WOLF1490 – Syracuse, New York
The station was a local legend and it boasted a Program Director who once had been towed away with the Mi Amigo!

Vic Thomas, aka WOLF's Brother Vic, pays tribute to "a true legend in the history of Syracuse radio, and a genuine asset to the broadcast community in America"

The 'real' Dudley 'Bud' Ballou. Howie borrowed the name of the (now deceased) WOLF DJ in order to conceal his real identity and avoid immigration problems when coming ashore from Radio Caroline. He never used the name other than in UK radio.

One night while surfing the internet, I read with great interest your fascinating account of the early career of the man you call Bud Ballou. The man I knew as Howie Castle remains one of the major influences in my career.

Back in 1974, I was an immature, egotistical "rock jock" in central New York State (in the small town of Utica to be precise), under the air name of "Brother Vic." One evening, while working my regular air shift, I received a call from Howie, who, at the time, was the Program Director of the legendary WOLF Radio in Syracuse (about an hour west of Utica along Interstate 90). Howie wanted to meet with me regarding a possible job at WOLF. To say that this was the most important event of my young life would be a gross understatement. To those of us who worked in Utica radio, Syracuse was the BIG time!

Eventually, Howie hired me as the 6-10pm deejay at WOLF. I began the first serious step in my broadcast career in December of 1974. Before my regular work schedule began, Howie wanted me to work for a couple of hours overnight to get my feet wet. I don't recall much about that first night on the air, but I do remember being so nervous, that I developed a raging temperature! I was convinced that I was coming down with the flu, but the next day (after a great deal of sleep), I felt fine. It was simply my 17-year-old nerves reminding me that I wasn't such a radio "stud" after all. I spent a few glorious years at WOLF under Howie's leadership, but it all came to an end when Howie announced that he was leaving for greener radio pastures. I remember being CRUSHED by the news! I believed that this was the end of everything I knew and loved about radio... and for a while, I was right! The station began to decline steadily and rapidly after Howie's departure, and "The Big 15" was never the same.

I doubt that Howie has many fond memories of me, if any at ALL! The immature, egotistical radio stud from Utica became, from time-to-time, an almost unbearable and uncontrollable employee, and I have often wondered if Howie ever regretted hiring such a young punk... I know I would have! My only regret about those days at WOLF are the "casualties" I left behind - the people who worked with me whom, I am sure, still regret having ever met me. Since those glorious days, I have held many positions in broadcasting, including that of radio station Program Director and Operations Manager. Currently, I work for the ABC Radio Network in Dallas, Texas, where I am a nationally-syndicated, satellite-radio show host. Among the thousands of lessons I learned from my time at WOLF, I remember promising myself that I would NEVER hire anyone as immature and egotistical as I was way back then... that lesson has always served me well!

Throughout my career, I have often thought of Howie, and I have remembered those great days of radio at WOLF. We were a tiny little AM radio station, operating on less than 1,000 watts, and crushing the competition - many of whom were five times more powerful than us! As anyone in this business can tell you, the only thing predictable about the radio industry is its total unpredictability... top-of-the-world one day, unemployed with a wife and young children, the next. But through it all, good times and bad, Howie has remained a steady influence for me, even if he never knew it!

To sum it up, I believe that Howie Castle is, without a doubt, a true legend in the history of Syracuse radio, and a genuine asset to the broadcast community in America. The things he taught me about the business will be etched in my mind until the day that I die. I have only myself to blame for my occasional professional failures and setbacks, but I have Howie's influence to thank for my many successes, and I know that I would have never made it this far without his patience and guidance. So, from a now-humble (and mostly mature), 46-year-old, who has been in this crazy business for thirty years, my sincere thanks and gratitude to the man you call Bud Ballou... but to the gentleman I call my professional mentor. Thanks, Howie (uh, sorry - "Bud")... I owe you a debt that I can never repay.

Vic Thomas (aka "Brother Vic"),
ABC Radio Network, Dallas

WOLF1490 Tribute site Webmaster, Bob Mitchell (below) adds:
I worked for Howie 1973-74 at WOLF. I don't think the station ever sounded better...what a great line up we had. He was also PD of 94 Rock here, very successful as well.

Photographs courtesy of Bob Mitchell.

Stories related to Howie Castle, still remembered in Europe as Bud Ballou, are here and here

Brother Vic attempts the Black Vinyl Weight-Loss program

Howie Castle has the grooviest shirt on the station.

It must have been a novelty for Howie, working on a station that didn't move around or get towed away and didn't require weights on the pickup arms to stop the records from jumping. And WOLF DJs didn't have to be strapped into the studio chair – unless there was a full moon!

Vic is caught on-camera during a 'key' WOLF moment

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