Monday, September 22, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 30r2

September 22, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 30
By Claude Hall

Jim Slone:  “I’ve just returned from my 60th high school class reunion in Portales, NM.  While there I helped take a few of my classmates through the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, NM (Clovis is 19 miles from Portales).  My classmates were enthralled as we toured the studio for two hours ... Kenneth Broad is executor of Norman's estate and conducts several tours a year.  Just prior to my appointment for the tour, a couple from Australia left.  It's amazing how many people come from all over the world to see the studios where such great hits as Buddy Knox (‘Party Doll’) ... Buddy Holly and the Crickets (‘That'll Be the Day’) ... Buddy Holly and ‘Peggy Sue’ ... Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (‘Sugar Shack’) and the String-a-Longs (‘Wheels’) ... along with many other hits were recorded.  I knew the studio intimately as I recorded 12 songs there.  The legendary Tommy Alsup (who lost the coin flip with Ritchie Valens), played guitar on my first record (recorded in May of 1958).  This was just a few days before Buddy heard him and hired him immediately to join his band.  Tommy is noted for his guitar at the beginning of ‘It's So Easy’ ... as you probably know, Tommy went on to make his mark in the music world.”

The late Jim (J. Paul Emerson) Coleman told me that he played drums for the Crickets at one point.  Bobby Vee sometimes featured a shtick in his show about the studio and one of his records featuring drumsticks on a cardboard box.  For those who might remember, Jim was a veteran journeyman in radio.  Disc jockey, news, music, programming.  One of the world’s nicest people.  Gone now.  I first met him on one of his “vacations” in Carlsbad, NM; he knew my father.  As for Norm Petty, I interviewed him for a story on one of his trips to New York back around 1964-65.

Chuck Blore:  “For the past few years ... no wait ... I could have said, should have said, for the past half-century I've enjoyed reading the writings of Claude Hall.  Every now and again, and again, and again, and usually in a highly complementary manner, you have written about something I have said or done.  Sometimes just a few lines, other times a couple of paragraphs, even entire columns have been about me, and one time I remember when it was almost a whole damn page.  The thing I treasure the most is the 'ode' you wrote that ends with:

“When they speak of media
Quietly, over toast and tea
In the long, long hours we see
They may not mention George
That’s okay, he won't mind
He’ll say, talk instead of Blore
He walked the path
Opened the door
Long before.

“I thank you Claude, with all my heart, for everything.”

I’ve been knighted!  What better crown than praise from the king?

Chuck Buell:  “For the thousands upon thousands of times that I exercised this one particular skillset over and over in my thousands of hours in Production Studios throughout my Radio Career, I love how Woody Roberts summed up the exact action steps so definitively and precisely just like an excellent piece of analog audio tape production when he wrote about, ‘a single-edged razor blade diagonally slicing a grease pen marked tape in a grooved aluminum block!’  Whew!  Says it all so concisely!”

In the 70s, as I recall, Bobby Ocean was known as “the Blade.”  I heard that time and time again.  The Blade.

Chuck Buell to Chuck Blore:  “I loved the story in Commentary for this week (#29) when Don Berns shared his studio voiceover recording experience with you regarding his reading of a piece of copy.  He said after a cold read, (You) ‘proceeded to tell me to turn it over and tell him what it said, which he then recorded for a more natural, less radio announcer result’.  At the risk of using a perhaps overused word, it's the only one that truly fits:  Brilliant!”

My personal opinion:  The Heisman Trophy should represent more than a football player who beats his kid enough to bring blood and a punk kid who is charged with rape, steals from local stores, and stands up in public and yells obscenities.  Heisman:  Take back those statues!  Help those crudheads get treatment.
Jay Lawrence:  “I am not certain, I thought I sent you this information.  I have been elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. There is no one running against me in the general so that's it.  It's a whole new life, I'll be the interviewee … different.”

Jay, if I slipped up, please accept my sincere apology.  I personally am not only pleased for you, but excited for you!  Go get ‘em!

Joe Smith:  “Larry … Sorry I missed responding to your notice of a visit to the Old Country was imminent.  Anytime you will be here I would gladly lunch with someone from Long Beach. I've never met any of the natives from there. Phone # 310 21 0711.”

Just FYI, the above note was to Larry Cohen who lives in Long Beach.

Don Whittemore:  “Another easy to read Commentary ... just technical enough for a promo man with a First Phone to comprehend.”

Heard from Sam Hale.  Still fighting the good fight.

Lyn Stanley, to whom I’d sent a Glenn Miller link provided by Don Sundeen:  “Hi, there, Claude!  So great to get a note from you.  I am smiling!  Will watch with great enthusiasm as soon as I can open the link you have sent me.  Happy to tell you my next album is nearly ready to launch.  We will begin a radio campaign the first of the year, but the physical product will be available in time for the holidays.  I think you know my new album, ‘Potions [from the 50s]’, is a tribute to composers of the 1950s and I included jazz standards as well as POP tunes (set to jazz arrangements).  Went for broke with recording on ANALOG tape, just like the 50s record producers would have done it.  Al Schmitt is the recording and mixing engineer on this one, Bernie Grundman is the mastering engineer, Kenny Werner is the producer (he worked for years with Betty Buckley).  I have already pre-sold 900 vinyl units around the world for this and have NO product (it is in production).  The SACDs (playable on CD players and SACD players as well) is a stereo hybrid and had it pressed at Sony in Austria.  It should be arriving in the US within the next week.  The vinyl is still at the test pressing stage and will take a bit longer since there is a huge surge in vinyl pressing purchases globally.  I will have an album release show on Nov. 8, 2014, at Upstairs at Vitello's in Studio City.  IF you happen to be in town, what a thrill it would be to have you there.  I am also having a private performance the next night, Nov. 9th, at my home in San Clemente with the same musicians -- Mike Lang on piano, Joe La Barbera on drums, RIckey Woodard on tenor sax and Mike Valerio on upright bass.  May ask Thom Rotella to join us, too.  Not sure yet.  My website has some samples from the new album.  But, the minute I have the SACD in hand, I will ask for your address and send it to you.  Lovely to hear from you, Claude!”

Ken Levine, once known as Beaver Cleaver on KHJ in Los Angeles:  “As many of you know, my new play ’A OR B?’ is being produced at the Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake from Oct. 15 to Nov. 16.  It’s a full Equity production in a beautiful theatre with a concession stand.  Tickets go on sale today.  Here’s where you go:
Or you could call the box-office at 1-818-955-8101.”

After radio, Ken became a very successful TV writer and director.  My personal regards, Ken.  And to the rest of you in driving distance, it would be nice to catch this play.  Knowing Ken, a great humorist, it has to be good.  If it isn’t, let me know and I’ll sic my wife’s Chihuahua on him.

Art Wander:  “Don Berns’ deserved praise of Chuck Blore peaked my curiosity … especially when he mentioned his favorite artist Harry Nilsson and his research on him.  Let me add my involvement with Nilsson.  In early 1967 as program director of WOR-FM, I decided to add a song to the list that impressed me.  In March of ’67, a person came to the station, introducing himself as Nat Weiss.  I didn’t seem impressed until he told me he represented the American arm of the Beatles and that Brian Epstein was wondering who the artist was on a song we were playing.  I went through record after record with him until he said, ‘I think that’s it’.  The song was ‘Without Her’ by Nilsson on RCA.  He thanked me on behalf of Brian Epstein and I said, I sure would love to meet The Man.  He said that he would try to arrange it.  Lo and behold on the following Saturday in March 1967, I was told that Brian Epstein would be visiting the station.  I called Murray the K with the news and he definitely would also be there.  Brian Epstein told me that when he heard ‘Without Her’ he was interested to find out if he had any record agreements (which he did.)  We talked about Nilsson, all positive.  I asked if he would consent to an interview.  He agreed. Murray did the interview.  Epstein then pulled out an acetate saying this was one of the cuts from the next Beatles album.  When we heard it, I was overwhelmed.  There was no title to the song or the album.  A week or so later, I received the following letter from Epstein.  Imagine, my friendship with Brian Epstein would never have happened if not for Nilsson.”

And Art included a copy of a letter from Brian Epstein, 1967, addressed to WOR-FM, New York.

Mel Phillips:  “I thought it would be interesting for all your readers to learn something about the system they're reading this piece on.  The World Wide Web (the www that precedes every URL) was actually invented by someone not named Al Gore, The person who invented the web was Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist.  Berners-Lee sent the first email using a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) in November of 1989 making the web 25 years old this year.  For this achievement he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.  If you're wondering how Berners-Lee feels about net neutrality -- he's for it and so should all of us who already have too many government regulations.  Here's what Berners-Lee said about the subject, ‘Threats to the internet, such as companies or governments that interfere with or snoop on internet traffic, compromise basic human network rights’. BTW, the first website was the late and truly great communicator Paul Harvey, ‘And now you know the rest of the story’."

Ron Jacobs:  “The URL you list for your latest book goes to generic Amazon home page … thus not specific at all.  I made this ‘tiny URL’ that will take users directly to book you are plugging.”

“This is how I index/display my blogs:
Check it out.  We were using computers at KGB, San Diego, for research, traffic, music control in 1972, btw.  PS – ‘faunch’?  Not in dictionary.”

Ron, when you faunch as much as I do, you’re sorta glad it’s not in any dictionary.

Gary Bridges:  “Aye, Claudius!  As a reader and fan of more than 40 years, I jumped at the chance to purchase your new eBook, and went directly to Amazon.  But perhaps I should have taken it more seriously when you said, in your Commentary, ‘I wrote it with the intention of becoming rich and famous’.  I’ll merely offer the comparison below and leave it to you to decide if there’s any adjustment to be made.”

I don’t think so, Gary.  They’re charging $24.99 for even bad books.  I’ve said a great deal in “Hellmakers.”  The book could get panned … I’ll admit that.  But it’s certainly worth $49.95 to the general public.  Tell you what I’ll do.  Anyone who reads Commentary buys “Hellmakers” and lets me know and I’ll send them the eBook “Radio Wars.”  My compliments.  Chuck Blore loved these radio tales.

My son John says: “’Hellmakers’ is definitely one of your best, if not the best.  Literature.  Not lite reading that is fun to read.”

Don Berns:  “Here's something that may be of interest to your readers. The filmmaker is actually my former voice agent. If the trailer is any indication, the film will look very good indeed.  Roger is looking for distribution for this, so anybody who has any suggestions, I'll be happy to pass them along.  I know Harvey Weinstein from the voice work I did for him when he was starting out in Buffalo, but actually getting a hold of him is about as difficult as getting a radio job for a company that gives a crap about the art of the business.”

George Hamilton IV has passed on.  77.  Heart attack.  I met him once in his Nashville days.  Loved “Abilene.”  A very nice guy.  We come, we do, we go.

Chuck Dunaway:  “My brain goes on vacation periodically. My breathing is not good and I may have to go back into the hospital for the fifth time in the past four months for more tests.  I’m not complaining, but I’m ready to feel a whole lot better.  My bypass surgery went fine, but the complications afterward have been a mess.  Not complaining though. I’m so happy to hear you’ve hit a good number and are doing OK ... can’t expect better than being on the right side of the ground.  Take care my old friend.”

