Monday, March 23, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 56r2

Today at 6:46 AM
March 23, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 56
By Claude Hall

You will be pleased to learn that some of your favorite acts are still around and still sassy in Las Vegas.  The Temptations will be at the Orleans March 21-22 and followed by the Osmonds April 10-12.  And BJ Thomas will perform March 28-29 at the Suncoast.  Now this one, I don’t believe:  The Four Freshmen will be at the Suncoast April 4-5.  These aren’t the only acts in town, of course.  You can even catch the CSNSongs, a group “celebrating” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  The town, of course, is full of entertainment, new and unknown (at least to me), slightly known and the really famous.  There is no way you could catch all of the shows.  Even if you wanted to and had the tickets.  I don’t know if Las Vegas is still the Entertainment Capitol of the World, but would surmise this is so.

Two of my sons know music much better these days – yonder and when and now – than I do … my youngest son Andy, a poet and college professor, and John Alexander Hall, a lawyer in Los Angeles.  But I’ve caught live music in shacks on stilts outside of Corpus Christi, old jazz, including Sweet Emma the Bell Girl, and new jazz in New Orleans and New York City at the old Jazz Gallery and been on stage with Willie Nelson in Nashville (he didn’t know I was there) and Mountain (who did).  And I’ve gone backstage and received an autographed program by Segovia (a few times).  And been backstage with Linda Ronstadt and told her I’d been a fan since “Up to My Neck in High Muddy Water” and she said, “Bless you, child.”  Had a rather pleasant and engrossing music life.  As, I suspect, most of us all have enjoyed.

I especially enjoy Tom Russell.  For me, he’s the best thing going in music today.  He will knock you off your feet and bring the tears.  Make your heart pound and your head think.  I’m sitting here bawling as I listen to “Hair Trigger Heart.”  I have to hear the song again.  Surely, it’s not that great.  But it is.  I can not stop crying.  “Pistol-packing mama lay that pistol down … I’m still around … Lord, I’ve got one more round … and I shall hit the mark.”  God, how those simple lyrics hit you when Tom Russell sings them and he’s a better writer than a singer.  The music and the lyrics get you in the heart.  Guarantee it!

Tom Russell, I believe implicitly, fancies himself a cowboy poet.  He has been at those distant meetings around the campfires of the Real West.  However, he appears to have more guts than most singers and songwriters and producers.  He steps aside to sing “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well” with Eliza Gilkyson, currently one of my favorite women singers.  And Maura O’Connell sings “I Talk to God” without his help.  Gospel on a pop CD?  Gretchen Peters is here, too, on “When the Wolves No Longer Sing.”

But Tom Russell is there and hard with “Doin’ Hard Time in Texas” and “He Wasn’t a Bad Kid, When He Was Sober,” a honky tonk tune.  Love the piano!  Real barroom.  “Midnight Wine” is fascinating.  Ah, Tom … God bless you for keeping this old buzzard alive, meaning me, with music to enjoy life by!

One of my favorites on this promotional CD is “Tularosa” … Mexican-flavored.  A line:  “The long way around must be the shortest way home.”

Promotional CD?  Yes.  Because Tom Russell has recorded a western opera.  Produced by Tom and Barry Walsh.  My compliments, gentlemen.

The body of work of Tom Russell is phenomenal.  I consider such songs as “Touch of Evil,” “When Sinatra Played Juarez,” “A Little Wind (Could Blow Me Away),” “The Eyes of Roberto Duran,” “Jai Alai” with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, “Muhammad Ali,” “Haley’s Comet,” “The Pugilist at 59,” and several others that he has written as cultural masterpieces.  Entertaining, yes.  Pithy.  Memorable.  Listen to “The Blue Men” and you’ll feel uncomfortable and squirm in your chair.  Several of his songs are like that.  On the other hand, “All the Fine Young Ladies” brings a bit of warmth to the old heart.

So, it’s no surprise to me that Tom Russell comes forth with a western opera “The Rose of Roscrae.”  It’s not western, per se, but it is historic without question and definitely in the folk realm.  And, yes, the “Hair Trigger Heart” is here as well as the other tunes in the promotional CD.

The full package includes two CDs and a book “Program Guide With Libretto.”  It’s an amazing project.  Fifty-one songs, some with friends such as Joe Ely, Augie Meyers, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and others.  Fascinating, entertaining, history of the west.  For example, Tom narrates to music about Charlie Goodnight, a rancher of the days of the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail, and the Comanches who wanted one more buffalo.  (The first real story that I wrote for the El Paso Herald-Post after I became a reporter was about the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail.)  The voice of Walt Whitman is also captured on this CD.  In context.  I got a laugh out of the bit of Tex Ritter’s “Blood on the Saddle.”  I probably still have a copy of the real thing somewhere around this house.  I loved Tex Ritter.  Had coffee with him one afternoon the Palisades Amusement Park.  And I recall a night when he spun some old tales to me and some radio men in the old Andrew Jackson in Nashville.

A classic collection of life as it used to be … a collector’s item.  A treasure to have on your shelf.  A treasure to listen to on a long, lonely evening.

My compliments Tom Russell.

A cutie:  Tom emailed and asked for my permission to send the same package to Don Imus.  I explained to him that he didn’t need my permission.  Tom had previously wanted to send some of his CDs to Imus and Imus was kind enough to say yes and give Tom his home address.  Don’s son is a rodeo performer and Tom thought he might enjoy some of his western tunes.

As some of you may know, of my three sons, both John and Andy, the baby, grew up around music in Los Angeles.  I used to have a print of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” on my wall.  It’s a tremendous guide/inspiration when you’re writing.  When he could barely stand up, Andy scrawled “94.7” on the bottom.  I had an 8-track in the MGB.  Andy loved “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies.  I think we wore that tape out!  I had records around.  The quad system was always going in the house … even over the swimming pool out back.  And Bobby Vee and his sons, also musically inclined and now all professionals, lived just up the street.  Then, there were the live performances and the concerts.  Today, Andy even has an underground hit in Las Vegas.  “Sea of Vomit.”  And, yes, Barbara and I attended a concert in Summerlin and, voila, the entire audience sang along.  He has been written about in the Los Angeles Times.  Andy, a poet, is now teaching English at UNLV.  So, I persuaded him to write the review of Sandy Bainum’s CD.

Sandy Bainum shows she has the stuff Broadway is made of in her latest collection, “Simply.”  Working with Producer Bruce Kimmel and Arranger, Orchestrator, and Musical Director Lanny Meyers, her voice soars through the uptempo cabaret tunes, and softly yet strongly delivers the ballads such as on "Goodnight, My Someone" from “The Music Man” which crests at the end as she vibrates through the high registers showing her vocal prowess.  Yet, she never indulges in her voice, but uses it for the delivery of the song ... as an actress, she serves the art of the songs and tells the stories.  On the title track, composed by Kimmel, Sandy beckons listeners to let love be enough. "Bluesette," among others, features Sandy's jazzy bravado as she bounces in between low and high notes.  If anything, she gives us beauty and joy, but behind the simplicity, she and the band are doing a lot of fine hard work.   Also to be applauded are the song selections which survey Broadway classics, but digs up more obscure material not often recorded by chanteuses.  "A Cockeyed Optimist" from “South Pacific,” "Pure Imagination" from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”  Sandy Bainum shows she has the vocal chops as well as the acting chops to light up the stage for years to come.

Thank you, Andy, and my very best to you, Sandy.  I understand from the promotional guru Don Graham that you’re already receiving some excellent airplay.  Good on you!

Woody Roberts:  “Claude, I’m sending this from my backup account and found several never seen issues of the Commentaries that I will now enjoy.  The film portion of South by Southwest 2015 had three musician bio documentaries that will interest many of your readers.  Joe Nick Patoski previewed his ‘Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove’.
It was the local favorite, but in a city where there is a Doug Sahm Hill could be a bias.  I met Doug at 2 a.m. in December of 1960 when he rapped on my control room window.  I had just arrived from a PD job in Fort Lauderdale, the station's national PD was Jim Ramsberg.  I wanted to learn the McLendon Top 40 format first hand so was willing to move cross country, take a pay cut and work all night to absorb it.  Doug Sahm had brought me his newest 45 and invited me to see his band at the Purple Onion cellar club.  It was a blues band complete with horns and when I walked in they were playing ‘Stormy Monday’.  It was the start of a 40-year friendship.  ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’ is definitely a film to watch for; it's an eight-year labor of love with highly innovative editing and was directed by Brett Morgen.  Plus -- be on the lookout for a great
documentary by the critically applauded late filmmaker Les Blank spotlighting Leon Russell.  It is called ‘A Poem Is a Naked Person’. This was filmed in the early 1970s when Leon had Shelter Records with studio in Tulsa but was in Austin to record Freddie King live at Armadillo World Headquarters and discover Willis Alan Ramsey who composed ‘Muskrat Love’.  Yes, Leon was here before Willie Nelson.”

Don Graham:  “At Johnny Holliday’s request, we forward to you the following sad news that Sal Licata passed away Thursday, 3/19, in Florida.  We know that many of your Commentary readers, in our business, have known and respected Sal through the years … regretfully.”

Johnny Holliday had written:  “Sal passed away peacefully yesterday at 2 p.m. at Good Samarian Hospital in Palm Beach, FL.  He had suffered a fall a few days after Christmas and was never able to recover.  His wife Carol Lee's address is 25 Grand Palm Way, Palm Beach, Gardens, FL 33418.  There may be plans for a memorial service at a later date and I will keep you informed.  If you could let his many friends in the business know, I  know the family would really appreciate it.  We went all the way back to 7th grade together.  I will miss Sal terribly.”

A followup from Jerry Sharell:  “Just heard about the death of Sal Licata and sat down and cried.  Sal and I were promo guys ‘on the streets’ of Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown and vicinity in the mid-60s and I had a huge respect for him for being such a ‘good guy’, a talented professional and a solid friend.  Like a lot of us of that era, Sal proved to be a promoter who believed in the music and the artists he represented … and he helped break a lotta records!  He will be missed … BIG-TIME.  I hope he will save me a good seat up there and say ‘HI’ to Frank, Dean, Sammy and Elvis!”

Bob Fead:  “Special man … friendship always came first!  I shall miss his friendship.”

Carol Lee, our best to you.  We come, we do, we go.

