JERRY BLAVAT AS HOT AS EVER
Asbury Park Press
by Donald L. Wilno
ATLANTIC CITY -- After 40 years of spinning records, Jerry Blavat is still "the Geator with the Heater" and "the Boss with the Hot Sauce."
If you are an avid radio listener, you've heard Blavat over the years. He has entertained with his quick wit, his rapid-fire delivery and his good humor.
Soon to be 60 years old and not looking it one bit, Blavat hasn't changed much. His style remains the same, and he's as funny as ever.
You could easily say Blavat has come a long way, baby, and he certainly has. But during that journey, one thing has remained constant. "I share my music and my memories with my audience today, and it will never go out of vogue."
During his radio show Thursday nights from the Bacchus Bar, just off the casino floor in Caesars Atlantic City, Blavat's oldies make you get up and dance, make you recall those days when we were all much younger, make you enjoy the man and his music.
This is the same man who lied his way onto Dick Clark's American Bandstand when he was 13, a year younger than the minimum; this is the same man who managed "Danny and the Juniors" (best known for "At the Hop"); and this is the same man who, at 16, was on radio out of New York, the media mecca.
But Blavat will always be "the Geator," who says, "I play my music from the heart, not the chart."
Blavat says he got his nickname in 1960. It evolved from days when he was doing a talk show from the Venus Lounge in South Philadelphia.
"I had just come off the road with Danny and the Juniors," Blavat recalls. "I was on the corner with the guys from South Philly and ... we were shooting craps."
One of the guys playing dice was Don Pinto, who owned the Venus Lounge.
"I had the dice, and he was talking about getting somebody to do a radio show from his club, so one of the guys said, 'Yeah, how about Blavat? He probably can do it." And Don said, "Nah, he doesn't know anything about radio.'
"So I said (to Pinto), 'I'll tell you what. I'll bet the throw of the next dice. If I make my number, I'll do the radio show.' I made my number," Blavat said.
Blavat went to WCAM (in Camden).
"I bought an hour's worth of time. They charged me $120," he said. I charged him (Pinto) $100 for talent, for me to do the show. I then sold 15-minute blocks ($50 blocks to a car dealership, a dance studio, a bread company and a soda company). So I made $200 from the sales and $100 from the talent fee."
Blavat made money on the deal, obviously, and was doing well until a snowstorm "closes the entire city down, it closes the club," Blavat said. "But I owned the radio time, so I had an obligation, a responsibility to the advertisers."
"So I go to my home, I take all my old rock'n'roll records that I used to dance to when I was a kid. Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry ... and I take all my records up to WCAM. I start to play this music, and thank God there is an engineer there, because I knew nothing about the (control) board at that time. The snow kept on coming down. The phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree," Blavat said.
"I go home, I finally get some sleep. I'm in bed at 8 o'clock in the morning. The phone rings. It's the general manager. He says, 'What did you do?" What do you mean what did I do" 'What did you do last night?' 'I was playing records," Blavat remembers saying. "He says, 'Well, the phones have not stopped ringing. They want to know who this crazy guy is. A lot of people remember you from Bandstand and all that.' "
So he went to WCAM (1310 on the dial) and played his records there 5 days a week.
He became the "Geator with the Heater" because after a while people would say, "Turn this guy down."
"So everything about me was hot ... And that's the way it began."
Little has changed since.
Photo in original not reproduced here