Monday, November 24, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 39r2

Today at 8:51 AM
November 24, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 39
By Claude Hall

Don Imus:  “I sent you an email requesting your phone number so I could put an end to this nonsense from Burt Sherwood ... whoever he is. You may inform Mr. Sherwood if he continues to malign me I will sue him and I don't make idle, empty threats. He doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. You would think you would take my word for what happened and not continue to print this idiocy from someone.  I got fired from KJOY in Stockton for conducting an Eldridge Cleaver look a like contest and saying ‘hell’ on the air.  Herb Caen the legendary columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle had been using material I sent him in his famous Sunday Column ... when I was fired he wrote an article about it.  Jack Thayer had just become the general manager of KXOA in Sacramento ... he read Caen's column ... called me, interviewed me and hired me to do mornings at KXOA ... a few months later he was offered a job at WGAR in Cleveland. He asked me if I wanted to go along with pd John Lund ... who was brilliant. I did ... I was then offered a job at WNBC in New York (after winning the Billboard Major Market DJ of the year award) by Perry Bascom and the pd Pat Whitley ... I went to NBC in December of 1971. Thayer became the president of NBC radio in 1974 (Google might help you).  So he hardly took me to New York.  I was fired by Charlie Warner in 1977.... Thayer was not talking to me and had not for some time.  I did meet with him shortly after I was fired in which we discussed my coming back as the Pittman experiment with his girlfriend was a disaster.  It did not pan out and I returned to Cleveland.  After less than a year I received a call from Bob Sherman.  He wanted to know if I was interested in coming back to New York.  I told him I had already been contacted by WABC (which was NOT true) and that if he was really interested they needed to make me an offer. He told me he was going to send Bob Pittman, who was still the pd, out to Cleveland to listen to me.  Pittman did ... called me from the airport ... we met ... I watched him eat breakfast and Michael Lynne, the former head of New Line Cinema ... ‘Lord of the Rings’ and all those other great movies, represented me (I met him shortly after I arrived in New York when he was an entertainment lawyer before his movie career and he represents me to this day) anyway ... Mr. Lynne met with Bob Sherman and made the deal for me to return.  He did not meet with Jack Thayer.  I had no conversation with Thayer about any aspect of my coming back.  Pittman remained the PD till he went to MTV and John Lund was named to replace Pittman.  I had known Lund since Sacramento and thought and still think he was brilliant.  Mel Phillips, by the way, is an honorable guy and knows what he's talking about.  I clearly understand this is not a big deal, but I don't need a Burt Sherwood running his mouth about what he thinks I remember.

I wrote Don Imus and discussed some of the things he’d done on my behalf.  I mentioned that the interview I did with Imus and Robert W. Morgan was more than likely one of the funniest things I’ve ever written.

“Thanks for your very nice note.  You probably don't realize what you did for my career.  When I won the medium market Billboard DJ award in Sacramento that was huge ‘cause I had just been fired at KJOY. And then I won the Major Market award at WGAR in Cleveland and everyone wondered who the hell was this guy in Cleveland.  That's when the NBC offer came ... also KSFO in San Francisco.  I picked New York cause that was the biggest market on the planet.  Somebody asked me what made me think I could make it in New York.  I said I didn't think there was any chance I wouldn't.  You were there for me from day one.  Morgan and I both loved the great times we had with you.”

Just FYI, I’d rather not print any more negative stuff.  Answering for it creates a pain in my whatis.  The truth is I love all of you.  My personal apology to Don Imus for any distress.  We go back a ton of years.  But I suppose I must be getting old … I thought the Eldridge Cleaver promotion was when Don was on the air in Palmdale/Lancaster.  Look at it this way, Don … you’ve got to be extremely huge in an industry to have your career analyzed all of the way back to Palmdale.  Regardless, I’ve enjoyed Don’s life.  Not as much as he has, but he put a great deal of fun in my years.  Once, I asked him to write Vox Jox for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever let anyone touch the column during the 14 years I was with Billboard.  It was, needless to say, a very humorous column.  Great!  And the interview that I did with Don Imus and Robert W. Morgan was a comedy classic.  Imus also mentioned me in his blog this week.  And Don Whittemore made sure I got to see it.  I wrote them both that if this kind of publicity kept up, I was bound to get rich and famous.  I’ve also learned that Whittemore provided the ice cream for Don Graham’s 80th birthday party.  You know those dons, they stick together.

