Monday, November 17, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 38r2

Today at 7:44 AM
November 17, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 38
By Claude Hall

Lyn Stanley’s “Potions – From the 50s” CD is beautiful and superb and the acoustic quality will startle you.  It’s like listening to music for the very first time in your life!

I go back to early stereo.  Long before I joined Billboard and got involved in promoting/forcing stereo radio and later quad records and quad broadcasting, I bought one of the first stereo LPs.  Louis Armstrong on Audio Fidelity.  At Colony Records on Broadway in Manhattan.   I still have it.  In fact, I probably also have the second largest collection of quadrasonic in the world.  Still have my demodulator.  I used to invite people up to the house just to hear quad.  I had quad in my study and in my bedroom – both discrete and matrix – and stereo out over the swimming pool.

This is just to let you know that if you like quality audio, you’re going to love this CD by Lyn Stanley.  The difference is magnificent!  Even on this laptop.
You can hear everything!  The lilt of her voice, which you’ll love on “Lullaby of Birdland.”  Every nuance of her singing is there.  Superb phrasing.  Bright, sophisticated.  Wonderful to listen to!  I believe you’ll enjoy every song on this CD.  I liked “Cry Me a River,” “Hey There,” “I’m Walkin’,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “After the Lights Go Down Low.”  Difficult to find a tune that isn’t tremendous.  Call it jazz. Call it adult contemporary.  I’ve listed all of the songs as ballads, the same as Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Annie Lennox, and Glen Campbell and Frank Sinatra.

Lord, but you’re great, lady!

Lyn Stanley: “Just in from my performance in L.A. this past weekend.  Thought you might like to read this:

“It’s Lani Bennett here... just to let you know how much i enjoy your Commentary!  I am now FB friends with three powerful radio/music guys from my past... Gil Bateman, Bob Hamilton, Mark Driscoll and, lucky me, Bobby Ocean has never left my life.  Or my heart!  Please let me know where i can order the book Aircheck?  Thank you for all that you do  for the world of Radio & Music ... certainly now and ‘then’.  Still no news regarding Buzz.  Did hear from a close former friend of his. That his disease of addiction took him all the way down. That was in 1997 this person saw Buzz ... said it was a super bad situation ... sad to hear.  But my early recovery days... all I heard over’n’over again in the AA rooms ... addiction ends 3 ways... jails... institutions and death.  Kinda beginning to think he has passed on from this world... but ... you never know?  Anyway best to you alway ... Cheers!”

Can’t help you about “Aircheck,” Lani, but perhaps someone reading this has information that I could pass along to you.  Thanks for the email.

Art Wander:  “Having read all your columns, and also the items in Hollywood Hills, I finally saw the name of one of the great air personalities in the glory years of Top 40 radio.  That’s Danny Neaverth, a person who I consider a friend and who I wanted to hire at both WMGM and then WOR-FM.  In Buffalo and the Eastern Seabord, Danny is a legend.  Danny always refers to one time during our time together at WKBW in Buffalo.  Before I left to join McLendon in the late 50s, WKBW had 15-minute newscasts.   Though Danny was a jock, he read his own news.  I wrote the news for him and then I noticed a mis-pronunciation of a word I wrote.  The next 15 newscasts I wrote for him, he was shocked that I typed every work phonetically.  The became thuh.  Person was typed pehrson.   Buffalo was Buhfahlow.  I was eye … and so on.  Instead of 3 or 4 pages of news, he had a stack in the form of a large book.  To this day, in recalling that event, Danny mentions it.  As for his contributions to the industry, no one was more fondly accepted by the Buffalo audience than Danny Neaverth.  Now, I’ll probably get a reply from Don Berns for not mentioning him.”

I, too, think of Dan Neaverth as a legend.  You think of Buffalo, you think of Dan Neaverth.  He was/is Buffalo.

Robert E. Richer:  “Took HOA’s advice and tuned into his program.  Wonderful!  Not the kind of radio available anywhere else on the planet.  Just warm, heartfelt and great fun!
Give it a listen.”

His ratings are pretty nice, too.  Good on you, HOA!

Bob Fead:  “Simple thanks, just makes the day so rewarding!”

I like Don Imus.  Since the day he did an Eldridge Cleaver “Look a Like” contest in Palmdale, CA.  One of the funniest things I ever wrote was the interview of Imus and Robert W. Morgan.  Imus is great.  I know for a fact that Jack G. Thayer, once head of NBC Radio, was proud of him.  So I was a little upset that Imus thought Thayer had done him dirt, so to speak.  And if it was true, I was upset about that, too.  At this stage in my tender young life, I hope all that is “under the bridge,” to use an old cliché.  At least, I hope so.  Burt Sherwood, as everyone who knows him knows, is a damned nice guy.  Salt of the earth.  All of those clichés.  I like Burt Sherwood.  If Jack hurt Don in any way, I hope that Don forgives him.  And that Burt forgives us all.  Basically, I don’t want any of my friends teed off at each other.  It’s late in the game, folks.

Burt Sherwood received Commentary a little late and replied:  “Thanks I got it and read it first on my cell phone then re-read it this morning.  I was glad that I got it late as the stomach was churning from the comments about Thayer.  In the scheme of things I have forgotten about Perry Bascom.  I met him when we were at a meeting in Bahamas... I was in Philly then.  He was a very nice man.  The comment about Jack wanting Imus to be fired and Sherman to bring him back is crazy... Jack found Imus when he was working in Sacramento, and heard Imus on the air at another station... Imus got fired there and Jack thought so much of him that he took him to Cleveland with him... and then to WNNNNNBC New York.  Over most of that period I was in weekly conversations on the phone with Jack.  I know Pittman was sent to bring him back... if Imus still thinks it was Sherman and Pittman ... that is OK ... I do not think he remembered much from all that at that time in his life... and I leave it there.  All I know is that Imus never showed at Jack's Memorial in New York as I was one of the eulogizers for Jack. I looked up and commented that there are some people missing here who have short memories ... the house that Jack built wherever he was ... was always trying to be the  best ... ask Frank Boyle about the Thayer days in NYC... he repped both NBC stations, Chicago and New York... I worked for a lot stations as first as anannoucer/dejay ... then as a manager... the 8 AM calls from Jack on the inside line were legendary.  My management days were never better or more supported than they were with Thayer ... we did well for him ... I asked him one day ... if we had not done so well would he have canned me!  The big blue eyes opened wide and he laughed and he said ‘certainly’.  When Jack was terminated I called him and said I wanted to quit... he said he’d pound me to the floor if I did.  He yelled at me and made me stay ... and I guess it got back to Silverman as I got a terrific raise to be on board ... my wife Anne liked that very much.  There was no one like Thayer ... and the memories I see written are in 3/4 time ... almost all the facts are almost there to get it to 4/4, but a lot is missing and not true ... and if it were not for Thayer most of your bloggers on this subject would have never gotten as far as they did... and I cleaned that up a lot... I am pissed!”

Jimmy rabbitt, a couple of years ago, offered me this great old cliché in regards of a ratings disagreement between him and a competitor, Frank Jolley, in Dallas:  “It’ll all come out in the wash.”  First time I heard that line was when I was a kid.  From my grandmother Pearl Gilmore Smith.  Mel, Don, Burt and you others: let’s cool it until the final wash.

David Carroll:  “Thanks again … what a nice pick-me-up each Monday!  And it’s great to see a mention of Ron Brandon.  We were lucky he passed through Chattanooga a few times.”

I listen to music a great deal.  The person who introduced me to Little Feat was Rob Moorhead, once music director of K100-FM in Los Angeles.  Great group.  Now and then, I have to hear “Jamaica Will Break Your Heart” on the “Rooster Rag” CD.  Great music is great music.

Just FYI, Frankie Avalon performed at the South Point here in Las Vegas on Nov. 14-16.  Tickets from $45.  And a show “Ricky Nelson Remembered” is at South Point Nov. 21-23 featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.  As I recall, a couple of Bobby Vee’s sons were performing in the band, including Tommy and Jeff Velline.

Larry Cohen sent me information that Jim Schwartz, president of Schwartz Brothers Dist., died last Wednesday at 91.  The news spread like wildfire in the music industry.  He was a great music man.  Everyone knew him.  A major contributor to the entire music industry not only in the states, but around the world.  Schwartz Brothers was one of the great independent record distributors.  A sign of the time(s).  We come, we do, we go.

I asked Danny Davis for some information regarding Rudy Maugeri, who I believe was once music director at KFI in Los Angeles and prior to that a member of the Crewcuts.  “Authorman: Right on both counts!  Youse' ain't lost it kid!  Lemme let ya' in on what's wit me!  Got an appointment wit' da' neuro-surgeon on the 24th!  Gonna' adjust the shunt in my head!  Ain't had it done since I went in for NPH years ago!  Writing that piece for you wuz 'sumpin' else!  When the shunt need 'tweaking', you're a LOT 'loopy'!  Trying to stay good till the 24th.  Give a shout out for a cancellation, from anybody, so's I can get it done sooner!  Best to ya', once again!”

Good luck on the medical stuff, Danny.  I’ll say a prayer for you.

Danny Davis:  “Claudius!  Leavin' this email same as it came to me!  I wuz trying to help another friend get Freddy Cannon to do a show at Sun City!  This shocker came this AM!  I know Freddy wouldn't wanna' spoil The Gramcrackers birthdate!  Freddy IS a GOOD GUY!”

From Freddy Cannon to Danny Davis:  “Danny, you’re a good friend, but I had open heart surgery on Sept. 26.  Also have COPD.  Trying to recover.  It’s been rough.”

Prayers are in order for Freddy Cannon.  We wish you a speedy recovery, Freddy.  You’re a valuable part of American musical history.  Come to think of it, so’s Danny Davis!

Scott “Scooter” Segraves:  “Claude, read Commentary with great enjoyment every week but usually don’t have anything to add.  Sadly, today I’ve just seen this on Facebook’s “Pop Jocks” page:  Joe Knight, a giant among Baltimore radio greats, has died.  Never got to hear his show, since he'd migrated to Baltimor e by the time I started at Tulsa University in fall '58. But listening at night to KRMG (BTW, a primary reason for my college choice), I frequently heard 'Young' John Chick or 'Doc' Hull refer to afternoons with ‘the Knights of the spinning turntable’."

Good to hear from you, Scooter!

Don Sundeen: “My only real memory of Peggy Lee was at the time of ‘Is That All There Is’, promotion man Sammy Alfano presented her with a $5,000 cake to celebrate the record's golden success.  She loved it, and he got away with it.  I imagine that knowing that she was the inspiration for Miss Piggy resonated with her need for love and attention in a very interesting way.  After reading this, I was glad I never had to work with her, because I had plenty of ‘Problem Children’ as it was,  speaking of which; I'm trying to get my head around a Jerry Lee Lewis piece, there’s only room for so much craziness.  If that sounds like something you might like let me know, ditto if you’d prefer these to stop.”

Sundeen sent an item on Peggy Lee by Michelle Dean reviewing a new book on Peggy Lee titled “Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee.”  Barbara and I caught Peggy Lee’s act in Las Vegas about 30 or 40 years ago.  She was great.  She demanded the best, when it came to music.  I recall that she flew in a musician from Los Angeles, an almost legendary harmonica player who doubled on guitar.  Can’t recall his name at the moment.  But she wanted him in her band and he sat front and center.  One of the great pities in life is that Dave Dexter, a veteran writer and record producer, never did his intended book with her.  He knew her well.  He wrote several penetrating and fascinating books about music.  I have a couple of them in my study that he autographed and gave to me.  One is called “Playback.”  I treasure these.  I’ve often wondered what he might have said about her.  This new book by James Gavin published by Atrium probably paints a cruddy picture of her.  From the review.  I shall not read Gavin’s book.  I thought she was sensational and my memory will keep that view of her.  “Fever,” to me, is a classic.  God bless Peggy Lee!

