Monday, August 25, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 26r2

August 25, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 26
By Claude Hall

Again, I point out that Commentary is more or less of a “watering hole” for just about anyone who wishes to contribute.  Mostly those in music and radio, back when and now.  Including a cute tale or two from Rollye James that I may find (it’s on this laptop somewhere) and print eventually.  I have little left to prove these days in conflict, i.e., with a Dex Allan.  Instead, I prefer to enjoy the friendships and the tales that I have been fortunate enough to gather over the years.  And, with God’s luck, perhaps make a new friend on occasion.  We’ve all been around a while and, cliché, “been there, done that” and, I assume, don’t care for nonsense.  You wish to read about Buzz Bennett, there are places (see below).  You’ve never heard of Eddie Hill, tough luck on you!  I write Commentary out of love for radio and music.  I would hope that it’s read basically for the same reasons.

Lee Baby Simms, from his mountain castle above the bay, referred to a suggestion from Dex Allan that “there are many other great people” I could write about.  Lee Baby responds:  “Good Morning, My Good Friend Claude.  I trust that you and Ms. Barbara are well on this most delightful of mornings. Cool and gray and cloudy.  It looks and feels like Winter.  57 degrees when I arose a few hours ago, still only 60 at 10:30 a.m.  Fog envelops The City and The Bay.  (And Lee Baby included a beautiful photo for the benefit of Dr. Robert Weisbuch and Woody Roberts.)  Just beautiful!  And just read Commentary.  Thank goodness for all our old contemporaries helping to ' Keep The Groove Alive'.  There is one guy I could do without. This Dex Allan creature. That son of a bitch has a lot of nerve deeming to give You ‘constructive suggestion’. That little twerp!  Why don`t you tell him to go xxxx himself?  But no, you won`t do that, you are too nice a fellow.  At least you should tell him to keep his 'thoughts’ to himself in as much as no one is interested in them.  AT All.  So let me tell him to go xxxx himself.  Send me his email address and I`ll tell him ‘Hey, you little creep, xxxx you and the slug you slimed in on’.  Or do you think that too harsh of me?   You know me, buddy, if I think they should go xxxx themselves I have no compunctions about telling them to do so.

“Moving on ... a big day coming up just a few days away.  82 years young.  Hot Damn!  Whodaa thunk it?  Don`t be surprised if you find a little surprise on your doorstep on your big day.  Heh, heh.  Oh, Look!  The Sun is burning through the fog.  I am overjoyed.  withakiss.”

My apology to Lee for editing his f word.  I’m not adverse to the word in the fiction I write, depending on the character.  But for this column, I changed it in tribute to our mutual mentor, George Wilson.  Some of you may remember a George Wilson who was quite pithy in his language.  But after he met Jackie, he never mentioned it, but I believe he was “born again.”  When he died, I think his soul was in good shape.  He certainly objected strongly to the language used by a guy who comments all too frequently on music and the music business.  I don’t use the word much in private language.  I am, however, guilty to the foul usage of other words.  The f word was actually the initials used by medical doctors in jolly old England to describe a condition after a sailor had hit port a little too hard.  The doctor would merely write the initials to represent “From Unknown Carnal Knowledge.”  To an extent, I agree with Lee Baby, but I described all of that in Claude’s Commentary No. 25 and above.  So the editing, Lee, was just in case George is looking over my shoulder on this one.

Don Whittemore, the ice cream king:  “Let him get his own Commentary.  F*** his slings and arrows, however well intended by his perspective.  I do believe you'd be writing about those guys if you chose to extoll their contributions to our medium of radio, which reminds me of the 1940's Fred Allen quote, ‘It's called a medium because it's seldom rare or well done’.  Please continue.  Your fan and friend.”

Would you believe this, Don?  I, too, can remember a couple of those great lines by Fred Allen.  “As one fly sitting on a drum said to the other fly, ‘Let’s beat it’.”

Art Wander:  Hi, Claude.  Continue to read your excellent commentaries.  If you have Jonathan Fricke’s email, please send him mine since I don’t recall having received his earlier epistles.  I do know that when I went to a laptop, the computer guy erased all my email stuff.  Stay well.”

Morris Diamond and the charming Alice Harnell were in town this past week at the invite of Olivia Newton-John, performing at the Flamingo.  If we get lucky, there’ll be a photograph at the end of Commentary featuring Olivia Newton-John, Morris Diamond, and Alice Harnell.  It was really a nice lunch with Morris and Alice because, as Barbara said, “They’re nice people.”  I’ve promised to treat the next time they’re in town.  Eggs benedict at the Silver Spoon.  Morris: “We drove home the next day in a horrendous desert storm … got home OK.  Olivia's show was sensational.”

Danny Davis:  “Claude, join in one for Frankie Randall!  He ain't in good shape!  Well loved for long time, and a favorite stalwart of the desert lunch-bunch!  Arnie Capitainelli, of that favorite Thursday function, forwarded this 'tip of the day': ‘Turning the other cheek, doesn't mean you wanna' be struck again. It means you are willing to see the other person, from a different point of view’.  Arnie is a valued Good Guy recipient, no shit!”

The best wishes of all of us to Frankie Randall.  And great on you, Arnie!

Jay Lawrence:  “Remembering KTKT, Tucson.  L. David Moorhead (Guy Williams hired me. There were many more times he hired me).  Frank Kalil should be mentioned.  He had a card file of one-liners.  He'd take out 10 or so every day.  He'd use them and put them at the back of the file until they came up again.  I don't know if he ever replenished the file.  Frank today is a well-to-do station broker.  I should have had a card file.  By the way, just ONE book can't possibly tell all of the L. David, Guy Williams stories.”

Be great if someone would forward this Commentary on to Frank Kalil.  Ask him if he still has that file.  Just FYI, Lee Baby Simms tells a good/interesting tale about L. David Moorhead in one of the short stories in “Radio Wars” which is available cheaply enough at Books.

Clark Weber sent a flyer for a book titled “Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio 1955-75: The Fun Years.”  The book is by Clark and Neal Samors with foreword by Neil Sedaka.  From Chicago’s Books Press (also at $29.59 soft cover, $37.50 hard cover.  One of the stories concerns Larry Lujack and a crazed pilot (Clark) over Chicago.  Clark, you might consider donating a copy to the Arnold Shaw Collection at UNLV.  Shaw was a major music publisher in Manhattan until he retired to Las Vegas.  Thereupon, he taught music industry courses at the university and founded the collection.

Charlie Barrett sent Don Graham and a few others the link to a story in the New York Times about Bruce Lundvall that most of you will find interesting.

Jim Slone:  “Claude … I forgot to mention that Shadoe Stevens once worked here at KIKX in Tucson (Terry Ingstad) ... became quite famous didn't he?  Don't know if that was mentioned in the Tucson Radio Book or not ... I think L. David Moorhead was instrumental in getting K-CUB named as the Billboard Magazine Grand International Station of the Year back in 1976.  Frank Kalil, who is on the cover of the Tucson Radio Book, is the biggest Radio/TV broker in the land … according to my information, no other broker is even close.  He has been enormously successful and still going strong.”

I suppose it’s amazing just how far a box of file card one-liners can go.

Bill Hennes:  “Does anyone know if Mike Joseph, program consultant, is living or dead and if he is alive where he is?  Mike was a major force in program consulting from 1956-1985!  The last I knew he was in LA, and he used to call me about once every three month.  Last time I heard from him was over nine years ago.  Anyone know if he is still with us and where?”

Bill, I can’t be positive, but I think someone emailed several years ago that he’d passed on.  In Los Angeles.  Hell of a place to pass on.  But, of course, if you find a good place, let me know.

Mel Phillips:  “Claude, thanks for including my piece in tribute to all the air talent that I had the pleasure of working with.  And to Don Imus, thanks for the mention.  I meant what I said about you (regarding Imus).  I keep up with what's happening at your ranch by reading Mike Lupica's column every week.  He's been very loyal to you.  I hope you beat that fake ailment you claimed to have. You'll outlive all of us.”

Don Imus, I’m saddened to hear you may be suffering some kind of ailment.  I had a heart attack more than a dozen years ago.  This is one of the reasons I’m so grateful to have Lee Baby Simms around.  Now there’s a guy who is really alive!  Keeps me percolating!  Kim, you’ve got one heck of a father (I think Kim is on my list).

Herb Oscar Anderson sent me a link and, believe me, you will enjoy this!  Cuter than a puddle of mud.  It’s a video of HOA on the air at 93.7 Ocean FM.  Absolutely great.  Sings with the melody.  Didn’t seem to be reading the lyrics either.  My compliments.  Great on you, Herb!  Eddie Hill, WSM, Nashville, used to occasionally sing along with a record and just about everyone I know will admit that it was not easy to sing along with Webb Pierce or Roy Acuff.

Larry Cohen:  Larry Cohen to Rick Frio: “Your short phrase of ‘You may like this’ to your link was understated. I didn't like it.  I LOVED IT!  It brought back great memories to me in 64' when there were record stores & chains & the energy and excitement of breaking new artists at the local distributor level prevailed!  Claude, tout your readers to this outstanding link. It is better then going to a movie.  Thanks Rick for your masterful contribution.”

This is the link, again, from Rick Frio:
Danny Davis: “Authorman: (He of 'tales' aplenty, and lingo unvarnished!, and the wit to let the readership 'go their own way'!)  Fer yars, Larry, I've utilized the language culled, in sum small measure from Damon Runyon, (and hoping for the 'treasure', that 'it' availed him!).  Matter of fact, 'aged friend?', the Prof mentoring me on 'the book', was first to draw the similarily 'tween moi', my literary style, and my literary hero!  Incidentally, Friend, Larry?, when time allows for your perusal of wat' u rote, an the manna' of ur 'goferit' mimikcree', calls me to advise you NEVER to try your speech pattern in mime fashion!  And, 'cause, nobody can understand your last missive to my h/p, explain the 'White Fish' Platter joke attempt, or where would any non-member of the 'tribe' ever have heard 'of good ol' Yiddish roast beef'!  (Thanks, Claude, for toiling with the above 'banal and non-sensical!' diatribe!)”

Bob Paiva:  “As a kid growing up I was always fascinated by some of the great ‘voices' on radio and TV.  The passing this week of one of those legendary voices, Don Pardo, made me think of another of my vocal ‘heroes’ and a story he told me.  The voice was that of Art Hannas, who was the original announcer on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’.  I met him at a cookout in Greenwich, CT, and he told me that he practiced for hour on hour saying ‘This is the Columbia Broadcasting System’ ... in order to get the full majesty of the word ‘Columbia’ into his delivery.  But ... by the time he was with the network long enough to get the hourly ID job ... they'd changed it to ‘CBS New York’.  I found that a wonderfully amusing story.  Two of the other ‘voices’ I particularly loved were that of Reed Hadley and the actor John Ireland.  I could listen to whole episodes of radio drama just to hear their announcing.  And, of course, there were the voices of Wolfman Jack, Casey Kasem, Martin Block and a New York announcer named Jerry Marshall that I grew up listening to.  The voices that filled my head and made me want to be on the radio.”

