March 25, 2014
By Claude Hall
This column is being emailed to 204 radio people and another 52 music executives and artists. In addition, it is reprinted in a couple of blogs and I’m also placing it in Facebook. It is sent out on a sporadic basis as material and inclination warrants. Feel free to email it on to friends. Feel free to comment.
Rob Moorhead, Los Angeles: “I apologize for not keeping in touch. Daily life so often overwhelms that I concentrate on family and such. Where is that leisurely retirement existence I am supposed to be enjoying? It's like I'm in my twenties again, taking care of a child (my grandson) and never enough hours to accomplish all that's on my plate. I do hope you two are doing well, or as well as the infirmities of Father Time will allow. They say the mind is the first thing to go; clearly that's fiction. I stumbled upon news recently that Dick LaPalm died a few months ago. That really hit me hard. I had no idea he was ill. I wish I had taken the opportunity to reconnect. So sad. I hadn't spoken with him in thirty years. Back in the day when I was working in LA, he would occasionally call and pick my brain about some project, song or artist. We had initially grown to know each other because I was good friends with his kids while in high school. He was such a nice guy, a really cool cat and the salt-of-the-earth. He was knowledgeable about the business, about life, I really admired the man. I can remember him driving a gang of us, his kids and friends, to weekend events, like soccer games. He had this monstrous Caddy his kids called the ‘Jew Canoe’ into which we would squeeze our whole crew, Mr. LaPalm behind the wheel being heckled by a gang of rowdy teenagers as he drove. His kids would playfully hectle him at every opportunity, beginning with his name. Dick. When the kids wanted to get his goat it was never ‘dad’, it was always, ‘Hey, Dick!’, but with an intonation that was clearly pejorative. He loved it, he shot back, it was a healthy give-and-take between a father and his boys. I envied that. Teenagers being teenagers, we were a wild bunch, Dick being in the music business meant he, too, retained his youthful sensibilities and could relate to us on our level. He loved a good time, and we felt he wasn't much different than us, more of a friend. Secretly, the boys would sometimes search through the pockets of his jackets and trousers in hopes of discovering a forgotten joint or baggie of weed. On rare occasions, there might even be a tiny bit of blow. Of course, it disappeared. I don't believe he ever said anything about the thefts as it was always an inconsequential amount they pilfered, plus they were all wonderfully well-adjusted kids just looking for a little fun. They were a wild and fun bunch, a very fun father with exceptional kids. I'm sure he was very proud of them. Anyone would be. Even as kids, I recognized his influence shining through them, as each had acquired bits and pieces of his personality and were deeply imbued with his values and wisdom. Last week I learned that the overnight jock from KIQQ, a guy George Wilson had pulled off the street and put behind the mike, Ernie Sanchez, died suddenly, leaving behind a wife and kids. Again, so sad. Young guy.”
Morris Diamond, Palm Desert: “I don't know if Don mentioned to you or not, but I took a fall 2 weeks ago and ended up with a broken left wrist, elbow and shoulder … which has eliminated me from getting behind the wheel to get to Jack's memorial. I tried in vain looking for someone from Palm Desert who might be driving to LA, where I knew I could get a ride to the memorial. It saddened me that I couldn't be with my fellow contributors to Hollywood Hills who did attend. Jack, from day one, kept asking me to submit stories and photos on a weekly basis. That was encouraging for me … he knew I enjoyed writing, and I tried to keep my subjects related to as close to the replies of something I read the day before. Claude, I've been a big fan of your writing since the Billboard days of yore, and still am. I have fond memories of coming to your home in LA so you and Barbara can show my wife and I your new Sound-around system. I sincerely hope that you – or some other qualified member of our vast Hills can preserve the memory of our beloved Jack Roberts by carrying on these blogs. I know I will never forget him and his efforts to organize 10,000 readers. Look forward to another lunch on an upcoming journey to Vegas. Alice joins me in sending our love to and Barbara.”
Morris, your material is always welcome here. Just FYI, all readers who have a blog or are broadcasting via the Internet can list details, such as does Ron Jacobs below somewhere. Morris, we would love to see you and Alice again. Get well!