Frank ‘O Boyle:  “Happy St Paddy's Day! Quick seque from Robert Richer's  and Marlin Taylor’s equally great recap of classic story about WNCN - WRFM and the Quad experiment.  But who can forget that the National TV and NYC Radio Voice of GAF was Henry Fonda?  Who called it the ‘Chee -- Aye -- EF Corporation.  No PD taught Mr. Fonda how to pronounce the G properly.  Marlin and Robert never got the rich credit they deserved for successfully smashing rating records with ‘The Good Music’ tsunami.  Remember how many call letters got changed to fit in ‘EZ’ ... sorta the second coming of the phonic McLendon call letters.  Speaking of call letter changes -- I come from Detroit Radio originally.  Nobody did the change with more guts and within a Top Ten Market than John Richer did with the old WJBK. Which went thru new owners and formats like crazy in a 10-year period.  Then John got there -- changed the calls to WDEE -- which he cunningly said stood for ‘We've Done Everything Else’ and went Country.  Do you recall how long Ron Ruth and WOR-FM calls lasted?  For small mkts I give the Oscar to Ed Perry, Marshfield, Mass (The Irish Riviera) south of Boston for his WNTD – ‘We're Near The Dump’.  OK, it's St. Pat's day and that's what green beer will do to you.  Hope your foot gets better.”

Jack Gale:  “Hey, Claude … I was thinking the other day.  What do old disk jockeys do when they reach 90 years old?  Rather than just fade away … they go back into radio.  So I did.  I gathered up a collection of crazy skits and bits that I did years ago in Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Charleston and Charlotte, and started a show on the internet.  I do one show a week for an hour, it runs 24/7, and then the following week another show appears.  It's radio as we knew it.  So far two stations have picked it up and are running it with more coming on board.  The website is JACKGALERADIO.COM.  Click on the site, and everything is there.  Thought you might enjoy the memories.”

Proud of you, Jack!

Scott Paton:  “Please let Danny Davis know how much I anticipate his promised book on Phil Spector.  Despite the several bios that have preceded it, Danny's ‘in the cockpit’ perspective will be fascinating.  I can still recall the epiphany I had 40-some years ago that Danny was not the Chet Atkins cohort of the eponymous Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass.  Record promotion and trumpet playing definitely seemed like an odd dual career.  I'm guessing that ‘titled back side to a tune...’ Danny referenced in last week's column was perhaps the Rolling Stones' ‘The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man’, the flip to ‘Satisfaction?’  It kind of pokes fun at the business, but I'd heard that it was inspired, in part, by Danny.  And just as Philles Records got its name as an amalgam of Spector and the great Lester Sill's first names, Phil's other label -- Phi-Dan -- of course, was Phil and Danny.  Danny, if you need a co-writer....  And, Claude, since there's been no mention of it for a couple of weeks, I trust that you've abandoned that silly notion of ‘retirement’ from this column!”

Ken Dowe sends a message that has been circulating.  “Jack Woods, 80, passed away last night in San Diego.  He had been recovering from a stroke several weeks ago and died in the hospital Wednesday at 8p, according to his son in a conversation with me this morning.  Jack was Charlie Brown of the famed Charlie & Harrigan Top 40 radio duo, originally at KLIF, Dallas teamed with Ron Chapman, later with Paul Menard for years in San Diego at KCBQ, KFMB and other stations.”

Don Sundeen:  “Hi, Claude, my new blog/site, TheDonRocks, is up and open for browsing Monday, March 23rd.  Appreciate if you’d share this with your Commentary readers:  Now available, the Premier issue of TheDonRocks, the new History of Rock and Roll blog, with memories of Rock Radio, Hit Records and the Artists themselves. Don Sundeen talks about Elvis Presley's influence on his life and the rise of Rock and Roll music in general.  Captain Vinyl spotlights Little Richard and the white singer who got rich covering him, Pat Boone. Bob Shannon asks 20 Questions of the legendary radio deejay and programmer John Sebastian with insightful answers.  John Hale remembers The Big Bopper, and Jacqui Kramer’s Rock and Roll Heaven kicks off with the late Janis Joplin’s crazy life and death.”
Just go to:

Larry Irons, Number One Songs:  “Was there no Commentary sent out today? I didn’t get it today.  I’ve become addicted to reading them!”

My apology to everyone.  I get hungup in this “spam nonsense” now and then.  I’m trying to do this thing as cheap as possible.  You priced eggs benedict lately?  I cannot imagine what it’s like to have breakfast in the Polo Lounge anymore.  Oh, well.  I’m doing the best I can, eggs benedict or not … even at the Silver Sevens in Las Vegas.  Thus, if you don’t receive Commentary on a Monday, usually early in the day, please let me know.

Ron Brandon:  “Hi, Claude ... enjoy your weekly ramblings ... don't know if you might have seen the pic (attachment) from one of our old collections.  There may be one or two more on my FB timeline … over 1,000 pics there, mostly of those good old days.”

Just FYI, “Claude’s associate” is Sandy Donner, who worked for Howard Hughes for many years, and, after he retired, became an actor.  We hungout for a while.  Barbara is still good friends with his widow, Verla.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 55r2

Today at 8:02 AM
March 16, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 55
By Claude Hall

I picked it up from the bookcase in the living room and made the mistake of opening it.  A copy of “Disc Jockey Cookbook.”  It’s birth was a joke from Lee Baby Simms, his recipe for Red Beans and Rice.  He later said he made it up.  But I cooked it and it was sensational.  So I made up another batch and froze part of it and Barbara and I enjoyed it again … and even later.  I had been cooking a soup I called Lazy Man’s Chowder for years and I wondered if anyone else cooked something special.  So, I asked in Commentary – and sent out a few emails -- and received 32 recipes from different radio people.  Rollye James claimed she didn’t cook, but wrote a very funny piece about not doing so.  The rest of the recipes were serious, including from Chuck Buell, Gary Allyn, Art Holt, and Bruce Miller Earle.

So Jack Roberts and I developed a book and we used it as a fund-raiser for Jack’s Hollywood Hills blog.  And, of course, eggs benedict for me and Barbara at Silver Sevens.  Bobby Ocean contributed his phenomenal cartoons for the cover and inside.  Don Graham later printed off a copy and that’s what I’m looking through now, but it was basically an eBook.  The pictures were in color and great in color, including Bobby’s cartoons.  The man is sensational!

Looking at this printed version, I’m pleased with the book.  It was a fun project.  Later, I gave Jack Roberts all of the proceeds from one eBook for a month.  Today, it’s for sale via Books.  I suppose that one day I’ll install my cookbook with Kindle Books.  I’m pleased with the cookbook.  It’s worth three or four bucks just for the Lee Baby Simms stuff.  We lost a good man when we lost Lee.  I realize that we all have to go eventually, but I sure miss Lee, L. David Moorhead, Gary Owens, Jack Roberts, Larry Shannon, Jay Blackburn, and George Wilson.  These men – and several others – played important roles in my life.

Rollye James Cornell:  “Reading your latest email missive, when I saw, ‘I feel that I have achieved virtually nothing.  Vox Jox will never win anyone a Pulitzer’, it stopped me cold.  (And not over the literary merit of Vox Jox.)  In that sentence alone, you evoked a wide enough range of raw emotion in me to win that prized Pulitzer, though I admit I wouldn’t recognize literature if it were bound in leather and embossed in gold in front of me.  But what I do know is the human condition -- how seldom it is that we have a chance to really make a difference someone’s life, and how rare it is when we recognize our role and act on it.  Claude, you did that every week.  The feeling of exhilaration felt by an otherwise obscure personality upon reading their name in your Vox Jox became a memory forever emblazoned in the consciousness of far more names than you’ll ever remember dropping.  The column you built was magical.  Being included in it was confirmation to a jock that he mattered.  You made Vox Jox a community.  In reading it, we all had a sense of belonging, and seeing our own names in print from time to time was an extra kick. 

“I know Vox Jox first hand from both sides -- the joy of seeing my name written by you, and the reaction I got from those about whom I wrote.  After my Billboard tenure was over, all the squabbles over transposed call letters in headlines, or holding back big scoops for better graphic relief the next week have all receded in my mind.  What I remember most is the response from jocks thrilled by being included.  One of my favorites came from an editor at R&R. He was hosting some forgettable syndicated show and I mentioned it.   He wrote me an effusive thank you note explaining that a longtime goal of his was to see his name in Vox Jox and now that he had, he know he’d made it.  And this is while he was writing a weekly column in what was arguably the most widely read radio trade at the time!  That was the power of Vox Jox -- the power that you, Claude Hall, gave it.  No one before you or after had the impact you did.  I rebuilt the radio readership for it, but I didn’t begin to recapture the importance Vox Jox had to so many of us, me included.  Timing is vital, and granted, some of your influence had to do with a point in time that will never be recaptured.  But most of it had to do with you.  It may not be Pulitzer material.   And I’m sure that whatever is Pulitzer worthy, just like your Vox Jox, evokes emotions and transports readers to a better place.  But I’m just as sure that it probably doesn’t begin to approach the personal bond that you created when your words knitted us together then, and still hold us together now.  For that, at least in my mind, you have achieved virtually everything.”

If I were ranking radio-TV editors of Billboard, I think I would place Rollye James at No. 4.  She was good!  She should have been a writer!

Paul Cassidy:  “Hi, Claude: Stayed at the Algonquin last June, when I visited for the Belmont Stakes.  Wicked Strong dead heated with California Chrome for 4th.  He ran strides more than anyone in the race.  Frank Sullivan, the humorist from Saratoga, had sent me memorabilia from the Round Table and I turned it over to the curator in the Algonquin. Who in turn told me they had lost all their collection from a theft several years ago.  Great, historic, handy place to stay when you're in town.”

The Algonquin was a place where writers who were able to squeeze themselves into the inner circle were able to be with other writers of the same ilk and talk their craft.  And, of course, booze it up.

Robert E. Richer:  “And speaking of Quad, let’s not forget that the Starr brothers, funded by William F. Buckley, took NYC Classical music station WNCN off the air and replaced it with WQIV (Quad 4).  The first song played was ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.  The station was an unmitigated disaster, for several reasons:  One, nobody had a Quad receiver, and Two, the programming was awful.  Further, the changes exploded the wrath of Classical listeners all over the New York Metro area … a hugely influential and powerful group.  Buckley was, of course, a part of that group, and he was vilified by his friends and associates.  In addition, FCC field inspectors started dropping in on all of the other Starr stations around the country for unannounced visits.  Buckley got the message in a hurry, and sold the station to GAF corporation, which returned it to the original WNCN call sign and Classical music.  Then I was hired to become the GM.  GAF turned WNCN into an audio and visual tour de force, including using the acoustical genius of Dick Sequerra, and we were able to make the station into an important part of NYC’s broadcast spectrum.  Great fun!”

A great story, Robert!

Don Barrett’s has this news:  K-EARTH’s Shotgun Tom Kelly will be honored at the next Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters luncheon.  And the Diamond Circle Award will be presented to Wink Martindale.  Two great radio men.  Good on you both!  And, come to think of it, good on Don Barrett, too; provides a great service though I sometimes have trouble identifying who’s who in his photos.

