Monday, August 10, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 77r2

Today at 7:52 AM
August 10, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 77
By Claude Hall

A real rock ‘n’ roll mama.  She was.  She really was.  But I never thought of her that way.  To me, she was Karen Velline, the wife of Bobby Vee and mother of his three boys and his daughter.  A damned good mother.  A good friend.  She passed away this past week of a lung condition that her husband spent a fortune to cure.  And couldn’t.  God has His own reasons why some of us go and others go later.  And they are good reasons.  I guess.  My wife Barbara will miss her like a close sister, which she was.  This family will miss her.  And mourn her death as if she was a close aunt, though she was closer than that.  The Vellines are family friends.  They lived up the street in Los Angeles for a few years and Barbara would usually spend the day there and then come home and they would soon be on the phone.  My kids – John, Darryl, Andy -- grew up with her kids – Jeff, Tommy, Robby, Jenny.  Our families camped together on occasion.  Once, in the Sequoias where Karen prepared S’mores.  Another time at 29 Palms where, suddenly, Jenny and Andy, babes, were missing and we discovered them high on the edge of a cliff, sitting there, swinging their legs more than a hundred or so feet in the sky.  I was about to panic.  Karen just said, “Come on down from there” and turned away.  I will always remember the evening Bob built a campfire.  The kids sang Steve Miller tunes around the fire long into the night.

After the Vellines – Bob’s real name – moved back to Minnesota, we visited them at the home Bob’d built on the Mississippi and later at his cabin on a lake.  When Bob moderated a panel of superacts at an International Radio Programming Forum at the Plaza in New York City, she came and the Halls and the Vellines sprawled on a suite floor, sipping wine, gossiping about our kids, one entire evening.

She was a good wife to Bob and a great mother for their kids.  Earlier in his career, she’d even traveled with him on tours … probably those Dick Clark things which you can still witness on various films around.  She was that backstage person who helps out.  Even washing the underthings of Dusty Springfield.  Silly, huh?  But Karen was the perfect helpmate for a rock star.  And Bob was a superstar virtually around the world!

Robby Vee went out on his own and he and his rockabilly band perform throughout the Midwest.  He’s good.  Packs them in!  Bobby Vee has appeared as a guest from time to time.  Tommy and Jeff have a recording studio in St. Cloud, MN, and play backup – Tommy on bass, Jeff on drums -- for various bands.  They played in Bob’s band when he was performing.  Jenny has an art studio in Rochester, MN.

Later, on a musical cruise ship promoted by Paul Revere where Bob performed with two of his sons, Tommy and Jeff, and two of Tommy’s kids, she was there.  Bob carried her oxygen generator.  By now her lungs were in really poor shape.  Bob had already tried highly experimental treatments.  I mentioned these in an earlier Commentary.  She flew into the Dominican Republic because those treatments were illegal in the states.  She went through a lung replacement at Duke.  She made medical history in some medical magazine.

It’s sad that she’s gone.  Bob has Alzheimer’s now.  He needs her around.  I believe the world still needs her around.  The Halls miss Karen Velline.

Next week, you’ll find your Commentary at  I love all of you, but the mailing each week is sometimes messy and a very wonderful person has volunteered to feature the column in a blog, thus saving me a bunch of work and worry.  Too, if I punk out, you’ll still have a “watering hole” and keep the world that we loved and enjoyed alive at least in memory.

From the very first note, I loved this CD.  Matt Forbes with “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” on Old Bag Records.  This guy is a giant superstar!  Backed by a sensational band.  And Forbes not only has The Voice, but the phrasing that reminds you of every deep love you’ve had, every dark night parked with your favorite love while listening to the radio.  This guy has the vocal power, the gift and the whim.  It’s difficult to pick a “best” tune.  Without question, he gets into your heart with the familiar “Beyond the Sea,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and “Once Upon a Time.”  Guess I’d pick “Some of These Days.”  This tune has that big band swing touch going for it.  But I’ve always loved the tune “Something Stupid” and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it better than by Matt Forbes.”  Ah, ah … just great, Mr. Forbes!  I realize that some radio stations are already playing this CD.  My sincere compliments.  Great on you!  I’m totally impressed.

As you may have surmised, the great promotional guru Don Graham is performing his magic on the Matt Forbes CD.  To wit, this note from Morris Diamond, a legendary music sage who lives in the Palm Springs region, written to Don Graham.

Morris Diamond:  “Hey, Donald … I was just preparing to leave the house at noon today to attend the weekly Thursday Lunch Bunch with Charlie Barrett, Danny Davis, and 30 other Palm Springs entertainment residents when the mail arrived with the Matt Forbes CD.  I was happy because it’s a 20-minute drive for me to the Villa Portofino Country Club where our lunches are and a good time to ‘audition’ the CD while driving.  It was very pleasant company … his foto and stature is a big reminiscent of Sinatra … but that’s all.  A few of the tunes were Sinatra types, but what singer doesn’t do some songs that were at one time or another associated with Frankie.  What I loved about his performances, the charts were great and original … not like Buble, whose repertoire is all Sinatra instrumentally, Matt has his own original style and I loved it.  He doesn’t try to sound like Frank, and that’s what’s going to bring him home.  He should be ready for vibrado, Catalina, and some of the casinos here in Palm Springs.  You’ve got yourself a winner.  Mazeltov!  Love you and Robin.”

Just FYI, Robin is the charming wife of Don Graham.  I’ve never met her, but I understand she’s a singer.  And a good one.  Worked with Don Ho.

Rollye James:  “I was so sorry to hear about Karen Velline.  Considering what Bobby's facing, this is a horrible blow for him. I'm relieved his kids are close to him.  You may have also noticed the passing of Billy Sherrill.  78, throat cancer.  I worked with a lot of people in Nashville, but he probably had more impact on me than any of them.  Apart from his skills in the studio (and not only country -- he produced some really nice soul stuff on Okeh), was his wonderfully dry sense of humor.  Life intervenes.  I haven't spoken to him in going on 40 years, but I'll miss him as if it was yesterday.  It's been a sad week.”

Barry Hale:  “After battling ill health since suffering sudden cardiac arrest in 2006, the end has come for our dear friend Sam Hale.  We apologize for this impersonal notification but you were on a list that Sam prepared to be informed.  Wife Carolyn and the children hope you will understand that they desire to be alone in their grief and adjustment and trust you will understand and won't be offended at the request for no phone calls or visits.  The funeral was private and held at the family cemetery in TN.”

Jim Gabbert: “Claude, very glad you came through your ordeal ... maybe the Hitler-designed bed helped!  This is a very interesting story: In 1975-76 K-101 FM and AM in SF was doing nothing but minting money hand over fist and I was bored!  Decided to buy KDWB as they also were at 101 and negotiated the price, the down payment was to be $350,000 and the rest of the money to follow.  It was December and the coldest winter in Minneapolis and the broker, Hugh Ben Larue, was sitting in my office and at the spur of the moment I asked: ‘It's too cold in Minni, got any stations in a warm spot?’ His answer was, yes, ‘I have a 10,000-watt AM at 830 Khz and a construction permit for 100 KW FM at 93.9 Mhz in Honolulu’.  They were in chapter 7 bankruptcy and the total price was $350,000. Just then Pat O'Day had bought KORL in the market and, of course, KKUA was top dog in Top 40, KGMB with Aku dominated the adult market, Fred Constant had just bought KPOI so I did the deal without even seeing the stations.  Finally got over to Honolulu and took KIKI over and tried going after KGMB.  Not so good!  Then we went Top forty and zoomed up very fast!  The FM was built and ready to go and we were going to program AOR.  At the same time Woody Sudbrink had bought ‘the Duke’ FM and was going AOR.  In San Francisco Howard Graffman owned ‘the Camel’ KMEL.  I wanted an animal for Hawaii so I found the call letters KPIG were available.  At the last minute we decided to go disco (the night before) so we were up all night carting disco music.  At the same time for 36 hours we had a stereo recording of pigs in a pig farm oinking with a very local accent: ‘The pig is coming man!’ The Disco Pig was born!  Within three months the AM, KIKI , had a 14 share and the FM came out of the box with and 8 share which gave us a 22 share of a 30-plus station market.  Now with Hawaii conquered and San Francisco minting money it was time to sell and buy a bankrupt UHF (Channel 20) in San Francisco!  Ended up another home run!  Recently I visited with Pat O'Day who is a successful real estate broker in Friday Harbor, Washington.  After a nice visit and looking at the state of radio today we both reached the same conclusion: ‘we think radio has a problem!’  Those were the days!!”

Lots of publicity zooming hither and yon about the success of Dave Sholin at a radio station in Bend, OR.   KSJJ-FM.  Don Graham may have been the first to spread the news.  Don’t know.  Les Garland was in there, too, spreading the good news.  Not only does Dave Sholin have a ton of friends in radio, but it’s sort of like many of us, including me, were right there in the middle of everything and also reaping the glories of his ratings.  Great on you, Dave!  I couldn’t be more pleased.  Isn’t it nice to be a hero again?

Mike McVay, Cumulus Media and Westwood One: “Hi Claude ... Sadly Bill Bailey did pass away a few years ago. He was a PD in Grand Rapids when he passed.  This a blur now but I am going to say 5-7 years ago.”

You know, there has to be two Bill Baileys around.  Was this the country Bill Bailey I used to know?  Once a giant in Houston?

Dave Anthony: “Thanks to John Long for his note about bringing Domino Rippy to Minneapolis. I never knew how he got there or when; he was just there when I was hired to program KDWB in 1984.  A quick Domino story that maybe someone could officially verify or deny, as I heard it second-hand and always wondered whether it was true or not.  As the legend goes, one night while driving the KCBQ van around San Diego, Domino didn’t show up wherever he was expected.  It turns out that he was found by the authorities stopped in the middle of a four-way intersection – in the KCBQ van – smoking some funny cigarettes.  Never found out if that tale was true or not but it sounded like him.  Many days at KDWB I’d look in the studio during a long song only to find the room vacant.  Experience revealed that he was out in his car in a cloud of that same funny smoke.  I never bothered him about it because I was most interested in how his show sounded, which was always on the money, and not how he accomplished it.  He was also the union’s shop steward.”

