Radio Legend Gary Burbank Retiring From WLW

Gary Burbank
Gary Burbank

When radio legend Gary Burbank moved to Cincinnati, he planned to stay for a year.

25 years later, one of the Queen City's most loved personalities is getting ready to retire, and this time he means it.

FOX19's Sheila Gray spend some time with Burbank in the studio.

"The characters are based on people that you know. Earl Pitts is my dad. My dad was this southern fella from Mississippi who, if you talked to him, and you walked away thinking that was the first time he ever wore shoes is his life, he would look away and say, 'Got him good.' He was a put on artist and he'd used to say when I'd get up in the morning, 'You know what makes me sick," explained Burbank.

Sheila asked Burbank who Gilbert Gnarley was.

"Gilbert's not based on one person," said Burbank. "Gilbert Gnarley's first name was Jim Scott because I saw a magazine and on the back it said, 'What kind of man drinks Dewars scotch?' and they had a phone number, and so I called it, taped it and I was talking like this, but I was drunk."

Burbank brought his cast of characters to WLW in Cincinnati 25 years ago, but on Dec. 21, he's taking his guitar and calling it a day.

Burbank grew up in Memphis in a story telling family. That's why no one really believed him when he had his first brush with fame. He was about 15, hitchhiking in Memphis with a friend, when a truck stopped to give them a ride.

"I get in and I'm trying to think of something cool to say and I get in and I'm just a kid and I say, 'you're Elvis aren't ya,'" Burbank recalls. "There was a girl and Elvis says, 'watch this.' He says, 'Hey baby,' and she looks and walks right into a pole. And Elvis says, Did you say that?' And we say, 'Yeah, Elvis that was cool, me, you David and Elvis, we cool."

Burbank went on to become a professional musician himself.

"I used to watch disc jockeys when they came into the gigs, and they'd always leave with the good looking women," said Burbank.

Fast forward about 40 years, and Burbank is ready to slow down.

"At this point I'm thinking okay, mid 60's, hey man if I don't do it now, in 5 years I may not be able to. Jim Scott will die behind the microphone. I prefer to be Thelma or Louise going off the cliff-- yee haw. I wanna see what's out there," he said.