NEW YORK -- Disc jockey Scott Muni, a treasured voice of New York and national rock radio, was fondly remembered this week as a legend, a pioneer and a Marine in a funeral service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
Muni, affectionately known as "The Professor" for his encyclopedic knowledge of rock music, passed away on Sept. 28 at the age of 74. He entertained listeners in the nation’s largest radio market for almost 50 continuous years, before suffering a stroke this January.
Although he came to be widely recognized for his contributions to the popularity of progressive rock, Muni first caught on with an audience of his fellow Marines. He served in the Pacific in the early 1950s, hosting a show on Radio Guam titled "Dear John" in which he read letters of fellow servicemen who had been unceremoniously dumped by their girlfriends back in the States.
Muni launched his disc jockey career from there, hosting a program in Akron, Ohio, before gracing the New York airwaves in the late '50s on Top 40 WMCA-AM. In the early '60s, his evening shift at WABC-AM coincided with the height of Beatlemania, and Muni began a lifetime friendship with members of the band.
Breaking new ground in FM radio, "Scottso" jumped to WOR-FM, and then in 1967 to WNEW-FM, where he would spend the next 31 years of his career. As program director there, he led the way for the free-form radio movement, providing an outlet for the alternative music of the time which is now considered Classic Rock.
Muni's instantly recognizable raspy voice brought listeners countless interviews over the years with artists such as Mick Jagger, Pete Townsend, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder. From playing poker on-air with the Grateful Dead to reviving a passed-out Jimmy Page, the unflappable Professor became a major influence on future generations of DJs, and was renowned for his love of the music he played.
"He never got bored with what he was doing," said WAXQ drive-time disc jockey Ken Dashow, who worked with Muni for 17 years.
"He had this childlike fascination with radio and music, and loved 'talking to the troops,' as he put it."
The more than 500 colleagues, friends and fans of Muni who attended his funeral were treated to memories of his sense of humor and infectious love of life. He was eulogized by Carl Brazell, former president of Metromedia International Group, who called him a "giant among giants." Brazell also reminded the congregation that Muni would never allow others to call him an "ex-Marine," only a Marine.
As his flag-draped coffin left the church, there was no forgetting Muni's past service--the strains of the NYPD Pipes and Drums, playing the Marines' Hymn, made sure of that.