Eliot Field: “The future of radio?  What's wrong with the past?  Fibber McGee & Molly, Tina & Tim, Ma Perkins, The Shadow, & lets not forget ‘Hibbity Gits Hot Saw Ring Bo Ree Simonia Skibitty Hi Lo Dee, Honee Ko Dokes With An Allie Kazon, Sing This Song With Your Uncle  Don]. (Added HBO version)  That otta hold the little bastards for another night.”

You were conferring with Domino Rippy … right?

Joey Reynolds: “I would be leaving this planet with no amends to a very talented man named Roger Carroll.  He took a chance and put me in syndication on GWB.  Golden West broadcasting stations owned by Gene Autry when no one was paying attention to my foolishness I was introduced by Jim Davis who had me on KMPC when he shifted the station fromysic to talk?  Roger was a very good jock who also became a network TV announcer with the Smothers Brothers on CBS.  Roger signed me up and Tom Shovan produced and edited this comedy hour that followed the Angels games, also owned by the cowboy.  This was the precursor for my mobility which put me in all kinds of locations in LA.  I was given the call to
be the first satellite host on satellite live from Dick&Bert Studio.  I am grateful for the kick start in the comedy and talk direction to Roger Carroll and Jim Davis.  My website is filled with these experiences.  Tell Roger I forgot about his help and was drinking milk of amnesia.  I admire Roger and was a bit of an A-hole in those days.  Sorry about my bad be.”

Timmy Manocheo recommends:

Herb Oscar Anderson: “Think of all the great personalities that had their schooling in radio … the WHOLE show business world was alive … they went into TV … stage … comedy … singers … that made the Klieg lights blue … those many hours alone … with you and a mic … forced the mind to develop so as not to bore and lose audience.  Now every time we go to entertainment news … headlines always read: Ratings at new low.  Well … it takes talent to be good … its takes guts to learn your craft.  When I was released (fired) from ABC back in the 50s … I told a young Leonard Goldenson, ‘I’m coming back and don’t you forget it’.   After WMCA I got a call from him.  ‘I would like to have you back and I haven’t forgotten’.  The rest is history.  As the saying goes … ‘if you made it to the top you came through the back door a couple of times’.  But today is another story.  We must put the ‘show’ back in showbusiness … instead of the Rolodex mentality of the industry today.  What do they teach in radio school today?  How to spin the wheel?”

Mel Phillips: “Our mid-summer heatwave is about to break. We'll hit 91 today but the rest of the week will be in the delightful 80s. That's the end of my weather report.  What I would like to talk about is the misnomer called Personality Radio.  To me, that was the title that would be the forerunner of Talk Radio which evolved into a couple of different forms -- All News/Talk/Information/Sports, etc.  and Political Talk (Rush, Hannity, Michael Savage, etc. etc.).  I discount the cooking, fixit and car shows.  These formats formed the subdivision of Talk Radio.  While I don't approach the knowledgeable Michael Harrison in describing Talk Radio, in my view Joe Pyne was the first talk show radio host I ever heard.  We carried his syndicated show at WMID Atlantic City in 1963.  All the successful talk radio hosts that followed Pyne deserve all the credit (and ratings) they receive whether or not you or I like listening to them.  The true test of success is in numbers and longevity.  I don't put anyone down that achieves success over the years but to me the best true personalities I ever heard were the Top 40 people of the 60s and 70s.  If you go market-by-market you can name a bunch of them.  How about The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Humble Harve?  Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie (who started in the 50s), Walt ‘Baby’ Love, Dick Biondi, Joey Reynolds, J.J. Jeffrey, Dale Dorman.  That's 10 right there and I haven't even scratched the surface. The people who could inject their personalities in 5 to 8 seconds before the hits came on.  Those were the real personalities.”

Ken Dowe: “Ouch, Claude!  Sorry about the Heart Failure.  I made my biennial visit to the Oklahoma City Heart Clinic directly form Santa Fe on July 27.  Dr. Craven gave me a good report.  Still not to lift any more than a few pounds, will never be able to go on a tennis or racquet ball court again, and the usual stuff you’d know about.  I woke up from an emergency appendectomy about five years ago, went home, and ended up in an ambulance, on my way straight back to the hospital ... in shock.  All the anesthesia and medication pumped into me during surgery had overloaded my heart, which could not pump out the fluids.  Turns out it was genetic.  I got the same treatment.  Mega doses of Lazix that kept me in the bathroom every 15 minutes all day until all the fluids were in the sewer system.  ‘Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy’.  My right ventricle is that of a 40-year-old, but the left one works at only 50%.  Diagnosis:  ‘I will live another 20 minutes.  Or, 20 years’.  They don’t know.  Who does?

“Don’t we old people have great stories to tell?  In the business of flying airplanes, we all tell daunting tales (lies) of our courage.  We call it hangar flying:  ‘So … there I was … alone in the dark … silenced engine … only the moon to light mountains that I could not see ... the wind whistling a melancholy melody ... and, and, and …!’  Hahaha!  Post Script:  Rod Roddy always told me Joey Reynolds was the King of Buffalo.  Somebody has to be #1, so I reckon it’s Joey.  Sorry, Danny!  Dottie and I cherish our memories of Art Wander and our Atlanta good times.  I remember when Art was the king of WMPH in Memphis, even though Jay Cook and I loved to drive to the levee in his Chevy, there in our Delta town of Greenville, MS, and sit up high so we could listen to Wink Martindale (‘Hey, WInkie!’) on WHBQ.  And, to the talented Bob Sherwood:  Bob, the Cumulo Nimbus, and the Heart Crowd at Clear Channel, don’t want folk like me around.  I walk inside with a handful of dynamite.  Most of them know my mantra:  ‘You can fire me, but you can’t tell me what to do’.  Alas, Bob ... I’m a loner … and a loner’s gotta be alone! :)”

Ken, I know the Lazix tale all too well.  And a nurse kept coming to the bathroom door, knocking and asking if I was okay.  Hell, no, I wasn’t okay!

More Ken Dowe: “Jim Rose in Houston received an inquiry from Jack Parnell, formerly a  great jock on WHBQ, Memphis.  He was looking for John Cook, son of the late Jay Cook.  Here's my response which you may find of interest.  I always forget now this stuff comes together!”

Ken Dowe to Jim Rose: “Jay Cook was my friend and mentor from the time I was 16 years old and Jay was a fresh graduate of Keegan's radio school in Memphis, working at WDDT in my home town of Greenville, MS.  He has his wife Carolyn were uncommonly kind to a kid in the Deep Delta, who was totally fascinated by the magic of radio.  Jay and I would drive a few blocks downtown in his ‘Chevy, to the levee’, so that the car antenna could reach into the sky and pull in Wink Martindale and Jack Parnell, my two favorites on WHBQ.  Ironically, Jay's son John and I connected many years later when he was my most worthy competitor in Dallas as PD of KISS.  I tried to hire him and he said no, then later ‘yes’.  I have an almost unbelievable story about that!  His dad Jay remained one of my closest friends his entire life. There was never a nicer fellow, and he was the smoothest, warmest, radio personality I ever heard.  Incredible on-air performer.  I tried to convince him to give up his WFIL PD position and take my place as Executive VP/GM at KTSA/KTFM in San Antonio when I bought my first station.  He came down, but ultimately decided to stay in Philly where he and Carolyn were happy.  That worked out well.  Jay became President of Gannett, and I hired a young PD from DC to take my place in San Antonio.  Really talented young man named ... Dan Mason.  I'm actually a ‘talent scout?’  Please give Jack my email address and I will provide him with the last addresses and phone numbers of my friend John Cook.  Funny how all of us in this wireless business remain wired together ... for lifetimes.”

Rich Richbro Robbin: “Thanks again, old comrade, for the GREAT work week after week after week!” 

Richbro, I would love to hear/see your views of radio when you first ventured into it.  Matter of fact, I would just love to hear from you, period.  You’ve always been a star with me.

Big Jay Sorensen, WCBS-FM, New York: “Joey Reynolds is Mr. Hartford-Philadelphia-Buffalo-Cleveland-Detroit-Syracuse-Pittsburgh-NYC-LA-Miami, and at least 20 others.  TV and Radio.  And now he owns YouTube.  And he ain't done conquering the airwaves either.  Hope you're recovering well, Mr. Hall.  All the best.  BE BIG!”

Isn’t it funny how once a Joey Reynolds fan, forever and always a Joey Reynolds fan?  Me, too.  But don’t ever let him drive.  Some day I’ll tell the story of a ride to the Century-Plaza in Los Angeles to breakfast with Dwight Case.   And, then, again, maybe I won’t.

Just remembered!  I was the one who drove that morning.  Poor Joey.  The good news is that he survived.  But I seem to recall him yelling once or twice a block.

John Long: “Sam Hale, co-founder of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, is in hospice.  Do you have Ken Dowe's email address by any chance?  The one I have is no longer valid.  Ken worked with Sam at WQXI in Atlanta in the 60s.  I want to let him know about Sam.  Please remember Carolyn and his family in your prayers.  No information about which hospice.”

I forwarded John’s note, of course.  Sam is a good man.  Once worked in the Nashville area.  Knew all of the biggies like Jack Stapp and Buddy Kileen.  I consider Sam a great radio man and, although we never met, a good friend of mine.  He was very helpful to the late Paul Drew and his widow.  You’re in my prayers, Sam.

Ken Dowe to John Long: “Thanks for letting me know about Sam.  Is it still his heart?  He's certainly fought a long and courageous battle.  Sam is one fine man.  A real gentleman, during a time when too few remain.”

Bill Hatch:  “Just a note to say I was sorry to read of your recent health issues and to wish you a speedy and complete recovery.  Be well my Vox Jox friend.”