Ken Dowe:  “Thanks, Claude.  I love Larry Cohen.  Sure miss him and numerous of the other truly professional music guys.  They made our jobs simpler.”

Roger Carroll:  “Worked in LA -- my exception being when I was 15-18 yrs old working at WFMD in Fredrick, MD, then 12 years at ABC-TV and radio -- for 22 years at Gene Autry's GWB plus announcing major TV shows … Claude, I have never heard of the people you write about except Chuck Blore and the lovely Larry Cohen.”

What a pity, Roger.  Great people.  Of course, when you know Chuck Blore, you don’t really need to know too many other radio people.  He’s a radio world unto himself.  Plus, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Real radio.  And, of course, one should also have said “hello,” at least in passing, to Gary Owens.

Wally Roker:  “Love this Commentary.”

The third Music Industry Reunion is set for Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Hill Country Barbecue Market 6 p.m.-?  No host bar/food. The restaurant is located at 30 West 26th St. and tickets are limited. This is an invitation only party.  For information, Jon Scott, or Greg Lee,   The New York Music Industry Reunion organizing committee -- Jon Scott, Greg Lee, Judy Libow, Roxy Myzal, Ted Utz, Wayne McManners, Harvey Leeds, Steve Leeds, Pete Gidion, Jim DelBalzo, Jessie Scott.  Two previous “reunions” were held in Los Angeles.

Well, I’ve finished the final edit on my Great American Novel and Bill Pearson has finished the cover and soon – a week or so – I’ll install it with Kindle Books.  Warning:  It might offend you.  Got a lot of those dirty words in it.

I still think radio when it comes to music.  You know: Will it be played?  Will it be a hit?  And I’m a bit prejudiced when it comes to old friends.  Dex Allan and Roger Carroll may not know who Jack Gale is.  But I do.  Great, great radio man!  Mentor to other great radio men.  Outstanding radio personality.  Phenomenal program director.  Dex Allan might not know where WTMA is, but the Great God of Radio does.   And so do I.

Thus, I would praise this CD by the Shelby County Line on Playback Records.  Just because Jack Gale owns Playback Records.  But the group is damned good!  Good group that can obviously play rock, but goes country and I enjoyed “Great Minds Drink a Lot” and “Honey Do.”  Started my foot tapping.  These guys have paid their dues.  Good musicians.  “She’s About Love” is cute.  Need to get these guys on the jukebox.  Good CD.  My compliments, Jack and Good On You Shelby County Line!

“Memphis” on PBS Sunday, Aug. 24, was quite interesting.  Supposedly loosely based on life of Dewey Phillips and I don’t know enough about Dewey to say yea or nope, but it featured Chad Kimball, who is probably bound for better things and Montego Grover, female lead who was excellent.  Worth seeing just for the heck of it.

From Sept. 21, 2009
In discussion about “Matilda” by Cookie Cutter and the Cupcakes, George Wilson said one the best he knew at remembering songs was Rollye James.  “She knew all that stuff.  Especially the old blues tunes.”  The record “Matilda” went to No. 1 in Charleston, SC.  But probably George is the only one who’d remember that.  Others who were mental giants at remembering songs and artists?  Bill Drake, Mike Curb, Ted Atkins, Seymour Stein.  “Bill Drake and Ted Atkins used to play a game for hours at Martoni’s,” George said.  I remember one evening when Mike Curb and Ted Atkins sat swapping record names and labels and even the color of the label on the copy that went out to the radio stations.  This was at a party I believe at the home of Atkins in the Hollywood Hills area.  Great view of Los Angeles at night.  Paul Ackerman, late music editor of Billboard magazine, once told me that Seymour Stein astonished Don Pierce by relating his entire Star Records catalog.  This was many years ago…late 50s or early 60s; I seem to recall Paul stating that Stein worked for Billboard at the time..  I never met Seymour, but Paul loved the guy and always spoke highly of him.  Always wanted to meet him.  Find out how his mind worked.  His real name, I understand, is Steinbeagle.  We had many very, very bright people in the radio and music businesses.  In retrospect, probably more than our share of great talents and bright minds.  Jack McCoy, who programmed KCBQ in San Diego to No. 1 was one of these people.  Buzz Bennett had his flaws (don’t we all?), but I believe he was extremely bright.  L. David Moorhead, general manager of KMET in Los Angeles, had total recall of everything he heard and I understand that his son Rob Moorhead can remember everything he reads.

May your day be pleasant and filled with music
and may your tomorrow and tomorrows be even better.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Claude’s Commentary.7r

July 7, 2014
Claude’s Commentary
By Claude Hall
Larry White, now in Charlotte, NC:  “I remember that Four Seasons show in Buffalo years ago very well.  After the show, you and Barbara, Joey and his guest (his wife at the time, as I recall) and Jay Meyers (WBUF's PD) and his wife joined us at our home for a while before you returned to Brockport.  It was a great visit since I was always a big Joey Reynolds fan from the time I first got into the business. And like everyone else from the era never missed your weekly Vox Jox column in Billboard.  Claude, when I attended a few of the Billboard radio programming conferences in NYC, I never would have guessed that, years later, I would have you and Joey as guests in our home.  It was quite an honor.  Best to you and Barbara.”
Don Whittemore defended the quality of the movie.  “Saw ‘Jersey Boys’ Sunday.  Joey Reynolds's four-hour Four Seasons non-stop was a vital bit in the movie, but alas no name credit and the DJ didn't look at all like Joey.  Great Movie, too.  So nice I'll see it twice.”
Burt Sherwood: “Claude:  As we age brevity is a word that someone else uses when writing a note.  The death knell (if you will) of WMCA was sounded by Hal Neal the then GM of WABC.  He finally got rid of the ‘Breakfast Club’.  Steve Labunski, our manager at WMCA, was always afraid this would happen … what ensued was Herb Oscar jumping over to WABC to fill the ‘void’ of the Breakfast Club and leaving WMCA with his great ratings, and no HOA.  Why wouldn't WABC sound good?  They had Herb and Scott from WMCA.  HOA and Scott and I were very close ... Herb got us to move up to Connecticut to be with his family and Scott's as well ... we all lived within 15 minutes of each other ... our wives and kids all were very friendly. HOA and I still talk all the time...Scott as you know passed away.  HOA , Scott Muni and I along with our families would get together almost every weekend for a bar b que..cook out etc. ... we were very close ... when we were at WMCA we three were on the air longer (air time wise) than most of the rest of the station ... I would see them both daily as I was on the end and the beginning of their shifts.  I was doing overnights and was sponsored by Texaco ... and that story is another one left alone..suffice to say I was the ‘last’ one to leave WMCA and Texaco went off the overnights.  I was scheduled to join the guys ... but the WABC overnight man Big Joe had a no cut contract ... and I still had a lot of time left my WMCA contract as well.
“To shorten this ... I was let go at WMCA, and could not get a job in NYC ... I struggled for a year or so and finally got two NYC  lawyers (Bob Price, he became Deputy Mayor of NYC and Ted Kupferman, he became a congressman)  and then Congressman John Lindsay's money to begin my journey in management.  That is a shortcut to a very trying time and a story that will do no one any good.  I did 11 pm Sunday news on WOR as well as the Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV (for a while), went to Daytona Beach and Harrisburg then to Albany where I honed my management skills ... suffice to say it was the turning point of my life ... and many people were very kind to me as I began the long journey wearing the ‘suit’.  The first station I ran was in Brattleboro, Vermont.  We paid $80,000 for WTSA.  As I tell my son, you gain no knowledge of management from a good is too good to be picked apart ... so you learn from the guys you worked for that were not so good ... no names ... management is a trickey business ... John Barger wrote kindly of me and Buddy Carr ... AND we all had to learn!
“Once again...Ruth Meyer was a friend and we connected again years later when I was GM at WMAQ radio and she and Chuck Renwick were programming NBC Radio Network ... she was a great gal and a pal ... she loved France and got there as often as she could, and Chuck and I once in a while chat about those days , she ended up with terminal cancer and living in Kansas City (her home), and we talked and talked via the phone she could tell history beautifully and was a fine writer ... so much goes by in time ... I thought about a book ... but so has everyone else.  She had a very good private life and talked to me about it all the time ... she made a lot of friends  (including my wife Anne) and was deeply religious!  Enough Claude ... most of this stuff predated your arrival at Billboard and our getting to know each other, and I think I am boring you.  Give Barbara a hug ... from me still standing.”
Ah, yes.  Hal Neal.  When he became head of ABC Radio, I received a news release about their Brother John syndicated program.  I wrote the typical news story and printed it in Billboard.  He sent a PR firm to “demand” a larger story.  A feature.  I listened to the program.  Didn’t think much about it.  I said “nope.”  Neal called me.  Again, “nope.”  The PR firm approached again and the guy said he knew Hal Cook, my publisher.  I said, “Good.  I know him, too.”  Neal got revenge a couple of years later.  I was asked to do some consulting for the NAB and Neal threw the proverbial monkey’s wrench into the deal.
John Rosica:  “In fact it was Sam Holman who established WABC’s sound and format.  Rick Sklar was just the keeper of the Holman format.”
I think that would be shortchanging Rick, John.  True, the format was set by Sam Holman and I more than likely failed to give Sam his just due (I believe I apologized at one point; I sure hope I did).  But Rick constantly made improvements.  I believe that the real success of the station was because of Rick.  Regardless, as Burt Sherwood indicates, WABC did not fully overcome WMCA until “Breakfast Club” was removed from the air and credit for that probably goes to Rick.  He lamented the program to me a few times.  Not that it was bad.  Just that it didn’t fit a Top 40 station.
Larry Woodside, in a follow-up to the Ken Roberts obit:  “Sadly, yes, last month in NYC. There was an obituary in the LA Times yesterday (guess they were a little late getting the word), and then there's this: Ken Roberts, the Other "Jersey Boy," Remembered at the Friars Club.”
Freddy Snakeskin, JACK-FM/KROQ, Los Angeles:  “The LA Times is doing a story on the late Ken Roberts. They already did a lengthy interview with me, but after reading Joey Reynolds' comments in your blog, I was thinking he might be a good source for them to talk to as well. I don't know how far along the reporter, Elaine Woo, is with her story, but since you are in contact with him, would you mind passing this message along? Elaine can be reached at”
But Elaine Woo responded: Thanks, Freddy, but I already filed the story.  Sounds like there's a book here!”
Jay Lawrence in regards to Chuck Blore’s statement about today’s radio lacking entertainment:  “I read the comments about L David Moorhead.  He talked about the entertainment station a lot. Wanted me to work for him.  David hired me or had me hired on 3 different stations.  We met at KTKT Tucson.  He brought me to KFI, next helped move me to WNEW, then to an Arthur Godfrey type show in WNDE, Indianapolis. He hoped to get it on all stations in Gulf Broadcast Group.  Let's write a book about David, there are million stories in the L. David (Guy Williams) City.”
You were always huge with David Moorhead, Jay.  Talked about you often.  And, yes, he intended to hire you for the new station he was planning to put on the air in Las Vegas, the first of a chain.  He also intended to hire Mikel Hunter and a couple of others whom I can’t remember after all this time.
Al Herskovitz, Bradenton, FL:  “Wow! Talk about going way back in time.  I worked with Dan Ingram when his name was Ray Taylor and mine was Al Harper.  He and i worked weekend nights at WICC in Bridgeport, CT.  He did the music and I did the news.  He even had to co-host a Sunday night classical music show. We were so broke then that we had to pool our change in order to buy one sub sandwich to split for dinner.”
Bob Skurzewski:  “I found Casey Kasem to be a neat guy to talk to. He was secretive about things, thus he did not get many pages in our book. He did explain all the thoughts on what would eventually be ‘American Top 40’.  Eddie Chase was mentioned by him as a person who amazed him with a count down of top records when Casey was a teen. He did not have to credit anybody. But he did!  I also tried to get him to write the preface for our book. He politely said no.  As to the news, our book title was never in the body of the article. I did sign off to the gal in charge of these types of views, that we did author the book and gave her info on it. She inserted in the body. That blew me away because the Bflo. News has done little to help local authors get some press.  I understand that the Kasem battles continue with Jean trying to wrestle away the kids trust funds Casey set up for them.  For now lets call that a nasty rumor.  Stay well.”
I liked Casey.  Don’t know anyone that didn’t like him.
Don Berns:  “I was always proud to call Bob Lewis (Bob-A-Lou) a friend, since we had both graduated from WBRU at Brown and hit it off well enough that we remained friends through the rest of his life.  Bob arranged for me to sit in with Dan Ingram for a few breaks one day -- one of the thrills of my young life, since for me Dan was one of the all-time greats as well.  But the WABC story that Bob told me that sticks with me today is about the engineer who was having drinks with a fellow 1st ticket holder from WMCA who tried to pry the settings from him for WABC's reverb, which WMCA had tried to copy for years but had never gotten right.  After a few drinks, this WMCA guy thought his buddy was lubricated enough to spill the beans, and sure enough got what he thought was the settings from him. What he didn't know was how loyal the WABC engineer was to his company, and the next day when the WMCA engineer tweaked his station's sound, the jocks all sounded like they were talking from the back of a cave.”
I complained that the temperature in Las Vegas was currently around 110 during the day and Woody Roberts responded:  “Hot?  Get back to where you once belonged; only 95 this week.  To help forget LV temp here's some good 'ol Texas radio coming outta cool Dripping Springs -- home of Hamilton's Pool -- to mix with your daily streams and Youtube tunes.
“PS --  Watch out for that Diet Pepsi, what you need is a cold bottle of Diet Cana Cola.”
Oh, sure.  Funny thing is that someone sent me some hot cocoa from Starbucks; don’t know who.
Roger Carroll, Los Angeles:  “Claude, I enjoy your Commentary ... re: Joey Reynolds he has to be kidding about the movie. Some time I will tell you my experience with him.”
Roger, don’t wait.  I would indeed love to print something scandalous about Joey.  The first thing I ever wrote about him was for a special magazine Billboard published called SoundMaker.  Circa 1967.  I thought he would sue.  But the first time I met him, he thanked me.  So, you tell me your scandalous story and I’ll tell you two or three of mine!  Maybe four.  Or, heck, let’s do a book!  Did you read “I Love Radio” at Books?  Some Joey stuff in there.
Lee Baby Simms, who has never (ask Woody Roberts) done anything scandalous in his life other than raise tomatos, sent me an old newspaper item about Billy Joe Shaver being arrested for aggravated assault regarding an incident outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon in Lorena, TX, on March 31, 2007.   I remarked that it sounded like a typical Texas bar tale.  Just FYI, Billy Joe was acquitted in a Waco court on April 9, 2010.  Self-defense.  Dale Watson wrote a song about the incident – “Where Do You Want It?” recorded by Whitey Morgan and the 78s.  It’s on the group’s second album on Bloodshot Records.
Ah, them Texas bars!
Jim Slone:  “My remarks will be a little too old for your readers but probably not for you ... lol  I went to the museum at San Juan Capistrano last week ... on one of the plaques outside was a picture of the sheet music to ‘When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano’ featuring Tony Martin.  There were a lot of different versions of that song but the most popular was by the ink Spots in 1940 … have always loved that song ... I was able to find Tony Martin's recording and it is good, too ... The swallows weren't there last week, but there were hoards of people ... and the gift shop was filled with regular folks buying mementos.”
Beautiful place!  Barbara and I and kids have been there.  More than once or twice, I think.  I even have some photos I took.  This, of course, was more than 30-40 years ago.
Bobby Ocean:  “Regarding that statement, ‘all Art is a funny business’, you're right, Claude.  It was Kurt Vonnegut who once said, ‘to work at any art, whether done well or badly, is to grow the soul.  So, do it’."
Bobby, in my opinion, you’re a tremendous artist!  Takes a gift.  Back in the day of magazines, you’d probably have been famous.  Well, that is even more famous than you are now.  Because, to me, you’re famous.  And great!  A great radio treasure!
I hope everyone’s past week was good and that next week will be sensational for you and yours.  At the moment, I’m reading “Rhythm and the Blues.”  A comment maybe next week.