About the Chuck Blore ode mentioned far above.  There were five verses.  The George mentioned was George Wilson, a devoted disciple of Chuck Blore.  Ron was mentioned, too.  I wrote four poems about this time.  One for the late Larry Shannon regarding the historic cabin, a monument at 19 Pines where he lived; he framed it and placed it on the wall; if God wills, it will be there as long as the cabin exists.  I wrote one dedicated to George Wilson, one of my greatest friends.  He asked me to write something for his Jackie (they later married and Rob Moorhead, son of the late L. David Moorhead and son-in-law to George) tossed a wedding reception for them here at the house.  And I wrote a poem/ode dedicated to Chuck Blore.  Took weeks upon weeks!  How do you get his formula promotion and his enormous amoeba promotion into a poem?

Bobby Ocean:  “All this TALK about knives and no pictures!  Still, Claude, your words DID move me to send you the following.  I have been a knife collector through several marriages, many more radio stations, my entire Claude-hood, for sure.  My favored brand is Pro Tech automatic cutlery.  I started out with one of their $400 ‘coffins’, so called by fans because of the similar shaped handle; real name Pro Tech Godfather. They can be costly but I occasionally would hit a particularly good rating or land a nice client and treat myself.  Once I had about three, all designs I chose.  Prices and designs can fly up into the thousands mark in a blink.  Writing this note to you, I just saw one online for $8,000.  That knife design lasted YEARS before one of the founders, S. Brand, designed another.  As soon as I heard, I leaped online and grabbed one; it was one of the first 200 Pro Tech made. Mine is #197.  (I wasn't the only one interested.)  The ‘auto’ demonstrated with the push of a button.  Pro Tech simply called the new one ‘Brand Auto’ and, yes, it sounds like a car you compare the good one to.  But it's named after its designer, Brand, and the Auto stands for ‘automatic’.  When you push the button, hold on to that knife, Claude: it pops out of the sleeve with a nice loud metallic ‘clack’.  I LOVE the phrase automatic cutlery. Pass that one on to Lee Baby.  Just a gentleman's refined manner of saying ... switchblade.  Been loving the Commentaries.”

Bobby, as a collector, you put me – and I suspect, Lee Baby Simms – to shame.  My congratulations to you!  Just FYI, I found my little Japanese throwing blade in a drawer and it’s now beside the switchblade Lee Baby Simms gave me on a bookcase in the living room.

I study the stars almost every day.  Beautiful pictures
on this laptop sent to me by my son John.  If there’s
not a God, what a pity.  However, I believe
that a power greater than anything I can conceive actually exists
and guides the stars and all that exists, including
me.  I also believe this power loves me and you and all.  And
I believe in prayer.
May God bless us.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 29r2

September 15, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 29
By Claude Hall

Rednecks will hate my new novel and burn crosses in my front yard.  I’m safe, though.  Only because it’s a well-known fact that rednecks can’t read.  And, otherwise, not comprehend anything above a second-grade book about Spot chasing Cat.  Thus, no cross out there.  Anyway, I have no front yard.  Just a patio.  And the gate stays locked except when a friend is dropping by.  Lord, but I miss George Wilson; he and wife Jackie were always coming by.  But Jews will think it’s a book attacking Judaism and Christians will really faunch, thinking I’m insulting God.  Heck, everyone is going to raise a ruckus.  Blacks, too.  If they read it.  The eBook is with Books now.  And Woody Roberts the first day bought a copy.  Says he likes the cover by Bill Pearson.

I intended to finish this book years ago.  A whole bunch of things, including radio, got in the way.  I wrote it with the intention of becoming rich and famous.  Bill Randle once told me he’d earned $2 million by going against the grain.  “Hellmakers” definitely goes against the grain.  Back in the 60s and 70s, an editor at Knopf promised to read the book.  He died long ago on me.  I think his name was Ashbel Green, but this was a long time ago.

It’s the last serious book that I shall write.

Bill Hatch:  “I don't know how I got included in the distribution list for your Commentary pieces, but I'm tremendously happy to receive them.  I was an avid consumer of your Billboard column from my earliest radio days in the 1960s.  Your statement about an affinity for knives reminded me of a local company here in Idaho (not Buck, although they are now in Post Falls) that does excellent work.  You can see their stuff here.  Feel free to share it with Lee Baby.  He and I worked together at KCBQ for a short while in the immediate pre-Buzz Bennett days. I'd send it to him directly but don't have his contact info.  I was interested to read that he now lives somewhere near (or in) San Francisco.  I left there in '73 to return to Idaho after having worked at KYA, KFRC and KSFX.  I have ceased to be amazed at how small the world really is.  Thanks again for your Commentary. I look forward to seeing it each week.”

Just FYI, Les Garland wrote that his girlfriend Meris is into knives and owns a Randall.  Sent me photo of the knife.  Well, at least we know who’s boss in that house!

Mel Phillips: Hi, Claude, with Joe Smith still fresh on my mind, thanks to my friend Bob Sherwood's great description of a few of his past hosting comments, I offer this open letter to Joe which contains an offer to Jose as he was once referenced when he started out in Boston radio. As anyone who has seen Joe in action will agree, Joe is simply the greatest roaster in show business. Joe hosted the 25th anniversary of WRKO in Boston and I'd like to get him back for our 50th:  Open Letter to Joe Smith: In 2017, WRKO will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Boston. You did such a sensational job in emceeing our 25th anniversary that I have put together several incentives to convince you to come back for #50. Here they are (in no particular order): A tour of Hoods Dairy in Lynnfield, A lobster dinner at Locke-Ober's, A year's supply of Parker Rolls from the Parker House (of course), a visit to John H. Garabedian's Open House Party studios, a 1-year subscription to the Boston Phoenix, a tour of Jon Landau's Bruce Springsteen Museum in Jon's basement. We promise to play all your radio jingles again and finally, your likeness will be sculpted in the New England Sand Sculpting Festival on Revere Beach, followed by a live performance starring Freddie Cannon. If this is not enough, I'll even introduce you first, before thanking all the former employees of WRKO.  And this time I won't introduce the hotel busboys before you come on, as you mentioned on the 25th anniversary.  Please consider...Mel Phillips.”

Just FYI, I enjoy Mel’s blog.  Here’s a sample of his blog on Friday:

“NAB president Gordon Smith has issued a challenge to the music business. Smith, speaking in Indianapolis said the National Association of Broadcasters is ready to go ‘head-to-head with the record labels...’
(For the rest of the story):”

I.e., an alert to a potential big mess!  Scary.

Chuck Buell was kind enough to send me the email address of Hal Moore.  Appears as if I had it wrong.  My thanks, Chuck.

Bob Crewe, famous for producing the Four Seasons, has died at his home in Scarborough, ME.  He was 83.  Interviewed him once in the 60s.

Woody Roberts in a letter to Lee Baby Simms:  “Harvest moon 2014 has come and gone.  Your fab black tomatoes have completed their season in the sun and passed through your digestive system.  And now it is time for Woody to claim his ripe tunas.  I'm sure you see the green tunas at the local markets next to the green prickly pear pads.  As Claude might remember the ripe ones turn purple/black and are delicious fruit.  Their seeds are about the size of kiwi fruit seeds.  One major difference between tunas and tomatoes is (I believe) they have more spines.  So it's best to soak them overnight before wiping and shaving them off the surface.  I don't eat the outside, but after refrigeration I cut in half and scoop out the nutrient-rich kinda sweet pulp.  Some people juice them but I am too lazy to have a juicer to clean everyday, tried it, whada a hassle.  Wish you were here to help me eat up the crop, hundreds within walking distance.”

Just FYI, I read a master’s extended paper back when I was in college that contained an avid description of Tejas Indians gathering to feast and party on those “fruits” of the prickly pear cactus.  The writer was under the impression those things were hallucinogenic.

Bob Walker: “Cosimo Matassa, the legendary recording engineer and studio owner who helped introduce and shape New Orleans' early rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll sound and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recognized with a Grammy for his efforts, died Thursday. He was 88.”

Cosimo’s studio was famous in the early 60s when I worked on the Times-Picayune.  Musicians used to gather at his studio after midnight to jam.

Lee Baby Simms, speaking of Texas to Woody Roberts:  “There is just something about that part of the world.  I tease you about it, but it’s special!
I spent little more than a year there, yet it has informed my every day since.  VIVA San Antoino!  VIVA Austin!  VIVA Texas!”

“Your Friend, B-Doe ... ‘But the man has been there 11 years!  First gig.  Can you imagine’.  Sure, I can imagine it but I cannot relate to it.  My first 11 years in the businesses I had 15 (16, 17 -- I could them count them, but I won`t) jobs at a dozen (more? -- I could count them, but I won`t) stations.  Radio was often a very hard way to make a living, you either loved it and you stayed with it or you didn`t and you left it.  I loved it!  I wouldn't change a thing.  I have been blessed my whole life.  Really.  All is well today up here on The Hill.”

Don Berns: “Let me sing the praises of Chuck Blore -- but not as a programmer since I never had the pleasure of working for him on the radio.  Instead, when he and I were both hired to create some commercial other circa 1975-76 when I was at KLIF and he was flown in from LA, I was placed at the mic in a huge studio (TM?) and way across the room and slightly elevated sat Chuck in the producer's booth.  After cold reading the copy for him he then proceeded to tell me to turn it over and tell him what it said, which he then recorded for a more natural, less ‘radio announcer’ result.  As I moved more and more into the voiceover arena throughout the years (even doing some work for his partner, Don Richmond when I was out of the radio biz for a while in LA), I never forgot that lesson ... and when I speak to broadcast classes today, I often bring it up as one of the two most important lessons I learned whilst climbing the ladder to mediocrity. ;-)  So now, in public, let me thank the master for those words of wisdom all those years ago.  PS -- Thanks for the Nilsson story, Walt Pinto.  I'm currently reading his bio and finding out much more than the fine doc, ‘Who Is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everybody Talking About Him’, even gave us.  Now I can add your info to what I am learning about my favorite artist from the 60s.  It helps make up for that prank you played on me at WDRC lol.”

Larry Cohen:  “Did you receive my E pertaining to Jack Gale? A great guy!!!  Somehow, please let him know that I have never forgotten my first road trip to WAYS.”

Woody Roberts in a note to Jim Ramsburg:  “In my collection of old media books I have a copy of ‘Radio Dramatics, Instruction Lectures’ by Ruth Carmen, 1937, John C. Yorston Publishing Company.  In my brief stint as a somewhat humorous and fun-loving drivetime personality her lecture ‘Approach to and From the Microphone, According to the Reading of the Script’ was quite helpful.  Of course, also Robert Orben's ‘How to Write Comedy’ (which I still have) and those hilarious KFWB airchecks of Gary Owens.  PS -- When I was hired as GM for KTSA Dec. 1967 (age 26) owner Bernie Waterman gave me a copy of ‘A Pictorial History of Radio’ by Irving Settel, 1960, Grosset & Dunlap, filled with marvelous photos.”

