"Boom Boom Brannigan" or Bob Klingeman

“Boomer” broadcast on "Swinging Radio England" from sometime in August 1966 to 12th of November 1966. He was a very good presenter, much loved by his listeners.

 1966-1967 scribbling at a school in Norway…

The person we are dealing with here is not the “Boom Boom” who was on WPTR 1540 in Albany, NY, but his identity came from a jingle tape copied by Larry Dean who came to Radio England in the spring of 1966.

On Sunday, November 13th, 1966, in the final programme on Swinging Radio England, which started at 2300, Phil Martin went through a list of all the “Boss Jocks” having worked on the station. Martyn Webster adds:” Well listening to the last half hour I think that Phil Martin mentions that Boom Boom Brannigan "of the B B Spree" left the ship yesterday I think.” This would point to him leaving November 12th, 1966 the day before closedown.

Phil Martin has described Boom Boom in this way: “…very much a dj before his time…” who “…had a lot of personality.

In this chapter we will try to take a closer look on the fascinating “Boom Boom” character, along with a peek at what might be called the second US wave of Boss Jocks for Radio England.

Suggested real names for Boom Boom, or “Boomer” were from 1966 Bob Wayne, and "Steve Mathews" or "Mathers".  The note in Don Pierson's files mentions Klingeman’s address as 25 Claremont Dr. Harrisburg, PA.

But the late Boom Boom Brannigan was Robert (Bob) Klingeman. The address above is hopefully a lead to find Boomers' family. We hope to track his relatives down if that is all possible, and let them know how much he and his station is still remembered fondly by those who heard him so long ago. If we could uncover his Social Security Number (SSN) then we might be able to match it with any remaining payroll records on file. Surely there must be many that would like to tell them we remember him and his station with fondness.

 

Picture: SRE publicity photo head shot taken in London. Boom Boom Brannigan(Bob Klingeman) from Peter Alex’ book “Who’s Who in Pop Radio”(1966), out of print long ago. Unknown photographer. As far as we know, the only picture of Boomer anyone has besides the picture from a Roanoke gig in early 1967.(below)

April 4th, 1967: Boomer's accident, by Jack Curtiss.

Jack, formerly General Manager operating the twin stations Radio England/Dolfijn-Britain Radio) trading in the UK/Holland in 1966/67 and now living in Australia has given a very valuable input on Boomer:

“Boom-Boom (Bob Klingeman) as I recall may have also used the Wayne jingle before settling in under the Brannigan monicker.

Boomer and I toiled on the pirate radio ship Laissez Faire off the English coast in the summer and fall of 1966.

I do remember telling my later SRE crew mates (including Boom Boom) how very much I enjoyed working at WROV in Roanoke, what a splendid chap Burton Levine was, and how highly I regarded him.

How ironic that Boom Boom, who as far as I could tell had never heard of Roanoke till I started talking about it, headed there after returning home.  He was still in England until mid-November 1966, not a whole lot of time to get back to, maybe spend the holidays with family in Pennsylvania and then work at two different stations WROV and then WPXI. Here at “Channel 91”, or “Pixie”, he would play the same jingles as he did in the North Sea:

http://www.roanokeradio.com/WPXI/index.htm

If my hunch is correct that Boomer didn't arrive in Roanoke until January, then he would have spent scarcely three months between the two stations. Sadly, Boomer did not remain at WROV but joined another new station across town, WPXI at 910 on the dial. While working there, he was killed in an accident.

 

 

The last known picture of Boomer making a publicity appearance for WPXI just before he died on April 4th, 1967. Marty Shayne (Boomer's roommate at the time),"Pixie Girls" Valeria Cook & Michele Lowe, Boom Boom Branegan, along with fans. (Boomer changed the spelling when he got to Virginia). Marty Shayne supplied the photo. Marty has told that he Boomer were dating these girls at the time and he drove them both to his funeral in Harrisburg. Valeria later became Marty's wife and is now a successful attorney. Michelle died apparently in 2003 from health problems.

 

Jack Curtiss concludes:

“In a way, I think Boomer's life was truly emblematic of sixties pirate radio itself... brash, cocky, bursting with adolescent energy, full of promise.. and cut short way too soon before its time. If you get a chance, raise a glass in fond recollection of the "B-B Spree" and its host.”

