Wayne Cody

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Whipped in his attempts to take over the identity of Uncle WIP, Wayne Cody was naturally much happier as the Jolly Man. The Philadelphia-based radio show host was particularly interested in entertaining…
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Whipped in his attempts to take over the identity of Uncle WIP, Wayne Cody was naturally much happier as the Jolly Man. The Philadelphia-based radio show host was particularly interested in entertaining children and wrote books and songs for young minds throughout his career. Cody also scribbled adult pop material that dealt with quite typical themes of the '40s such as romance and World War II. From where he sat in his role as a disc jockey, he might have been ethically bound from promoting his own material, but had no qualms about scouting out talent other than his own in his sideline as an A&R man for record producers such as Joe Davis.

Davis was an innovator in the entire field of records for children, while Cody was a disciple of Christopher Graham, a disc jockey who occupied a similar role in the development of toddler time on the radio dial. It was Graham who created the enormously popular character of Uncle WIP in the '20s, named after Philly's radio station WIP. When Graham died in 1929, station managers whipped up a frenzy over who would be the new Uncle WIP. This state of insecurity remained as none of the new WIP replacements could wipe the memory of Graham from the public's mind. Cody got the nod in the '50s, but has been described as a wimpy Uncle WIP; he was much better as the Jolly Man, a character that hosted a '30s children's show sponsored by a local department store. The store did so well with this venture that it eventually took over several radio stations. In 1935, Cody published a book entitled The Jolly Man's Juvenile Jingles, an innovative early step in the history of entertainment merchandising tie-ins. The book consisted of a collection of poems and drawings, the former creativity resulting in one of the great song titles in the history of music, "Carefulness on the Fourth of July."

In the '40s, Cody wrote and published songs such as "Care of My Heart" in collaboration with Victor Mojnar and Abner Silver, and all on his own churned out "Clancy's Gone and Joined the Army." Disc jockey work continued to pay the bills and Cody kept his sniffer in the air, ever alert for gimmicks. As can be expected, he was knee deep in the story of "Daddy's Little Girl," one of the most successful mass media promotions of a record of all time. The previously mentioned Davis had published the song in the late '40s, which in its highly hyped popularity had spawned a brood of cover versions. In his role as Uncle WIP, Cody invited his buddy Davis on the air for an interview that could best be described as a suck-up session. Davis spoke in length about the brilliance of Cody, one of the first to hear a demo of the song and apparently just as early in recognizing its commercial potential.

As a reward for his insight, Davis now gave Cody the opportunity to premier the follow-up,

"Daddy's Little Boy," naturally. This record did not do nearly as well, cancelling plans for songs about daddy's pet goldfish and so forth. Cody also put out some of his own children's records on the

20th Century label out of Philadelphia. While reissue producers have uncorked many a bottle of vintage R&B and doo wop from this label's discographical cellar, whatever material Cody came up with has so far been ignored. Mint original copies of 20th Century singles sell for high prices, but whatever copies of Cody's kiddie stuff existed probably wound up under a playroom carpet, coated with cookie crumbs and other infantile residue. .