March 20, 2014
By Claude Hall
Is this column jelling, or not? Sitting here, just wondering … as Scott St. James might say. I’m listening to Greg Brown at the moment. He grows on you. Some of his music is nice even if his lyrics don’t always pass muster. But this laptop is set on random. I started with a tune by the Three Tenors. Now, Los Lobos.
Heard from Danny Davis a couple of times. We were lamenting the passing of Jack Roberts, who was sort of a crutch for us. And Don Graham sent me a copy of the program for the memorial services. Difficult to believe Jack was only 62.
John Hall: “The memorial services for Jack were pretty nice, well attended. It was organized by Mike Horn and the CRN family. There were a lot offamiliar names there. I sat with Timmy and his wife, talked to Don Graham, Dandy Don, Scott St. James and so on. I met up with Tom and Barbara Rounds who wanted me to specifically say hello to the both of you. There were stories told about Jack, a short video and Italian food. Dandy Don brought Jack's favorite ice cream, Peppermint brownie
ice cream, as a special treat.”
Don Graham had notified quite a few people about Jack’s passing. I sent an email to several others, including a Top 40 legend named Bill Taylor who owns a couple of radio stations.
Bill Taylor: “Died of Liver Cancer. That's not good news as that's what I'm dealing with. I've had it for several years. Mayo was great but now I'm at Ironwood in Mesa. It's possible I might not make it. So I've made arrangements on the stations. I don't want to try and sell them as I'd have to finance the buyer and then there's lawyers and brokers. They're debt free so I'm just going to give them away. Jon and Rollye James Cornell have moved here and they are will eventually gain control. Chemo is no joy, but it's the price I pay to keep doing my airshift every morning. I'm in good spirits. it's attitude and of course prayer that has much do to with survival. I miss George Wilson. Albuquerque is not that far from here and I tried to get up there to see him. You most likely not remember it, but it was at a conference, can't remember which one, in Miami in 71 or 72 that I introduced you to Rollye. Rollye and Jon will inherit the stations as it is part of my will. They agree with the stations’ junkyard dog news as we tackle county, local governments, police problems and local courts where friends get off easy. We've managed to bounce a J.P. Judge and the county attorney. Our next goal is a superior court judge. Our web page is considered the local paper as the weekly does NO investigation that could lose a client. We lose some but move on. I'm very proud of our influence on the community.”
I wrote Bill that I thought it was simply sensational … the idea of giving his station to Rollye and her husband. Rollye is now and always has been one of the greatest people in radio.
Bob Paiva: “Thanks for including me in your latest mailing. Was especially interested to find Woody Roberts’ email address. I will be writing him. I owe him a lot. When he was leaving WPOP and I was to become Program Director, Woody spent two weeks with me discussing the philosophy behind radio and programming. That provided the basis for most of the work I did for the next 15 years. While most people were copying whatever Bill Drake cranked out Woody was looking into how and why people reacted to what was happening on air. Had a couple of those negative political experiences. Used to be on Facebook and ‘unfriended’ a major PD who wrote Republican rants. Broke off communications with an old friend and former employer who I felt forgot what it was like not to have money once he'd gotten his stash. He took real exception to my pointing out that I vote in Connecticut and my vote would count because Obama would win Connecticut while he voted in California and his vote would be wasted because Obama would win California. In any case, I spend my time reading (mostly mysteries) watching films (catching up on the classics) and listening to Jazz. (have a rare, recently released Duke Ellington CD from 1960 on now) Haven't really listened to radio in a long time and current music seems a bit ‘foreign’ ... except for a couple of young performers. Such is retirement.”
Kris Erik Stevens: “Hey, Claude ... always love catching up with the world of radio and records (the way we knew it then) through you! Stay well my friend ... and keep the updates and diatribes comin’.”
Richbro Robbin: “Hey FxxK the missing caps! It was great just to READ you again, ol' Claude ... all the very best! Just turned 70, but still goin' a million miles an hour w/my hair on fire! Back on the air:
www.walrusfm.com 2-7p Mon-Fri.”
Ian & Dianne Wrigh, South Australia: “From the womb to the tomb – very sad to get the news on Jack Roberts’ passing. He was obviously a good man! So, too, Claude & Barbara Hall are good people and I wish you both all the very best for the year ahead. I’m still in the wacky wireless business and turned 60 in January. Keep up the writing Claude, it suits you to a tee and obviously keeps you young!
