Both Bob Montesano and I consider Ernie Riep as the finest 'home-grown' radio announcer in Utica broadcasting history. He was home-gown and home-trained. Ernie never attended announcing school as such; he trained himself to become the very best. Bob Montesano worked professionally with him and would "hangout" socially. Bob says Ernie Riep had developed a radio announcer's delivery "with authority".
He had flawless enunciation, was extremely articulate and was good looking besides.
I recall Ernie as the announcer on the Johnny Lawrence program in late afternoon on WIBX. Kleen-Maid Bakery sponsored it. Johnny Lawrence, the character of the radio show was referred to as the "Freshest thing in Town" to coincide with the Kleen-Maid bread loaf. I discovered later the show was a "canned" production in that it was sent to the station as transcriptions to be used consecutively on WIBX. As a kid I was intrigued in the secret code used on the program. Johnny Lawrence, the chief character, would feature a "secret code" in which he communicated with his fellow actors in the story line. However, being an astute code breaker, I determined that the secret code was nothing but the English alphabet spelled backwards. So by following the code (the alphabet backward) it was easy to discover what the code was that was being used on the show. That is, by placing the 26 letters of the English alphabet in order, the alphabet was reversed. For example, Z was under A, Y was under B, and so forth. No it wasn't Bingo. Where are those transcriptions now? Radio transcriptions were the closest thing to long-playing records at that time. The speed was set a 33 1/3. The Johnny Lawrence Show, "The Freshest thing in Town" was a fifteen minute program sponsored locally and Ernie aired the "commercials" live.
Ernie started his radio career early. Betty Allinger says Ernie was featured in a locally written and produced program exclusively on WIBX. Ray Servatius, a member of the station staff, wrote the program. It was a live program originating from the studios of WIBX, located on the 9th floor of the then First National Bank Building, corner of Elizabeth and Genesee. Today, that building is the site of the Adirondack Bank.
Ernie was also part of an announcing team, paired with Mike Carlo (Fusco) who were part of a remote broadcast from the Rhoades Hospital on Burrstone Road. In his earlier career days, I recall Ernie doing a remote radio broadcast from the Hotel Hamilton (Hotel Martin). He became my role model. I wanted to become a radio announcer for WIBX. I never worked with Ernie Riep as did Bob Montesano and Jack Fredericks. I did meet him once at the radio station. I had become a regular on Betty Griffin's Youth Presents and also became a "go-fer" at the station. Ernie was clearing his desk one night. His illness had forced him to resign his position. He offered me a box of stationery so as not to throw it out. That was the last time I saw Ernie Riep alive.
The wake visitation was held at 1302 Noyes Street. John Kirley, Joan Wallace and I walked from the Busy Corner in downtown Utica to 1302 Noyes Street and back.
Ernie Riep and Betty Griffin at the mike in Studio A of the WIBX studios on the 9th floor of the First National Bank Building (now Adirondack Bank). Background: Glenn Weber.
I guess if we had tape recordings available of Ernie's voice people would wonder why Bob Montesano and I were so enthused with this tremendous radio personality. Ernie was ahead of his time. He dominated the technology. And he did it at an early age. Utica, New York had a genuine genius in its midst who was taken away at such an early time of his life.
There are two icons of Radio Broadcasting in the Mohawk Valley Betty Cushing Griffin Allinger and Ernest Riep. There should two shrines erected for these two persons who, at an early age, made outstanding contributions to the Utica Broadcasting era on a 250-watt Amplitude Radio Station, operating on the 9th floor of the First National Bank Building in beautiful and clean downtown Utica, New York. Would it not be something if the persons reading this now would instigate the construction of a Utica, New York, Hall of Fame of Radio Broadcasting in which to enshrine Betty and Ernest?