April 21, 2014
I hate the phone … well, at least I have an intense dislike and distrust for the cottonpickin’ gizmo. I wore it out back in the day. So, someone phoned a few days ago. A man. He said someone, a woman, had died … and that’s all I know. The message was garbled. I was probably taking a nap or a shower when they phoned and all I had to go on was the message they left. So, I haven’t the slightest idea who died. True, I’ll admit it; I am being swamped by tech. I no longer know how to do anything. I’ve got to fix the door. I can do that, even though I’ve been putting it off. But I will do it. Some of this stuff on the Internet, I will never do. Some people I know keep asking to be “linked in.” Forget it. I’m forever linked out. From reason as much as from purpose. That’s just the way it is.
Email from Jeff Vee. The family was heading to its vacation abode near Snuffy Garrett. So, I won’t receive the “Adobe Sessions” CD featuring his father Bobby for at least a couple of weeks.
One of the Internet “conversations” to which I’m a sideliner if not actually a participant is that between the Three Mesquiteers. One of the members is Lee Baby Simms, who recently insulted the culinary habits of Woody Roberts, at one time his program director. That conversation has now ventured into radio after drifting far and wide.
Woody Roberts, now living amidst the bluebonnets and cactus outside of Austin, TX, about Lee Baby: “You were more than a ‘small part’ of Top 40 radio, you were what it was all about: great music and fun deejays. And you were the consummate personality DJ, not the best format DJ ever but as Lloyd put it, you've got Personality. I respect that in all of your adult life you were a DJ and never wanted to be a PD or manager but just do the best show in town. No other had your combination of friendly sounding voice presenting the most engaging stories and most involving situations. Your telephone prowess and way with words made me certain you had moved into talk radio. I figured some smart PD had grabbed you to build a talk show audience for them. But you stayed with the music.
“I was fascinated with Top 40 origins because I recalled the airwaves before Top-40 and then McLendon bringing KILT and Top 40 into Houston and changing the sound of the pop music stations KNUZ and KXYZ. Not necessarily for the better musically but for the better in their more diverse mix of pop, R&B, county, jazz, rock. In the mid-sixties when I met Grahame and Bill Stewart, the format was still young, dozen years, but we didn't know how young. Today it continues to pull a big audience at sixty years old. Todd, Bill, Grahame and Gordon are gone and most DJs today don't know their names. The start of FM rock as told to me by Tom Donahue in '67 is another tale hanging in my mind.”
Lee Baby Simms from his mountain estate above San Francisco Bay: “I, you say, Woody, was ‘not the best format DJ ever’. Why, My Dear Friend, would anyone want to be the best format DJ ever? Formats could and still can kiss my ass. March to the beat another`s drum?
No thank you! And again I thank you, but, thank you No! The only drum I ever heard (and still hear) and march to is the one that I play. No marching in unison for me. I march alone. Single file. I may stumble on the way to my destination, but I will never fall. I know where I`m going and why I`m going there. No format was or is needed. I`ll get there. No worries Mate. And again you say, ‘I respect that in all of your adult life you were a DJ and never wanted to be a PD or manager’. That's right. No leading of others for me, my man. Where the hell would I lead them? To my destiny? My destination? No, no, no. There is only room for one in that rarified space. Moi! I did not follow, I did not want to lead.
“You, again: ‘I figured some smart PD had grabbed you to build a talk show audience for them’. That has been said to me a few times. And I have been offered, once or twice, an opportunity to do so (years ago). The first time I was somewhat intrigued by the idea. Knowing nothing about talk Radio (I never listened to talk Radio). I checked out a few stations that specialized in that kind of presentation. I was appalled (shocked? Yes) by the ANGER! … the Vitriol, the Hate, the Unreasonableness of it all. All of them, the men and the women ... all of them pissed off all of the time!
“Crossing The Bay Bridge on my way into The City one day a long time ago, I saw a billboard for a talk station that questioned me: ‘Where Is The Outrage?’ it asked. I didn`t know. I have never known ... Outrage! Angry and pissed off all the time? Me? Impossible! Listening to them, I knew that that way was not My way, My style, My Karma. To live in the dark. Each time I was offered a chance to do so, I declined.
