True, Horn had been host of a popular late-night radio program named C'Mon and Dance in Philadelphia on WIP but its appeal was largely to people who had grown up with big band music, not young hipsters who might prefer jazz or be-bop.
But Horn was more than the straight-arrow, button-down professional who arrived for work every day in a conservative business suit. He was well-connected in the Philadelphia jazz community and changed into flashier clothes for the post-work jam sessions he often attended, many beginning well after midnight. While his wife drove a station wagon, Horn drove a Cadillac but would really have preferred something much sportier.
Roger Clipp, general manager of WFIL radio and television in Philadelphia, had lured the popular Horn from crosstown rival WIP in 1950. Horn was switched from his late-night radio disc jockey duties to late afternoons in 1951, about the same time he was assigned afternoon television duties as well. The dual roles created something of a problem for the normally unflappable Horn.
After Horn concluded his television duties at 46th and Market, he then had to dash downtown to do his radio program, earning him the nickname “Rapid Robert.”
Horn allowed himself 2 minutes and 35 seconds to cover the 75 yards from the WFIL-TV studios to the el steps and up the platform. During the 10-minute ride to 13th Street, he studied his radio script. He raced up the escalator, through Wanamakers Department Store to the Widener Building and caught an elevator to the 18th-floor radio studios, usually arriving just a minute or two before air time.
Horn’s success led to the formation of the Bob Horn Fan Club, some 400 members of which honored the WFIL DJ with a picnic at Woodside Park on Aug. 2, 1952.
Despite Horn’s radio popularity, WFIL-TV remained a dismal last in the ratings during his afternoon slot. But Clipp and WFIL-TV station manager George Koehler had a plan they thought might turn things around.
Do you have any stories about Bandstand, Dick Clark or growing up in the Philadelphia area during the show's run at WFIL-TV? Please share them in the comments section or e-mail them to me.