Bob (Bobaloo) Craig:  “Claude ... that harmonica/guitarist player you couldn't think of for Peggy Lee is Toots Thielemans.  He also composed ‘Bluesette’ and recently retired ... at the age of 91!  Thanks for the weekly commentaries and the resurfacing of names from my 51 years in ‘The Biz’.  (WDRC, WPOP, WMGK) WRTI Philadelphia).”

Toots.  That’s him!  Good on you, Bob!  Toots and Hal Blaine were like gods among sidemen in Los Angeles.  It’s not too well known, but Glen Campbell started as a sideman.  And I think Hal doubled in Bread.  Last time I saw Hal, he was in a recording session with Neil Diamond.  A sideman.

Frank Boyle, Shelton, CT: “Dick Rakovan sent me a copy of your Nov. 14 Commentary.  Never saw it before.  What a hoot to read -- so many old household names -- most are PDs and music guys whom I didn't know.  I'm trying to write three books on Radio.  One will be named ‘When Radio Was Fun!’  You'll be in it.  I've got a few pages from your old publication with pix from some of your memorable NYC Conferences.  You were ahead of your time -- we couldn't wait to read your weekly Walter Winchell dirt.  You were kind enough to let me be a speaker to make bodacious predictions about formats of the future.  You'll recall I had to wear a suit of Knight's Armor to protect myself from Bill Drake, George Wilson and Stan Kaplan's spears. Pls email me a a few pages from a few copies of your old  weeklies. You were a Treasure -- Cowboy hat and boots -- and still are.  Those were the Golden Years -- The Hall report, Sponsor, Broadcasting, TV Radio Age, Gallagher Report, Kissinger report -- 4, repeat 4 National Research companies. Nielsen, Pulse. Hooper and Conlan. Now just one.  Frank Boyle -- once The Eastman Rep guy, now a Station Broker like Burt Sherwood and Gary Stevens.  Stay well!”

Ah, Frank … I could never forget that suit of armor.  Not only did you gain attention, I’ll bêt everyone remembers you!  I’ve certainly had a place for you in my heart since that day!  I was tickled to hear from you and Bob Aloo.  Made my day!  Always admired you, Frank.

Lyn Stanley:  “Hi, Claude.  I had surgery today, and it was so nice to wake up to your review of my new album.  Many thanks, Claude.  I am so glad you saw all the effort my team and I went into to create an audiophile/music lover’s dream album.  I wish you had a turntable!  It is so wonderful and rich coming out of vinyl.  Bernie Grundman worked so hard to get it just right and match Al Schmitt's fine engineering.  If you like it, that means Jack would have liked it!!  Thank you again for your kindness and words.  I am grateful for your help with my career.  Even as a latecomer to the arena, I am ever amazed at the support I have received.  God bless you, Claude.  You're a hero to me.”

A speedy recovery, Lyn!

Russ Regan: “Love getting your Commentary every week, it’s like the old days on Billboard magazine.  You’re still a great writer.  You were very kind to me, and I will never forget that.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.”

Russ, I considered you one of the best record men in the business.  For some reason, you and Bud Prager and Mike Maitland (and staff) and Joe Smith would talk to me and were open and honest.  I always liked the head of Casablanca Records, too.  Neil Bogart.  He was a character, but fun.  Hated it when he died.  I can remember some of the things he did.  Last time I saw him was when he invited me and my kids to see a KISS concert and who do I run into?  The head of Casablanca and his kids, Neil Bogart!