Jim Ramsburg:  “Greetings from SW Florida, Claude.  Several weeks ago I saw that David Gleason contacted you.  Let me endorse his great website,  It's a terrific collection of historic radio and television publications.  I'm flattered that his site links to

Timmy Manocheo:  “Here is the link to a youtube video, Please post it on your blog site.  This is a great song about the state of our dearly beloved friend, RADIO.  Don't let the short burst of profanity dissuade you.  It's a REALLY good tune & it's by a wonderful person, a star from our Top 40 world of yesterday, Mary Weiss.  Mary was the lead singer of the 60s girl-group The Shangri-las.

Don Graham:  “Lori tells us that Dick Forster passed yesterday, Sunday 3/8, at 5 p.m. (pdt), Marin General Hospital … complications of congestive heart failure and pneumonia … a truly special guy … Dick, was, is and always will be, my life long friend.”

Joey Reynolds will be the keynote speaker April 17 at Chef’s Restaurant in Buffalo for a meeting of the Buffalo Broadcaster’s Association.  Checkout  Be nice if someone wrote me about the goings on.

Morris Diamond:  “Hi, Claude – I'd be remiss if I didn't pass on this little story of a personal incident that occurred last week.  Steve Tyrell came to Palm Desert to play the McCallum Theatre, as he's done yearly for the past fifteen years … always a sellout.  The show is emceed by Jazz DJ Jim FITZ Fitzgerald and is titled FITZ'S JAZZ CAFÉ AT THE McAllum.  We're pretty close friends to Fitz and his wife and he generally comped Alice and I for the show.  I took ill last Thursday morning, the day of Steve's show and was hospitalized.  Alice phoned Fitz that morning to suggest he pull our tickets from the box office because of our inability to make the show that evening.  Obviously, later in the day, Fitz told Steve Tyrell about me being in the hospital.  That evening, in the middle of the show, Steve told the packed house about me being hospitalized and how I brought him to his first show at the McCallum, 15 years ago when I co-managed him with Ken Fritz, and for everyone to think good things for a speedy recovery for me.  The next day we must have received at least 15 calls from friends who were in the audience and wanted me to know what Steve had done.  As it happened, my treatments while in Eisenhower Hospital did improve my illness and I was back home by the next night.   This is probably the nicest, kindest event that's every happened to me and I feel worth sharing with my friends in our industry.”

What a great story!  Great on you, Steve Tyrell.  Fitz, too.  And Morris, may the good one bless and keep you.  Get well!  You and Alice still have some eggs benedict coming at the Silver Sevens here in Las Vegas.  I was over there just a day or so ago with Barbara and two of our boys – John and Andy.  The waitress has gotten to know me.

Marlin Taylor:  “1967 was a giant year in Boston radio.  Not only did WRKO turn half the market upside down in March ... but WJIB (FM), featuring my Easy Listening/Beautiful Music format, arrived in mid-September, turning the rest of the market on its ear! That was less than two years before I arrived in the Big Apple to do battle via WRFM, where we landed in the Top Five within a year.  This kid, who was just one generation removed from a Pennsylvania farm, has so much to be thankful for as I celebrate the 60th anniversary of my first paying job in radio ... and am still on the programming payroll at Sirius XM.”

Joe Nick Patoski:  “As always, I'm digging your Commentary, which I can now say is better than your Billboard column because you can write long and get all the news in.  As a displaced Texan, I thought you might be interested in this music documentary I've directed, which premieres at SXSW Film in Austin in two weeks.  Woody Roberts knew the film subject pretty well.  It's time everyone else heard about him, too.
And don't forget, if you're bored on a Saturday 5-7 your time, the Texas Music Hour of Power airs on and while a bunch of volunteers known as Image Wranglers do Picture Radio on my Facebook page, posting images and information about the music that is playing.  Check it out sometime.  Keep radio-ating.”

Really pleased to hear from you, Joe Nick.  Joe Nick also reports that “Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove” premieres at the SXSW Film Festival March 2015.  I’ll bet Jimmy Rabbitts wishes he could be down there for the music.  Me, too!

Jeff March:  “I enjoyed your comments about Larry McMurtry, Winters, TX, and the writers you admired.  Despite your humility about the literary worth of Vox Jox, rest assured that jocks and aspiring jocks throughout the country hung on to your every word, and greatly appreciated your insights.  For younger jocks, mention in Vox Jox was perhaps the most prominent form of professional validation.  I know of your book ‘This Business of Radio Programming’ that you wrote with Barbara Hall (with an introduction by Jack Thayer), but I'm sure that readers would enjoy going on that journey back to Winters that you mentioned.”

Jeff would like to speak with Reb (James Dennis Bruton) Foster, KRLA and KFWB.  He says that Reb relocated to Armarillo, TX, but has misplaced his phone.  Anyone able to help with phone number or email address?

Don Sundeen:  “Great radio record back in the day, coming out of a boring news break, weather or spots; the distinctive guitar riff by Brian Carmen jumped right out of the radio and said, ‘Wake up, We're Rocking Again’.  The band was very much a part of the California Surf scene and toured nationally behind their hit, ‘Pipeline’.  There’s a videoclip of the band here performing on, of all places, the Lawrence Welk Show.  How that happened is hard to say, but maybe Larry had a piece of the record.  Anyway, it’s really primitive, they’re dressed in Beatle-like suits, and young Brian makes a speech like at a school assembly, but the music is still there and it really resonates even today.  We’ll have pieces like this soon when my blog called TheDonRocks is launched.  Meanwhile, you can connect to our Facebook page at the address above, and we’re tweeting at: with a lot of stuff every day.  I’m getting my feet wet on the web, but my brilliant daughter, Jacqui Kramer in Seattle, who does this IT stuff for a living is designing and building the site.  Those who sign up to follow us on Facebook and Twitter will be the first to be alerted when the TheDonRocks premiers.  I think you’ll find it very different and entertaining, complete with some great folks joining weekly writing Golden Age (1955-1980) Record and Radio history with videos like this.  Hope you’ll join our rocking party, coming soon to a digital device near you.
March 10, 2015.
Orange County surf rock pioneer and 'Pipeline' guitarist Brian Carman of the Chantays dies at 69

Don Elliot:  “Although it's more than a month away, my ‘dance card’ is filling up faster than I anticipated for the Las Vegas show.  As you recall possibly, I won the auction on 1500 a.m. for Los Angeles and will have engineer and attorneys meetings at that time during the show.  Unlike last time, this trip I am forcing my own calendar to make you a priority for coffee, lunch, or better.  I apologize for letting my hours get ahead of me before and I would certainly like to see you if you have time.  Perhaps sometime Tuesday the 14th?”

Don, I’m not sure this is the proper time to visit.  I may still be recovering from a foot operation March 24.  Sorry about that!

John Long:  “May I suggest that some of Bob Pond's friends get together and apply for assistance from the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  This is a wonderful resource for broadcast vets.”

Danny Davis:  “Claudius!  By reason of the stories crowding my ‘recollections’, am a believer when it comes to the marvel of a music maker, known as Philip H. Spector!  You’re right, Scott Paton!  I ‘weren’t there!  Neither was my bride of 57 years.  But sadly, I’m holding more fuel on Philzee than was ever meant to be poured from a Heinz bottle might be alluded to in my book, but not viciously!  The genius was great to me, and mine!  BUT I know the category!  And Marie offers prayers weekly for the life Phil allowed us!  And how could I ever forget the titled back side of the tune he allowed my ego to reference!  Stay well, Philzee!”

Dave Anthony,  “Claude, after reading your paragraphs about Larry McMurtry, I’m afraid what jumped out at me was your mention of the Quad technology in the 1970s.  Sorry, I know that wasn’t the point you were trying to emphasize, but I haven’t thought about Quad in years.  In 1975-76, I was on middays at Malrite’s WZUU in Milwaukee.  The legal ID at the top of every hour was something like ‘WZUU Milwaukee … in Quad!’  I never heard the Quad effect because our control room only had two speakers.  Sigh.  But I tried my best every hour to sound excited over a technology I couldn’t experience.  By the way, those call letters were the hardest-to-pronounce because we could only say them as ‘Z’ (pause) “U” (pause) ‘U’ every time.  And each letter had to be uttered enthusiastically.  When ABC’s KXYZ in Houston called, their far easier call letters were among the reasons I left.”
Good on you all!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 54r2

Today at 8:23 AM
March 9, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 54
By Claude Hall

I’ve got to tell this story, but I haven’t the slightest reason, really, to tell it.  Except that Woody Roberts, once a great program director, still a person of considerable intellect and a good friend, sent me this book by Larry McMurtry titled “Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen” and it has a cover of a Dairy Queen in what is obviously a small Texas town like where I went to high school, Winters, except that the Dairy Queen is at the wrong end of town.  Pity for McMurtry, a renown writer, to make a mistake like that.  He wrote “Lonesome Dove” and has won a Pulitzer and some of his books have been made into movies.  I always considered “The Last Picture Show” a horror story.  I never heard a Greyhound going past but that I wanted to be on it … even when I was attending The University of Texas.  But, overall, I’m just jealous of McMurtry.  He has been successful at writing and, although I’ve supported a wife and three kids and a dog with words, I feel that I have achieved virtually nothing.  Vox Jox will never win anyone a Pulitzer.

In reality, I don’t care much about Larry McMurtry and whatever jealousy I bear, is trivial.  Even my wife Barbara says she doesn’t care for McMurtry and doubts that this book will become a bestseller.  I tell her, he didn’t write it for that.  He wrote it, really, to try to wriggle a spot for himself in the world of literature.  A lot of writers try to do this.  Some achieve their goal.  Most do not because, when you get down to it, they didn’t write anything worth calling literature.  And neither did Larry McMurtry.  Which is pretty odd, because he wrote about Archer, TX, and I wrote about Winters, TX, and the two towns are essentially mirror images of each other.  His writings sold like crazy and he made a lot of money.  My tale about Winters is literature and will likely go unread.  Pity.  I think my tales are better than anything he ever wrote.  This is typical, however, of writers.  We all think we can out write, out think, and out drink any writer in the room.  Doesn’t matter who the writer is.  You name them.  Hemingway, Chandler, Faulkner, Flaubert, Leigh Brackett, Dorothy Parker.

We followed two different tracks.  We both studied other writers, just different writers.  Trying to figure out why they were so great.  D.H. Lawrence; I’ve even been to the old ranch in New Mexico.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, too.  I confess: I didn’t even know how to pronounce his name correctly until a couple of students from Russia laughed at my pronunciation one day in a course I was teaching at UNLV, Las Vegas.  The writers I studied trended more toward the commercial.  Leigh Brackett, for example.  I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs, Theodore Sturgeon, Dashiell Hammett.  Barbara and I have visited the homes of Earl Stanley Gardner and O’Henry and Mark Twain.  Yes, I studied the great masters.  Intensively.  And more or less worshipped the off-beat writers of the Algonquin, the Paris Review and various other avant garde publications.  I don’t know why.  I think their beat lifestyle intrigued me at the time.  I read Jack Kerouac, but didn’t worship him.  Passed him by.  The Algonquin Round Table, however, was like a monument where Dorothy Parker held reign.

