Spring Forward... / by Erin Wade

So it's time for the time change again.

Twice a year - essentially every time this comes around - it makes me think of WLS Radio).

Now - not the current, talk filled version of WLS, but rather an older, more entertainment oriented version of the station, the version I grew up with out on the prairie. Every year, twice a year, if you happened to be listening at the right time, you'd come across a host earnestly reminding you of the time change, and just as earnestly telling you either to "spring back" or "fall forward".

This was Jake Hartford, who was a weekend and fill-in host at WLS for quite some time.

What would follow his initial statement about this would be a series of callers trying fervently to correct his "error". Their efforts would be met by some variation of this explanation:

Look, it's simple: when you compress a spring, it springs back, and when you fall, you usually fall forward. That's how you remember - spring back, fall forward.

This would always be delivered in a perfect deadpan, which clearly caused at least a portion of the listening audience to think that he believed what he was saying was true. This perspective probably accounted for about 2/3rds of the callers, and a final third were the folks who wanted to chastise him because he would confuse people and cause them problems in the morning. He was unrelenting in his absolute certainty of the memory device throughout.

Sadly, I could only find the very brief clip above, which proves that it happened, but doesn't offer any of the wonderful back and forth.

I found the entire thing delightful each and every time, and I've been known to repeat the gag and then tell the story about where I learned it from time to time (if, by "from time to time" one means every time change, because it is never not funny. Never).

Memory is a funny thing though - I've always remembered this routine as being done by John Records Landecker (his middle name truly is "Records"), another prominent WLS and Chicagoland radio host. Searching for a version of it for this article, though, I've learned that my memory clearly was off. Not only did I not recall this being Jake Hartford, I actually don't remember the name Jake Hartford at all. I listened to hours and hours of WLS growing up, and I clearly cemented this routine into my mind, but I don't recall him. No slight intended - it's just the vagaries of memory.

Jake Hartford - Real name Jim Edwards - died a few years ago. His obituary included the reference to the Spring back, fall forward routine. This is the only way I was able to find even the short clip. Hard to turn up something by him when you are always searching for John Landecker...