Stepping Out of His Father’s Shadow, Chris Ingram Makes His Own Mark in Radio

If you listened to radio between the mid 1960s and 1970s, there’s a good chance you were tuned to WABC. Even more likely, Dan Ingram kept you company on many of those afternoons. He was a constant at Musicradio 77 for 21 years, ending with the station’s switch to a talk format in 1982.

During that time, Ingram became widely recognized as the greatest Top 40 disc jockey of all time.

He has nine children spanning three wives (now married for a fourth time).

One of “Big” Dan’s children is Chris, who remains the most connected to radio.

Ingram, who got his radio start at WEEI in Boston, spent several years working behind the scenes at CBS Radio and TV as a writer and editor. (At WEEI, Chris met his now ex-wife, veteran WCBS-AM morning anchor Pat Carroll. The couple has two children together.) In the last decade, however, the younger Ingram made a career decision to become a DJ.

“Doing news really was making me sick because it was such a denial of who I was and what I wanted to do be doing.”

Ingram (below) says despite being a talented writer and producer, he couldn’t do the job for more than two years at a time. It was during one of those hiatuses, in 2002, that Ingram took a job in the Adirondacks. Starting out as news director, Ingram ultimately was named program director and DJ. 

So in 2003, his suppressed dream was fulfilled.

“The only template I had for how to jock was from what I had been listening to all my life, and idolizing all my life,” Ingram tells FishbowlNY.  

Thus began his radio career, taking what he absorbed over the years from his father.

“If you’re a plumber’s kid, you learn to plumb the way your dad does. If you’re a butcher’s kid, you learn to butcher the way your dad does.”

Instead Chris Ingram, 49, was able to grow up at the height of Dan Ingram’s WABC popularity. 

That provided enough of an influence to the younger Ingram for entrance into the “family business.”

“It wasn’t really consciously, ‘Well, my dad did it, and I’m going to do it,’ but it just made sense,” Ingram admits. “I was familiar with radio stations, first of all, and radio equipment, and I was comfortable around this like that.”

After working in the Adirondacks, Ingram headed for WVOS in the Catskills, where he’s been the morning man since 2008.

Earlier in his career, Ingram wanted to create his own path by distancing himself from his legendary dad. However, as time has gone by, he has become more willing to discuss his famous father.

Dan, 76, has been besieged by health problems in recent years, but Chris points out that he’s “real well.”

He says the patriarchal Ingram, who now lives in Florida, is constantly working at getting better, but remains as “sharp as a tack.”

Listeners recognize his greatness, and countless jocks credit him for the reason they got into the business. For Chris, though, who was reared in Oyster Bay, N.Y., it was different.

“There was kind of a two-part parent. We knew dad at home, who was my guy and taught me to edit on his knee at age eight or nine. …Then there was the Dan Ingram everybody thought of when they were singing his jingle to us in the hallway [at school],” Ingram recalls.

Ingram says those moments or others surrounded by “Big” Dan’s notoriety didn’t bother him.

“He’s my dad. I love him….People might think of you differently, have an image of you in their head, or their father, but that doesn’t really apply when you get home after school.”