & Bruno on KXOK, for the "showcase" might be for Pepsi, but it's your chance to hear Don at his best...and that truly makes this a long lost treasure. JK
SPECIAL NOTES: The above copies of "TV Star Parade", and, "Go Go With Teen Life", are from my personal collection and were autographed and given to me by Don when they were released in 1965. Don's Feature Stories are on Page 82 in TVSP, and Page 52 in GGWTL.
(Don was a BIG fan of Elizabeth Montgomery while she was doing "Bewitched", and therefore was super-happy that his Feature Story in TVSP was the issue that had a beautiful pic of her on the Cover ! )
The most comprehensive WebSite devoted to the Legendary KXOK, has been built by MIKE ANDERSON. Mike's nationally known for his work through the year's as, not only an excellent voice over artist, but a disk jockey, program director, station manager, consultant, webmaster, photographer, and founder of the STLMedia website/blog. www.stlmedia.net
Be sure to visit his KXOK WebSite ! It includes info, pix, memories of those who were there (and those who were listeners), news articles, AND, the most unique group of KXOK Airchecks that you will find assembled in one place, at one time ! Peter Martin, Jack Elliot, Ray Otis, William A. Hopkins, Nick Charles, Keith Morris, and, of course, Johnny Rabbitt.
Also included are Special Features by the legendary Richard Ward Fatherly, KXOK jingles, and many, many other features you've just got to SEE & HEAR ! Here's the link to get you there and get you started: http://630kxok.stlmedia.net/index.html
My thanks to Mike for sending me this Rare Rabbitt Demo, and for his help & support through the years !
IN ADDITION, there is a superb article on Don written shortly after his death by our mutual friend Dr. Larry Hoffman. It was originally penned for the St. Louis Journalism Review, but can be viewed on Frank Absher's comprehensive St. Louis Media History Foundation Site at this special Link: http://www.stlmediahistory.com/index.php/Radio/RadioArticles/radio-legend-don-pietromonaco-dies
Again, my thanks to Frank and Larry for their helping preserve the memory of one of the true All-Time Radio Broadcasting Legends: DON PIETROMONACO.
RARE RABBITT BONUS PIX !
1. That's Don & myself in Don's Office at KXOK...he'd just given me one of Bruno's Official Sweatshirt's, and since one of the "Kay" Girl's was close-by we decided on a Photo-Op (October 23, 1965); 2. The next pic is a Publicity Shot of "The Rabbitt" & Playboy Bunnies at the St. Louis Playboy Club which was located on Lindell Blvd. (1965); 3. I had taken my old friend, Gary Lewis (Gary Lewis & The Playboys), to do an Interview with Don before we headed for the Club Imperial to take in the Ike & Tina Turner Review on Monday, April 18, 1966. Here, Gary looks startled as I remind him of KXOK's "No Smoking In The Studio" Rule ! (Ironically, the date I added this picture to the page was Monday, April 18, 2011...exactly 45 years after it was first taken.)
1. On the left, Don doing a live remote at the KXOK Fun Fair on June 22, 1967; 2. When Don & I were at the St. Louis Autorama, October 17, 1965, Don suggested that since we were both Actor's, we do our "Marlon Brando" & "James Dean" Impressions for the camera...so that illustrious moment was captured on film forever. And, later, we had a good laugh about it ! ; 3. That's "The Rabb" & very cool "Kay" Girl, Kathy Gillen hamming it up between songs & commercials the night of October 12, 1965.
Above Left: That's the Rabbitt at the Mike in action...October 12, 1965; Above Right: A fun in-studio shot at KXOK with Jimmy (from the "Knickerbockers"), Billy Joe Royal, Gary Lewis, me, John West (from the "Playboys")...April 18, 1966;
Above: Billy Joe Royal ("Down In The Boon Docks"), Jim Brown (WIL Radio), Bob Kuban ("The Cheater"), me, Gary Lewis ("This Diamond Ring"), in the Owner's (George Edick) office at the Club Imperial for the "Ike & Tina Turner Revue" Show, April 18, 1966, after our visit/interview at the KXOK Studios.
NOTE: MY FRIEND & MENTOR, DON PIETROMONACO, died in California on April 18, 1997, and this Page, as well as the "RABBITT TRACKS" Pages on this WebSite, are dedicated to him and the warm, generous, as well as fun-filled, memories he left me...as well as all of the others whose lives he touched. This Special Link will take you to the "RABBIT TRACKS" History Section...just CLICK-ON-HERE .
(Photo Info: With the exception of the Playboy pic, all of the b&w photos directly above are from my personal collection and are seen here for the first time as I wanted to share them with you.)