Claude's Commentary No. 25r2

August 18, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 25
By Claude Hall

Bob Sherwood:  “Thanks for another entertaining and enlightening missive.  Some random thoughts regarding the photo from Delmonico’s at the end of your piece….
--tell Jerry Sharell he’s opening for Joey Bishop IV tonight at the Troubador.  It’s sold-out.
--tell Don Graham he looks 20 years younger (like he hadn’t even worked Gene Autry’s records before Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) since he dumped the UCLA sweatshirt.  With his eyes he’d look even better in USC Cardinal & Gold.  Also tell him that I re-added the Claudine Longet record
--Ed Rosenblatt still looks like he could go five sets with Roger Federer.  Pisses you off, doesn’t it?  Not fair!
--if Macey Lipman hasn’t left yet, tell him to stay in Armani’s penthouse suite in The Hassler at the top of The Spanish Steps.  One of the great hotels of the world and the view over Rome is worth a showing by itself.  Also, go to Villa Cimbrone in Ravello.  The views of the gardens and the belvedere (Terrazo dell’infinito) overlooking the Mediterranean are unequaled anywhere in the world.  Gore Vidal in answer to a question about the most beautiful spot in the world once responded that it was Villa Cimbrone when the view from the belvedere showed a sky and water so blue you couldn’t tell the difference.  Macey’ll begin painting and we may never see him again.  Nice day!
“You can reach Don Imus at WABC in NYC.  He hasn’t lost any of what’s made him great since the late ‘60s.  The curiosity, the intelligence, the humor, the quick mind and the famed prickliness.
“Finally, it occurs to me that after you name Vin Scully, there’s a very short list of those who can be spoken about in the same paragraph.  Johnny Holliday is among them.”
And, Bob, I would add another person who, at present, slips my mind.  Getting old.  Actually, I’m getting ancient.  ‘Old’ was yesterday.  But you’re right about Johnny.  Music.  Sports (not just announcing, but he used to play basketball as least as good as Gary Owens).  Commercials.  Acting.  Besides that, somewhere along the way he stumbled over the reputation of being a nice guy.
Don Sundeen: “Lee Baby’s comment about crossing over the bridge to Juarez on his way to San Antonio brought back a lot of memories.  We’ve been watching the TV series, ‘The Bridge’, showing the incredible violence and corruption that the Cartel’s have brought to that little town, and I flashed back to ’67 or ’68 when I was doing six to ten in the evening at KELP.  Many nights after the show I’d go over to Juarez to hear some music and drink quarter beers.  The streets were full of GIs from Fort Bliss who would soon be on their way to Vietnam, and really partying down.  Flash forward to sometime in the mid-70s.  I was sitting at a hotel bar in Little Rock waiting for some jocks, when I guy sat down next to me.  We struck up a conversation and he talked about flying helicopters in ‘Nam, and seeing unspeakable horrors.  I mentioned that I’d been a disc jockey in several markets including El Paso, and when he asked when I told him the years, and he asked what my name was.  I explained I was Don Sundeen, but at KELP I had used the name Donnie Dare.  ‘No shit’, he said. ‘The night we were packing to go to ‘Nam, you could walk up and down the halls in the barracks and hear your voice and music coming from every room; in fact, for a lot of guys you were the last disc jockey on American radio that they ever heard’.  I felt a chill, it hadn’t really registered with me at the time that part of my audience were soldiers passing through Ft. Bliss on their way to a war where many would die.  As he rose to leave, I took the tab and thanked him for telling me his story, and also sharing information that I’ve never forgotten. Claude, I was happy to receive the blog today, looks like the kink is worked out.”
Don, the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner I ever met was at Ft. Bliss.  A Mexican about 5’9”.  Nice guy.  Just back from Korea.  There’s ex-friend of mine and Raul Cardenas—Fernando Corral--who was overrun in Korea.  He stayed firing a Howitzer.  And was left for dead.  Unfortunately, there was no one left alive in his company to write him up.  When he left The University of Texas, he moved back to Mexico.
Rick Frio:  You may like this.
Norway?  Norway?  No way!
Bob Barry:  “Now I need help with my long-term memory. When was Herb Oscar Anderson at WOKY?  Was he hired by George Wilson?”
Maybe HOA can tell us.  I’d be interested in his early career.  The only thing I’ve heard about Herb is that he enjoys classical music.  This was during his WABC, New York days.  I think Rick Sklar told me..
Jonathan Fricke, Nashville:  “Hey, Claude -- Hope this finds you and Barbara doing well.  Nancy is going through a rather tough time fighting Lymphoma.  This is her second time with cancer, having won the battle against cervical cancer about 3 years ago.  Nancy went for her first chemo treatment for her lymphoma last Friday and did well.  I've enjoyed reading your commentaries.  Thanks for sending them.  In a couple you have mentioned Art Wander.  Also, in one of your emails to me, you mentioned that he had reached out and would like to hear from me.  I have sent him a few emails, but have never had a response.  Perhaps I have a wrong email address.  Could you let me know if my address is correct?  I worked with Art at WPOP in Hartford CT. He was also programming a station in Memphis when I was hired to take WMC country back in 1973 ... which, oddly enough, was the year I was given the Billboard Major Market PD of the Year award for WMC ... complete with your signature! Fond memories.”
Barbara and I are very sad to hear about Nancy.  Just FYI, Barbara is a double winner from cancer.  And somewhere in this house I have a b&w photo of a very young program director named Jonathan Fricke at a radio station in Lubbock with a very young Willie Nelson.  I ask for prayers for Nancy.  She and Jonathan are special friends.
Jim Slone:  “I was thinking, this is my 51st year in Tucson ... I rode into town in my 1956 Chevy ready to go as the morning man on the brand new K-HOS Radio (I was a little scared and apprehensive). It has been quite a ride … ups and downs ... hills and valleys ... good times and bad times … all in all I couldn’t have asked for better.  Glad I made Tucson my home.  I came here at age 26 and am now 77… healthy and glad to be alive.  K-HOS signed on the air 51 years ago tonight at 7 p.m.  I played the first record which was ‘Company's Comin' by Porter Wagoner.”
Good job, Steve, on “Dream a Little Dream of Me” on the new CD “When You Come Back to Me.”  Nothing as good as a Steve Lawrence song for mellowing out your day.
Jim Slone just mailed me a book called “Tucson Radio” by Russ Jackson and C.J. Brown, $21.99, from  No index, but I noticed that it mentioned Guy Williams and Pat McMahan.  Chuck Blore, too.  Does it mention Jay Lawrence and George Wilson?  I’ll let you know later.  The information about Guy Williams is a bit wrong.  But the book is mostly pictures, so…
Barbara Hall says that the events in Ferguson, MO, this past week make her Devon teeshirt good to go.  Whups!  Now we hear that Brown might have been just a thug.  Unfortunately, at the time the cop pulled the trigger just a few times too many, he probably didn’t know.  But now the two “witnesses” are going to have to come up with another story.  Sorry about the teeshirt, girl.
Bob Wolfson:  “On some of the older Hollywood treaties there are a number of great programmers, announcers, producers, etc. etc., listed.  Somehow David Moorhead’s name is nowhere to be seen.  I can vividly remember countless dinners around the US&A ... great nights spent in fantastic hotel bedrooms ... and meeting most of the folk who worked for David (and George) over those exciting years I spent in radio ... and that covers the period 1947 to 1991 from acting to announcing to ... well, just having a really great time with good friends (food and drink included).”
Bob, I wrote and published an eBook called “Radio Wars” and in there is a tale about L. David Moorhead.  Jimmy Rabbitt and Lee Baby Simms and others, too, of course.  Chuck Blore loved the tales.  George Wilson called right after he read the story about Moorhead to ask if it was all true.  I hated to tell him “yes.”  But George pointed out that L. David should mostly be remembered for creating one of the greatest icons – KMET-FM – in radio history.  And that, too, is true.  The book is available at Books for just a couple of bucks.
Larry Cohen:  “To Danny Davis:  Ur usage of Inglish & spelinng is atrocious. Hope dere's mor claritey in de long awaittedd Fill Spoector book uve been writtinng.  P.S.  And many thanx to Ken Dowe for opening the door for me to real Texas barbeque at Sam's 40 years ago (across the street from KLIF) while all the time (with a name like Sam's) I thought it was good old Yiddish roast beef.”