Jonathan Little: “Dave ‘Duke’ Sholin recently turned me on to a new book that’s a poetic history of pop music number ones.  I think you’d love a new book called – ‘Number One Songs – The First Twenty Years’, a poem by Larry Irons.

Larry was a jock for years, stopping along the way in Vegas, Sacramento, and San Diego.  He creatively weaves song histories, snippets of artist bios and his reflections on life and radio into a totally cool book that is so much fun!   I just spoke with Larry and he’d like to send you a copy.  Just email him where to send it.”

Claude Hall, 2563 Paradise Village Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120

Ron Jacobs: “Aloha, Claude. The Longhorns kicked ass and we await the sunrise. Monday is Commentary Day, hooray!  Most of our written correspondence has been private, between the two of us.  Man, goin’ back decades, can you believe?  I do have something I wish to share with your readers, even if they possibly may not be old Jewish and Italian men, most of whom worked in radio and records on the East Coast when they and Top 40 were young. Hey, I kid you, in yellow highlight letters!  I have been into computers since 1972 and have decided as my final shot to merge into one lane on the info highway.  My blog of seven years in its current form, and my Facebook postings, have now been merged to unify things.  As we both realize, we never know what word will be our last to type.  We pay, we cum, we split.  Please include the following URL among all the boss favors you’ve done to encourage, yay, support, my bipolarized ego. I will awaken in the dark out here in Lava Land to see if you were able to include this.  Hello to anyone I know.  Where I’m at is:”

My apology to Ron Jacobs.  I got this too late for last week’s Commentary.  Just FYI, Ron presently lives in Hawaii, his native land.  He sent me some photos of the volcano the other day.  Fascinating!

I was a few hours late in sending out the last Commentary, thus this note:

Mel Phillips:  “Well worth the wait, Claude. It was brilliant. And how in the world did you get Imus to comment? I loved that. I know Jack Thayer did a lot of great things and you were a big fan. Everything I mentioned about him in connection with his feelings about Imus and the conversations he had with Perry Bascom are absolutely true.  And yes, I might be a bit biased about Jack because he fired me, brought in Warner and Pittman, who put his girl friend (at the time) Ellie Dylan on morning drive replacing Imus. Not his best move.  Finally, it's all ancient history.  Let's live in the present.  I try to do that about 99.9% of the time.  Best.”

Bob Barry, referring to a previous request for into:  “My error, Claude, in asking about Herb Oscar Anderson.  It was POA, Paul Oscar Anderson, that was hired at WOKY in 1970.  I think George Wilson brought him in. Do you know anything about him?  Great voice.”

No information at the moment, Bob.  I know the name, but ….

Latest promotional gem from Don Graham is a four-tune CD by smooth-voiced Matt Forbes featuring Christmas songs, including a sassy big band version of “White Christmas.”  From F3 Records.  Damon Tedesco did the recording.  You’ll also like “Mele Kalikimaka.”  I was thinking as I listened to this package that it’s nice when the old generation fades away a new and very excellent singer like Matt comes along.  He may not be a replacement for Frank Sinatra, but he certainly fills the vacuum left by those great singers of yore.

News from Don Sundeen:  “John Sebastian recently returned to Phoenix where he’s starting a voice-over business.  Who better to chat about that with than the great Charlie Van Dyke?”

Charlie Van Dyke and John Sebastian, November 2014, below.

Two of my sons are hip when it comes to music, John A. Hall, Esq., and Andy Hall, English college professor at UNLV, Las Vegas (Bobby Vee gave Andy a guitar lesson).  This review of “My Dream Duets” featuring Barry Manilow and others on Verve Records is by Andy Hall.

“The album will speak to ‘Fanilows’ and even casual listeners as it is well done and showcases Manilow's voice quite well.  Highlights are the Whitney Houston track – “I Believe in You and Me” -- which deserves a few Grammy nods as it blends Barry's and Whitney's pipes so well it seems natural and revelatory.  Potentially a bigger hit than Whitney's late-90s rendition.  The song was originally written for Levi Stubbs Jr. of the Four Tops.  Also trading verses and harmonizing with John Denver, Manilow's crisp, pop could-be-operatic voice provides a nice contrast with Denver's light twang.  Manilow shows on this album he can do anything he wants, and as Durante suggests, following the heart is what matters.  If Manilow wanted hipsters, he could work with Rick Rubin, if he wanted to do opera or country, he could do it.  Give this album a spin and you will see Marilyn Monroe swinging with Manilow in your dreams.”

Thank you, Andy.  I should point out that Manilow’s duets also include Mama Cass, Sammy Davis Jr., and others.

Scott St. James: “From my view, this was the birthday party of ALL birthday parties.  Two tremendous Hawaiian singers who were also big time musicians, great turnout, great food and a very happy Don Graham.  I could go on and on, but.....WOW!!!!!”

Among those at the birthday party and shown here with Don Graham is singer Lyn Stanley.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 37r2

Today at 2:33 PM
November 10, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 37
By Claude Hall

Herb Oscar Anderson:  “So great to read your Commentary.  So many of the old names ... such good memories ... would it be wrong to ask you to mention I'm still pumping out a song or two and would love to hear from the old gang?  The show is ‘Conversation’ and we talk about the way it was and still sing a song ... Google on the web ... WOSN FM.  We're trying a new experience combining the web, Facebook, and podcast.  The results after two years is rather gratifying ... we try to make it like old-time radio.”

If you’d like to touch bases with HOA, drop me an email and I’ll forward it to him.  I told HOA that I considered him a legend.  But, come to think about it, we’ve got a lot of really good people contributing to Commentary now and then, including Dan Neaverth later.  And all of them are fun.

Lyn Stanley:  “Super newsletter -- as always!  I have a show coming up this weekend on Saturday night at Vitellos in Studio City.  A great band -- and I will reveal a very special story about ‘Cry Me a River’ that I just received from Arthur Hamilton.  My new album is out.  Radio promo next quarter.  Could I send you an advanced copy?  Where?”

So I sent her my address.

Lyn Stanley:  “I will send it, Claude.  I entered my first singing contest.  It went on for months and had over 500 entrants from around the world.  It is called 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.  I came in as a Top 40 Finalist.  Over 4,000 songs were submitted.  Ann Callaway Hampton was one of the judges.  Winners were from all over the world.”

Good on you and God Bless Sarah Vaughan.

John Barger:  “Please slip me Red Jones' email.  I want to reconnect with him.  By the way, in addition to doing mornings and PDing in Houston at KILT during the late '50s, did he do an overnight ‘trucker show’ later on WWL in New Orleans, say in the 70s or early 80s, and in between, mornings at KTSA in San Antonio?  Also, was the guy in Detroit mentioned by Bill Hennes, Mickey Schorr, any relation to Arnie Schorr, PD at KHJ in the very early 60s (pre-Drake) who had Lucky Pierre Gonneau starring late mornings (9-12N)?  Thanks in advance.  Keep the great columns coming.”

I forwarded John’s note to Jones and Hennes and also Larry White, who, I think, knew Lucky Pierre.  Ah, the trucker show.  Does it exist anymore?  Larry Shaw, KLAC, Los Angeles, may have not been the biggest, but he was good.  He even learned how to drive a rig and would go on the road.  Last I knew, he was driving a mail truck out in the Texas panhandle.  This was quite a few years ago.

Bill Hennes said the Schoors were not related.

Jim Ramsburg: “The smell of molten lead in an open tank next to a linotype machine.  I still remember that smell from going to the printer to file late sports stories for the Minnesota Daily back in the fifties, handing my copy to the operator with a cigarette hanging from his mouth who set the machine in motion with a loud clanging sound.  (With all those fumes I wonder what his life expectancy was?)   What newspapers are missing today (among other things) is sound - the sound of typewriters in the newsroom and linotype machines in the composing room and people yelling over them to be heard.  The last time I was in a newspaper office I remarked to my escort, ‘It's as quiet as a mortuary in here!’  He replied, ‘That's appropriate’, he replied.

“Did you happen to notice an item from November 7, 1949, on This Week In The Golden Age at  Where would Bill Drake have been without that?  (How's that for a cheap way to earn another page hit?)  Speaking of hits, my web site got 6,400 in October, a new month's record.  I returned home this afternoon from a fast four days at Health Park Hospital in Ft Myers -- a beautiful facility where a surgery team performed a transcatheter aortic valve transplant procedure on my heart on Thursday and then popped two stents into my heart's arteries on Friday.  They didn't even give me time or reason to complain about the food!”

Jim, anyone with two stents can make Commentary.

Mel Phillips: “Loved your last Commentary. In it, the whereabouts of Perry Bacom were asked about. Sadly, Perry, my GM at WNBC passed away several years ago. After retiring he and his wife moved near Atlanta where Cathy opened an antique shop. Perry lived a retired life. We stayed in touch up until the end. While talking about Perry, I'm reminded about how supportive he was of me as PD of WNNNNNBC (more on that coming up).  He had so much pressure on him from Jack Thayer. We were expected to challenge WABC without a budget.  It was a David and Goliath story but it was won by Goliath.  Art Wander mentioned in your last Commentary how badly Thayer wanted Imus back, but there's more of a story to that, so follow along with my first-person account of the way things transpired regarding Thayer and Imus.  Perry would receive a morning call from Jack after Imus left the air each morning.  While Thayer played Don's best friend in phone conversations with him, Jack wanted Perry to fire him.  This was a daily occurrence in the parts of the two years I was there.  I know this is true because Perry would confide in me about it.  Neither Perry nor I wanted Imus fired.  He was one of the most famous brands in New York radio. As much of a problem as he could be from time to time, he was the biggest thing we had and worth saving.  Imus was fired after Bob Pittman replaced me as PD with the approval of his GM Charlie Warner and NBC Radio President Jack Thayer.  Pittman also got the budget Perry and I would've killed for. He spent most of it on TV ads. In the ads, Bob sat on a desk and introduced himself and then went into ‘this is your radio station and we want to know what you want to hear’ dialogue.  In the end, Pittman couldn't beat WABC either.  Now to the WNNNNNNBC story:  Sometime after I took over as PD, I made a trip to Beltsville, MD, to inspect the diaries and discovered that most of the Arbitron respondents still thought Bruce Morrow was at WABC.  Cousin Brucie was doing midday at WNBC until I put him back on nights -- one of my first moves.  I was convinced that unless we made it clear that listeners were listening to WNBC and not WABC, we were in trouble.  I decided to hammer away with the dial position and call letters (dropping the ‘W’): ‘66 NBC’ (with the emphasis on the ‘N’) is what we started using on-air to distinguish the difference in call letters between the two stations. Imus emphasized the ‘N’ better than any of the air talent. After I left, the ’66’ was dropped and just the call letters were used with the emphasis on the ‘N’. And now you know the rest of the story, to use a line from the great communicator Paul Harvey. See ya next week.”

I’m not sure that Jack Thayer is being painted correctly.  He was a good friend.  My wife Barbara and I were at his hospital bedside after he had his stroke.  Later, he learned to walk so he could come up to talk to my students at the State University of New York at Brockport.  He stayed up all night with them.  They loved him!  By the way, at other times Don Imus and Joey Reynolds and others came up to SUNY events, including Gary Theroux, then doing music for Reader’s Digest.  Fun times.

Don Imus:  “I just saw the Perry Bascom note.  It was Perry who initially hired me for WNBC.  I was at WGAR in Cleveland.  Thayer came to NBC two years later.  Pat Whitely was the PD.  Charlie Warner fired me and Bob Sherman brought me back.  Period.“

Dan Neaverth, ex of WKBW and WHTT, Buffalo:  “Hi, Claude ... the tear jerker song you referenced is ‘Baggage Coach Ahead’. It's about a grieving person traveling by train with the loved one in a casket in the baggage coach.  Also upset that Art Wander mentioned that Moron Don Berns instead of me.  Just kidding.  Berns is a good friend.  Wander never mentions his Real glory days, running the local VA hospital in-house radio station.  And did he mention he married an ex-nun?  Ask him.”