Burt Sherwood sent me – and others – a tribute to Bob Hope.  Hope is one of those guys who should never be forgotten.  Burt Sherwood: “This is the story of Bob Hope … for those of us who are older we remember him going to every part of the world to entertain the troops … he was a great nice man … I met him here in Sarasota one night before he was doing a concert.  When Bob passed away my programming partner (Bill Hennes) and I had the luck to be called to consult his radio station in LA, KRLA (Pasadena, CA) … his daughter Linda ran it for the estate at that time.  Enjoy.”
Doc Wendell:  “Here's my piece on a rare Paul Chambers record. Chambers' was young, arrogant, and exactly what the world needed at the time.”
“Could you believe I wanted to play the trumpet? I couldn't get one blasted note so I stuck to the guitar which is easy. Here's a piece on the artist that made me want to play trumpet.”
“I continue to find sanctuary in my vast record collection.  Everyday I find a gem to write about.  My fan base is growing and life is good.  Hope all is swingin' with you and my fellow bloggers.”

Ah, Doc … be difficult to do Commentary without you.  The late Jack Roberts loved your stuff and so do I!  My sincere appreciation.  I’ve always had a fondness for the trumpet … especially when played by a Mexican.

Larry Cohen:  “Here's wishful thinking.  In response to Bob Sherwood's last weeks ‘WHAT IF’, wouldn't it be great if a Ken Dowe (a no B/S great guy) was brought in to take over CUMULUS MEDIA & their hundreds of radio stations & turn them around.  On the NASDQ they are at an all-time low at $1.65 a share. I can't think of anyone more qualified currently in management who could meet this challenge.  (Maybe a Paul Drew or Bill Drake could have pulled CUMULUS together but they are both ‘upstairs looking down’.)  And I think the experienced & brilliant Bob Sherwood would make a great assistant & trouble shooter to Mr. Dowe in any possible takeover.  Any takers?  Sometimes wishful thinking becomes a reality.  And yes, Ken, I love you also & have never forgotten your Dallas Cowboy stories, the bitter rivalry between my Philly Eagles & your Cowboys, but most of all the friendship you extended to me of which I have to this day never forgotten.  P.S.  And by the way, I'm sitting here on my ass holding 8,000 shares of CUMULUS & praying that someone in Atlanta reads this & contacts you.”
More Joey Reynolds:  “Mercedes is ready for an OA meeting.  I must have missed something, did you have a heart attack?  I am so sorry to not pay attention in the blog; it was pointed out to me by Bill Hennes, he thinks the world of what you are doing, and I pray that you do not leave the world, we are not through with beating you up with our insanity.  The sportsman Claude Hall … basketball’s best friend and radio’s great scorekeeper.”

Mercedes, just FYI, is another lady who, as a child, camped with the Halls at 29 Palms.  Her and her sister … father and mother.

Enjoyed the Republican debate.  Barbara and I and our son Andy watched it.  But, quite frankly, the Jon Stewart finale?  Ah, history!  College humor!  I’ve never understood Stewart.  But that’s okay.  I’ve never understood Donald Trump either.  Maybe Ron Jacobs will explain him to me.


From Chuck Dunaway, courtesy of Don Whittemore, July 9 Radio History - In 1960…77 WABC-AM, New York introduced the WABC MusicChart.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 76r2

Today at 7:38 AM
August 3, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 76
By Claude Hall

Bob Weisbuch:  “You are right, Claude, Danny Neaverth means Buffalo to a lot of us.  Growing up in Rochester in the 1950s and 1960s, I always listened to Buffalo radio instead.  Rochester Top 40 was a monopoly for several years, and WBBF was comfortable and wildly successful but somehow not part of that sense of the new that stations like WKBW modeled.  Danny was the best, and when I heard him on the late-lamented oldies revival of KBW four or five years ago, he sounded as witty and naturally engaging as he did forty-five years earlier.  (One winter I would get up super early to hear him from my Jersey home before the signals switched after sunrise.  What are you doing here so early, students would say at my university.  I'm listening to one of the great DJs ever, I would reply, and, I'd add, I'll bet you haven't been to bed yet.  They hadn't.  Of course for many years I'd get up early or stay up late to hear Joey Reynolds reinvent talk radio on WOR.  In any field, we should honor individualism.  These talents, just like Lee Baby and Woody Roberts, are themselves and no one else.

“Danny Neaverth and fellow Western New York guy Dick Purtan shared a style that was low-key but high-brow.  Danny worked at several Buffalo stations before he settled at KB -- I believe he was on WGR earlier and perhaps WWOL where everyone did a term as Guy King.  Why can't we establish an internet radio station with some of the great talents who write in to you?  Granted that some of the best age better than others but just about all of them have more to say than what we typically hear now.  Speaking of which, I think the biggest disappointment these days, along with the effects of the huge conglomerates, is Sirius in its music stations.  Is personality really that scary?  I am a big admirer of Howard Stern, but he shouldn't be virtually alone on those 200 channels as a personality.  Eat your unsalted chicken soup and feel better, Mesquiteer.”

Joey Reynolds:  “How can Danny N. be more Buffalo than me?  I ate more wings and weighed 300 lbs.  And shoveled more snow -- in my nose.  He was married with children … I was sleeping with every squaw in Cheektawoga and Tonawanda.  We went to the same high school.  I was dating Danny's sister-in-law.  We started out at the Buffalo boys club radio station WBCB.  Tommy Shannon and I owned a recording studio together in Buffalo.  Danny became a landlord for low-rent houses, I invested in a tall men's shop in China.  The point is that we didn't wind up at the steel plant in Lackawanna … they moved to Germany.  I would be married to some old Deutsch bag.  Get your history straight or you will never be on ‘Jeapordy’.  Love to you and Barbara.”

No, no, no, Joey.  Danny is Mr. Buffalo.  You can be Mr. Hartford-Philadelphia-Buffalo, if you wish … I don’t care what Bertha Porter might think.  Popsie would have wanted it that way.

Johnny Holliday:  “Just finished reading your latest Commentary # 75 ... as always brightens up my day with so many familiar names from the past.  Names like Dan Neaverth.  If you don’t mind could you email me his contact info?  Haven't spoke to Danny in years, he truly is one of the all-time greats.”

M.R. Shane Gibson:  “I genuinely will try to be brief, dear old friend.  However, your exchange with Danny Neavearth caused a flood tide of similar memories strong enough still to preclude even the possibility of brevity.  Danny was, is one of my longest and dearest, most honest friends in broadcast.  To write the occasions where activity occurred as he described would require a book.  It happened at WKBW when my hero, the immortal Jefferson Kaye had brought me in explaining half their numbers were gone in the evening.  Six months later, ‘Best numbers we've ever had in the slot!’, he said and, he was gone.  The new PD came in and apparently needed to show the staff he was the boss and -- I was gone.  A year later, he hired me back after little WYSL beat 'em in the slot with less power than the Yellow Cab company (186 watts effective radiating power in the evening).

“In Washington, same kind of thing.  Dynamite numbers. GM admitted it and fired me anyway saying, ‘To be honest, I just can't stand the sound of your voice’.  In Virginia Beach, we took Z-104 from a 7.4 to a 14.9 in a year.  They fired Bob Canada as PD and let go of Mike Joseph as consultant on the Hot Hits’ station.  Then, me.  In Richmond, the GM was also the Morning Man half the time.  You remember the Billboards that year.  Don Imus was MC.  I still laugh at the pic where he'd rushed over to side stage, handed me the plaque without allowing a word of thanks.  He worked in Cleveland, owned by the same company.  The WLEE GM was angry I was hurt they'd made me pay my own way to come to the forum!  He stonewalled me on a new three-year contract with a raise of $15 per week; which is how I went to WKBW.

“There are many stories of the same ilk which could be empathized with by many good pros in our business but brevity was promised.  Suffice it to say that learning the politic outweighed performance in so many instances. When the ‘New WLEE’ was brought back in 95, there I was again.  In less than one year on the morning shift, with a signal from Williamsburg, we went from #16 to #9, station was sold and I was let go so the new board could air John Boy and Billy for barter.  The reason I am able to smile in retrospect is simple.  I was so fed up, I played 18 to 54 holes a day for 20 months and became the oldest fella on record to pass the Playing Ability and Rules tests and be admitted to the Professional Golfers Association of America.  Now the sun has destroyed my Nordic skin and I write my music.  ‘Isn't Life Strange?’  Please don't print this if it seems to be yammering; just wanted you to know how enjoyable it was reading the exchanges between two of the nicest, most honorable professionals I was ever able to know in the business and politic of radio.  Your friend and fan always.”

Shane, so you wanted to be a disc jockey, huh?  Just FYI, you’re welcome to “yammer” any time you wish, but that goes for everyone in this column.

Herb Oscar Anderson:  “Think of all the great personalities that had their schooling in radio … the  WHOLE  show business world was alive … they went into TV … stage … comedy … singers … that made the Klieg lights blue … those many hours alone… with you and a mic … forced the mind to develop so as not to bore and loose audience.  Now, every time we go to entertainment news … headlines always read.  Ratings at new low … well … it takes talent to be good … it takes guts to learn your craft.  When I was released (fired) from ABC back in the 50s, I told a young Leonard Goldenson, ‘I’m coming back and don’t you forget it.  After WMCA, I got a call from him, ‘I would like to have you back … and I haven’t forgotten’.  The rest is history.  As the saying goes, ‘If you made it to the top, you came through the back door a couple of times’.  But today is another story.  We must put the ‘show’ back in business … instead of the Rolodex mentality of the industry today.  What do they teach in radio school today? How to spin the wheel?”

Pert, HOA.  Pert.

Chuck Buell:  “Hi, Claude, I know you like writing more about guys with East Coast affiliations and backgrounds these days, but back in the day, you did honor many of us in the Great Midwest with your fine comments in Vox Jox.  Here're Seven of those Guys!  Chuck Buell, J.J. Jeffries, Larry Lujack, John Landecker, Bill Bailey, Gary Gears and Fred Winston.  The Early 1970s daily on-air staff of WLS, The Big 89, in Chicago!  All these WLS Chicago on-air guys made a rare group appearance together one day as they were being interviewed in this old TV Video Clip from 1972.  Check the guy at the far left! (Yep!  That's me, Buell!).  Was I rockin' the 70s Image or what?  And be sure to listen to my astute comments later in the interview about why there are no ‘Girl’ Disk Jockeys!
1972 WLS On Air Guys 9 minutes.  Wishing you Good Health!”

