Posted by Hoosier Daddy on January 17, 2011 at 12:02:54:
Robert Feder today:
Four decades after the legendary Charlie Van Dyke hosted mornings in Chicago on former Top 40 giant WLS-AM (890), Christopher “Brotha’ Fred” Frederick debuts today as morning host on WKSC-FM (103.5), the current Top 40 powerhouse known as Kiss FM.
What’s the connection? They’re father and son.
Although their relationship has never been made public until now — and the two have not spoken to each other in 14 years — Van Dyke, 63, confirmed that the 30-year-old Frederick is his son from a previous marriage. And he couldn’t be more proud.
“Whatever disappointment and sadness I have felt over not having any contact is not as big as my excitement for what he’s about to do,” Van Dyke said from his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., on the eve of his son’s debut here. “I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am for him. I know what it’s like to stand at the corner of Michigan and Wacker at 4am, and for him, Monday morning is ‘the bigs.’ I’ll be listening online. I think he’s going to do an excellent job.”
“Brotha’ Fred’s A.M. Mayhem” replaces Kevin “DreX” Buchar, who was dropped last month after seven years at the Clear Channel Radio station. Appearing with Frederick will be Kiss FM holdover Angi Taylor and comedian David Livingston. “Chicago morning radio is a dream of my entire life,” Frederick said shortly after his appointment was announced, adding that he felt he was “born to do this.”
Efforts to reach Frederick for this story were not successful. A Clear Channel spokeswoman said he would not be doing any media interviews in advance of his debut.
Since 2006, Frederick’s star has risen in Charlotte, N.C., where he doubled as morning host on Clear Channel’s WIBT-FM and evening co-host of “Fox News Edge” on WCCB-TV. He also voice-tracked shows to nine other Clear Channel markets and to XM Radio. Before that he hosted afternoons at Clear Channel’s KHFI-FM in Austin, Texas. In all that time, he never traded on his famous father’s name. “I’d have been willing to give him any help I possibly could, but he certainly did this on his own,” Van Dyke said. “I think it’s all to his credit. It’s all about his determination and his ability, his willingness to take direction. I think it says volumes about him.”
Even if you don’t recognize Van Dyke’s name, you’d know the voice in an instant. As one of the most widely heard promo announcers in the business, his deep, booming voice introduces newscasts on countless television stations across the country. At various times he was heard here on CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. All of that came after a phenomenal run as a top disc jockey at such fabled AM radio stations as WRKO in Boston, KFRC in San Francisco, and KHJ in Los Angeles, not to mention WLS. (He also holds the record of filling in for Casey Kasem on “American Top 40” more times than anyone else.)
It was during his run at WLS from 1972 to 1973 — where he worked with such singular talents as Fred Winston and John Records Landecker — that Van Dyke fell in love with Chicago. “It is unlike any other market, particularly when it comes to radio,” he said. “There is a style and a flavor all its own. Chicago is really one of a kind.” Nevertheless, he left after less than two years when L.A. beckoned with an offer he deemed “impossible to turn down.”
Son Christopher was born to Van Dyke and his second wife in 1980 when they were living in Boston. They moved to Phoenix two years later. Van Dyke recalls his son’s fascination with broadcasting at an early age: “He hung around radio stations in Phoenix. He was a high school correspondent for a talk show. I brought him one of those transmitters that goes about as far as three houses, and we built a little radio station in his bedroom and he would play at that. He had a big-time interest in it. I just didn’t know what the industry culture was going to be like by the time he was ready to take a shot.”
A daughter was born in 1988, about a year before Van Dyke’s marriage ended. Christopher and his sister took their mother’s maiden name. Van Dyke said he continued to be involved with his children until around the time Christopher turned 16. After that, they never spoke again.
“I had written him over the years, and I had written his sister as well. But there was never an answer. I don’t know what caused the estrangement, and I’ve always wanted to know. I wrote both of the kids and said I’d fly to any town, meet with any counselors, do whatever it takes. I would just like to know what is the problem. But they never answered. So I stopped sending notes. Then when I read about the Chicago thing, I knew how exciting that was. So I wrote him a note that said: ‘Congratulations, you’re really in ‘the bigs’ now. Give ’em all you got. I know you’ve got enough.’ ”
Frederick wrote back to his father: “Thanks. I appreciate that. It’s not WLS in its prime, but hopefully I can make it work.” It was the only time he’d ever responded. A followup note from Van Dyke went unanswered.
Why did Van Dyke wait so long to talk about their estranged relationship? “I did not want to be a distraction for Christopher’s career,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure how much he could accomplish. I know he’s driven and motivated, but I didn’t want to harm him. On the other hand, I am very excited, and I don’t mind if the truth is known.”
While he expects the broadcasting industry to be shocked by the revelation and, he hopes, happy for him as a proud father, Van Dyke also believes some good may come of it: “It is what it is. It’s all in God’s hands. Outing is not my intention. Maybe healing would be my intention.”
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