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“Dialing the DJ’s with TJ” Teen Life with Kutza and Flynn

  • November 19, 2014

In August of 1964, WISL radio and Shamokin were catching their piece of the national spotlight, (well at least on some level), in the pages of a well known teen magazine. That summer Teen Life Magazine brought their traveling record hop parade to town, just in time for Shamokin’s 150th anniversary celebration. Teen Life Magazine had their own DJ, “cleverly” named T.J. who traveled from town to town across the United States hosting record hops, many times bringing a music star or two with him.

from right to left; Doug Moody, Tom Kutza, Kenny Dino, T.J., and Diane Christian

from right to left; Doug Moody, Tom Kutza, Kenny Dino, T.J., and Diane Christian

This time, it was Shamokin’s turn. Along with SMASH Records A&R man Doug Moody, T.J. met T.K, (better known as Tom Kutza) and Bernie Flynn of WISL Radio. According to Tom, quite a crowd showed up for the event which included live performances from Kenny Dino, a singer who was trying to build a career for himself at the time. Dino’s only chart record was a 1961 release entitled “Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night,” which peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Hot-100. While he may have only had one hit, he would be left with a long list of strike-outs, including turning down a chance to duet with Paul Simon, as well as having his record company refuse to allow him to record “Suspicion” which would become a huge hit for Terry Stafford.

Also in Shamokin that night was Diane Christian. Diane was in a number of vocal groups in the early 1960’s including The Rosettes, Diane & The Darlings and The Chic-Lets. By early 1964 she was pushing a record on SMASH called “Has Anybody Seen My Boyfriend” which never received any national attention.

from left to right: Ron Schreffler, Vinny D., Bernie Flynn, Jake Berkheiser, Tom Berkheiser and an unidentified Record Hop attendee

from left to right: Ron Schreffler, Vinny D., Bernie Flynn, Jake Berkheiser, Tom Berkheiser and an unidentified Record Hop attendee

The local music attraction that night was from a group called the Tremelos, not to be confused with English group The Tremeloes who would have a string of huge hits in the mid to late 60’s including “Silence is Golden” and “Here Comes My baby.” This Tremelos group consisted of some local boys Ron Schreffler, and brothers, Jake and Tom Berkheiser. Schreffler was the drummer for the group D’Kool & The Kasuals, a band of coal region guys who were signed to and recorded for Cameo/ Parkway Records in Philadelphia. The band toured all across the region promoting their biggest single for Cameo/ Parkway “She’s Good To Me.”

SMASH Records Logo

SMASH Records Logo

Tom Kutza remembered the slimy record promoter who went by the name Vinny D, (pictured along with Bernie Flynn and the Tremelos). Tom says he wore a gold ring on his finger with the letters “V” and “D” embossed on them. According to Kutza, they were staying at a local hotel in Shamokin, and surprised everyone in the morning by skipped town without paying their hotel bill.

Regardless of the moral strengths of the Teen Life entourage, Tom said that everyone had a great time at the hop. Tom and Bernie even got their pictures in the August edition of Teen Life, turning the two young DJs into national celebrities of sorts. Tom told us that shortly after the magazine was published he started receiving “fan” mail from the young female readers, wanting to know more about the “DJ who digs the Big Beat.” Tom was happily married by that time and wanted to stay that way so those letters only live on in legend.

Here is the original Shamokin portion of the write-up from the August 1964 edition of Teen Life Magazine. We hope you enjoy the 1960’s teen speak.

WINNERS IN SHAMOKIN: Shamokin, Pennsylvania is celebrating its 100th Birthday come the end of June. Shamokin has also something extra-special to celebrate-their two prize-winning dj’s, TOM KUTZA and BERNIE FLYNN, who melt the hot wax, as they spin the winners over WISL. Tom and, Bernie dig the Big Beat. I can testiy to that. The boys had me stomping up a storm when I invaded, their territory, together with DOUG MOODY, that curly-headed, blue-eyed A & R Promo Sales Chief for SMASH records. It was a SMASH NITE at the TEEN LIFE Record Hop, emceed by Tom, Bernie and Yours Truly. Doug supplied the Smash records. For days before the TL hop, Tom and Bernie blasted awary over WISL warning one and all not to miss the TL-SMASH Hop . . . obviously all of Shamokin heard the warning and came to our Hop. It was a wonderful kind of madness. Between dance sets we had LIVE entertainment. KENNY DINO was greeted as though he was a BEATLE, or something. Anyway, Doug and I will be back in the Shamokin-Mt. Carmel area soon. Keep tuned to WISL for dates.

CLICK HERE to view a PDF of the original “Dialing the DJ’s with T.J.” Teen Life Magazine spread

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