Monday, January 26, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 48r2

Today at 7:31 AM
January 26, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 48
By Claude Hall

Ladies and gentlemen, I was a touch late getting Commentary out this past Monday.  I apologize.  It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Memories came flooding back of the evening I heard a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King in Atlanta at a convention of the National Association of Radio Announcers.  I was the only honky in the room.  It was a black power speech, but I didn’t mind.  I am now and have always been on his side.  He was an enormously powerful speaker!  An historic moment!  I still have my notes somewhere.

I almost didn’t hear that speech.  I’d flown down from New York to write a story about the convention.  But when I stopped by the registration desk, I faced a wall.  It was invisible, but it was there.  They were not going to let me attend the convention.  Who cared if I was from Billboard magazine!  Then, a very dark man standing in the shadows of the room, said to Del Shields, “Talk to him.”  That’s all.  I was suddenly one of them.  I later learned the name was Clarence Avant and he was an executive with MGM Records.  As most of you know, MGM Records was not exactly renown in the r&b record business.  However, because of Clarence Avant I was able to write a story about that convention.  And, no, I did not mention anything about King’s black power theme.  I did write about his speech, though.  And, for some reason I cannot fathom, I got to talk to a great number of the kingpins of the black movement over the next couple of years.  I had breakfast one morning with an outstanding black that I thought had presidential potential.  Bright!  And then one day he walked into some river and forgot to swim.  A lot of things like that, I didn’t understand.  A bright young man in Philadelphia named Spider was shot in the parking lot of his radio station and killed.  And one black thought drugs was the answer; he survived, but his good years were gone.  And King was killed.  I didn’t appreciate the world much there for a while.

Johnny Holliday: “If you have the space … Sal LiCata has been moved to Kessler Rehabilitation  Institute, 300 Market Street, Saddlebrook, New Jersey, 07663 … phone # 201 368-6000.  Cards and letters would be most welcome as Sal continues to recover from a fall suffered a month ago.  They expect him to remain at Kessler for at least a month. Thanks so much for letting the Music guys know.”

I’ll be sending my card.  One of those “recycled” cards that Barbara and her friends restructure at the United University Methodist Church across from UNLV here in Las Vegas.  The girls over there make caps for the homeless and refurbish used Christmas Cards and such.  Then sell them with funds going to the church.  For one reason or another, these cards mean more to Barbara and me.

Sam Riddle:  “Hi, Claude ... just read your Paul Harvey Matters commentary and the responses ... so thought I would add my thoughts.  He did not know it, but Paul taught me the art of timing on radio.  My first real radio job at 17 was at KRBC in Abilene, Texas.  I was the morning jock and rip and read newsman from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., which included running down the hall for the KRBC-TV station breaks and back to radio control for Paul Harvey at 12 Noon.  I will always remember talking right up to noon so when I stopped suddenly, with a flick of the switch, Paul would start talking ... and 15 minutes later he would say Paul Harvey ... GOOD DAY! and I had the switch on live for at least 60 seconds prior to say ... Sam Riddle ... HELLO MUSIC LOVERS ... AND THIS IS THE MUSIC FROM K R B C ... ABILENE.  And the rest was rock and roll to LA. Thanks for a few memories, Claude.”

Sam, circa 1947-51, KRBC was one of the few radio stations you could listen to in Winters, 40 miles south of Abilene.  I suppose you’re aware that Slim Willett was big in that area.  When he wasn’t on the radio, he was singing his songs in the honky tonks.  Songs such as “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” and “Toolpusher.”  Used to have a CD of Willett stuff out of Norway.

Don Williams, Orlando: “Opening up the last hour of the TV portion of his program, Imus talked about you, your blog, Vox Jox and how influential you were to helping his career along in the late 60s and early 70s, particularly his winning medium and large market disc jockey of the year in those years.  He talked about your wondering how much longer you can do the blog and is disheartened to learn you plan to discontinue it.  I thought you would appreciate knowing that Imus is grateful and acknowledges the importance of you and your column in his and other jocks careers.  I, too, benefited from having my name in Vox Jox a few times when I was still on the air. Unlike Mr. Imus, I was better suited moving into sales, which I did after fooling around on the air for about 8-9 years.  I didn't know about your blog until Imus mentioned it, so I am want to start following it for as long as it continues and I'd like to read what you have been writing in the past.  Please let me know how I can start getting it.  And, on behalf of myself, thank you for your contribution to our industry. You were part of the glue that helped make us a family.”

I always appreciated Don Imus.  Back to Palmdale.  Certain people had the gift.  Don, for sure.  My gift was knowing Don and Robert W. Morgan and Gary Owens and Chuck Blore and, to be honest, all of you guys and ladies.  Without you, no me, as Don Whittemore might say.

Mel Phillips:  “Oh my, Claude.  I never expected that glowing review of my book.  I am humbled.  If you permit, I'd love to use your quote to help promote my book.  Hey, I'm up to $12 in royalties already?  This was also one of your best 'Commentaries'. You are a true treasure.  Stay well and although your writing will be missed, I'm sure you can use the break.  I'm 8 years younger than you and have gone to a weekly instead of a daily and I'm wondering how long I'll continue to do that.  It was mentioned in your last Commentary that Sal Licata is ailing.  I always enjoyed Sal's visits east and I hope he's doing better since your mention. Sal came out of the Cleveland gang of radio & promotion people who used to play baseball together.  The late Neil McIntyre always mentioned that Sal was a terrific baseball player.  Get better soon Sal ... Claude you are to be commended for remembering our friends when they need it the most.  I wish I did more of that myself ... I liked the piece about Paul Harvey who I consider the best communicator I ever heard on the radio.  I list Paul No. 1, followed by Arthur Godfrey at No. 2 and third on my list is Ronald Reagan.  All 3 were totally believable and no one sold product as well.”

Mel, you have my permission regarding your book.  Just FYI, my wife Barbara always thought Reagan was a great speaker.  And I heard it said many, many times that Johnny Carson was more than likely the best radio/TV personality around.  Guess we all had favorites.

Bob Sherwood: “Your contribution approaches the level of Vin Scully-ius.  There aren’t other comparable individuals.  If you’ve someone that you believe is prepared to carry on your legacy, I vote a resounding and welcoming ‘aye’.”

Bob, guarantee you that you will love my choice.  This person is right there with others who’ve written Vox Jox, including the founder Joe Carlton, Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler, and myself.  You’ll notice that I’m in no way modest about this.  To tell the truth, I’ve never read Joe, but I did real some of the columns that Jerry wrote and he was good!  I think you could do a magnificent column, Bob.  There was something about you USC grads.

Dick Summer:  “Hey ‘Hangin' 'em up’.  My buddy Big Louie always says, "As long as you have any moving parts left, move 'em.  Good advice, my friend.”

I intend to hang around for some while yet.  Lets see what April brings.

Robert E. Richer: “Claude … you have to stop this talk about your pending demise.  My father-in-law made it to 104, and read the New York Times every day from cover to cover.  Lived a very good life in Walnut Creek.  You haven’t even come up onto the curve yet!”

Richer also reports: “Joe Franklin has just died at 88.  He influenced generations of talk hosts who grew up around New York – and many more who saw him parodied on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and the Simpsons.  He was in early TV on WJZ-TV, now WABC-TV.  He had years of behind-the-scenes and on-mic experience in radio. He chose the records for Martin Block’s seminal ‘Make Believe Ballroom’ music show on WNEW (1130), then hosted his own show called ‘Vaudeville Isn’t Dead’.  His eventual radio home was WOR (710), he interviewed the famous and the might-be-famous for over 40 years.  At one point the young Bette Midler and Barry Manilow were musical regulars for his show, and he interviewed up-and-comers like Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli.  He kept his dialogue in his head, ad-libbing his way through the show without cue-cards.  Joe Franklin died Saturday of prostate cancer, at a hospice in Manhattan.”

I don’t hear from people, I sometimes checkup on them.  Chuck Blore is fine.  Writing movies.  Keep busy, folks!

Ron Jacobs: “This morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser features a story about the infamous KPOI Wake-A-Thon.  TR went from this craziness to become a broadcast industry leader.  Perhaps you can share this link with your Monday devotees.  Aloha.

Thank you, Ron.  I thought a great deal of Tom Rounds.  A fine man.  He was a personal tribute to all in the radio business.  I couldn’t open the link, of course.  One of those subscriber deals.  But I did appreciate Tom.  FYI:  Ron sent me something late asking not to print the above.  Above what, he didn’t tell me.

Jim Gabbert:  “Claude, guess who has and flies a DC-3 ... This was the first military DC-3 (Hap Arnold's Command Plane in WWII).  I fly it to airshows and use it for charities.”

Great bird.  You don’t, by any chance, accept AX frequent flier miles?

Don Sundeen:  “Absolutely amazing, Marvin was one of the best there ever was, and died way too young.  Unlike many of his peers, he didn’t need echo or any other electronic assistance to enhance his natural vocal ability and pitch.  He was a man of high principles and deep beliefs murdered by his father … that’s almost Shakespearean?”

Big Jay Sorensen, CBS-FM, New York: “ you know, I've been associated with Mr. Pinto for over 40 years now ... and I just got off the phone with him as he makes yet another excursion to the left coast (to see his lovely daughter and grandson) ... he always speaks highly of you, and I know you were visited by Joey only days ago.  I would LOVE to read your comments on someone who I feel is the older brother I never had. Thanks.”

Don Graham:  “Hi, Claude … as Joey Reynolds’ #1 fan, i would dearly love to read your story!  Thanks for the offer! … can’t wait! … best to you.”

Don Goldberg: “I'd love to read your short story about Joey Reynolds.  I suppose I have some stories about him, too, from Detroit, Philly, and Los Angeles.  They're not ready for publication yet.  I'd love to see Michael Gwinne's screenplay PDF.   I have a Paul Harvey story as well.  As production director at WLS-FM in Chicago ABC had no production studio for us hippie types but Paul was kind enough to let us use his studio for production.  This was 1970.  I ran into him in the elevator going up to the studio and he was dressed as if he just came off the golf course. I said to him ‘Gee, Mr. Harvey, I hope someday I will be successful enough just to learn how to play golf’.  His response was, ‘You ought to take up LSD son.  It's less enslaving’.  When I meet up with radio folk I like to shorten the story and just tell them Paul Harvey told me to take acid. The REST of the story makes it less interesting.”

Clark Weber: “Remember the game of ‘Break?’  See if you could reduce a guy to giggles or guffaws while on the air? A Paul Harvey story for the ages.  WLS radio was on the 5th floor of the Stone Container Bldg. in Chicago and the 4th floor contained the ABC Network studio and Paul’s office.  Paul’s staff announcer was Chuck Bill who Paul could break on the network air without mercy.  The problem was that ABC didn’t think it was one bit funny and threatened Chuck with job loss!  Paul’s ABC Network ‘Rest of the Story’ that day was about a woman who walked in to Marshall Fields before Xmas with a Toy Poodle under her arm, went to the pet department, placed the dog on the counter and told the clerk she wanted to buy a sweater for her dog.  The clerk asked what size and the customer confessed she didn’t know. The clerk said that wasn’t a problem she would just slip one on the dog and find out. The customer said no she couldn’t do that, the clerk asked why not and the woman said because then the dog would know what she was getting for Xmas!  Page Two and pointed to Chuck Bill for the spot only Bill was laughing and crying so hard he couldn’t read it.  ABC tore a strip off Chuck Bill’s hide who later came to me to get revenge against Paul.  We did and at some other time I’ll tell you the rest of the story!”