Bobby Ocean:  “Reading you, Claudie, reminds me of how much, in our younger versions, we used to love sharing radio stories about one another WITH one another.  It was part of the ride, hearing about this cool name from this mysterious metropolis, listening to airchecks, sharing your impressions with someone else.  This was a pre-internet Social Media Network made up of flesh and blood -- made up of us -- excitedly sharing the new music, fresh personalities and curious call letters with one another.  I have a Chuck Blore/Bobby Ocean story for ya, a true account, but one-sided - -from my POV, and dated like the 13-year-old embedded cartoon.  Chuck's would make this a whole new tale.  This radio story goes back a few decades.  It is from once in time, along my All-California chosen career path, when I was happily disc-jocking at KFRC, San Francisco, yet was curious, thus snooping out the LA market.  My curiosity had me flying to LA for an interview with RKO People In High Positions at KHJ, but not stopping there.  I had also added a Personal Must to my agenda, an interview with the legendary Chuck Blore.

“That's the way I would go after radio gigs back in those times.  Early on, I figured out that, when you enjoy doing it, you can't call it ‘work’.  So, I'd find the station that sounded the best, or had people on staff I admired, then go knock on their door. While KHJ was in my crosshairs, I had nothing but admiration for Blore. Who knows?  Maybe something would click.  He was enjoying tons of success in LA, but, before that, I had become familiar with his programming ingenuity at KFWB, Oakland, Color Radio, the station he orchestrated prior to his move south.  His ability to express the hues and tones of his imagination with audio impressed me to no end.  Meanwhile, I was younger, immortal, way over confident and wearing a killer, new, tailored black suit for the trip.

“Chuck Blore, when I first met him face to face, put me so at ease!  Nothing stuffy at all in his office stuffed with awards and trophies.  He sat relaxed behind his desk during the entire hour we leisurely spent in conversation.  I sat across from Chuck as I had rehearsed, in a ‘rugged, kicked-back guy’ pose, legs crossed but open as if I was relaxed in the saddle. I was delivering a rather polished, easy-going, way cool Bobby Ocean DJ, I thought. ‘This is going well....’  Blore's manner had me completely relaxed throughout our time together.  He was interesting and interested, I found him fascinating and I knew I could have spent the day without looking twice at my watch.  But my hour was up, and when I started collecting myself from his comfy office furniture and began assembling sentences of departure – ‘gotta go, time for my next appointment, please accept my thanks, etcetra...’ -- Chuck, smiled.

Then, he casually, quietly pointing, added, ‘Of course, you'll want to take at look at THAT and make your repairs before you go’.  I followed the bearing of his pointed finger. I looked to the spot he was indicating and it was exactly where I was sitting. Oh no!  The tailored seam in my cool new suit's pants had completely come unstrung and there, like an explosion in a linen factory, my billowing white boxers flowed from the unintended opening in an attention-grabbing picture of contrasting bleached white cotton against the new suit's sharkskin black.  How long had I sat there swathed in glossed-over, practiced Boss DJ relaxation ... with my pants ripped wide open and my chonies flapping in the air?  How much time had the great one, Chuck Blore himself, been exposed to this foolhardy scene?  Any pretensions of being the ‘Cool One from San Francisco’ evaporated in a flash. I was deeply embarrassed.  But it only lasted a split second. In a sudden swoop, our senses of humor collectively overtook us.  Unexpectedly, an enormous belly laugh burst forth from the direction of that glaring rip in my suit and its energy absolutely swamped all feelings of shamefaced pretension. Chuck also immediately erupted in giggles and, for a few seconds we were out of control.  Not taking it personally, it was funny as hell.

‘In that split-second of hilarity, I lost track of all notions of being the Bobby Ocean character and was simply myself, whatever that is, in high enjoyment. Chuck was laughing WITH me.  What began nervously as an interview with someone I highly respected but knew little about personally, had flopped, then flipped. All tension was gone. As I left his office, things were different. I was saying goodbye to that rare individual who, in his own reality, breezes past stories of his legend. I had made a quality friend with whom I had shared a personal vulnerability and laughed it away. We were tighter now as I was leaving and seemed to have known each other for a much longer time. It was more focused and evident than when I had entered the room earlier: we hailed from the same enormous, hugely diverse family.  The family of broadcasters.  Because this is one of my favorite stories, to this day, Claude, I still feel those laugh wrinkles forming on my face whenever I hear Chuck Blore's name or see it in print.  And as I'm guessing, Chuck's recollection of this story is probably much more entertaining.  I'd love to hear his version.  Stay well!”

Bobby Ocean … wonderful tale!  And thanks for the cartoon, which I should have run with the tale, but ….

Robert Richer received this from John Myers in the UK, to wit his blog about the “commercial suicide of commercial radio” over there.
Scott St. James: “Yep, we're all going to have a good time while we celebrate Mr. Graham's birthday on November 15.   What's amazing is his age.   I had no idea he was born that many more years ago.   First of all, he looks younger than I do and now my mission is to eat better and sleep better so that someday I'm (hopefully) able to reach the ‘number’ he's about to have.   Amazing.  Annnd ... I agree with Don Graham's very good friend, Don Sundeen regarding Annie Lennox's new CD.   Mr. Graham sent me a copy of Annie's CD the day before I was booked to act in a student film.   I needed to be on the set for three (split) days and I listened to that CD (a lot) when I was driving to and fro.  Loved, LOVE it!  Ahhh, #36!   Keep those Monday treats a-comin' Mr. Hall.”

Shadoe Stevens sent out a note regarding his recent art exhibit in Los Angeles:  “Thank you for coming out in support of my art show.  There were hundreds at Galerie Michael.  To be shown nestled among Picasso and Dali was one of the great moments of my life.  Craig Fergson made it with his son Milo, Joe Mantegna, and Paul Feig … people I hadn’t seen in years.”

Ken Dowe:  “I think you've started something, Claude.”

Ron Brandon: “Hi, Ken ... although I recall our meeting (you, me, Ernie) at WGVM I had forgotten, or did not know, that you had also worked there until reading Claude Hall today.  Thought you might enjoy seeing these old pics.”

Ken Dowe:  “Thank you, Ron.  I never really got to ‘work’ there.  During my JR. and SR years I ran the board for the preachers on Sunday morning. And, Saturdays on air with rock 'n roll. All for the ‘experience’.  FREE.  Mr. Seagal did give me a $25 check for Christmas in the SR year.  And, Eddie Gus and Jack Stull got me a job at WHSY.  Didn't think you'd ever hear those names again did you?”

Ron Brandon:  “I don’t think I stayed there longer than 6 months or so.  And yep, I worked that Sunday morning shift with its assorted characters.  Wally Hoy was the PD while I was there ... think that was his name.  One of the other announcers … was it Jack Stull ... had been a professional pianist in NYC.  Another memory: while there the FCC conducted a nationwide test of Conelrad ... when all stations either switched to 640 or 1240 or signed off air ... weird with nothing else on the band.  Remember driving out to the levee to try to hear WNOE on skip at sunset before they changed patterns.  Remember driving over into Arkansas with Ernie one night in pursuit of some young ladies and sliding my '57 Plymounth off gravel road into ditch and farmer pulling us out with his tractor ... never did find the girls.”

Ken Dowe: “Correct on Wally Hoy.  He bought and managed a small AM station in Tallahassee for a number of years.  Jack was the Sales Manager at WGVN.  He did have the persona of a professional pianist.  Must have been Jack.  I used to pray the preachers wouldn't have enough money to be on the air.  That's when I could play records and intro Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Five Blind Boys, and the other great gospel singers.  My closest radio friend in town worked at WDDT.  I would sit with him and learn.  He taught me to say jew-el-er, instead of ju-ler, and to move my lips when I talked. So much he taught.  He was a great jock already.  We used to drive his old ‘Chevy to the levee’, which was just downtown, holding back the raging waters of the Mississippi which had annexed a block or more of Greenville during the 1927 flood.  Many evenings he and his wife would share their meals with a growing teen-ager, then he and I would get an elevated perch on the levee and turn the old Chevy until it was aimed at Memphis. That's how we could hear WHBQ, home of Wink Martindale:  Hey, Winkie ... hey, Winkie!  Cool stuff!  And, so began my life long friendship with Jay Cook.  Stay tuned.  Different times.  Different stations!”

Ron Brandon:  “Well I grew up in New Albany and Memphis so heard Wink when he was doing mornings at HBQ and of course he had a teen TV show as well.  We did, in fact, while I was a high school kid in Memphis listen religiously to Dewey Phillips on HBQ.  He introduced us to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc., plus his outrageous behavior on the air.  Yep, I remember collecting cash from the Sunday morning crew ... no cash and I would get to spin some tunes.  The Pentacostals were the wildest bunch … they would pack the small studio ... talk in tongues, roll on the floor ... quite a show.  I bumped into one of the preachers in the hall who stopped me to relate that he had bumped into one of our announcers (can't remember name) incarcerated in the local jail and was all aglow that he had ‘saved’ said announcer.  He also mentioned he had loaned him some money.  Don’t think we ever saw that guy again.  The guy who was a pianist was a white haired and bit older guy … guess he might have been 50 or so ... at the time thought he was kinda old to be playing rock and roll … but he was quite talented.  I was in Greenville after my tour in the Air Force and when an opening came along at WELO in Tupelo I returned there, where I had worked for a year or so before the military.  Stayed there a year or so before snagging the job at WMOC, Chattanooga, where I once again crossed paths with you.  It's interesting to me that I've found out more about guys I've known for many years in the past couple of years with Facebook and the net than I ever knew about them in person.  Kinda fun.”

Ken Dowe:  “I well remember the Pentecostals on Sunday mornings at WGVM. Talking in tongues, rolling across the floor, and going into rigors. The black pastors would often show up with only a portion of their money, but promise to pay it next week.  I would hold out, hold on to the money (cigar) box, and suggest preacher man collect the difference from the visitors.  Sometimes they would, and sometimes ... I would play me some Sam Cooke ... and the Soul Stirrers.  I remember listening to WMPS, Memphis, as a young kid.  In the mid-fifties I was folding my newspapers as I did daily, between the ages of 10-15, while listening to rhythm and blues, hillbilly, and the rest of the stale block programming I could pick up on my Bakelite Philco radio.  Listening one afternoon I heard the jock on WMPS say he was about to play a new song from a Memphis boy that was a new sound. ‘His name is Elvis Presley, and I think you'll be hearing a lot more from him’. He queued it up, and played ‘Milk Cow Blues Boogie’.  The year must have been 1955.  It was electric. Elvis, and then came ‘Blackboard Jungle’ with ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and Bill Haley.  There was a whole new format hitting the nation.  And, Rock 'n Roll was here to stay.”

Gentlemen, I appreciated the tale!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 36r2

Today at 8:09 AM
November 3, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 36
By Claude Hall

I worked on the kind of newspaper that was fast disappearing.  We didn’t know it.  We thought we were something else and great and just as good if not better than the New York Times.  The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, however, was even then right out of a history book.  The newspaper still used hot-metal type set on Linotype machines that looked like monsters out of a horror film and made a noise that would have pleased a Jack Nickelson.  Our photos were etched with dragon’s blood.

My children haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about.  That kind of newspaper is history.  To be honest, most newspapers are also fading into that distant realm of what used to be.  And I may have also written the last rush-to-print story.  I’d been investigating Jim Garrison, the district attorney.  He was filing charges, but never bringing the “culprits” to justice and the assumption, then and now, is that he was being bought off.  You don’t take the culprits to court.  Time expires.  Eventually, they go free.

Finally, I’m writing the story for pi (page one) and not only the city editor, but the editor-in-chief are hanging over my shoulder.  No sooner than I typed a couple of paragraphs on that old manual Smith-Corona, one of them would pull the paper from my typewriter and start editing what I’d written with a No. 2 lead pencil.  I would quickly insert another page of newsprint and continue to type.

