Hats Off to Larry
On August 23rd, 2018 Ron O'Quinn posted on Facebook that his best friend Frank Laseter, who had been in poor health for some time, had died. Frank was known to the many listeners to Radio England, as Larry Dean.
Frank started his radio career when he was just 15 and first became Larry Dean in 1963 while at WVLD in Valdosta, Georgia. Moving to WALT in Florida, in 1964, he became James Bond! (A name not of his choosing.) Frank reverted to his Larry Dean persona when he worked briefly at Florida's WONN and kept it after moving on to WIRK in West Palm Beach, then WPTR in Albany, New York. It was the name he brought to the UK in 1966 when he came to work on Don Pierson's new twin offshore stations, Radio England/Britain Radio aboard the mv Olga Patricia, renamed Laissez Faire.
Frank kept the same name because he already had a jingle to go with it from his stint on WPTR. Other DJs on Radio England changed their names to fit the PAMS WPTR jingles, including Johnnie Walker and Chuck Blair.
Radio England Boss Jocks: Jerry Smithwick, Ron O'Quinn and Larry Dean
Speaking about Chuck Blair, who joined Radio England shortly before Frank and several others returned to the States, Frank confirmed, "Chuck got his air name the same way as several other SRE air personalities, such as Johnnie Walker. We used DJ names from WPTR. I brought tapes of the DJ jingles from there when I came over from Albany, New York. Those jingles were from the same PAMS package as the SRE jingles." Radio England was known as 'Swinging Radio England' (SRE) on air.
The good ol' days –Frank and Ron in 1966 with Nancy Sinatra
A 1968 clipping from Billboard, concerning Frank's later career in the States, where he reverted to using his real name.
During his final Radio London programme, on August 14th 1967, Chuck Blair dedicated a Four Seasons track to, "The old Radio England gang, Phil Martin, Bill Berry, Alan Black, Boom Boom Brannigan, Ron O'Quinn, Larry Dean, Jerry Smithwick and all the boys."
Chris and I first heard from Frank in 1999, when we were in the process of finding Sixties offshore DJs and putting them in touch with each other, via our 'Who Found Whom' pages. An email arrived from Frank addressed to 'Mary Radiolondon Payne', which led me to contemplate changing my name by deed-poll immediately! Frank reported that he was the morning newsman on country-format station WSOC in Charlotte, North Carolina. He later phoned Jerry Smithwick, told him about the Radio London website and suggested that he get in touch, which Jerry did.
We were pleased to meet Frank at last in 2006, at Grey Pierson's SRE reunion in London and enjoyed seeing him again at his hotel the following morning for coffee. (Below)
Ron O'Quinn spoke to Frank regularly during his final years and read him messages from well-wishers during his last days in hospice care. "Frank was the voice at the beginning of my syndicated radio show that said, 'Stand By for Ron O'Quinn'," Ron wrote. "I loved him like a brother."
Smooth sailing, Frank. Rest in Peace.
With Rick Randall & wife Joy, at
Grey Pierson's SRE Reunion 2006
JW and Rick. Cheers, Larry! Thanks for the moniker!
With Roger Twiggy Day, at
Grey's SRE Reunion 2006
With Chris Payne in the garden of
32 Curzon Street
Down the stairs to the garden Still swinging in the Red Lion pub
Members of the Olga Patricia gang in 2006
Phil Martin, Roger Day, Johnnie Walker, Rick Randall, Larry
2006 Reunion Photos © Chris and Mary Payne and Radio London. Archive photos courtesy of Grey Pierson.
There are several clips of Larry's Radio England programmes on the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.
Many thanks to Jon Myer for informing us of Frank's sad demise.