What’s odd is that, though I frequented some of the haunts of the esoteric writer including the Kettle of Fish and I once saw Shel Silversteen walking by in Greenwich Village, I don’t recall venturing into the Algonquin during my years in Manhattan.  Neither before nor after marriage.  Barbara, too, was an Algonquin buff.  Then we moved the headquarters of Billboard magazine to Los Angeles.  In the day and many nights, I worked on Billboard.  At night when I could, I wrote on “The Hellmakers.”  And I continued to study not only the various religions, but the various serious writers.  Not the Brits, but the French, the Russian, the American.  I don’t know why I avoided Dickens.  People I know and respect know and respect Dickens.

One day, I received a phone call from Herb Helman, head of publicity for RCA Records in New York.  He wanted me to fly into New York to interview one of the executives about quadrasonic music.  I suppose I should explain.  I’d written some of the early news stories about quad music, both discrete and matrix.  And this led to writing about the broadcast experiments of Jim Gabbert and Lou Dorren on KPEN-FM, San Francisco.  I am egotistical, but this is not ego talking:  I was probably the overall media authority.  This, in spite of the fact that Hal Cook, publisher of Billboard, had one day had a tantrum and tossed all of my collected data in the trash back before we moved headquarters to Los Angeles.  Ben Bauer, the acoustic scientist at CBS, even flew in an engineer from Japan and personally installed a quad system in my office at 9000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.  Lou Dorren promptly gave me one of his demodulators and I had the best quad system in the world, matrix and discrete.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the Doobie Brothers in discrete quad.

So, Helman wanted me to personally do the story in New York City.  I refused, of course.  Not only was I writing the radio-TV section of Billboard, but I covered several labels such as MCA and 20th Century Records for news.  And organizing and conducting a convention once a year.  We had a staff in New York.  Let someone there do the story.  No, Helman said.  I had to fly to New York.  Again, I refused.  He put on enormous pressure.  Finally, I told him that if he could get me a room in the Algonquin, I would do it.  He tried.  Phoned back.  No room available.  “Great.  No story.”

What’s funny now, after all these years, is that I can’t remember whether or not he finally chiseled a room in the Algonquin or not or doing the interview or not.  I certainly wish I could apologize to Herb Helman for giving him such grief.

I’d forgotten all of this until I got the book from Woody Roberts and remembered that I used to study how other writers got famous.  When you get right down to it, I can’t envy anyone, however, that lives in Archer.  At least, I had good enough sense to leave Winters.

Walt Pinto in regards to last week’s picture of Buffalo radio men:  “Haven't seen Sandy in many years, but that has to be him on Joey's right.  And I believe that's Danny on the other side of Joey.  Never had any time in the Buffalo area, but went to the NY Broadcasters Hall of Fame Induction a few years ago when Danny was inducted.  I said hello, told him Joey and I worked together, and that I had a copy of the 45 ‘Rats in My Room’ (the record he and Joey released).”

Later:  “After sending the previous email, found this link on YouTube:”

For posterity, a must hear.  Joey Reynolds is a family friend.  And this is a horrible record!  But it’s history.  Just as Joey is part of radio history.

Damion Bragdon:  “Claude, always enjoy your info ... many names from my past -- Lee Baby Simms, Danny Clayton, Sandy Beach, Dick Robinson, Joey Reynolds -- and so many more that influenced my venture into radio broadcasting while growing up in Hartford, CT.  Radio has been a great career path for me in Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco and what I had called home for 40-plus-years Los Angeles.  Still keep my toe in the water with a one-hour show called ‘Rock & Roll Cowboy’ (mixing today's country and rock) playing in over 180 US markets and 50 countries. Thanks to all the aforementioned talent and yourself for keeping the passion alive.”

Bob Walker, WTIX ret.: “For those of you missing New Orleans ... temp here now 75, expected 79 for Wednesday.  Cafe Du Monde and Central Grocery open for business, with beignets, coffee & chicory, and across the street at Central Grocery: Muffalettas plenty.  Uh, just thought you folks would like to know.

Ah, ah, ah.  Those mufalettas!  I’d been told about the Central Grocery when I was working on the Times-Picayune.  So I meandered there one day and strolled inside.  Someone pointed toward the back when I asked about sandwiches.  Huge guy behind the counter in back.  Arms like tree limbs.  I swear!  I asked what kind of sandwiches he had.  He said in a voice like a bear, “Whatdayuh mean what kind of sandwiches we have.  We got one kind of sandwich.”  There were three versions.  The more you paid, the more filling you got.  One of the world’s greatest sandwiches!

Bob Skurzewski:  “The photo ... left to right ... Sandy Beach, Joey Reynolds, Dan Neaverth, unknown MC of the night), Stan Roberts and Shane Gibson.  Joey and Dan did ‘Rats in My Room’ and followed up with another single called ‘Got Rid of the Rats’.  Stan Roberts recorded a single with the Buffalo Sabres audio in the background.  Shane also recorded a single, ‘Summer in America’.” 

Larry White: “Hi Claude, I'm sure Joey Reynolds will have the details on this, but if you haven't heard already, Don Berns died yesterday in Toronto where he'd been living for about 30 years.  I know he's written you several times recently and thought I'd pass along the his passing.  He and Joey were very good friends and I'm sure he can give you the details.  Best to you and Barbara.”

Sad news.  I enjoyed the notes from Don Berns.  We come, we do, we go.

Don Graham:  “Hi, Claude … we just received a call from Bill Miller, host/producer of the nationally syndicated program ‘The Bill Miller Show’, a pre-recorded show featured on 180 stations throughout the U.S.  Bill, a long-time member of the Kansas Broadcast Hall of Fame, does not have email, and therefore asked if we could contact you … he records his program on a Sony mini-disk recorder/playback unit type r, and his current recorder has failed beyond repai4.  Bill asks if any of your Commentary readers have one they would be willing to sell.  Bill’s phone # (913) 397-9651.  He thanks you for your help and consideration.”

Scott Paton: “As usual, another entertaining and informative post.  As I couldn't find any reference on to ‘Hitbound’, the Robert Weisbuch-penned book on Lee Baby Simms that you referenced, I'm guessing that it may have been self-published.  If you have any leads as to how or where a copy could be purchased, I suspect that I am only one of many of your subscribers who would be interested in doing so.  On another note:  As an unabashed fan of Phil Spector's creative legacy, I was greatly saddened for both victim and suspect alike, and hoped that it, indeed, was an accidental shooting.  As a friend and colleague of Spector's, I'm sure Danny Davis was even more upset.  But based on evidence and testimony in the trial, I wouldn't put too much creadence in the speculations that those ‘bent-nose fellas’ evidently shared with Danny.  That smacks a little of the old specious defense tactic of painting a rape victim as a slut.  Spector has a long-acknowledged history of waving pistols around in threatening fashion.  He was a brilliant producer and, unfortunately, often a substandard human being.  I wish Phil was innocent.  More importantly, I wish that Lana Clarkson -- who, by all legitimate accounts from those who knew her, was a lovely person -- was still alive.  But her error in judgment that night, coupled with the fact that Spector is a disturbed individual, cost her life.  I certainly don't blame Danny for wanting to believe that his friend is innocent.  But the ‘gents’ who've unfairly trashed the victim were not there that night either.  I've gotta side with Danny's wife, Marie, on this one.  Unequivocally.”

Don Barrett, printed that Bob Pond was in a hit and run last October.  Severe head injury.  Unable to talk.  Needs help.  I used to be in touch with him during my Billboard days.  Not since.  Good radio man.  Worked markets such as Phoenix and around Los Angeles.
Contact :

Mel Phillips: “This Friday, March 13 marks the 48th Anniversary of WRKO. Several years ago I wrote 'WRKO ... The Launch' and I have linked the story on my latest post.  I offer it here to the sizable radio and records viewer audience.  We have lost many members of the original staff but those that remain are Perry S. Ury, GM, the first WRKO PD whom I replaced - Bob Henabery, Promotion Director Harvey Mednick, the last surviving member of the sales staff, Bill Wayland and on-air personalities Al Gates, Joel Cash, John Rode, J.J. Jeffrey, Arnie Ginsburg, Chuck Knapp, Dick Burch and morning team newsman Palmer Payne. I've attached a photo of the WRKO Marquee that announced the arrival of The Now Crowd.”

Ron Jacobs, Hawaii:  “Sorry you ain’t up to using Facebook.  It reaches many new generations of radio people and listeners.  Maybe someone could set it up for you.  Photos are duck soup and ANYONE you assign can run it, after we both are gone!  Anyway, my present ‘Banner’ shows a section of a bookshelf with mostly radio books.  Notice yours, close to the left.  The condition is evidence of how long it’s been on the shelf, ready reference.  Usual aloha to you both.”

My own copy of “This Business of Radio Programming” is, too, fairly worn from use, Ron.  In retrospect, there are a couple of interviews I wish were in the books.  But, by and large, I’m proud of it.

The Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, a program of the California historical Radio Society is honoring KPEN, San Francisco, June 17 as Legendary Station of 2015.  It was created by two Stanford University students in 1957, James Gabbert and Gary Gielow.
Lunch tickets:

Mel Phillips:  “Morning, Claude, from snowy NYC but (fingers crossed) this will be the last storm of the winter and soon to be spring. See what you miss by not being in NYC anymore? In the interest of supplying the results of a recent music study and plugging my Monday, March 9 piece, here's the open of my latest story:  The Edison Research/Triton Digital 2015 Infinite Dial aka 'The Gift That Keeps On Giving' tells us that 'Friends/Family' and 'AM/FM Radio' are in a virtual tie for music discovery. When asked by the study which sources are used for keeping up-to-date with music, the former category edged radio 70% to 69% ... (Read more at  Since the majority of your readers and Hallophiles collected over the years are either in (were in) the music business or are (were) in Radio, they might find this story interesting.  Stay in Las Vegas Claude - there's no snow there.”

Robert E. Richer sent this note:  "FM radio as we know it began this month in 1941, says the U.S. Census Bureau. March 1941.  This is when the first commercial FM station went on the air -- W47NV in Nashville.  FM was first proposed in a scientific paper by Edwin Armstrong in 1922.  By 1934, he demonstrated how FM was unaffected by static, unlike all the stations then on the air, which used AM or amplitude modulation.  Critics said the idea was impractical. World War II interrupted the advance of FM broadcasting.  After the war, the FCC moved the entire FM band up from 42-50 MHz to the current 87.8-108 MHz -- rendering as many as 500,000 pre-war receivers useless. RCA boss David Sarnoff had something to do with that, as he battled to preserve the hold of AM radio.”