Ah, Bill Bailey.  A Commentary to him bounced back a week ago.  Hope he hasn’t bought that proverbial rusty transmitter in the south pasture.  And I still treasure my copy of “Superjock.”  Every jock from here to Miami was jealous because Larry Lujack thought of that title first.

Doc Wendell:  “I'm plugging away at these album picks. It's great to dig into my vaults to find a record like this one.”

Charlie Barrett, bless him, included me in the loop of a note to Don Graham.  I am honored.  The “looping” is not due to my hipness, but merely a tribute to my elderly status.  However, I am grateful.  Charlie Barrett to Don Graham:  “Hi, Don.  Such a promo genius you are ... Matt Forbes is privileged to have you!  Watch for the weekly ‘Joey Canyon Show’ from country music star and personality Joey Canyon in Colorado to preem on national cable and satelite TV in 1st quarter of 2016.  We will be announcing deal for show (think ‘Hee-Haw’ meets ‘The Dean Martin Show’) in a week or so.  I cannot believe we are still at it ‘after all these years’ ... as the song plays.”

This originated with a note from: David Hendrickson, operations manager, WJUB:  “Uncle Don, at the Breeze we’re eagerly anticipating the new Matt Forbes album.  Any idea when that will be headed our way?  PS – I will be back in the City of Angels in February.  I look forward to seeing you then.”

Speaking of elderly status, the Billboard special issue about Nashville.  Whew!  As they say: “PHENOMENAL.”  A keeper.  My son Andy read it.  And John Alexander Hall, Esq. will read it when he comes for his birthday in a few days.  Just great!

Joey Reynolds: “This is the life of Morton Downey Jr. … a documentary featuring yours truly and Bob Pittman as the good guys (who knew?).  And a few other rascals whom you know.  It is prime time on CNN 9pm Aug 20.  Plenty of time to get the popcorn and a diet Pepsi.”

Missed it, Joey!  Shucks.  But things were a bit messy around here for a few days.  This is as good a place and time to spill the proverbial “beans” as anywhere else … and, hey, I love pinto beans!  July 8, I had a congestive heart attack.  No big deal.  I’m a Hall, you know.  But I wasn’t feeling all that well.  Barbara talked me into going to Urgent Care near the house on July 20.  They whisked me into a hospital bed and hooked me up to some wires and this and this.  An hour or so later, they transferred me by ambulance to Desert Springs Hospital.  More tests.  Then they ambulanced me to the new (four days old) Mountain Edge Hospital on the west side of Las Vegas.  Great food, but not much of it and I wasn’t very hungry; great doctors and nurses.  That hospital bed was something Hitler invented, though; I’m thinking about suing.  I was on oxygen.  Grabbing for air.  Going to the bathroom a lot as they tried to flush liquids from my lungs.  Well, they were somewhat successful on that and released me from the hospital, which did not make me mad, on July 23.  My beautiful wife Barbara and son Andy brought me home.  And here I am.  I’ve got nurses coming by once a day and I’ve seen my primary care provider Dr. Kaplov, a youngish fellow who must have studied under Joey Reynolds, but failed to graduate.  This was okay because what he was talking about was me and it wasn’t exactly a whole bunch of fun anyway.  I see my heart specialist on Aug. 5.

Scott St James:  “Hi, Claude!  Hi, Barbara!  Wow!   You covered a LOT of ground in today's column.  Great stuff!  FYI ... those of us who have had the pleasure of getting to know to him, I'm happy to tell you something you probably weren't aware of.  The last couple of Fridays, Don Barrett has been on a coast-to-coast station telling us some great radio and film stories.  He might be on the air with us this coming Friday for a third time if he's available.”

Love to hear more about it, Scott.

Art Wander:  “Claudius the Great.  So delighted to hear of your early adventures at Billboard.  I know there are more stories you could share with your loyal list of contributors.  Naturally, I certainly appreciate Ken Dowe's contributions that make your Commentaries so great.  Keep up the great work.”

Mel Phillips:  “I just loved your story on the start of your career at Billboard.  First person pieces are invaluable, educational and entertaining.  Yours was all three.  Loved it a lot.  Describing the first time you heard someone use the word personality in reference to a disc jockey reminds me of being a 17-year-old kid who had just started attending radio school at night.  During the day I was a mailboy at the ABC Radio & TV Network on West 66th Street in Manhattan.  Herb Oscar Anderson was the morning man at WABC Radio and would drop downstairs to the mailroom to say hi after finishing his show each morning.  Knowing I had just started at The School of Radio & Television Technique (owned by Pat Weaver - dean of NBC TV and father of Sigourney), HOA said, "Mel, I want you to remember one thing as you get into Radio. Always remember to be an individualist").  Individualist?  I just wanted to finish Radio school and become a disc jockey.  In later years I understood what HOA meant by that and I guess I did wind up to be an individualist with a pretty good career.  Regarding the use of the word ‘personality’, I always considered myself a jock and referred to other on-air staff members as jocks.  Of course I do understand that when you run up against a Rush Limbaugh, Cousin Brucie or Don Imus, you're no longer referring to ‘jocks’.  Give us more insight into your career, Claude, please.”

Trust me, Mel, you do not wish to know about my “barefoot” days.

John Long:  “Enjoyed Dave Anthony's comments about Domino Rippy.  I first met Trippy Rippy when I hired him to do nights at WAPE.  Christopher Haze recommended him to me after Bill (his real name-last name Matthews) worked for Haze at KNUS in Dallas.  Nothing will give you an insight into someone like driving in a U-haul truck from Phoenix to Jacksonville, FL.  That's what happened when Domino accepted my offer to join me at the Big Ape to do nights.  He volunteered to help me move.  By the time we reached El Paso, I needed a break so I bought him a plane ticket to Dallas (we were to pick up his belongings and motorcycle there).  When I got to Dallas, we loaded a few boxes and his bike and off we went.  We stopped somewhere in Alabama at a truck stop to get fuel and something to eat.  The stop might have been the inspiration for ‘Uneasy Rider’ by Charlie Daniels.  Domino looked a bit like a motorcycle club member and the truck stop clientele couldn't take their eyes off him.  I quickly suggested we get our food to go; we did and I was happy to see Alabama in my rear view mirror.  We finally got to Jacksonville and started our Big Ape adventure.  There are many more hilarious examples of Domino adventures including our reconnect during my ill-fated tenure at WCCO-FM in the early 90s.  Yes, Dave, I'm the one to blame for bringing him to the twin cities.  Domino died a few years ago of cancer.  I think I still have emails we exchanged during the last few months of his life.  He was a unique guy and one of the best jocks with whom I had the pleasure of working.  Hi, Miss Barbara.”

John, I read the above to Ms. Barbara.  She got a kick out of your email.  Funnie!

Tom Russell:  “Thanks so much to Ernie and Ken and Claude for being keepers of the flame. I've always figured that to survive within this cultural climate (a digital wasteland where a great song is a precious gem) you have to, as Keith Richards declared, ‘survive by sheer luck and brute force’.  Or to put it more eloquently: ‘you have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you’. (Flannery O'Conner)  Onward! … thanks to all.”

Bob Sherwood:  “So here’s a ‘what if?’, Claudius … suppose one of the major money groups that swept in to acquire broadcast properties following the moronic and possibly corrupt decisions that led to de-regulation actually hired Ken Dowe and gave him full authority and responsibility for on-air content for their various acquisitions.  All the listeners in those markets would have been exposed to local news (rather a basic obligation and service of licensees), information, music and on-air talent that related to each market.  What a concept.”

Is it that you jest, Good Sir?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 75r2

Today at 8:22 AM
July 27, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 75
By Claude Hall

The job at Billboard was a natural for me and – with Music Editor Paul Ackerman as my mentor – I was working hard, enjoying the work, and doing well.  I did the radio-TV section (three days) and worked on the music section (two-four days a week; I remembered doing music publishing stories, covering MGM Records for news, doing record and artist performance reviews, stories with Bob Crewe, Art Talmadge, Larry Uttal, some famous movie songwriter, etc., etc.).  Roger Littleford, one of the family that owned the publishing company, heard that Barbara and I wanted to buy a house and came, as he was wont to do, and sat on the corner of my desk and shot the bull with me one day and we talked about Barbara’s wishes for a white house with a white picket fence.  The first thing I knew, Bill Littleford, president of the publishing firm BPI, offered to loan me $7,500 for a down payment and give me a raise that would make the interest-free loan payments.  I don’t know about you, but I’d never heard of this kind of thing before.  Especially by any New York corporation.  What it did, for me, was cement the possibility of my being at Billboard for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, my stature in radio and music was growing fairly solid (the music publishing firm of Hill and Range had offered me a job).  I was talking with – and writing stories about – Gary Stevens, Dan Daniels, Harvey Glascock, Frank Ward, William B. Williams (Barbara and I were even invited to Willie B’s birthday party atop 30 Rock in the Rainbow Grill; Frank Sinatra Jr. played piano for the evening; I recall that one of his “gifts” was a foldup motor scooter and another was a bottle waste high of Mumms Champagne), George Wilson, George Williams (great guy who came out to the house here in Las Vegas with Burt Sherwood a few years ago), Ray Potter in El Paso, Murray the K, and an MOR program director in Kansas City who refused to play “Ode to Billy Joe” because Bobby Gentry “couldn’t sing.”

And I begun playing more attention to a column called Vox Jox launched by a former Billboard staffer named Joe Carlton (record producer Jerry Wexler also wrote the column for a while).  When I’d taken over the section just three months after joining Billboard, the format was a junk heap.  There was Vox Jox and Seque and two or three other columns.  I concentrated on news and features and dumped anything that didn’t warrant a news story or feature into the column Vox Jox.  The other crap became history.

What happened was that one week  (circa 1966-68) I spent several hours on the phone researching the Top 40 radio stations in towns outside Detroit that influenced airplay on CKLW and WKNR.  Quoted several good program/music directors and maybe a couple of good record promotion men; by now I’d learned that record promotion men could be a valuable source of radio information.  We started the story on page one and jumped it inside to the radio section.  I was pleased with the story.  A good reporter knows when he has done a pretty good job.