“Moving on … I have, at your suggestion, been on 'The Cave Man Diet' for the last few months. Woodrow! Are you trying to kill me with your advice?”
Just FYI, one of the members of the Three Mesquiteers is Bob Weisbuch and he’s now probably in Texas to try some barbeque and chili in and around Austin. He’s taking his pretty bride. Just wish I could grab my own bride of 51-plus years, Barbara, and join them down there. Unless you’ve had good barbeque, you don’t know how addictive it is and when you haven’t had decent barbeque in several centuries, ah, ah, ah. Dr. Bob has another article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and it mentions Lee Baby and Woody, brave lads all. Dr. Bob keeps this up and they’re going to be famous.
Then I’ll spread the secrets of the 600-mile bicycle radio promotion.
Email from Rob Moorhead, San Fernando Valley: Jackie Wilson Crowell died a couple of weeks ago. My “missing” phone call. She was a very nice lady. The widow of one of my best friends. George Wilson. Rob and wife Terry and me and my wife Barbara were at her wedding when she married him. We come, we do, we go.
Lord, but I miss George Wilson!
Kent Burkhart: “I don't know if I ever mentioned this to you, but when we were both working hard to make things happen and you called ... I jumped for the phone! You always had the correct questions ... AND answers.”
Because I know some good people, including one Kent Burkhart.
Chuck Blore, lotusland: “Claude, yesterday, I was having lunch with Scotty Brink and as we were reminiscing about old radio days and old radio guys, not surprisingly, your name came up. I first met Scotty when I was programming KIIS AM. I heard that he was leaving WRKO, I called him, told him about my new format and asked if he would like to be a part of it, he said it sounded like fun and he'd love to join me. Then suddenly, as you are well aware, KIIS AM went broke and my new format went with it. Scotty and I have remained friends and yesterday we were talking about how much we enjoyed your commentaries, the reflections on what our radio world was and what it has become and the names we know or knew. When I read your new commentary in which you mentioned both our names, I called Scotty to tell him about it and he said, ‘I saw that, too. He must have been writing that while we were talking about what a great writer he is’. So, as it is said, ‘Great minds are often in sync’. Or something like that.”
Did Scotty ever mention to you, Chuck, that he plays guitar? Hey, he can cut his own ID jingles!
Nancy Plum: “I love reading your Commentary. Back in the day, I never missed your column in Billboard and wrote you a ‘fan’ letter then and was thrilled when you gave me a mention. I have been trying to organize a book, an autobiography and more or less have given up on that idea and instead plan to just put a bunch of short stories, true short stories in a volume, most of them radio related. I had the privilege to work with many legends in my radio career and I have lots of stories about them as well as my experiences in and out of the studio. Most would probably agree the zenith or pinnacle of my career was my time at Ten Q radio. Most don't know I was the ONLY deejay who was on the air the day we signed on and the day we signed off. I lasted through five different program directors before the station was finally sold and went Spanish. From there I went to KMPC for a few months, then off the air working at Universal City Studios coordinating radio promotions for a few years then eventually winding up on the air at KFI. I was at KFI for four years and during my time there the traffic reporter Bruce Wayne died in a plane crash, the GM died of a heart attack two days after that and Loman and Barkley broke up and the station went from all music to all talk! I left and went to KLAC to do evenings then onto KRTH 101 and then hired part time right after Star 98 went on the air. I started doing traffic and news reports in 1994 and did that for ten years eventually becoming the midday airborne reporter for KFWB before I moved to Atlanta to take care of my late mom. I moved to Lexington KY in 2008 and have been living happily ever after here. Currently I am on the air every afternoon on a tiny AM station in Frankfort, KY, playing the oldies and having a blast! It's Passport Radio 1490 and we stream worldwide (www.passportradio1490.com) as well as have apps for iphones and androids. I don't get paid a lot but I sure have fun and my income comes from a side business promoting a health challenge (Visalus Project 10 - lose ten pounds and you win a teeshirt, the company feeds an obese child for a month and you are entered to win $1000 -- very cool promotion and great products to help you lose the 10 lbs). My website is www.americasgirlfriend.com for that. Life is good. I'm divorced, no kids and dating. That's my story and I look forward to your next installment so I can keep up with my radio friends and see what they are up to! My email is still the same email@example.com after all these years!”