As some of you know, my latest writing project is about George Wilson, a personal friend and one of the greatest radio men who ever lived.  It’s called “George.”  I sent out the first chapter to three friends.  This is from Jack Gale, Florida, godfather to two of the children of George Wilson and his early mentor in radio.  Jack Gale:  “In 1965, when I went to Charlotte to run BIG WAYS, I had no idea that George was running WIST there.  He came over to see me, and said he'd never go against me in the same market.  He asked me what music I was going to play.  I had just come from WMEX in Boston, so I told him the Kingston Trio, Andy Williams, Patti Page, etc.  He got furious and said, ‘You're gonna get killed.  This is the South’.  He stayed for three weeks and programmed all my music.  Wilson Picket, Sam and Dave, Fats Domino, etc.  Then he left for Baltimore.  BIG WAYS became #1 in one month.  Later you gave me my plaque for Program Director of the Year at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1970.  Thank you, George.”

Woody Roberts, Texas:  “I learned quite a bit about early Top 40 by reading this piece.  It reads like a memoir rather than one of your stories and will be an important addition to 20th century radio history.  I hope you will eventually send it to your list and, too, Kindle it for a free download.  It needs to go on a website somewhere so it will show up on Google searches, I hope some radio people will post it to their blogs.  A keeper for posterity.  George is an enigma with me, I got my first radio job in Galveston K-ILE '59 and basically was never intrigued by the programmers in the north.  None of their stations interested me.  Being a lad in Texas I was a McLendon student and aware of Chuck's honing of that format in LA. Which reminds me that Don Keys is a name often left out of radio history, he followed Bill's tenure with Gordon as Grahame had with Todd.  The first time I became aware of George's name was in '65 as one of the references listed by Lee Simms.  When I called I think he was PDing in Baltimore.  Lee spoke of him but I never heard anything from others about his stations and never heard an aircheck of one.  I did spot his name in the Gavin Report.   Wish I had known George.”

Timmy Manocheo, California: “Well, just to give an early appraisal, the first two pages are DYNAMITE!” and, later: “Next, I finished reading the draft of ‘George’. I love it.”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 53r2

Today at 8:10 AM
March 2, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 53
By Claude Hall

Bruce Merrin, Las Vegas, in regards to the item about Chuck Blore in the previous issue: “Claude, our family moved to Sherman Oaks in '57 ... and I vividly recall COLOR RADIO.  That was my favorite station.”

Don Graham to Dave Sholin and a few others: “Hi ya, Duke … we talked with Lori Forster last night around 10:30 pm … she had just returned from the hospital and got the message you had called … she asked that we contact you and some of Dick’s friends with an up-date on his conditions.  He has been in ICU for the past five days … 24 hr. care, tests, and monitoring for neuropathy (can’t feel anything from his waist down) … he is on a ventilator with a tube down his throat … he is tied down, tries to remove the tube … diabetes and pneumonia making it all very difficult.  She tells us he is totally sedated and really cant move … lots of IVs … doctors are planning a procedure, today, to insert a needle, through his rib cage, to try to extract the fluid around his lungs … we were planning to fly up to SF, however, she sez he is not allowed to see anyone & it would not help her if we were there.  Lori thanks you for calling … and so it goes … it’s all very sad … much love.

Barry Salberg:  “So sad to hear of the passing of Lesley Gore. I never met her, never got the chance to have her verify (or get her take) on this story from back in the day.  In December of 1962, my folks rented a house (that they could ill afford) near Marin Country Club.  The owner of the house was Hugh Heller, who had just been promoted from his post as PD of KSFO and was moving down to Los Angeles (I assume to KMPC, as this was before the advent of the Heller-Ferguson jingle company).  KSFO was in its Golden West heyday at the time, dominating San Francisco — billing itself as the WORLD’S GREATEST RADIO STATION.  And it very may well have been, with a lineup that included the legendary Don Sherwood, Al Jazzbeau Collins, Jack Carney, and Jim Lange.  As program director, Heller was directly responsible for the famed “Sounds of the City” KSFO jingle masterpiece.  Young, hip, and well-heeled, Marin Country Club was part of the KSFO playground — Heller lived just off the course, and Lange played a lot of golf there, some with my step-father (who could ill afford to live or play there).

“A year or so later, Lesley hits big with ‘It’s My Party’, ‘Judy’s Turn’, etc, and is heavily promoted as one of the lead acts on the giant Cow Palace rock‘n’roll show.  These shows were big stuff, with seemingly a dozen or so featured acts all on the same bill, each doing their current hits.  Well, my step-father was the NorCal sales ‘rep for the apparel company of which Lesley’s father was the president.  So my parents invited her to have dinner with us one night, as she would be in town for the Cow Palace show.  I was a little younger than Lesley, and was clearly beyond enthralled at the thought.  I think she declined, as my memory is vague now whether she cancelled us first, or whatever, but she never made it to the Cow Palace show. The official announcement was that she took ill and wasn’t able to appear.

“Years later, Gene Nelson is on the air and he’s talking about the old Cow Palace shows, and he recounts the story of Lesley Gore. As he told it, the promoters would routinely quote a certain price to the performers and then when the artists got to town, ready to go on, the promoters would renege, offering half of the original quote in a take-it-or-leave-it situation.  Most of the performers were kids, they were already in town, so they took it — but not Lesley. Remember, she was far from struggling financially, her family had money, so as a matter of principle, she told ‘em to take a hike, and wouldn’t go on, despite all their heavy pre-show promotion.  Hence, the on-air announcement that I heard as a kid that she had gotten sick and couldn’t perform.   Well, as I say, I never had the chance to get HER recollections of the story — whether she actually made it to town and then cancelled the show, or as I suspect, never even made the trip.  I would imagine there are a few folks out there who could shed some light.  I don’t know how to contact Gene Nelson, but I think he’s still here in San Francisco.  Gotta be a few other souls who could share a bit on this one?”

They’re worried now that three kids were radicalized.  See what reading comic books will do to you?

Jack Casey, Boston:  “In a conversation with Beau Raines this morning, he said, ‘Somebody should write a book about Lee Baby’.  Well, Sir … you are in fact a … writer (and a good one).  And, with input from Lee’s lifelong friend Woody Roberts, I’m sure it would be widely read even outside of ‘the biz’.  It would also keep both you and Woody out of trouble so I’m sure Barbara would like the idea.  I hope you will consider it.  Lee was such a larger than life character that someone should do it … and why not you?”

I wrote Jack that Robert Weisbuch, a fan and buddy of Lee Baby Simms, had already written a book called “Hitbound” about Lee Baby Simms, focusing on WPOP in Hartford, CT.   Bob put some hellacious work on the book.  Interviewed Lee, Woody Roberts, and Joey Reynolds.  Damned good book!  I couldn’t and wouldn’t step on the literary toes of Bob.  However, I’m piddling around on a book about George Wilson Crowell.  Whether I’ll get it done or not, quien sabe?  The funny thing is that a publisher paid a writer once to write a book about George.  The guy faded away after the fourth or fifth bar.

Danny Davis:  “Claude, old man of those ‘yellowing manuscripts’!  (What notes your shredder must be privy to!)  Chris Christ did indeed apprise me of the new surroundings and uniform for Phil Spector!  I’m glad ‘Mr. Perfection’ directed them to Marie!  They’re a little tough to take, if you have the memories I have, working for a super hyped and hip genius, as long as I do, with Philip!  The toll on creativity appears to have taken much of whatever ‘did ‘im in’, all too complete!!  I’ve completed that phase of my book, Claude, but how can I look away from the stuff that makes stories like Spector so mandatory, for the readers?  He surely was a catalyst for all I traveled with in the musical clime!  Even The Monkees and The Partridge Family couldn’t stop Spector ‘speculating’!  Tell you what triggers bickering at our house!!  He’s in on a bum rap!  Marie doesn’t believe!  I do, and it comes from the guys who would know!  Lana was a ‘half a hooker’ (their conversation, only repeating!) had a pistol fetish!  Sucked on the end, thereof, at various sessions!  (Only Repeating! Never Seen!)  Knowing Phil as I do, that’s enough to intrigue him!  Waiting for the limo, the ‘producer’ asks for a lasting observation!  Lana, supposedly, obliges!  The gun goes off!  That’s the ‘tale’!  My wile disbelieves!  He was found guilty.  I wasn’t there.  I know the ‘gents’ who say it’s ‘da troot’!  Try arguing with some of those guys!   Same fellas’ who named the product, ‘the cleans’!  (You can edit any or all of this, you old Billboarder!)”

Danny, I sincerely appreciate this kind of information.  History!

Art Wander:  “Claude, the great exchange between ‘Chuck and George’ was an outstanding piece of reading in your magnificent Commentary 52.  Radio today is nothing compared to those great days.  There’s no competition today since corporations own most of the stations in markets.  When there was competition, Chuck Blore, Wilson, Jacobs, Sklar, Dowe, McLendon, Storz, etc., etc., etc. were creative geniuses. There’s so little creativity today.   Great commentary with great recollections.  By the way in 1959, Hooper was reluctant to publish the numbers for WAKY after McLendon took over the station with his Top 40 genius since the numbers were so high.  It was great working at the station.”

Mel Phillips:  “Much like George Wilson did late in his career, my friend John Gorman (WMMS-FM fame) has started an internet radio station: oWOW (  oWOW is described as ‘an eclectic playlist of rock, progressive pop, singer songwriters, reggae and more’.  The station is Cleveland owned, operated and programmed but you don't have to live in Cleveland to hear and enjoy it.  I've been sampling it and find it both familiar and listenable.  Good luck to John and his associates.”

Doc Wendell:  “Thanks again so much for posting my Dylan piece.  Since the great Clark Terry passed away, I just had to write an appreciation on the master.  Hope all is swingin'.”

Just FYI, Steve Tyrell has one of his works with Clark Terry on Youtube.  Maybe you can track down the link through  He sent me a link, but it was one of those “hidden” things.  Tyrell: “I was honored to have recorded 14 songs with Clark over five of my albums.  Clark Terry was one of the finest and most-talented men I’ve ever known.”

