There was a time in the late 1950s and early 1960s when two words spelled success and fun at dances for teenagers in the area.
"Wow, it's nice to know people still remember," Galiffa, a Monongahela native, said from his home in Lakewood, Calif., a scenic and busy city of 81,000 located 23 miles southeast of Los Angeles. "Those were great times. I always appreciated the opportunities to do the (record) hops with such wonderful young people and the folks who sponsored the dances. It was one of the best times of my life."
Now, more than 50 years after launching a successful career in entertainment, Galiffa continues to expand his horizons by taking the Horace Winkk Dusty Disc Network worldwide via an Internet streaming.
Horace Winkk is Galiffa's radio persona.
His popular oldies show has been airing the past four years on KCAA 1050 AM, which emanates from San Bernardino, and which covers over 200 cities as the 26th largest radio market in the United States. It airs Sundays from 5 to 7 p.m. and is available on the station's website. Internet surfers with webcams on their computers also can watch the show live.
"We've been blessed with a great response from listeners and viewers who tune in via the Internet," Galiffa, 72, said. "Some of them are people who used to attend our dances at such places as the Central Fire Hall in Elizabeth Township and the Italian Citizens Club in Monongahela and they have been very kind in recalling those great times."
Many -- especially those who live in the Mon Valley and the Pittsburgh area -- also recognized Galiffa's distinctive voice under the guise of Horace Winkk and "put two and two together."
"Several people called or sent emails saying, 'Hey, you sound like Dee Galiffa,'" he said. "Horace Winkk is just a name I chose out of the blue. It caught on and we kept it. But it's rather humbling to know that people still recognize my voice and the music. We play a lot of those rare Pittsburgh sounds as well as the standard oldies. The audience has responded very favorably to the mix."
The Internet streaming expansion will make the show available to an even larger audience. It features some 10,000 of Galiffa's signature oldies as well as tapes of other radio shows he has hosted over the years.
"We have all new equipment, it's truly sophisticated technology," Galiffa said. "Robb Pico, our IT (informational technology) specialist has been helpful beyond words in establishing the Internet network."
Among the archived interviews in Galiffa's collection are those with legendary disc jockey Wolfman Jack, West Coast radio personality Art Laboe, Zola Taylor of The Platters, Little Caesar and The Romans, Jewel Akins, Shirley and Lee, The Stereos, Lloyd Price, the Isley Brothers, Bo Diddley, Big Joe Turner, The Penguins, Sonny and the Premiers, Bryan Hyland, Johnny Otis, Etta James, Bobby Vinton and The Holidays. Most recently, he interviewed The Diamonds of "Little Darling" and "The Stroll" fame.
"I think we taped every interview and show we ever did," Galiffa said. "I've often looked at all of those tapes and wondered what the heck I was going to do with them. But they come in handy. When Johnny Otis died in January, for instance, I pulled the interview I did with him some 20 years ago and played it on our show. It brought back some great memories. Johnny was an incredible talent and a major force in the recording business."
Galiffa, the son of the late Frank R. and Dorothy Wallace Galiffa of Monongahela, hasn't limited his expertise as an interviewer to radio shows. He has produced and hosted television shows on such topics as equestrian events, legal matters, fashions, entertainment, gardening, food and recipes, travel, sports, household tips, antiques, karate, automobiles, art, pets, swing dance competitions and health, medicine and nutrition. He also presented Corona Now, Inland Report and Video Digest, all in the Los Angeles and Southern California markets.
His other radio shows have included About Town, Medicine and Nutrition and Cultural Perspectives.
He also produced and hosted golf tournaments at the Soboba Casino and Resort PGA facilities in San Jacinto.
As a young disc jockey, Galiffa worked some of the biggest dances in the Mon Valley for a number of years. His turntables were home to hits of the day at such places as the Italian Citizens Club (ICC) and the American Legion in Monongahela, the Cougar Canteen in Charleroi, the Italian Hall in Monessen, the Central Fire Hall in Elizabeth Township, and a wide assortment of other venues.
Galiffa, a 1957 graduate of Monongahela High School, where he was an outstanding athlete (basketball and baseball), (deleted concert band) also spun the discs at radio station WESA in Charleroi for several years.
"It was strictly an AM station, sunup to sundown, in those days," Galiffa said of WESA. "But it was a great place to learn the (radio) business. Carl Stewart was the station manager, I believe, and he was an excellent teacher and mentor. We did a little bit of everything including the news, weather and sports, as well as playing music. Carl taught us to understand that it was a lot more than just spinning records."
Galiffa, also a talented musician, also owned and operated a record and music store on Sixth Street near McKean Avenue in Charleroi. The business was located in a building that was razed with several others to make way for the new Charleroi Post Office, which opened on September 9, 1972.
"We had a cozy little store and sold records, sheet music, needles for phonographs and related items," Galiffa recalled. "That was a busy neighborhood. The (Coca-Cola) bottling plant was there, as were a flower shop, a restaurant and tavern (Ivan's), a jeweler and some other businesses. Bell Telephone had an office across the street and the Wellington hotel and restaurant was on the other side of McKean. Charleroi and the other towns in the Valley were really thriving in those days."