Burt Sherwood:  “Claude...thanks for the kind words and the comments on Thayer.  Sure, I forgive anyone who reads this.  I do not say this lightly.
I saw the Mel Phillips blog on this following my ‘rant’.  All I can is what I did, I do not know Mel and visa versa ... only heard from Perry Ury that he
is one of the best.  The top of the mountain is hard to get to ... the bottom is a hard fall.  Jack Thayer went both ways ... I know no one personally who did not like him.  I miss him, my family misses him ... and, Claude, you do as well.  It was a lot of years ago ... let the man rest in peace ... and for us to have peace as well.  Just so you don't think we are all a bunch of idiots ... the story of Imus and Thayer is a shame.  Imus had no greater champion than Jack ... it will do no one any good to continue this ... as the old Bavarian saying goes ‘an Ox has a big tongue and cannot talk ... a human being has a small tongue and dasn't talk’.  What a pity all this really is ... forgive and forget.”

I personally like Mel Phillips and consider him one of the best radio reporters currently on the scene.

Roger Carroll:  “Don's (Don Graham) 80th birthday party outstanding.  Robin did a great job making the party a big time success.  Lots of old farts there including myself.”

David Carroll, Chattanooga:  “Ok, I enjoy reading yours … so now you have to read mine, too.”

Bill Hatch:  “Just got to this week's Commentary and haven't yet read it all but wanted to respond to Lani's inquiry about ‘Aircheck: The Story of Top 40 Radio in San Diego’.  It can be purchased from Dave Leonard at the following URL. I obtained my copy only last summer (2013) from -- and signed by -- the singularly magnificent Bobby Ocean.  I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Lani (that I can recall) but I was at KCBQ when the Gary Allyn era ended and the tidal wave that was the season of Buzz Bennett began.  For a young radio guy less than three years out of Idaho, it was a wonder to behold.'s the link:”

Timmy Manocheo:  “Claude, Lani Bennett wanted to know where to get a copy of the book ‘Aircheck’. Here's a link for it on Amazon:”

Morris Diamond:  “Hi, Claude – I envy those who were able to get to Don Graham's birthday party last Saturday.  Because of Alice's recent knee surgery, it would have been difficult to make the schlep from Palm Desert to LA.  Charlie Barrett, who lives here in Palm Springs, did tell us he would drive us to the party, but unfortunately, business took him to Tucson for the weekend and we were left with our thoughts of Don and Robin all day Saturday.  To Don Sundeen -- My significant other, Alice Harnell's late husband, Joe, was Peggy Lee's pianist/Music Director for a couple of years – and during my years as an indy record promoter, Peggy was my client for three of those years.  As Don Graham would attest, when you're promoting a record you're off the payroll once the record peters out … Peggy had me on the payroll throughout the three years I represented her.  I recall pitching Peggy's ‘Fever’ to Bill Randle and he sort of liked it – that day was Peggy's birthday and I told him so – he asked me to get her on the phone – I did and all he said to her was ‘Happy Birthday, Peggy, I will start playing ‘Fever’ tomorrow’.  You talk about her great recording of 'Is That All There Is’ written by Lieber & Stoller – I'm working with the Palm Springs City of Hope Music & Entertainment Chapter and we're having a gala next March and our honoree is MIKE STOLLER.   Jim Gavin is the author of  ‘Is That All There Is’ and has volunteered to speak at our Gala in March if schedule permits.  Jim, a good friend of Alice's, always calls us for lunch when he's in the desert.  To Freddy Cannon – Freddy, glad to see you as a participant of Claude's letter … been quite a while since we and our wives attended the private music screenings at the Universal Studios.  I pray for a speedy recovery from your heart surgery and COPD.  C'mon out to Palm Desert and stretch out on our patio for lunch.  Get well and stay well.”

Bob Walker, WTIX, New Orleans:  “Hey, Claude, any idea of ‘whatever happened to’ former Philadelphia Eagle and MGM promo enforcer Ben Scotti and his brother Tony Scotti?  Any idea if they still with us?

What I heard, Bob, is that the three Scotti brothers owned the entertainment firm that had “Baywatch.”  They sold it for $300 million and each took a third and didn’t have to do much of anything afterwards.