My “exposé” appeared top left with a byline the next day.  I doubt that Jim Garrison even raised an eyebrow when he read it.  He was locked into the political system and got reelected anyway and later became famous when he claimed the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy.  I think there was a movie about it later.  He was a crook.  But that was more or less the modus operandi of New Orleans, a great city for a reporter.  I’m still very proud of my reporting career.  I later had many exclusive stories when I worked on Billboard magazine in Manhattan and would sometimes have three good stories on page one (only one with a byline).  I’d like to think that my reporting soon put Cash Box into a distant second place in the industry.  But I never had the intense excitement with an exclusive news story that I had with that Jim Garrison exposé.  All this before Barbara and I  went north again and I joined Billboard.

Art Wander:  “Your articles continue to bring joy to this tiny tot of the kilowatt (thanks Perry Allen).  It’s so great to read the great names like Art Holt, Ken Dowe, Mel Phillips, Don Berns and so many others.  I just want to say that I was saddened by the passing of Marcia Strassman following a 7-year battle with breast cancer.  In early 1967 when I was programming WOR-FM, faithful secretary told me a nice girl wanted to see me.  I said OK.  In came this delightful looking person.  What impressed me was that she was wearing yellow tinted glasses.  She said, ‘Neil Diamond suggested I come to see you since you were featuring new artists on your station and if you would play my recording’.  I said I would listen to it, which I did.  The song was ‘Flower Children’.  I told her that I would be unable to play it since I was seeking compatibility to the format.  She thanked me and I then told her how impressed I was with her glasses.  She said, ‘Come with me’.  She took me to her optometrist and bought me a pair of glasses, which I selected blue tinit.  I was so pleased for her when she scored as Kotter’s wife on ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ and the many appearances she worked on ‘M.A.S.H.’  I still have the glasses.”

Burt Sherwood writes that when I printed “Bob Sherman was the general manager of WNBC when Sherman brought Don Imus back from Cleveland” I was not totally correct.  “Sherman was the GM alright and Pittman was the PD.  It was Jack Thayer that made Pittman fly down to Cleveland and bring Imus back ... I think he said ‘or else’ ... not sure on that.  Thayer told me this many times over ... I have yet to see Pittman use WNBC as a place he worked (or WMAQ)  ... let alone the Ellie Dylan story.”  Burt also said that it was Pittman who fired Imus that first time from WNBC.  Thayer by then was president of NBC Radio.  He’d hired Imus for Sacramento, then WGAR in Cleveland, then took him to WNBC in New York City.

Freddy Snakeskin:  “I enjoy your Commentary every week and find I’m looking forward to it every bit as much as I used to look forward to your column in each week’s issue of Billboard, way back when. Especially liked hearing from some of the other ‘kids’ who likewise grew up reading Vox Jox.  My parents bought me a $20 gift subscription every Christmas beginning from about 7th grade on.  I got bit by the radio bug very early, but since I didn’t know anyone who actually worked in a radio station I learned everything I could about the Biz from the pages of Billboard’s Radio-TV section – maybe I couldn’t listen to much outside Phoenix, but at least I knew all about the big-time Top 40 stations, their famous boss jocks, assorted national programming wizards, etc.  Or so I thought.  But I was sufficiently inspired to start my own (pirate) radio station from a small storage room at my folks’ house in Phoenix. My ham radio friend set it up – sounded like total splattery crap, and we had to wait each afternoon until a certain AM daytimer signed off because that was the only frequency we had a crystal for.  But it got out almost a mile, and we were on the air!  I noticed in your column that you sometimes ran items from new stations asking for record service, and I got to wondering if that might work for me.  So I wrote you a very nice letter, and sure enough, you were kind enough to help me, by printing my heartfelt plea for free records (along with mailing address) in Vox Jox. I was elated! Initially I had my doubts whether you’d go for it – for one thing, I didn’t have any kind of letterhead on which to type my ‘official’ station letter. Then there was the matter of the call letters I’d chosen for my ‘station’ – KRUD (remember, my staff and I were all age 12 or 13).  Then about a week later, my mother got a phone call from some guy inquiring about employment opportunities at the ‘New KRUD’. She burst out laughing, then when she realized it wasn’t one of their friends making a joke call, patiently explained to the poor guy, ‘Sorry, dear, but the program director is my son and he’s in 7th grade, and unless he has a source of income we don’t know about, I highly doubt he’s going to be hiring anyone for anything.  And the station’s in a closet off our carport’.  At that point he just hung up on her.  And apparently to get back at me (for not having a job for him?) and my mom (for laughing at him?) he then proceeded to snitch me out to you. And a couple weeks later you even printed a retraction, warning your readers to ‘watch out for KRUD’ (see attachment).  Oh well -- easy come, easy go!  And I hope by now that you have forgiven me, for trying to put one over on you (just as I hope the Statute of Limitations on 1967 Mail Fraud cases has long since expired).  I’d also like to belatedly thank those few record companies that DID service me back then (on your recommendation). I hope that by now they’ve all, at least indirectly, gotten their moneys’ worth for those free records they did send me; (for the record, in addition to my humble KRUD roots, my resume also includes such illustrious stops as KRDS, KRUX, KRIZ, KPFT, KTNQ, KWST, KROQ, KSRF/KOCM, KEDJ, KZON, Sirius, plus a few other stations too dubious to mention).  For the past 8 years I’ve been with KCBS-FM (JACK) in LA (doing music programming), and KROQ-HD2 (, doing all programming.  Nobody ever sends me free records anymore, but if you wouldn’t mind mentioning in Claude’s Commentary that I’m looking for service, I’d appreciate it!  Thanks again Claude!  PS:  In the attachment the KRUD’ mentions are near the top of column 2 (1st page), and in column 1 on the 2nd page. (BTW Billboard actually misspelled the name of my street, but I still got a few packages every week, at least for a few months.) [It also just occurred to me that perhaps you’ve even heard this story by now – sometime last year, at dinner with mutual friends I met your son John Alexander Hall; pretty sure I told him the story that evening….]”

John told me the tale.  Funnie!  Still, I’m pleased to hear from you now, Freddy.  It’s obviously difficult to keep a good radio man down!  By the way, I’m really pleased at the help this week from you guys.  Some awfully good people in Commentary!  And I loved all of the tales!

Dan McCurdy, Sherman, TX (Charlie Brown, Dan Patrick - KLIF, Dallas; Fenway at WMEX, Boston; Dan Patrick at KBOX, Dallas):  “Claude ... for every 1,000 radio heads, I'm sure each entry into radio's tempting talons is different from any other.  Mine began with a benign invitation to be a 'guest DJ' at KSAM in Huntsville, Texas.  As a high school freshman football fullback, I bravely accepted the challenge, and did OK. Still, no big deal to me, until the next day, when a number of school folk told me, ‘Hey, Danny, you sounded pretty good last night’.  ZOINK!  The needle was in and I haven't shaken the high yet. ‘You mean I can talk into a contraption and a bunch a folks think I'm cool?’  ZOINK!  The me-kid was a bowl of wobbly fantasies.  After moving to West Texas, I lied my way into a freebie Sunday afternoon show on KDWT, Stamford, when a buddy's cousin wanted Sundays off.  Fast forward to Abilene, my college town, where I lied my way into '8 O'Clock Rock' on KRBC. ‘Yessir, Mr. Owner, I've been at a station in Stamford for two years’.  I conveniently omitted the fact that it was for no pay and only on Sunday afternoons, subbing for a guy I don't think the station manager even knew skipped work once a week.  From KRBC, an aircheck was sent to KLIF a few years later which began my major market radioverdose; an OD begun years before with an innocent  'guest DJ' needle injection.”

Does anyone know anything about Perry Bascom?

I don’t receive many records these days.  I remember the day when if I mentioned liking Marty Robbins, someone sent me the entire catalog.  Same with Frank Sinatra’s Capitol years.  And once I mentioned that I would love to have a copy of the original “Boxcar Up Ahead,” I think that was the title of the tearjerker, and a buff sent it to me.  Not so anymore.  But Don Graham, the Don Graham, sends me a CD now and then, for which I’m grateful.  He just sent me the new Blue Note CD of Annie Lennox.  I showed it to my son Andy who teaches English at UNLV.  Eyes light up.  He is impressed.  Tells me all about her.  Says my other sons would know her, too.

Then I get this note from Don Sundeen:  “Hi, Claude, if Don Graham hasn’t sent you a copy of the new Annie Lennox CD, ‘Nostalgia’, demand that he do.  Although there’s been a fad the last few years for pop singers to redo the American Songbook, few had the pipes and range to do tunes like ‘Summertime’ or ‘God Bless the Child’.  But Annie does it with spades, and she kills, singing 12 great tunes and accompanied by some wonderful, hip production.  I was not paid for this review … check it out.”

Truth is, we’re all paid by Don Graham.  In favors.  I owe him a truckload of favors.  But you’ve got to be aware that Don, the Don, deals in quality.  The man knows winners.

How do I judge music?  First, would other people like it?  Second, do I want to hear it again?  That is, do I keep it on this laptop?  “I Put a Spell on You” is dramatic, different, intriguing.  I think a good programmer would play this tune.  I know for sure that I want to hear it again.  Several times!  And Don Sundeen is right about “Suppertime.”  It’s a bit slow, but powerful.  Annie has, as Sundeen said, a killer voice.  “I Cover the Waterfront” is a soft ballad for the evenings.  Quite good.  Jazz.  Annie, I loved “You Belong to Me.”  Definitely a song radio should play.  What a magnificent job on “I Can Dream Can’t I.”  “Mood Indigo” is a bit long.  Great, though!

So I’m talking with our youngest, now an adjunct professor of English at UNLV, Andy Hall, and he gives me a 15-minute lecture on Annie Lennox.  “Doesn’t matter what she turns out, it’ll sell a million or more copies.”  He tells me about the Eurythmics.  “She can do the blues.  She can do just about anything she wants to do.”  And I have to agree.

And it appears that Annie Lennox can turn some old standards into beautiful and quite new ballads.  Great on you, Annie Lennox.

Jack Casey, WERS, Emerson College:  “Long time no talk.  I think the last time we spoke I was PD at Magic (WMJX) in Boston.  Lot of water under the bridge since then.  Roger Lifeset forwarded one of your recent blogs and I loved it!  I’m wondering if you could put me on your mailing list.  I would sure appreciate it.  I knew most of the folks who posted.  Maybe that’s because our numbers are dwindling but it was nice seeing what guys are up to.  Let me know if you’re ever in Boston… would love to have you talk to our students.

Scott St. James, Los Angeles:  “Claude, those of us who live here are looking forward to celebrating Don Graham's 80th birthday on November 15.   I'm thinking about wearing a grass skirt.   Don and I had the pleasure of seeing Isabel Rose perform a week or so ago.   Fun, fun evening.   She has terrific stage presence, I love her new album and my favorite song is ‘Never Satisfied’.  Meanwhile, I hope all is well at your end.”

Things fine.  John has gone back to LA and Darryl to SF.  Only Andy is home at the moment.  Thank God!  He does all of the shopping and errands.  Going to miss the Don Graham party.  Cry, cry.  My best to you and my very best to Don!

Bill Hennes:  “Claude, your letters just keep getting better and better! I came from a somewhat musical family.  My dad, who was an attorney, played a mean piano and my mother was a wonderful alto and I played the drums.  So I came by my love of music on the radio quite naturally.  Then in 1956, when I was 14 years old, I entered a radio contest, that WXYZ/Detroit number one DJ Mickey Shorr was running and I won first place.  The prize was a Webcor tape machine.  I was really lucky, Mickey took a liking to me.  He was a lot older, and he recognized that I had a unique ability to pick the hits and I knew what he should be playing.  I got the chance to know and hang around with the likes of Hal Neal, who was GM of WXYZ, and, of course, went on to run the entire ABC Operation.  Thus began my radio career. Then after PM DJ Ed McKenzie, who was the ‘original Jack the Bell Boy’ at WJBK, resigned his afternoon drive show at WXYZ in '59 over refusing to play what he termed ‘Silly Teenage Records and Formula Radio’ (he went to work at WHFI-FM/Detroit playing jazz and standards and I became his record spinner and newscaster).  My real first on air job was working for Milt Maltz at WBRB AM/FM in Mt Clemens, MI, which is a Detroit suburb.  My father, who was an attorney, always said I was ‘Vaccinated With A Phonograph Needle’.  Thanks for all you do.  Love it.”