In those days, the magazine was printed in Cincinnati and drop-shipped into several major cities and mailed from there.  It usually reached radio stations on Tuesday.  And that Tuesday the phone calls rolled in!  All of them praised my Vox Jox that week.  So far as I can recall, no one mentioned my research story about airplay of music in medium markets around the city of Detroit.  I later discovered that disc jockeys and program directors and even a great many general managers read Vox Jox.  All of it.

A cutie:  So I’ve got some power in Vox Jox, huh?  Well, perhaps Billboard could influence some improvements in radio.  Why not?  If you can’t do a few things good in your life, what good are you?  I was always put out somewhat by the extreme mobility of disc jockeys and program directors (later, I figured out that it was part of the game).  However, it appeared to me that disc jockeys and program directors were often fired just as a whim.  Then a general manager did something that I thought wasn’t fair … perhaps fired a disc jockey for a reason that wasn’t what I considered reasonable.  I wrote about it and presented the general manager a Purple Toadstool Award.  No plaque.  Just a line or two in Vox Jox.  I figured everyone who read about it would get at least a giggle.  Funny?  Right?  But after the second “award,” I started getting letters from disc jockeys asking for an application form.  Whups!  End of award.

Ernie Hopseker:  “I enjoyed Ken Dowe's assessment of Tom Russell's show in his new home town of Santa Fe, and wish a few more people who really ‘get it’ knew about Tom.  Tom is a superlative writer, and is a communicator beyond comparison.  He got his chops 40 years ago doing four shows a night on East Hastings Street, a seedy skid row in Vancouver, B.C.  At a show at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle a couple of years ago, some cowboys who had been at the bar all day were requesting the wrong songs, and then loudly singing along with the wrong lyrics.  Tom put up with it for awhile, then stopped the show, and pointed out to ‘the guys just off
Brokeback Mountain over at the bar’ that they were singing the wrong stuff, and he would not put up with it.  I thought there might be trouble, but the miscreants were subdued by Tom's tongue, and Tom went over and bought them all drinks after the show.  I have been on several Roots on the Rails train trips with Tom, and have met many wonderful musicians and fans through him.  His guitar slinger, Thad Beckman, is a world-class blues and flat top picker, and Tom features him on a couple of his own songs nearly every show.  Before a recent show in Portland, I saw Thad outside the theater before the show.  I asked him if Tom was behaving himself, and he said, ‘No, but he never does’.  And if he is too busy selling stuff after the show, just hang around long enough and he will talk.  You just have to have something worthwhile to say, and Tom is gritty, insightful, and a great
conversationalist.  I personally think Tom should be doing arena shows to thousands of adoring fans, but that is not what he knows or wants.  He's pretty happy right now in his own skin, right where he is. His wife Nadine, pretty much books the shows across several continents and many countries, and they all take turns driving.  Tom is not afraid to set up his own gear, and he knows what he wants it to sound like. He has his game down really good.”

I, too, Ernie, am impressed with the guitar work of Thad Beckman and, in fact, have five of his own songs on this laptop, including “Outlaws in Texas” and “Virginia Blues.”  As for Nadine, I figure out that she has to be an angel.  Now and then a man gets lucky when it comes to a woman; Barbara and I will have been married 55 years come Sept. 1.  Me, a redneck of sorts, marrying a beautiful Park Avenue princess?  You’ve got to be kidding!

Below, in regards to a review Ken Dowe wrote of the Tom Russell show in Santa Fe and about last week’s diatribe from Bobby Ocean:

Ken Dowe:  “Thanks for the inclusion, Claude.  Maybe Tom will find some new friends and fans from your support.  You certainly outsourced one in me.

“P.S.  It is not my intention to express a different opinion that that of Bobby O, but perhaps to embellish his with my own, which is that Radio is sadly enduring two principal problems.  The first was that the profession was turned over to the well-funded, who dived into a business that was a culture, fully clothed as ‘Suits’.  The latter created quite a stumble, but nothing like the subsequent nuclear fallout in the business now mostly owned by a couple of opportunists whose corporations have been stretched just to stay alive.  Nothing wrong with being an opportunist, so long as someone remains, or is retained … who is a legitimate visionary with an attitude:  e.g., ‘You can fire me, but you can’t tell me what to do!’  That never happened.  Therefore, Radio is now (generally speaking) the walking dead when compared to their thriving music source competitors.

“Two is the stealthy issue no one heard, and most still do not see: The Millennials, who forge music into hits, must join forces and reproduce the image of radio that has been reduced to a product most do not want, and is now just sitting on the shelf.  Misguided management begot desperation during their hardest times, which resulted in carbon-copy entertainment (cheaper) without any edge or purpose, except for the white noise to buy some more time.  The purpose then was in the efforts to sift out enough money to pay (some of) the interest.  Good sounding (too ‘good’) announcers (not ‘personalities’) now serve myriad stations coast to coast.  Rubber Stamped music is vending machine-delivered and no one really believes such programming  is ‘personal’.  But, it’s … cheap. 

“Relatively. In time, it bankrupts.  The stockholders and the business.  Certainly the decline was assisted by the bean counters in green eye shades, but the terminal failure was the absence of any understanding of emerging national trends by the new techies, and never having connected nor engaged with them as the cultural transformations were taking place.  These were those who could have converted their new preferences to correspond in position, then intersect with radio.  Alas, no one invited them to the dance, and to be fair ... I doubt many knew the music that was stealing their dates was playing elsewhere.

“I ‘get’ what Bobby is saying, but I believe what is problematic for radio is something more abstract and beyond the range or limits of our known conceptual field.  How to capture a return to the ‘place where something happens’, while the audience refuses to prefer or maintain connections ... with Pandora, Spotify, Apple, etc. … that, is a tall order.  The fall from grace was never about Lowry and Lou screwing up the product.  There was no missing or unaffordable  analogous algebraic operation that caused a loss of balance and subsequent fall.  Lifestyles changed.  And, it wasn’t that the ‘Suits’ didn’t know what to do, but that they never noticed. 

“I listen to Tom Russell.”

Tom Russell:  “Wow. Thanks, Ken Dowe!  It was a fun show and maybe got our foot in the door here in Santa Fe.  I was honored to play in front of those knowledgeable folk … cowboy actors, DJs, artists and people who listen … thanks to Claude for introducing people to my music.  Right now we're trying to promote the show, ‘The Rose of Roscrae’, to Broadway producers … just starting … and also film folk.  Adios y gracias!”

Dan Neaverth:  “Hi, Claude.  A few thoughts about radio’s problems from my perspective.  After on-air stint that lasted 26 years at WKBW in Buffalo, I spent another 13 years at WHTT-FM.  The General Manager was Ron Rice.  Several of his friends told him it was a mistake to hire me for an FM morning show.  I did fine.  I could see the end coming as the staffs of the cluster were called into a large meeting by the new owner.  His actual words: "We are not in the entertainment business ... we are in the business business."  Another roadblock to radio’s rebirth ... another cluster has a 50-thousand-watt station that does nothing,  But they won't sell it for fear someone else will take it and make it work.  I always felt that another problem existed at our colleges.  Young people on their staffs were told to shut up and play 10 in a row.  College is where prospective talent should be free to make mistakes ... act like jerks ... hone their craft.  Oh well ... I had a great run, but it's sad to see what has happened in broadcasting.  Western N.Y just lost one of the greatest talents ever.  Van Miller was for years the voice of the Buffalo Bills.  But he was more than that.  He did it all.  Buffalo Braves basketball ... wrestling ... high school quiz shows ... radio DJ ... morning women's show from a department store ... he didn't just do these shows ... he made them entertaining.  In addition he was one of the funniest people I have ever known.  I would place him against any nationally known talent ... rest in peace Van.”

Thanks for the note, Dan.  Always respected you.  As a personality and as a person.  Even back in my early Billboard days.  To me, you were Buffalo.  More so than even Joey Reynolds.  Thus, I’m honored to hear from you.  Your thoughts on radio are valuable to me.  Make that:  Valuable to everyone.

Don Whittemore:  “THX!  Read Bobby's essay for flaws.  Radio needs to be the iTunes of the day.  Are there any independent-thinking media gamblers out there?  People who want to get a better life for themselves should stop digging their holes any deeper, climb up and out onto solid ground and go searching for like minded souls.  Signed, a veteran who never wore a uniform.”

Great Don Whittemore tale:  He’d just bought three houses in the area just east of Santa Monica.  I asked him why.  He said:  “So I can tell everyone to go to hell.”  But so far I’ve never heard him say it.  He’s God’s basic nice guy.  Used to run free peppermint ice cream up to Jack Roberts who, at the time, certainly couldn’t go get it and couldn’t have paid for it anyway.  Just FYI, Jack’s chauffeur back and forth to the medical clinic was record promotion guru Don Graham, another basic nice guy that God created.

Burt Sherwood: “Claude, I read with great interest all who wrote about how radio should be.  They were the reasons we all found it interesting … when I started there were brand new AM radio stations coming to each marketplace.  There was before this one  or two stations to small and medium markets prior to WW II.  The stations served the area and then the business started to grow … I believe it was 1953 when the three-ownership rule was dropped.  Before that owners had to keep their stations a minimum of three years before they could sell.  It was in the 50s a rich man’s business for the most part.  The people that owned them loved the business … from then on the owners became Wall Street oriented … the FCC put as many stations on the air as could be legally serving a market … there was no regard for economics … as there was originally when they had to prove they had enough funds to operate (as I recall) for a full year without any outside revenue.  Then came FM … followed by TV … and now followed by the Internet.  It is a serious business and those of us who started in the creative end had to learn where the money was … sales … to go on and on is foolish … it is still a big business … the word you bring to mind is CHANGE.  I am sure people who are more learned than I will chime in.”

Eliot Field:  “FYI, as follow to Last of the Seven Swingin' Gentlemen, Amazon ‘Purely Palm Springs’ Elliot Field, still at it and swimming most every day. Always a pleasure to maintain a two-way conversation. P.S. NEW SINCE we last touched base, proudly a nominee to the NAB Hall of Fame. Now all I gotta do is hope to live up to a during life enrollment. (I've had worse problems.)  Always good wishes, EF.”