Jonathan Little: “Dave ‘Duke’ Sholin forwarded your March 20 Commentary. So many nice tributes to Jack Roberts and I enjoy reading your diatribes. Thank you. As a young jock in the 60s, I considered Vox Jox high priority reading. I’m currently in the consumer opinion market research business. Got pushed out of radio programming and management due to consolidation in April 1998. A few months later Bill Troy and I started doing Internet-based research for the worlds of entertainment and media (CBS, Disney, Sony Motion Pictures, Green Bay Packers, 100s of radio stations). Bobby Vee is a close friend and, as I recall Bobby saying once, you and he were neighbors in LA before Bob and Karen moved the family back to St. Cloud. His new Americana album is exceptional. Duke and I program two Americana streams for AccuRadio (www.americanaradio.us) and spin some of Bobby’s tunes that are a good fit. If you appreciate Greg Brown, you’ll likely appreciate what we’re doing on The Train and The Fast Train. Back in the late 60s while MD and PM Driver at WISM, Madison … I managed a garage band called Underground Sunshine, which was my sister and 3 guys she went to high school with. Charlie Fach of Mercury-Smash-Intrepid bought the master and radio’s reaction to ‘Birthday’ was magical. I often think of Charlie and wondered what happened to him. We stayed in touch for a few years and then lost contact. Any memories of Charlie? Is he still with us? As I recall, after his success in Chicago with Mercury and Smash, he moved back to NYC to care for his aging-ailing father. Irwin Steinberg encouraged Charlie to start a new label which he could manage from NYC. Underground Sunshine and I were the beneficiaries of Charlie’s early work in buying up masters to launch Intrepid. Great to know that you’re writing and bringing radio people together who remember live and local, the request line, and the pick hits of the week when terrestrial radio was about new music discovery!”
Jonathan Little VP Sales -Troy Research & PR Brigade Mobile: 608-219-1077 Phone: 740-549-9700, x61http://www.troyresearch.com http://www.prbrigade.com
Jonathan, I would dearly love to hear about Charlie Fach if you find out anything. Always liked the guy! Maybe Chuck Chellman has some information.
Gary Allyn, San Diego: “Claude (Hemingway) Hall, ahhh yes! There is a Radio God! You are continuing to send out your Commentaries. Thank you, Claude. Having contact with Radio past and present is a must for this aging Radio guy. Doing without, well, It’s like having a record but no turntable. Keep up your tireless love for our business. I agree with those who have already said that YOU would be the logical one to perpetuate The Hills. I can’t tell you how much I miss Jack Roberts and his tireless dedication to keeping the Radio Connection going. SO, now, we’ll depend on E-pistles from you. How about this? Vegas Vox Jox? Rollye James ... whatta gal! She deserves all she gets. Big hello to Barbara, and all my best to you. Danny D ... you’re such a mensch, and keep the ‘Spring’ in Palm Springs.”
I’m not the one to continue a radio blog. But I know the person who is. I will mention it to them in a personal email in a day or two.
Just FYI, I try to provide contact when possible and feasible, but I don’t do phone. Just email. I decided, however, a long time ago not to publish email addresses. But if you’re searching for a friend, I’ll help when I can
Chuck Blore, Los Angeles: “Hey, Claude, my dear and old friend, I am sitting here wondering, why you're sitting there wondering, about whether or not your column is jelling. Now, this is coming from an old, old fan (quite possibly the oldest … or is it eldest, whichever). I am one who jelled a long time ago, thus, I'm an expert in jelling. Yes, your column is informative, interesting, even fascinating and whatever else it takes to become so revered and respected. Claude Hall is a name known and loved by every radio person who has a genuine interest in the now and then of radio. I agree with those who say that you should take over and go forward with the Hollywood Hills and I, too, would be happy and eager to help with whatever contributions I could make. I believe we met over 50 years ago and I have enjoyed every meeting we have had since, including the one during which I made that drawing of you, which, of course, has become history. Claude, I am and always have been happy to know you. You, sir, are a part of radio history. I love you, Claude, and look forward to your next commentary, or possibly, your version of the Hollywood Hills.”
Ron Jacobs, Hawaii: “Please pass along the above URL for RON JACOBS BLOG, BRAH. Dodged another bullet, Praise The Lord. ME KE ALOHA PUMEHANA.”