Red Jones, Georgia Radio Hall of Fame:  “You had a couple of stories about early days of radio, just starting out in the crazy business.  Brought back this memory. I got the job at my hometown station KRGV, Weslaco, TX, in 1948 ... control room operator (announcers in a booth with a cough button).  The PD befriended me and I worked hard for Sunday relief on-air work.  I was not all that good, age 17.  But decided to enroll at UT in Austin and gave my notice.  GM Barney Ogle (he has passed away) called me in and told me to forget radio, ‘you ain't suited for our work.  Do something else’.  Fast forward through four years in Austin with KVET and UT, three years with AFRS, Berlin ... and there I was at KILT, Houston, with McLendon and in 1957 named PD.  Walked in one morning and who should be waiting for ‘The PD’ with the latest Pams jingles ... my old GM buddy Barney Ogle.  We briefly talked about ‘old times’ and with the subject of jingles, I introduced him to our GM Bill Weaver who had already heard my story about the past.  Bill had fun with him.  Jingles bought?  No.  Found out later that Ogle was DUI on his way back to Dallas.  Maybe we should have eased up a bit.  But, it takes all kinds.”

Jay Lawrence:  “I was in the air force (our side) was MC'ing on base shows at Lackland Air Base, San Antonio.  Air Force Band of the West show on WOAI invited me to announce for their shows.  First song I ever announced was ‘Valencia’.  Career, WEAW (Edward A Wheeler) Evanston, IL.  Phone call from Mr. Wheeler almost every 10 minutes. ‘We are not a humor station’.  WJPS, Evansville, IN; WIRL, Peoria, IL; KLIF, Dallas (hIred by Don Keyes, fired by Bill Morgan, rehired by Don Keyes, fired again by Bill Morgan).  KTKT, Tucson (my first station with David (Guy Williams) Morehead; WNOR, Norfolk (first talk show, Malcom X guest for two hours, he tore me apart, news director.  I had everyone using sound effects with news stories, DUMB.  KYW, Cleveland (became WKYC).  I probably should have gone to Chicago with Ken Draper, Dick Orkin and rest of staff, but NBC offered me a TV show to stay, gave me contract, new manager fired me.  I looked for new job in the Mediterranean, Checks sent to PO box in Athens.  Strangely enough did not find job in Med.  Fifteen months later (end of NBC contract) went back to Cleveland, WBBG, then to WGR, Buffalo.  Then back to David Morehead, KFI, Los Angeles.  Then KLAC, (thought I was going for talk, turned out to be country, I stayed, loved it), then WNEW, NY.  Also talk at WMCA and Boston, (Emperor Hudson ‘argued’ with PD.  I was temporary replacement).  Then WNDE, Indianapolis, Gulf Broadcast Group.  David hired me to be new Arthur Godfrey (too many stories for less than a book).  That ended, I went back to WERE, Cleveland, to create talk station.  Then to Seattle, KMPS Country, Then to KJJJ Country, Phoenix, became KFYI, I went to KTAR talk, stayed more than 20 years until I ran for office.  I have been elected to AZ House of Representatives.  Claude, as you know, all of us have stories that should be a book.  Mine would sound like Rally Round the Flag (hopefully that funny).”

Ron Brandon:  “I may be the only one you'll run into who got into radio by accident.  In the 10th grade in high school in Memphis, I picked as an elective ‘typing’.  Upon being told ‘sorry typing class is full’ I was given the option of taking ‘bookkeeping’ or ‘radio’.  Tough call ... hah ... radio sounded simple.  I'll float through that like the ‘art’ class I was also taking.  Some weeks later, upon being told by the instructor that I was going to fail the radio class if I did not learn the Morse Code (the radio course consisted of learning the code, radio theory, and a new subject, television theory).  So I buckled down and learned the code.  Turns out the FCC examiner came to Memphis four times yearly to give exams at the Federal Building downtown and if you took a test, you got out of school for the entire day.  We would always take a test, and upon graduating in 1956 I had a ham ticket, a 3rd class telegraph ticket, and a first phone.  I thought perhaps I could get a job servicing taxi 2-way radios, but some guy from WTUP in Tupelo called and wanted to know if I would be their engineer.  Forty dollars a week and no real work ... just hang my license on the wall (all stations had to have a 1st in those days).  They had a kid playing rock and roll after school afternoons, and when he quit I told the GM ‘I can do that’ ... (I'd been watching the kid talking to the girls on the phone, etc.)  GM realized that he could save a paycheck by letting me do it and you know the rest.”

Roger Lifeset sent notice that Dale Dorman, a Boston radio legend who began his career playing Top 40s hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and then played the same songs as oldies to the rock 'n roll generation, died Tuesday at his home in Tewksbury after a long illness.  He was 71.  Dorman was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2010.  He worked at WRKO, Boston, for 10 years, starting in 1968.  He also worked at KISS-FM for 20 years.  He ended his career at WODS.

Mel Phillips:  “After 2 days of unseasonable 70-degree weather we've cooled down.  We'll hit a high of 59 today.  And I hope it stays that way.  Has it dropped below 100 in LV yet?  After Bill Drake came along to consult all the RKO stations in the summer of '67, WRKO supplied some great talent for KHJ, including Shadoe Stevens, Bill Todd (WRKO's Johnny Williams), Jerry Butler and Charlie Fox (I was one very fortunate program director with some extraordinary on-air talent in those days.)  They would also get our promotion director -- the best in the business, Harvey Mednick.  Very rarely would Drake send us any talent but in the summer of '68, KFRC had a DJ who wanted to come back east and we decided to hire him as our morning man.  He managed to work out pretty well, lasting 10 years at WRKO and then moving over to KISS-FM and CBS Oldies station WODS-FM. He never left Boston, spending 46 years in The Hub. On October 21, 2014 we lost one of the great morning personalities in radio history when the legendary Dale Dorman passed away. R.I.P Dale Dorman (1943-2014).”

We come, we do, we go.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 35r

8:01 AM
October 27, 2014
Commentary No. 35
By Claude Hall

This book – “120 Songs” – will make you humble.  It’s a quick scan of a man’s life because many of his songs tell a story or depict a “high definition” picture of someone you know or wish you knew or are very glad you never knew.  Feelings.  Tom Russell, singer, songwriter, painter, writer, teacher, friend paints you a picture of where he’s been, what he’s done, and even things he wish he’d done.  He’s a master of many crafts, visitor of many places, some dank and foul, some bright and hopeful.  I possess his autographed book now and hold it in my hands in awe.  I love most of these songs and listen to some of them on almost a daily basis.  Here are descriptions by Tom of how a song happened, the chords he used, and there’s an occasional painting of his to give the book and his life a little extra meaning.  About a dozen tunes by Tom are phenomenal.  Most of the rest, quite good.  “Burnt Oranges” is a song that will send chills up your spine; it’s in the book.

The book is published by Bangtail Press in Boseman, MT. $19.95

Tom also sent me three CDs, so I’ll be able to pick up a few songs that I don’t have presently on laptop.  This laptop is heavy with Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, and Tom Russell.  It was Ernie Hopsecker, radio engineer, disc jockey, owner, who introduced me to Tom Russell.  For which I’m indeed grateful.

I’ve just been invited for lunch to celebrate the birthday of “Don.”  The Don, I should explain.  Lunch is Nov. 15 at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City.  He’s 80.  Invite said to wear your best Hawaiian shirt or grass skirt.  I wish I could get there.  I really like this guy!  I’m am honored to receive this invite.

Rollye James is back!  Started Oct. 24.  Time 10-midnight Eastern and I think will be on next Friday.  You can call at 610-640-640.  Blog is, where the details are.  If you know Rollye, you know this is going to be a great, great time on the air!  She hopes to be on five nights a week by Christmas.  George Wilson said she’s the best talk personality he ever heard.

I asked a couple of people for the story of how they got into showbiz.  Just for kicks, somewhat, and because I’ve always found that fascinating.  And I think radio and music people do as well.  For example, I heard from Shana Livigni this week and she delved into that information; she says she was hired because they thought on the phone she was a black female.  For some reason, receiving her letter tickled the heck out of me.  Cute.  And I remember a great line from Bill Randle who was raised amidst the blacks in Detroit; he said he didn’t know he was white until he was 14.

John Barger, San Antonio:  “It was Spring 1958, and I was a junior in high school.  Every-other-afternoon I drove to the local station in Bryan/College Station and asked for a job on the air.  Art Holt was the manager and repeatedly told me to ‘get lost’.  On the 12th try, my visit coincided with a call to Art from an Texas Aggie part-timer, saying he couldn't work the coming weekend because he got a ‘Dear John’ letter from his girl in Dallas and had to go see her.  Art Holt told him not to worry about showing up anytime in the future, because a high school kid wanted the job more.  Thus began my 56-year association with radio, as the 4 pm-to-signoff host of WTAW's Sunday ‘Count-Down Show’.”

Ken Dowe: “May 19, 1959, Greenville, MS  (Behind the Cotton Curtain).  I signed and turned in my final High School Exam, took a path past scents of honeysuckle and magnolia, lighted up my '55 Rocket 88 Olds, and flew even further south.  My mentors in home town WGVM had gotten me an on-air job at WHSY, Hattiesburg.  My first paycheck for playing songs on the radio.  Wow!  Fun, but there was trouble brewing in River City.  (Petal River)  Salary disputes.  I got my first call to Mr. Holt's office.  He was waiting with the station's comptroller.
"I guess you know the other boys just quit. Guess you're leaving, too."
"No, Sir." I said.  "I did not know.  I just arrived and I have to work to go to school." 
He gave me long and scary look:  "Well, then. How much are we paying you?"
"Fifty-five dollars a week, Mr. Holt."
Charlie strongly favored Dracula.  Slicked back, black hair.
Pointing a talon-like finger, he stunned me: "Lightsey!  Give this boy a big raise.  Pay him ... SEVENTY dollars!  And, he's the new Program Director!  You meet me at the Country Club at 7 tomorrow morning.  Time for you to learn to play golf, son!"
Just after dawn, Mr. Holt appeared out of the morning fog near the first tee and me.
"Welcome to your new world, boy.  Now, grab my clubs. We got a long walk.  Hand me that driver. Want a cigar?"
“Show-biz, and I was already ... ‘management’.  Top of the world, Ma!
“Ha ha!”

Kent Burkhart:  “When I was 13, I approached the general manager of my home town station (Bay City, Texas) with a proposal to broadcast junior and senior high school news WEEKLY.  He thought it was a good idea; thus, every Saturday at 10 AM I had 15 minutes to broadcast the news of my classmates.  A few months later the GM asked is I would like to expand the broadcast to 45 minutes DAILY after school was dismissed from 4:15 to 5:00 mixing in current music with the school news of the day.  I invited my classmates to come by the studio to request songs ... and they did!  By the dozens daily!  It was then that I knew radio was in my blood forever!”

Morris Diamond:  “Claude ... many thanks for the good wishes from you and Barbara.  Alice is improving ... a little bit each day.  I like Don Graham’s mention that perhaps some of us should tell all our friends as to how we started in this funny business of Radio & Records.  I am taking the liberty of attaching chapter one of my book, ‘THE NAME DROPPER (people I schlepped with)’ … which describes my beginning in an industry I had always hoped for ... starting as band boy for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra in 1940.  WOW!  Good news is that I just got a small royalty check from Amazon telling me that someone out there just bought a copy.  Oh well ... I’m content in knowing that I got a lot off my chest and that I shared the best years of my life with my music industry friends coast to coast.”

