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Hidden Hobbies: Wayne Jancik

Friday, May 07, 2010

A man who helps children in need at his day job owns a music collection that numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

Jancik's collection started in 1956 with a Wanda Jackson record. The collection now includes a quarter million recordings.

Jancik is a clinical social worker for Chicago Public Schools, where his soothing voice is a comfort to tender young hearts.

"We listen to individuals that are hurting, and we advocate, listen, encourage. And to see them walk away hurting less than they hurt when they walk in the room is tremendous payment," Jancik said.

Born in Indiana but raised in Chicago, he relates to the loneliness and insecurities of so many students. He was a sickly child who missed a lot of school. Music became a constant companion, thanks to his dad, a truck driver who so wanted to give his son some joy.

"He found some place that had jukebox records for a nickel -- the little 45s -- and he would bring me a different one home each day," Jancik said. "And then I found the Top 40 charts, and I was fascinated as a pre-teen."

That gift lives on as he shares his passion with his own son, Matthew. Their vinyl family spans generations and genres. He loves the staples -- Johnny Cash, The Beatles, the blues -- but it's really the one-hit wonder that's an enduring fascination. Jancik has devoted articles an books to one-hit wonders.

"An awful lot of talented people never get the notoriety that they should have gotten," he said. "I was always interested in that and realized there was treasures to be found in what, you know, what's tossed off, the radio stations wouldn't play."

Femme fatales like Ann Margaret and Joey London, and no surprise that Tiny Tim and the Tulips made the list. But what about Lenny Kravitz, Roger Daltry and Janis Joplin? It's true, each only broke the top 40 once, but still the songs live on.

"Little Richard was sitting at a piano and popped in some little song and said he had come to peace with it, that the good lord gave him this gift to sing," Jancik said.

But for Jancik, there is always room for another turntable treasure.

"Part of the thrill for anybody who collects anything is you're looking for what you haven't found yet," he said.

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