Larry, no picking on Danny Davis.  He’s a friend of mine.  Too, Marie Davis just might slap you upside the head with a dead taco.
Dex Allan:  “Some items in your blog are refreshing, and interesting.  One constructive suggestion:  include more often dialogue about DIFFERENT people ... there is a consistency of mentioning the same people every week, but there are many OTHER great people you could write about ... example...John Rook, Ted Atkins, Buzz Bennett, Pat O'Day, etc.  Just a thought.”
Dex, I’ve been editing Commentary for more than 10 years.  I don’t actually write much of it.  Though now and then I’ll sound off about something.  We did a big thing about trying to find Buzz years and years ago.  Traced a ‘Buzz Bennett’ to a Florida TV where he did a blog about movies; he denied he was the one.  A tale about him is in “I Love Radio” for a couple of bucks at Books.  Just FYI, the last radio buddy to see him put him on a plane to Florida out of Dallas and he was very sick at the time.  Ted and Pat have written in to Commentary.  Ted, of course, is gone now.  I think Pat gets Commentary; he’s on my mailing list.  I know Pat fairly well.  Great PD and great GM.  Wish I could contact another Pat … Pat McMahon, a great PD who probably still lives in Phoenix.  Now there is a story!  If and when Pat O’Day or Pat McMahon wish to say something, I suppose they will write.  I print most of everything I get.  Incidentally, I don’t do phone anymore.
One more thing, Dex:  I couldn’t do Commentary without the folks who write me.  I’m grateful for each and every cottonpicking one of them!  And I’m not the only person who likes people such as Lee Baby Simms and Don Whittemore.
Don Imus:  “Don Whittemore and I are friends … going back to his record promo days ... every once in awhile he emails me and he watches the show.  I always liked him.  Anyway ... he sent me a blog you had written that included some comments by a PD I worked with at NBC.  Mel Phillips, I think ... very nice guy.  I have fond memories of you and always remember how good you were to me.  I am happy you're not dead.  I miss a lot of the old guys Wolf and Robert W and Don Steele ... still a lot of fun to talk on the radio.  I am at our ranch in New Mexico ... just bought a ranch in Brenham, Texas ... back to New York in September.  My very best.”
The first rodeo was in Pecos, but I sort of believe that the cattle industry, per se, originated in or around Brenham.  Don’t know for sure.  Anyway, I thought I’d drop a note to Imus and Whittemore; I was really grateful to hear from Imus.  I told Whittemore that I still had a copy of “12,000 Hamburgers to Go” and remembered, quite fondly, Imus’ promotion of a “Cleaver lookalike contest” when he was at Palmdale.  Anyway, I wrote Don and Don a joint email.
“Thank you, Don Whittemore!  I've felt lost over the years ... not being able to contact Don Imus.  Like having an arm missing.  I still remember, quite fondly, his ‘Cleaver lookalike contest’.
“Don Imus, great to hear from you.  I immediately read your email to Barbara, who's sitting on the couch watching Rachel Maddow.  She said, ‘How great.  Say hi’.  Yeah, still alive.  Sort of amazing.  I'm glad to hear that you're okay and doing well.  I'm still writing.  Commentary once a week.  And a novel now and then.  I've got about 15 eBooks with Kindle Books.  None selling, unfortunately.  Sad about Robin Williams and Lauren Becall.  Part of me seems to be disappearing.  Thanks for your note.  Made my year!”
Don Imus from horseback: “Thanks for your note.  Our website is ... you can pretty much catch up on all the bullshit.  Give my best to Barbara.  I'll be delighted to promote any book you'd like. Our office in New York is Imus 75 Central Park West 10023. 212 595 IMUS. Meghan Hurlbut runs the New York office.”
George Nicholaw has gone on.  Former renown GM at KNX, Los Angeles.  Don Barrett covered the man with an excellent feature this past week.  We come, we do, we go.
Thank God for Don Barrett and
Mel Phillips:  “I owe a great deal of my programming success to the people I've listed.  Asterisks are used for both on-air and real names.  Chris Bailey, Jerry Butler, Jim Carnegie, Joel Cash, Jeff Christie* (Rush Limbaugh III), Larry Clark, Bob DeCarlo, Michael Meyer Dineen, Johnny Donovan, Dale Dorman, Tommy Edwards, (Big) Bob Evans* (Jim Davis), Charlie Fox, Al Gates, Arnie Ginsburg, Chip Hobart, Don Imus, J.J. Jeffrey, J.J. Jordan, Tom Kennedy, Jimmy King, Chuck Knapp, Marcia Kniceley, Anderson Little, Jim Lloyd, Walt "Baby" Love, Perry Marshall, Gary Martin, Danny Martinez, Joe McCoy, Johnny Michaels, Bobby Mitchell* (Frank Kingston Smith), Jerry Morgan, Bruce Morrow, Jon Powers, Oogie Pringle, Mark Rivers* (Mark Driscoll), Bill Rock, John Rode, Jay Shannon, Rick Shaw* (Hugh Silvas), Shadoe Stevens, Dick Summer, Bob Vernon (with a V) & Johnny Williams" (Bill Todd).  Many thanks.”
Woody Roberts, writing to Bob Weisbuck, who’d spent vacation on a primitive island (note: Woody’s AT&T was down for a week), copies to Lee Baby Simms and D’Artegan:  “Was an interesting ‘vacation’ with no web, phone, TV, radio, stereo, visitors, like being hermit on a mountain top.  Like Dr. Bob's annual retreat to the island.  Much time walking the shrinking forest and fields plus read a lot and watched some low quality but historic Armadillo World Headquarters/TYNA TACI [our consultancy] black and white video circa '72-'76.  Had no idea if the world was surviving or continuing its descent into a SciFi 1984 distopia.  Nice.  Now a hundred emails to check out.”
Claude:  “Woody, Glad to see you're back in the land of the living!”
Lee Baby Simms:  “Ah!  Woodrow ... There you are!  I second Claude`s sentiment.  Glad.  Welcome back from the 'Land Of The Dead.'  Well, that's debatable.  Living in Land of the Dead.  Just because one`s Internet service has gone down?  YES!  I know exactly what you guys are talking about.  Hi, Kim.  Comcast has a problem.  I have a problem.  I`m all like, ‘Hey, where did all of That go?’  A part of me, a small part of me, is so invested with the Internet that when it’s not there it`s as if a part of me has gone on some kind of sabbatical.  A sabbatical that I did not want to go on.  I spend so much time here at my little desk, at this machine, when it, all of a sudden betrays me. And abandons me, if only for a few minutes.  I don`t necessarily freak out.  But I will confess a brief anxiety attack sweeps over my being.  What do I do now?  Then I remember, I look out the big picture window in front of me and I think ... Wow!  Look at aalllllllll of that.  Then I step out into Allllllllll of that.  The Internet cannot compare with allllll of that out there.  One more thing....  I use to have a job!  No Internet needed.  Here`s the deal ... I`ll trade you four Internets for one job, Afternoon Drive in a Resort Area or a Major Market only.  Close to the Ocean is a must.  Please Contact my agent.  Lunch!  Just there.  The possibilities are endless.  Y`all comin` over?  Do.  We will explore them together.”
Bob Sherwood again:  “I follow the talented Mr. Chuck Buell with a couple of books that you’ve probably already read but if not, you should!  ‘Making Records’ by Phil Ramone is a fascinating ride from the ‘60s through ‘90s music culture since he is the producer of Pavarotti and Streisand classical recordings and at the other end, Sinatra’s classic duets.  Along the way were Loggins & Messina, Billy Joel, Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’, Sting, Madonna, Paul Simon’s ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’, Elton John and a plethora of other marvelous pop and jazz artists.  The tales he tells are worth your time.  And then there’s ‘Making Rumours’.   One would think there’s only so much one could tell about the making of one album and it shouldn’t take an entire book.  But this one does and does it very well.  It’s somewhat amazing that such an amazing recording could survive the emotional volcanos that occurred on a frighteningly regular basis.
Certainly the passion of ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Dreams’ is better understood after the book.
Once again, worth a read.”
Our success usually, if not always, depends on others.  In big things and little things.  I’ve been very blessed.  So many have contributed in one way or another to whatever it is that I am … I could not name them all.  Paul Ackerman, music editor of Billboard comes to mind.  Harvey Glascock when he managed WNEW in New York.  Rick Sklar.  Don Graham.  George Wilson.  David Moorhead.  George Furness.  And the list is years and memories long!  I sit here wrapped in thoughts.  Thank all of you who still exist.  And to those who’ve gone on: Paz.
I’ve just about finished my great American novel.  Bill Pearson has completed a cover.  My son John is going to read the last three chapters for me for typos and common sense.  Backup.  More news in about two or three weeks.
Been a tough week. 
Recover!  March on!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Claude's Commentary.24r2