Honored to hear from you, Eliot.  Say hello to Morris Diamond and Alice Harnell next time you guys visit the same swimming pool.  Sorta wish I could be there to work on my freckles.  When you get around 82, your freckles grow dull in the shade.

Dave Anthony:  “As with Vox Jox, I always enjoy reviewing your weekly cavalcade of radio names that I worked with, used to know, or heard about.  One colorful individual I haven’t seen mentioned – unless I simply missed it – but worth suggesting in any event was Domino Rippy.  During my years programming KDWB, he was my noon-to-3 personality.  (I never called them DJs, but that’s a separate story).  Not only did I hear classic stories from him often about his earlier days at KCBQ and other legendary radio stations, but he created more tales by just showing up for work every day.  Domino could easily dial up whatever level of energy I requested, from a midday warm-hearted female-targeted approach to his rapid-fire high energy Jack Armstrong style that is still sheer entertainment to me today.  Looking back on the radio personalities we’ve lost over the years, I suggest his name as one who carved a space in Top 40 radio history.”

Today, I lift a glass of skimmed milk in salute to Domino Rippy.  I don’t recall meeting him, but wish that I had.  Just FYI, Dave, it was Harvey Glascock, then general manager of WNEW in New York, who impressed upon me the words “radio personality.”  He always had enormous respect for the person on the air.  Of course these ranged from William B. Williams to Julius La Rosa and Alison Steele’s former husband.

More Ken Dowe:  “You mention Don Barrett from time to time.  Not sure you know he was a graduate of Gordon's ‘Magnificent Seven’.  We accepted applications from across the nation and chose the ‘Best and Brightest’ for months of extensive SEAL-like radio training at Gordon's Texas ranch for advancement into several McLendon stations.  Don was a most excellent graduate.  Just FYI.”

Don Barrett is a good man.  Years and years ago, a college buddy had a stroke.  I asked Don Barrett and Art Roberts to write him notes of encouragement.  They did.

Scott St. James: “Hi Claude!  Hi Barbara!  I just now finished reading Bobby Ocean's radio thoughts that you published in your Commentary No. 74, on (early) Sunday evening.  I'm a guy who has read some of Bobby's radio thoughts in the past.  And his thoughts have always made sense to me.  I've often told people that I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to play the radio game for many years WHEN I played.  Ah, yes ... I can't help but remember a hit song: ‘Those were the days, my friend.   We thought they'd never end’.  Meanwhile, I'm fortunate enough to occasionally do a once in a while Show Business something.  Retire?  I remember Frank Sinatra's response to that;   ‘Retire?   Retire to WHAT?’.  Another great column, Mr. Hall.”

Gary Allyn:  “Dear Claude of The Hall House:  I must respond to Bill Hatch’s comments in your current issue.  I apologize for not making it clear enough when I mentioned in one of your earlier commentaries about Lee Baby Simms being ‘fired’ from KCBQ.  I should have mentioned that Lee did, in fact, remain at The Q.  After all, Lee’s mentor was George Wilson, who at the time, was President of Programming with Bartell Broadcasting.  Dick Casper was just the GM.  So, Lee stayed on, but I did relieve him of his air shift for that day as I was instructed. Bill Hatch was one of the many stellar news people on staff then.  KCBQ News was at the top of its game during this time.  Thanks Bill, for letting me correct this minor gaff in MY reporting.  Lee lasted for two weeks after Buzz Bennett took over, then left for Los Angeles and KRLA. And oh yes, I loved reading Bobby Ocean’s thoughts on the demise of Radio as we knew it ... and it’s possible resurrection.  He indeed, is ‘The Old Master Thinker From the Far Away Hills’ of San Francisco.  I hope to add my ‘2 cents’ in due time, but right now I need it for gas for my Studebaker!  California gas prices are through the roof again. Went up 55 cents overnight here!

“NOTE TO WOODY ROBERTS: I have a photo of you in an old radio promotion that a friend of yours and mine sent me.  But I don’t know how (where) to send it to you.  Maybe a nearby space station?  Claude has my email -- I think.  Best to all, and keep it ‘Light, Tight, and Bright’.”

Woody Roberts:  “Time has flown, Bob Dylan's first tour --half-century ago.  I get to say, I was backstage as a guest of Joe Mansfield at Columbia Records.  I was the first Top-40 radio PD to report ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ to the national trades as a hit.  I asked if there would be a press conference and Bob said he would only do it in a grease pit, Joe found one but the star backed out.  He stayed at the old Vila Capri.  Joe later told me that Bob said he was the first guy in a suit he trusted.  I am sure old-time UT frat boys and old-time Austin musicians will show up for this tribute.  Bob's show in the now gone Muni Auditorium was two sets, the first acoustic and second with the Hawks.  Of course everyone knew he was booed at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival for doing rock music and lambasted in Sing Out! so several local folk music lovers accommodated and booed and then quickly got caught up in it.  After visiting the motel it was a long drive home at 2 a.m. but I had the energy of not yet turning 25 and in those days there wasn't that much traffic on I-35.“
Hit version:
Accustic version w/ lyrics and Ginsberg:
Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015
Threadgill's World Headquarters Presents:
THE FIRST WALTZ - Austin Goes Electric
An All-Star Austin Salute to the 50th
Anniversary of Bob Dylan and the Band's First Concert
It has been called one of the most remarkable events in American music history.  On Sept. 24, 1965, Bob
Dylan played his first ever concert in Texas. It was also the very first time he shared the stage with the group of musicians who would come to be known as The
Band.  This explosive combination which changed music history forever was first ignited at the Austin Municipal Auditorium.  On Sunday, Sept 27, 2015 Threadgills will present a collaboration of local musical icons and lone star
legends paying tribute to this historic concert. Proceeds with benefit SIMS Foundation, celebrating 20 years of providing low-cost mental health services for Austin musicians.Artists are subject to change, as we know.  Here are the musicians hoping to perform at the event as of today:  Jon Dee Graham, Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland, Sabrina Ellis, Denny Freeman, Rosie Flores, Beaver, Nelson, Miles Zuniga, Jesse Dayton, John Evans, Mario Matteoli, Kelley, Mickwee, Ben Ballinger, Danny B Harvey, Annie Marie Lewis, Jonathan, Terrell Ramsay Midwood, Elsa Cross, Jimmy Smith, Mike Nicolai.

Sounds like a heck of an event!  Wish I could be there.  Nothing like live!  Just FYI:  Barbara and I were there at Forest Hill Tennis Club when Bob Dylan went public with electricity!

Larry Woodside:  “This was from Charlie Van Dyke on Facebook this morning.  So sorry to hear it.  A few years ago she came to visit with me for a week and we had a ball.  Many will miss her.  Have you heard what caused her passing?  RIP, Shana. When I was PD at KHJ, I brought her to LA from San Francisco.  She worked over nights.  Our shifts crossed every day at 6AM.  I loved driving in, listening to her skills on the air.  Her first language was German, so her English had a unique quality that you couldn't nail down.  KHJ's first lady dj.  A lady, indeed!”

Frank Boyle:  “Love your Commentary -- lotta very insightful programming stuff that salesguys like me never were privy to.  Hal Whitney -- Ron Ruth was GM of WOR- FM.  He tried to sell me 260,000 WOR- FM sweatshirts when station was sold.  Bill Musser (Susquehanna fame) was GM of Long Island stations then, I think.  Getting fired -- in retrospect -- was a learning experience.  I got fired 5 times.  My first job out of Michigan State in 1950 was as seller of Charities for the new experiment in Detroit called the United Foundation -- we represented 100 Charities -- got dropped when Fall Campaign was over.  Then to US Tobacco, maker of Copenhagen/ Skoal Snuff -- Model & Old Briar pipe tobacco -- I covered the Eastern half of Michigan.  I had to make 20 sales calls a day whether I drove 20 blocks or 20 Miles calling on Retail outlets of tobacco. After a year my Boss fired me because I 'd put on my daily report to him that I screwed a Model Pipe Tobacco sign on a Mom N Po supermarket front door in suburban Detroit.  I made him drive me to that store.  He pointed out to me that the front door had a Lucky Strike kick plate. I took him inside to show him that ‘our’ kickplate was on the inside of the door.  Next to General Electric Supply Company of S. Michigan where I got exposed to Radio & TV and Newspapers.  I was Asst Mgr of Sales Promotion and  of Advertising.  Fancy title helping our 114 Franchised GE & Hotpoint Appliance Dealers buy Ads partially with our Co-op Funds.  Now called NTR – Non-Traditional Radio.  I bought time & newspaper space … wrote ads … bought time … did Spec spots for radio & TV acting as an ad agency.  Had zero prior training or experience in print or Broadcast advertising.  Had been taken to fancy restaurants for lunch and drinks by local time Salesmen in new cars making about $25,000 yrly.  I had a 39 Chevy making $75 a wk -- I figured if I could sell spots half as good as those guys I could make $12,000 yrly and drive a new DeSoto.  Got fired after 18 months because guy whom I replaced had come back from Korean War and rule was he got his job back.  I was hired by WJR 50 KW, 1A Clear Channel, 760 CBS Affiliate, in 1953 as a Rookie.  I loved it.  Got promoted to Local Sales Mgr. in 2 yers.  We were the originating station for Detroit Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and University of Michigan football and baseball.  WJR had a staff of 80 -- 35 piece orchestra doing three live shows a day -- 12 announcers --  12 newsmen, etc., on 3 floors of Fisher Bg.

“I had three management problems.  Our VP/Station Mgr. had been a PD -- never had anything to do with sales -- we were paid salary and yearend mystery Mgt. Bonus.  I felt we should be on commission.  Our FM was automated Classical Music operating literally out of a closet in main engineering space.  After 7 yrs. supervising sales and traffic, I got fired for arguing above points plus fact I was not permitted to revise Rate Card sections to show 6-10 AM and 3-7PM drive times.  For past 20 yrs. WJR had three sections -- 7AM-7PM, 7PM to Midnight and Midnight to 7AM.  Jim Quello was in an nearby office as VP of Publicity and Sales promotion … later GM when Cap Cities bought it and later FCC Chairman.  In 1959 I was hired by a new National Radio Sales Rep Firm -- Robert E Eastman -- to be their first Detroit Mgr.  Loved it!  Difference between selling nationally, repping 70 stations in 60 markets and selling locally is the difference between Gin Rummy and Master point bridge.  Transferred to New York Office in 1961.  Spent next 25 yrs there going thru the chairs up to president/Chairman of the Board.  Got fired by the Board in 1985 because my goal was to buy or build 4 added Rep Firms so we could represent more than one Client per mkt.  Blair, Katz and Interep were already doing that.  They preferred to be a Singleton Boutique.  In 2 yrs went bankrupt, sold to Jacor and Katz.

