Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Chillin' Wit' ... Gene Kolber, marketing maven

Gene Kolber, former emcee of Notre Dame Bandstand, outside his Dresher home. Daily News Staff / Bill Bender
Gene Kolber, former emcee of Notre Dame Bandstand, outside his Dresher home. Daily News Staff / Bill Bender

GENE KOLBER has a saying: "Life is a series of highways." Apparently, he likes to travel them all simultaneously.

When the former emcee of Notre Dame Bandstand, in Northampton County - "the Cadillac of record hops," he says - isn't water-skiing in the Schuylkill on one foot, he's cruising around the back bay of Ventnor on his WaveRunner.

"I'm out on that all the time," he says.

Or tending to the tropical-plant collection at his Dresher home. He had them flown in from Acapulco years ago.

"I see flowers all summer long," he says.

Or swimming. A couple of miles a week.

"Every day is exciting," said Kolber, who went by the name Gene Kaye when he ran the record hop at Notre Dame High School in the 1950s and '60s, attracting more than 2,000 kids on Saturday nights for 10 years.

On a recent Sunday, Kolber is sipping pink lemonade at the Olive Garden in Willow Grove and flipping through photos from his bandstand days.

Frankie Avalon. Fabian. Herman's Hermits. The Ronettes. Chubby Checker.

"We were the biggest teenage dance in America," Kolber says. "It was a legend. Everybody said, 'That's where I met my wife,' or, 'I met my boyfriend there.' "

He partnered with Dick Clark in an "American Bandstand"-themed restaurant.

Kolber, a Central High grad who broke freshman swimming records at Penn State, later became a vice president of the old World Football League's short-lived Philadelphia Bell. He also was a special-events coordinator and marketing director in the casino industry. These days, he runs Kolber Marketing.

His daughter, ESPN's Suzy Kolber, is kind of a fitness nut, too.

" 'Get in shape, stay in shape,' " he says, quoting his daughter. "I've never said to anybody I can't do anything because I'm too old."

Of course, he doesn't want anyone to know how old.

- William Bender


Chillin' Wit' is a regular Monday feature of the Daily News that spotlights a name in the news away from the job.

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