Woody Roberts in a note that concerned Ken Dowe and John Barger and several others along the way:  “I’ve just got off the phone with Chuck Dunaway.  Ken, that email address is good, and John, the phone number you sent is current.  It was early March when Chuck emailed me saying he would be out of contact and going in for triple bypass.  After four months of not hearing and no response to my emails I got worried.  But with Bill Young and Ken Grant departing this year I have no 'old days of radio' contacts in the Bayou City.  Ken Grant was a mentor when I was in eleventh grade and filed records for him at KNUZ.  Chuck has been in the hospital four times this year and now sleeps with an oxygen tank, but he was in good spirits and we laughed a lot.  His wife Kendall has been a saint.  He said, toward the end, Bill Young didn't even recognize his family but when Chuck would visit once a week he'd recognize him.”

Woody Roberts to Dr. Bob: “One dream not realized: I fantasized doing ‘Under Milk Wood’ for NPR or other such quality network, using most talented of dramatic actors.  I would often myself read the part of Captain Cat aloud for the satisfaction of saying the words.  ‘Embers’ too was a dream to do.  The closest I ever got to a radio play for voices was creating and producing a 40 hour radio special for TM Productions in Dallas to nationally syndicate.  That was 1981 and I named the program ‘Platinum Meltdown’, 'twas about a bookkeeping computer who takes over a radio station and tells the listeners -- Vocoder multivoiced by Yours Truly -- it will play only Platinum certified albums A to Z.  The mix, as you might imagine, frightened a lot PDs --what?  Arrowsmith with Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd and Elvis and Donna Summer and Waylon Jennings and Springsteen?  Dozens of artist comments edited from interviews were peppered throughout.  DJs from all over the USA flew in to help the station take back the music: Cousin Brucie, Allison Steele, Rick Dees, Gary Owens, Casey Kasem, Wolfman Jack ... with set breaks for local personality interaction as they also tried wresting back their control from the manacle computer.

“Productionwise, I used 16 tracks and mixed it on the first pre-set automatic mixing console in Texas; the show had so many elements having varied amplitude levels it would have been impossible to mix otherwise. To max the music I pushed it by recording two tracks for each stereo track and mixing the four back to two.  Like you might do with the bass when recording a band.  A major unforeseen problem was the poor quality of the recycled vinyl.  Even a brand new disc taken from the shrink-wrap would have pops and clicks.  Too short to get out punching an electronic edit at that time -- pre Mac and Pro Tools -- so it had to be done by razor blade, tedious, tedious.  Quickly I bought a gizmo that looked like a pre-amp but was really a de-popper.  Expensive for that day but saved more than its cost by cutting our studio time.  However, even it couldn't get them all, at the finis it got down to that ol' single edged razor blade diagonally slicing a grease pen marked tape in a grooved aluminum block.  Not too many guys got to create those long-forms during that era started in 1969 by Ron Jacobs and Bill Drake's ‘History of Rock & Roll’.  A strange radio cadre I belong to.
“’Finnegan's Wake’: Reading late one winter's night I got so frustrated anger overtook me -- I suddenly leapt from my chair and stomping my feet threw the book into a flaming fireplace, shortly I came to my senses and retrieved it and to this day the red cover has a black charred oval in its center.  Too much Irish whiskey and living alone can do that to you.  Kind of fit with the spirit of the novel.  That would be 1980 residing in a cedar log cabin on a hilltop west of San Antonio and my office was 15 miles away, downtown by The River.  I had worked on reading that book a decade or more.  Awake at 2 a.m., temp 79, full moon.”

Woody Roberts to Chuck Dunaway:  “Great to hear your voice and share a few laughs this afternoon.  Ken Dowe says ‘Hi’ and he sent me your email, John Barger sent your phone number.  Claude Hall contacted them when he knew I was trying to reach you.  You are loved.”

Chuck Dunaway in a note to Woody Roberts:  “Meant to tell you that pets adopt us ... Tuffy put his little paws out to reach for me when the nurse brought him out of the back of the animal clinic ... your dog found you and adopted you because he knew that you would make a nice caretaker of his delicate life. Our pets are so precious.  My Tuffy keeps me company and looks at me like no other pet we’ve ever had. The fact that I have to give him his medication every day at 4 makes him extra special.  If you see an email with a time stamp of 3 or 4 a.m., you’ll know I’m up feeding Tuffy.  Life is great.  Take care and keep in touch.”

If you’d like to wish Chuck Dunaway well, I’m more than willing to pass along your note.

I wish all of you well.  And prayers
are also in order for Alice Harnell, who goes
soon into the hospital for an operation.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Claude's Commentary.28r2

September 7, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 28
By Claude Hall

A few of you may know that Lee Baby Simms and I are into knives.  What we can afford.  Are you aware of the price of a Randall these days?  (I’m just kidding; there’s even a six-month waiting list for these custom-made blades even if we could afford one).  Lee recently sent me a switchblade.  I recently sent him what I think was a deer knife (I’ve had it more than three dozen years; I think it is more for skinning than killing).  Neither Lee nor I have a deer handy anyway.

For my anniversary, my beautiful wife Barbara bought me a KA-BAR army knife.  An uncle carried one of these during World War II.  This is a proud knife.

My treasure is a Bowie given to me by the late Larry Shannon of  He owned an identical Bowie.  His knife stayed in his Chevy pickup.  My knife stays on a bookcase at the foot of my bed.  I was quite fond of a German throwing knife that was stolen when my Buick was raided; it was on many camping jaunts with Bobby Vee and his family and Joey Reynolds and his wife and two daughters.  Opened many a can of beans.  I bought that knife in the 60s.  I now have a nice little Japanese throwing knife that I purchased in the 70s.  And, of course, some knives that are more or less junk.  Not my Buck pocketknife, of course, even though it was made in China and not by the legendary family.  Some of these knives have graced my fiction.  My wife Barbara thinks she will buy me another throwing knife for Christmas.

One of my birthday gifts was some sourdough bread from Lee Baby Simms.  Boudin, San Francisco.  You cannot imagine how much I appreciated this gift.  I was like a kid at Christmas.

Bob Sherwood:  “Dear Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claude.  Whilst your piece on Joe Smith was typically accurate on all counts I must note a couple of omissions.  Joe was, of course, head of Elektra but his pinnacle of record industry brilliance was as president of the Warner label where ‘the Mo & Joe Show’ -- including Fast Eddie Rosenblatt, Lenny Waronker and the fabulous A&R staff -- created and marketed some of the absolutely best music ever made in the 60s & early 70s.  And I saw it from both sides.  First as recipient of their output when I was programming radio stations and then later when I was doing promotion at Columbia and fighting against them for airplay.  Also, Joe had no peer when it came to MCing industry events over the decades.  There are certainly hundreds of memorable one-liners and intros that flowed from that most creative of minds but there are two that stand above all of them for me for excellence in delivery, time and place.  The first in the early ‘80s when there were four tiers of industry guests of the highest stature at the annual Martell Dinner.  Joe was working his way through in his usual entertaining fashion when, half way through the third tier, he suddenly paused upon noting the presence of his fellow Warner Group label head, Sire’s Seymour Stein.  ‘And now we have Seymour Stein’. Pausing, he looked again at Seymour then back at the audience.  ‘Seymour Stein … is to the record business what surfing is to Kansas’.  At which point, virtually everyone in the room either went face first in their soup or out of their chair and onto the floor.  The other classic of classics occurred at another Martell dinner.  This in the early ‘90s when the business remained able to command a full-house in the biggest rooms in NYC.  In this one Clive was being honored for the second time.  Joe couldn’t be there so he sent a video.  In it he first apologized for not being able to join his fellow industry associates in honoring Clive yet again.  He then stated that he felt the need to send a video of his congratulations and also to address the rumors of Clive, his birth and the manger in Bethlehem.  Pause.  Room erupts.  Those not convulsed were either deaf as a post or dead drunk.  At some point, when Joe left the business, a glorious light went out.”

I agree.  I was once in Australia for a media convention at which Joe Smith was the major speaker.  The evening before, we’d toured the harbor on a boat with some of the key people, Joe gleaning information.  The day of the talk, he tossed his quips on at least three people.  No response.  Then he went after me and the Aussies knew my name and they realized he was being funny and erupted and Joe owned the night and they’re probably still chuckling in Australia.  Joe does, indeed, have a gift.  A wonderful, wonderful man and we’re fortunate to have him around.  He gave sense and survival to the record and radio businesses.  A very, very special man.

Joey Reynolds:  “We have lost a legend.  CES founder and decorated U.S. veteran Jack Wayman, 92.  I have tried to access the Consumer Electronics thoughts and prayers page for Jack but to no avail.  Even in Heaven jack has a screener and a block on his calls.  CES keynotes, conferences, lunches with big shots and talks with the little schnooks who will soon be the big shots have given me the gift of an extension course of life.  Jack introduced me to the concept that I don't know that much ... so ‘confine your talk to the radio and TV where nobody knows that much!’  He was a media pioneer in an electronic 3-ring circus and mostly my mentor.  When I lived with Jack we took many trips to his favorite geography spots, the Hudson Valley, Rosie O'Donnell's house in Nyack, the place where Washington crossed the river, and the ships left with the troops for WW2 instead of the NY harbor which would have been obvious, the Rockefeller estate, the barn where Obama’s chef got married the other day, the damn at Croton which supplies the water to NY city,(thank you Robert Moses), FDR's home and the place where Eleanor lived with her girlfriend, Helen Hayes hospital for seniors, and the bar in the hotel at West Point, the best place to watch the football games.  We spent time at West Point with the new officers and with astronaut Scott Carpenter at the Presbyterian Church every Sunday in Tarrytown where Jack had mapped out his funeral, including hiring the choir, the minister, and wrote the liturgy, he made plans to be buried next to his mom and dad in that place on the Hudson.  Jack was a one of a kind who in his 90s roughed it during Hurricane Sandy with no heat or power cause in WW2 he ate dirt to survive and this was no big deal.  I lost a great friend who behind the scenes shaped the electronics industry, while in front of the curtain he was a great salesman.  Jack was one of my heroes.”

Chuck Knapp:  “One of the best behind the mic was taken by a sudden heart attack last Saturday night while sitting with his wife on the couch.  Dan Donovan is gone at age 73.  I first worked opposite him while in Boston when he was on WMEX and I on WRKO.  I got to work with him at WFIL and then hired him twice at KS95.  He was loved by so many people.  He was inducted in the Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006 and also featured at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum Radio exhibit.  His obit is published today in  "Call for Dan Donovan," perhaps the best show open for the "hardest working jock in show business" as Dan referred to himself.  Gone but never forgotten.”

Jim Ramsburg;  ‘Hey Claude: We lost another one.  Word just reached Florida that Blaine Harvey died of a heart attack in the Twin Cities on August 31 at age 73.   He was better known for over half a century as Dan Donovan beginning at WICE/Providence, WCBM/Baltimore, WMEX/Boston and WFIL/Philadelphia.  He came to KSTP-FM/Minneapolis-St Paul in 1979 and moved to KOOL-FM in the Twin Cities in 1991.  He was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in 1996.  To the end his voice was strong and he was a great jock of the good time rock n roll school.”