“I knew down deep I was going to get fired at United Foundation, US Tobacco, GE and WJR.  But I had this stupid stubborn streak that made me refuse to quit. Actually getting fired made me improve my business status and income -- in every instance.  I had been told by the ‘Big Guys’ … ‘Keep your Options Open … remember, your management always does that as far their employees are concerned’.  I never learned that basic business lesson.  Loyalty came first.

“For past several years I have a counseling service at my Greenwich Church.  Greenwich, CT, is maybe the wealthiest town in the US.  My Pastor, Jesuit, asked me to do this.  Because our parish had over 20 executives who'd been fired yet still put on the 3-piece suit -- with briefcase -- and take commuter train to and from Manhattan -- couldn't admit to their families for six months that they'd been canned.  And I was a professional at getting fired.  My job and my counseling associates explained to the Fired Guys that their second greatest fear was the opening question by the prospective Interviewer looking up from their Resumes – ‘If you're such a Hot Shit, why you'd get fired from your last job?’  We explained that all Interviewers have been fired at least once.  They really want to see how you answered that question -- to compare how the Interviewers did. We train them how to positively answer that question and rewrite their resumes.  I apologize for rambling on you on the ‘getting fired’ subject.  You hit a resonant chord in my business life.  Getting fired and firing people are learning experiences.  Agreed?”

Frank, great on you!  Damned good article!  Especially the counseling part.  So apt!  My compliments.  Wish everyone could read this bit.

Doc Wendell:  “Hi, Claude.  Here is my latest record pick.  I plan on eventually turning these into a book no one will read.”

Joe Nick Patoski: “Hey, y’all, I’ve tried to avoid bombarding you with Kickstarter emails, but we are seven days away from our deadline, with $35,000 to go to reach our $75,000 goal at noon on July 30.  If you’re already backed the project, thanks for getting on board.  Please spread the word about what we’re up to.  If you haven’t backed the film, so we can pay for music licensing, screen the film in wide release, and get Doug into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now’s the time.  I’ll be at the Doug Sahm tribute at the Viva Big Bend music fest in Alpine, Texas Thursday, July 23 (who knows? we might even sneak preview the film for fans in Far West Texas around 6:30 Thursday night … hint, hint).  Next Wednesday, July 29, is the big Sir Doug Kickstarter blow out at the Broken Spoke in Austin with Shawn Sahm, Augie Meyers, Alvin Crow, Speedy Sparks, Ernie Durawa, Ray Benson, Bruce Robison, Jack Ingram, Kimmie Rhodes, and a house band led by Tom Lewis and featuring John X Reed.  C’mon out and let’s party Doug to the finish line.  Remember, Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal.  If we don’t meet the $75K target, we get nada.  So, por favor, back us if you can.  We’ve made a great film that tells Doug’s story.  Now we’ve pushed all our chips to the table to get this film the wide exposure it deserves.  Red or black, double or nothing.  Groove with us.  Let the world know about Doug Sahm and Doug Sahm’s music.  Be real.”

Joe Nick, I would love to be there.  Exciting!  And I wish I had funds to contribute.  However, old former radio-TV editors seem to always live short of funds.  Blame it on Lee Zhito.  He wasn’t a very nice person.  Rollye James can tell you.  Or read “Xtreme” at Books and you might get a glimpse of what I mean.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 74r2

Today at 3:59 PM
July 20, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 74
By Claude Hall

Bobby Ocean:  “Hope this note finds you enthused and sailing on the vibes of inspiration.  Positive Energy like this takes all the work out of whatever it is we do.  After reading an article recently, I started writing to myself about the state of radio and how it is misunderstood by even those who have been in the biz for a few decades. Those personal notes {started, ‘Dear Bobby Ocean, There they go again, misunderstanding the bigger picture right out of the box...’} steamrolled into the observations I enclose below.  Hope you have nothing against cutting and pasting for posting, should you decide to use the following assembled thoughts on ‘fixing radio’.

“The question put to us recently by Fred Jacobs (on; ‘The Revenge of the DJ’) is, ‘Can broadcast radio go back to its archives, re-read its history, look in the mirror, and save itself by updating and modernizing its own programming model?’

“Let's clarify.  Who is WE in this inquiry?  Is it the DJs or the Management having them replaced?  Regardless, the answer to that question is ‘there is no such thing as a broadcast radio to revaluate or interpret itself anymore. Only the PEOPLE inside those establishments can do those things’.

“There ARE multiply operated stations, corporate-owned clusters of broadcast facilities, but there is no longer the community's very own individual radio station, the one entity that COULD look in the mirror and see something reflected back.  It has been sold to the highest bidder.  In its place, Management finds an empty building filled with recording and playback equipment, which returns all questions without response.  There's no one really there, just a bunch of machines, each with an input slot marked ‘content’.  Now, trying to pay off that enormous price tag, the corporation which now owns the station, along with several more high-cost broadcast properties in town, is strapped for dough, thus firing any paycheck cashing soul on board their sinking ship(s).  That done, the ‘content’ is no longer in house, and for remaining staff the climate is fear, which does not foster positive growth and advancement.  The opportunities for making things work effectively are crushed by the clusters' role model at the top, who usually knows nothing about the business and techniques of entertainment and certainly cannot be counted on to lift the station from it's sinking position and set it on an upright course.

“So how can something very real be saved by something unreal, a an abstract idea, an icon?  It cannot, of course.  An idea without a patron can do nothing, let alone go back to its archives, re-read its history, look in the mirror, and save itself by updating and modernizing its own programming, a red herring thrown in by the misguided guys at the top of the cluster.

“Programming isn't even close to the problem - or solution.  The Management who eliminated Those That Understand broadcasting and entertainment and know how to make it turn a buck, missed the chance at a solution as they watched her pack her belongings into a cardboard box and head for the elevator.  Not only did they miss their chance at turning the ratings and listenership around, they created a very real, accumulating problem by cutting costs in the division of the station dedicated to its product, that which goes on the air -- the money-making house.  Programming is the key organ in the body of any radio station.  It is the station's heart.  It is where the station 's identity lives.  Letting on-air people go, based on money amount they earned and not their talent or contribution to the team, has, at the least, the consequences of losing any forward momentum, the continued harboring of the existing chaos and firmly keeping major obstacles in place.

“That which is conceptual, cannot be saved by something that also isn't even here.  The best thing a boss in this situation CAN do is stop and accept the fact that he and his club know nothing about their number one product, the business of entertaining on radio, then realize this reality is killing their investment.  With this awareness, a person determined to succeed in broadcast radio will immediately begin a recruitment search for those who do know entertainment and can share their body of knowledge with the rest of the staff.  Again, there is no such thing any more as the ‘broadcast radio’ we once knew.  ‘It’ cannot do anything because there is no ‘it’ there.  ‘It’ consisted of PEOPLE coordinating their best efforts to create something much bigger than the inventory of its parts, but, in a colossal management misperception, the very employees that could actually have bolstered and saved the radio station were considered a liability.

“It has fallen much farther by now than those incipient days of new management.  Once upon a time, decades ago, we, the DJs, created IT; made radio stations fire out a sound that compelled listeners to remain glued to their speakers; made an art out of the many different personalities and delivery styles, formats, music flow.  All the sad stories of misguided motivation sound the same.  New owners arrived, understanding and focusing solely on the bottom line, appointed and put in charge their Lords Of Minions, who agreed to loyally say yes to this impoverished plan.  The new boss' Yes Man then guided the ship along its Bottom Line Course and drove it straight to the bottom.

“The DJs (including Programmers, Music Directors) had been systematically released, and are not inside the operation anymore, so someone else has to re-read our history.  Even more significant: A larger percentage of what made that kind of radio successful, never brought into today's discussions, was the complete ambience within which it occurred.  Those beginning days of our good ol' audiences and new born enthusiasm have passed, and with them, many of the relatable major ‘secret ingredients’ that made the life of the radio station seem so vibrant and personal.  Once, DJs were responding to the same environment as that of our listeners, in their language.  We were accepted as part of their everyday life.  It was 'groovy.'  That context isn't here any longer.  We've grown, evolved, passed the last century by along with its ‘far out’ characteristics.  Oh no, it's gone!  What to do?

“Well, assuming today's radio stations valued listeners enough to listen to them, those with an on-air Programming sense, a dissatisfied DJ probably, would turn her attention to Now -- what's happening Here and in this Present Moment -- and find words that are relevant to, and extrapolate from, the endless current associations and connections to THIS TIME we are passing through now.  Nowadays we watch as our supervisors, having handed us a pink slip, try in vain to understand and react to their audiences, and swerve around and into them.  They don't ‘hear’ the audience, do not understand them, do not know what they want and consider them ‘in the way’.  They're blocking profits.

“The question, ‘Can broadcast radio go back to its archives, re-read its history ... and save itself by updating and modernizing its own programming model?’ has a simple answer for both entities described as WE here.  ‘No’.  If the ‘we’ in this question is DJs, we can go back to our common radio archives, examine our history and gaze into the eyes looking back from the mirror til our heart's content, but we still cannot save a medium that is being hobbled from above our position and within our ranks.

“If the ‘we’ in this question is management, they must consider their DJs, their content presenters, as assets.  They must transform their way of seeing things into those of someone watching our back and be willing to move into a sense of support.  From management, DJs simply want to be recognized for what they do, and thus considered an asset of highest rank.  This means management must learn what it is DJs DO that raises the entire station, and then avidly support it.  If we are to go anywhere, we must do it all from scratch.  Then, starting from an empty format, ask the right questions, fill in the blanks.  Jump in with both feet and make mistakes; that's called ‘learning’.  And, while we have much to learn, we DJs have the background and interest to start fast and comprehend quickly, become aware of what works and what isn't correct and gain knowledge from our actions.  Scratch Radio -- that's the station I would have my money on.”

