By Bob Anthony, Spectrio Creative Consultant
Chuck Varesko is yet another one of the ‘Renaissance people’ of Spectrio that you may not have only heard, but seen…and if you were part of the Philadelphia/South Jersey music scene in the late 70s/early 80s, you may have his records!
During his time at Penn State in the 70s, Varesko’s interests came together: While a disk jockey at PSU’s radio station, he became adept at production and scriptwriting along with announcing, and began writing songs “that now make me cringe.”
After a short time with a network of stations covering central Pennsylvania, it was off to Philadelphia and his first of two stints with rock station WIOQ: “I was moved to full time on the overnights and within short order I discovered this was a bad thing.” During his down time, Varesko became night manager and sound man at The Main Point, a hip Bryn Mawr music club that booked acts such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads (whom he got to share the stage with at a New Years Eve show) and many more.
He found his way back to WIOQ (now called ‘Q102’) as production manager--it was during this period that the musical side of Chuck Varesko blossomed; he backed musical comedy duo Meyer and Young (who went on to writing and producing careers in Hollywood) and formed power-pop band ‘The Guise,’ appearing on several recordings and on stages around Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey, rubbing shoulders with legends such as Dire Straits, Robert Fripp (King Crimson, David Bowie) and Cheap Trick.
After getting fired from Q102 again (“You’re not a broadcaster if you haven’t been fired at least twice”), Varesko not only put more of his energy into music, he became more involved with acting, with small roles ranging from movies such as Trading Places and Tin Men and TV programs Absolutely Fabulous (as a New York City transvestite!) to a spot in interactive mystery group Gaslight Mystery Theatre.
Naturally, there were several ‘brushes with greatness’ along the way; while Varesko was filming his first speaking role in Tin Men “Richard Dreyfuss walked up to me and introduced himself. He said I was doing a good job in the scene. I was delivering a subpoena to his character.” On the other hand, “After the Dire Straits show I had a chance to talk with Mark Knopfler and asked him for advice about my rock and roll aspirations. He said, ‘Don't quit your day job…’ That's show biz, folks.”
During the past several years, along with retaining an active role in the Philadelphia chapter of SAG-AFTRA, Chuck Varesko has been an active freelance voice talent, having logged several years with Audiomax, one of the companies that has come under the Spectrio banner. “I started working at Audiomax when it was called The Hold Company. Those were dark days of yore when reel to reel tape decks could be found lurking in the studios. If a mistake was made you actually had to rewind the tape and start over.”
Despite the more decentralized nature of the present business structure and the easier to navigate digital systems of today, He sees an interesting parallel with a previous era; “Some of the big shot morning DJs back in the '70s and '80s used to do their morning shows from their homes. Doing scripts for Spectrio is a lot like that. Roll out of bed, have some coffee and breakfast and start recording. Or I can wait till the evening and make it my last thing before sleeping.” By the way, He spent many years working with another familiar Spectrio voice—Dennis ‘R.D.’ Steele, who was producer of the syndicated Rolling Stone Magazine's Continuous History of Rock & Roll heard on FM radios all around the nation way back when!
Listen for yourself to see why we've named Chuck Varesko our Voice of Choice!