Jay Sorensen: “Hiya hiya, Big Jay Sorensen here ... Joey Reynolds' sidekick on 66 WNNNNBC and on TV, too. I totally love your work … met you at a gathering in Rochester, NY, about a quarter century ago. I'm on the air still at WCBS FM in NYC these days, still crankin' out the hits and soon to be with Joey again on TV and radio and Internet.”
George J. Wienbarg: “It is so wonderful to be able to write you about this matter as I have been working to have this a preserved on Wikipedia for the past several years and now apparently the Wikipedia editors are trying to take it down-again. Would it be possible got you to look at it and see what you might be able to do in order to preserve it? J. Paul Emerson was important in radio because of his People News Format which he invented at KIMN and for which we won the NAB Station of the Year award in 1973, which techniques, later made use if in general daily newspaper writing (that is replacing the traditional newspaper inverted pyramid with the short story hourglass format allowing one story's clincher like to lead into the next story's grabber line). Which I in turn employed at WLAC, WGCL, WPIX, WCBS, etc., and which he used during his tenure at Hot 97 (WHTZ) here in New York for those years he did mornings here. The Wikipedia editors are trying to delete this article despite several bibliographical citations -- I believe -- because he was a conservative, they say because he wasn't notable. Because you are a legitimate radio writer, perhaps you could lend the article some muscle by somehow adding to it and citing your addition, even if it's what I wrote above? I had put the article up a couple years ago and the Wikipedia editors pulled it down again, but radio people -- especially those as important as Jimmy Coleman need to have their legacies preserved, don't you think? Anyway. Here is the link. See if you might be able to help me save it. “https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Paul_Emerson
Heck, George, I couldn’t get myself in Wiki and gave up. Tried to get George Wilson in, too, and failed. Wish I could help you about Jim. Knew him well. Loved the man! Deserves in without question!
Bob Hamilton: “Keep the commentary coming. The list of people you send them to could fix our industry we still love. I visit stations as a consultant and the vibe of fun & winning in programming & sales is truly missing. Passion is still the answer. The first person who gets a chance to do it right, no matter the format will be a millionaire! Best to you & Barbara!”
Don Whittemore: “Claude, wonderful reading the notes and news of so many who I know only by their exploits. So many unheard of anticipate your writings -- those of us that reply to you are merely a fraction of the whole family you've created and continue to sustain. Please continue.”
Ron Fraiser: “Anything from you is always welcome and a treat ... good to see Bob Paiva checking in ... my old WPOP in Hartford co-worker.”
Bill Hennes, Florida: “Claude, with Jack's tragic passing at such a young stage in life, it seems to me that YOU are the person to carry on the Hollywood Hills. I would love so see his vision and so many more of us, would love to see Hollywood Hills continue. Claude, you are a great writer, have a great memory and have the history, and I know all the broadcasters will respect your input. I know I would. As always, the best to Barb!”
Jimmy Rabbitt: “Thanks for the heads up about Jack, sorry to hear about it, he was really so young! Sorry I haven't gotten back about your blog, but I got the ‘Super’ flu after getting my shot, and it put me down for sure. Thanks for what you do, Claude, and keep me on your list as long as there is one, and take care of yourself.”
I got a shingles shot a couple of years ago and it knocked me down for two or three days. Lost a lot of weight. But this shingles stuff ain’t for us old people!
Clark Weber: “While I had heard of Jack Roberts, I personally didn't know him. I'm sorry to hear of his passing. Many other names such as Danny Davis ring a lotta bells and bring back a mike fulla memories. As the former morning man and PD at WLS in the 60s your comments about the slavish mentality of programmers who followed the Drake format was right on! Great WLS programmers like Sam Holman and Gene Taylor recognized the importance of attracting 12-plus demo's but not to the detriment of ignoring 25/54. Far too many programmers in those days played the top 20 in high rotation, blew out the 25/54 and allowed FM stations to win the war. And they're doing the same damn dumb thing today. Henry Ford was once asked the secret to his success. He said that at the time the public wanted a faster horse, he gave them the Model T and turned the transpiration world upside down. Radio, even today is still trying to give their listeners a faster horse.”
Sage comments, Clark. My appreciation.
I’d sent out a news flash about Ron Jacobs being alive and well in Hawaii and that prompted this note from an old friend. I hate to see his wife Peggy go. She was charming and she was bright.