Burt Sherwood: “Claude: The reason I am so tardy in telling you my sorrow about Jack is simply this ... over the weekend I was in DC to bury our son-in-law in Arlington, and was on jets until last night ... and finally home ... I smashed up my bad leg in a fall ... so I am not in really happy shape ... son in law buried and Jack dying ... there is a lot going on in our lives at the moment ... Jason is in Miami and his wife is pregnant ... and that is for starters. I am glad son John will go for the memorial service. I was a little taken aback by your writing that Jack had a former wife and two or three daughters ... and no one knew where they were. I will not even try to address the In The Hollywood Hills problem...I was hoping someone would take it over. All else is normal ... for me that is ... hope you and Barbara are OK. Much love from the West Coast of Florida.”
Jim Ramsburg: “We may not agree politically, but I enjoy reading about other old radio dogs. By all means, keep me on your list -- and thanks. I'm currently involved in a study of the transcription library business that grew like topsy back in the days of ASCAP and AFM wars with broadcasters but went virtually unreported in the trade press. If you or any of your contacts have any facts or figures about the Associated, Capitol, Lang Worth, Standard, Thesaurus or World transcription services, I'd appreciate receiving them. Here's a chuckle: Bandleaders often used assumed names for transcription work as not to diminish the value of their names for their consumer record labels or network radio work. Benny Goodman was Bill Dodge, Duke Ellington was Joe Turner, Artie Shaw was John Carleton, etc. Strange world.”
Joey Reynolds: “I hate to be the first to break the news to you but I think Jack and those on the hill expects you to continue on with the work of keeping the personality flame lit. In your morning prayers ask GOD if he has this in mind? Jack will still be connected spiritually. My thoughts about jack are the opposite of the TV show breaking bad. This journey has been about Breaking Good, I never knew jack til’ these last couple of years, but boy did he embrace me and I was shy about getting too close, I wanted him to continue to like me, I confess to having enjoyed his approval, for years I sought that recognition from Chuck Blore, Don Graham, and Erica Farber, the real anchors in the creative community who made my heart sing. A final note about Jack: He carried himself with such grace, even in the end, it is impressive.”
I spoke of Jack Roberts being a crutch for me and Danny Davis and others. His crutch was Don Graham. But, no, I do not have the stamina to do a blog.
John Barger: “Did I just run into J. Frank Wilson of the Cavaliers at a Dominion Country Club Chili Taste-Off (of whatever) a few weeks back in San Antonio? Is he a returned real estate salesman? This one 70-plus year old kept showing a video similiar to this on an I-Fone, and then did a couple of tunes with a two-man mickey band that was providing music for the gig. Why don't you come down to San Antonio and edit Maxim Magazine? This local one-man venture capital machine bought it last week for something like $7.5 million.”
Scott St. James: “Please DO continue to send your diatribes this way. I'm sure you've heard about the tribute for Jack that will take place this coming Saturday from 11AM to 1PM. I've been asked to speak at this event and I hope I'm able to be there. There is the possibility of me being required to be on a sound stage this coming Saturday. If that happens, I will ask the director if I could/can show up on at 3PM or later because of the Jack Tribute. If the director would say no, welllll ... that's showbiz. The perfect thing for me would be to be needed by the director, but not needing me to work until Monday or so. Again ... keep those diatribes a-comin'.”
George Pollard, associate professor at Carleton University in Canada, published some of my comments about Jack Roberts last week on GrubStreet.ca. “I’m saddened to learn Jack Roberts passed. I would be willing to append, to your comments, any substantive comments, about Jack, that anyone cares to send me. The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Chuck Southcott: “Thank you Claude for keeping me in the Vox Jox contemporary loop. I fondly recall an evening sipping wine around your pool here in town. I recall enjoying your company and the company of two fellow KGILites -- Stan Brown and Jim Martin, both of whom were great friends until they were no longer above the sod. I look forward to more of your diatribes, but please forgive this baseball and football fan for skipping through the basketball stuff.”
Bob Todd: “Crap. Damn it. I hate this. 62? Oh no. I thought he was going to get past it. So sorry to hear this news. Oh my what a legacy he left us. Now what do we do? God bless him. Please offer my deepest sympathies to his entire family. I am saddened beyond words. Claude ... who is next? Damn. Every week it seems it is another giant that leaves us. I'm literally in tears over this news. He sure made an impact on us. Sad beyond words.”