From the book:  “In the late ’30s, while attending Theodore Roosevelt High School in The Bronx, I served as Entertainment Editor, and at times, Sports Editor.  It was during my term as Entertainment Editor that our teacher/advisor received an invitation from The Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan to have a student member of the high school newspaper attend a luncheon and show featuring Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra, to be followed by an interview session.  I was selected to attend along with reps from other high schools and colleges in and around the New York area.  I brought my friend, Ben Wertheimer. I liked him because his father was a cop … but Ben was good company and he lived near me in The Bronx, but didn’t go to Roosevelt High.  The luncheon was delightful as was the music of Tommy Dorsey.  I was always a huge fan of good music, listening to the remote broadcasts from the different hotels around the country every night before going into dreamland.  After lunch, all attendees were herded into a small ballroom where we had a chance to go one-on-one with Mr. Dorsey. I would guess there were about 50 or 60 of us from different high schools and colleges.  Tommy was his charming best and delightful and easy to chat with.  I had an idea!  I raised my hand to ask why he doesn’t start a fan club of high school reporters everywhere he plays around the country. At which point, he yelled out for Jack Egan, his PR rep, to get my name and contact info.  They both loved the idea.  In subsequent bookings in the New York area, I would be called by Jack Egan to be their guest.”

Don Graham just sent me an email about the success of the CD “Trouble in Paradise” by Isabel Rose.  I love to see this kind of excitement about a song or a CD.  That was what music was always all about.  Excitement.  I remember the day Shelby Singleton called me from Nashville to tell me he had three pressing plants turning out singles of “Harper Valley PTA” by Jeanie C. Riley.  I remember the first time I caught Elvis Presley on the “Louisiana Hayride” over KWKH out of Shreveport.  Good friends, we all need to be excited once again!

From a friend who would know:  Bob Pittman was still the program director at WNBC in New York and Bob Sherman was the general manager when Sherman brought Don Imus back from Cleveland.

Clark Weber:  “Your reminiscing about ‘Making it in New York’ gave me quite a chuckle. In the fall of 1971 WNBC flew me to New York for the day to talk about doing their morning show. My contract at WCFL in Chicago was about to run out and I was looking. The WNBC money was fine and they even offered me a hanger for my plane rent free for two years. Something told me to pass so I caught the next flight home and eventually did 13 years at Chicago's WIND.. WNBC then hired Don Imus to do mornings and eventually Bob Pittman became PD, fired Imus and placed a sweet but lackluster girl friend named Ellie Dylan on mornings. She lasted only a NY moment and by that time the station was folding like a cheap card table! Lordy Lordy I'm glad I said no to NY!”

Shana Livigni:  “Great article, Claude!  Many of these ppl you mention and have contributed to this blog are before my time, but it was entertaining nevertheless.  I started out in radio (by default) at WMU in Kalamazoo when I was 18, hired at KWBB Wichita at 20 cuz the FCC stated that radio needed to hire more minorities. They thought I was a black female. Well, the Detroit accent got me the job and I WAS a female. The rest is history after I got the gig at KFRC at age 21. The second and youngest female DJ at a major market Top 40 station!  The rest of my 38 years is just as crazy and never had more fun in my life!  I may write a book on some of the highlights of being a DJ, mother of 3 great kids (single mom for most of their lives, and just me, Shana, and stories along the way.  Well, if there a subscription, please send me the info.  I remember you starting with my first year at KFRC where I got a hold of a Billboard mag.  My best to you and thanks for the memories!  KFRC KHJ KEZY KROQ KLOS K-LITE KLSX (3 times!) KPCC ARROW 93.”

No sub, Shana.  Glad to have you as a reader!

Devon “Doc” Wendell: “It's been a while. I've really been enjoying your blog. I took some time off of writing to focus on my own music but I just reviewed the brand new autobiography of George Clinton. Check it out, there's so much music history in the book.
Thanks and many blessings.”

Don Berns:  “Thanks, Larry Cohen.  I called Gunther Hauer over the weekend and had a wonderful catch-up conversation.  He's 95 years young!”

Jeff March, Davis, CA, co-author, "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone?" -- Volumes 1 & 2:  “When I obtained my own subscription to Billboard magazine while I was still a high school senior in the spring of 1965, I habitually turned the pages first to the Vox Jox column.  I enjoy reading your current day Claude's Commentary installments, and the historical perspectives you offer (e.g., the piece about KIOI and its predecessor, KPEN -- K-Peninsula).  I was thinking over the weekend about the unexplained November 1971 disappearance of KIEV's morning man Jim R. Woods -- which is intriguing because it appears linked to the famed D.B. Cooper plane hijacking escapade.  While I was a post-grad college student from 1969 to ’71, I already had my first-class FCC ticket and worked as a relief and fill-in engineer at KIEV (870 AM) Glendale, which at the time was a country music station.  It's now a talker with the call letters KRLA.  It was a union job under an IBEW contract, and I was an IBEW member, so the money was pretty damned good for a college kid.  Jim R. Woods (not the same guy as R&B-rock jock ‘Big’ Jim Wood of KBLA) was a likable, divorced, wiry middle-aged guy who lived on a boat that he kept anchored at Redondo Beach (he may also have had an apartment, but I know he spent a lot of nights on the boat).  I remember that he had stringy blond hair that flopped down in front; he habitually ran his fingers through it to pull it back up onto the top of his head.  He pretty much kept to himself.  When I engineered for him, we'd yak between records about cars, songs or country music performers, but that was about the extent of our conversational material.  One morning in mid-November 1971, Jim R. failed to show up for his morning shift (I was not working that day).  That was unusual because he was a punctual guy.  The station engineer was unable to reach him by phone, and received no word from him anytime that day.  A ‘missing person’ report was filed, and when police inspected the boat, they found signs indicating that Jim R. had apparently tumbled overboard while preparing breakfast.  They initially thought that Jim R. had drowned, but were unable to locate a body.  That's because Jim R. apparently had faked his own drowning, and probably was still alive and well.  A few days later, the guy called D.B. Cooper hijacked a passenger plane bound from Portland to Seattle, declared that he had a bomb on board, and parachuted out with $200 grand in ransom money. Investigators subsequently discovered that the day before the hijacking, after rigging his boat to look like he had been in an accident, Jim R. had flown to Washington state. An FBI agent suspicious about a possible link between Jim R.'s disappearance and the hijacking showed up at KIEV and interviewed the chief engineer (who normally engineered Jim R.'s shift) and the station's business manager. The chief engineer told me that although he didn't believe that Jim R. was ‘D.B. Cooper’, he said that one of Jim R.'s adopted sons fit the profile.  Hal said the FBI agent thought likewise, but was unable to uncover any solid proof. Hal said he and Judy met at a Glendale coffee shop with the FBI agent, who pulled out a thick file on Jim R. Woods from his briefcase.  Hal wondered what other activities prompted the FBI to build such a thick file on Jim R.  I guess if Jim R. Wood ever does materialize, he still has a closing paycheck coming to him.”

Jim Gabbert: “Just to clarify Ken Dowe’s KPEN ... we went on the air October 27, 1957, with 1.5 KW off a mountain back of Stanford with the call letters KPEN. The station made a profit the first month (only $10 but it was positive)! We were so successful that we moved the transmitter to Mt. San Bruno.  We had over a 50 share of the FM audience for almost 10 years and then I was doing mornings.  Got tired of getting up at 3:30 every morning, bought a 75-ft boat (the one with all of the gold ... used to belong to Willet Brown from KGB) and was running around the Caribbean when the ‘book’ came out and we had dropped significantly.  I rushed back to SF and felt that it is almost impossible to resurrect a station without significant changes so we changed the call letters to KIOI, marketed as K-101.  (BTW the FCC went ballistic as they said they were not official call letters ... the rules said that you had to give the call letters plus or minus 2 minutes off the hour which we did). The other two partners had little faith and sold me the station!  By now we had 125 KW with a directional antenna where almost no power went out to sea. The Jan.-Feb. 1969 book was unbelievable, we were back on top!  Then a small Class A FM on the Peninsula took our old call letters KPEN which was Ken's station.”

Chuck Chellman, Direct Travel in Nashville, sent me a note saying “I really did love Luther Masingill.”  Included was a tale about Luther written by David Carroll.  Luther.  Masingill, 92, died Oct. 13.  He began on WDEF in Chattanooga in 1940 and worked there all of his life.  He also worked on WDEF-TV.  Sirius XM’s Phlash Phelps devoted a portion of his show earlier this year to Luther.

“Each year,” said David Carroll, “I attend a reunion of local radio deejays, past and present.  Sometimes we ask them to name the stations for which they’ve worked, which can be a lengthy chore for some.  Last year, I fed him a line.  ‘Luther’, I said, ‘you’ve done radio for more than seventy years.  How many stations have you worked for?’  With impeccable timing, he paused, started looking at his fingers as if to begin counting, looked up and said simply, ‘One’, to great laughter, of course.”

“His family was here, and he always appreciated WDEF for giving an unproven high school senior a job on the radio, which was beyond his wildest dreams.  When he applied, all he wanted to do was answer the phone and take requests for the older guys.  Owner Joe Engel asked him to try out for an announcer’s job, and gave him a commercial script to read.  Young Luther mispronounced one word (‘salon’ became ‘saloon’) but those golden pipes landed him the station’s prime position.  By the way, if the 73-year radio gig isn’t impressive enough, consider this: he was also on WDEF Channel 12 every day since it signed on, sixty years last April.  No one else did that, either.”

Great article, David Carroll.  David Carroll is a longtime Chattanooga radio and TV broadcaster, and has anchored the evening news on WRCB-TV since 1987.  He is the author of "Chattanooga Radio & Television" published by Arcadia.  My thanks, Chuck Chellman.

As for Mr. Masingill:  We come, we do, we go.  May I also add:  Wow!

Joey Reynolds, New York:  “Re: Robert Richer: Without sounding defensive and petty, although I am, Rick Buckley never heard my show, that's how I was allowed to stay on WOR for all those years.   David Bernstein hid me and Joan Rivers from Rick by distracting him and blocking the signal in Greenwhich, CT.  I think the success of the Jewish hour on Fridays, when Jews can' t listen, was not a favorite of the waspish Buckley family or the Italian Joe Bilotta? I am in Ft. Lauderdale this week after a wedding in Sarasota where a few listeners, including a young lady from Miami, got wind of the fact that my host was Joey Reynolds’ sister, created an autograph session at my table, this is not my idea of inside radio.  The role of the DJ is now that of replacing the wedding or bat mitzvah band, unless you are a rhyming fool complaining about how life has cheated you while you drive an Escalade, vacation in the islands, and live with ASCAP royalties in the hip hop culture.  Did I mention that I was also bitter?  I pray that Claude doesn't highlight this with that awful short attention span yellow magic marker.  Joey Reynolds rap on my Facebook every day.  My daughter is growing medical marijuana.  Go to you tube.”

For the record, I enjoyed Joey’s show.  Didn’t matter what he did, he had a gift; he kept you fascinated.   I’ve known several radio and television personalities with this gift.  Joey is one of the very best.  Myself and my family, including my children, also consider him a family friend and I feel honored to be so.  Many people I know/knew also considered him a great radio personality.  Just FYI, though I never mentioned it to Joey, more than one radio legend thought he was great, including George Wilson, who found and nurtured such as Lee Baby Simms, Jack McCoy, and Buzz Bennett.  George was hurt when Buzz double crossed him in Miami on a radio station deal (he wrote about this in or Hollywood Hills published by Jack Roberts several years ago), but he never short changed Buzz on talent.

Lyn Stanley,  “Thanks for all you do!  And thanks for remembering Jack Roberts.  I don't know how I will release my new album ‘Potions [from the 50s]’ without his help and guidance ... I miss him so.”

Jack Roberts loved you and your music, dear lady, and so do I.

