May 19, 2014
By Claude Hall
I knew Casey Kasem. Haven’t seen him since the 70s. I use past tense even though I hope he’s still alive and his children get to see him. I know he has been sick. Why he’s now being treated like a castoff blanket and kept from his children is beyond me.
I never cared much for his second wife, a would-be movie actress. Thought she was gross and, for want of a better description, gross looking. Casey was working as booth announcer at NBC about that time and earning I heard like $4 million a year. At the time he married Jean, I felt he was “trying to move up town.” Make that “trying to movie uptown.” Casey’s first wife, Linda I think was her name, was a bright, pretty girl involved in politics and she was the mother of his children. Barbara and I – and kids – visited them one day. Kids had a good time playing and Barbara and I had a good time. We enjoyed their company. I was sad when Kasem divorced her and married the actress. In the vernacular, he shouldn’t have done it!
I’m in favor of the children of Casey Kasem. Mothers have a right to their children and children have a right to their father. And anyone who prevents that should be severely admonished. Late news: I understand he has been found with Jean “on vacation” in Washington state. Poor Casey. To think: It comes down to this!
After mentioning last week’s note from Morris Diamond about Telly Savalas “in the-mid 50s when he was a young producer of a late-night DJ show on WJZ in NYC,” there was this note from Robert E. Richer: “For what it’s worth, when I was working in the mail room at ABC radio in NYC, I had the chance several times a day to deliver the mail to the head of ABC Radio Network Programming, a lovely man by the name of George Sax. Every time I saw him, I’d complain about the dreadful quality of the network’s programming. Finally, to get me off his back, he told me that I had a half-hour every Saturday night to do my own program. I came up with the idea of ‘Strictly From Dixie’. In those glorious days, we had a writer/producer (me), an engineer, an announcer and a producer. All this for thirty minutes. My producer was a good guy named Telly Savalas. After the show ended at midnight, Telly and I would go out on the town. Based upon what his Hudson looked like, I had the feeling that he was living in the car. So it wasn’t WJZ; it was the ABC Radio Network, which of course in NYC, was WABC by then. I still have an acetate of the show.”
Morris Diamond to, I think, Don Graham: “Hey, Donald ... you finally came up with an artist that those of us OVER 70 years of age can relate to. Steve Lawrence never sounded better. You talking about being in the biz 50 years ... I got ties older than that. Let me tell you a story about why Steve is in my body ... in October 1958, when I was National promo mgr. for Carlton Records (Anita Bryant, Jack Scott, Kenny Rogers), I came down with bleeding ulcers. It was my 2nd attack. I was taken to the VA hospital in the Bronx where I was operated on. I was asked by the VA to see if I can have some friends and relatives that can come to the hospital to replace the blood they had to give to me. I made one call -- the following day in came about 10 guys ... indy promo guys, national promo guys, Steve Lawrence and his brother Bernie. They all donated blood -- some of which I was told later by the doctor, was given to me. They raised enough havoc with the nurses to have security escort them from the hospital -- with thanks. Funny thing about this incident -- working for Joe Carlton's Carlton Records -- he had a plaque on his desk that read ‘I don't get ulcers, I give them’. Actually he didn't give me an ulcer; as a matter of fact, when he heard that I was in the VA hospital, he immediately made plans for me to be taken to one of the major hospitals that specialized in stomach problems at his expense. I thanked him and asked that I stay at the VA hospital where I had been prior to this trip a year ago and liked the doctors that were going to operate on me.
“I loved Joe Reynold's diatribe on Graham and Joey's confession about his addiction to cocaine ... attributing it to the stinky feet cheese that Don loved so much at Martoni's. I would love to see more writings by Joey … he tells it like it is … he's in my top 5 radio personalities ... you other four know who you are ... especially Claude who has one of the best minds in the biz. What a privilege to have all these guys as part of my life. Sure makes life worth living.”
Just FYI: The late Paul Ackerman, music editor of Billboard, told me that Joe Carlton started the column Vox Jox when he worked at Billboard. Probably circa 40s. Jerry Wexler, renown for record producing, wrote the column during his Billboard days. One day I’m drifting through old bound volumes and, to my surprise, Jerry wrote the column in about the same style as me.
And may I yell out: Great on you and your brother, Steve!
