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A voice for radio

For Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 07:29 PM
SEBRING -

At the age of 86, record producer, author and award-winning radio personality Jack Gale is searching again for exceptional new songwriters and singers for his independent label, Playback Records.

Gale, who has the walls of his Sun 'n Lake studio lined with gold records that he produced, recently ended his 10-year retirement when he was offered the rights to a few very marketable songs.

"We're back in it," he proclaimed. "We're going to sign some major artists, but right now we have a couple of new artists."

Gale and Lovey, his wife of 64 years, produced for recording artists and songwriters for more than 40 years through the record companies they have owned: Playback, Gallery II and Ridgewood, and their two publishing companies: Lovey Music-BMI and Cowabonga Music-ASCAP.

The list of recording artists produced by their labels includes Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gale, Willie Nelson, Charley Daniels, Frankie Laine, Johnny Paycheck, Little Jimmy Dickens, George Jones, Tommy and Johnny Cash, and even Tiny Tim.

"The bigger they are, the nicer they are," said Jack Gale, when asked what it was like to work with such impressive talent.

Gale reminisced about stars like Tanya Tucker, who was in his studio when she found out she was pregnant; Charlie Louvin, who brought in several famous performers to make guest appearances on his album "Fifty Years of Making Music"; Willie Nelson, who helped out by playing guitar on a couple songs Gale was producing; and Johnny Cash, who adlibbed an ending to a song that caused a disagreement with the songwriter.

"I've never met anyone like Johnny Cash in my life. … He was so wonderful," Gale said of the country music legend who came into the studio with dust on him from a day of plowing.

Gale and his wife also have released classic albums and remixes from artists like Tina Turner, The Platters, Patti Page and Mickey Rooney through television sale offers.

"If I didn't kick his butt, he wouldn't have done any of it," remarked the woman who has always been a driving force behind Gale's success. He dedicated a book he wrote, "To my wife, Lovey, who always stood me up whenever I fell."

After marrying in 1948, Jack Gale took a job as an insurance agent because it paid more money. Lovey objected, telling him, "You need to be in radio; that's your calling, that's where you need to be."

In a deep, clear voice typical of a seasoned broadcaster, Jack Gale said he chronicled his own career in the radio and record industry, which began in 1944, in his book, "Same Time … Same Station," released in 1999.

As a disk jockey, he worked at radio stations in his hometown of Baltimore, and other major markets including Boston and Cleveland.

His comical morning show on Big Ways Radio in Charlotte, N.C. was filled with a variety of zany and unusual characters he created. He not only did the voices of each persona, but all of his own sound effects, too.

Gale developed a mid-sentence breathing technique that allowed him to eliminate pauses between his characters' lines. For years, he had people convinced there were several people in his booth doing his show with him.

"Twenty-nine," answered Lovey, when asked how many voices he made up for the show.

The program, with its "Mr. Treasure" money giveaway contests and "Mighty Gale Players," was so popular that in 1970 Billboard honored Gale by making him its first country music "Disk Jockey of the Year."

"It was quite a thrill," remembered Gale, who was voted in by his peers.

Gale's bass voice is still in high demand for voice-overs and advertisements. The commercials pay the bills, he explained.

The couple moved to Sebring two years ago after looking at a radio station for sale in Avon Park. Though they didn't buy the station, they were impressed by rural Highlands County and the closeness and convenience of banks, stores and restaurants.

"I love it here," said Gale.

His next project is working with a three-girl group called Jet Set Get Set. This next month he hopes to kick-start their career as they cut their first record and make a music video in Nashville.

Gale is already in talks to have the teen trio appear in a movie filming in October entitled, "Elvis Returns."

"I've had a wonderful ride, gliding through the road of life, trying to avoid the potholes," stated Gale in his book.

And after a successful 68-year career, this focused, persistent producer has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

For more information, or to listen to some of Gale's radio clips, visit www.jackgaleradio.com.

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