Timmy Manocheo:  “Claude, dear man, could you perhaps post this in your next blog?  It is for s friend who is writing a book about KROQ/AM & FM.  Brad (Sandy Beach) Soble's dissolution with KROQ, during the mid-'70s, is vague ... do you know how, why or when?  Any info is welcome to flesh this out.  When Jerry Kaye was working nights and Sandy Beach worked mornings, and they never saw one another, once the station moved to the Pasadena Hilton ... he was gone.  What happened to this man?  ANY INFO IS APPRECIATED.”

Several readers still around probably knew Sandy Beach well.  This is an assumption, of course.  We’ll see.

Chuck Buell:  Hello, Claude, your ‘HARVEY MATTERS’ stories last week brought this to mind.  I used to enjoy telling people that Paul Harvey and I had lunch together every weekday during my early radio years!  I was in High School then in Rapid City, South Dakota, working my second radio job.  I was on the air from 11 to 3 which would, of course, include over the Noon Hour. Each day, I would bring (OK, so Mom would make!) my lunch to work. Then while on-air at 12 Noon, I would introduce ‘The Paul Harvey Report’, turn things over to the ABC Radio Network for fifteen minutes, sit back, eat lunch and just be enthralled with what he had to say all the way through to ‘Page Four!’  So, there we were; having lunch together!  One of my Radio Regrets is that later on in my career, while working at WLS in Chicago, I never met the Man. See, our ‘Big 89’ On-Air Studio was on the Fifth Floor of the Stone Container Building at Michigan Avenue and Wacker. The ABC Radio Network Studio, from which Harvey's broadcasts originated at that time, was on the Fourth Floor. I have no idea to this day why I never took the opportunity to take the elevator down one floor and go meet him.  I could have least taken him Lunch!”

John Barger:  “I'll contribute the first $100.00 toward getting you a device (hardware and software) into which you can dictate and have it converted immediately to text, which can easily be edited and sent out by email.  That way Number 48 and subsequents can be effortlessly spun from your mind to us without much pain or heavy lifting.  Unrelated, two different Bobby Harpers starred on staffs which I supervised ... one in Buffalo in the 60's, the other in Dallas in the 70's.  Where are they now ... if at all?  Convince Ken Dowe to share the story of Gordon McLendon, the ‘old dimes’, and the safe that plummeted down five stories.”

Kind offer, John, and you have my sincere appreciation.  But typing isn’t my problem.  I’ve put so many words through everything starting with a Smith-Corona to a Correcting IBM Selectric and various others along the way that I’ve fallen in love with this Apple MacBook Pro.  And let’s not forget the Apple IIe.  I wrote a handbook for writing on the Apple IIe that was used in four computer labs at the State University of New York, Brockport.

Larry White:  “I would love to read your ‘Joey’ story.  Please send me.”

ENDER:  Well, I finished the Joey tale and I’m now back working on a story I started a couple of years ago titled “George.”  At the time, I hadn’t placed enough distance between me and his death.  The death of a good friend can really suck it out of your guts.  And, yet, I wanted to do what I could to preserve his memory.  The memories of us all.  George told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it.  He thought that in years to come no one would remember us.  Nor care.  Heck with that, George.  I’ll do what I can to keep radio cooking!  And the people in radio, too!  That’s one reason I’ve written a fiction book called “I Love Radio” that mentions perhaps a hundred radio men or more and their personal tales.  “Radio Wars” is a collection of short stories about such men as Jimmy Rabbitt and Chuck Blore and Lee Baby Simms … maybe four dozen more.  I may yet assemble another book of short stories involving radio.  The book “George” will be fiction, of course.  It begins with the convention L. David Moorhead and I organized for the Plaza Hotel in New York City.  There, Clive Davis announced his “comeback” with the founding of Arista Records.

All this, of course, after I do a final edit on “La Tigre.”  Yes, I realize that no one is buying the books with, but that’s okay … I’m trying.

May the Good Lord bless and keep us all!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 47r2

Today at 3:25 PM
January 19, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 47
By Claude Hall

I’ve been trying to convince someone to take over this media “watering hole” for radio and music.  The question came up:  How much longer I can personally continue?  And the answer is that I don’t know.  A damned good friend of mine – George Wilson – left radio for good at about 84.  I’m 82 now.  I don’t feel like going anywhere special, though … not at the moment.  However, a whole bunch of things that I used to do, I can’t do anymore.  I just tried to lift a five-pound dumbbell with my right hand and couldn’t get it higher than my shoulder.  My left hand is still kosher.  My feet have gone south.  Back hurts.  Gut.  Anyway, I’ve sent my mailing list to this person.  They think maybe in April.  Guess I can hang on that long.  This person would be so great.  Better than me, I assure you.  Would you believe this:  This person attended the infamous “Booze, Broads and Bribes” convention in Miami Beach!  A kid running up and down the halls with the greatest people in music and in radio.  My plan is for them to take over the blog, so to speak, and maybe I would help as much as I could … maybe a comment now and then.

Paul Harvey was a rare and wonderful gift to radio.  How many of us, once tuned in, had to stay for “Page Two?”  Don Sundeen and Ken Dowe provided this dialogue below.

Don Sundeen:  “With all the anecdotes last week, I was responding to a long time friend and talking about meeting Paul Harvey, and creating for him an intro to Gordon.  Paul's commentary is a brilliant non-partisan statement on the empirical evidence of history's states and the decline of most ....

Ken Dowe:  “Ain't it so.  I met Paul Harvey one night in Oklahoma at a cocktail party.  He approached me ... by name ... and introduced himself.  (Ha!ha!) I told him I certainly knew him.  His question to me was, ‘You are Gordon McLendon's Executive VP, are you not?’   I confirmed, ‘Yes, sir’.  He said to me:  ‘You know, of course, that Mr. McLendon is a genius with regard to strategic metals.  I've read his book.  Nobody understands hard assets as well’.  I gave my standard response, which was that Mr. McLendon was a genius about nearly everything.  I said that having been in his office with him many times when he was in discussions with his sources in Switzerland, that he was well over my head on that subject.  And, that he was indeed extremely well informed.

“Paul asked if I thought Gordon would speak with him about strategic metals.  I assured him that that was a certainty:  ‘I am going back to Dallas in the morning.  Just give me 24 hours’.  The next day I walked into Gordon's office, as one of only five people he allowed in without an appointment.  His dad, the comptroller, his secretary/assistant, the corporate secretary, and I ... were pre-vetted for a 24/7 pass.  Everyone else took a number.  (Gordon had a bit of Howard Hughes about himself, as you will remember).  I told him Paul Harvey wanted to speak with him, and why.  He was his usual magnanimous self when interesting people wanted some time with him on interesting subjects.  I walked across the office, opened the door, and spoke to his secretary:  ‘Carolyn, Paul Harvey is going to telephone Gordon.  Please put him through when he does.  Gordon will take Mr. Harvey's call’.   Nothing like a little more of the on-going melodrama in the Executive Offices of McLendon's radio, TV, oil, real estate, gold-silver, strategic metals, and movie empire.  It was NEVER boring.  And, naturally ... neither was Paul Harvey.”

Don Sundeen:  “He was the real deal.  One time I contacted his office to discuss him endorsing a product and spoke to his wife.  The price was way high, over a million, but she and I had a lovely conversation.  Always felt sorry for Junior, like the scions of many other families he just didn’t have his dad’s chops … few do.”

Ken Dowe:  “This is the finest summation of America's possibilities for the future I have ever heard.  It is a non-partisan opinion from the late Paul Harvey.  My own life has been down this same road he suggests Americans must travel.  It is a plan that WORKs.  I was acquainted with Paul, and it was a great pleasure to know such a wonderful man.”

Don Sundeen:  “Claude, quick story; I was in Ken Dowe’s office in the McLendon Theater building on the day in 1975 that the price of gold was allowed to fluctuate.  Suddenly the door burst open, Gordon’s head popped in and he said, ‘Boys -- Buy Gold’, and he was gone.  Ken looked at me and said, ‘When Gordon talks, we listen’."

Johnny Holliday: “Sal LiCata, who I'm sure you remember as heading up EMI America, Chrysllis, RCA, etc. … is in serious condition at a New Jersey Hospital after suffering a fall two weeks ago.  I went to visit him yesterday and I am glad that I did. He suffered broken bones under his eyes, a head injury, nose injury and  who knows when he will get out of the hospital.  Perhaps some cards will cheer him up from those that knew Sal from his days in the business as well as worked with Sal.  He and I go all he way back to High School in North Miami, Florida. He started out as a promotion man in Cleveland back in the early 60s … from there went on to Big Top in New York City, Chrysllis, RCA, EMI America, Sony Music Corp and was one of the most respected guys in the biz.  He's had some health problems the past couple of years, but knowing Sal, he will bounce back.  Drop him a note at The Valley Hospital, 223 North Van Dien Avenue, Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450.  No phone calls at this time.”

Bob Sherwood: “Hi, Claude:  In case you didn’t see the following … So, Claude, the Vox Jox-ious … my email item on the ‘so-called’ Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’s idiotic exclusion of the recently departed Joe Cocker brought numerous responses from your many followers led by Les Garland and Paul Rappaport who also noted the exclusion of true rockers like Bad Company, Cheap Trick and Journey, amongst others.  And Madonna’s in.  OK, OK.  She frequently captures the spirit of R ‘n R but not even in the same neighborhood as Bad Company.  And when we think of Rock ‘n Roll we think of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones and … Abba!  I don’t give a rat’s patootie about how many zillion records they sold worldwide … they’re in and Journey isn’t?  What exactly was Neil Schoen playing that brought millions of R ‘n Rollers to their feet screaming approval over a couple of decades … a ukulele?  And the ultimate idiocy and hypocrisy of the HoF selection committee is the exclusion of Chicago.  Apparently because they’re a horn-driven, jazz-oriented band.  Ever listened to Terry Kath play soul-searing, gut-wrenching guitar?  Listened to the lyrics of their songs?  If that’s not Rock ‘n Roll, I’m Brenda Lee.  And if there’s ever been a harder-driving R ‘n R percussionist than Danny Seraphine, I must’ve missed it.  Oh, and by the way, the purest, most innovative jazz artist of all time -- Miles Davis -- IS in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  Chicago isn’t.  Puh-leeze.  They should tear the place down and replace it with something of value.  Like an indoor parking garage.”

Mel Phillips, once a program director of note, has written a book titled “Mel Phillips Radio Views – The Book.”  It’s actually, I believe, a printed collection of material from his website and it’s full of facts, facts, facts from surveys and studies.  In my opinion, this book belongs in every college library.  There’s an enormous storehouse of communication material.  Such as: “Pandora remains the king of internet music services but unless they lower their royalty rates they’ll bleed out and the party will be over.”  I.e., Phillips provides insight with his facts.  Social media and broadcast media are discussed.  A very useful book for those in active media of any kind.  My compliments.  An intriguing, interesting book.

Michael C. Gwynne: “Damn ... Claude, this is a lotta fun reading about radio.  The thrill of which changed my life back in 1961 when I was 18 spiraling out of control and voted by my high school pals as most likely NOT to see age 21!  John R at WLAC changed all that when I caught his Nashville show from Detroit every night in 1959-60 and knew what I wanted to do with my life.  Gotta thank Ron Jacobs who I would work with many times later in my life and who first sent me this missive some time ago, Claude.  I read it all the time until it hit me today that I need to respond.  So, my story.  After repeating the ninth grade three times I at last had something to tell my worried counselor at school. When I said I was finally interested in something he asked what it was.  I said Radio.  He said that was good and handed me a book, ‘How to Fix Radios’.  I said I didn't wanna fix them, I want to come out of the speakers as an announcer.  He sent another worried note home to my parents.  That was it for me.  Three months later after hitchhiking to San Francisco I found myself working doing breaks and public service spots gratis at KPFA in Berkeley because it was a non-profit station!  A wonderful woman named Jean Morgan who was PD there said she liked me and would pay me twenty dollars a day out of her own pocket and that I could sleep in studio B under the grand piano and shower at her house when necessary.