I sent the first 5,000 words to a novel called “George” to three or four people, including Woody Roberts.  I mentioned that my greatest competition was Bill Gavin.  Also that I thought highly of Gavin and respected him and always honored him.  We invited Bill and Janet once to a conference at the Century-Plaza in Los Angeles and gave them a standing ovation.  Woody:  “Thinking about it, in my mind Billboard was the radio people's magazine and Cashbox was more tuned for record stores and distributors.  I would usually look at Cashbox to see if they had any bullets that Billboard or Gavin missed.  And for my purposes I checked Billboard against the Gavin chart not vice versa.  I trusted Gavin more for getting ratings and being ahead on a hit.  Billboard for sales.  Billboard and Cashbox, I read from day one in a radio station because they were always in the jock lounge.  I first saw a Gavin Report in at KJR January '62 and became a subscriber, in '64 at KONO I became a reporter.  Bill had a rule, one reporter per market.  That reporter had to be from a top station.  He broke that rule for me in Hartford and thus WPOP brought Bertha's dominance over record company influence in middle/southern New England to an end.  No more exclusives.  In just a few years she was fired from WDRC and out of radio, possibly she felt about me as George did Buzzy.  Bill's condition was that I had to be the correspondent and not the music director, that way he could justify it as I had already been a good reporter.  So it was that Paiva did the music and set up the playlist but I filed the Gavin Report.

“Back to the magazine.  Aside from the Charts, you were Billboard.  I did not know any of the other names on the masthead and considered the conferences Claude Hall conferences.  They were your readers conjoined with the publication's advertisers.  In fact, when they started is when I first thought somebody at BB must consider Gavin a competitor.  Billboard conference?   The only reason to attend a conference was to learn about programming solutions and techniques.  That was Gavin, it was the essence of his sheet from predicting hits to programming tips from people like Blore, O'Day, Burkhart, Starr, and Buzzy.  Whereas, Billboard was about charts -- and your column.  Vox Jox served as an early model of an internet by weekly keeping everyone in radio in touch with each other through a lifetime of constant station jumping.  No one else did this.  Sometimes you would write about a unique contest but that is not why we tuned in, you were the glue.  When I attended your first conference I, of course, saw many fellow Gavin correspondents and all of the same record folks, plus ... there were bunches of radio people I'd never heard of and even a few musicians who showed up just to hang out with the DJs.  Far more small market participation.  It was a great addition to the annual radio conference scene and for me it was not directly competitive to Gavin's meetup.  Let me say, NAB's event was a real dull drag, seemed to be more for engineers than talent.  I had a 1st. phone but sitting through NAB presentations was grueling.  And their management seminars could put you to sleep.  Not many record people there, for sure.  I'm really curious about what Buzzy did to George and how George helped get him started, was he PD at WTIX?  I, too, have my theories about Buzz Bennett, but that's for another time.  PS -- one of the most admirable qualities of Bill Gavin was he was an independent entrepreneur and would not accept advertising money to support his work.  Pretty unique.  I'm sure many record executives treated him well but he would not sell them ads.  Everyone programmer I knew considered Gavin Report to be of the highest integrity and free of record company influence.”

Robert E. Richer:  “Hi, Claude … for what it’s worth, I still miss chicory coffee and beignets at Café du Monde.  Love to be there right now.”

My beautiful wife and I daydream about those sandwiches at the Central Grocery Store across from the Café du Monde.  I returned to New Orleans once for a convention and brought home a grocery bag of those sandwiches.

I love Jack Gale, so this review is prejudiced.  He is radio and the great lore and history of early Top 40 is wrapped up in him.  So, like many radio men in that era, is still producing records.  Great on him.  His latest project is a CD by Claire Petrie.  The title is “The One.”  A pretty blonde who takes a Chuck Berry classic – “(C’est La Vie) You Never Can Tell” -- and belts it out as if she was some blues babe in a honky tonk.  Yet, this blonde is as country as they make them these days in spite of tunes such as “You Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine,” a very risqué tune, and “Build a Bridge (And Get Over It)”.  My compliments, Jack.  And to you, too, pretty blonde.  Good work.

I musta got in a music place, because I had to listen to some Tom Russell and Johnny Cash.  Dave Alvin and Elize Gilkason and Emmylou Harris.  Bill Monroe, too.  And a dab of Rosanne Cash.  Then I went to the TV and played again a Chuck Berry special.  Lord, what an entertainer!  What a genius!

Red Jones, GA Hall of Fame:  “I had emailed earlier re/the new traditional country on line radio station I am doing voice over work for.  Some had a problem getting it.  Here is the easy way to get to both stations Carl Peeples has developed.  Go to Carls Gold Home.  Click and it takes you to the listed link.  Click for the home page of both stations.  Scan down past his ‘welcome letter’ and the logos for each station appear.  Click the logo for the station you want. and you'll get the stream.  Let me know what you think.  Both stations offer a format not seen elsewhere.”

The “giants” (pictured beneath) include Sandy Beach, Shane Gibson, Joey Reynolds, Danny Neaverth, and Stan Roberts.  These Buffalo Hall of Fame legends gathered at the Buffalo History Museum, March 15, 2013, at a special event produced in conjunction with the Buffalo Broadcasters Association.  The only person I can identify is Joey, second from left.  Help?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 52r2

Today at 7:33 AM
February 23, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 52
By Claude Hall

One of the greatest radio promotions of all time is the “Amoeba” promotion featured by KFWB, Los Angeles.  It was created by KFWB program director Chuck Blore.  And one of the funniest stories in radio is when George Wilson, who was unabashed at copying everything Chuck Blore did, featured the same promotion on a radio station in Denver and was thrown in jail.  The original promotion was tied into a public service venture – raising funds so that high school students could visit the lawmakers in Sacramento to tell them about the drug problem in Los Angeles schools.  Blore became a hero.  George wore mud on his face for a while.  I had the honor to interview Chuck a few times.  Those interviews are featured in “This Business of Radio Programming” which is available via  He also honored me with an early copy of his book, which tells the story of his early career in radio and KFWB “Color Radio,” as well as his career in the advertising industry.  I will never forget one of his lines, heard live, about a car.  “Cheaper than feet.”

Chuck Blore is one of the most amazing geniuses of Top 40 radio.  Thus, I feel honored to feature the brief interview below that he did with George Wilson, a program director who rose to become head of Bartell.  If my memory is correct, George read the interview at some point before his death from cancer complications.

Dick Summer:  “Claude, your comment about helping your Lady Barbara out of the cab, ‘And her hand fit so nicely into mine’ is one of the most graceful uses of the language I've ever seen. The picture is of my Lady Barbara in studio 2B at WNBC.  I sometimes have trouble convincing other radio mis-fits that I was tugging the zipper UP, but I was.  Cuz Bruce took the picture (I followed him on the air at the time) and the Cuz was a gentleman ... but I never did learn to share anything personal when it comes to my Lady Barbara.  Congratulations for finding your Park Ave. lady.  I found mine at WBZ.  She was the ‘Continutity Girl’.  You and I are lucky guys for finding our Ladies Barbara, and even luckier that they have graced our lives for so long.”

I was just about to leave for Spain because I knew I was a better writer than Ernest and I figured I’d go over there a while, park under a cactus, google at a bullfight, then spend some time in Paris (sans pigeons) and wind up in Mexico.  Then I met Barbara.  After I left Cavalier magazine, I persuaded Mrs. Barbara to go with me to Mexico and we were en route until I decided we’d better not take baby John down there and we paused in Austin, TX.  When I realized I couldn’t make the grade on the Austin newspaper (a dull city editor, in my opinion), I was offered a job on the Abilene newspaper at much more money, but heard about a job on the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the three of us – me, Barbara, and baby John -- cranked up the VW and headed over to dine on po’boys and chicory coffee.  VoiIa!  I went from being a peon on the Austin paper to a respected reporter in New Orleans.  The Austin newspaper experience has always set badly in my gut.  Considering circumstances since, i.e., Billboard and SUNY/Brockport, I think I was lucky.  Just FYI, I wouldn’t have traded Barbara for Spain any day of the week.  Come Sept. 1, we will be married 55 years.

Jerry Sharell:  “Claude:  Just a bit of record biz history:  It was ’63 and I had been with Mercury Records for a few months (making $100 weekly) when my phone rang at Main Line Distributors in Cleveland.  It was Quincy Jones, A&R Head at Mercury, telling me he was sending me two test pressings of two new acts.  I was to listen to both and call him with my fav.  I called Q a few days later and told him I liked the girl singer, Lesley Gore and the killer big band arrangement that truly ‘made’ this a hit!  He told me that he wrote ‘the chart’ and offered me a nice bonus based on sales performance.  My boss at Main Line was Eddie Rosenblatt, a dynamo sales person with an appreciation of ‘promotion’.  To make this story shorter … we were Top 3 among all distributors in the U.S. and Quincy made good on his promise to me by sending a very generous bonus!  Morris Diamond was the promotion director at Mercury who helped me/us get that record played … everywhere!  I consider Morris one of the best promo-guys ever!  ("Sunday, Sinatra and Sharell, KJAZZ 88.1FM in LA, 10AM-Noon)”

Jerry, just hearing from you made my week!  Great on you!  And as for Morris Diamond, he has been a hero of mine since around 1964.  FYI, I wrote Jerry back and here’s his response:

Jerry Sharell:  “I am doing ‘well’ and thanks for your reply ‘cause you made-my-month!  I totally enjoy reading your Commentary and if I miss anything I’m sure Morris Diamond, my teacher/mentor/manager, will bring me up-to-date.  And I give my Sinatra Hat Tip to Don Graham, for keeping the word ‘promotion’ in the dictionary of broadcasting/records (remember those?)!   Be well and have a Ring-A-Ding-Ding day!

Jerry, I used to have everything Frank did at Capitol on a reel with the exception of “Where Do You Go,” which I had on an LP.  In all of the Hall moves, “Where…” got lost.  Can anyone out there email me a copy in stereo.  It was somewhat experimental … long before artists did that sort of thing.  I’ll trade a copy of “Touch of Evil” by Tom Russell.  A great song.

Bob Barry:  “Gary Owens could have cared less about a DJ from a smaller market ... but he did care.  From the two times he appeared on my show to the day he gave me a Billboard award in 1975, his personality came through like it did on radio and TV.  I'll miss his numerous talents.”

That’s one of the reasons I have always loved people such as Gary Owens, Chuck Blore, Jack G. Thayer and Harvey Glascock.  Burt Sherwood, too.  Jack Stapp.  Amazingly warm, wonderful people.  The story of Jack Stapp and Roger Miller could be a movie.  I’ve always had great respect for Roger since Jack told me the story.

Diane Kirkland:  “Was reading your commentary on Gary Owens and thought I’d send this photo along -- some party in the late 70s.  Left to right, Jeff Bates of Billboard, Gary, Pete Heine and me.   I still have a reel-to-reel tape of Gary from all the outtakes of trying to do some voiceovers.  Haven’t heard it for years because I don’t own a reel tape recorder, but I remember hearing many expletives all spliced together.  Always liked Gary very much.”

Wish I could print all of the pictures.  Sorry, Diane.  Great pix. Maybe I’ll bet to use it somewhen.  Don’t go anywhere.