Gary Smithwick, Washington, DC: “Ron may be alive and well, but my wife, Peggy, with whom you dined in Vegas, is not. Peggy passed away at 12:38 pm Tuesday with me holding her hand and kissing her cheek. Her brother, Jim, was caressing her back. She went very calmly and peacefully, just stopped breathing and she was gone forever. Hospice was called in last Wednesday and they did a terrific job keeping her comfortable. She only had a few episodes of serious pain and we were able to control that. She died in our bed in our home without being hooked up to any machines or tubes. Despite their urgings, she did not have to die in the Hospice house. I count myself very privileged to have been with her all the way to the end after her 14-year war against breast cancer. I asked her if she wanted me to hold a funeral and she said, ‘No way, have a cocktail party’. So there will be a party in Washington in May at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. If you are going to be on the east coast on May 17, let me know, and I’ll send you an invitation. I hope you are well and stay that way for a good long time to come.”
Ed Salamon: “THANKS, Claude, for including me on your distribution for your column. I look forward to reading it just as I did your Vox Jox columns. I appreciate you keeping a connection with so many folks that I have crossed paths with in radio.
Dick Summer: “Hey, Claude, that will be the day ... when I don't want to hear from you. I'm a pilot, and when we lose one of our own, we say he's ‘Going west’ ... as into the sunset. Looks like lots of folks we all know are doing just that. Thought you might like some thoughts on that. I’m back from vacation with a bit of a tan, a substantially thinner wallet, and a head full of vacation snapshots to run past you. Here’s one: we were walking along the beach, and all of a sudden, a shadow rippled across the sand and then flew out into the bay. It was a big pelican coming in for a water-ski landing, feet first. He settled into the water, looked around at the people on the beach, and tossed his head as if he expected at least a quick cheer for his performance. I gave him a short burst of applause. Here’s another: An old-time Chevy station wagon pulled into that same beach’s parking lot, with a license plate that expresses a deeply felt urge for many a ‘Louie Louie’ Generation lad and lass. It said, ‘I-Gotta-P’. And speaking of pee-ing, (there is a connection) the new Budweiser slogan is ‘Grab some buds’. That’s okay on their TV commercials. But they probably didn’t think about how that slogan would look when it is proudly displayed on the tight T-shirts of the young ladies selling their beer at the ballpark. ‘Grab some buds’. I don’t know. It sure got my attention—which got a few slightly unladylike comments from my Lady Wonder Wench. Then there’s a snapshot that I think I’ll frame and keep somewhere very close to where I live. We were taking a little walk in the park across the street from our hotel, and we saw an old guy sitting on a park bench, just sitting — not even reading — just sitting and watching the people walk by. As we walked past, I noticed a
brass plaque on the bench. It said, ‘In memory of Amelia, my wife and my best friend. She’s saving me a seat now’. I didn’t let go of my Lady’s hand for quite a while. Everything looks different when you’re on vacation. I’ve noticed that even the guy in my shaving mirror sometimes looks a little different when I’m on vacation. The first morning we were there, he was waiting for me — the guy in my mirror. He was happy to see me, because he had been up taking care of me all night while I was sleeping, and it was a long night. I started thinking about him. Was he on vacation, too? Then I started thinking, I’m looking at retirement pretty soon. And he’s got to know that. And I started wondering if that guy in the mirror is as scared as I am that he may be suddenly finished with the daily life-long process of ‘getting ahead’ and trying to make a living. And how about the other end of his life? The first times. What kind of secret celebration did he enjoy the first time his mom let him comb his own hair before he went to school? How big were the monsters that prowled around in the attic when he was home alone in an empty house for the first time? How did he learn to ride a two-wheel bike? Who taught him to swim? What did his first kiss taste like? Who was his first real date? How did he feel when he passed his driver’s license test? How did he talk some girl into having sex with
him for the first time? What did his twenty-first birthday feel like? What was it like for him, holding his firstborn child in his arms? How did he take it, the first time he lost his job? My Lady Wonder Wench has told me that her face in the mirror doesn’t look at all like the face I see when she’s lying on her pillow in the first light of dawn, slowly opening those soft blue eyes and turning the whole world the color of a Summer sky. That’s the face
I’ve seen for all these years, smiling and crying, and eating lobster on vacation, and cheering for the New York Mets. I know she has no idea how beautiful she is. It’s fascinating, looking carefully at your face in the mirror. It’s like meeting somebody who knows you, but you can’t quite remember him. I was thinking about that when we were walking in the park and we saw that old guy sitting on the bench just looking at the passing people. His eyes were wide open, but it was obvious that he was seeing a face the rest of us didn’t know about. A face he’d seen waking up on the pillow next to him in the morning for a lot of years: smiling and crying, cheering for some baseball team, and now saving him a seat next to her — just like he asked her to do.”