Larry Cohen:  “It's Labor Day eve & I'm just checking my emails.  If you’re not aware of the following which I just opened, please feel free to use any of the info' in your column.  Don Cannon was music director at one time at WIBG in Philly & worked under Dean Tyler who was PD.  I believe that I first met Dan Donovan in Hartford, CT (I’m pretty sure), but I knew him so well when he was at WFIL in Philly.  He was a terrific human being & an incredible talent.  Don Cannon was so well liked & a great friend to the record people in Philly.  He really cared. I have (somewhere) a photo of Don Cannon, Don McClean (‘American Pie’) & myself taken at WIBG a lot of years ago, keeping in mind that I've been living in California some 38 years.  Shoot me an email if you would like to have it.”

I would dearly love to have any and all such pictures for my files.  Can’t promise to print it, but such a photo would mean a great deal to me.

We come, we do, we go.

Joel O'Brien, Randolph, VT, send me a link to a Roger Carroll show for the Air Force.  I listened.  Smooth delivery, highly fascinating.  Great on you, Roger.

Danny Davis:  “Claudie-ola! (Much like the 'gladiolas', good grooming for the 'garden-ers!  I just heard from John Doumanian.  Got to be a 'just happening'!  He saw the noon, off Broadway production of a musical, just premiered of Bert Berns musical life! Has the same kind of treatment, obviously, that kicked off ‘Jersey Boys’!  (Bert's 'label' was Bang Records, right?) Evidently the show pays tribute to some fifty-one hit compositions Bert's talent gets paid on! Whatta' business it was … and is!  (And my Mom only spoke of 'doctors, lawyers, dentists, and (maybe?) chiropractors!)  (Mom was from the old country!)”

Roger Carroll:  “What is this Danny Davis talking about?  He doesn't make sense.  I was a network ABC staff announcer (I was 18 years old) in Los Angeles on ABC radio network for three hours daily replacing Paul Whiteman, playing records after noon traffic 3-6p on KABC. Twenty-two years playing records on one of the most successful radio stations in the country --  KMPC.  AFRTS 26 years, syndicated 15 years.   Jack Gale and I go back a very long time.  Jack is very talented and has an outstanding career. Jack lost his wife Lovey, I also lost my wife Beverly … we were married almost 60 years.  Mr. Davis I also announced many TV Shows Smother Bros Comedy Hour, Pearl Baily specials, Perry Como specials, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Bing Crosby specials, Herb Alpert TV specials, Bobby Darin just to name a few TV shows.  Also some great promotion guys I know -- Jerry Moss, Don Graham, George Russell.  Claude, normally I would not respond to this Davis guy but what the hell.”

No worry, Roger.  Danny means no harm.  I enjoy having him around.  And, just FYI, Barbara and I spent an evening with George and Tess at their home on the beach.  He was an amazing guitarist!  I probably still have that cassette he gave me somewhere.  And I consider Tess one really special person to this day!  Her and Gertie Katzman.  Amazing people!

Walt Pinto:  “Two quick comments:  Don Kennedy ... you really nailed it with your post.  Nobody does anything today but stare at the screen on their phone.  Claude ... certainly do remember Tony Richland.  Is everyone aware that Harry Nilsson paid tribute to Tony with the song ‘Mr. Richland's Favorite Song’?  It's on the ‘Aerial Ballet’ CD.”

Don Berns: “If you have a minute, would you mind NOT sending Walt Pinto my email address? ;-)  He pulled one of the all-time greatest pranks on me when I'd been in the business for all of 5 minutes and I'm still waiting for my revenge."

Jim Ramsburg:  “Thanks for the plug today - I'm always looking for new readers at   So far in 2014, ‘GOld Time Radio’ has accounted for more than 30,000 visitors and 36,000 page hits.  A recent question in your comments asked if Herb Oscar Anderson ever worked at WOKY in Milwaukee.  I first met Herb in 1956 when he was The Morning Mayor of The Twin Cities and I was the new kid on the block at Todd Storz' WDGY/Minneapolis.  (HOA from 6-9 and Jack Thayer from 9-12 - how's that for a weekday morning lineup?).  The WOKY question got me curious so I contacted Herbie and he gave me his cross-country itinerary that led to WABC:  WCLO/Janesville WI; WROK/Rockford IL; WDBO/Orlando FL: KICM/Mason City, IA; KWCR/Cedar Rapids IA: KSTP/Minneapolis-St Paul, WDGY/Minneapolis-St Paul, WBBM/Chicago, ABC Radio Network/New York, WMCA/New York and WABC.  Doncha just love them overnight success stories?”

T. Michael (Tom Nefeldt) Jordan:  “Hope you are having a wonderful birthday, and have many more.  Thank you for the pleasure you’ve given radio folks over the years, and helped many (like me) find employment, when times got rough.  All it took was a mention in Vox Jox.  I’ve been out of business for many years, but it is still my first love.  I left it because I saw the writing on the wall (mic), the business was changing, and I didn’t like where it was going.  But I had a fun-filled career at stations like KKDJ, KDWB, KEZY, KROY, WLOF, KIRL, KYSN, KFIF (became KIKX), K/MEN and many more.  Another thank you for getting us all together again on a weekly basis with your newsletter.”

Great to hear from you, Tom.  Just FYI, my youngest son Andy kept suggesting/demanding that I look in Facebook.  Finally.  And I had birthday wishes from 134 people!  Wow!  My thanks to you all!

Steve Tyrell (with photo of him and Joan Rivers I hope to save on file):  “I had the pleasure to play three concerts this past year with Joan. My girlfriend Janine Sharell is a producer for her show, ‘The Fashion Police’, and my manager in NY, Amy Rosenbloom is one of her very best friends, they both consider her a mom and their mentor... we've all had many unforgettable and hilarious moments with Joan.  I played for Prince Charles in June at Buckingham Palace, and when he realized that Janine worked for Joan, he and Camilla went on and on about how fond they were of her, and told us they even invited her to their wedding.  I was nervous to sing for the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, but as soon as his Highness told me how much he appreciated her naughtiness, it put me completely at ease ... she was our uncommon bond.  Everyone who had the good fortune to know Joan absolutely adored her and she left all of us a piece of herself that we will carry with us all our lives.  There will never be another Joan Rivers.”

Would one of you guys make sure Steve gets a copy of this issue of Commentary?  He was on my list, I think, but bounced.  Hal “Baby” Moore also just bounced.

More Joey Reynolds:  “Love this story below … but maybe not after so many segues to heaven a la Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, Sid Bernstein, Casey Kasem, Ken Roberts, etc.  I followed Joan on the air on WOR in New York and came to work at 1440 Broadway one night when she had a couple of writers and producer Marilyn, everybody on her staff had bandages on their faces, I asked to see the dog?  Joan did a commercial for my cheesecake and didn't wait for it to thaw out, she ate it frozen.  I asked her how she stayed so slim and she said she doesn't eat a grape after 6 p.m.  I thought it was the magic of the frozen cheesecake.  I used to go through the wastebasket next to the console in hopes that she left some of those expensive jokes behind.  I had to fill 5 hours and she caught me using her stuff listening on the way home.  We have the same personality issues of not wanting to be old in this business of youth worship, I am following in the footsteps of Dick Clark and Joan, always look young and you can cross demographics, forget temperamental cause there is a difference between childlike and childish.”

Mel Phillips:  “Good afternoon, Claude, from steamy NYC where this dreck weather should finally end on Sunday.  I don't like any season that lingers like summer is doing. There's an old radio phrase that no one can seem to trace. The author remains unknown.  The saying is ‘Never trust a man with two first names’.  I recently discovered that the phrase may not always hold up.  Roy Leonard of WGN recently passed away.  Roy was part of a morning team at the old WNAC in Boston in the 60s.  When the format changed to Top 40 with a new set of call letters (WRKO), Roy was part of the old Yankee Network flagship station which featured 15-minute newscasts and a middle of the road format, whose services were no longer required.  Roy and his wife had several kids and he really didn't know where he would go next.  Our GM Perry Ury, who to this day is the best general manager I ever worked for, placed a call to his counterpart at the legendary WGN in Chicago.  Perry had a great reputation which included the trust and admiration of other GMs.  Perry made a good call which led to an interview for Roy and his hiring.  The year was 1967.  Roy Leonard never looked back.  He spent that entire time in Chicago at WGN, retiring because of ill health and advancing age.  Roy passed away at the age of 83 on September 4, 2014.”

We come, we do, we go.  May the Good Lord bless Roy Leonard and care for his family.

KFWB in Los Angeles has changed formats and here’s some “conversations” about that supposed tragedy among those who remember the old days when it was programmed by Chuck Blore.

Don Sundeen:  “Incredible how things are changing.  More than KFWB going sports, what surprises me is KHJ being Spanish language ... somewhere Bill Drake is probably enjoying the Cosmic Giggle.  ‘93KHJ, Much More Novellas’!”

Ken Dowe:  “When I was a 20-year-old morning show kid in San Diego, I loved KFWB ..."Channel 98, Channel 98."  I listened only to the LA stations.  My all-time favorite jock was on KNX.  Bob Crane.  He may have been a perve, but he was terrific on air!”

In regards to KFWB in Los Angeles flipping to sports, Don Sundeen wrote Ken Dowe:  “There were some great ones on the air, and they could do their thing without format restrictions.  Chuck Blore is really a genius, but somehow continued to be a good guy.”

Ken Dowe:  “In my opinion ... Chuck Blore sits at the right hand of Gordon McLendon as the greatest radio programmer of the 20th century.  There's a guy who could do it all.  Chuck was quirky.  Dottie tells me she loves my ‘quirky’ personality.  A great compliment ... I think if one must have a ‘flawed’ personality, that's the one to have!  It's just another reason Chuck is so talented.”

Chuck Blore:  “Hey, Ken, thanks for sharing and for the very nice words.  As far as 'quirky' goes, I think anyone whose thoughts are out of the main-stream could be called 'quirky'.  But heck, you know that ... you're one of us.  I have to say this about Don's comment ... 'There were some great ones on the air, and they could do their thing without format restrictions.'   The great one's did it with many format restrictions, restrictions that were there to make them sound 'great'.   Oh boy, I had a whole book of restrictions and 'Must-Do' rules that made Color Radio so colorful and made the jox the stars ... made the great ones great ... made the sound like they had no  restrictions.  Like I said, you know all that.”

Ken Dowe:  “I recognized ‘quirky’ the first time I listened to your formats.  And, to KLIF, WNOE, and nut jobs like Lohman & Barkley, Dick Whittinghill, and Bob Crane.  Those were great air talents.  I didn't know until I heard all this that those I wanted to be like were not universally institutionalized.  I'm not certain any of these guys had a real ‘format’.  It seemed to be quietly understood that the suits could fire them if they pleased, but they couldn't tell them what to do.  That is ... quirky.  And, it's always been my read on Chuck Blore.  I did the best I could to follow suit.  But, YOU win the Congressional Medal of Quirk.  As always, I remain ... your #1 fan....”