Bobby, my thanks.  It is an honor to partake of your wisdom.  Really be interesting to take a radio station in some medium market and let several “pros” see what they can do in that market in a year.  The late L. David Moorhead planned to do exactly this … first in Las Vegas.  He wanted to manage once again such as Mikel Hunter, Gary Allyn … you know the names.  Wild promotions (he had a notebook with more than 100).  Hard, quick news.  Ach!

Ken Dowe:  “We saw Tom Russell here in Santa Fe on Tuesday night.  It was a terrific show.  I mean one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Small venue, but filled. Tom is by equal measure:  A wonderful singer, incredible performer, and an extraordinary songwriter.  I very much enjoyed his scholarly and classical sources in a harmonic presentation of poetic stanzas in some stunning songs.  He’s written a Cowboy Opera.  I have it, and so should you.  Did you know he is also a artist?  A painter, not just of songs.  His works are available here in a Santa Fe gallery.  Most surprising to me was that Tom Russell is a superlative entertainer on stage.  Perfectly and amusingly engaging, to an audience that leaves believing he is their new best friend.  Maybe he will be...

“If I were a television executive, on Monday morning I would host a press conference proudly announcing that Tom Russell would be airing a new nighttime TV program on my network.  (On the order of Carson, or Letterman).  He’s that fine an entertainer.  Really … good.  I’ve seen some great shows during a long career and been backstage at many.  From the Beatles and Beach Boys, to the Grand Ole Opry.  I’ve enjoyed Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, and many more from Vegas and around the world.  But, Tuesday night in Santa Fe, Tom was as good as the best.  He had too many fans post-show for any long visit with Dottie, me, and our admiring 18-year-old, but his last comment to me was:  ‘That Claude Hall!  A GREAT man!!  Tell him!’

“Thanks for the introduction, Claude.  I very much appreciate.  Gotta get back now to his new opera and all his older songs I never tire of hearing.  Older, but still not deaf to great talent.”

Mel Phillips:  “I always look forward to contributing to your Commentary -- a masterpiece of memories made by radio and record people who contributed mightily to this business we've loved for a lifetime. You, my friend are the maestro conducting that symphony and no one does it better.  Today I'd like to touch on the subject that for years was taboo -- being fired.  For far too long our friends have carried around the stigma of rejection, failing to even admit they were ever fired.  I'm not one of those people.  Given the volatile nature of the radio and record business, it's not a disgrace to be fired.  In most cases the firing had nothing to do with performance. It's due more to new people coming in and bringing their friends with them.  Too bad if you stand in the way of that process.  I was fired five times but instead of treating those firings like a curse, I wear them as a badge of courage.  In each case I had the courage, confidence and persistence to keep going.  One of the Keys To Success I write about in my book ('From the Mailroom to the Majors') is 'Never, ever, give up': Persistence is more important than talent.  Everyone has some talent but not everyone refuses to give up.  Of the seven keys to success I've outlined, I would say the last one is the most important: Never, Ever Give Up.”

Mel, I was fired once.  From Cavalier magazine published by Fawcett.  They decided to take the magazine to a “girly” format from a “blood and thunder format.”  The new editor hired his own people.  I was given 15 minutes to clear my desk one Friday afternoon.  Whups, I was later “fired” when legendary magazine publisher George von Rosen closed down Casino magazine.  I was given four issues to make a go of the magazine … failed.  That’s when I went back to earn a master’s of education degree, largely via the encouragement of Bill Randle.

Doc Wendell:  “As you can see, it's been a busy summer so far. Here is my review of the new Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4. I've been waiting for this one for a long time.
Hope all is swingin'.  I'm still locked in one of my nerdy, obsessive compulsive jazz states right now but my audience seems to love my record recommendations. This one is on a great Sonny Rollins album.  I'm pretty sure Sonny Rollins is either god or tight with the head honcho.
I'm keeping busy in order to keep my sanity.  Here's my latest record pick.”

Doc, remember when you’re feeling blue that you’re a legacy.  Jack Roberts thought so … I think so.  Keep on keeping on!

Hal Whitney: “Claude:  “A couple of weeks ago someone mentioned Sebastian Stone as the PD of WOR-FM back in the late 60s.  Does anyone remember if Bill Musser was the GM around that time?  Thanks.”

Robert E. Richer: “For those who do not really comprehend why Facebook exists ... presently, I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.  Every day, I go down the street and tell passersby what I have eaten, how I feel, what I have done the night before, what I will be doing and plan to do.  I freely spout my political and religious thoughts without regard to theirs.  I give them pictures of my family, my friends, my dog, my vacations, my gardening and spending time in my pool. I also listen to their conversations and I tell them I love them.  And it works.  I already have three persons following me: two police officers and a psychiatrist.”

Bill Hatch:  “Re: Sebastian Stone, real name Ed (Edward) Phillips. I enjoyed Gary Allyn's Lee Baby/Gary Allyn/Dick Casper story.  All three players were at KCBQ during my tenure there, but I don't recall the incident referred to.  If it happened before I arrived, they had re-hired Lee Baby by the time I got there.  Unless it was he who got replaced by China Smith, I have no memory of Lee being fired before the arrival of Buzz Bennett and crew.  That changing of the guard essentially flushed out the entire air staff with the exception of the news guys (whew) and the all-night jock.  Of course, it was the '70s and there are many things I have no memory of.  Please keep up the Commentary.  It provokes fond memories and reminds me of the good fortune I had of being in radio on the west coast during that magical era.”

We are daydreamers all.  Part of human nature.  And just one of the reasons I’m now reading about Tarzan again (more perhaps about this later) and was once whisked away on the fantasies and science fiction of Theodore Sturgeon, Leigh Brackett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein.  Woody Roberts has gone with me on those flights of fantasy and journeys.

Woody Roberts:  “Just to let you know ... I did get to the Moon and to Mars.  And on Mars I have the most distinguished set of colleagues, was uber proud to make that journey with them.  A boyhood dream indeed.  Ever since I can remember my dream was to go into space, walk on the Moon and Mars and travel to the stars.  Always been an escapist.  It's looking as if my destiny is to remain Earth bound this time around, but ... tomorrow (14th) my name is on a disc attached to the side of the New Horizons spacecraft that will fly by Pluto and into the deep beyond.  Although I've gotten pretty far out in my life this event sets the record ;-)  WR aka WU aka GWU.”

When vaudeville was replaced, I guess, by the movies, vaudeville wasn’t really killed, per se … it sort of morphed.  I recall when I was in high school we’d have these “acts” that came around.  The principal would let everyone out for assembly.  The entire student body of Winters High School in Winters, TX, maybe 400, would convene in the auditorium and watch a “dog and pony” show.  Usually a dog act.  One dog would do amazing stunts, another cute stunts and one cute little dog did humor; she would run around the hoop rather than leap through it.

I was introduced to Bill Randle early in my Billboard career by legendary promotion guru Don Graham.  I recall doing the interview over a sandwich poolside of a swimming pool atop a Manhattan hotel just before Bill sped away to do his hourly show on WCBS radio.  Little did I know at the time that Bill would one day ask me to go with him to do a “dog and pony” show, circa 1981, at some high school west of Enid, OK.

Ostensibly, we were attempting to promote student recruitment.  There were about 30 students in a classroom.  Bill had introduced Elvis Presley the first time he was on TV and predicted that he was going to be a star.  Earlier, Bill had promoted a concert at a high school in Cleveland that featured Elvis Presley.  His red suit days.  I still have a photo of the occasion on this laptop.  Tommy Edward, a disc jockey on WERE along with Bill, is shown with Bill and Elvis and Elvis’ bassman.  But the “dog and pony” show just showed the TV introduction clip and some other acts and and Bill Randle talked about music.  The 30-minute TV cassette was the pre-runner to what Bill hoped to sell for television, a show called “The Selling of Elvis.”

I doubt if we recruited many students that day for Phillips University.  But I still believe it was a good idea.  I think he did it once again.  I didn’t go.

A funny:  I was watching a basketball game a month or so ago (I sometimes tape a Clipper game – Barbara and I are huge Clipper fans -- to watch it again later) and, behold, there was a dog show during the half-time.  Cute little dog catching a frizzby while doing a flip.

Bill Desing: “Claude, You probably know about this Billboard history site, but just in case:
There is also the main page with other publications:
I look forward to reading your emailing every Monday as much as I looked forward to your column in Billboard.  Keep it up as I'm sure I'm not alone.”

You know, Bill, it’s sometimes difficult to believe that I was probably famous.  A funny:  I used to tell my students at the State University of New York at Brockport that I was more or less a tin god … and then remind them that tin rusts easily.

John Long: “The mention of my name as someone who introduced you to someone at an NAB convention had me going for a moment.  By strange coincidence, when I was in radio at one point I was ‘Dr. John Winston’.  Just another piece of radio trivia or should I say a trivial piece of radio history!  Loved your story about Mr. Ellis and Bob Van Camp.  Bob played organ at the Fox Theater and was music director.  When I worked with Morris Diamond when he was head of promotion for Mercury, I took ‘A Walk in the Black Forest’ by Horst Jankowski quickly over to Bob at WSB.  He put it right on the air.  I was so proud because i was a real ‘green pea’ promotion man.  The Georgia Radio Hall of Fame has a special award in honor of Mr. Ellis.  His daughter Janet Ellis Beerman is the one who presents the award in years when someone is selected.  This year the honoree is retired CBS White House correspondent Peter Maer.  Another interesting tidbit about Mr. Ellis: When Hank Aaron was about to hit his record 714th home run, Mr. Ellis recorded a song called ‘Hammerin Hank’.  It's attached for your listening pleasure.  Here are a couple of pictures you might enjoy.  Hello to Mrs. Hall!”

T’was a different Long.  Involved in jingles.  Very important man at the time.  Always been grateful to him for introducing me to Dr. Tom Turrichi.  Big news story.  Scoop!  Thanks for the pictures!