Charlie Barrett: “I saw your Commentary entry on me ... thank you. Thanks for filling out the spamblocker form ... I know it's a drag but it keeps tons of unwanted emails OUT of my inbox. Don & I have had a running joke for years when he first started leaving me messages under the name of ‘Connie Francis’ … hence the reference in the email. Yes, I want very much to be on your LIST ... so please include me. I did add your name and email in my message address book, but on rare occasions the spamblocker is stubborn ... so send your Commentary always and ignore spamblocker if it ever catches it again because I personally read all of the spamblocked emails anyway each day. Many years ago ... in 1966 or 67 I worked at BILLBOARD in NY when you were there. I was only there a few months though and went into movie PR as a ‘flea publicist’ with 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Of course I remember you, but you not me I surely can guess. I was hired by Lee Zhito and worked with Aaron Sternfield, Bob Sobel, Fred Kirby and Mike Gross. Never got to know you though. Glad you are still in the game. Enjoy your Commentary when I see it. Had lunch with Mo Diamond and ‘the lunch bunch’ in Palm Springs few weeks ago. A friend at the lunch ... an artist who sang under name of MARC TANNO ... is looking to find a copy of his lost 45rpm titled FIRST LOVE/ONE MOON, ONE SIGH, ONE KISS and I have been trying to help him find a copy. Marc did see a copy for sale on E-BAY, but he lost out on the top bid of $31 and change. It was released on 20th Fox Records Marc says disc was released in 1960/61. Maybe someone has a copy out there?”
Later, from Charlie Barrett: “Sorry to hear about Aaron's passing. He was a true character as I recall … he used to take me to many a label after-6pm party in NYC back then where we drank and ate too much, of course. Mike Gross and Paul Ackerman were lovely guys, too, and I very much enjoyed knowing them at my short Billboard stint. I have stayed in touch with Bob Sobel over the years and he is still doing fine at nearly 89 come September (he and I have the same birthday ... the ill-fated date of 9/11).”
Had an email from Jim Gabbert with a couple of articles written a long, long time ago about this “kid” playing FM. Lord, but those were great times. Everything that Jim did with what became K101-FM (first to harp with those kinda calls) was radio history, including all of the experimental broadcasts in discrete quad. Thanks for the items, Jim. And thanks for the memories.
Then a note from Ron Jacobs claiming that Casey Kasem was alive and well in Hawaii. Ron and Casey go back to “American Top 40” days, an historic great, great weekly program. I think I had discs of the show in those long ago days. And some may still be around the house somewhere. Any of you people live with radio artifacts that you just can’t throw away? And usually can’t find.
Danny Davis to Don Whittemore: “DW: I gotta' remember to do kindly things for you, whenever the opportunity allows! Mr. Hall, he the master of those magical music ways, and 'lifter' of grandee remembrances of same, yielded to his true promise, and has provided, the classic Commentary 10, this day to assure, the well being of me, at the breakfast table! Mr. Hall’s action thereby puts the 'shine on you' and thus negates any further strain on that ^%$*#@% Smart Phone you 'tout' so highly ... yet provides me the opportunity to thank 'Dandy' in the most elaborate terms, for coming thru, before I was able to acquire the gentle 'scribing from the Authorman, hissself! Luv, and all the rest!”
Allen Shaw: “Claude, I am really enjoying your Commentaries each week. You mention Don Graham in your latest edition. I realize that Don called on me when I was just starting out at ABC-FM in 1969. He was promoting a new album from Ike and Tina Turner. Fast forward to 2005 when I'm programming my standards station in Las Vegas (KJUL-FM). Don is calling on me with his roster of wonderful standards artists. Don is amazing and effective. He has to be one of, if not, THE longest running music promoter in history. You can count me among the many radio people who love Don Graham. Keep the stories coming Claude.”
Kent Burkhart and Bob Sherwood and New Orleans’ Bob Walker knew the name of the disc jockey at WAYS. Jay Thomas, of course. And this note from Chuck Chellman in Nashville: “Hey, Bob Walker ... I think the guy you're talking about at WAYS was JAY THOMAS. When Jay was in Nashville at WKDA, the nightly air battles between Jay and Scott Shannon of WMAK were classic. Jay Thomas is a great guy ... just doing big time TV now.” The Bob Walker in New Orleans pointed out that Jay Thomas is also from New Orleans.
Does Cosmos still exist in New Orleans?
Red Jones, a noble member of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame: “The jock at WAYS who went on to big TV work: Jay Thomas. And I was honored to be mentioned by Frank Jolley. Good memory. So often, it's ‘I never will forget old what’s-his-name’. Enjoy the column.”
Frank Jolley was immensely helpful to me on my eBook novel “I Love Radio,” now a Kindle Book with Amazon.com.
