For a time in the 1970s, John Records Landecker was among the most listened-to voices in the country. As the nighttime DJ for Chicago radio station WLS, Landecker’s voice was broadcast over a 50,000-watt clear channel signal to millions across the country.
Landecker was 25 years old, and his career was just getting started. WLS was one of the premiere Top 40 stations in the country during Landecker’s tenure, and he was named “Radio Personality of the Year” by Billboard magazine three times during the 1970s.
Landecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in November 2017.
On Thursday afternoon, Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism Len O’Kelly, himself a veteran radio broadcaster, brought Landecker to Grand Valley’s Allendale campus to discuss his career.
Landecker, who attended what was then called Grand Valley State College in the 1960s, chatted energetically with O’Kelly and read excerpts from his recently re-issued autobiography Records is Truly My Middle Name.
Reflecting the book’s title, Landecker explained the frequent confusion about “Records,” which, he asserted, is not a nickname, but a family name that his parents gave him as a middle name.
While attending Grand Valley in the 1960s, he recalled, he noted that all of the on-air personalities on Chicago radio had nicknames.
“Hey look! My middle name’s Records! I’ll use that!”, Landecker laughed.
Landecker related other stories from his book, including a prank that he and his Grand Valley friends pulled in which they picked up and moved a VW Beetle into a neighbor’s living room under cover of night, and a late 1970’s publicity appearance with Welcome Back, Kotter‘s John Travolta at a mall in suburban Chicago that he described as “bedlam” when 30,000 screaming fans mobbed the television star.
Landecker never graduated from Grand Valley, which O’Kelly noted during the talk. Immediately after this revelation, however, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Frederick Antczak appeared to present Landecker with a Bachelor of Science diploma from the University.
“You are now a college graduate,” O’Kelly proclaimed. “A 2017 inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame and a member of the Grand Valley State University class of 2017.”
Listen to an interview with Landecker about his Hall of Fame induction and his daughter Amy’s work on the award-winning Amazon series Transparent, here.