Mel Phillips: “It had to happen – but before Halloween? WEZW (Easy 93.1) has already flipped to Christmas music (10/17/14).  We've been having biblical rain for the past two days but I'm still getting my walking in - 19 miles for the week. My goal is always 20+. Thank you for the tip on e-publishing my book, which I'm in the process of editing. I've been writing my brains out. I thought I'd clarify my WNBC comment for purposes of clarifying for John Lund. When I was hired as PD by GM Perry Bascom in the summer of '76, WNBC was rudderless - operating without a PD in the prior 6 months after John Lund had left.  Bill Rock was acting PD until my hire.  A year later, Perry was fired on a Thursday and on Friday morning Jack Thayer hugged me goodbye (breaking a couple of ribs in the process). It felt that way anyway. WNBC was generous in those days and provided me with what was referred to at 30 Rock as the "rubber room" indefinitely to make phone calls, type resumes, etc. The first day I used that office I ran into an WNBC salesman who had been there for several months looking for work.  I wondered what had happened to him.  In 1977 the immortal Bob Pittman and Charlie Warner replaced Perry and I.  I would consult a station in Trenton for a year and then wind up doing promotion for CBS Records International. John Lund would become a programming consultant and we all lived happily ever after.  Did I get that right, John?”

Ken Dowe:  “I recall playing a football game in New Orleans during which the radio and record guys all got together for some pretty spirited scrums.  It was about the time Bob Walker mentions Buzz Bennett getting the broken shoulder.  I do recall Buzz being on the other team and leaving after getting injured, but I didn't know it was that serious.  I do distinctly remember my friend Ben Scottie asking me to kindly take it easy when I was on defense.  ‘There are complaints that you are too aggressive’.  I still think that comment came just from Ben, who was not happy that I was embarrassing him and his professional football background.  Hahaha.  If I did it, sorry Buzz ... wherever you are.”

How to solve the ISIS problem:  Parachute an Ebola victim into their midst.

Don Kennedy: “Thrilled to see Marlin Taylor's name in your commentaries.  He was kind to put a one-hour non-commercial version of my Big Band program on XM's '40s Channel twice each week.  I supplied the program free for the publicity; listener response was amazing, as well as helping me increase to 140 the number of terrestrial stations carrying the two-hour commercial version of the program.  Mail, phone and email reaction to the two weekly XM hours of the program yielded enthusiastic listener response for the three years it was on XM.  I'm indebted to Marlin for his faith in my Big Band Jump program.  It was cancelled a few months after the 'merger' of Sirius and XM despite listener emails, letters and, when they could get through to a human being, phone calls.  Not so incidentally last month I went back to visit WPIC in Sharon, PA (the Youngstown market), the station which gave me my first paying job sixty-seven years ago in 1947.  Current WPIC personality Eric Bombeck put me on the air, took a photo of us in front of the original 1938 model Western Electric thousand watt transmitter, still there even though it hasn't been used for years.  He was kind to arrange for shipping of a vintage 1930's Presto turntable found in the dusty basement.  It's now displayed in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame museum in St. Mary's, GA, along with classic microphones, consoles and memorabilia.  St. Mary's is a few miles from Jacksonville and the museum would make a meaningful stop for anyone interested in the fascinating history of radio.  Former DJ, PD and manager John Long's inspiration made the museum possible, as well as organizing the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

Donald Sundeen, hadn’t received his Commentary Monday and let me know and I re-sent that whole batch.  “Came in loud and clear this time, Claude, I realized I'd missed it when I started receiving emails requesting the Elvis piece. Made contact with a couple of old friends, and others I knew by reputation.  So far no problem with having my email out there, probably because of the quality of your readership.  Anyone else interested in reading my occasional memories of rock and roll radio and records, feel free to contact me at:

I’d suggested in the last issue that Ken Kotal,, give credit to some comments he wanted to use from Commentary readers.  “Sure did!  We've gotten several compliments on our Paul Revere coverage so hopefully some of your readers will check it out as well.”

Bob Wilson:  “I don’t talk about this much, but in the USAF I was trained as a radio intercept operator for the security service.  From the shores of the Tripoli neighborhoods, I copied Russian Morse Code from their submarines plowing under the beautiful Med.  We all had to sign our papers with code names and I was assigned the military version of the first and last letters of my last name … Whiskey Nan.  Years later, when AOL demanded a ‘private’ name, I used Whiskey Nan … my desk partner in the air force had to cringe when using his code name: Sugar-Peter!  When first using the amazing field of the Internet, I was often mistaken for a female who would drink a lot.  Diabetes made me give up the only drink I stayed with from my teen years (yes, rum and Coca-Cola).  In 1997, I was headed for a Mexican restaurant with a few of my daughters … and woke up fine days later from being in a diabetic coma.  With all of the naughty deserts I’ve had to give up … I miss the rum and …ice cream, doughnuts, cheese cake … wait, I think it’s time to hook up the host to the car’s tailpipe.”

Don’t you dare go tailpipe on me, Bob.  I used to have a rum and Coke (Cuba Libre) now and then.  I was introduced to the drink by Raul Cardenas, later a Ph.D. and professor at NYU but famous for being one of two best men at my wedding.  Only “drink” I knew when I worked on the El Paso Herald-Post.  Never liked them, though.  Now a bloody mary with Jose Cuevo Gold, extra dash of Tobasco sauce, is something else!  But, like you, I’ve got diabetes now.  No booze, period.  Cry, cry.

George Jay Wienbarg:  “Do you remember who the 1st GM of WDHF was in '74?  We had gone on the air with Ronnie Knight PDing.  Billboard followed me around.  After WDHF I went to Nashville, thanks to Kent and Lee. Billboard just bought WLAC.  Radio is My Mother!   Love you guys!  PS – Claude, I was hired to do morning news with Gary Brian at WDHF in 1974.  Definitely a pinnacle of my career.  I was 23 years old.”

Can’t help you, George.  One of my most embarrassing moments (I had a few) was when Lee Zhito, editor-in-chief of Billboard, forced me to talk to the staff of the station that Billboard bought in Nashville.  First, I thought the purchase of the station was a conflict of interest; we shouldn’t have bought it.  Second, I had no valid basis to tell a pro what to do.  Third, I wasn’t exactly a cheerleader.  I gave a horrible talk.  And there was one guy who knew it.  He stood to the side and flumed his way through the entire 10 or so minutes.  I’ve never seen a guy that angry.  Before or since.  (I refuse to talk about that time in Australia.)

Bob Sherwood:  “Hi, Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claude.  What a fabulous Commentary this week!  Somewhere Jack Roberts is looking down and saying ‘Bravo’.  Don’t know about those putzes at Billboard.  Three items to respond to:
-- first prayers for a full recovery and back to the total vitality that was always the hallmark of Bob Wilson. Friends when we were both in radio, occasionally fought like Ali/Frazier when I was doing promotion at Columbia and he was The King at R&R.  Love the guy.
-- thanks to Barry Salberg (‘Shane’) for the kind words. I hired him because he was a communicator.  He spoke to each listener.  There’s an art in that.
-- I’ll take a shot with Mel Phillips request.  I share his view of ‘security’ in both industries.  I truly relish my half-century as a jock and programmer and then various positions at record labels both here and internationally.  I have great memories of being a part of exposing label artist’s creative works and supporting them to the degree that their songs and performances were accepted and gave great pleasure to a large audience.  But at the end of my day, the fondest memories I retain are of those very good to occasional great shows on-air.   All of you who have done it know when you’re really ‘on’.  You feel it, it comes through your ear-phones, on the request line and throughout the radio station.  You’re cookin’ and you’re reaching people and you’re making them ‘feel’ the power and the emotion of the music and you’re adding a little something to their lives.  There is/was nothing better.”

Great stuff, Bob.  Let me add my prayers for Bob Wilson, the founder of Radio and Records.  I remember the days when he programmed KDAY in Los Angeles, a station renown for a huge water bill to help the grass grow around the antenna site.  Get better, Bob!  (Bob Sherwood:  Would you or someone be kind enough to forward this Commentary to Wilson?)

Later from Bob Sherwood, lastly a record man:  “My daughter Shannon, who’s always been a major music junkie and featured bands that eventually became major artists when she ran a club in Illinois during her post-grad years, was visiting with her Chicago fire-fighter fiancé this week and we had some friends here and she insisted on programming the music.  She put on Deacon Blue and had the whole place dancing. For the 400th time she questioned me on how in heavens name we didn’t break this band.  I still don’t know.  Sorry!  It got worse when she put on Cock Robin.  One of ours.  I’ll never understand it.  I stopped her from playing Alison Moyet.  Under the ‘never totally embarrass your father’ statute.”

Look kindly on us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 34r2

Claude Hall
Today at 10:38 AM
October 20, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 34
By Claude Hall

It was a love/hate relationship, my appreciation of New York City.  But if you’re trying to make a go of it – find a career and grow in it – New York is the place for the creative soul.  This includes the writer.  It especially includes the radio person.  It’s like no other place in the world.  Everybody who is anybody is there and that’s where the very greatest are and as Marty Iger, the photographer, once told me “if you want to compete against the big boys, this is where you have to be.”  I was living in New Orleans at the time and Barbara and I had a 2-year-old, but we packed up and drove back to New York City in our little Volkswagen Beatle.  I joined Billboard magazine in March 1964.  I expected to stay on Billboard for a couple of years.  However, I was named radio-TV editor of the weekly trade publication by July and a year or so later, Bill Littleford, head of Billboard, loaned me interest free $7,500 (his idea) so that Barbara and I could buy a home in Hartsdale just north of Manhattan.  If you don’t think this is a big deal, you’re mistaken.  And Bill Littleford gave me a raise so that I could pay back the loan without any sweat; the raised equaled the payments.  And Hal Cook gave me and family a free admission to a neighborhood swimming pool for the summer.  Life was pretty good on Billboard for a while.  I cannot recall all of my mentors.  Paul Ackerman, music editor of Billboard, without question.  Mike Gross, Harvey Glascock, Don Graham, George Furness, and I remember great conversations with William B. Williams, Dan Daniels, Gary Stevens, Murray the K, and Shelby Singleton.

Next week:  A feature on how some legends got into show biz and a comment regarding Tom Russell’s book “120 Songs,” a great, great book.

John Lund:  “Claude:  Mel Phillips said: ‘Kevin followed me (WNBC) as PD in 1980.  I was replaced by Bob Pittman in 1977’.  Actually, I preceded Bob Pittman as WNBC Program Manager in the mid-1970s.  Mel was likely PD at WNBC before that time.  Legendary Jack G. Thayer, NBC Radio’s new president, hired me away from WNEW to program WNBC in 1974.  Don, Jack and I were previously in Cleveland and before that in Sacramento.  At 66WNBC we were fortunate to have a great on-air staff:  Don in the morning, Cousin Brucie midday (from WABC), Bob Vernon ‘with a V’ in the afternoon, Oogie Pringle early evening, and smooth-as-silk Dick Summer later at night.  What a team!  Bob Pittman was programming WNBC’s sister station, WMAQ in Chicago, at this time for Charles Warner.  When Charlie came to WNBC Radio he brought in Bob Pittman (and I went to Milwaukee for Hearst, then to Denver for Doubleday).  Several years later, when Bob left to start MTV, he recommended to the new GM, Bob Sherman, that I be hired (back).  Kevin was also interviewed.  I still have the small toilet that Bob Pittman gave me when I returned to WNBC in fall, 1979 (with the note, ‘don’t put WNBC in the toilet’).  First thing I did was bring Imus back for mornings. When I left nine months later (in 1980) to start my consulting company, I suggested Bob Sherman hire Kevin Metheny.  And he did.  Coincidentally, several years later, when consulting stations in Phoenix managed by Gary Fries, I worked with Kevin’s mother, Carolyn, who was Gary’s assistant.  And when Gary became president of the Radio Advertising Bureau, Carolyn Metheny also worked for the RAB in Dallas.”