Don Sundeen:  “When you’d walk up the stairs to Chuck’s second-floor headquarters, the walls were literally covered with CLIO certificates for his radio spots.  He wasn’t always successful in what he did, but he gave it a shot.  The first KISS station was in L.A. and he brought my friend and former competitor Sunny Melendrez out to be PD.  The first day I went up there Sunny explained the format, a combination of poetry and short stories, etc., interspersed with appropriate music.  I had my doubts, but didn’t comment, because Who Knows?  It didn’t work, but it was a good move for Sunny, establishing him in the market, and getting a foothold in the V/O market.  Never forget the second week he was in L.A. we had lunch and he’d just done a parrot voice for some new TV show, got $30K for two days work, a lot of money in ’72.  I was a bit envious, but he never flaunted it.”

You gentlemen are definitely on target when it comes to Chuck Blore.  I’ve felt honored that he would even talk to me.  Joke:  I always intended to have a plaque made paying tribute to myself and sneak in one day and place it on that wall because there was no way anyone could read them all and Chuck would never see it!

Woody Roberts:  “I wonder if you know someone who can tell me if Chuck Dunaway is OK?  I don't know if I am just off his mailing list or what, have emailed him but no reply.  Sadly, very sadly, my other two Houston friends are gone.  Bill Young and Ken Grant both left the arena this year. Ken was my first radio mentor, 11th grade, he let me file oldies at KNUZ, then number #1 with the great personality DJ Paul Berlin in afternoon drive.  Back in those pre-McLendon KILT days Paul would mix Elvis and Little Richard with album tracks by Frank Sinatra (‘Music for Swinging Lovers’) and the Four Freshmen (‘Voices in Latin’).  Ken took me aside and told me how the radio business worked.  Start with lowest of pay, work part-time shifts or work small towns and move up, each larger town equals more money and eventually, if good enough, into a major market.  It would be a hard life with little financial reward for years and lots of moving at first.  Don't get married.  Later when I was PD at KONO in San Antonio, Ken was still PD at KNUZ and we'd have lunch in a dim Italian red-themed restaurant, name forgotten, where all the radio guys hung out, exceptional bar.  Below is the last email I received from Chuck and so I am praying that all turned out well for him but am concerned because I haven't heard and have no one to ask.  PS --  When I first heard Chuck on the radio in Houston he was The Round Mound of Sound.  Left radio for a brief while in the '60 and hooked up with Texas label Abnak Records -- Five Americans + Jon & Robin & The In Crowd -- came to visit me in Hartford.  Label owner had written a tune with hit potential and released by one of Larry Uttal's sub-labels, it was the The Box Tops' two-minute smash ‘The Letter’.  Bob Paiva was already on it.  What a great melody, I can still hear it.”

The note from Chuck Dunaway was about his heading to a triple bypass heart operation.  No word since.

Photo Attached:  2006 when Chuck Knapp presented Dan Donovan with Hall of Fame plaque.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Claude Commentary No. 27r2

September 1, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 27
By Claude Hall

Joe Smith:  “Hey, Scribe For Old People … Delighted to read your pieces.  Remember, I was a DJ for 10 years after graduating from Yale so guys calling to mind how it was is a kick.  I am the longest continuous Laker season ticket holder (others leave the field open by passing on) and obviously have a great relationship with the organization. They backed off on what I considered an overreach with timing on ticket renewals.  Much time recently has been involved with 200 interviews I did for a book 24 years ago.  The Library Of Congress now has the tapes and has put 65 of them on line under Joe Smith Collection.  Some real heavy hitters from Artie Shaw to Jagger, Bono, etc., and the Library tells me they are amazed at the interest.  Now I get more and more requests for interviews with me and camera crews coming to the house for tapings.  Can record hops be on the schedule again?  Mr. Diamond appears so often in your pieces that he must be 120 years old.  Ask him about promoting for Mercury when I ruled Rock and Roll on Boston radio.  Keep dancing, Claude.”

There are a few of us who’re basketball aficionados.  Joe Smith, once head of Elektra Records, is probably tops on the list although Johnny Holliday might protest that claim.  Johnny used to organize a team at the radio stations where he jocked.  KYA, San Francisco, for example, where just sometimes Rick Barry would play on his team as a ringer.  Gary Owens once loved to play basketball on Sundays mornings with a makeshift group in the valley.  For a while, one of the players had played at UCLA and worshipped John Wooten.  After I moved away, I understand that I was replaced by an owner of the Suns.  Ragknot ball.  The phrase “Oh, Gary!” came about when GO would shoot a hookshot from the corner and it would ricochet off the top corner of the backboard and go in the bucket, an absolutely impossible shot.  Tony Richand (any of you guys remember Tony … one of the best indie promotion men in the business?) worshipped the Lakers and had a season ticket until priced out.  But Joe?  Top fan of the Lakers.  Even made a highlight film for a year or two.  Not even Jack Nickelson has achieved that lofty status.  The ticket renewal incident made the local newspaper in LA.  I’m sort of pleased that Joe will still be in the stands.

Danny Davis:  “Hey-y dere', Authorman!  Depression struck 'at the start of the 'Monday Music Meal and Breakfast Menu, about 9:30 a.m. today!  I was deep into Shredded Wheat and blueberries, when the lauded and oft vaunted, Roger Carroll, causes a mis-directed swallow with the admission 'he didn't know any of the commentary folks' you write about', excepting Chuck Blore or Larry Cohen! Two for the length of Mr. Carroll's 'time in grade', got to me!  I ain't truly conversant with Chuck Blore, but I know the esteem in which he's held, and I'm respectful! Don't know if I ever 'pushed' him on The Monkees or The Partridge Family or Phil Spector, but he does hold forth on the roll-a-disk!  (I figure if, at this late date, the 'reach' is for Chuck Blore, I got Don Graham!) The other guy in 'the loop' causes concern. Hot and cold strikes two different mentions and, Claude, you ain't got the time!  My depression WILL be dissuaded after I make the moves to address Roger Carroll as you recall him, usually weekly, and try to update that gentleman, and 'Lee Baby' in a two-for-one exchange! I'm grateful to Mr. Carroll for the impetus that puts me in league with the aforementioned Don 'Saint Gramcracker' Graham! (Now if only I could remember 'the other guy'!) Best to your 'houseHALL'!”

More Danny Davis:  “Apology, before it's needed!  Mr. Carroll: I took the liberty of seeking a comedy 'vent', while alluding to your Claude Hall piece, this weeks' Commentary regarding 'no mas' than two, in your memories of the genteel folks who sought your help, advice, and airplay while you manned that power-laden microphone for, I imagine, a pretty lengthy amount of time!  I certainly am guilty!  During my career, illustrious as my ego allows me to believe it was, I can't remember pressing your stature for the while you were at the 'king-man' stations!  My reaction to what you wrote, was an indictment of a guy who thought he 'knew the turf'! ... and had it covered! The expense reports I've held on to are absent your notable name!  That failing alone prompts two apologies. I'm sorry for missing a chance to cultivate a heavyweight, and to plead forgiveness for this 'try' at a 'stand-up' writ' wit' woids!  Sincerely, honest, as if I was going after a hit record!”

Jack Gale:  “Your column gets better and better.  It's an encyclopedia of where the old-timers are … which ones are still here and which ones like you say  ‘We come, we do, we go’.  You mentioned Roger Carroll, who may not know who we are.  Roger and I grew up together in Baltimore and sold papers at the Pimlico Race Track when we were 15 years old.  He started in radio at WFMD in Frederick, Maryland, and I wound up at WBTM in Danville, VA.  As I remember, that was back in 1944.  We both lost our wives Beverly and Lovey this past year.  Thanks for the great comments on Playback's new album, ‘Shelby County Line’.  Best to Barbara.”

Don Kennedy:  “Gotta' admit to being out of it when I read much of your material, for my radio time-line stops in the mid-50s and doesn't pick up again until my syndicated program from '86 through '13 ... and it was devoted mostly to Big Band and the stories behind the music.  The unfortunate part is our audience died.  Rude of them, of course, but we didn't seem to be able to generate enough interest among younger generations to make such a program continue to be feasible.  My views as expressed here, then, are those of a mind limited by lack of practical radio experience between the mid '50s and the present.  Given those limitations I regret the lack of personality and individuality in music radio today.  Plenty of room for personality to shine through on talk programming and that's the kind of programming often garnering the big numbers, but for the most part music programming is limited to top-tune playlists and oft-repeated liners devoid of human warmth.  That kind of programming doesn't allow an announcer to select his own music which would give his program a distinction over others, nor does it encourage announcers to inject personal comments.  Even when such comments are a part of this robotic programming they're often lost in a flurry of mechanically delivered words.  Satellite radio recently put at liberty some of their 'live' music program hosts, relegating many of their channels to the status of a poorly-programmed juke-box.  A younger friend of mine showed me how easy it is to find a specific track by a particular artist, using some internet service which, in this instance, played on the tin-foil speaker in his tricky little phone.  It's all reflective of the increasing impersonality of America and the world.  How can we expect a personality on the radio when we often cannot expect to find a 'real' personality in life?  They're too busy looking at pictures or jokes on their coveted phones to speak to others.  How's THAT for barely restrained anger over the current condition of radio...maybe the current condition of the world?”

Ken Dowe:  “I was happy to see your edit and to learn that ole George (Wilson) in later years chose to use words more befitting the gentleman I knew.  I confess that in moments of stupid temper losses, I also have erupted with one syllable four-letter words.  Not often, thankfully, and I do not think it was cute or admirable.  In quoting conversations including vulgarities, or representing accuracy in a particular situation, I certainly can appreciate the necessity of authenticity.  However, I never fail to be impressed by an erudite response, or to admire the ability of the well informed to communicate within the rules of known etiquette. That is always a stunning moment.  Why is it necessary to suffer a weatherboarding of F-words in what might otherwise be a good movie?  There are 569 of them in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.  I didn't choose to buy a ticket. Immoderate decadence is neither common, necessary, or entertaining.  I am impressed with your respect for George, and your discernment.”

Ron Brandon:  “Hi Claude … like many of us, I've read quite a number of books by various industry folks over the years.   Recently finished Jerry Wexler's ‘Rhythm and the Blues’ … which was excellent.  Having grown up in the early 50s as a high school kid in Memphis, I can attest to the fact that it is true … we did listen religiously nightly to Dewey Phillip's ‘Red Hot and Blue’ on WHBQ.  He was our introduction to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and a legion of black artists that we would not have known otherwise.  And, of course, in time he wrote himself into the history books with the introduction of Elvis to the world.  (attachment)  I was so taken with one page in particular that I shared it with Facebook (and a number of old radio names that you know well).  I think and suggested that for the younger folks who came later to the world of rock and roll, this few paragraphs described perfectly the time and the biz, as it was … just as it was beginning to ‘bubble under’ the mass-appeal world that it soon dominated.  And like you, only in these latter days and years am I having the time and opportunity to really learn about the biz that we devoted all those years to.  We thought it would last forever, but in the big book it will soon be just a paragraph.  I enjoy your ramblings, and knowing that there are still quite a few of us around.”

