July 7, 2014
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 operator...it 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 Elaine.email@example.com.”
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 Amazon.com/Kindle 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!