John Doremus had a rare talent for being able to tell a story … he could hold a listener’s interest, and had a warm, easy and mellifluous voice.
His fascination with radio began at a very young age. He mowed the lawn for an older lady and in return she gave him an old crank-up phonograph (that was when he was in primary school). Apparently as a child he loved pretending he was a radio announcer and carved “on air” into a light bulb and used it as a microphone. Whilst at University John worked in the college radio station and subsequently worked at KRMG in Oklahoma. After moving to Chicago, he found success and in 1959 was named “Best Chicago Radio Personality”.
John is credited with developing the idea of in-flight music in 1964 – a program titled “Music Till Dawn” which was sponsored by America Airlines. His programs were also heard on the Presidential aircraft – Air Force One – during the terms of Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.
The Passing Parade was conceived in the United States, but after 130 episodes it was cancelled as it didn’t rate well there. The show was a big success here in Australia and as a result Grace Gibson Productions bought out ownership of the original 130 episodes and commissioned further episodes (which ended up being over 1300 in all).
Ross Napier was hired to write the scripts and they were sent to John (by telex) for him to record in his home studio. The tapes were then shipped back to Australia.
The Passing Parade still has a strong following both here and overseas. In fact, another chapter in The Passing Parade occurred in New Zealand. A racehorse owner was heading home after splurging on a young colt at the yearling sales. This owner was listening to The Passing Parade on a local New Zealand radio station. He liked the show, and decided to name his new colt Doremus. It went on to win Australia’s most prized race, The Melbourne Cup, in 1995.
But, as John himself would say: “that’s just another chapter in The Passing Parade. Thanks for listening, and goodbye for now”.
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