“I had the massive studio all to myself from midnight till dawn and decided then and there that I would make an audition tape of me doing Top 40 radio and send it all over the country until I got a job.  I bought some albums and 45s on Market Street and knocked out a show.  WNAT, Natchez, Mississippi, responded first and off I went.  I lasted about three months because my tendency to play the then burgeoning Motown records got me in trouble with the Klan who ran me out of town.  From Natchez to Mobile, just like the song says, I was hired by WKRG to do a CBS network afternoon music show which I loved until fate decreed that I be fired for something I didn't do but knew I needed to get back to California.  Driving across the country in my new TR3 was an adventure in itself.  Until I ran out of money. food and eventually gas for my car.  I crash landed at KMAK in Fresno.  After three or four major miracles, soon to be documented in my movie script, I could eat again.  Dick Charles was manager at the time and Frank Terry was PD.  He hired me on the spot for the All-Night Show after promising me an afternoon gig in the immediate future. That never happen.  The then-unknown-to-the-larger-world Bill Drake who was at KMEN called to meet with me after hearing my show and wanted to hire me but he wanted less personality and more music.  He even wanted me to use cue cards and brief blurbs but no ad-libs or personality because he wanted everybody to sound the same which is what happened to radio across the country as we know.  He was convinced that this format was the wave of the future. Frank promised to keep me in the chain which consisted of KMAK, KMEN in San Bernardino and KPOI in Honolulu and he eventually made good on his promise but only after I was hired by KMBY in Monterey the next day.

“Sweet afternoon gig was interrupted less than a month later by a call from Tom Rounds of KPOI in Honolulu. He was assured by Frank Terry and someone named Ron Jacobs that they should fly me over and that I should work for them.  But, it was another All-Night Show!  Is this getting too long? I assure you there is a payoff coming.  I made lots of radio firsts over on the Islands, including the Drumathon where I played drums with local bands and recorded music from the opening night of the marathon at eight PM on Tuesday until Saturday afternoon at three.  Ninety-two hours.  Breaking the standing Guinness record of 89 hours by three.  Tiring of yet another All-Night House Party, I accepted an offer from legendary Sam Sanford, the PD at KHAI, a local MOR station housed in the magnificent basement of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach.  I recall deadly MOR but also a flippant sweet young girl answering phones named Bette Midler.  I lasted two years in Honolulu backed up by impersonating a big-voiced mainland DC newsman, whom I called Nathan P. Green at KUMU radio, owned and operated by an amazing soul named John Weiser. I was the voice of that station even after I left radio well into the '80s.

“It's 1966. Stints at KMBY once again.  The All-Night gig was all they'd offer me as a sort of revenge for dumping them two years earlier. One night a call from Bill Doubleday from KDIA in Oakland/San Francisco with me accepting  a gig that had me replacing the legendary ‘Jumpin' George Oxford on the morning show and finally returning full circle to my beloved Bay area where it all started.  He renamed me Mike Sheppard.  That lasted two years until my radio magic began to drain away and the haunt of wanting to be an actor led to me bartering with Bill to keep me in the Sonderling chain of KDIA, WDIA and getting me, yes another All-Night Show, at WWRL in New York where I could study acting with Stella Adler during the day.  Very quickly I realized that wasn't working because once again I was in an academic setting.  I knew I required the real world where I could learn and grow like I did in radio. So after a stint with Murray the K, to start up an FM station in Toronto, CHUM-FM in 1968, I decided to make the move.  Hollywood, California, January 1969, visiting a friend, I eventually fell in with a group of movie people at The Farm and a kid named Spielberg with whom I did his first three TV shows and some voices for ‘Jaws’ tho I was supposed to play the Richard Dreyfuss part Steve assured me he would have loved it but alas, I was nobody and so was he.  That would change as I began my second life as an actor which leads me to this statement.  Isn't it time there was a movie about that magical era of radio as a medium for new music and unique radio personalities?  I think it is the perfect time in this era of information overload and magic deprivation.  That movie script has been written by me and at the moment has the working title of ‘Spin Drifter’.  But they don't read anymore in Hollywood.

“I live in New York now and have lost all my Hollywood contacts but the new regime there just might be very interested in getting a green light on this thing.  But I want to ask a favor of all my radio buddies out there.  Would you read this screenplay if I sent it to you as a pdf file?  If I send it flying out there it just may get to some powerful ears.  Perhaps some young whipper-radio-snappers mulling and fretting in Studio vacuums could get enthused by those of us who want to share this era, now long gone, in radio entertainment with all these those have heard the stories but missed the journey? and perhaps even inspire those who have hands on the 'green light switch?  It is registered with the WGA so I have no fear of plagiarizing or outright theft.  Not my people!  No, sir.  I feel it needs to be read and seen and heard again not as mere echoes but as a faithfully reproduced era on the big screen.  A time when invisible magicians created characters with their voices alone...heard thru tiny transistor units and inside cars filled who filled us with dreams of happiness, hope and a new groove to make us glad to be alive!  Contact me thru Claude if you'd like to read my script and thanks for your time and thanks to Ron Jacobs and Tom Rounds (RIP) and all those who sailed with me over miles of dangerous water and managed to make it back on land only to miss the High Adventure.”
Ah, a touch of Lyn Stanley as I write.  That sexy musky quality in her voice on “Change Partners.”  Nice background while I try to write something on Joey.  Just a short story.  Coming along pretty well.  More than three thousand words.  But it’s so difficult to capture that lightning-quick, offbeat wit.  Now listening to Lyn’s “Fever.”  Don’t believe even Don Eliot’s magic razor could blend Lyn’s version with that of Peggy Lee.  Arrangements may be too difficult to match together.  Lovely listening, though.  Especially Lyn’s spicy “That Old Black Magic.”  Lyn Stanley, Tom Russell, Greg Brown, Johnny Cash … what a morning!  But I’m glad I’m still able to write.

Hal (Judge Harrigan) Whitney: “Hi, Claude ... here's a copy of an email I sent out to a bunch of WPOP, Hartford alumni.  We're trying to reach as many people as possible.  If you could publicize this in your newsletter/blog it would be very appreciated.  Please ask folks to respond to my email address:

“This coming June 29, 2015, marks 40 years since the music died on WPOP.   Lee Gordon and I have been thinking about a ‘reunion’ to celebrate that anniversary.  If you were a WPOP jock, newsperson, engineer, salesperson, administrator, or you are a good friend of one of those folks, or if you were a friendly competitor back in the day (WDRC, WCCC, WHCN, WTIC, WRCH, etc.), we'd like you to attend.  The event would actually be held on Saturday, June 27.  No plan yet on where the event would take place.  We'd like to get an idea first of how many would be attending.  But definitely somewhere in the greater Hartford area.  Please let us know ASAP if you think you'd be able to attend.  Thanks!”

I’ve written a short story about Joey Reynolds.  Not entirely accurate regarding facts, but the heart is there, I think.  If you’d like to read it, I’m willing to send you a Microsoft Word copy.  My compliments.

“Delilah Sings Sarah+1” is a very nice, pleasant CD that pays tribute to Sarah Vaughn.  Four tunes.  All lovely, big band and lush, pleasant for any evening.  Great vocals.  Beautiful entertainment.  Best of the songs?  Difficult to say because they’re all good, familiar … such as “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Smile.”  Delilah is big with jazz and Big Band fans and promotion king Don Graham with put her right back on the major music charts.

I can’t show you the interworkings of music promotion, but this is a fascinating and quite astute note from Brad Martini,, to Don Graham, who is currently promoting a four-tune CD titled “Delilah.”

“Once again, you've delivered another new artist who's applying her own style and personality to classic tunes.  Thank you for introducing us to Delilah! The charts and her vocals underscore Delilah's commitment to taking timeless tunes like Charlie Chaplin's music, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons' lyrics and making her ‘Smile’ a totally new creation. She's fresh, she's contemporary, she respects the heritage of these ‘Great American Songbook’ titles and thanks to you, Don, we get to introduce her music to the ‘Martini in the Morning’ audience across the USA and around the world.  With your permission Don, we'd like to bring Delilah to our audience via our weekly ‘Thursday Thing’ promotion, giving away a copy of the CD every hour, 7 am - 7 pm PST. We'll be spotlighting the 4 cuts from the EP and giving our listeners a reason to wait with baited breath for the full CD later this year.  Thanks, Don, again, for bringing great talent to the ‘Martini in the Morning’ audience. I can't wait to introduce them to Delilah!”

Ah, but Brad writes good.  Like your style, Brad!

More Ken Dowe: “Enjoyed the picture of Joey Reynolds ... still going strong in the 21st century.  My great friend, the late Rod Roddy, often spoke fondly of Joey.  Dottie and I surely miss our dinners with Rod at MORTON's in LA during my regular trips to look in on KOST.  The whole restaurant would salute Rod the moment the door opened.  ‘Come on down!’  And, Claude, I had no idea Barbara was a much younger woman.  Good on you!”

First time I was able to take Barbara home to see the folks, we had to fly a DC-3 from Odessa to Hobbs, NM, and my parents drove over from Carlsbad, NM, to pick us up.  We’d been married for several months.  After we got down on the tarmac, my father, a real Texican, said, “Man, you sure know how to pick ‘em.”

Have a Great Week!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 46r2

Today at 8:01 AM
January 15, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 46
By Claude Hall

Guess I’m getting too old for visitors, but I enjoyed the heck out of the appearance of Joey Reynolds, Art Vuolo, and Ray King at the door.  There was great confusion.  It follows Joey.  I wanted to watch basketball – Texas against Oklahoma – and Art insisted I watch some videos he’d produced with Joey.  They want to pitch CBS “Sunday Morning” with a new ending targeted for a younger audience.  Good idea.  Joey would be great for something like that.

Ray King is a WIXY fan.  He has created a WIXY on the Internet in Cleveland.  I didn’t bother telling him I knew Norman Wain, etc.  Or how one program director got fired because I persuaded him to play a Jose Cuba record (I loved that damned thing; it never got out of NYC).  People who read Vox Jox were not aware that I was also on the Billboard record review panel for both singles and albums.

Benefit of the Joey visit:  Art fixed my DVD; Ray King kibitzed.  That is, I hope it’s working.  I haven’t tried it yet.

I didn’t get to watch the Texas v. Oklahoma game.  Had to go to bed as soon as they left.  I mean I was whipped!  Just as well about the game, though.  The Longhorns got stomped.

I’ve finished my western novel “La Tigre” and pre-rewrite copies have been sent to my son John, cover artist Bill Pearson and the Three Mesquiteers of Lee Baby Simms, Woody Roberts, and Bob Weisbuch.  It occurred to me while he was here that I might do my next fiction about Joey Reynolds.  I was originally thinking about writing something involving George Wilson.  Both have been mentioned in much of the stuff I’ve written regarding radio.  Both were mentioned in “I Love Radio.”  And Lee Baby Simms and Jimmy Rabbitt and Chuck Blore were in “Radio Wars.”  George wouldn’t mind if I lied a little in a novel about his life.  Both George and Joey had a lot of fun in radio.  So did, by the way, Jimmy Rabbitt and Lee Baby Simms.  Jimmy Rabbitt once told me that no matter how outrageous I wrote about him and Lee Baby Simms, it was likely true.