Ron, I sincerely appreciate you sending me that page or so.  Odd, but I’d recently finished reading Jerry’s book myself, courtesy of Sam Hale out of Atlanta.  Just FYI, I had dinner one evening with Sam Phillips in Nashville and he told me and Billboard music editor Paul Ackerman that he’d paid Dewey $5 to play that first record.  The only question I still have is whether the record was “Blue Moon of Kentucky” or “That’s Alright.”

Jim Ramsburg is one of us and he occasionally sends out a tease for either his book or his radio blog and the copy is always well-written.  Here’s the latest:  “Here's a question for you and anyone else who shares our interest in broadcasting history: What was the most memorable gag ever performed on Network Radio?  Altogether now....  Okay, now that we've got that out of the way -- do you know the real story behind the gag and how an Academy Award statuette stretched it into a seven week storyline?  It's all contained in the new text and audio post at and it's funny stuff.”

Great on you, Jim!

More Jim Ramsburg:  “Claude:  I heard this week from David Gleason who runs  David has put a link to on his excellent site of archived periodicals but he has problems, too - trying to fill out his 7-year collection of Radio Daily with issues from 1938 through 1944.  I'm confident that I'd find info from the 1930's in the Variety Internet archives.  But they want $600 a year for unlimited access -- marked down from $900 last year.  Maybe I can wait them out for a lower price.  Or maybe I can win Powerball tonight -- the chances are better.”

Jim Gabbert, San Francisco:  “Claude, I have been in contact with the Kalil people looking at buying a San Francisco radio station.  I forwarded your commentary to Frank.”

My thanks, Jim.

Frank Kalil:  “Please tell Jay Lawrence that he is still one of my favorite people in this world but, no, he can’t have my joke file.  I may need to say something funny someday.”

Mel Phillips:  “Looking forward to reading your new Commentary.  I've been getting a lot of feedback on my weekly mentions, so thanks for making me a star.  It helps with my own website as well.  I think so highly of Bruce Lundvall that I wanted to add my thoughts on Bruce without it being a eulogy because this man is alive and more than well living in the moment with his greatest love -- music.  I add Bruce to my own personal list of heroes who have found the secret of extending life and that's enjoying every moment working on what you choose (and love) to do.  For Bruce, it's music.  One of the greatest memories of knowing Dick Clark was his passion for today's music.  Dick would mention the names of the Philadelphia promotion people who hocked (a Danny Davis term) him when he hosted American Bandstand but he also knew where or what they were doing today.  Dick loved today's music and entertainment and had knowledge of the hot contemporary artists.  Bruce is much the same although his love of jazz trumps all other genres of music.  That big smile on his face in the photo spoke volumes.  When I saw that story I sent a Tweet (or Facebook message, don't remember which) to Bruce congratulating him on not living 50 years back but living today.  The past is just that -- a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.  What I forgot to mention to Bruce was this (I'm sure he'll read this): Bruce, I still won't play your version of ‘Winchester Cathedral’. Thanks for the space, Claude.”

Will one of you make sure that Bruce gets this copy of Commentary?  I used to have a great email list … then I got hacked.

Chuck Chellman:  “Loved reading this again this morning, Claude … loved seeing the mentions of legendary radio personality Eddie Hill.  Eddie was great at WSM, but his popularity really blossomed at WLAC-TV where Eddie and his crew were the top-rated TV entertainment show in the region.  Wonderful man, wonderful family.  As the founder of the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, I was proud and happy to induct Eddie into the first class, 1975.  Also inducted in 1975 were WSM's Grant Turner and Cincinatti's Nelson King. The 1976 class inducted Los Angeles' Joe Allison and Chicago's Randy Blake.  This annual event is the only sold-out gathering at the annual Country Radio Seminar.  Thanks for your friendship over the years, Claude.”

The only time I got to meet Eddie Hill was at a convention in Nashville and by then he’d suffered a stroke and someone wheeled him into the room in a wheelchair.  I ran over and kneeled down and told him that he was more than likely the reason I was working at Billboard … that I’d listened to him back in Texas and he might not be able to understand me, but I just wanted him to know how much I enjoyed listening to him over WSM.  The friend behind the wheelchair said:  “He can not only hear you, Claude, but understand.”

Just FYI, my three nieces and nephew, courtesy of my brother Buddy, still remember Chuck Chellman treating them to ice cream at his suite at the Shamrock in Houston.  When Barbara and I had lunch with Morris Diamond and Alice Harnell the other day, neither of us could remember what the convention was that was going on.  But I do remember that Morris Diamond was there.  The man is a living legend of being there.  To wit: Joe Smith remembering him being in Boston.

Walt Pinto:  “If you have a minute, would you send Bob Paiva my email?  He lives close to me.  We used to work together, and I saw him several years ago at an event, but I think his email is in my old computer.”

Bob Walker:  “Speaking of tales, we had a guy promoting Motown product who came to WTIX in the early 70s.  He shook hands and introduced himself.  Then he opened his briefcase and revealed copies of the record he was pushing, stacks of money, and a big pistol.  Message received.  LOL”

I’ve always loved a statement Jerry Wexler made to Paul Ackerman.  Jerry told Paul, then music editor of Billboard, that Atlantic Records had turned payola into an artform.  So far as I know, I’m the only person Paul told that.

Bill Hennes:  “So sorry to hear the news about Mike Joseph, but thanks for passing on the confirmation to me.  He consulted many stations from Top 40, News, and AC, from small, medium and largest markets.  His ‘Hot Hits’ legacy is a great testament to his inventiveness.”

Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles,
it takes away today’s peace.
– courtesy of Mrs. Russ Bach

Monday, August 25, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 26r2

August 25, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 26
By Claude Hall

Again, I point out that Commentary is more or less of a “watering hole” for just about anyone who wishes to contribute.  Mostly those in music and radio, back when and now.  Including a cute tale or two from Rollye James that I may find (it’s on this laptop somewhere) and print eventually.  I have little left to prove these days in conflict, i.e., with a Dex Allan.  Instead, I prefer to enjoy the friendships and the tales that I have been fortunate enough to gather over the years.  And, with God’s luck, perhaps make a new friend on occasion.  We’ve all been around a while and, cliché, “been there, done that” and, I assume, don’t care for nonsense.  You wish to read about Buzz Bennett, there are places (see below).  You’ve never heard of Eddie Hill, tough luck on you!  I write Commentary out of love for radio and music.  I would hope that it’s read basically for the same reasons.

Lee Baby Simms, from his mountain castle above the bay, referred to a suggestion from Dex Allan that “there are many other great people” I could write about.  Lee Baby responds:  “Good Morning, My Good Friend Claude.  I trust that you and Ms. Barbara are well on this most delightful of mornings. Cool and gray and cloudy.  It looks and feels like Winter.  57 degrees when I arose a few hours ago, still only 60 at 10:30 a.m.  Fog envelops The City and The Bay.  (And Lee Baby included a beautiful photo for the benefit of Dr. Robert Weisbuch and Woody Roberts.)  Just beautiful!  And just read Commentary.  Thank goodness for all our old contemporaries helping to ' Keep The Groove Alive'.  There is one guy I could do without. This Dex Allan creature. That son of a bitch has a lot of nerve deeming to give You ‘constructive suggestion’. That little twerp!  Why don`t you tell him to go xxxx himself?  But no, you won`t do that, you are too nice a fellow.  At least you should tell him to keep his 'thoughts’ to himself in as much as no one is interested in them.  AT All.  So let me tell him to go xxxx himself.  Send me his email address and I`ll tell him ‘Hey, you little creep, xxxx you and the slug you slimed in on’.  Or do you think that too harsh of me?   You know me, buddy, if I think they should go xxxx themselves I have no compunctions about telling them to do so.

“Moving on ... a big day coming up just a few days away.  82 years young.  Hot Damn!  Whodaa thunk it?  Don`t be surprised if you find a little surprise on your doorstep on your big day.  Heh, heh.  Oh, Look!  The Sun is burning through the fog.  I am overjoyed.  withakiss.”

My apology to Lee for editing his f word.  I’m not adverse to the word in the fiction I write, depending on the character.  But for this column, I changed it in tribute to our mutual mentor, George Wilson.  Some of you may remember a George Wilson who was quite pithy in his language.  But after he met Jackie, he never mentioned it, but I believe he was “born again.”  When he died, I think his soul was in good shape.  He certainly objected strongly to the language used by a guy who comments all too frequently on music and the music business.  I don’t use the word much in private language.  I am, however, guilty to the foul usage of other words.  The f word was actually the initials used by medical doctors in jolly old England to describe a condition after a sailor had hit port a little too hard.  The doctor would merely write the initials to represent “From Unknown Carnal Knowledge.”  To an extent, I agree with Lee Baby, but I described all of that in Claude’s Commentary No. 25 and above.  So the editing, Lee, was just in case George is looking over my shoulder on this one.

Don Whittemore, the ice cream king:  “Let him get his own Commentary.  F*** his slings and arrows, however well intended by his perspective.  I do believe you'd be writing about those guys if you chose to extoll their contributions to our medium of radio, which reminds me of the 1940's Fred Allen quote, ‘It's called a medium because it's seldom rare or well done’.  Please continue.  Your fan and friend.”

Would you believe this, Don?  I, too, can remember a couple of those great lines by Fred Allen.  “As one fly sitting on a drum said to the other fly, ‘Let’s beat it’.”

Art Wander:  Hi, Claude.  Continue to read your excellent commentaries.  If you have Jonathan Fricke’s email, please send him mine since I don’t recall having received his earlier epistles.  I do know that when I went to a laptop, the computer guy erased all my email stuff.  Stay well.”

Morris Diamond and the charming Alice Harnell were in town this past week at the invite of Olivia Newton-John, performing at the Flamingo.  If we get lucky, there’ll be a photograph at the end of Commentary featuring Olivia Newton-John, Morris Diamond, and Alice Harnell.  It was really a nice lunch with Morris and Alice because, as Barbara said, “They’re nice people.”  I’ve promised to treat the next time they’re in town.  Eggs benedict at the Silver Spoon.  Morris: “We drove home the next day in a horrendous desert storm … got home OK.  Olivia's show was sensational.”

Danny Davis:  “Claude, join in one for Frankie Randall!  He ain't in good shape!  Well loved for long time, and a favorite stalwart of the desert lunch-bunch!  Arnie Capitainelli, of that favorite Thursday function, forwarded this 'tip of the day': ‘Turning the other cheek, doesn't mean you wanna' be struck again. It means you are willing to see the other person, from a different point of view’.  Arnie is a valued Good Guy recipient, no shit!”

The best wishes of all of us to Frankie Randall.  And great on you, Arnie!