Bill Hennes: “So happy that you picked up Jack's Hollywood Hills and added your own touch! Without a doubt, it is always great to get your ‘Clog’! Some have ‘Blogs’ but you have an exclusive ‘Clog’!
I love it. Great to hear from so many people I have known over the years. I remember getting to know you, when I was programming in New Haven, CT. What a great time that was. Each day brings some new in our industry. I know a lot of people are down on radio, however, Media is bigger than ever! People have, did, do and will continue to love great entertainment. The style and delivery will continue to grow and change with the times. I find it an exciting time in the business, and I am glad, that the good Lord has allowed me to continue to be around and involved in the new media styles. Just started 3 new Internet stations. Digital is very warm and getting HOTTER! The web site is Todayshottesthits.com! They are up and running and evolving daily! One is Top 40, One is Country and the other is Urban/Hip-Hop! Also, the legendary and best friend, Joey Reynolds are involved in a major project. You can check some of that out at FreshlySqueezedMusic.net! It involves an entire retro style of music that is sweeping England and Europe at the clubs. The style is called ‘Electro Swing’, dance music from the 20s-30s-40s, up until now ... remixed and remastered. The crowds in Europe are going crazy for it. We are lucky enough, to have the exclusive rights to this show/format and live show in the USA and Canada! Just thought I'd let you know, Joey and I are very busy. Thanks for all you have contributed and are still contributing, to this great industry, that we all fell in love with many years ago!”
Danny Davis: “... put all that effort into composing that last e-mail. . .and son-of-a-gun, dere it is! Hard, it is, Claude, to keep from recycling all the verbiage used for 'one-in-the-well loved-loop'! (I admit it. I woulda' bin' outta' vocabulary when Hollywood Hills finally 'threw his seven!' Altho, Jack, look down for 'happy'! Claude, The Authorman, is doing a job 'would make you proud! (Thanx, Mom, for de' accent!) And keeping all of the family you brought back together! Whatta' job you done, Robertsman! But don't worry, Claude's being kept busy! (After all, there ain't much to do where he lives!!).
Danny keeps trying to persuade me to do some “investing” for him on the Strip. I don’t think that’s the way Joe Smith made his millions, Danny.x
Red Jones, Georgia: “While I'm here ... the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame will be the first state radio hall of Fame to have its own stand-alone building come Memorial Day weekend. Go to GRHOF and click to New Museum and Hall of Fame for info and picture.”
Hey, great on you guys. Good on John Long!
A Nashville firm – I.R.S. Records – is releasing “For Once and for All” featuring the late Jack Clements. Come July 15. Should be a decent CD. Could be great. But one never knows about something like that. I know this: One of the worse interviews I ever did was with Jack. And also: I’m one of his biggest fans! Some of those songs that he wrote! He was right there in the studio in Memphis, you know, with Elvis and Johnny Cash. And probably Roy Orbison, too. Had his hands on a lot of music history. I was interviewing him in the mid-60s for an annual Billboard produced for several years called “The World of Country Music.” He said, “Yes” and he said “No.” He simply didn’t trust any “damned Yankee.” And, unfortunately, I didn’t have time to convince him otherwise. When I got back to New York City I wrote some fiction about him for the special. Looking forward to his CD. Those “annuals,” by the way, are great historical documents for research. Except the item on Jack Clements, perhaps.
Chuck Blore again (about last week): “Wonderful words, sir. Many marvelous memories. Thanks, pal, and keep 'em coming. Your best friend. In Encino.”
Roger Carroll: “Claude, please understand re the email I sent. I always read and enjoyed your writing. We were MOR. KMPC was one of the very successful radio stations in the country owned by Gene Autry. Please keep me on your mailing list. I know many of the people you post.
I miss Jack very much … he was dying and called twice a week to make sure I was fine, in two years we lost our oldest son Steven … ‘Melinoma cancer’. And also lost my wife Beverly. We were married 59 years.
Do you have an email address for Tony Richland?”