Ah, fiction!

Dick Summer:  “Thank you for adding the Al Heacock story, Claude. The folks at the Rock Hall were kind enough to include some of my stuff, but for some reason they don't seem interested in including Al's story.  Without him, lots of my stuff wouldn't have existed.  And Don Elliot's edit of Linda and Elvis with "Love Me Tender" is a masterpiece. The testosterone in Elvis' voice made Linda sound like some kind of satin goddess.  Wow.  I've heard Don's name of course, but I never knew him. This is a real piece of art.  Can you imagine anything like that being done today?  Never mind.  Stupid question. I sent your blog to Fred Masey, my best buddy.  Fred was the production guy at WOR, and he knew how to use a blade and sticky tape as well as anybody.  He will probably turn a light shade of green.  Thanks, Claude.  And please thank Don for me.”

Bob Walker: “Nick Bazoo (Ferrara) was killed last night in an automobile accident on the interstate in Gulfport, MS.  Nick was an alum of WTIX, New Orleans, in the '70s and WEZB-97 and later a very well known PD and consultant.  Nick also worked at WIXO in New Orleans; WTIX mid-70s, then WIXO, then B-97 PD.  From there a national PD and consultant based in Pennsylvania.  Born in New Orleans, he had just retired in PA and moved to Gulfport, MS, a little over a year ago.”

Bob, I sincerely appreciate the information.

Morris Diamond: “Hi, Brother Claude – Here I am with MMM (Monday Morning Must) -- your 45th Commentary and loving all the comments.  I got a kick out of Don Eliot's schtick on Hearing Aids.  I wish he would type a little bit louder.  Yep, I've had hearing aids from the VA since they stopped me from being a flight radio operator in the Air Transport Command in 1945 and my hearing did fade some.  I've been blessed in that the service I've had from the VA through the years have been faultless.  It helped me in the years when I needed it most, holding national promo jobs with Joe Carlton, Mercury, Steve Allen, Bob Thiele and Acta (Dot) records; and certainly when I started my own Beverly Hills Records.  A big hoorah to Kevin Gershon for bringing Bonnie and Eliot Tiegel into our midst.  Eliot, aside from you, Claude, was my favorite entertainment scribes … gave me a few mentions in his Daily Variety days.  And, Claude, the foto of John & Darryl Hall taken near the Glen Island Casino brought a flash of memory when, as a songplugger in the late 40s I used to schlep to the Casino to contact the various bands … and, did you know that Popsie, the photographer that shot that picture, was band boy with Bennie Goodman … the same time I was band boy with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the very early '40s.  We do live in a small community, don't we?  And I love it!”

Woody Roberts: “Fellow Mesquiteers, this is the week all of us are exposed to endless recap lists.  But for Woody, looking back and picking his top story of 2014 was an easy task.  So I will take this New Year opportunity to hardily congratulate Lee Baby Simms upon completion of my special Australopithecus raw food cleansing diet.  Way to go, Mr. Baby!  And while I am at it, let me step forward and brag that Mesquiteer Woody continues to ride ahead of  the pop culture wave, and in fact surfed atop of all last year's major pop lifestyle tsunamis.  The afore mentioned diet being a perfect example:  You see, in 2014 while Lee Baby was foraging and hunting for raw food around Vallejo both the New Yorker and National Geographic chose to do feature stories on the Caveman Diet and the Paleolithic Diet.  Plus, Lee was out in front of the latest emerging foodie fad, eating Diatomaceous Earth.  [Speaking of ‘Caveman’, that is obviously a sexist phrase and is not one I would ever use.]  But anyway, my point is the paliocavers had fire.

“Fact is, the earliest human use of fire -- fires started by nature -- did not happen until 500,000 years after Lee's species went extinct!  And our controlled use of fire started just 300,00 years ago.  But we have one-upped them, Lee's special Australopithecine diet of 2-4 million years ago was far more pure and back to our roots than sissy fire cooked cuisine from the Paleolithic era.  Also, during Lee's 2014 diet it was discovered the Australopithecus peoples' foot-bones indicated they were arboreal as well as land dwellers.  That fits Lee.  (Woody included a photo of him and Lee Baby Simms climbing in a tree.)  We at various radio stations knew Lee Simms had a thing for trees, all kinds, birch, redwoods, peach, baobab, all kinds.  As time went on I learned that just as Tom Waits and Salman Rushdie admired the Lee Baby, so did the great poetic fabulist Italo Cavino; and the man rededicated his 1957 masterpiece ‘The Baron in the Trees’ in honor of his favorite radio deejay.  Unfortunately the Italian writer passed on and his publisher never added the requested text.

“I'm afraid I embarrassed the Lee Baby with all my praise so he is doing the ah shucks and skuffin' a boot while kinda saying ‘T'wern't nothin'.’  But really it was quite an accomplishment.  Below is the set I sent to liven up the Lee Baby's NYE, figuring he might dance around the room a bit while celebrating the completion of his avante garde ahead-of-the-trend Australopithecus diet.  And, just maybe, bring back a few memories of the Crescent City.  Used to see this band throughout the 1970s at Soap Creek Saloon (an outskirts of town nightclub dive set ‘next door’ to Doug Sham's house, he used to hang out and shoot pool daytime and play occasional gigs at night.  When Clifton played Soap Creek you could be sure Doug would be there to groove on that Cajun sound.  And, too, I would see this band at Antone's nightclub (Austin's Home of the Blues) where owner Clifford booked Clifton on opening night and wrapped the downtown crowd around the block (1975). Might mention here that in '95 Clifford put out a Doug Sahm album on his Antone's record label and it was nominated for a Grammy.  Now it's 2015 and the clubs are gone, the record company gone, Clifton, Doug, and Clifford are gone ... just the memories and the music ... 

Lee Baby Simms:  “Dear Boys … HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I trust that Y`all welcomed The New Year in with a flourish as befits a True Mesquiteer (thank you, Claude, for coming up with that appellation for us … it gives me a sense of belonging).  Please don`t tell Woody I asked, but do y`all ever get the feeling that he is a most unusual person? (see his email) sometimes I just don`t know what the hell he`s talkin` about.  Nothing!  NOTHING he says in his email has anything to do with reality.  He is sooo goddamned weird. (He always has been.)  After corresponding with him for the last couple of years I have begun to know, again, that he is just as nutty as a fuckin` Fruit Cake!  Don`t get me wrong, I do love me a little slice of Grandma`s Fruit Cake (candied cherries and walnuts and all).  And I do love Woody ... like a school boy loves pie.  But I must say ... you know what I`m sayin’? … I just sayin`  Woody is ….

“Last night he sent me a bunch of Cajun music and said.
 ‘Lee, I`m loading up my shotgun’.  It seems that he was going to shoot it off at midnight for some reason.  (A Texas thang?)  My point with this missive is that when you get an email from Himself expect the unexpected (and the unbelievable) and cut him a little slack.  Take him like you would with a shot of Tequila.  A little slice of lime and a few grains of salt.  He means no harm, and he means The World to me.  Cajun music.   Here is favorite.         feature=player_detailpage&v=SHlhJL3IlsQ

Translation:  Lee Baby Simms and Woody Roberts were discussing, among other things such as Cajun music (they’re both too young to remember the phenomenal “The Mosquiter That Ate My Sweetheart”), firing off a shotgun to celebrate the New Year, and diets.

Danny Davis: “Claude-de' 'Main Man of de' fending 'dose' Musical Men of de' Microphones, befoah dey 'is no moah'! Just got off the old wire ‘telephone’ (remember?) with Cris Crist (remember?) and let me in on his natal day, tomorrow, 80, and the newest Doctor attending his newest ailment … CRS.  Posted on front of his refrigerator, CRS, 'Can't Remember Shit'!  Most of the Commentary folks will sooner, or later, wanna' know what instrument it was that Bono played!  Happy New Year!!  Whatta' town YOU live in!  Thankfully I put the notes up on my refrigerator, about the nite I killed 'em at The Luxor, and the Shift Boss asked ‘Who taught you this game?’  They hadn't heard how you mesh, music and larceny into 'money management'! Thanx to Billboard!”

Paul Coladarci, 69, died Jan. 5 in Las Vegas of complications from cancer.  A retired newspaperman who became a banker, he loved jazz and did a weekly show on public radio in Las Vegas.  He is survived by his wife Sue and several children and grand children.  We come, we do, we go.

Jim Gabbert: “Claude, first off I want to wish you and Barbara a very happy New Year!  I don't know if you remember this, but I believe it was at an NRBA convention in New Orleans and we were talking about the big success we had with K-101 in San Francisco where we had double digit ratings and dominated the FM band.  You said at the time ‘just wait till the big guys get there!’  They being Bill Drake and Paul Drew with RKO’s KFRC-FM, and KGO-FM with Rick Sklar with the power of ABC behind them. They did arrive, KFRC-FM became KFMS and they tried a Top 40 format as did KGO-FM, which became KSFX. They tried and tried and never got close to us.  Ultimately both companies sold their FM's stating that San Francisco was too sophisticated for top....  Hello, remember KYA, KEWB, and of course KFRC.  What they did not understand was that FM travels line of sight and we did have lots of hills that blocked the signal.  We were the first FM to do circular polarization which helped somewhat. The big problem was that on any format that has high repetition needs a high cume which was physically impossible in SF.  The FM stations had to build a longer listening span as the cume would be lower.  Even when Tom Donahue did the KSAN thing they never got close to us in 18-34, 18-49 men and women.  We always had twice their total audience in all day parts.  I remember Bill Gavin writing about K-101 and his comment was Jim Gabbert's station was all over the road but somehow never hit the telephone poles!  By the way, before ARB existed we came out # 5 in total radio in Pulse in 1958 with what was then KPEN, later I changed the call letters to K-101 (KIOI).”

Jim, I believe that at one time you were the King of FM.

M.R. Shane Gibson: “Thanks, Big Fella.  And thanks for your last notice.  Reading today, am brought back to every voice saying, ‘You've got to write that book!’ Trouble is I could tell it.  Couldn't write it (be to kind to myself).  So it stays just a title in the mind until a friendly ghost is found and, ‘Legends Die Hard’ (Confessions of ‘The Jock’) is written.  But, trust me, pardner, this one would be straight up off the streets, heh, heh, heh.  Who said Rock & Roll wasn't sexy?”

Ron Jacobs: “This is THE site for all KHJ graphics and non-audio memorabilia.  Done by my personal archivist of Boss Radio stuff, Ray Randolph, as big a fan as I have encountered since 1953.  Check it out, please list the website listed atop my current Facebook page:
“I produced Dick Summer’s album in 1970, favor to Mac Richman, who was in first group to pick up AE40.”

John Lund: “Claude:  I am sure Imus will correct the Sherwood comment.  It was not an ‘Angela Davis Look-a-Like’ promotion that Donald did in Stockton … but Eldridge Cleaver.  Stockton’s loss, KXOA’s win.  KXOA was owned then by an Indiana company, perhaps Fuqua Communications.  Their main business was making motor homes.  Their radio president flew out west to meet with Mr. Thayer about Imus’ shock jock antics in Sacramento that summer of 1970.  You may ask Don to recall what happened to that radio executive while spending the weekend in San Francisco just prior to his plan to drive over to Sacramento for a ‘fateful’ meeting.  That didn’t happen.  RIP.”