August 11, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 24
By Claude Hall

Woody Roberts reflects upon San Antonio:  “Lee, do you remember when you came to KONO?  I'm thinking it was in the fall of '64?  I recall it was a bright sunny day.  Well, the date slipped away but the event holds in my memory.  The daytime ratings were slightly in our favor but the nights were holding us back.  I had to make a change and Ted Randal of the tipsheet from LA called George Wilson to see if he knew of anyone.   So George phoned you.  Your audition tape was fine and I heard a real good pace, a very friendly voice with a tat of Southern accent, a hip delivery, and you sounded like a youthful and likeable guy for connecting with those critical 7-midnight teens.  Yet, I didn't hear YOU.  You were not on that tape, but it was my top contender.  I phoned George Wilson and he told me, ‘Lee doesn't telescope well ... you have to listen to his show a few times, but Lee will get you the numbers.  I have to let you know he can be hard to manage’.  I had to ask if that meant you were one of those moaning DJs who always found something to criticize and had one or two fellow DJs he couldn't stand.  Talented prima donna?  ‘Oh, no.  But he might try to sneak around your format sometimes’.  ‘But is he a good guy?’  ‘Yes, Lee's a good guy’.

“Flash forward and you walked into the office looking taller, larger than I'd imagined.  I remember telling you I'd heard you were hard to manage and saw your eyes widen like I was going to issue some kind of we-don't-take-no-nonsense type warning.  I told you I wasn't going to try.  I was into doing bits and stunts and the format was there to keep the station moving, but if you had something better to offer to go ahead and break it, then come back on track.  You relaxed and told me that you had a cowboy movie town image of San Antonio and then upon driving in on I-10 East you passed the brand new Wonderland shopping mall where on each side of the grass banked highway water sprinklers were tossing ropes of sparkling diamonds though the bright sunlight while up ahead you could see tall buildings on the horizon.  It was then you knew -- you were going to own this town."
“And you did."

“I heard the real you on your first night's show.  My show ended in front of yours, I ran out the door with Don Couser as Tom Ellis was starting his newscast and we drove out of the parking lot onto St. Mary's Street with the radio turned up loud to hear your first break.  The news ended, we looked at each other and blinked.  You had started your show before you played the first record and were going on about how you had just arrived in town and were about to: ‘...give out the Famous Lee Baby Call to all you San Antonio wheelers, you dealers and hubcap stealers, get ready’, a long pause of breath sucking in before a top of the lungs scream: ‘HAI Baybeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzz........’ until all your breath wheezed out.  I swear Couser almost ran over the curb and onto the sidewalk we laughed so hard.  KTSA would never know what hit 'em.  PS - Don Couser is deceased, Tom Ellis retired last year from a major career anchoring TV news in Boston.”

Lee Baby Simms from his hilltop above the San Francisco Bay:  “History, Claude.  You love Radio History.  Here is a little slice.  It was mid-summer, Woody.  Of 1965.  I had driven in from Phoenix.  I remember as I left The Valley Of The Sun, the man on the Radio told me that the temperature was 120 degrees.  I said, ‘Whew!  I`m so glad that I`m leaving this furnace’.  This ... not me.  I had been there for almost two years.  My high school sweetheart, Martha, my wife, and Kim`s mother had cheated on me with some fancy boy she had found down at the pool.  She told me that he was a better man than I and that I should just go away.  (He was a Greek guy who later turned out to be stark raving crazy!)  I was overjoyed with the news.  Martha was a drag on my aspirations.  She was a simple person, all she wanted was a man to provide her with a little house with a white picket fence around it and roses in the front yard.  I knew that I was not that man.  I wanted to be somebody!  I was suddenly free to be me.  Free to fulfill my destiny.  I called my friend George Wilson, told him I wanted to leave Phoenix.  He said, ‘OK, Lee, send a tape to Woody Roberts at KONO in San Antonio’.  I don`t know how he knew you were looking for someone.  George Wilson was something else again.  You know about George and I, don`t you?  He was one of a kind.  I sent the tape and you heard something in it.  We spoke on the phone.  You said, ‘Come on over, Lee, you got the job’.  Once again I was overjoyed!  I was on a roll.  Fifty years later I still am.  In no small part because of you.  Thank you, Woody.  A Lot.  Because of you, on a certain level and in many ways, I am me.

“PS.  On my way to San Antoine I had stopped to spent the night in El Paso.  I stepped over the border in to Old Mexico, into Ciudad Juarez.  I was a young man, looking for adventure.  I found it and as the Sun came up over the night.  I found that my pockets were empty.  They got every dime.  Really.  Hey, I was a young man and did not know then what I know now.  I didn`t even have the nickel that it cost to get back across the border.  Really.  It cost a nickel to get back into the good ole` USA in those days.  I didn`t have it!  A nickel!  So I pawned a diamond watch that I had just bought.  It cost me one hundred and ten $.  It was a small diamond.  I probably got a penny on the dollar for it.   But it was enough for gas to get me to San Antonio.  I was dead broke when I showed up at KONO`s door.  You and I finalized our deal with a handshake.  I told you of my predicament and asked if you could front me a few dollars on my salary.  You said, ‘How much?’  I said – ‘  You reached into your pocket and handed it to me.  Then and there I knew that we were the beginning  of a beautiful friendship.  I was right ... I still am.  And  I`m still on a roll.  Thanks for the loan, Woody.  

If you’ve been wondering how the book “Hitbound” by Robert Weisbuch has been progressing, here’s an update:  “Guys, these two emails give me the details that make this episode far more compelling.  This revision has taken forever or, to lose the hyperbole, a full year.  But it has been for the good, as I hope you will agree.  I will be sending you and an agent the new version by end of this month.  So there is still time -- keep on remembering and writing and I will continue to plagiarize, um, incorporate the material.  For an interesting trip, google Tom Waits Lee Simms.”

Lee Baby, there’s a fascinating Juarez folk tale about a woman bandit called La Tigre.  Just wonder if you happened to meet her during your jaunt to Juarez.  Whups, she was a little bit before your time, I think.  Used to tack the hides of former boyfriends to a barn door over on that side of the Rio Grande.  So I heard.

Herb Oscar Anderson:  “Claude ... enjoy your comments.  Sam Holman stoked the boiler pretty good before Mike Joseph arrived ... Mike was into best selling albums ... tried to work that into top forty programming ... didn't do too well.  WABC had the most dedicated jocks in the world and whatever they threw at you ... it would succeed ... they knew how to incorporate the listener into their show and they certainly did.”

Bill Hennes:  “Claude, Dick Summer is correct. Hal Neal had been GM at WXYZ/Detroit and he was very familiar with Mike Joseph's successful Top 40 program consulting history in Michigan at WTAC/Flint in 1956 and WMAX/Grand Rapids (a day timer) in 1958.  He made both number one almost overnight, plus his many other success.  As a teenager, I was working at WXYZ when they moved into a Top 40 direction and I found many of Mike's technique sheets and his music playlists at WXYZ.

“When Hal was promoted to NY as GM at WABC and to head up ABC O&O's, he could not get corporate budget approval for a program director.  However, he was able to hire an outside consultant, and that man was Mike Joseph, who did the original WABC full switch to Top 40.  Mike hired Sam Holman as a jox and music director.  Then when Hal got the budget approval Sam was named the first WABC/NY PD.”

Don Sundeen:  “Ken Dowe just forwarded me your latest column, once again I didn’t receive it directly.  Had lunch today with the Oldies King, Bud Buschardt, who has virtually thousands of phonograph records on shelves throughout his home, including the bathroom.  He also has a nicely tricked out recording studio in another room.  Bud’s last gig was PD of the ABC Networks' Oldies format, which he ran for many years, and worked at KVIL with Ron Chapman before that.  He’s currently teaching radio at the University of North Texas.  I told him about your blog, he knows a lot of the players, and forwarded him #23, suggesting he sign up.”

Good on you, Ken Dowe.  Don’t know what the problem is, Don.  I have separated radio into different lists so I can keep track.  Must be something wrong with list No. 4.  I’ll switch you to another list.  See what happens.

Just FYI, I conferred with the person this past week that I hoped would take over my list and do you guys a really nice blog.  The person is not ready yet.  And they want to.  So, I’ve got to do my dogpaddling a while longer, it appears.  Not that I mind. I get an enormous kick out of some of your letters.  It’s just that Sept. 4 I will be 82 years old.  Only the Good Lord knows how much time I’ve got left.  A few days ago, I didn’t even have the energy to talk with an old friend on the phone.  Barbara ended up talking with him to get the news about his career, his kids, his grandkids.  Just FYI, I’m much better at handling emails than I am the telephone.  And you can almost forget Facebook, etc.  I think that on Sept. 4 I will toss my lady love, Barbara, into the old Buick and go out for some eggs benedict.  At the moment, that certainly sounds like a winner!

Then, from Sundeen:  “Claude, although today's blog didn't come up on the computer email, it's here on my iPad ... go figure.  We appreciate what you do, Claude, it’s a connection for many of us that we had achieved with Radio Jack and then lost, and you picked up the cudgel.”

Don Whittemore:  “Another excellent Commentary.  True magazine ... loved reading it before I became a teenager.  Still remember Cavalier, too.  Back to you.  Your people curiosity keeps you invigorated and we, your fans, reap the benefits of your reportage.  You have a great week.  Physician, heal thyself.  Beware too many doctors.”

The commercial on NFLTV before the Cleveland Browns v. Detroit Lions football game Aug. 9, 2014, was disgusting, sickening.  The possibility of me ever using is not only remote, but I’d probably have to get sick first … I doubt that I’ll ever get that sick.