Scott St. James: “Hi, Claude! Hi, Barbara! Another great column Mr. Hall. The very nice stuff you wrote about the great Don Graham and the great Steve Lawrence got my attention big time. I'm happy to say that Don Graham has renewed his membership with PPB (Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters) and this coming Friday at our annual celebrity-filled luncheon, Don will be at the same table Erica Farber and I will be sitting at. And thanks to Mr. Graham, I received a copy of the new Steve Lawrence album and during two out of town driving trips, I listened to that album over and over and over again. Loved it. Especially the first song. Great singing, great production and a song that is relatable to anyone who has LIVED!!! Keep your good columns a-comin' Mr. Hall. Thanks to you, Monday has become our ‘treat day’.”
Michael Cleary sent me information regarding a memorial for Jim Lange. It will be held at the Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto, in Mill Valley CA 94941 at 2:30 p.m. May 23.
Bobby Ocean: “Now that you appear to be sitting more comfortable in the saddle, I see the plugs are being sent in. Well, I'm no exception. I used to occasionally email The HillGroup a reminder that every week a great memory of the good old days is just a ‘clink away: <www.aircheckchannel.com>. The radio and record industry's audio museum, ReelRadio.com, posts a fresh (Hall of Famer, Bobby Ocean) promo religiously every week, a practice in operation now for over a year. Each recording is written, narrated and produced with respect to the golden days of Top 40, whichever era(s) you passed through, and also available to hear again from a pull-down list. Each promo teases with snippets of great content from our best yesteryears, airchecks and gigs, with links to the longer versions in the museum. You'll remember things you forgot you had in the cobwebs of your mind. I'm proud, with your permission, to pass along the link from time to time.”
Any time, Bobby! The late Jack Roberts and I will always appreciate your cover for “Disc Jockey Cookbook.” Just great! You helped earned Jack a taxi to the hospital and me some eggs benedict at a casino restaurant near the house. Of course, Don Graham drove Jack most of the time.
Roger Carroll, Los Angeles: “Claude, have you ever heard of a small Los Angeles radio station that was one of the most successful radio stations in the country ... wasn't part of your beat KMPC?
Great station. Without doubt. One of my “honors” was to do an interview with Gene Autry one day. And somewhere in the house is a special on Gene. I think the late Bill Mouzis gave it to me.
Gary Allyn: “Hail, Claudius ... just a few quick lines to let you know I’ll finally be going in for my aortic aneurism repair/surgery this Thursday the 15th. All the tests leading up to this has kept me from emailing anything to your column. But, I’ll catch up soon after. Keep up your usual fine journalistic info. Hope all is well with you and Barbara. ‘Til the next time ... your old Radio friend of all these years.”
Then: “Well, Claude ... right after I sent you that email my surgeon called and wants to put it off until May 29th. That may be tentative as well. So, cancel this ‘Bulletin’ ... it’s going to be awhile longer it seems.”
Ah, Gary. Please keep me posted. As Jack G. Thayer used to say: “I’m on your side.”
Don Elliot: “Hi, Claude … love catching up with your Commentaries constantly! It was an exciting week last week. Today is day number five of competitive bidding on the 1500 a.m. frequency in Los Angeles. It is down to one other bidder and me with the FCC auction number 84. So far we have eluded the press. There will be a story in the next day or two when the winner comes through. It has been 10 1/2 years since we filed on that frequency in a short, pretty much under the radar, FCC application window.”
Bob Walker: Hi, Claude ... this first entry must have been from another Bob Walker, not me. I'm the one from WTIX, New Orleans. But I digress. A couple of notes for your info: Yep, Bob Sticht is our legendary DJ/Promo Guy from South Louisiana. Our Bob Robin was Bob Echols who lived in Slidell. But ironically, Bob Sticht was one of my early inspirations to become a DJ when he worked at WTIX. When I was about 10 I would go to WTIX and watch him do his afternoon show through the control room window and pester him for ‘any old records they didn't need’. To this day I remember his WTIX jingle ‘You're bobbin' with Robin ... and the music of Bobby Sticht’, circa 1957. Is Bob Sticht still alive? Another aside: Anyone have any info on WNOE '60's PD Greg Mason?”
The other Bob Walker is probably Bob Wolfson. He used the name of Bob Walker at most of the stations where he worked. Comes up with a great radio tale now and then. And, now that I think about it, I knew a Bob Walker who was into martial arts big time. Worked at KYA, San Francisco, in those days. 70s. Johnny Bond flew into Los Angeles just to slug Buzz Bennett in the nose in the lobby of the Century Plaza and I had Bob standby just in case someone went after Bill Drake. Bob once got arrested while jogging in the park in San Francisco with two pieces of bamboo held together with a chain. He was exercising his wrists. Sure. With two deadly weapons, one device in each hand.