Michael C. Gwynne:  “Ron Jacobs first sent me this wonderful blog some time ago and I read it faithfully but today I like to respond if I could. Is this the address I use and what requirements are in order here?

No requirements, Michael, other than a good heart.  Hope you now receive the Commentary.  It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to add to my email list.

Charlie Barrett, “Enjoyed reading the Dick Summer book excerpt/passage in your No. 45.  I used to listen to Dick often when I was driving back to Connecticut from Boston when I was a reporter for The Hartford Times newspaper circa 1965/66.  WBZ was always playing on my '55 Ford convertible am radio back then.  Dick and WBZ had the vision and cojones to play material that was, in its time -- alive and reflective of what was going on in our shifting culture.  Always enjoyed Dick spinning  ‘Mole's Moan’ by folkie Tom Rush on Elektra back then ... can still hear it.  I can now go to YOU TUBE and find it fast if I want, although it is still in my vinyl library.  Thank you, Claude, for your priceless and special column for us all.  Cheers to you.”

Ron Brandon:  “Claude, is this (attachment) the Bill Taylor you refer to?  This was 1963 or so … after WNOE know he went out to Arizona or NM and got into ownership ... but have not spoken with him in many years.”

Bill Taylor migrated to Los Angeles area to be close to his children.  There, he created and marketed a radio game for country music stations.  Later, he got into management and ownership.  Good man.
Jack Casey: “Hi, Claude -- Happy New Year 2015 to you and your family.  Thanks for keeping the memories alive.  I read the recent postings about Frank Ward and wanted to honor his memory with a few reminiscences of my own:  In 1968 Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler purchased WAAB/WAAF in Worcester, Massachusetts, and they hired Frank Ward to run it.  Frank had recently left the employ of Egmont Sonderling at WWRL in New York and he hired David Paul McNamee as PD and together they set off to redefine Worcester radio.  They forgot to inform Bob Breyer, owner of cross-town WORC, and his programmer John H. Garabedian of their plan and WORC never lost its dominance, but that’s another story called ‘live and local wins every time’.  But Frank and David did bring a major market sensibility and open checkbook to the stations … brand new equipment, jingles, and a mostly brand new air staff for ‘The Brand New Worcester’ (they also forgot to inform this tired old mill town that it was now brand new Worcester).  Frank was a true character and he stood out in his bespoke suits, cufflinks, and carefully manicured silver hair.  Our buddy Roger Lifeset was hired for afternoons (as Sebastian Tripp … very fitting at that time in his life).  Roger barely survived his first day on the air because, when Frank returned to the station after several ‘happy hours’ at the watering hole across the street, he found the door unlocked.  He fired Roger on the spot but McNamee hired him back the next day.  The late Steven Capen (later at KSAN) did mornings and I was hired for nights and later moved to mornings with a lot of tutoring from Frank for which I will be forever grateful.  I was given the air name Sean Michael Devlin because Devlin was Frank’s mother’s maiden name (and there was already a jingle).  One night Frank got into a dust-up with several locals at another establishment and Worcester police put him in the lock-up for the night.  He looked quite chagrined the next morning but his energy and love for radio were boundless.  The man was unstoppable.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan and the first ‘book’ (I think it was Pulse) for the new format at WAAB (WAAF was automated beautiful music at the time) wasn’t encouraging, Frank was not happy, but Mac was in Honolulu on his honeymoon.  Frank couldn’t wait for him to return so he sent a telegram to every hotel on the island saying ‘David Paul McNamee:  Don’t bother coming back.  You’re fired’.  Frank was eventually replaced by Gordon Hastings and the owners of Atlantic Records decided radio wasn’t the business for them and they sold the stations shortly thereafter.”

Don Berns:  “LOL -- My comments make no sense without the pictures I sent. That's OK, I make no sense to a lot of people on a regular basis.”

Don, I love your stuff.  You’re great!  But I have trouble using photos.  I’ve been trying to persuade a gifted radio person to take Commentary over.  If and when, they will do it more than likely as a blog and, viola, photos and all that good stuff.  Meanwhile, I hope you’ll hang with me until I hang it up or cough it up.

Ken Dowe:  “I was happy to see that you and I have a favorite in ‘Moonlight in Vermont’.  I still have Brook Benton's (my favorite) and Willie's version on my iPhone playlist.  Hear 'em daily.  Used to fall asleep to ole Brook when I worked for Bernie Dittman at WABB, Mobile, back in '60-'61.”

The photo below features, from left, Joey Reynolds, Barbara Hall, Claude Hall.  Take Jan. 5, 2015 at the Hall House, Las Vegas.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Claude's Commentary No. 45r2

Today at 7:47 AM
January 1, 2015

Claude’s Commentary No. 45
By Claude Hall

Dick Summer:  “Bob Sherwood's comment about Joe Cocker's exclusion from the Rock Hall was on the money.  Another guy who belongs there is somebody even you probably didn't know.  His name was Al Heacock.  He was my PD at WBZ.  I did a chapter in my book ‘Staying Happy Healthy And Hot’ about him:

“I really loved being on the radio. Those were the days, and nights, when I first ran into Big Louie.  His theme song, ‘Louie Louie’ was the star of most of the record hops in those days.  Any time the party got dull, it was Louie to the rescue.  But there was another kind of music born in the sixties. Its mommy was the blues, and its daddy was rock and roll, and the people in power said it was conceived in sin. It was music on fire. Hendrix, Morrison, Clapton. When I heard it for the first time it took me a week to get my eyes closed.  Today, you’d call it Classic Rock. And there’s something you don’tknow about it and you should. You don’t know about the man who got that music on the air.  His name was Al Heacock.  And he was a man in the best sense of the word.  I know the story because I was privileged to work for Al, and he was my friend.  Once upon a time … all the way back in the sixties … AM radio was still king.  Big 50,000-watt flame throwers like WBZ in Boston, WABC in New York, WLS in Chicago, and KFI in Los Angeles ruled.  Almost all of them were built on tight top forty foundations. In fact, the play list at WABC was frequently more like the top twenty, with the emphasis on the top three. ‘All Hits All the Time’. Jingle, jangle, jingle. The format was the gospel.  Except at Boston’s WBZ.  This is something that most radio professionals won’t believe, but it’s true.  WBZ never had a format in those days. The guys on the air played whatever we wanted to play, including records from our own personal collections, and tapes from local artists. And in between every single record/tape, we had fun.  Oh we had fun. And people loved it.

“Today’s top radio stations pull around a ten rating in a major market.  WBZ consistently pulled north of a twenty five. The mouths at WBZ belonged to Carl deSuze, Dave Maynard, Jay Dunn, Jeff Kaye (and later Ron Landry) Bob Kennedy Bruce Bradley and me.  But the brains, and a lot of the heart of the station belonged to the Program Director, Al Heacock.  Al was smart.  He was a quiet guy who made a lot of money in the stock market.  But he really didn’t care about the stock market.  Al cared about his radio station, WBZ.  It was a station with ‘tude’.  When we broadcast from our mobile studio, which was most of the time, we proudly wore our station blazers. It wasn’t unusual at all for one of us to drop in on somebody else’s show and kibitz for a while.  When you walked down the beach, you didn’t need to bring your own radio, because everybody around you would have ‘BZ turned on and turned up to stun.  If you stopped your car for a red light, you’d almost always hear ‘BZ coming out of the speaker in the car stopped next to you. Those were the days before cars had air conditioning.

“The Pimple People wouldn’t remember.  For those of you who never heard the station, and for those of you who work in radio and are curious about the legend that was WBZ, here’s how Al programmed his music: Each month there was a staff meeting.  At the meeting he would always remind us to play some of the top tunes he left in the rack in the studio each week.  And then he’d say, ‘I don’t want to hear two records back to back.  We pay you guys to entertain.  Entertain’.  What a joy it was, what an honor to be one of Al’s guys on WBZ.  Here’s what that means to you.  If it weren’t for Al Heacock, a man who knew how to say no … and stick to his guns … Classic Rock might never have been born.  At least it would have been a much longer labor and birth.  Boston has always had a strong Folk Music tradition.  At WBZ we were consistently playing original tapes of unreleased songs like ‘Sounds of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel, and ‘The Urge for Going’ by Tom Rush, all kinds of stuff by Dylan, and Baez, and Sweet Judy Blue Eyes Collins.  I was doing a weekly MC gig at the Unicorn Coffee House, a major Folkie spot in town.  And I noticed that some of the artists were beginning to go electric.  I invited Al to attend one night, and he got it.  Right away. The next day, he instigated ‘BZs only mandatory music rule: ‘One ‘Liquid Rock’ song per hour’.  Al called the music Liquid Rock.  Almost immediately the new music picked up a different name, ‘Underground Rock’.  The name was the only thing Al got wrong.  He gave me two hours on Sunday evenings for the first big time ‘Underground Rock’ radio show.  He called it, ‘Dick Summer’s Subway’.  ‘Subway’ as in ‘Underground’.  Then Dylan went electric, Eric Clapton formed ‘Cream’ and Woodstock forged a new musical and political conscience for America, and it went roaring out on WBZ’s 50,000-watt clear channel signal all the way from Massachusetts to Midway Island in the Pacific. (I have an air check.)  The suits who owned Group W Radio in New York were aghast.  It wasn’t Top 40.  It wasn’t anything they recognized. They didn’t like it. They wanted it stopped … right now.  Al just very quietly said no.  For a while, even the suits didn’t want to mess too much with Al’s 25 rating in Boston.  Then Arlo Guthrie did a song called ‘Alice’s Restaurant’, featuring a line about the ‘mother rapers and the father rapers on the Group W bench’.  The lawyers at Group W headquarters in New York and DC freaked.  The President of the Group took a flight from New York to talk sense into this crazy program director Heacock.  ‘Get it off the air now’ was the order.  Al very quietly said ‘no’.  It was a classic Big Suit vs. Radio Guy.  And Mr. Suit blinked.  The order was changed to ‘well at least edit that line out’.  Al very quietly just said ‘no’.  If you’re a radio professional, you’ll realize how far out of line that was.  A Program Director is a middle management guy.  He was talking to the President of the group.  So Mr. Suit decided to drop in on me personally one Sunday night, ‘for a friendly visit’.  The engineer saw what was going on, and called Al to alert him to the situation.  Ten minutes later, Al was at the studio.  He asked Mr. Suit to join him for a quick meeting … out of the studio. That’s the last I heard of the problem.  A few months later, the great Tom Donahue climbed on ‘Underground’ music on his FM station out in San Francisco, Classical Music WBCN went FM rock in Boston, ‘The Professor’, Scott Muni, Rosco, Jon Schwartz and crew took WNEW-FM rock in New York, and invited me to join them, which I did.  And in a little while, FM killed the AM king.  It probably would have happened anyway.  But the point is that when you hear ‘Smoke on the Water’, or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘Light My Fire’ you’re listening to some of the many echos of that quiet but firm ‘no’ that Al Heacock said all those years ago.  Al died a while ago. I think it would be appropriate if you’d remember him, the next time you find yourself listening to ‘Stairway to Heaven’.”