 

And then it’s over to Perry Woods, former Operations Manager at WPXI:

“Bob was brash, but I always attributed that to youth.” I had only been on WPXI a few weeks (I think I arrived sometime in March with the title Operations Manager) when the accident happened.

I was supposed to program WPXI - “Pixie” and WCFV in Clifton Forge. With Buford Epperson, everybody had a title. You could take it and 10 cents and go to a restaurant and get a cup of coffee with it. I believe Bob did have the title of PD. He did a regular weekday show from 2pm until sign-off. I know I spent most of my time in those days explaining to Buford’s creditors that they would have to see him about the money he owed them. We made do with what we had and Boomer’s death was the beginning of WPXI having less and less of everything. By the time I left WPXI they owed me a couple thousand dollars (which I never got). The good news was, we ran the radio station the way we wanted to because Epperson was too busy hiding from his creditors to put in much time at the station. We had a great sound, and nobody to go out and sell it. I only knew Bob for about a month or 6 weeks. He was easily the most talented member of the staff and with him doing afternoons; I felt we had an honest chance to hold our own in the market. After Boomer’s accident, things really started to go down hill even more rapidly. People kept wondering when they were going to get paid, since there was no sales staff, there just wasn’t much happening to give anyone much to be optimistic about. Because I had two small children to take care of, I ended up going to WROV, at least there I got a check on a regular basis. That’s really the story, by the time I arrived, WPXI had become sort of the skid row of radio station. We could have done very well in Roanoke had Buford stayed out of whatever he was into. The sound was fresh, it was clean and we were holding our own against WROV. I wish I could paint a better picture for you, but that is the way it was.  Marty and the rest of them were kids, they would have worked for free (come to think of it, they were working for free). From a standpoint of the work, Pixie was a great place to work because there was no interference from management. But from the standpoint of a father trying to raise a family, it left something be desired. 

But from an operations standpoint, Pixie was terrific. From a management standpoint, well, let’s just say I got there a little late. I do remember coming in one morning to do the show and Bob and Marty had spent the entire night moving everything around (including the console) to make the control room more efficient. I remember the panic I felt when I saw what they’d done and thought to myself, well we’ll never get on the air today. But to my surprise, everything worked like it was supposed to. I guess what I am really trying to say here is that we had really wonderful people on the air staff. They were truly the most inventive and resourceful group of people I ever had the privilege of working with.

To be honest, April 4th, 1967 wasn’t one of my better days. I was still in the process of getting to know everyone when the accident happened. I remember it was in the afternoon. Bob Klingeman was killed in a motorcycle accident just two blocks from the station. He did not own a motorbike but had borrowed the motorcycle from another jock, David Warf, working at sister Station WCFV. Warf apparently had brought it to WPXI (probably from a dealer) where some of the staffers each took turns riding it. Everybody wanted to. I was scheduled to go next after Boomer. The result was, I’ve never been on a motorcycle since.

Bob was sitting on it at a stop sign at an intersection when a lady did not see him. Her vehicle drug him about a block. I remember going to the accident scene and I remember holding Bob before the medics arrived.  As I’d left my medical degree in my other pants that day, I can’t honestly say if he died in my arms or not. I knew Bob wasn’t going to make it, for all intents and purposes, he was not responsive and not conscious but he was still breathing.  So I know he was still alive when I got there and when the medics got there, they took over and told me after he had been put in the ambulance that he was gone. Officially he was pronounced dead at the hospital. "Bob Dale" Lackey’s dad actually saw the wreck and came to the station and told us about it.   

I was the one who had to go back to the studio and do Boomer’s shift that afternoon.  As I recall, I had been on the air only a few minutes when I got the official word that he had died.  It certainly made for a long afternoon for me and I know it wasn’t pleasant for Boomer either.”



Article courtesy of Phil Beckman

Finally the word passes to Steve Richards (Steve Nelson), also formerly of WPXI:

When Boomer left Radio England he went to Roanoke and worked at WROV (where Jack Curtiss had been a DJ prior to joining the ship). Boomer had brought with him a copy of Herman's Hermits' No Milk Today and the song was played there as an exclusive. The record company released it in the States and it became a big hit. Marty Shayne, with whom he shared a flat, urged Boom Boom to leave WROV after a short time and subsequently joined Marty at rival rock station WPXI, also in Roanoke.

Home

Click on image to return to the home page