L.A. Tarone

M-F 3pm-6pm

When L.A. Tarone began in radio, Jimmy Carter was president, Dick Thornburgh was governor and the Plymouth Arrow and Ford Futura were two new cars you may have been considering.

The year was 1979 and Tarone started his career at King’s College’s WRKC-FM. Shortly after starting, he got his first taste of talk radio, in the form of co-hosting, with two other guys, a sports talk show. Little by little, that show fell apart, but Tarone’s love for radio, and his ability to do virtually anything in it, became obvious.

In less than two years, he got his first commercial radio job, at Scranton’s old 13-Q/WBQW-AM (nee’ WSCR). While hired mainly for weekends and fill-ins, Tarone soon found himself with full time hours (five overnights per week, plus 6-midnight Sunday) because of a big turnover among the staff. It was a lot to ask from a kid still in college, but Tarone loved it and readily agreed to do it.

Tarone also got another taste of talk. He was the producer of Casey Cook on Sports, which ran between 10 PM and Midnight Sunday. But when the calls weren’t there, Cook would often tell Tarone to jump in, which he would do at any time.

Tarone’s time at WBQW ended badly, with him getting fried before the end of 1981. Today, L.A. accepts full blame for the firing, because of his off-air and occasional-on air antics.

“I was an immature drunken jerk,” Tarone says today. “I’d have fired me too.”

But Tarone not only lost a job he got a reputation – talented but trouble. The very people he was using for references were telling potential employers, “L.A.’s very good, but he’s got a drinking problem and he’s a troublemaker.” There weren’t many takers.

With that kind of reputation, it took Tarone a while to get hired again. Finally, he was, in 1984. WPCN in Mount Pocono hired him as the afternoon drive jock. It was there that something major happened. While roaming up and down the AM dial on his way home, Tarone found Bob Grant on New York’s WABC.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!” Tarone says today. “This was the greatest radio I ever heard. Here’s this guy, who obviously knows what he’s talking about, giving his opinions, completely uncensored, about virtually everything. Oh, it was great! I listened all the way home. It was fantastic.”

“I decided right there and then, that’s what I wanted to do,” Tarone said.

Tarone quit WPCN after a while and eventually would up doing several overnights per week at what is now WILK’s sister station, WKRZ-FM. He left there after a while and went to Pottsville’s T-102, where another major event happened – Tarone’ Sunday Night Hall of Fame was born, though it was on Sunday afternoon and “Night” was missing from the title.

But, after a while, Tarone quit there was well. He says he was bored with music radio, because there was very little you could do in it. He wanted to do talk, but realized there was little chance for that in this market.

Then he was hired as news director at Hazleton’s WAZL. Management approached him about doing a talk show. Tarone was thrilled and jumped at the chance. “Talkback With Tarone” was a big hit, garnering the station its highest ratings numbers in decades. The re-runs of it, which aired Saturday morning as “The Best of Tarone,” even pulled 10 shares in some demographic groups.

  During his run at WAZL, Tarone also convinced station management to give him a shot at doing the Sunday Night Hall of Fame at then sister station, WKAB. The Hall of Fame – and oddball oldies show which featured lesser hits and, as Tarone put it, “the stories behind the music” – ran for over a decade and, for a few years, was Tarone’s only involvement in radio. The Sunday Night Hall of Fame ran until 1996, often pulling 20+ shares in certain demos, when the station was sold and everyone was fired.

After his time at WAZL ended, Tarone began writing and reporting for The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. It was during his time there that Tarone wrote his book, “We Were Here Once.” It is a look at Hazleton Area history, but, there was no sugar-coating in it. The cover said it was a look at, “Successes, mistakes and calamities in Hazleton Area history.”  He made numerous TV appearances to talk about it. The book sold out.

The broadcasting disease hit him again when he was offered the news director position at WYLN-TV.

It was during his time there that Tarone joined the WILK staff, first doing a show on Sunday between Noon and 2 PM. The show was a hit right from the beginning. Before long WILK management was getting calls from listeners asking it to put Tarone on daily.

It took a while, but that finally happened in 2014, when Tarone got the 7-9 PM timeslot daily. Before long, that became 6-9 PM.

Now, Tarone can be heard in afternoon drive, 3 – 6 PM, on WILK.

“I’m thrilled,” Tarone says of the recent move.