I feel honored to feature this passage from Dick’s book.  He was kind enough to send me a pdf version of the book and I’m grateful.  The book by Dick Summer is available from:
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bob Sherwood: “Happy New Year Kindly Ol’ Uncle Claude to you, your lovely Barbara, those you both hold dear and all of the tribe of your devoted readers of Vox Jox II … of whom I am also a proud member.  Damn, Claude.  We also get it for free.  We don’t have to pay anything to Billboard!  Edition #44 was especially enjoyable for the fabulous retrospective by Gary Allyn.  Said it all for me.  The boy does think and can write.  Advise Rob’t. E. Richer that Don Imus does indeed have a major hearing issue which he apparently has successfully dealt with via a device which he occasionally refers to on-air.  It is my recollection that the hearing issue began when he was ‘Rockin’ in Stockton’ where he had the legendary ‘Angela Davis Look-a-Like’ promotion which famously blew him out of that market and sent him on the path to true legend.  For those who may not recall, Angela Davis was a leader of the group (including Black Panthers) that invaded a Marin Co. Courthouse and left with a judge who was being restrained by a shotgun taped to his neck.  Given that Stockton is about 20 minutes from Sacramento and Ronald Reagan was governor, you can imagine how that all played out locally.  Imus has never and will never go quietly into this good night.  Bless him for it.”

It’s people like you, Don Graham and Don Imus and Lee Baby Simms and Rollye James-Cornell that I hold dear.  Others, too, of course … at least 600 still left at this point.  Barbara, too, of course.  You people have made my life not only interesting, but intriguing since the early 60s.  Wow!

Tom Russell:  “Happy Holidays from Switzerland, Claude!  Always enjoy the Commentary … a note that the last picture on the current commentary says it's ‘Joan Baez’, and is actually Buffy Sainte Marie… who wrote ‘Universal Soldier’, and ‘Up Where We Belong’, and many great Native American protest songs.  She's Canadian … great songwriter.  I should have my Western horse opera ‘The Rose of Roscrae’ ready to send to you in a month or so … keep up the great work and hello to all from Tom Russell in snow-bound Switzerland!”

If you haven’t heard “Touch of Evil” or “The Pugilist at 59” or … heck, he has so many really great songs … you’re missing something very valuable.  I consider Tom an American treasure.  He hangs out in El Paso a great deal of the time, by the way.  But they also love him in Europe.

Don Eliot: “Thanks for bringing up the subject of hearing aids … I'm connecting the boys over at APHEX with the famed John House Ear clinic downtown LA to try to integrate APHEX technology into products!  If you recall what APHEX does … you can increase the apparent loudness in a sweepable range (it is, tunable to where an individual's loss may reside) … without an increase in electrical level that could cause distortion.  Linda Ronstadt was the first to use this in record production.  They were able to mix the band track up hotter underneath her without losing the intelligibility in her vocals!  As I recall, the psychoacoustic apparent loudness effect has to do with increasing the pleasing distortion on the harmonics of the sound.  But the real hot feature I wanted to share with you today is the availability now of hearing aid models that include Bluetooth!  You don't have to struggle with phone calls anymore!  Costco has the best deal on it. And, yes, Medicare covers a lot of this.”

Great info.  I knew and know many with hearing problems.  The late George Wilson, for instance.  And one major rock artist, Bobby Vee.  I listened loud – much of the time – but probably not as loud as you guys.

Further from Don Elliot: “When I was PD at KIIS-FM, Los Angeles, many years ago, my favorite two features were ‘KIIS Kouple and Kiss Kousins’.  Indulge me.  It'll be worth it, and I promise you a very rewarding surprise ending here.  The feature called ‘Kiss Kousins’ was promoted with the intro ‘Kiss Kousins share a hit’:  It was a seg of two artists singing the same song.  We would play the cover first with the powerful payoff delivering the implied promise afterwards with the original hit.  If you think about it, it just doesn't work the other way around because the listeners would then be comparing after-the-fact with how much better the original was.  If you played it the way we did, playing the cover first, you are subliminally thinking of the original and kind of longing for it.  Hence the pay off with the double punch and getting to hear the original immediately afterwards.  Great flow.

“The second feature was actually the opposite.  A ‘Kiss Kouple’ was two different songs by the same artist.  Sort of a double play on steroids.  And last but not least, to describe the overall format at the time in general with our sublogo: ‘Yesterday, tomorrow, today … three-way Kiss’ ... notice there is no chronology here … it was designed with flow in mind.  Song one in the set was a powerful classic.  The second tune would be new music but something we weren't risking much on because it would be a  cut charted as upwardly moving, ranked somewhere between 30 and 50.  The third tune in the flow would be a current chartbuster probably in the top 10. Notice the intent here.  The ‘unfamiliar’ piece was in the middle surrounded by established hits. The format was copied later on and renamed by someone as ‘the magic format’. It just worked.  We had a lot of flexibility and ability to come up with things you couldn't hear on other stations that we designated as ‘ARB hooks’.  We'd  really push these during ratings.

“My favorite of all was an idea I had to put Elvis Presley and Linda Ronstadt together, sort of like a football fantasy thing because Elvis had since passed. It was inspired by when I heard Linda's ‘Love Me Tender’, I couldn't help myself … my razor blade started shaking like Elvis's legs, or an Irishman's hands waiting for the bartender to deliver.  So here in all its radiant glory, is the original edit:
(done by me at KIIS-FM Production Studio, early 80s, with a razor blade and flying in tracks, overdubbing from a 2-track):

“The concept sparked a flurry of copycat duets with ‘ghosts’, which were huge hits. The first, most successful being Natalie Cole, singing with her late father, Nat ‘King’ Cole.  The tune?  ‘Unforgettable’.  And, fast forwarding to today, the beautifully done Barbra Streisand duets album.  A particularly well-produced cut is the Elvis duet, ‘Love Me Tender’.”
Barbra/Elvis, Done at Capitol, 2014:

One of my favorite duets, Don, is between Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt … “Moonlight in Vermont.”

Lyn Stanley: “Happy New Year, Claude!  Thank you for all you do for all of us!!!  Your friendship and talents are real treasures to me.”

Doc Wendell:  “2014 was a funky year indeed, politically and musically.  I wrote my year in review piece of the funky music of 2014.  I hope you dig it.  I've been sick with a sinus infection and your blogs brighten up my days.  If you could include my piece, that would be great.  If not, no worries.  I hope you have a most joyous New Year's holiday.  Blessings.”

I ran across Doc Wendell through Jack Roberts’ blog and have enjoyed his writing about blues and jazz since.  He’s a musician.  He’s amazing!  He has perception and writes with a definitive flare.  He knows what he’s saying.  Good article!  I sometimes wish I were younger so that I could harbor and enjoy his career in years to come.  Instead, alas, all I can do is wish him well and say: God bless!

Scott Segraves:  “Seeing your Shakespeare comments reminded me of something I scrolled past on Facebook over the weekend, apparently a negative article on him.  Too lazy to hunt back for it I Googled, and found this:  Guess a few folks carry longtime grudges over bad English Lit test results.  I can see yours and Barbara’s was a great Christmas.  I trust your New Year will be the same.”

Timmy Manocheo:  “Claude, I have to correct you, concerning the photo at the end of today's Commentary.  It's not Joan Baez, but rather Buffy St. Marie. Both iconic female folkies from the 60's.  Easy mistake.  BTW, Happy Holidays to you & yours!”

Joel O’Brien: “Love your weekly words of wisdom!  Regarding that photo of 'Joan Baez' ... it looks to me like it might be Buffy St. Marie.  See the photo here I found on line.  Looks more like her than Joany to me?”

Chuck Dunaway:  “Claude, the picture was Jeff McKee, left; Buffy St. Marie and me with Gene Taylor looking on. Happy New Year, my friend.  I enjoy reading stuff from folks I know.  Great reading the good memories.”

Gentlemen, I thank you.  I’ve so many photos that once I knew and now know not.  Appreciate!  Chuck, hope you’re improving.  You, too, are a treasure.  Ken Dowe says so!

Larry Irons, Number One Songs:  “Claude, thanks for putting Dave Anthony’s link on your page. He indeed has a mint copy of Wolfman Jack’s ‘There’s an Old Man in Our Town’, or had, as I am now the proud owner of it.  Thanks to Dave Anthony, too!  Happy New Year to you both!”

Gravity and time control the existence of everything known.  Time is forward, fluid and constant.  Perception with some people may slow or proceed at a faster pace, but this is merely a trick of the mind as is seeing, hearing, feeling, and believing.

Don Berns: “Hey, Claude -- Since Dan Neaverth started it (he always does), I have recent picture of him doing a phoner from his home.”

Rollye Cornell:  “You’re often on my mind.  I’ve been beyond swamped and one of my favorite timeouts is to steal a few minutes each time your newsletter hits my inbox.  Thank you for staying with this.  I have mixed emotions as I tell you that Bill Taylor passed away December 10th.  The news is sad and bad for those of us who loved him, like Jack Gale (sorry you’re finding out this way, Jack, but I haven’t come across your address yet) — but a blessing for Bill.  No one has ever said ‘Dear Lord, Let me linger’, and Bill’s timing was impeccable.  He continued to do mornings until a couple weeks before his death.  For almost 10 years, he underwent rigorous chemotherapy in Phoenix — drove the four-hour round trip himself, and never missed a show because of it.  When Mayo told him to go home and die over a year ago, he had other plans.  He was receiving hospice care for exactly a week, when he suddenly up and died.  We were talking just a couple hours earlier. 

“He was urging me to run the bingo game that made him enough money to put the FM on the air almost 30 years ago.  It was a couple decades prior to that, when we first met, that I helped him do the paste up on all the cards.  It was truly brilliant, and largely a sales promotion.  Listeners could pick up a card at a participating sponsor.  Instead of numbers, the names of artists adorned the otherwise-classic bingo cards.  What made it so ingenious, was its complete lack of clutter on the air.   Listeners who didn’t like contests would be oblivious that one was running.  But for those who did, a new game started every hour.  Participants kept track of the artists played, and each time one of them was on their bingo card, they’d note it.  If five down, across or diagonal aired within the hour, they’d win.  It was perfect for country radio 45 years ago.  Core artists rarely changed.  Today it would work well on oldies stations, and Bill was intent we run it.  So there I was, promising I would resurrect it, while reminiscing about putting the cards together all those years ago … when it hit me:  I did the paste up, but I didn’t know ‘the trick’ — and there was one.  What stations really got when they bought the game was more than the cards emblazoned with local sponsors’ artwork.  They got a way to control winners, or at least, greatly slow them down.  Bill and I laughed about one big station that decided to do it on their own without his cards — they gave away the entire contest budget in the first three days.  That’s when I mentioned to Bill that in order to run the game, he’d have to tell me ‘the trick’.  He was surprised I didn’t know it, and assured me with a smile on his face, ‘It’s so easy’. 

“He seemed tired. I didn’t want to tax him for the details right then.  Instead I went to dinner, figuring we could talk when I got back, or the next day.  I knew time was short, but it was only four days earlier that he was walking on his own.  Surely it couldn’t be that quick.  But it was.  While I was eating I got the call from the part timer keeping him company.  He asked for yogurt, had a few spoonfuls, coughed a couple of times, and died.   I thought about calling a medium.  But I didn’t want to interrupt the joyous reunion he was undoubtedly having.  By my count, there are more of us on the other side than still with us here. However, that doesn’t make it easier for the dwindling group of dawdlers still waking up each morning. 

“In truth, the bingo game trick, whatever it is, pales compared to the lasting memories he shared.  I’ve been by his side for almost a year now.  On more than one occasion, he apologized for being alive, as the plan was for him to be gone and me to receive the income from running the stations.  I assured him that his being here was more valuable to me than any money I might make, and I meant it.  It was an honor to help him.  He gave more to this town than residents will ever know.  His gifts were quiet and sincere, and often monetary, even when he was living what was essentially an impoverished existence.  He was also a gift to radio, but there, too, his participation was too often unnoticed. 