Alvin Herskovitz: “Always glad to hear from you. You know that Eileen and I were very fond of you, Barbara and the boys in our Hollywood days together. Just keep those commentaries coming even though we may be on opposite sides of the political fence. Hey, I don't know if I ever told you, but I was media consultant to the Steve Forbes presidential run in 2000. So you know my leanings. And I have several close friends with whom I politically disagree but it doesn't affect our friendship ... you might even know them -- Alan Colmes, Ellen Ratner -- to name a couple. There are loads of media folks in this part of Florida that I see regularly -- Perry Ury, who used to run WRKO and Chase Radio; Burt Sherwood of course; Jim Duffy, former Pres. of ABC TV. Sportscaster Dick Vitale lives down the road and Dickie Smothers attended one of our broadcasters luncheons a couple of weeks ago.”
Tell you something funny, Al: I wrote some of those Forbes shows you put on radio nationwide. I think I kept one on my old PowerMac. Not exactly historic writing.
Ernie Hopseker: “Sad to hear of Jack's passing. Please keep the rants and diatribes coming. Hope to get by to see you during NAB if I make it.”
Ernie: Mi casa es su casa. You, too, Bruce Miller Earle if you get up here for the NAB.
Dick Rakovan: “I think it was Joey Reynolds who sent me a copy of Hollywood Hills about a month ago ! Joey and I are fifty year friends having worked together at WKBW, Buffalo. I was delighted to read so many bio’s of old radio friends that I sent Jack Roberts a note. He then asked me whether I was the same guy who managed the ‘PRO stations in the mid seventies! Turns out he worked at WPRO AM, on weekends after I left to manage the Outlet Company radio division where I hired George Wilson. Next thing I know, Jack picked my bio off of our RAB website and it appeared on Hollywood Hills! I then received a bunch of email notes from friends. Amazing how viral the blog became! RIP, Jack!”
Woody Roberts: “I know your heart is heavy over this loss. I "met" Jack through you, had never heard of him before your commentaries and came to feel a good vibe about the man. Perhaps someone will maintain the Hills, or consider having your own blog on WordPress or Blogger. Very easy to do these days. I am sure one of your reader friends -- like Jim Ramsburg? --will be able to help; if not, I, who know nothing, will be glad to help set it up. Just need a masthead and pick a layout you like. Best wishes from my life to yours.”
Jim Clemens: “Thanks for including me in your commentary. I have enjoyed reading your writings for some time. Fact is, way back when I was OM of WPLO in Atlanta the weekly comments were a must read. You mentioned basketball. I first started listening to BB when the Lakers were in Mpls. Born and raised in southern Minnesota. Delivered the Mpls paper and won a trip to see the Lakers play and made the locker room scene also. George Mikan looked like a tall skyscraper as did all the Lakers. Listened to them on the radio nitely. As we get older, good friends and great memories are something that no one can take away.”
George was the first to shoot with either hand. The hook.
Joey Reynolds: “Why is the man who brought the Beatles to the US never mentioned? Sid Bernstein had the vision, took the risk, filled Shea Stadium, warmed up the room for Ed Sullivan, and the man who brought Tony Bennett to Carnegie Hall, Judy Garland to the Palace, Diana Ross to Central Park, the 2nd Woodstock and Newport Jazz Festival.
Sid managed the Rascals and the only man in History to know all 3 legends -- the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis. Sid is not in the rock‘n’roll Hall of Fame, but his death was mentioned on the Grammies. Ironically Tony bennett sings in I left my heart in San Francisco, I don’t want to be terribly forgotten in Manhattan. I am on Facebook/Joey Reynolds now with Frankie Valli admitting that he promised to put me in the film but Clint Eastwood kept the script close to the Broadway hit and did not include me. It was a great show and Frankie had a gathering in the green room of Jerry Blavitt, Charlie Calello, Tad Dowd (Scotti brothers). It was like the record suites at the Billboard conventions.”
Bill Hennes: “Legendary and long time Record man Steve Myers writes about how mp3 files lose a lot of the studio ambiance of vinyl records? Well rocker Neil Young has come up with a super system to change the music industry (and it will sell a ton of oldie albums all over again) plus it will make the music sound like it just came out of the studio. At least that's what the press is saying about it. Warner Bros. has already re-recorded a ton of their older albums into this system ... I have no idea about this except it sounds very cool to me.”