Dave Anthony:  “1990 at KCBS-FM in LA.  Phone rings.  My assistant says it’s somebody named Gary Owens.  Hey, it’s Hollywood; just might be the guy.  Answered the phone.  Sure enough, it was him.  Wanted to meet.  Maybe he could be considered for an on-air position.  My staff included Don Steele, Charlie Tuna, and MG Kelly. Why not?  He invites me to his house to meet.  Cool!  I showed up and see a veritable ‘Laugh-In’ museum complete with the classic microphone, one of the window frames that were featured at the end of each show, and pictures everywhere.  We sat and talked.  No openings at the moment.  He and his wife convince me to stay for dinner.  Sure.  One of the biggest steaks I’ve ever seen lands on my plate.  Oops, I’m a vegetarian.  Somehow all that fit with his sense of humor.  A real gentleman.  Sorry to hear of his passing.  If you forward any of these sentiments along to his wife, please include mine.  She was an important part of my memories, too.”

Tom (T. Michael Jordan) Nefeldt to Mel Phillips:  “Why wouldn’t Shadoe want to work Chicago and leave Hollywood?  Sure, the Chicago Winters are cold, though in LA the weather is warm BUT the PEOPLE are cold and superficial, in Chi the weather may get cold but the PEOPLE are WARM and Down to Earth.  Plus radio here is MUCH better.”

Maybe we can persuade Joey Reynolds to sell tickets for this one.

Herb Oscar Anderson:  “Regards, Jim Slone ... you maybe interested to know that Jim Reeves still has two very active fan clubs in Holland.  We shared the live music shows on ABC with Jim Bachus ... Merv Griffen and, of course, the Breakfast Club ... because of this, the Reeves fan club found my podcast and are regular listeners ... asking me to comment on my appearance in Jim’s book, etc.  Ah, the internet ... have no idea how many listeners, but sure do hear from old listeners from all over the world ... Google ... WOSN FM.”

Dick Carr reports that “Big Bands Ballads and Blues” is streaming again on the Metromedia Radio Channel, Live 365.  Every day M-F 5-8 pm Eastern.  Here's the link.
The web site is active again at

Big Jay Sorensen sent Joey Reynolds who sent me a note about a coming
segment of “Modern Family” slated to be video’d almost entirely on iPhones.

Don Berns:  “Gary Owens was one of my radio heroes, even though I never had a chance to listen to him on a regular basis except for the short time I lived in LA.  But his influence was immeasurable on my style and my life.  His nonsensical town of Foonman, Ohio (location of the Foonman Home for the Terminally Perturbed on his brilliant album ‘Put Your Head On My Finger’) provided me and my roommates at the time with the name of our house in Williamsville, NY (see the attached photo with ‘Foonmate’ Rich Sargent and his infant son) and a name that has stayed with me for well over 40 years (my corporate entity is Foonman Home Productions).  Gary's work on that album, ‘Laugh In’, and The Superfun audio series (from which I stole liberally) was without a doubt the foundation upon which I built my Top 40 and AC career.  I had the opportunity to tell him at a radio convention in LA many years ago, and he seemed genuinely flattered.  A true talent and a gentleman.”

Never, ever, fail to tell your heroes how much they mean to you.  I had opportunity to tell Eddie Hill, WSM, Nashville, that I used to listen to him out on the western plains of Texas and considered him one of the reasons I was radio-TV editor of Billboard.  He was in a wheel chair at the Opry at the time.  Stroke.  But the man pushing the wheel chair said he could hear me and understand me.  I can still remember some of his clichés.  Eddie Hill was something else!  Sam Hale, an oldie like me, heard him on the air, I think.

Paul Cassidy:  “Classic commentary today!  A real tribute.  Thanks.  I lived near Gary Owens on Rancho St. in Encino.  Saw him weekly at the news stand on Ventura Blv'd, always friendly.  Saw those basketball games as I drove by, should have stopped as I played 2nd string center for my HS team in upstate NY.  Best to you.”

You’d have been welcome, Paul.  We were all ragnots, including “Connie,” who played center for UCLA in, I think, the 50s and used to jog occasionally with Coach Wooten.  He revered John Wooten.

Chancey (Loretta) Blackburn:  “Thanks for bringing back the wonderful memory, Claude.  We did have fun!  I’m going to a KZEW reunion in Dallas in April so I’ve been pawing through stacks of memorabilia and pictures of you and Barbara in St. Croix were among them.  J and I lived in the Caribbean for 3 years; beach bums for the first one, then working with Bob Bennett who was running a station in San Juan for Mid Ocean Broadcasting. That was Bob Hope’s station, being run by his oldest boy, Tony Hope. Then on to St. Croix for the 3rd year, putting The Reef on the air – lots of reggae and Beach Boys – a true ‘island’ format.  My love to Barbara, please.  She and I were both from New York and both found the loves of our lives in you two Texans.”

Frank Boyle: “Hi, Claude -- love your commentaries. Think I met Gary Owens when he was at WIL, St Louis.  We, Eastman, repped WIl.  I was there on a station-Rep trip.  Got invited to a big boat ride for Advertisers --Gary Owens and Gary Stevens entertained the crowd with great stuff.  Both were young and full of piss and vinegar with superb creative ad lib content.  Met George Wilson when he was PD at another Eastman client, WTMA in Charleston, SC.  We became long time friends.  He used to break me up telling me his war stories of how he and a DJ pal would put their magic in the trunk of his old Dodge and do their Magic for a few months at a time.  Make a couple of Grand -- take his: ‘Zoo’ to another AM turkey that needed to go rock.  When George got Bartell, New York, he and wife would come to my Apt on 48th St.  George was a genuine Treasure.  Always kept it simple -- was a winner wherever he worked -- only flaw was George never learned to kiss his bosses' asses.  Told me it was his job to speak up when his boss came up with a stupid idea -- so there.  WIL was one of the 3 Balaban markets – KBOX, Dallas, and WRIT, Milwaukee.  Young Stan Kaplan was there making his bones as a National Sales Mgr.  In that my only station experience was 7 yrs in Sales and Sales Mgt at WJR, Detroit --prior to Eastman Natl Sales Reps -- I need the Top 40 and Rock pros like George, Art Carlson, Kent Burkhart, Steve Labunski, & Bill Drake to explain to me how those formats worked.  Claude, your terrific Billboard Conferences were marvelous in getting the biggest and best guys -- in all formats -- to outline why their concepts made winners.  I got a PhD in Top 40 by just attending and listening.  You'll recall I had to wear a suit of armor to speak at your '64 affair to brashly predict that AMs would get out of music.  That there would be 3 of each major format in the Top 100 markets. Wish you were still running those priceless conventions.  Stay well.”

Don Sundeen:  “First, Claude, I’d like to thank you for the kind words about my writing in Commentary #51, it really meant a lot coming from a writer of your stature.  But what I’d really like to comment on is the great Jay Blackburn and his contributions to radio, especially FM.  He was one of those surprising guys in radio who turned out to be exceptionally bright, in Jay’s case Mensa level.  Talking to him was an amazing experience that could swiftly curve from radio to his experiences in Vietnam or his plan to sell everything, buy a sailboat, and cruise the islands of the Caribbean for as long as he wished.  (I believe it was about a year before returning to radio.)  Like everything he did, his marriage to Chancey, a noted AOR disc Jockey herself (Loretta), was planned and executed with perfection and lasted for 31 years until his early death.  One of his most interesting traits was a talent for branding; The Loop (WLUP FM) could not have been a more perfect name for a hot Chicago radio station, and Jay made the AOR format more female friendly expanding the demos. The Loop was an instant iconic name in radio history and a hit out of the blocks.  Later in his life he wrote stories about he and his friend and partner, Bruce Miller Earle’s, radio adventures in a thinly disguised novel form.  Chancey was kind enough to send me a copy of his book, ‘The Radio Gypsies’, after he passed away, and his distinctive voice and sly wit still shine through his words.  Jay Blackburn is remembered fondly by all of those who were fortunate enough to be in his company.”

I’d mentioned in a note about the weather and Buzz Bennett to the Three Mesquiteers and this is a comment by Woody Roberts: “Claude is right about fear of ice storms, I'm all-electric and have a DSL phone line thus if ice takes down the lines I'm in Big trouble.  Fortunately, knock on wood, it has not happened since late 1980s.  But I recall the experience vividly.  Saw This: ‘Mount Washington Observatory staffers Monday recorded one of the world's coldest temperatures and the highest gusts since 2008: 141 mph, higher than the 140 recorded during Hurricane Sandy in 2008.  Early Monday, Mount Washington Observatory Summit observer Ryan Knapp received information from that, at -35 degrees F., the summit was the second-coldest reporting location on Earth, behind only the South Pole at -51 degrees’.  In 1972 when I hitched around the nation looking for America, and myself, it was early fall when I climbed Mt. Washington to the weather station.  Snow had not yet closed the small mountaintop lodge serving tourists.  Saw all kinds of warnings posted about dressing warmly and high winds.  The crazy story is I took a hit of pure LSD before starting the climb and I felt wonderfully solitary and away from civilization with all its trappings when a guy coming down the mountain shouted, ‘Woody!  Woody Roberts is that you!’  It was a reporter from the WPOP newsroom whom I hadn't seen in years -- Chuck Crouse or Randy Brock.  I was so taken aback and stunned that it all went by in a flash ... I never was sure who called out.  What a trip, literally.  Beautiful.

‘I, too, have my Buzzy theory.  Never knew about the fight between he and George.  When I hear about those old fights I consider myself fortunate to have gone through several radio station rating wars and only met one person who to this day I still intensely dislike, a jealous sales manager at KTSA (his unpleasantness was instrumental in my decision to leave radio).  On the other hand if I had to directly battle Buzz Bennett or Ron Jacobs perhaps I, too, would have ill will.  Luckily I came out of radio with just admiration for their programming instincts.  Lee Baby.  My dear friend is gone but The New Yorker continues to show up in my mailbox.   He'd sent me a gift subscription.  I have a few things I want to share with y'all about Lee and me with but not yet ready to write.  And I have a piece I wrote about Drake and Top-40 several months ago but never sent it because I knew the three of you, especially Lee, would rag me out.  It, too, will come your way in time.

“Texas weather.  It's been jumping around some, 37F yesterday and back to 70F by Friday.  Young elms are getting tiny leaves as wild plum blossoms release their delightful scent into the air.  Sunday, the hermit went into town to visit Eddie Wilson (my life is full of Wilsons, another story) and restock depleted groceries at H-E-B and Fiesta supermarkets. Near Threadgill's on North Lamar I saw the first little fig testing the weather.  Love fresh picked figs.  Always best and even more best to y'all forever.”

