Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Mike Ippoliti looks through some of the records produced by a recording business he owned and bands he managed while attending Ohio State University in the late 1960s.
Photo of Mike Ippoliti from his days at WCOL radio.
You see him around Canal Winchester-in the barber museum, playing with trains at the depot, dressed up in sartorial splendor during historical society tours-but did you know Mike Ippoliti was a radio star?
Ippoliti was once known as "Mike Holliday," in his days as a DJ at the WCOL radio station in Columbus in the 1960s.
His broadcast career began in high school when he approached a local radio station in Bellaire, Ohio and asked if they had any job openings. Between homework, play rehearsals and garage band practice, he spun tunes on the WOMP airwaves.
"I did a little bit of everything," said Ippoliti, "and when I came to Columbus to go to school at OSU, I told WCOL I had experience."
Majoring in broadcast journalism and dramatics at Ohio State, Ippoliti paid his way through college by managing bands and working at WCOL, where he earned $2 an hour as a DJ, but made hundreds more by splitting the proceeds with fellow disc jockeys from weekend dance promotions.
"I had my own record company, Chelsea Limited, and managed the Epics and A.G. Pyme and the Muffett Company," said Ippoliti. "There were a lot of garage bands back then and it wasn’t that hard to get into the business. We used to hand deliver press packages to radio stations, unlike today where most everything is done over the computer. When I worked as a DJ at WCOL (1965-70), we would get as many as 600 records a week from promoters."
Along with partner Scott Graves, Ippoliti promoted a dozen bands and received commission on booking 100 other groups. Ippoliti earned $7,000 to $10,000, which was a princely sum for a college student in the 1960s.
One time, Ippoliti and Graves traveled to New York City to promote records and stayed in a suite owned by the parents of a friend.
"We found out the place was owned by the Jacobson family, who also owned a series of department stores," said Ippoliti. "We stayed there while trying to get the Muffetts on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show.’ Somehow we got Ed Sullivan’s home phone number and called his house on a Saturday. His wife answered and Ed called us back. We were surprised to hear from him because we thought he’d blow us off."
Sullivan liked their style and, while they did not get a chance to get their band on air, they received four tickets to Sullivan’s show. Ippoliti and Graves walked with their girlfriends to the front of the line at the theatre and were escorted to their seats.
"I sat right next to Ed Ames, who said he remembered me because I introduced him at the Ohio State Fair a month earlier," said Ippoliti.
While at WCOL, Ippoliti and fellow on-air personalities were responsible for conducting promotions for the station and sponsors, such as running around town dressed in a purple gorilla suit promoting a milk product. Another time, he dressed up as a pilgrim and drove around the city handing out Thanksgiving turkeys.
After his radio career, Ippoliti moved to broadcast television on channel 6 from 1970-74 and directed shows such as "Dialing for Dollars" and the "Sally Flowers Show" during the heyday of live television. He also directed commercials.
"We’d do commercials for Big Bear and they would bring in all this fresh food to use, which we’d split up and take home after we were done filming," said Ippoliti. "I also directed Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) in a commercial for Big Bear. After that, I decided to go on the other side of the camera and got into acting."
Ippoliti’s resume includes appearances in films such as "Tango and Cash," "Traffic" and "Little Man Tate." He has appeared in more than 350 commercial and industrial ads for corporations including Safe Auto, Ohio EPA, Toyota, Goodyear Tires and Wendy’s International as well as print ads for Pioneer Electronics, Apple Computers, and Lexus.