“That’s one of the nicest things about your email letter, Claude.  Every issue has me learning something I didn’t know, often about someone I do know.   Things that were little more than afterthoughts decades ago, are pure delights to read now. I’m certain every generation ages to a point that they think the past was so much brighter than the present.  But in the case of radio, the excitement that entrapped every one of us, could only have existed in a brief window of time.   When television came along and made radio little more than an afterthought, it was the medium’s worthlessness that allowed the Storz’ and McLendon’s to take a chance.  While their accomplishments are rightfully legendary, it’s no less true that it’s easy to gamble when there’s nothing to lose.  Ownership limitations and then the inception of the 3 year holding rule made the industry of little interest to investors, and virtually no interest to major players.  Considerable debt was non-existent because no bank would finance more than a few times cash flow.  It was the perfect arena for individual entrepreneurs and outrageous creativity. 

“Technological advances helped —  radios became truly portable (rather than luggable — as were the heavy boxes with the handles, predating transistors).  And in the ‘60s, FM became viable with the advent of the field effect transistor (stopping signal drifting was probably a bigger contribution than programming changes).  Technological limitations also helped — making the listening experience truly generational.  With only a couple Top 40 stations — every kid in school knew what the night jock said.  It was an era of innocence and hope.  The societal restrictions that made Top 40 and rock and roll akin to the devil, also provided a framework for endearing renegades to thrive.  ‘No floaters nor drifters need apply’ appeared in jock-wanted ads for a reason.  Ironically, it is often those rascals that we remember most fondly now.  Keep writing, Claude.  It means a lot to so many of us who rarely take time out to write (though I’m indebted to those who do).  I hope 2015 brings only good things to you, Barbara and your family.  And I look forward to hearing all about it.  Be well, my friend.  Thank you for what you’re doing to keep us all together.  It’s a huge contribution to the well-being of so many of us — more so than you could know.”

I, of course, quickly notified Jack Gale about Bill Taylor’s passing.  Jack goes back to WTMA, Charleston.  Early Top 40.  Before Lee Baby Simms started in radio there under program director George Wilson.  Just FYI, Jack was the godfather to two of the children sired by George Wilson.

Jack Gale:  “So sorry to hear about Bill Taylor.  He did me lots of favors when I had my stations.  I had been doing voiceovers for his stations for about five years … gratis.  I loved him.  I think he left his stations to some folks that were working for him Like you say, Claude, ‘We come, we do, we go.’  Just had lunch with Bill Hennes.  He drove over to Sebring from his home in Pompano Beach.”

Dan Neaverth:  “Like Gary Smith, I, too, admired Frank Ward and his smooth delivery and music blending.  He was one of several Guy Kings at Buffalo’s WWOL.  The others were Bruce Bradley and Tom Clay, who stopped traffic and was arrested for refusing to come down from a billboard in Lafayette Square.  In later years Frank returned to Buffalo and sold pagers.  You remember pagers don't you?  While working at WBNY I would look out the window and see Frank driving down Main Street in his convertible on the way to WWOL.  He would start each show with Aquavivas ‘Curtain Time’ and then in this order play … Instrumental ... Guy ... Girl ... Group.  He would end each show with the instrumental ‘That's All’.  I think every young jock who heard Frank tried to imitate his delivery.  On another note I see tons of mentions of promo guys but none of a guy I think was one of the best -- Jerry Meyers, first as a record company rep and then as an Independent.  Jerry owned horses, had a fine dining restaurant and cigar bar.  He would return from an exotic vacation with his family on a private island that cost $10,000 a week.  I would be drooling and Jerry would say, ‘I'm so bored’.”

Bobby Ocean:  “I love your Commentaries, Claude.  Loved 'em then, love 'em now.  They are two different animals under the comfortable roof off familiarity.  For me, today's ‘column’ is much more like opening our arms to include an evolved, well-lighted, cutting edge tech Claudie, with refreshingly honest broadcast and music industry commentary and interesting, genuine guest voices, many with whom we are familiar, may have worked with.  Yesterdays' are like turning back the hands of time to re-live our prequel, the baby fat days of high school pretense in glossy-pages and public airwaves.   Both bi-i-ig fun.  The Claude column we knew of then was new and loaded with the names, ads and bios of the up and comers, while our current, updated Claude Commentary is Now Yet Experienced and generous with facets of the stories and values we have gathered and invested into those earlier names.  Lucky on us.  On and on about Casey Kasem: When I was on the air in LA in the 70s, 80s, I was also auditioning every day for voice work.  I would often bump into Casey at some studio or other.  He was very open and kind, unselfish with his time.  We talked and shared cartoon sketches, our other shared hobby.  He told me about the voices we use to work with, saying that VO actors divide the sound of their voice into three parts, low, medium and high range.  ‘We do our persuading in the high range, for example’, Casey said. ‘Me?  I use an awful lot of garbage (his term for mid-range)’.  We discovered I also use a lot of garbage.  Wonderful man.  Very generous of spirit.  I was fortunate to be a friend.  All of us have been so lucky to have been there, done what we could and lived to chat about it, though, haven't we? As Gary Allyn just said in a recent post of yours, ‘how truly wonderful the World of our youth was’.  Damn right.  It informs our present, underscores our gratitude.  Best of the holidays to you, Barbara and beloved Halls.”

I’m with you, Bobby.  I honestly and sincerely liked Casey Kasen.  But then I consider myself very fortunate to have associated with some of the brightest and most wonderful people on this planet.  Men like Casey and Gary Owens and Chuck Blore and Jack G. Thayer, George Wilson, L. David Moorhead, George Duncan, and others.

Don Berns:  “Dan Neaverth is right about my hearing aids being ear trumpets. They really work.”

Ken Levine: “I’ll be hosting the ‘Neil Simon Film Festival’ on Turner Classic Movies every Friday night this January.   Seventeen films over five Friday nights.  Come for the wraparounds.  Stay for the films.  Doc and I thank you.”

Kevin Gershan, “Entertainment Tonight”: “I was talking to Bonnie Tiegel about you and I was telling her about your column, which is one of my favorite regular reads!  Can you add her and Eliot to your distribution list, please?  Thanks and Happy New Year to you and yours.”

Spider Harrison:  “It's good to see that Scotty Brink is still in the mix.  He worked at WLAC, Nashville for a short while.  Just before Billboard bought the station. He had just gotten out of the Army and, I believe, Kent Burkhart was the consultant at the WLAC.  He came on just before my show.  I would like to give him a shout out if you have an email contact for him. Happy New Year.”

About Bill Taylor.  I knew him fairly well, but wish I’d known him better.  One day, in conversation with George Wilson, I discovered things about Bill that Bill just didn’t talk about.  He was a consummate radioman.  He was there – and active – when Top 40 was being born.  He was engineer, disc jockey, programmer, manager.  He could literally do it all and often did. He valued his friends immensely and had many.  George Wilson thought highly of him; a recommendation of the highest order with me.  I believe today – and wish – that I should have interviewed him for “This Business of Radio Programming,” which many consider the best book about radio ever written (written with the help of Barbara).  I knew of Bill’s illness.  I hate to see him go.  He was a good man.

LEST WE FORGET:  The legendary Glen Island Casino, a major home to various acts in the Big Band days outside of New York City.  Seen is John, left, and Darryl Hall, along with Popsie, presented to the kids by the infamous showbiz photographer Popsie.  Photo circa 1965.

May the Most Powerful One bless us all.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 44r2

Today at 9:01 AM
December 29, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 44
By Claude Hall

Profound as a Thousand Nights.......
Who among We Mesquiteers will be the first to fall?
I do not wish to know.
I do know this ... Unus pro omnibus. Omnes pro uno.
That's enough to know right now.
Athos Baby.

This bit of tongue-in-cheek prose by Lee Baby Simms is apt.  Especially after viewing “Julius Caesar” featuring Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud (1953).  Good film.  “Hamlet,” too, was viewed over the weekend here by Barbara Hall and Darryl Hall.  Again.  Not me; I had a basketball game to watch.  The somewhat cynical John A. Hall, Esq., remarked Friday: “Isn’t it a pity Shakespeare didn’t write more-original stuff?”

The Mesquiteers refers to a Saturday afternoon western serial featuring a very young John Wayne, and, I believe, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune.  Yes, there were also movies made in the series with different actors here and there.  But the reference here to the Three Mesquiteers regards Lee Baby Simms, Woody Roberts, Bob Weisbuch, and myself.  Sorta fits.  Translation of “wak”: with a kiss.

While we’re into poetry, here’s a video of Andy Hall, adjunct professor at UNLV, performing one of his poems.  He won $50 in competition in Las Vegas this past week or so (and donated it back).

Robert E. Richer: “Hi, Claude … Lee Baby Simms has it right.  Yours is a column of history, reminiscences and the passion of radio.  I cannot understand how anyone who has a history in this business can say anything derogatory about your musings.  What’s that old line:  ‘If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there?’  I came up on the management side and focused on the Beautiful Music part of the business, with Jim Schulke as my partner.  But that didn’t stop me from reading Vox Jox regularly.  Many of the stations that keep popping up in Claude’s Commentary were repped by me when I was a salesman.  And speaking of deaf, am I wrong, or isn’t Don Imus also hearing impaired?  All good wishes for a Merry Christmas, and may 2015 be the best year ever.”

Nancy (Nancy Plum) Kirkwood:  “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the bluegrass state!  I enjoy reading your commentaries!  I never dreamed my little radio career that began in January 1970 at WSDM, Chicago, would ever last this long!  I do a live show 3-6p on Passport Radio 1490 in Frankfort KY – yes, we have a smart phone app & we stream 24/7 online at I am also ‘Sunny Hurst’ on Star 103.7 7-9p -- it's really fun being a deejay again after all those years of news and traffic reports!  It's always been all about the music with me.   I visited the National Museum of Broadcasting in Chicago recently and they have a radio floor and a TV floor.  Only three ladies pictures up on the wall among all the deejays which I found a bit disappointing.  I thought for sure there should be more than that but hey I am not in charge there.  Hope you have a great holiday season!”

Dan Neaverth:  “Hi, Claude.  Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas ... Don Berns mentioned that he, too, wears hearing aids because he cranked the earphones way up. The late great Jack Armstrong used to have his soooo loud that when he took them off and set them on the console they would actually vibrate across the surface. For those of you who have hearing problems, have a hearing test and get a pair of the new digital ones.  Don't, however, be like Berns and use those antique trumpet types. I thought he was just being Canadian when he kept saying eh? eh?”

Danny Davis: “When you gotta' guy thinx he's all shades of literary 'gold', and it fails to 'hit the Commentary classics', that's cause for massive 'pondering'!  And pauses to question the vaunted Editor making such 'question marks'! I gotta' have another look at the MLK tale, and the Powerball statistic, that turned a Monday breakfast read into a Monday broken rant! … OR is we stuck in some kinda' po-litical co-reckness!  I gotta' look again befoah I raise a ruckus!”

Bob Sherwood:  “Hope you and the Lovely Barbara had a wonderful Holiday.  I’ve been outraged for several days but not wanting to appear to be The Grinch I’ve been tamping it all down.  Now that we’re past Christmas … here goes.  I guess you and I and your close associates got out of direct involvement in the business just in time as it’s only when I learned of the passing of Joe Cocker that I discovered that he’s not been elected into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame!  The Voice of Woodstock … the Voice of a Generation.  A performer who put more gut-wrenching, flesh-tearing, soul-searing emotion into a song than more than 95% of the artists who ever set foot in front of a mike.  He took total ownership of a Beatle’s song, fer hevuns sake!  And he’s not in the R ‘n R Hall of Fame?  OK.  Let’s see who’s in there and who’s more Rock ‘n Roll.  Bobby Womack, DJ Fontana, Spooner Oldham, Percy Sledge, Buddy Guy, Randy Newman.  Worthy fellows all.  But more R ‘n R than Joe Cocker?
I don’t think so!  And then there’s Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys.  I have no further comment so I’ll just wish you and yours a Happy New Years.”