Chuck Renwick: “Hey, Claude -- By all means, please keep me on your mailing lists ... any and all of them. I may or may not have ever told you -- but you were my radio bible during all those years with Storer in Cleveland (WJW) and New York (WHN) -- and it's still a blast to read whatever you have to share -- publicly or privately. I'm now in Davidson, NC, currently bemoaning the Wildcats loss the Southern Conference Tourney to Western Carolina in a barn-burner of an OT that finished 103-102, keeping them from a fourth straight appearance in The Dance. Next season they step up to the Atlantic Ten ... quite an adjustment from perennial ‘team to beat’ in the SoCon to ‘new kid on a bigger block’. Getting bored with retirement after 20 years with RadioINK magazine - and exploring some other form of media mischief to get into. Hope all is well with you, and please outlive me - but only if it suits you to do so.”
Don Whittemore: “Claudius, John Alexander Hall was early for the celebration service. He's a happy guy. Got a smile that lights up his face. No whining from that lawyer. You know it was a big fancy event as John wore his orange and white striped tie. I do tell people that you don't like talking on the phone so if they really want to say hello this is the best method of conversation and Danny did just that. His knees and legs are not A-1 anymore and his heart pressure is also sub par, which is good as he lives on a golf course. At yesterday's celebration a number of eulogizers couldn't say their lines w/o breaking up. Don Graham, Roger Carroll, Scott St. James, Mike Horn and Jerry Sharrel, who sang his tribute song acapello. Very melancholy for him as that was the song he sang at his wife JoAnne's funeral. John and I shared a few ice cream memories, pink peppermint brownie, also talking about you. Tom Rounds and wife were there even tho he'd never met Jack. Vince Brunetti, flew in from Waikiki, telling us about some wild, wild tales Jack only hinted at when I'd get him to go back into the sordid career episodes. As I remember ... those were some highlights. Enjoy the good times and laugh at the more miserable moments.”
Danny Davis: “Unfortunately, I can't get to ease the pain of not paying tribute to a man who eased immeasurably my own travails! I can't offer tribute to a gentle fella', a kindly source of 'alls that's right', as sought by The Robertsman, in the amount of time The Big Guy was gonna' allow! If you agree that life really is short, know Jack Roberts had no trouble willing to prove the lament was somewhat in error! And The Big Guy seemed to be going Jack's way, until HE stumbled! A tragedy that'll pursue my memories for as long as The Big Guy gives this griever. Jack, you were/are a treasure to remember! As I said, to you, many times, You were my horse, even if you never win a race! But I sure had fun travelin' with ya'! Rest In Peace, Jack, and Thank You!”
Burt Sherwood: “Claude: I lost a new friend. We shared stories, and a time for us both in the Northeast. I wish I had the chance to meet him ... he was a broadcaster, and a more importantly a good person ... I will miss him ... God Bless Jack Roberts and thank you for letting me know. I will always remember him and miss him.”
Larry Shannon always wanted to have a meeting somewhere and invite George Wilson and Chuck Blore and Sam Hale and Burt Sherwood to be on a panel. I think I passed along that idea to Jack Roberts. Don’t know. It’s suddenly too late anyway, in my opinion, for something like that. One of the greatest events I ever organized personally was a small radio conference with the help of Dr. Tom Durfey (known by many such as Joey Reynolds as Tommy Karl; he was a huge Joey Reynolds fan) on the campus of Oral Roberts University and Bill Randle and Bill Stewart were on a panel with another person or two. All I can say about that event now is “WOW!” Can you imagine the history? God has, indeed, been good to me. I have stood leeward of some of the greatest men in the world.
I hope you enjoy reading this assortment of comments. Some very good people here. I had a couple of other emails. Lyn Stanley, for example, couldn’t attend Jack’s memorial service as she is working on another CD. Great on you, Lyn! Jack will be rooting for you. Me, too!
Just FYI, each Claude’s Commentary will be numbered and also dated. I started sending out diatribes early in 2001, I think. Then Larry Shannon offered me a home for weekly commentaries in January 2004. And later, Jack Roberts offered me a home. My sons John, the attorney, and Andy, the professor/poet, have encouraged me to put these commentaries in Facebook and I suppose that will be so, as, if, and when. This is Claude’s Commentary.2.
Love you all!