Jay Lawrence:  “Remembering KTKT, Tucson.  L. David Moorhead (Guy Williams hired me. There were many more times he hired me).  Frank Kalil should be mentioned.  He had a card file of one-liners.  He'd take out 10 or so every day.  He'd use them and put them at the back of the file until they came up again.  I don't know if he ever replenished the file.  Frank today is a well-to-do station broker.  I should have had a card file.  By the way, just ONE book can't possibly tell all of the L. David, Guy Williams stories.”

Be great if someone would forward this Commentary on to Frank Kalil.  Ask him if he still has that file.  Just FYI, Lee Baby Simms tells a good/interesting tale about L. David Moorhead in one of the short stories in “Radio Wars” which is available cheaply enough at Books.

Clark Weber sent a flyer for a book titled “Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio 1955-75: The Fun Years.”  The book is by Clark and Neal Samors with foreword by Neil Sedaka.  From Chicago’s Books Press (also at $29.59 soft cover, $37.50 hard cover.  One of the stories concerns Larry Lujack and a crazed pilot (Clark) over Chicago.  Clark, you might consider donating a copy to the Arnold Shaw Collection at UNLV.  Shaw was a major music publisher in Manhattan until he retired to Las Vegas.  Thereupon, he taught music industry courses at the university and founded the collection.

Charlie Barrett sent Don Graham and a few others the link to a story in the New York Times about Bruce Lundvall that most of you will find interesting.

Jim Slone:  “Claude … I forgot to mention that Shadoe Stevens once worked here at KIKX in Tucson (Terry Ingstad) ... became quite famous didn't he?  Don't know if that was mentioned in the Tucson Radio Book or not ... I think L. David Moorhead was instrumental in getting K-CUB named as the Billboard Magazine Grand International Station of the Year back in 1976.  Frank Kalil, who is on the cover of the Tucson Radio Book, is the biggest Radio/TV broker in the land … according to my information, no other broker is even close.  He has been enormously successful and still going strong.”

I suppose it’s amazing just how far a box of file card one-liners can go.

Bill Hennes:  “Does anyone know if Mike Joseph, program consultant, is living or dead and if he is alive where he is?  Mike was a major force in program consulting from 1956-1985!  The last I knew he was in LA, and he used to call me about once every three month.  Last time I heard from him was over nine years ago.  Anyone know if he is still with us and where?”

Bill, I can’t be positive, but I think someone emailed several years ago that he’d passed on.  In Los Angeles.  Hell of a place to pass on.  But, of course, if you find a good place, let me know.

Mel Phillips:  “Claude, thanks for including my piece in tribute to all the air talent that I had the pleasure of working with.  And to Don Imus, thanks for the mention.  I meant what I said about you (regarding Imus).  I keep up with what's happening at your ranch by reading Mike Lupica's column every week.  He's been very loyal to you.  I hope you beat that fake ailment you claimed to have. You'll outlive all of us.”

Don Imus, I’m saddened to hear you may be suffering some kind of ailment.  I had a heart attack more than a dozen years ago.  This is one of the reasons I’m so grateful to have Lee Baby Simms around.  Now there’s a guy who is really alive!  Keeps me percolating!  Kim, you’ve got one heck of a father (I think Kim is on my list).

Herb Oscar Anderson sent me a link and, believe me, you will enjoy this!  Cuter than a puddle of mud.  It’s a video of HOA on the air at 93.7 Ocean FM.  Absolutely great.  Sings with the melody.  Didn’t seem to be reading the lyrics either.  My compliments.  Great on you, Herb!  Eddie Hill, WSM, Nashville, used to occasionally sing along with a record and just about everyone I know will admit that it was not easy to sing along with Webb Pierce or Roy Acuff.

Larry Cohen:  Larry Cohen to Rick Frio: “Your short phrase of ‘You may like this’ to your link was understated. I didn't like it.  I LOVED IT!  It brought back great memories to me in 64' when there were record stores & chains & the energy and excitement of breaking new artists at the local distributor level prevailed!  Claude, tout your readers to this outstanding link. It is better then going to a movie.  Thanks Rick for your masterful contribution.”

This is the link, again, from Rick Frio:
Danny Davis: “Authorman: (He of 'tales' aplenty, and lingo unvarnished!, and the wit to let the readership 'go their own way'!)  Fer yars, Larry, I've utilized the language culled, in sum small measure from Damon Runyon, (and hoping for the 'treasure', that 'it' availed him!).  Matter of fact, 'aged friend?', the Prof mentoring me on 'the book', was first to draw the similarily 'tween moi', my literary style, and my literary hero!  Incidentally, Friend, Larry?, when time allows for your perusal of wat' u rote, an the manna' of ur 'goferit' mimikcree', calls me to advise you NEVER to try your speech pattern in mime fashion!  And, 'cause, nobody can understand your last missive to my h/p, explain the 'White Fish' Platter joke attempt, or where would any non-member of the 'tribe' ever have heard 'of good ol' Yiddish roast beef'!  (Thanks, Claude, for toiling with the above 'banal and non-sensical!' diatribe!)”

Bob Paiva:  “As a kid growing up I was always fascinated by some of the great ‘voices' on radio and TV.  The passing this week of one of those legendary voices, Don Pardo, made me think of another of my vocal ‘heroes’ and a story he told me.  The voice was that of Art Hannas, who was the original announcer on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’.  I met him at a cookout in Greenwich, CT, and he told me that he practiced for hour on hour saying ‘This is the Columbia Broadcasting System’ ... in order to get the full majesty of the word ‘Columbia’ into his delivery.  But ... by the time he was with the network long enough to get the hourly ID job ... they'd changed it to ‘CBS New York’.  I found that a wonderfully amusing story.  Two of the other ‘voices’ I particularly loved were that of Reed Hadley and the actor John Ireland.  I could listen to whole episodes of radio drama just to hear their announcing.  And, of course, there were the voices of Wolfman Jack, Casey Kasem, Martin Block and a New York announcer named Jerry Marshall that I grew up listening to.  The voices that filled my head and made me want to be on the radio.”

Ken Dowe:  “Thanks, Claude.  I love Larry Cohen.  Sure miss him and numerous of the other truly professional music guys.  They made our jobs simpler.”

Roger Carroll:  “Worked in LA -- my exception being when I was 15-18 yrs old working at WFMD in Fredrick, MD, then 12 years at ABC-TV and radio -- for 22 years at Gene Autry's GWB plus announcing major TV shows … Claude, I have never heard of the people you write about except Chuck Blore and the lovely Larry Cohen.”

What a pity, Roger.  Great people.  Of course, when you know Chuck Blore, you don’t really need to know too many other radio people.  He’s a radio world unto himself.  Plus, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Real radio.  And, of course, one should also have said “hello,” at least in passing, to Gary Owens.

Wally Roker:  “Love this Commentary.”

The third Music Industry Reunion is set for Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Hill Country Barbecue Market 6 p.m.-?  No host bar/food. The restaurant is located at 30 West 26th St. and tickets are limited. This is an invitation only party.  For information, Jon Scott, or Greg Lee,   The New York Music Industry Reunion organizing committee -- Jon Scott, Greg Lee, Judy Libow, Roxy Myzal, Ted Utz, Wayne McManners, Harvey Leeds, Steve Leeds, Pete Gidion, Jim DelBalzo, Jessie Scott.  Two previous “reunions” were held in Los Angeles.

Well, I’ve finished the final edit on my Great American Novel and Bill Pearson has finished the cover and soon – a week or so – I’ll install it with Kindle Books.  Warning:  It might offend you.  Got a lot of those dirty words in it.

I still think radio when it comes to music.  You know: Will it be played?  Will it be a hit?  And I’m a bit prejudiced when it comes to old friends.  Dex Allan and Roger Carroll may not know who Jack Gale is.  But I do.  Great, great radio man!  Mentor to other great radio men.  Outstanding radio personality.  Phenomenal program director.  Dex Allan might not know where WTMA is, but the Great God of Radio does.   And so do I.

Thus, I would praise this CD by the Shelby County Line on Playback Records.  Just because Jack Gale owns Playback Records.  But the group is damned good!  Good group that can obviously play rock, but goes country and I enjoyed “Great Minds Drink a Lot” and “Honey Do.”  Started my foot tapping.  These guys have paid their dues.  Good musicians.  “She’s About Love” is cute.  Need to get these guys on the jukebox.  Good CD.  My compliments, Jack and Good On You Shelby County Line!

“Memphis” on PBS Sunday, Aug. 24, was quite interesting.  Supposedly loosely based on life of Dewey Phillips and I don’t know enough about Dewey to say yea or nope, but it featured Chad Kimball, who is probably bound for better things and Montego Grover, female lead who was excellent.  Worth seeing just for the heck of it.

From Sept. 21, 2009
In discussion about “Matilda” by Cookie Cutter and the Cupcakes, George Wilson said one the best he knew at remembering songs was Rollye James.  “She knew all that stuff.  Especially the old blues tunes.”  The record “Matilda” went to No. 1 in Charleston, SC.  But probably George is the only one who’d remember that.  Others who were mental giants at remembering songs and artists?  Bill Drake, Mike Curb, Ted Atkins, Seymour Stein.  “Bill Drake and Ted Atkins used to play a game for hours at Martoni’s,” George said.  I remember one evening when Mike Curb and Ted Atkins sat swapping record names and labels and even the color of the label on the copy that went out to the radio stations.  This was at a party I believe at the home of Atkins in the Hollywood Hills area.  Great view of Los Angeles at night.  Paul Ackerman, late music editor of Billboard magazine, once told me that Seymour Stein astonished Don Pierce by relating his entire Star Records catalog.  This was many years ago…late 50s or early 60s; I seem to recall Paul stating that Stein worked for Billboard at the time..  I never met Seymour, but Paul loved the guy and always spoke highly of him.  Always wanted to meet him.  Find out how his mind worked.  His real name, I understand, is Steinbeagle.  We had many very, very bright people in the radio and music businesses.  In retrospect, probably more than our share of great talents and bright minds.  Jack McCoy, who programmed KCBQ in San Diego to No. 1 was one of these people.  Buzz Bennett had his flaws (don’t we all?), but I believe he was extremely bright.  L. David Moorhead, general manager of KMET in Los Angeles, had total recall of everything he heard and I understand that his son Rob Moorhead can remember everything he reads.