Johnny Holliday:  “It's always great to get your weekly updates and see so many familiar names that I knew from the good ole days I spent at WHK in Cleveland; 1010 WINS, New York’ KYA, San Francisco, and finally here in Washington for the past 45 years with WWDC and WMAL, as well as ABC Sports.  If only the business had the great music and programming minds that we had during that time, Radio would be much different today.  Sadly that is not the case.  I guess I might be one of the fortunate ones who was able to make the transition from music to sports at the right time.  I am about to begin my 36th season as the play-by-play voice of the University of Maryland, and currently in my 8th season with the Washington Nationals, as host of their pre- and post games shows on MASN Television.  Toss in some voice over work for TJ Lubinsky on his Music Specials for PBS, The Chubby Checker special and Hullaballoo special, things are well to say the least.  29 years with ABC sports is a nice run as well. Folks can read all about it in my book ‘From Rock to Jock’.  I will never forget how kind you were to me during your Billboard days and I know there are hundreds of others who read your weekly commentary that feel the same way. Thanks again for the memories.”

Marie Davis:  “Claude-ie (known as 'Authorman' or 'the Gentleman Billboard, who truly is'): That new technology, life made quick, knowing and 'googly' is right in front of me!  Recallin' last Thursday ain't that hard!  The lunch-bunch is history for another fun-frolic weekly repast (I wouldn't trade Thursday lunches for two Tuesdays!), and me and the Mustang is home, facing 'the missus' screaming like a NASCAR crew chief, ‘Joe's in jail!!’  Joe who, I lip synch?  Obviously, Google blew it this once!  One of the multitude that spews, no 'thrives' on matters that don't, called Marie to shout about Isgro's new travail!  I worked for Joe Isgro!  Joe opened his wallet for me, and the missus, when the wonderful wonder of 'notes and chords' had forsaken the musical ears I thought I knew!  Not only did one of the so-called 'network' pay me, but together we opened Blackjack Limousine and 'very nicely'!  I'm no choir boy.  I know and have heard all the tales about Joe.  I tried, very hard, to plead a case for what 'indie promo' was being charged with.  Every CEO 'got written'!  Not one 'heavyweight', that was 'used to' easy pickin's responded.  Yes, I heard all the clamor!  I honestly can't tell any tale about any of it … and looked the 'commissioners in the face, when I when I said so'!  I can tell ya, Claude, about Joe returning the fee to Eddie DeJoy, when Rick Springfield denied all the 'original, early effort!  I was in the room, at the Century Plaza, when General Westmoreland was handed $10.000 by Vietnam Vet Isgro, at a crucial particular time for returning vets!  Joe certainly is the recipient of 'plenty bad mouth!  This is not a plea for Isgro and 'current time'!  My recollections are of a different time and hue!  The mail will probably hoist the 'pirate flag'!  I stand by what I've written!”

Thanks, Danny.  There’s never just one side to any story.  I’ve always tried to tell both sides.  Appreciate your help.

More from Danny Davis:  “Claudiola: Time was when I was plying the road trips, with 'thems' that wuz reel important, I didn't miss a tower, no matter how little they 'mattered'! During the time of paychecks mattering, wife-at-home, puppies expanding to nine (from a dangerous, but good hearted volunteer), my offspring searching for the money pit he knew as The Monkees, and playing hookey to act like one of their 'entourage', and Mom explaining her son's father, and how showbiz had impacted our life, to the school's Principal ... somehow I missed what has now become a 'Lost Horizon' on my vaunted resume!  I NEVER got to 'schmooze' with Lee Baby Simms!  Obviously, with the accord Mr. Simms is credited with, by you and other of the instantaneous Mike Magicians and Messiahs!  Too many for me to recall!  All revered, sincerely! But absence does NOT make this heart grow fonder!  Matter of fact, without some recognition of a Lee Baby, my work history is as bare as if there was a baseball-card collection without a Honus Wagner!  Authourman? Can you do the HON-ers?”

Chuck Buell:  “Hey, Claude!  I just finished a book that I think you might enjoy.  It's called the ‘The Hour of the Innocents’.  With the grittier times and events of the mid-1960s serving as the background, it's about four guys putting together a band and the trials and tribulations they, and those around them – wives, girlfriends, other musicians, each other and the like – live and experience as they strive to develop their band's sound and play in whatever venues they can while hoping and dreaming of a break.  As much as I enjoyed the overall story, I think what you may also find very interesting is the descriptions of how they constructed the individual sound of each instrument -- guitars, drums, and vocals -- and how they built their song sets based on a foundation of cover songs and when to incorporate original songs are woven into the story line. You might also relate to the reactions and those great feelings they get after a highly successful and energized club performance.”

Mel Phillips:  “I love how what comes from within is being transformed into just the most enjoyable read, each and every week. I think I speak for many when I say how much I look forward to your Commentaries.  The most famous person I've worked for is an easy choice -- Dick Clark.  I was hired as the first affiliate relations person when USRN rebooted its syndication in the mid-90s.  While I program directed a virtual Who's Who of radio talent it is a lot harder to pick an all-star list of air personalities.  When it comes to the most famous, I do have a 1(a) and 1(b) that top that list.  One of those people I had been forewarned about, the other wouldn't become famous for several years. When I became program director at WNBC in 1976, I inherited morning man Don Imus, who was in his 5th year on air in NYC.  I became familiar with Don when I was program director of WOR-FM in 1972 and knew how brilliant he could be.  But I was warned that he was a powder keg ready to go off at any time. He worried me more than taking on Rick Sklar (WABC) as a competitor.
“Imus was a pleasant surprise.  Although he would later admit that he had a serious drug problem at the time, I just thought he was a difficult guy because he had to live up to his reputation.  Most days he was willing to let me critique him when he got off the air and he was all for a change toward more of a music oriented format.  He was still allowed to be Imus as long as he was funny, didn't seriously offend anyone enough to create headlines and didn't threaten an FCC fine.  He didn't always follow that course but he was given plenty of leeway.  While Don didn't realize it at the time, Jack Thayer wanted GM Perry Bascom to get rid of him, something that Charlie Warner and Bob Pittman did when they replaced Perry and I.  And we know what a mistake that was.
“My 1(a or b) was a disc jockey who was already on-air when I went to KQV Pittsburgh as program director.  Jeff Christie worked the 6pm-10pm shift and was a tall, nervously-energetic air personality who always came in to talk to me before he went on the air.  Jeff loved to talk about growing up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and his love of the Republican Party, a legacy that dated back to his grandfather.  Some people like to talk sports, others like various subjects but Jeff loved to talk politics.  He wouldn't decide  to become a talk-radio host for several years.  I once cautioned him about using his real name when he signed the program log. His answer?  ‘But Rush Limbaugh III is my real name’.
“Putting this piece together has given me a new idea which I intend to commit to.  I would like to list every person that worked for me on-air.  It will be my personal thank you to the people who made my success possible.  One other thought. I sent a personal email to Dick Summer about his mention of Mike Joseph being responsible for coming up with the original Top 40 format for WABC.  As I explained to Dick, Mike Hauptman predated the hiring of Joseph as a programming consultant in 1960.  In mentioning Hauptman, I was referring to the post-1957 Top 40 transition, which ended for me after I left the WABC mailroom for my first radio job in the fall of 1958.”

Great stuff, Mel!  Just FYI, I’ve always considered Don Imus a good friend, then and now.  Haven’t heard from him in years … don’t even know how to reach him … but a friend is a friend.  I’ve still got my copy of the album “12,000 Hamburgers to Go.”

The CD is “Trouble in Paradise” by Isabel Rose and Sony is behind it.  That’s important.  And this is an important CD featuring excellent music.  My favorite, and I’m still listening, over again and perhaps again, to a couple of the tunes, is “Never Satisfied.”  Good beat.  Good lyrics.  And Ms. Rose performs with deft power and emphasis.  “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” has a soft, bluesy feeling with a big band touch.  I understand that Paul Richards, program director at WHLI at Farmingdale, NY, has added seven tracks from this CD.
Big surprise – and very cute – is “Peter Gunn.”  Now this is a tune that may throw you.  And, no, I do not remember the TV series well enough to tell you whether or not this is related.  However, Isabel Rose is outstanding on the lyrics and the music is upbeat and a phenomenal and pleasing switch from the typical.  Meaning:  If I were programming a radio station targeted at adults, I’d slate this occasionally just to give the radio station an attention-getter and one of those things the heart remembers even when the mind does not.  A superb tune, regardless.
Essentially, no loser on this CD.  You’ll enjoy “That’s All” — the favorite of a good friend of mine -- as well as the title tune.  “That’s All” is great on a soft summer evening.  A real bourbon tune.  Music sage Don Graham has come up with another winner.  No wonder he’s so famous: He has phenomenal taste in music.  And talent.
“Reflections” and “Reflections Remix” are interesting.  The first is like a Motown cover and the second is from somewhere else in this world.  Loved both!  Way to go, Isabel!
Can’t think of enough good things to say about this CD.  But it’s damned good listening.  You’ll love it.  Don Graham has brought my attention of late to three outstanding women singers – Lyn Stanley, Deana Martin, and Isabel Rose.  I am grateful.

Below: Some music friends at Delmonico’s in Encino, CA, to honor Macey Lipman who is headed to Italy to paint and photograph for his La Cienega galley in Los Angeles.

Back, from left:  Ed DeJoy, Jerry Sharell, Russ Brumbach, Macey Lipman.  In front: Vic Faraci, Don Graham and Ed Rosenblatt.  (Photo courtesy of Don Graham.)

May this be a great week for us all.  Remember, we all have a very important
person who’s on our side.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Claude's Commentary.23r2

August 4, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 23
By Claude Hall

The first music I can recall was “Pop Goes the Weasel” played on one of those now ancient cone record players owned by an aunt and I’ve been in love with music since.  I was probably about 4 years old.  I don’t remember when I first heard radio – more than likely as a teenager because radio was always out of town -- but I’ve been in love with it since.  The position on Billboard magazine was created by Joe Carlton and honed by Jerry Wexler, but it was made for me.  However, the major factor with any success that I might have had was the people I met and got to know.  Men – and some women – who became friends.  Some of these are still around, as I am still around, and I’m grateful for that.  Many have been in my home and I have been in theirs.  Some of the most creative, intelligent, witty, gregarious people who ever existed lived and fought in radio circa 1940-1980.  In my opinion.  One of these, without question, is Lee Baby Simms.  Not too long after the convention in San Francisco, he appeared in my office at 9000 Sunset in Los Angeles and asked if I had another beer mug leftover from San Francisco.  I said, “Sure,” and handed him one from a box under my desk.  In exchange for the gift, Lee Baby pulled out a tire gage and handed it to me.  What a great gift!

Lee Baby Simms, from a hilltop above the bay in San Francisco where he grows tomatoes, to the Three Mesquiteers, Woody Roberts, Bob Weisbuch, and me.  Woody had just emailed us a story about a swarm of killer bees attacking a Texas man with 3,000 stings (ABC News).  Just FYI, it wasn’t Woody that was bee bitten.  And, incidentally, Lee Baby has been waging a “campaign” to prevent Dr. Bob and wife Candy from moving to Texas from New Jersey.  I also suppose I should explain that the “Three Mesquiteers” was a Saturday serial usually shown in correlation to a western movie.  It featured John Wayne and, I think, Ray Corrigan, and someone else.