Roger, I loved KMPC. In my opinion, the station should have been made a shrine, representative of what great radio was all about. WNEW in New York, too. There were about five, maybe ten, radio stations I feel should have been so honored. Certainly WSM and WSB. And I know people who used to live by WOR in New York City; the station was not necessarily important regarding music, but it was a huge people station. Just FYI, Roger, Jack Roberts felt you are one of the great ones. And so do I.
Regarding Tony Richland, I lost his snail mail three or four years ago. We had exchanged a couple of letters. His wife had passed on. He was in a new relationship. Don’t know anything new. Tony was big in the Hall family. So was Ernie Farrell and a few others in promotion. Some names have faded after 40 years. But not the names of Don Graham and Don Whittemore or Morris Diamond. And I shall never forget the wonderful Jan Basham.
More Danny Davis: “Topa da' mornin, to ya', Claudie! The mention of Hill and Range fosters a whole bunch of great times, and great memories! Hill and Range and Elvis Presley Music and Dune Records and Bigtop Records and folks like Doc Pomus and Stan Schulman and Paul Case and Del Shannon and Sammy Turner and Johnny and The Hurricanes and Ray Peterson and Curtis Lee and Johnny Bienstock and the Aberbach Brothers and the 'weird little strange musical genius', that ate up an industry producing and writing classic unforgettable tunes and entering "The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame" with an unfathomable passion for weaponry and not caring one whit to rock an industry that was so good to him and the folks he surrounded himself with! Maybe, Phil, we can get together at Corcoran State in the next 16-to Life years and pump up a musical, something like 'Spector and a Life That Missed a Beat!' (Not that it means anything to me!).”
I didn’t know Ken Gimblin, but Bob Sherwood says this about the late sportscaster: “Before he became a Northern Calif. sports legend, as I recall, Johnny Hyde hired Ken Gimblin to do local sports for KROY in Sacramento. He was absolutely perfect in localizing sports and being a programming-plus rather than an excuse to tune-out when news came on. His genuine and uncontained enthusiasm for what he did positively exploded out of the speakers! When I was later programming in Milwaukee and Cleveland I tried several times to replicate the magic that was Ken Gimblin Sports -- and was generally met with blank stares. Beyond everything else -- he was a lovely human being. Candles and prayers.” We come, we do, we go.
The pleasant thing about having a blog is you can feature a poem by one of your sons. In this case, Andy Hall, once mentioned by Bob Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times. You do not wish to argue music with either Andy Hall or my lawyer son John Hall in Los Angeles. They know it all. Even unto the esoteric. Just FYI, one of Andy’s songs is a cult phenom in Las Vegas. It is a strange and noble thing to go to a performance, see your son pick up a guitar on stage and put one of his feet on a cane-bottom chair and sing “Sea of Vomit.” And when the audience begins to sing the song with him? Hard to believe but they know the lyrics!
The wisdom of dying in our sleep
As we slowly disintegrate
Into the void or in a word
Evolve, or as they say
Decompose, and all the problems
Melt away, no more night terrors
No more worries about hellfire
And how much god despises me
For being liberal and not being
A great bowler
I couldn’t tie my shoe until
I was 22. I couldn’t read
Until I discovered porn
I went to my shrink
And whined so much
He needed therapy
Let me tell you
I was born in a sack
And I will die that way too
Everything we do in between
Is just coughing up phlegm
In the meantime,
find a good bowl of matzo ball soup
Howl in the night to God,
Allah, Madonna, Buddha
Siva or Lady Gaga or even
Theodore Nugent, Heaven forbid
Let what come what may
come what may since it will anyway
but don’t be afraid to cross the street
in the night with your eyes closed.
-- Andy Hall, 2013
Difficult to understand why they didn’t enjoy his poems and songs back in Illinois. Phoo on Illinois! I shall ban the state and never listen to Howard Miller again. Or was that Henry Miller? Oh, well … those Miller boys were a little strange when it came to poetry.
Copout: Yes, I know you’ve sent me your blog address and/or Internet radio address, but I’ve just decided to start these lists and I’m not about to go through more than 10 years of emails to track the information down. Thus, if you’d like to be added to this list, send me your data at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome as long as it concerns music and/or radio. Thanks!
George J. Weinbarg
Robert E. Richerhttp://www.937therock.com/about/