May your day be pleasant and filled with music
and may your tomorrow and tomorrows be even better.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Claude’s Commentary.7r

July 7, 2014
Claude’s Commentary
By Claude Hall
Larry White, now in Charlotte, NC:  “I remember that Four Seasons show in Buffalo years ago very well.  After the show, you and Barbara, Joey and his guest (his wife at the time, as I recall) and Jay Meyers (WBUF's PD) and his wife joined us at our home for a while before you returned to Brockport.  It was a great visit since I was always a big Joey Reynolds fan from the time I first got into the business. And like everyone else from the era never missed your weekly Vox Jox column in Billboard.  Claude, when I attended a few of the Billboard radio programming conferences in NYC, I never would have guessed that, years later, I would have you and Joey as guests in our home.  It was quite an honor.  Best to you and Barbara.”
Don Whittemore defended the quality of the movie.  “Saw ‘Jersey Boys’ Sunday.  Joey Reynolds's four-hour Four Seasons non-stop was a vital bit in the movie, but alas no name credit and the DJ didn't look at all like Joey.  Great Movie, too.  So nice I'll see it twice.”
Burt Sherwood: “Claude:  As we age brevity is a word that someone else uses when writing a note.  The death knell (if you will) of WMCA was sounded by Hal Neal the then GM of WABC.  He finally got rid of the ‘Breakfast Club’.  Steve Labunski, our manager at WMCA, was always afraid this would happen … what ensued was Herb Oscar jumping over to WABC to fill the ‘void’ of the Breakfast Club and leaving WMCA with his great ratings, and no HOA.  Why wouldn't WABC sound good?  They had Herb and Scott from WMCA.  HOA and Scott and I were very close ... Herb got us to move up to Connecticut to be with his family and Scott's as well ... we all lived within 15 minutes of each other ... our wives and kids all were very friendly. HOA and I still talk all the time...Scott as you know passed away.  HOA , Scott Muni and I along with our families would get together almost every weekend for a bar b que..cook out etc. ... we were very close ... when we were at WMCA we three were on the air longer (air time wise) than most of the rest of the station ... I would see them both daily as I was on the end and the beginning of their shifts.  I was doing overnights and was sponsored by Texaco ... and that story is another one left alone..suffice to say I was the ‘last’ one to leave WMCA and Texaco went off the overnights.  I was scheduled to join the guys ... but the WABC overnight man Big Joe had a no cut contract ... and I still had a lot of time left my WMCA contract as well.
“To shorten this ... I was let go at WMCA, and could not get a job in NYC ... I struggled for a year or so and finally got two NYC  lawyers (Bob Price, he became Deputy Mayor of NYC and Ted Kupferman, he became a congressman)  and then Congressman John Lindsay's money to begin my journey in management.  That is a shortcut to a very trying time and a story that will do no one any good.  I did 11 pm Sunday news on WOR as well as the Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV (for a while), went to Daytona Beach and Harrisburg then to Albany where I honed my management skills ... suffice to say it was the turning point of my life ... and many people were very kind to me as I began the long journey wearing the ‘suit’.  The first station I ran was in Brattleboro, Vermont.  We paid $80,000 for WTSA.  As I tell my son, you gain no knowledge of management from a good is too good to be picked apart ... so you learn from the guys you worked for that were not so good ... no names ... management is a trickey business ... John Barger wrote kindly of me and Buddy Carr ... AND we all had to learn!
“Once again...Ruth Meyer was a friend and we connected again years later when I was GM at WMAQ radio and she and Chuck Renwick were programming NBC Radio Network ... she was a great gal and a pal ... she loved France and got there as often as she could, and Chuck and I once in a while chat about those days , she ended up with terminal cancer and living in Kansas City (her home), and we talked and talked via the phone she could tell history beautifully and was a fine writer ... so much goes by in time ... I thought about a book ... but so has everyone else.  She had a very good private life and talked to me about it all the time ... she made a lot of friends  (including my wife Anne) and was deeply religious!  Enough Claude ... most of this stuff predated your arrival at Billboard and our getting to know each other, and I think I am boring you.  Give Barbara a hug ... from me still standing.”
Ah, yes.  Hal Neal.  When he became head of ABC Radio, I received a news release about their Brother John syndicated program.  I wrote the typical news story and printed it in Billboard.  He sent a PR firm to “demand” a larger story.  A feature.  I listened to the program.  Didn’t think much about it.  I said “nope.”  Neal called me.  Again, “nope.”  The PR firm approached again and the guy said he knew Hal Cook, my publisher.  I said, “Good.  I know him, too.”  Neal got revenge a couple of years later.  I was asked to do some consulting for the NAB and Neal threw the proverbial monkey’s wrench into the deal.
John Rosica:  “In fact it was Sam Holman who established WABC’s sound and format.  Rick Sklar was just the keeper of the Holman format.”
I think that would be shortchanging Rick, John.  True, the format was set by Sam Holman and I more than likely failed to give Sam his just due (I believe I apologized at one point; I sure hope I did).  But Rick constantly made improvements.  I believe that the real success of the station was because of Rick.  Regardless, as Burt Sherwood indicates, WABC did not fully overcome WMCA until “Breakfast Club” was removed from the air and credit for that probably goes to Rick.  He lamented the program to me a few times.  Not that it was bad.  Just that it didn’t fit a Top 40 station.
Larry Woodside, in a follow-up to the Ken Roberts obit:  “Sadly, yes, last month in NYC. There was an obituary in the LA Times yesterday (guess they were a little late getting the word), and then there's this: Ken Roberts, the Other "Jersey Boy," Remembered at the Friars Club.”
Freddy Snakeskin, JACK-FM/KROQ, Los Angeles:  “The LA Times is doing a story on the late Ken Roberts. They already did a lengthy interview with me, but after reading Joey Reynolds' comments in your blog, I was thinking he might be a good source for them to talk to as well. I don't know how far along the reporter, Elaine Woo, is with her story, but since you are in contact with him, would you mind passing this message along? Elaine can be reached at”
But Elaine Woo responded: Thanks, Freddy, but I already filed the story.  Sounds like there's a book here!”
Jay Lawrence in regards to Chuck Blore’s statement about today’s radio lacking entertainment:  “I read the comments about L David Moorhead.  He talked about the entertainment station a lot. Wanted me to work for him.  David hired me or had me hired on 3 different stations.  We met at KTKT Tucson.  He brought me to KFI, next helped move me to WNEW, then to an Arthur Godfrey type show in WNDE, Indianapolis. He hoped to get it on all stations in Gulf Broadcast Group.  Let's write a book about David, there are million stories in the L. David (Guy Williams) City.”
You were always huge with David Moorhead, Jay.  Talked about you often.  And, yes, he intended to hire you for the new station he was planning to put on the air in Las Vegas, the first of a chain.  He also intended to hire Mikel Hunter and a couple of others whom I can’t remember after all this time.
Al Herskovitz, Bradenton, FL:  “Wow! Talk about going way back in time.  I worked with Dan Ingram when his name was Ray Taylor and mine was Al Harper.  He and i worked weekend nights at WICC in Bridgeport, CT.  He did the music and I did the news.  He even had to co-host a Sunday night classical music show. We were so broke then that we had to pool our change in order to buy one sub sandwich to split for dinner.”
Bob Skurzewski:  “I found Casey Kasem to be a neat guy to talk to. He was secretive about things, thus he did not get many pages in our book. He did explain all the thoughts on what would eventually be ‘American Top 40’.  Eddie Chase was mentioned by him as a person who amazed him with a count down of top records when Casey was a teen. He did not have to credit anybody. But he did!  I also tried to get him to write the preface for our book. He politely said no.  As to the news, our book title was never in the body of the article. I did sign off to the gal in charge of these types of views, that we did author the book and gave her info on it. She inserted in the body. That blew me away because the Bflo. News has done little to help local authors get some press.  I understand that the Kasem battles continue with Jean trying to wrestle away the kids trust funds Casey set up for them.  For now lets call that a nasty rumor.  Stay well.”
I liked Casey.  Don’t know anyone that didn’t like him.
Don Berns:  “I was always proud to call Bob Lewis (Bob-A-Lou) a friend, since we had both graduated from WBRU at Brown and hit it off well enough that we remained friends through the rest of his life.  Bob arranged for me to sit in with Dan Ingram for a few breaks one day -- one of the thrills of my young life, since for me Dan was one of the all-time greats as well.  But the WABC story that Bob told me that sticks with me today is about the engineer who was having drinks with a fellow 1st ticket holder from WMCA who tried to pry the settings from him for WABC's reverb, which WMCA had tried to copy for years but had never gotten right.  After a few drinks, this WMCA guy thought his buddy was lubricated enough to spill the beans, and sure enough got what he thought was the settings from him. What he didn't know was how loyal the WABC engineer was to his company, and the next day when the WMCA engineer tweaked his station's sound, the jocks all sounded like they were talking from the back of a cave.”
I complained that the temperature in Las Vegas was currently around 110 during the day and Woody Roberts responded:  “Hot?  Get back to where you once belonged; only 95 this week.  To help forget LV temp here's some good 'ol Texas radio coming outta cool Dripping Springs -- home of Hamilton's Pool -- to mix with your daily streams and Youtube tunes.
“PS --  Watch out for that Diet Pepsi, what you need is a cold bottle of Diet Cana Cola.”
Oh, sure.  Funny thing is that someone sent me some hot cocoa from Starbucks; don’t know who.
Roger Carroll, Los Angeles:  “Claude, I enjoy your Commentary ... re: Joey Reynolds he has to be kidding about the movie. Some time I will tell you my experience with him.”
Roger, don’t wait.  I would indeed love to print something scandalous about Joey.  The first thing I ever wrote about him was for a special magazine Billboard published called SoundMaker.  Circa 1967.  I thought he would sue.  But the first time I met him, he thanked me.  So, you tell me your scandalous story and I’ll tell you two or three of mine!  Maybe four.  Or, heck, let’s do a book!  Did you read “I Love Radio” at Books?  Some Joey stuff in there.
Lee Baby Simms, who has never (ask Woody Roberts) done anything scandalous in his life other than raise tomatos, sent me an old newspaper item about Billy Joe Shaver being arrested for aggravated assault regarding an incident outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon in Lorena, TX, on March 31, 2007.   I remarked that it sounded like a typical Texas bar tale.  Just FYI, Billy Joe was acquitted in a Waco court on April 9, 2010.  Self-defense.  Dale Watson wrote a song about the incident – “Where Do You Want It?” recorded by Whitey Morgan and the 78s.  It’s on the group’s second album on Bloodshot Records.
Ah, them Texas bars!
Jim Slone:  “My remarks will be a little too old for your readers but probably not for you ... lol  I went to the museum at San Juan Capistrano last week ... on one of the plaques outside was a picture of the sheet music to ‘When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano’ featuring Tony Martin.  There were a lot of different versions of that song but the most popular was by the ink Spots in 1940 … have always loved that song ... I was able to find Tony Martin's recording and it is good, too ... The swallows weren't there last week, but there were hoards of people ... and the gift shop was filled with regular folks buying mementos.”
Beautiful place!  Barbara and I and kids have been there.  More than once or twice, I think.  I even have some photos I took.  This, of course, was more than 30-40 years ago.
Bobby Ocean:  “Regarding that statement, ‘all Art is a funny business’, you're right, Claude.  It was Kurt Vonnegut who once said, ‘to work at any art, whether done well or badly, is to grow the soul.  So, do it’."
Bobby, in my opinion, you’re a tremendous artist!  Takes a gift.  Back in the day of magazines, you’d probably have been famous.  Well, that is even more famous than you are now.  Because, to me, you’re famous.  And great!  A great radio treasure!
I hope everyone’s past week was good and that next week will be sensational for you and yours.  At the moment, I’m reading “Rhythm and the Blues.”  A comment maybe next week.