“Attacked by killer bees, Woody?  You`re lucky you`re still alive.   That kind of thing happens alllll the time in Texas.  I read this week that a man in Wichita Falls just this week had been bitten more than 1,000 times by the killer bees.   He lived.  So did you.  Let the rejoicing continue.  I lived there and I really don`t know why anyone wants to live in Texas. It`s a harsh, harsh land, unforgiving and cruel.  Malice and malevolence every step of the way!  Hot as a bitch in Summer, cold as a son of a bitch in Winter.  Full of extremely  dangerous creatures (many of the people included) that wish you no good will.  Wish nothing more than that you should be gone from there.  One way or another.   You either leave or they try to kill you.  And often times they do.  You`re lucky.  What is it about that godforsaken place that enthralls you boys so?  Claude is always reminiscing nostalgically about Texas.  Dr. Bob has been considering a move to Texas.  You live in Texas.  WTF?  Why, why, why?  I just don`t get it.

“Oh wait!  I just got it.  Y`all feel that y`all must do penance for all of y`alls real or imagined past sins.  Let them go, Dear Ones.  They are The River.  This is The Sea.  Find Far West on your compass.  Follow it to the last land on The Continent.  Set Your Sails. The Wind is Freshening. The Tide is Turning.  The Time is now.  Haul up the anchor with all its chains.  California in all its beauty and benevolence will welcome you.  You will feel safe here (I only feel safe here).  Come here to California.  Come here to me!   Have a Tomato! 

“Claude, a really outstanding Commentary this week.  I love hearing all about it from all The Old Guys (Our Guys).  We guys.  Morris Diamond is the real deal isn`t he?  (I never had the pleasure of meeting him).  He is a great favorite.  I love his stories.  Morris has been around, to put it mildly.  Jay Lawrence checked in this week and Mel Phillips. Art Wander, too.  Good stuff from all.  Our Guys.   

“As did CLARK WEBER.  Clark Weber!  Wow!  Man, you don`t know about me and Clark Weber .... so let me tell you.  I love Clark Weber ... I have for fifty years (never met him either).  Clark is one of my boyhood heroes.  I remember laying in my bed late at night, in Charleston, SC, (I was 15 or 16 years old) in the wee small hours listening to 'East of Midnight’, transistor radio under my pillow, playing low, listening to Clark booming in from a thousand miles, more? away on WLS.  One night, all of a sudden, Clark, for some reason (between records) started to tell me about the contents of his wallet.  How much money he had in it, his driver’s license information, his union card (thank God for AFTRA, I would be in trouble without my little AFTRA pension), pictures of his wife, his children, some phone numbers on a piece of paper.  Other things.  He took his time (some minutes) to tell me.  This on a Top forty station!  I was mesmerized.  I had liked him before but when he told me what he had in his wallet ... then was when I became his devotee.  In subsequent years when I was on the air and someone had the temerity to tell me that I talked too much, I would remember what Clark told me that he had in his wallet, and how much time it took him to tell me, and I would dismiss their criticism with a wave of my hand.  I knew that  I was in good company.  When you chat with Clark again.  Please tell him I said, ‘Thank you, Clark.  A minute or two of your life, changed forever the rest of mine.  Your Fan’.  Lee Baby."

“Now y`all, that will do for the moment.  I hear little voices calling my name … ‘Lee Baby, Lee Baby eat us’.  But soft, from whence do those little voices emanate?  Tis the fridge … and smoked salmon on good 9 grain bread.  With Mayo.  A small salad.  Is Lunch.  I love it when I talk like Shakespeare.  All Blessings now.”

Woody Roberts, from out among the mesquites where quails abound near Austin.  Just FYI, Woody and I have been discussing Elvis Presley.  I heard the first appearance of Elvis on the “Louisiana Hayride” out of KWKH, Shreveport.   And wrote a postcard to Red Jones, then with KVET’s two-hour evening “Country Cavalcade,” suggesting he play “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”  The conjecture is that Red may have already been drafted into military service.  I was at Texas January 1955-August 1958.  We were also discussing Mexican food (great in Austin) and the record shop where I probably bought “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash on Sun Records.

“Visited my friend Eddie Wilson today and we got out the 1952 and 1959 Austin phonebooks.  There were no listing for Restaurants!  It said look under Cafes.  There it seems Matt Monroe owned four Mexican restaurants, El Matamoros, Monroe's Mexican Food, El Charo and El Toro.  El Rancho was newly opened and had a large ad but was not yet called Matt's El Rancho, likely because the other Matt was "Austin's King of Mexican Food."

“I looked up the Commodore-Perry and it had a large ad saying it was Austin's luxury hotel, air conditioned, swimming pool, every room had a telephone and a radio, ‘television available’.  It was at 800 Brazos.  Down the street was The Record Shop at 612 Brazos which might have been across the alley from the Commodore but they advertised themselves as ‘Across the street from the Driskel Hotel’.  Their ad said ‘phonograph records’ by 1959 the ad said ‘stereo phonograph records’.  It was fun looking through the old books, well, not THAT old.... ;-)

“Thank you for the fill in on Red Jones.  I remember him well and their sign-on promotions, it was a big deal for Houston radio, K-NUZ and KXYZ had already tried to emulate the McLendon format and rip off their ID phrases to fend off the assault.  But KILT hit hard with big money and a fast moving DJ pace.  It was the era when I decided to be a DJ and got a volunteer job filing records at K-NUZ.  What a thrill.  The Red and Elvis story needs checking out because Red says he was drafted in '53 and it was '54 when Elvis happened.”

Red Jones to Woody Roberts, copy to me:  “You and I have never met but I am very familiar with you, your career, etc. … thanks to what we used to have ... Vox Jox, regional promo men who promoted records but had all the skinny on radio people all over ... and some of it was really true! ... and now with Claude keeping the lights on to help piece things together.  I'll be 83 next month; so many of ‘my crowd’ have passed on but when Claude mentions someone from ‘the old days’ whose still around, it gets my eye.  You were asking about years, etc.  I started in radio at KRGV, Weslaco, right after high school in 48 as a board op, as the announcer had only a mike and a cough button and maybe a half-hour record show in between NBC pgms.   But the PD there befriended me and had me reading aloud to him for hours.  That helped, as I moved to Austin in 1950, enrolled at UT, and got the night shift at KVET.  Had a good run there since TV didn't really hit there till about late 52.  (Damn, we ARE old.)  Uncle Sam got me in mid-53 and I ended up with AFN< Berlin (AFRTS).  Great duty.  250,000 watts.  Almost stayed in Europe with AFN upon discharged as a DA civilian but came on home in 56. With McLendon at KILT, Houston (PD, air), till Burkhart hired me for WQXI Atlanta in late ‘61.  By ‘68 I wanted to do combo work (air/sales) and QXI did not go that route.  WFOM, Marietta/Atlanta, as combo.  Part ownership, management, air work, at stations in S. Ga. until I tried to retire in 2001.  Friend of mine had a station, made exceptional deal, I joined as morning man 6-10 M-F in  ‘semi retirement’.  2011, totally retired and having been inducted into the Ga. Radio HOF in 2008.   So, it's been a good 63-year ride.  Sorry, I might have been long-winded with this but there's a little ham left in all of us.  Hook Em Horns!”

President Barack Obama honored Linda Ronstadt a few days ago.  A medal.  Listening now to “Cry Me a River.”  What a voice.  I love just about anything she sings.  Love her Mexican stuff.  Been a fan since her Stone Poney days.  Met her once at the old Palomino.  Backstage.  I understand she’s losing her voice.  Time for tears!
Robert E. Richer:  “Your commentary is lovely, Claude … and right on the money.  I won’t comment on Mel Phillips’ thoughts other than to say that I had my first job in broadcasting in 1954, also in the ABC mail room.  I graduated to the lofty title of assistant to the Program Director of WABC Radio, who was in fact a woman named Myrtle Tower.  Used to love to watch Block’s show in those halcyon days when he never touched a record.  That was left to an engineer on the other side of the glass.  In those days at 7 West 66th Street, ABC radio had a huge performance studio, and Block was able to do a special, where he got both feuding Dorsey brothers into the studio and had them shake hands and make up with each other.  Block also had a bright red Allard J2X which I coveted.  He used to drive it from his home in NJ, through the Holland Tunnel and park it in the garage next to ABC.  Other legendary ABC radio announcers included Mike Wallace (yes, radio), Art Van Horn, John Hicks and sports icon, Bill Stern.”

Mel Phillips:  “Claude, you're making me a monster with heaps of praise bestowed on me that I don't deserve.  But that's not why I'm writing.  Enjoyed all the stories in Commentary #22 but I had no idea what you went through prior to becoming a mainstay at Billboard.  I had never heard of anyone hitch hiking to NYC from as far as you did.  What a bold move.  I thought leaving my parents in Brooklyn for Haleyville, Alabama, and my first radio job at 18 was bold but you put me to shame.”

To me, “The Last Picture Show” was a horror story.  A good reason to head for Manhattan.

More from Mel Phillips:  “Fresh out of high school at 17, there was only one reason I was working in the WABC (AM, FM, TV) mailroom -- I was turned down for the page job I really wanted.  Later in life I would learn that my friend Harvey Mednick (a couple of years my senior) was hired as an ABC page in the Little Theater where Dick Clark would later do his Saturday night show.  Resigned to my fate as a mailboy, I delivered mail to the likes of Leonard Goldenson, president of ABC, Ollie Treyz and the rest of the corporate heads, Steve Labunski who was in sales then, and anyone else that had an office.  The fun part of the job was related to music.

“On my lunch hour I would watch Joe Franklin do his live show. Joe used me as a gofer (‘Hey, kid, run this up to the control room for me’).  I saw the Shirelles make their first TV appearance (according to Joe, at least) singing ‘I Met Him on a Sunday’ live to a track.  Jimmie Rodgers (‘Honeycomb’, etc.) also made his TV debut on the show (according to Joe).  Joe would have this big, fake smile that he turned on when he was showing old black & white movie stills under music.  He had the control room kill his mike so he could bitch about camera close-ups and angles.  All while smiling.  But it was show business and I soaked it all in.  Alan Freed had his TV show at channel 7 then and he also hosted a radio show.  I would watch Freed rehearse his TV shows.  Pat Boone hosted a weekly (network) TV show from the building and I would stay after work to watch it live but there was not much rock & roll music on that show or another TV show hosted by Patrice Munsel.  ABC was the youngest of the alphabet networks and they would hire personalities who were well known. John (‘What's My Line’) Daly, Mike Wallace who was famous for his cutting, smoke-filled interviews. Mike would later become a mainstay on ‘60 Minutes’.  Joe Franklin was known locally before ABC hired him.  Merv Griffin was a big-band singer who hosted a radio show and then broke into TV. As a network, ABC decided to capitalize on westerns following their success with ‘Cheyenne’ (Clint Walker) in 1955.  In 1957 ‘Maverick’ debuted and became a huge success. ‘Sugarfoot’, ‘Colt .45’ and ‘Lawman’ followed.