Memories of the Oldies abound
Dee Galiffa (center) interviews local law enforcement officers during one of his many community service television shows in California. Submitted
Experiences in entertainment and business in the Mon Valley were a plus for Monongahela native Dee Galiffa when he headed to the state of California in 1964 after graduating from California State College.
He transferred to California after studying at Geneva College in Beaver Falls and the University of Pittsburgh.
"I loved eating at Alfano's restaurant in California," Galiffa said. "They had great subs and pizza. I heard they closed several years ago and I was sorry to hear that."
He also remembers going to dances at such places as The Jumpin' Jive Bee Hive in Charleroi and the Italian Hall in Monessen. It was at those events that he decided he wanted to do more than dance or listen to the music. He wanted to be the music maker.
"There were some outstanding disc jockeys in the Pittsburgh area when I was growing up," Galiffa said. "Barry Kaye, Jay Michael, Porky Chedwick and Francis 'Slops' Delmastro were the guys I remember the most. Terry Lee came along a few years later. They were entertainers; that is, they did more than just play records. And they seemed like they were having such a good time. The kids loved them, not to mention the live entertainment they often brought to their dances."
Galiffa emulated those popular platter pushers at his dances, which he began in 1958, and also as a musician. He befriended and performed with many of the bands and singers who appeared at his shows. Among his favorites were the Stereos, a group from the Youngstown-Steubenville area in Ohio that gained regional acclaim with such hits as "The Big Knock" and "Sweet Pea's In Love."
"Because they (stereos) didn't want to travel back to Ohio late at night, they would often stay overnight at my home in Monongahela," Galiffa, who plays piano and guitar, said. "We'd jam into the wee hours of the morning, playing current songs and trying to come up with ideas for new tunes. We also talked a lot about music. They were a great bunch of guys."
Galiffa expanded the positive experiences and developed more lasting memories when he transitioned to California, where he has worked in radio and television and on stage for more than 42 years.
Among those with whom he has built friendships are musicians who performed with the Righteous Brothers, Sam Butera and the Witnesses and Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars at the Flamingo, Bally's, Tropicana and Stardust in Las Vegas.
"The first oldies artist I met when I came to California was Richard Berry," Galiffa said of the verstatile singer whose greatest claim to fame was the original R&B version of "Louie, Louie." "He was such a nice guy, always friendly and ready to perform. I enjoyed working with him."
Galiffa and his bands also shared stages in LaMirada, CA with The Penguins ("Earth Angel"), the Shirrelles ("Soldier Boy"), Big Joe Turner ("Shake Rattle and Roll"), Joe Houston ("All Nite Long"), Vern Green and the Medallions ("Buick '59"), Danny Flores and Chuck Rio of The Champs ("Tequila"), Ron Holden ("I Love You So") and Shirley and Lee ("Let the Good Times Roll").
One of Galiffa's favorite stories revolves around Shirley Mae Goodman, the female half of Shirley and Lee with Leonard Lee. They posted such hits as "Feel So Good" in 1955 and "Let The Good Times Roll" in 1956 and were crowd pleasers in live performances at The Bee Hive in Charleroi, The Onyx Club in Brownsville and the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh. Lee died at age 40 in 1976 and Goodman at age 69 in 2005.
"I had a '61 Corvette and Shirley really like that car," Galiffa remembered with a smile. "She kept bugging me to sell it to her and I finally relented because I wanted a boat. I really didn't want to get rid of the car but she was such a persistent lady. I sold the 'Vette to her, bought the boat and have regretted it ever since."
Galiffa also treasures the memories of a session with Robert Weston (Bob) Smith, who was better known worldwide as disc jockey Wolfman Jack. He was a key figure in American Graffiti, the 1973 movie about life in the Sixties, and also enjoyed a tv career before his death on July 1, 1995 at age 57 at his home in Belvedere, N.C.
"The Wolfman called me one evening to talk about working on some commercials with him," Galiffa said. "I was into tv production at the time and we agreed to meet at a studio in San Diego. I also was doing my four-hour nightly Horace Winkk Dusty Disc Show on KPRO 1570 AM out of Riverside then and asked if I might interview him sometime. He said, 'Let's do it now. You're here and I'm ready. Let the tape roll, old buddy.' Jack was such an interesting and entertaining man. The tapes from that interview mean so much to me because Wolfman Jack died a month or so later."
In addition to his work in broadcasting Galiffa also worked for many years as promotions manager for California PennySaver's statewide publication. In that capacity he was responsible for virtually all of the publication's promotional trades; negotiations for advertising with 40 to 50 radio stations and print media, and co-writing, voicing, producing and distributing radio commercials.
His current daily job is promotions manager for Zion Multi Media, a large Hispanic radio and tv advertising and production company in Downey, Calif.
That doesn't leave much time for Galiffa and his band, The Versatiles, to get out and play the oldies in clubs in his area.
"We do a few gigs a month," he said. "It's tough to get the old songs out of your mind. Not many stations out here use that format, so I just listen to some of my old tapes and remember those good times and good people in the Mon Valley and share the rare, hard to get dusty discs 24/7 at www.HoraceWinkk.com.