I lost Bob Pittman’s email years ago.  Hope someone forwards Commentary to him this week.  I’ve also lost Mary Turner’s email and she’d wanted to get Commentary.  I think Norm Pattiz still receives Commentary.  Whether he reads it or not, quien sabe?  Just FYI, I wrote the first story even about Norm and his then partner.  I think they’d just produced a film about Motown for theater showing.

Bob Walker: “Wow, what a treat to hear from Lani Bennett.  I met her many times when I worked with Buzz here at WTIX in '67-'68.  Especially when Buzz broke his shoulder in a football game, and I had to jockey the board for Buzz for a few weeks, sitting side-by-side with him at our cramped U-shaped console.  During that time just about every day around 6 pm Buzz would ask me to go downstairs and let Lani in.  Nice memories of a special time at the Mighty 690.  Lani may enjoy my YouTube video ‘WTIX 20 Years Later -- a Visit Back’, on which a couple of Buzz clips are included, along with many others from our '67-'72 era DJs.”

I sent one personal email – and a note -- on to Lani Bennett and got this back:  “Thank you, Claude, for your email ... I sure got a laugh and a kick out of your fond memories of The Central Grocery ... it’s absolutely still there!  The Muffalata is still the number one sandwich that they sell … dropped R a little email ... happy to be back in touch!  God's Speed, Claude.”

That Muffalata is one of the best sandwiches on this planet.  When I was on the Times-Picayune, I went down there and asked a huge, huge guy right out of a Danny Davis email what kind of sandwiches they had and he growled, I swear, “Whatda ya mean, what kind of sandwiches we got?”  There was only one sandwich.  The more you paid, the taller it got.  Get the big one.  Last time I was in New Orleans, I bought a grocery sack of them home on the plane.  Just great!  It do pay to be Italian from time to time.

I’m going to try something different.  I stopped running email addresses because of hackers, etc.  But Don Sundeen has an item that’s a bit too long and if you’re interested in Elvis, you might wish to read.  So, tap into Don at and ask him to email it to you.  Don, hope you don’t mind.  But this is history.  Ken Dowe had sent me a thing; it’s at the end of the feature by Don.

Robert E. Richer: “Claude:  You’re right; it was KPEN and not K101.  Actually, the original KPEN team was John Wickett, Gary Gielow and Jimmy Gabbert.  Mike Lincoln came along later.  In my judgment, Jim remains one of the most knowledgeable and able radio engineers on the planet.  As far as I know, Gary still operates a very successful winery in, I believe, Napa.  And K101 remains the most powerful FM west of the Mississippi, with 125 kW.  I used to love listening to Joey Reynolds’ show on WOR.  But it was so full of radio inside stuff, I could only assume that it stayed on the air as long as it did because ‘OR’s owner, Rick Buckley, was such a dedicated radio guy himself.  So great to see all of those wonderful call letters that get mentioned in your memorable ramblings.”

Ken Dowe:  I had somehow forgotten the KPEN call letters until you mentioned them, Claude.  The station was actually licensed to Los Altos.  In the mid-80s I bought the station (estate sale price) from Don Burden.  Don tried rock and pushing the signal into San Francisco and Oakland, but the powerless Class A never even dented the Arbitron.  I thought there was an opportunity to serve a large easy listening audience in the potentially booming Silicon Valley with good programming and some ‘rock'n roll engineering’.  I called Tom Churchill in Phoenix.  Best easy listening programmer I've ever known. Tom said he'd tried to work for KBAY with their San Francisco monster signal, but there was no interest.  I signed up Tom and signed on KLZY. Classy had friendly, easy to the ears jocks with a bit of the McLendon panache.  I brought in a couple of great engineers who aimed the signal down ... to cover more of San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto and the rest of the Valley.  The audio we equalized as if we were a big city rocker.  It was LOUD.  Perfectly legal, but our friends at KBAY didn't think so.  Of course, a handful of audiophiles didn't appreciate that the stereo dynamics were not as good as when you couldn't hear the signal. Ha!  Que lastima!  So, San Jose and the Silicon Valley had a new radio station.  In a year and a half KLZE was fourth 25-54 and third 35-64 (Arbitron) in San Jose.  Broadcasting from a tiny born again Class A, booming ‘classy’ music from a Los Altos mountain top. Dottie and I sold ‘KPEN’ for a nice profit, thank you.   It wasn't the dog the non-believers laughed about after all. The San Francisco peninsula was pretty darned good to a country boy from the far off Mississippi Delta.  Didn't radio used to be so much fun?  Jim had great promos for his TV station (KOFY) in San Francisco.  Viewers' dog photos...endlessly appealing.”

Dave Anthony, Dave Anthony Custom Voicing: “Okay, here we go. After so many newsletters filled with names I either know personally or have worked with, I felt the overpowering need to chime in.  (Might be the same overpowering need I instilled in my staffs to sweep quarter-hours back in the day.)  From Tom Shovan who used to call me often at KLUC and always began every conversation by clucking like a chicken – his version of how to pronounce KLUC; to Joey Reynolds who first entertained me on KB with Sarge and his trumpet; to Kevin Metheny who tried to hire me at WNBC (I wonder how that would’ve worked out), leading to a lifetime friendship; to Lee Simms who I had the pleasure to hire, work with, and learn from at KYA; to Bob Hamilton who I’ve known since his FRED days (along with his entertaining wife); to Chuck Knapp who programmed KS95 and held massive female numbers that I endlessly pursued over at KDWB; and to you who wrote the column I never missed.  And those names are just from this week’s missive.  Don’t stop writing these things.”

About “Hitbound”: Bob Weisbuch reports in from Portugal where he and his wife are celebrating their anniversary.  Says he’d received a note from Barbara Bodnar Linden, regarding the book and she loved it.  She was a partner with Woody Roberts on the air at WPOP in Hartfort, CT.  Woody thought she was great.

I finally got Chuck Dunaway on the email list: “Thanks, Claude. My computer and emails are a great company these days.  I turn 80 in two months.  Never thought I’d live this long but sure am happy I did.  I have the same breathing problem Bill Young had.  I’m seeing my doctor regularly as he tries to figure it out.  I’m keeping fit and full of medication. Take care old friend. Stay healthy.”

Bob Wilson: “Claude, it's great to be back at the computer after 8 full weeks of 'rehab'.  In late August a daughter stopped by and found me in the hallway bleeding from every orifice.  It took a dozen doctors to finally find that my eating white bread had caused a tendency to react to gluten overload.  After four transfusions they found that amonia had eaten my blood.  I'm now taking four servings a day of a liquid that dilutes it and might have to look forward to more of it forever.  The loss of my short term memory (stroke) is making it impossible to engage in much conversation about 'the old days' though if i worry over a name, it usually flashes in the next hour.  While in rehab I shared a room with a patient just this side of insane ... all night long, calling out for mother or god every 15 minutes.  After he was released I got a man who lost his touch with reality and tried to undress and walk the halls ... but he, too, had many occasions when I had to press the red nurses button for him because he was busy trying to contact 'god'.  I then had an idea: a tape machine containing a thousand first names ... and if a patient was not quite ready for freedom, the nurse would push a button and in the screaming man’s room ... an orchestral rif with heavenly tones would sound ... then I would come on in a slight echo chamber and say: ‘... Charles ... this is god. Go to sleep’ in that the patient was dreaming, I could say things like: ‘... Charles, your children love you’ or ‘Charles, heaven is waiting for you’.  I shared my idea with a few of the nurses ... they all thought it would work.  Can you imagine?  Every hospital, rehab clinic would want one.”

What a funny story, but a horror story, Bob.  I respect doctors, but I’ve never met a hospital that I didn’t instantly hate.  In the army in Germany, cast and all, I was going to sneak out to a Globetrotter’s game on crutches and a huge female nurse picked me up,198 pounds of pure GI muscle (me, she outweighed me), and carried me back and dropped me in my bed.  Here in Vegas, I once spent five days in a godawful building, tubes here and there, with cellulitis and when they gave me freedom, I couldn’t find the way out and I was on crutches and this door and that door wouldn’t open.  A nightmare!  Awake!  I now think I’ve found a good doctor in the medical system that Barbara and I have.  God doesn’t make good hospitals though.  There’s some kind of celestial law against it.

Sorry about the bread.  Glad you’re better.  Down with hospitals.  Up with Whiskey Nan, whomever she is.

Larry Cohen: “An update for Don Berns.  Gunther Hauer has been reported to be between 92-94 years young.  His telephone # is 215-673-6260.  Coincidently, today (Tuesday, 10/14/14) was a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’ in Phily with over 65 former industry folks attending.  And Gunther Hauer was one of them.”

Mel Phillips: “I was one of the fortunate people who worked in both the radio & records (great name for a trade publication) business.  Although related, there was a decided difference between the two industries.  In radio, I always felt that I could be replaced at any minute.  There was a certain insecurity about being in radio. ‘You're only as good as your last ratings’ was something I took to heart. I never felt that when I worked in records.  I guess working for CBS Records will do that to you.  So, on the security issue, the edge goes to the record business.  Salary-wise, I made more money in the record business. Edge to records.  Creativity-wise, I never felt creative working in records but always did when I worked in radio.  Check -- radio.  And finally -- what industry do I most connect myself to?  Edge to radio.  My first job was in radio and I've been writing about my first love for the last several years.  It would be interesting to hear from other radio & records people about the differences they experienced.  Happy to contribute to another Commentary. Keep em coming.”

Vince Cosgrave always spoke highly of his radio experience, but I think the record business bubbled in his veins.  Kept a couple of rebuilt jukeboxes in his study, one for LPs, one for 45 rpms.  And one of his prized achievements was producing the last album of Bob Wills.

Barry Salberg:  “Rich Robbin forwarded me your commentary #33, and frankly I'd like to be able to receive all future such efforts directly ... please add me to your mailing list accordingly.  BTW: was nice to see the inclusion of comments from Bob Sherwood and his memories of Paul Revere at KROY, Sacramento ... Bob hired me at KROY, and was the best PD I ever had ... one further anecdotal memory ... quite understandable if you won't remember ... Steve ‘Smokin’ Weed and I met you in your Billboard office on Wilshire, circa 1969 ... we were attending UCLA, wannabe disc jockeys, etc, and he had somehow set up a meeting with you ... while we were at your desk, you also took a call from Terrell Metheny ... thanks for being nice to a couple of guys who really wanted to be in the biz.”

Marlin Taylor:  “You're right, Claude ... I couldn't think of the call letters at the time I wrote you, or Jim's partner's name.  Re Dick Summer, I listened to him on the air and talked with him personally, but it's been many years since any contact. The last I knew he lived in suburban Philadelphia.  Keep writin', Claude.  Never had personal contact with many of the ‘characters’ whose names appear, but those names are familiar to me.  After all, even with nearly 60 years having passed since my first paying job in radio, much of my activity was in a rather different genre of programming from where most worked.  It was so interesting, though, after I landed at XM Radio in 2000 for ‘my last grand gig in radio before I was too old to be physically and mentally able’ ... to talk with my fellow programmers and find that we had many call letters in common ... I had been there a generation or two before them -- KFOG, WBCN, WHFS to name just three.”

Kent Kotal: “Hi, Claude!  Going to run a couple of your Paul Revere comments as part of our next tribute ... probably tomorrow in ‘Forgotten Hits’.  This man touched SO many lives ... and we're still getting mail and tributes every day.  Check it out if you like ... and scroll back to last Sunday's and Tuesday's postings, too ... a much-loved entertainer to be sure.”
Click here: Forgotten Hits

Kent, I hope, as a matter of courtesy, you give credit to Bob Sherwood or whomever.  That would be nice.

Lest We Forget
Jack Roberts, Larry Shannon, Aaron Sternfield, Bill Drake, Bill Ward, Joe O’Brien, Bob Poole, Eddie Hill, Slim Willet, Jay Blackburn, Al Dexter (talked to him once on the phone), Paul Ackerman, Al Galico (a great, great character in the music business), Bill Gavin, Don Ovens, Bud Prager, Shelby Singleton, Mike Gross.