Whups! Maybe I’m getting my Wilson’s mixed up with my Walkers. Oh, well. As Jimmy Rabbitt once told me: It’ll all come out in the wash. Anyway, Bob Wilson, Pittsburgh, sends this:
”Before that other guy takes credit for having a stroke and not being able to remember names ... that email was from me ... not Mr. Walker. And i still cannot bring back that name … he truly is a big star worthy of commentary while i remain a retired old announcer with fewer memories of an exciting past each day.”
As you’ll note above, Bob, your WAYS DJ was more than likely Jay Thomas.
Clark Weber and Ron Riley, two legendary personalities from WLS, Chicago, 1960s, will reunite June 24 for a benefit for the Lotus Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Ringo Starr. Sponsored by WLS FM 94.7, the event at Chicago’s Hard Rock Cafe will be in conjunction with the Ringo Starr Art Show ‘With a Little Help From His Friends’. The exhibit will feature Ringo’s art and free and open to the public. Customers buying a signed print can meet the artists at a special pre-concert even before a June 28 Ringo Starr conert at the Chicago Theatre.
Weber and Riley staged an epic show-business feud for years, first at competing stations in Milwaukee and later at WLS, where Weber hosted mornings and Riley hosted evenings. Together they introduced the Beatles at Comiskey Park in 1965. Weber operated an ad consulting firm, Clark Weber Associates. Riley went on to a second career as a Baltimore TV weatherman.
Of their upcoming reunion, Weber quipped: “Riley will be released from the ‘The Old Radio Announcers’ Home for the Bland’ in Washington, and Sears has offered me a Die Hard battery to get my pacemaker started just for this event.”
I love Lee Baby Simms. This is an email to the Three Mesquiteers, which includes Woody Roberts living amidst the quails near Austin, and Bob Weisbuch, currently in New Jersey, but roaming the wilds with wife while seeking a publisher for his book “Hitbound.” Lee Baby had just sent us the link to an article titled “Heart Attack of the World” written by Mark Morford.
“Dear Boys: 150 Degrees in the shade today. Outside. The Bees and Butterflies and Hummingbirds gasp, and struggle to no avail, they fall to the deck and melt. The Tomato plants wilt and wither and call out my name. Lee, please Help us! Inside, A/C doing its best to maintain 80. I need a bigger unit. Soon we will all need bigger units, therein lies the problem. We are the problem, one of them. Soon there will be no unit big enough to stave off the inevitable. We are all doomed! I have always known that. Everything created is destined to die. The Very Stars themselves will explode/implode and be no more one day. So, too, The Universe one day, they say, will. Where the hell did The Universe come from when it came? The Big Bang? I`m not so sure about that. I never really was. I have always thought that that is just an easy answer to an unanswerable question. Y`all know how people want to know what they can`t possibility know. Witness the thousands of Creation Myths. Witness the thousands of Religions. All of them trying to explain the unexplainable. Where will The Universe go when it goes? Ha! I don`t see any of the smarty pants addressing that question. Ha Ha hahahaha.... I do see our man Mark Morford addressing climate change. He's right on the money, I think. He almost always is. Check him out. See if you agree. Did I mention that it’s ... It’s Hot today. Something cold for lunch today. A delicious chicken truffle salad sandwich. A glass or two of chilled white wine. Life is Sweet. And brief. I enjoy it while I can. Wak.”
Word starting to go around that Julian Castro, currently mayor of San Antonio, may soon move into a Washington cabinet position in preparation for him running for vice president of the United States behind Hilliary Clinton’s presidency. Can you just imagine? Hilliary will be big with women, all Democrats, blacks, and a heap of others and Castro, great-looking and bright (Stanford), would pull all of the Mexicans, the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans and a heap of Texans into the polls. Whoopie!
PHOTO MATTERSCharlie Barrett sent me a picture, attached, of Antheny Shane with Morris Diamond, right, taken at a recent Lunch Bunch in Palm Desert, CA. Shane had a hit “First Love” in 1960 on 20th Century-Fox Records. Morris? The legendary record promotion executive. The Lunch Bunch is a weekly gathering of around 50 guys from show business, including Jed Allen of NBC’s “Santa Barbara” daytime series; Michael Dante of the film “Winterhawk” and Danny Davis, once head of Motown Records. The Lunch Bunch is held Thursdays at the Desert Falls Country Club in Palm Desert.