Scott St. James, Los Angeles: “This ‘assortment of comments’ you refer to is a great read. I tried reading what you sent during commercials on American Idol last night, but soon realized that what you sent was deserving of reading what you wrote non-stop which I did this morning. As you would say to others, I will say to you; ‘Good on you, Claude Hall!’ Dandy Don was indeed correct when he referred to speakers at Jack Roberts' tribute (including me) having passionate difficulty with their lines. I'm very much looking forward to your next ‘diatribe’.”
Robert E. Richer: “Just great, Claude! So many names; so many memories. If I had my way, I’d ignore Facebook. Your blog seems to be reaching the absolute inner core of those in this business who still have a heart. Who needs more. Avanti!”
Jay Lawrence, Arizona: “I thought I'd let everyone know and you are the best courier. I have had to leave the air because I've chosen to run for the Arizona House of Representatives. I'm running as a republican (what else) in legislative district 23, Scottsdale/Fountain Hills. It's a grind but I am having fun. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has endorsed me along with a man some of you might know (google him) Dr. C T Wright. One of the kindest, most gentle humans I have ever known. It's getting signatures on petitions, vetting the signatures, going door to door in my district, and raising money. I never realized how expensive a campaign can be. Fortunately I am well known and though not ‘flowing’ in we are doing all right. Anyway just thought I'd let you know because that's like letting the broadcast world know. I am attaching a palm card. I will keep you posted. Primary is August 26, vote by mail ballots go out around July 26th. 70% of my district votes by mail so there's work to be done.”
Don Sundeen; “Ron Jacobs is one of the great, brilliant eccentrics of the radio business. Never forget when I first met him at KGB, he swept into the office in board shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and sandals and said, ‘Hi, Ron Jacobs, come on in I want to show you something’. So we go into his office and there was this long printout from an old-fashioned printer about a mile long. Ron had hired some college kids to go out and ask people what their favorite song was, hundreds of them, and then compiled this list. It was what we would one day call ‘record research’. Ps, #1 that day was ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’, I’ve never forgotten.”
Woody Roberts, Texas: “Thank you for Commentary 2. Hope you'll change your mind on having a web presence. It requires no extra stamina to blog these days, once set up it is as simple as sending email. You just post when you have something to say ... daily or weekly or monthly, whenever. That way folks searching for Claude Hall or other old radio names will find it. You don't need to have a fancy site like the Hills or Ron Jacobs or Jim Ramsburg, just do a one column ... OK, 'nuff said. Buzz Bennett and Dick Starr flashback -- Middle shelf of my bookcase is collapsing under the weight of double stacking hardbacks and loading up empty spots with a dozen stones, fossils and Indian artifacts. So, I am filling a large box to leave at Half Price Books and come across ‘Johnathon Livingston Seagull’. Why did I keep that? Then I remember. Buzzy gave it to me during a hotel room all nighter at 1971 programming conference. I opened the slim volume to find the cryptic but inspiring card he put inside. Next I came across my copy of ‘Man the Manipulator’ that was sent to me by Dick Starr as he was leaving WFUN Miami to PD for the colorful Howard Kester at KYA. I returned both to my bookshelf. Then I sat down and let myself drift back to radio times gone by and the friends I had....”
Bob Barry: “Thanks for the commentaries, Claude. The older you get, the more great friends and broadcast folks we lose. I miss many of the great ones I worked for and with: George Wilson, Jim Brown, Bob Collins, Gordon Hinkley, Paul Gallis, and recently Tom Shanahan, who had worked at WEMP in Milwaukee for many years. He was in Wisconsin broadcasting for over 50 years. It’s important not to forget those who gave some great years to our industry … and thanks to you, we won’t.”