Long ago, I felt that the Hall of Fame was too Atlantic Records oriented.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But I became turned off on the Hall at some point.  It’s there.  Big deal!  But it’s not my rock museum.  It’s not my Rock Hall of Fame.  It’s just there.  Something else.  Merely a part of the whole.  An apt view, Bob.  Thank  you.

Jay Lawrence:  “Just a holiday wish to all, Marry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a wonderful, healthy new year.  I look forward to your column each week.  I read The names of those who have served, entertained communities all over his great country.  Many I know personally, many I know by reputation.  Please never let anyone discourage you.  One naysayer in The thousands who look forward to hearing about US should never be discouraging.  I remember managers reading me the complaints about my show.  (PLENTY)  They never seemed to mention the GOOD reviews.  Let this be one of many mentions of the GOOD you do.”

Paul Cassidy:  “Best moments with George Wilson were at Santa Anita. Gave him a wire to wire winner some 40 + years ago.  It paid over $20 bucks and he bet it heavily. Kept calling me to thank me.  Nice person to be around. Happiness to you and all your readers.”

Denny Foster:  “Please add my home email address to you weekly commentary mailings.  Next year I will be retiring after 38 years in the biz.  Thanks, and have a good holiday season.”

Jack Gale:  “First of all, in your column a few days back, you listed some of the greatest deejays.  I noticed my name was in there.  As Bobby Vee once said after you reviewed my book with a positive response, ‘Claude Hall must have bad eyes’.  Thanks so much for including me.  I guess my age warrants it.  I just celebrated my 90th birthday.  It's tough going on without Lovey after 67 years, but we keep keepin' on.  Bill Hennes called me about two months ago to tell me about a sensational female singer he heard.  I heard her and signed her.  I just finished her album in Nashville for Playback Records.  It will be released world-wide in February.  Now all I need is a promotion staff like:  Morris Diamond, Tony Richland, Augie Blume, Danny Davis, Juggy Gayles, etc., and I'll be on my way.  Happy Holidays to you and Barbara.  Keep the column going.  We all love it.  Like you always say … ‘Good on you, Claude’.  Your friend.”

Scott St. James:  “While we're all getting ready for Christmas and the New Year, I want to thank you for your Monday treats (your column) and I'm very much looking forward to reading a lot more of these in 2015.  At this end?   Like most actors who aren't stars, it's been slow on-camera wise, but I've been busy doing occasional voice work.  Mostly documentary voice stuff.   Just finished a 90-page narration that'll (eventually) show up somewhere.  Radio?   I thank my lucky stars that I had the opportunity for many years to do what I did when I did it.  Meanwhile, I hope that you (both) and your family have the best Merry Christmas EVER and that 2015 will be a great year for all of us.  ONWARD!”

Gary Smith:  “Claude, I enjoyed your last commentary (actually I enjoy them all), particularly the mention of Frank Ward and his ability to blend music.  I agree!  I started listening to Frank when he was doing ‘Spotlight Serenade’ on WKBW in the early 50s.  Then I worked with Frank at WWOL in Buffalo in '57 thru early '58.  Frank was Guy King & I was Tab Smith.  What a great time to be in radio!  Back to Rochester in 1958 for most of the rest of my 50-year career.  I have also enjoyed the mentions of the great promotion men like George Furness, Lucky Carle, Mickey Addy, Bob Kruger, Al Clark, et al.  Wonderful gentlemen!  Thanks for the great read each week, Claude, and best wishes for the holiday season.”

Chuck Chellman:  “Can you believe his body was buried six months after his death in Oslo, Norway?  I remember Casey Kasem well at WJW, Cleveland. Good, loveable guy. He bought a stereo set from me at Decca in Cleveland … cash money.  This guy, in his later life, lived hell on earth, and hell after death.  Frank, you were pumping out the hits at KYW, Johnny Holliday and jocks were pumping out the hits at WHK and Casey was doing well at WJW.  We all need to pray for the spirit of Casey Kasem.”

Several others remarked about Casey Kasem.  I think I’ll try to remember him as he once was.  I liked his laughter.

Morris Diamond: “Good morning, Claude:  Hope you and Barbara are having a Happy & Healthy Christmas holiday and extend it for a year so we can do this again next December 2015.  I cherish Don Sundeen's mentioning the passing of Albeth Paris Grass and the playing of The Paris Sisters' big hit ‘I Love How You Love Me’ at his hops.  I forwarded this week's Claude Hall letter to Albeth's husband, Clancy Grass, who, way back when, was a professional Canadian hockey player when he first met Albeth and got himself locked into our music biz.  Among his many tasks was producing a series of Tom Jones and Paul Anka musicals for Canadian TV, producing films and TV, working with BJ Thomas on projects, and many more.  My 50 years of friendship with both of them included a lot of tennis, European travel and so much more to have as cherished memories.  Woody Roberts' mentioning of Epic Records and the staff from 1982 brought back some names from even many years before, such as John Hammond and Bill Bennett.  I feel it is worth mentioning the first president of Epic is a gent from Rochester, NY, who was Columbia Records' sales manager that  was upped to running Epic Records.
Len is retired and lives not too far from me in Rancho Mirage.   His wife, Flo Levy, was WINS – New York City – assistant to program director, Mel Leeds, and had strong influence in the selection of their DJ's play list.   I'm happy to see that our friendship is still a priority and Alice and I see them quite often.  Charlie Barrett … the pictures you took of Danny and I at the Lunch Bunch Xmas party were OK.  Sorry about the sun glasses.  I left my regular glasses in the car and had no idea that I was wearing sun glasses when you snapped the foto.  You would have been better off coming back to my table where we had, among others, actors Hal Linden and Jed Allan and Clancy Grass and my lady, Alice Harnell.  But I love you anyway and thanks for the effort.  The entertainers, all from our lunch bunch, were the top attractions in the Palm Springs area.  Our weekly lunches, likewise, are a show unto themselves.”

Gary Allyn: “Claudius, Well, it's the end of another year. Time for reflection. As I look back over the recent months at the loss of many of our contemporaries, I think how special they were. How special those times from which they all emanated were. When one compares it today's World, it becomes clear how truly wonderful the World of our youth was. Perhaps all generations feel this way, but the World of Radio and Records has certainly changed by comparison.  Radio is supposed to reflect the community it serves. This observer sees an overall ‘homogination’ of our society in general.  Those in my generation grew up in an era of individualistic difference. You could immediately tell the difference between a Ford and a Chevrolet, a Cadillac from a Lincoln. Today, from just a short distance, it's hard to discern a Toyota or Hyundai from a Buick or a Lincoln. There was a time when ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ workmanship was #1 and goods made in Japan were regarded as ‘cheap’ and found mostly in ‘Five and Dime’ stores.  Few even knew where Korea was.  When I grew up, I knew what my house looked like, it was different from all the rest.  Our streets all had custom-individual looking houses.  The suburbs of today all have that ‘cookie cutout’ sameness.  In our World of entertainment, you knew right away the voice differential of Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn, Doris Day and Patti Page, Billy Eckstine and Louis Armstrong.  Rock era's Elvis and Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry and Little Richard -- all were instantaneously recognizable.  Today, my ears have difficulty distinguishing between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Christina Aguilara and Gwen Stefani, or any male rapper for that matter.  The same can be said of the top radio personalities of the past. Right away you knew who Dick Biondi, ‘Wolfman’ Jack, The Real Don Steele, Casey Kasem, Murray The K and Lee Babi Simms were. Today, it's the banality of voice trackers. We've gone from Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Paul Harvey and Top 40 newsmen Lee Marshall, J. Paul Huddleston, and Richard Mock, to the shrill ‘Talking Heads’ of today. It was all individually communicated without the need of dozens of cell phone companies. The need was filled with only monopolistic Ma Bell and a typewriter.  I miss those ‘signature’ record labels, too.  A DJ knew quickly the look of a Capitol, Columbia, Motown or RCA record label. Currently there's no distinction on a ‘Download’.  Somehow creative individualism has faded into a vast sea of mediocrity. Now, before you accuse me of living in the past, or being a bit old fashioned, let me say that today's ‘Brave New World’ has it's good points ... just a bit misguided in it's usage, or by the people who avail themselves of it. In conclusion, Claude, I thank God that you give us a platform to hang our collective memories on. The irony is that we need today's technology of the internet to remember and reconnect with our simpler past, thanks to you.  So I wish you, Barbara and all the Halls be decked with good health and a very Happy New Year.  May 2015 be filled with the innovative individualism which helped make Radio's 2nd Golden Era great, including all of those=past and present-who made it an era to remember.  I lift my cup o' kindness to you one and all.”

Scotty Brink: “Hey, Claude, I wanted to wish you and Ms. Barbara a joyful Yuletide and a fabulous 2015.  I hope we'll have an opportunity to see you in the coming year.  In case you didn't already know ...  Bobby and Karen have made the trip to Tucson for the winter.  They chose to fly this time rather than do the motorcade, as in past years.  I'm grateful that they are both up for it and can be where they want to be, and out of the frozen north.  You also should know how much I enjoy your commentary.  You always were, and still are, the best writer in the radio/music biz.  It's great reading tidbits from old friends and acquaintances.”

Dave Anthony: “Note to Larry Irons: I saw your blurb about the Wolfman Jack song, ‘There’s an Old Man in Our Town’.  I actually have a copy in mint condition on my Amazon page (which I’m NOT plugging).  After raiding the 45 rpm libraries of each of the stations I worked at in the 70s and 80s when they moved to tape (then CD and digital), I find myself with over 20,000 singles that I’ve barely started to go through.  Both Wolfman Jack singles – the other was ‘I Ain’t Never Seen a White Man’ – appeared when I dug through the box starting with ‘W’.  CLAUDE: You can post the link only if you want to, or you could pass along my e-mail address below to Larry.  Again, please forgive.  Your newsletter is blissfully noncommercial and I’m not trying to change that.  Just let Larry know I have a copy of the 45 he’s looking for.”

Mel Phillips:  “Happy New Year. I've gone to a weekly Mel Phillips Radio Views but hope you will continue to read it day-by-day. While I've had some technical glitches, the first 3 days of my weekly post are complete with video links. I hope to have the rest of the week completed by tomorrow. In the meantime, thank you for reading my posts. I will continue to post daily updates on Twitter and Facebook. My URL remains:
'Mel Phillips Radio Views - The Book' continues to be on sale at Amazon with a sample of the book available for an advance taste. You can access the book at”

Also heard from Chuck Blore, Timmy Manocheo, and Ron Jacobs and a few others.  My thanks.  Also received a Christmas Card featuring a nice painting by Bobby Vee.  Going to scan it in a day or two.  And Karen Velline invited Barbara and I down to Tucson … but I don’t think I can do the trip.  Sad on me.  Don Whittemore and Don Graham, you’re awesome!  And Chuck Buell sent me an ecard that was cuter than old billy heck.  I love you guys!

Don Barrett had an item out of the NY Times that six stations in Chicago featured Christmas music over the holidays.  Jingle, jingle.

Lest We Forget:  WIXY, Cleveland, appreciation day with Buffy St. Marie and Chuck Dunaway in teeshirt at right.  Unknown DJ at left.