“The biggest TV music show on the network was ‘American Bandstand’. That became a network show in the summer of 1957.  I remember sending out the press release, ad mats and slides to TV stations.  Little did I ever expect to be working for Dick Clark about 40 years later when he and Nick Verbitsky hired me to do affiliate relations for the reboot of United Stations Radio Network.

“To Larry Cohen and Danny Davis: the feeling was always mutual on my part. Thank you for your kind remembrance.”

Dick Summer: “Mel, I'm pretty sure the guy who originally put WABC together was Mike Joseph.”

Late news from Woody Roberts:  Chuck Dunaway is soon to undergo triple bypass and will be recovering for a few weeks.

Bob Sherwood:  “That was a wonderful essay on Communications.  I know it’s a National Pastime to dump all over contemporary radio and while it’s sad it’s somewhat deserved.  Thank God there are still a few pros out there like Scott Shannon and Dave Sholin who make you want to listen and be part of their world.  And the few big market radio stations that actually hire entertainers and encourage them to entertain. Thank heaven for small market radio and the almost lost art of ‘local programming’.  Sadly, the profession of programming began to become extinct after the disaster of de-regulation.  One of my friends and former on-air associates who’s managed to survive for several decades in LA has told me that he’s had to ‘train’ several dozen PDs who didn’t have the faintest idea of basic programming.  They generally came from sales, accounting or a used car sales lot.  They certainly weren’t looking for a Johnny Holliday, Larry Lujack, Big Don Barksdale or Lee ‘Baby’ Simms. And wouldn’t have a clue about what to do with them if they found them.  As a former jock and PD who still loves radio and what it used to be it saddens me to consistently hear spots announcing a Holiday sale three days after the weekend and nobody fixes it. And this is in the biggest market in the country!  Plus three automobile, insurance company and airline spots in a row.   And nobody fixes it.  First, there’s no longer a Traffic Director and second, in most if not all major chains, no one in the station is authorized to change anything.  OK, OK. Enough ‘Old Man & the Sea’ and yada, yada, yada.  I’m turning up the radio and listening to more Shannon.  PS -- how’s the book comin’?”

Ah, yes … the book about sex, sin, and salvation.  I’m now thinking about raising the price for the eBook to $99.99.  Today, I’m editing on page 757 and onward!  Guess you might say it takes a lot of words to talk about sex, huh.
Berit Mason:  “Claude: I enjoyed reading your commentary about how you hitched to New York ... and the state of affairs in media today; the Internet, et al. New York, the 50s, the 60s ... great days.  Wish I were born in 1945.   We did have a discussion about radio in the newsroom ... or rather I eavesdropped (not hard to do in this tiny, dumpy room) about how when big news breaks, people still immediately turn to AM radio.  The program director is about 53, the news director, veteran Jim Forsyth, 59.  Apparently ratings for WOAI 1200 AM are strong.  Just a note from a working AM radio newsroom in the south.  We are, of course, clear channel but the new PD is slowly dropping FOX.  First, we dropped the newscasts from FOX NY which makes our local casts longer and he's pushing to drop the trio: Rush, Beck and Hannity.  I hope this rambling makes sense.  Squeezed it in waiting for an interview.  Hi to Barbara.  Best from pixie.”

Sounds as if the PD there is a fairly bright hombre.  Just FYI, Ms. Mason is the daughter of old friends, Bill and Rigmor Mason.  Bill was a great writer.  Left True to write books, including “To Beat the Devil” about Hitler.  Barbara and I were at the hospital just about the time Berit, known as Pixie to us, was born.

More Woody Roberts:  “To paraphrase some Admiral Farragut in the heat of battle: ‘Damn the mosquitoes!’  In Houston 1950s the city used to send out mosquito fogger trucks and the neighborhood kids would run behind in the mist.  Not good but Montsanto always had a strong lobby in that city dominated by a Glenn McCarthy spirit.  Anything modern and new.  What energy.  They claimed the Bayou City was Air Conditioning Capitol of the World and pointed out the new Foley's department store didn't have any windows except for showcases.  They built a monorail that started in a field and a few miles later dead-ended in a field.  In another field off North Main an elevated length of abandoned expressway ramp built in the wrong place.  The live music was either C&W or R&B performed in little BYOB clubs; except for places like the Tidelands where I first saw the Bobby Doyle Trio with Kenny Rodgers on bass.  That's when I was a summer life guard at the Shamrock Hilton and tuned in every afternoon 3-7 to hear Paul Berlin on K-NUZ.”

Joel O’Brien, Randolph, VT, referring to last week’s diatribe:  “Let's see someone swat a fly with an iPad!”

Joel, I understand from an informed source that Danny Davis is working hard on an apt.

Timmy Manocheo:  “Claude, your column yesterday struck a few chords inside of my mind. That bit about the media, you know the fact that newspapers are disappearing & how the TV news isn't news anymore. Well, one or two things I've noticed during my tenure here on this Earthly playing field; firstly - Ever since the cell-phone fad & Internet takeover of media, WHY IS IT that the TV news feels so threatened by these new media sources? I mean: TV news is running scared, trying to utilize cell-phone (lack of) technology by incorporating completely crappy & below standard images, video as well as AUDIO, into what used to be a high quality, state of the art medium? Take a look at some old footage of TV news, say from around 1995.  Compare it to what's jokingly passing for today's TV news.  See the difference?  Well, maybe you don't have some of those old VHS tapes with random broadcasts of things like that laying around your house, and if you did, you may not have a workable video tape machine hooked up, BUT I DO. And, I'll tell you something, I also have memory. Memory of TV news that didn't permit low quality video to be used for their broadcasts, especially when there's perfectly suitable high quality technology at their fingertips. LIKE VIDEO CAMERAS?!?!?!!! UH??? Why use a trashy image taken by a cheap ass cell phone? The audio sucks, the video sucks. Why lower your standards to that level? Also, just as bad a factor, is the use (MISUSE) of ratio. Why on God's green (GREY) Earth would TV news want to subject the viewer to the torture of having to watch elongated or squished video of something they are supposed to see au naturel (I looked this term up, it's the definitive, correct version)?  I don't care if it's EASIER to just insert the video without making the image compatible to the images of the guys & gals in the ‘newsroom’. FIX IT UP RIGHT, so IT MATCHES!!! That's what producers are supposed to do!  Next, let's discuss the take-over of the language ... I cannot, for the life of Mary, see why TV news pollutes itself with the lame forms of media communication.  Whenever I see these terms appear on the screen, or hear the announcer quickly trying to mention, while I am watching a TV show: ‘Twitter’, ‘Tweet’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Like’, ‘’ & all the rest of Internetal terminology --, I cringe & laugh maniacally. ALERT ---> These things are but mere COMPETITORS to TV & radio!!! Get with it! Don't use them! Besides that, it's dangerous & dumb!  OK, the final thought for this lesson is TV technology, itself. Not the type of TV equipment used for the production of the program, but the technology we are all sold, when we go into a Best Buy or Fry's or whatever commie-oriented outlet, to PAY MONEY FOR a TV set. The big thing here is: Ratio. Why are ratios all different for High-Def, and between different channels & programs? Even the stations are mixing up different ratios between not only different programs, but WITHIN THE SAME PROGRAMS, THEMSELVES!!! THIS, I suggest, is a plot. Yes, a plot to estrange us from what reality is. I would love to escape into a world of make-believe TV-landia, once more, like days of yore, but alas, I cannot swallow the swill of these kinds of deteriorating tactics.  Please, some billionaire out there, with a few hundred million to spare, please purchase &/or start your own network, like Ted Turner (A man who shall some day be Canonized) did, once upon a time, in a land far, far away, and make TV an enjoyable pass-time, again, if not for your own sakes, & the sakes of your offspring, but for my sake. -- Let us pray -- Your friend in California.”

More from Timmy:  “Claude, in my previous email I forgot the inclusion of the most important part of the sad state of TV news today... CONTENT. Ever notice, while rapidly changing channels during ‘news hour rush’ (4-7PM weekdays), how all the different networks are showcasing the exact same story for an exact time frame? Yes, it's true. They all must receive orders on what to run & when.  Although, there's a way around it, if you don't mind foreign languages.  I don't understand 80% of the Spanish TV words, but DO understand what the stories reveal, 99% for Asian news show. But what you do see is far more telling than what our big networks here in USA-land tell us. Then, there's PBS, well, it may have the same name as decades ago, but it now includes commercials, subtle that they may be, and they ramble on about personal agendas, far too much. I mean, I can hardly watch the war reports in peace!  OK, 'Nough said.”

Danny Davis:  “I figure you've been made aware, Authorman.  But if not check the New York Times, today, and the story on Joe Isgro, The Gambino's, and the rest of those 'guys' I've wanted to be like, before the music business cut me out to be 'just like 'em'!  Best to you and every Hall in the house!”

The full news about Joe Isgro came from Robert E. Richer and Don Elliot and I think Don Sundeen was also involved.  Basically, the item says that former indie record promoter Joe Isgro has been charged with helping run a mob-connected gambling ring.  Isgro has always denied any ties with organized crime and escaped a late-1980s payola charge.  About a decade ago, he served three years in prison on charges of loaning money in Beverly Hills - at an interest rate of 5% a week.  Now the New York Times says Isgro showed up in New York Supreme Court wearing “a red Marine Corps tee-shirt and flip-flops as he pleaded not guilty to gambling, conspiracy and money laundering charges” involving a “wire room” in Costa Rica.  Five others have been indicted.  Note:  I only met Joe Isgro once, so far as I can recall.  Looked like a little GI Joe doll.

Jerry Ross:  “Tom Kennedy sends his regards.  When i go down memory lane, you are there at Billboard and I, I am hoping you will write a hot item/column about my new record or LP from my Mercury days with Shelby or my independent label Heritage and Colossus days.  I hope this finds you well and in great spirits.”

Hey, Jerry, did Shelby Singleton ever produce one of your sessions?  Be fun to write about it.  I don’t know why, but I always liked Shelby.  I’ll never forget the day he called to tell me about “Harper Valley PTA.”  He said he was having the record pressed at three plants because of the demand.  He wanted to make sure Don Ovens, head of charts for the magazine, didn’t lose the hit.  So, I went in and told Donny about Shelby’s phone call.  What a hit!  Thanks for the note, Jerry.

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May each and everyone of you have a phenomenal week.  The key to feeling better is to wish everyone well.