Tribute from Dave Wagner


I want to add my voice to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Ed Love and what he has meant as a radio listener.

Growing up on the east side of Detroit, the world opened up to me by listening to the radio. When I was 11, my mom bought me a Motorola desk top FM only radio (pretty exotic back in 1961 when people only listened to AM radio). Was there ever a world of interesting stuff on the FM dial: From independent FM stations like WLIN in Lincoln Park that no longer exists to WABX playing jazz at night with Jim Rockwell (“This is Rockwell and these are records”) to classical stations including WQRS, WDTM (now WWWW), and, of course, WDET.

I first heard jazz, real jazz, with Jim Rockwell on WABX, but my real education and my real love of jazz began with Ed Love. At 7 p.m. every night, WCHD-FM at 105.9 FM, which simulcast during the day with WCHB-AM, went their own way. The WCHD studio was on Forest east of Woodward, if memory serves, in an apartment building with the studios in the basement. The tower for the station was in the backyard of that apartment building. I made a pilgrimage to the site once just to see where Ed was broadcasting. Never went inside, just sat out in the car, too nervous to meet my radio idol. I was a total radio groupie.

Not only did I get an education in R&B and gospel by listening to the WCHB/WCHD simulcast, but my real schooling started with Ed coming on at 7 p.m. Not only did he play the greatest selection of recordings, Ed could tell you everything about the performers. Heck, Ed could tell you who had a cheese sandwich before a particular recording session! His knowledge was vast, deep, comprehensive in every way, and he also was talking to ME, a stupid kid from the east side who had no idea about this great art form until I turned on the radio.    

Ed became my companion every evening through my high school years at Osborn High School. Growing up over a funeral home had its challenges; I often was being told to “turn the radio down we have people downstairs,” but there was enough great music that I was convinced that if I had kept that radio up I would have been able to raise the dead.

I never met Ed until one day, in the early 1980s, he was hired by then Program Director Mike Whorf at WQRS to do the overnight jazz weekend shows. I hung around all evening before the first night that Ed came in and I must have really bored him with my still excited “man-crush fan thing” that greeted him when he came in the door. I just told him important he was to me growing up and how his show transported me to different places and to a new world of music that I didn’t even know existed until I discovered him on the radio.

That’s my story and I’m sure it is a story of a lot of people who grew up listening to Ed. My parents were not fond of music at all; they didn’t have a record player and they thought that buying records was kind of an extravagance that was not in keeping with their Depression-era upbringing. Heck, my Dad, a former Marine, thought that classical music was played by people with long hair who were Communists, or worse Democrats! Oh yes, jazz and rock and roll were inspired by the devil. In fact, I think the devil actually played bass for a while with John Coltrane.

It didn’t make any difference, since I had the world of music at my fingertips through that tabletop Motorola FM only radio.