On the air at KKJO St. Joseph, Missouri, 105.5 FM.
Before we jump into the interview, let me share a little bit of history about "Mar's.” There's more to the man, Frank "Mars" Cotolo than just writing jokes He began composing music almost as soon as he learned to play the guitar. In the 1960's he played in the same band for ten years and in the later part of the decade he teamed up with a lyricist and writer and wrote over 200 songs including an off Broadway play. He had been working as a joke writer for disc jockeys when he left New York for Hollywood in 1978 and answered a generic ad looking for a writer for an anonymous radio personality who turned out to be Wolfman Jack. This began an 11yr-long, full-time working relationship with the worlds’ greatest DJ. He was Wolman’s full-time writer for radio, TV, and personal appearances. Frank wrote Wolman’s daily shows for the Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS) as well as the nostalgic oldies, Graffiti Gold show. Frank also played Wolman’s side-kick, "Mars" (a nickname given to him by the Wolfman) on the Graffiti Gold radio program.
|Wolfman & Frank "Mars" Cotolo at KRLA, (1110 AM), studios, Pasadena, CA. circa 5/27/1985|
|On the air at WNBC circa 1973|
FRANK: Before I met him, this other guy and I had a joke service out of New York (NY). We used to sell published jokes to shock jocks. They used to buy our jokes ‘cause you could buy them exclusively in that market. There were a bunch of joke sheets out there. We used to write for DJs like Gary Owens [Laugh In, Hee-Haw]. We moved out to LA to work. Eventually, he had to go back to NY, and I stuck around and wound up getting the job.
FRANK: We had half a floor in the famous, Taft building on Hollywood and Vine [Los Angeles, CA] and one of the rooms was a recording studio. We did all the Graffiti Gold shows there. I think it’s the show that’s been syndicated and broadcasts now. It’s been cut up. They screwed it up - the series when they put it on satellite radio. They digitalized a lot of ‘em. The people knew the technology but they didn’t know the flow of Wolfman and those shows when first aired on satellite radio sounded terrible. They just didn’t have his uh, brand. But, yeah we did everything in that little studio. Ya know the other guy you want to talk to is Lonnie Napier [Wolfman’s producer].
KIP: Yes, I talked with him recently. [Look for that conversation in an upcoming post!]
FRANK: There ya go! Lonnie and I are still close friends.
With Beach Boys, Brian Wislon & Mike Love. "Hard to tell who was more out of it, Brian or Mike ... da Woof was grounded, believe me," says Cotolo.
KIP: How much was written and how much was Wolfman improvising over the air?
FRANK: An awful lot of it was written but, BUT, we never did it word-for-word and we improvised so much. He was so great with me in that he made me, Mars part of the show. I made up some characters and stuff and he really gave me a lot of microphone time. I think I’m the only person he gave that much mic time. So I became not just his straight man but I became another personality on there. Eventually we knew each other so well that I’d give him stuff to say and he’d know how to work it and put himself into it. The material was so good, I’m not just saying that to pat myself in the back, but I really learned his voice, I knew the character and made the character go in all sorts of different directions and we were so close in that creative process, that he added a lot to it.
|As he appeared on a TV episode of Battlestar Galacta circa 1980|
KIP: He had a certain rhythm to his patter. I always loved the colorful phrases and nonsensical words he’d use for instance, Oh my, we just gonna boogie along w/ plenty of zoom tongues & zowie & a whooole lotta zing!”
KIP: Does Doug make the new Wolfman Jack shows for syndication?
|Trade ad for Wolfman's radio show. circa 1975|
|On the air at XTRA, Rosarita Beach, Mexico/San Diego, CA. (l-r) Frank "Mars" Cotolo, Wolfman, Hank Ballard, & producer, Lonnie Napier. Photo: Nancy Clendaniel|
KIP: What did you do in Mexico?
Go to PART 2