Scott St. James:  “Another fun to read Monday treat.  And I'm sure your wife enjoyed the wonderful things you wrote about her.  Ahhh, Gary Owens.  I arrived at KMPC the day after Thanksgiving in 1979.  Besides the radio executives (including Gene Autry) welcoming me, Gary Owens was the first non-executive who welcomed me.  And that was just the beginning.”

About the record sales info (other info, too) sent out by Barry O’Neil:  “Claude, I don’t charge anything.  I just send the info out.  You certainly take people back to good times.”  Barry’s email was in last week’s Commentary.  I recommend asking to be on his list.

Marie Davis received a link to a Phil Spector item from Chris Crist.  With photos:  “Danny, thought you might like to see Phil in his new surroundings, also Charles Manson is there also, along with Juan Corona who killed 25 Mexican laborers.  p/s:  for any reason that the link doesn’t open, just type in on Google  ‘Phil Spector-in-new-prison-photos’"

David Gleason:  “I’m David Gleason, who receives your wonderful weekly newsletters.  I was particularly engaged with the edition I got this morning because of the mentions of Jay and Chancy as well as Tom Rounds.  I have known Jay and Chancy back to when I was running WQII and WZNT in Puerto Rico and Jay was ‘across the street’ at WBMJ; Jay Blackburn sold me a bunch of equipment through his firm Hope-Bennett-Blackburn and we stayed in touch up to the time of his passing.  And I had worked for Tom Rounds for 20 years at his Radio Express venture up to the time of his passing, and thought of him as the mentor I never had.  I also have a website that attempts to preserve and make easily accessible the story of radio from its beginnings to the present.  Most of the material consists of magazines, newsletters and journals ranging from R&R and Broadcasting to the Gavin Report as well as technology related titles.  An important subset is a nearly complete collection of Jim Duncan’s American Radio ratings compilations and quite a few older ratings books.  In that context, I am trying to find early Arbitrons, Pulse and Hooper books and related material.  One of the site contributors thought that Mike Joseph could have things that should be preserved.  But I can’t find a mail or email address for Mike (with whom I competed for about 25 years in Puerto Rico).  Do you have a contact, and do you know how he is doing?  If you have a moment, please consider who else might have older ratings books that they would consider loaning me for scanning for the website.”

David, I don’t know how good your collection is, but keep it handy!  Someone is always asking for this kind of information.  That’s why I’m listing your addresses … so I won’t have to be the ‘middleman’.  As for Mike, a good man, he has gone on.

Chuck Blore:  “Claude, you ask me, ever now and then, to write you a little about radio today and/or yesteryear.  Here's something you might like, it's an interview I did with another oldtimer whom we both thought highly of.

Chuck: George Wilson is a programmer who believes that programming
should rule the radio station.  As that is a philosophy we both share, and
even though we both had great success with it, I wonder if maybe we're
living in the past.  So what do you think, George?

George: Without programming and the program director guiding the
direction of the station, you have nothing, no product, no advertisers.
Sales-oriented people for the most part, could sell refrigerators as well
as radio, so the programmer must be dominant.

Chuck:  You say, 'Strengths in your beliefs is the key to being a good
Programmer’.  What were some of your most heartfelt beliefs when you
were rocking and rolling?

George: I believe that the radio station should take on the personality of the
programmer.  If the PD has learned his or her craft, your station becomes
part of your family and you treat it as one of your kids, helping it when it is
sick, praising it when it does well and at all times keeping your eye on the
star that you are chasing.

Chuck: That's beautiful. As one of radio's outstanding programmers, what
do you think of radio that you hear today?

George: As an outsider travelling the country, listening to various signals, it
sounds like the programmers are robots. No one seems to care about day
parting, who is available to listen at a particular time of day. There is no local feel for the most part and God knows there is very little entertainment.

Chuck: Boy, you are singing my song.  I used to bark at DJs who prepared
their shows the same way for a Monday that they did for Friday.  Two different days two different audience attitudes.  You feel that kind of stuff is pretty much gone?

George: Right -- I always thought it took the good jocks as much preparation time as air time, there were some wingers that could handle it without too much preparation, but even the best guys had to prepare.  The best word picture painter was Lee Baby  Simms, he worked for me three places and was nutty as a fruit cake, but boy could he paint those pictures. The most prepared jocks I had were Bob Barry on WOKY, a legend in Milwaukee, and Bob Collins, who went on to be a giant on WGN in Chicago.
Preparation and inquisitive attitude certainly helped them.

Chuck: The only great "winger" I've ever known was Don McKinnon. He worked for me at KEWB and for a while at KF.  You ever hear him?

George: Yes, I did and he was great.

Chuck: McKinnon was the only guy who ever worked for me that was not required to spend an hour preparing for every hour on, his prepared stuff sounded out of place on his show, he was better than all of them just letting it happen.

George: You know, I used to fly to San Diego, rent a car and drive around, never tell anyone I was in town and listen to Lee Baby Simms followed by Jimmy Rabbitt -- whoa!

Chuck: That was when as you say, the programmer had control.  Who are the some the leaders you admire?

George: Bill Stewart really started it all when he combined Storz and McLendon.  I learned a lot from Bill Stewart and Don Burden. I thought Rick Sklar was good, although I didn't particularly care for his type of radio, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.  And, of course, I always paid close attention to you, you know that,

Chuck: I asked this before but we got off the subject ... you say we all wanted a 12+, not demographically, but meaning an audience share.  Of the stations you programmed, what was your best number?

George: I was in the 40s a few times, I had a day part on the Hooper once in the 50s.  How about you?

Chuck: When I was programming KFWB we floated along with a 42 average.  42!  Today, a 4.2 makes you a success.

George: Do you remember the swimming pool sound-effect gimmick?

Chuck: Yeah, Elliot Field used to do it every Summer.  Roy Orbison came in to visit the station once, wet from the knees down.  He said he had just been wading in Elliot’s pool.  So, despite our no interviews rule, Roy spent about an hour with Elliot, "poolside."

George: What a fabulous communicator that little sound effect was.  We had parents coming to the radio station dropping their kids off in their swim suits.

Chuck: Isn't it great how much people believed in what we did?  On the other hand ... I had a little promotion once where one of the jocks tried to give people on the street a twenty dollar bill, in exchange for two fives.  No takers at all.

George: That's what’s missing today.  None of that just for fun stuff.  And none of that wonderful rapport with audience -- they don't know what they are missing.

Chuck: Boy, is that ever true, neither the audience or the on the air people know what they're missing. What was your greatest promotion ... ratings wise and fun-wise?

George: WZOO, Spartanburg, we were on the banks of the mighty Chinkopin River, which was a dried-up creek, we broadcast from a sternwheeler.  All the jocks had a name, they were led by Capt. Shag Hellion.  On the 4th of July Capt Shag was going to dive off the top of the tower into the mighty Chinkopin.  Of course there was no river and it was a small town so everyone knew it, but on the 4th July at 1:00 when he was going to dive, they had the biggest traffic jam they'd ever
had in the city, trying to see him.

Chuck: Your "Believe In Yourself" philosophy in pretty much in conflict with what you call "The idiots in striped ties laying down broadcasting rules to a computer."  Any advice in that regard?

George: I believe the pendulum swings back and forth -- I don't know where the young programmers go to learn today, but when the pendulum swings back they'd better be prepared.

Chuck: One last question referring to your 'Radiopinion' you say ... "Everyone will get a chance in life."  Do you really believe that?

George: I certainly do and I feel very strongly everyone will get a chance. The people who are not smart enough to admit when they are wrong and learn from the experience will not get very far.  But when their opportunity comes to people that have the ability to store up real knowledge, not knowledge as they would like it to be but the real stuff, will be ready when
their chance comes.  The best thing I know, the thing that helped me more than anything else, is not being afraid to say you don't know something --help me ... ask questions.  Why do you do this or that?  And of course have enough self esteem, if that's the right word, to surround yourself with people who are better than you are and then ... ask questions.

Chuck: Amen.  And, thank you, George.  You're a damned fine human being, in spite of it all.

Morris Diamond: “It's been over fifty years since my boss, Irving Green, president of Mercury Records, walked into my office with Leo Gore, Lesley's father.   Quincy Jones had just signed Lesley to the label.  I was National Promotion Director then and Mr. Green wanted Mr. Gore to meet the person that would be contacting him to get the Oks for traveling which would be essential to the promotion of her new recording.   That was the beginning of a huge love affair with Leo and Ronnie Gore, her parents, and with Lesley.  I recall that at one point, I had a request for Lesley to appear at a hop in Cleveland which was arranged by my Cleveland promotion man, Jerry Sharell.  I ordered flight tickets for me, Lesley and her Mother.  I got a call before the flight from Leo Gore to advise me that they haven't flown coach and he didn't think they should start now.  I quickly arranged for first class and it remained that way for the rest of our promotion trips.  I found no fault in his request.  Incidentally, Sharell led my promotion team of 31 distributor's promotion men around the country in bringing in the first indication that we had a potential hit with ‘It’s  My Party’.  I feel very humble and honored at the amount of calls and emails that I've received from friends and co-workers around the country.  Those that were aware of the close association I've had with Lesley through the years offering their sympathy to me.  I'm sure that Quincy Jones has rightfully been deluged from those who recognize the fact that Lesley was his discovery and production.   I've taken the liberty of attaching a photo taken in our early days of promoting at Palisades Park with DJ Hal Jackson interviewing Lesley, Quincy Jones, myself and a friend.”

Jack Gale:  “So sorry about losing Leslie Gore.  Thought you might enjoy the photo I just sent of her, Long John, and me at the Big Ways Birthday in 1966.  Leslie, Lee Baby Simms and Bill Taylor all in just a week or so.  Really gets us thinking about our mortality.  Just talked to Chuck Chellman, and he mentioned how much he enjoys your commentary.  I do hear from Bill Hennes quite often.  As a matter of fact, he introduced me to Claire Petrie, who is the finest singer I've heard in years.  I just recorded her album in Nashville and did a video which I'm sending you in a separate email.  Every once in a while, as you know, an indie breaks through.  I think this is one of those times.  We did the old Chuck Berry song from 1962, ‘C'est la Vie) You Never Can Tell)’, however I produced it Cajun-Country, with accordion and fiddle.  It's playing in England, France, and Spain, and TOP COUNTRY HITS, the Spanish network, is featuring it on all
their country outlets (Mexico, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, etc.  It ships to U.S. radio Friday.  You should be getting a CD early next week.  Let me know what you think when you view the video.  Stay well and keep the columns coming.  We cherish them.  Best to Barbara.”

What better way to pay tribute to the late Lesley Gore than this photo of the lady with Jack Gale, program director of WAYS, Charlotte, and personality Long John Silver.  I understand that Long John was a heck of a radio disc jockey.  Left the business.  Owns a couple of steakhouses in the South.

May the Good Lord
Bless You!