Philadelphia almost had two different Bill Harts. The Bill Hart we all know was really William Von Hacht, who worked in Hartford, CT and was using his real name. It was during the Second World War and listeners and advertisers complained to the station that they had "this Nazi" on the air, solely because Bill's roots were of German origin. Management finally insisted that he use an "air" name. Bill said that he didn't know what to use. They replied, "Think about it and give us a new name tomorrow." Bill, so the story goes, thought about it and came up with two names, "Bill Hart" and "Bill Ford." The names were derived from the town he was working in, Hartford. Station management thought it might be difficult for someone named Bill Ford to do a Chevy commercial, so the name Bill Hart was selected.
However, Philly also had another Bill Hart who came to Philly in September of 1971. We knew him as "Bill St. James," but before coming to the Quaker City, St. James was at WDRC in Hartford as Bill Hart. We have an excerpt of him on WIP Radio from December 12, 1971.
Listen to Bill St. James!
St. James hails from West Hartford, CT. The town's slogan is "where City style meets village charm." It's about 5 miles west of the City of Hartford. While going to high school, Bill attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. From there he went to his home town radio station WEXT, at 1550 on the AM dial. The station is now WDZK, now licensed to Bloomfield.
From WEXT, Bill went to Hartford's WDRC AM & FM where he worked weekends and did fill-in work. He was there from March 5, 1970 to September 25, 1971.
St. James followed in the footsteps of WIP's program director, Broadcast Pioneers member Dean Tyler by going to the sister station of WIP in New York, WNEW. Bill did much announcing for NBC and in 1986, took over hosting duties for a show called "Flashback" on the ABC Radio Network. He has also done announcing for the Nick at Nite Cable TV Channel as well as The Discovery Channel and Showtime.
St. James came to Philadelphia at the tender age of 19 and took over Long John Wade's apartment, who also came from WDRC as did Broadcast Pioneers member Jim Nettleton.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Graphic originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber
Audio originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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