Bob Sherwood:  “Don Graham, because you’re a National Treasure I’m advised that the regional damage caused by your birthday party allows for Federal Gov’t. Disaster Aid for the immediate area.  However, the fact that the 80 candles on your cake led to leveling of half the nearby neighborhood will almost certainly negatively affect your insurance policy.  Please add my congratulations to Macey for his exhibition and ask him if the large painting at the bottom of those you’ve shown is in fact a walkway in Positano overlooking the Terranean Sea?  Also, is the Marcy Lipman Toronto, whose print I saw in a doctor’s office last week, a relative?  Anxious to hear the Manilow CD.”

Kent Kotal, “Forgotten Hits”:  “We ran a world exclusive on Freddy Cannon recently ... and have also been monitoring his recovery after his heart surgery.  (In fact, we may have been the one to break that story to the world as well!)  Some of the deejays on your list who know and/or helped market Freddy's music in its heyday might enjoy the following features that ran exclusively in Forgotten Hits:”

Bob Wilson:  “Claude … Paul Oscar Anderson, a name given to Paul Brown when he worked at KOIL in Omaha where I was learning Top 40 radio.  He also worked at WIFE and KISN, two other Don Burden Star Stations.  Paul at one time taught radio at a commercial school in Iowa and told me his first class was failed ... all of them!  When the owner of the school complained to Paul, Brown replied, ‘Boss, none of them will ever make it in radio’ ... whereupon the boss informed Paul, ‘maybe, but they all paid their tuition and none of them will get failing grades’.  Paul worked at most of the Don Burden Star Stations (I don't think KICN in Denver).  He was in Omaha working with George Crowell Wilson during one of my periods of imitating a PD.  And I think David hired him in Milwaukee or Indy.  David used me twice in Milwaukee to do the stagers ... at two different stations!  So until David's competition realized they were using my old recordings and WOKY had a brand new set (written by David) announced by the same guy ... much fun.  I think Dick Casper was a honcho at WOKY also. Oops, 7:30 a.m., time for breakfast ... my best to you.”

Good to hear from you, Bob!

Adam White:  “This column tipped me to the passing of Jimmy Schwartz, and I got in touch with a former colleague at Billboard to suggest an obit.  With luck, that will be happening soon.  Jimmy deserves it.  I know Schwartz Bros. was a major contributor to the success of Motown (among many others) over the years.”

Good move, Adam.  If we don’t honor our own, who will?

Neal Barton, Tyler, TX:  “Friend of the late Larry Shannon here.
Feels weird to say that.  Imus gave you a nice shout this morning.”

Larry Irons:  “I was in radio for 30 years and worked San Diego, Reno, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Lansing, MI; and Brownsville, TX.  I left radio in 1997, got married, and moved to Las Vegas.  My book took me about two years to write.  Thanks to Steve Resnick at RAMP, Dave ‘the Duke’ Sholin, Guy Zapoleon, Jon Zellner from IHeartMedia, Sean Ross, and Jonathan Little.  I even got an endorsement from former Governor Mike Huckabee!”

Andy Hall:  “In ‘Number One Songs: The First Twenty Years: 1956-1975’, Larry Irons, a venerable disc jockey, program director, and all around veteran of radio gives us a poem that delights in pop music lore.  Here is a poem that points to the follies, whimsies and tragedies surrounding pop music and their personalities.  More to the point, the poem and the poet reflects our lives.   One could misread this as nostalgia, but the words give an autobiographical account of the horrific truths and splendiferous vistas of this era.  Irons provides us a history of the turbulent Sixties and catalogs the tumultuous yet mostly beneficial changes we have gone through in American culture.  Each of the 20 years accounts for a whole section or chapter, and at the beginning he lists the number one songs as compiled by Billboard Magazine for that year.  This book would serve as a great companion to any history or rock and roll course, as younger generations could learn a tome of wisdom from the historical triumphs and pitfalls of our pop pioneers.  In the 1972 chapter, Irons reflects on Billy Paul’s 1972 hit about adultery, ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ and he considers regrets of his own life.   Lest anyone shy away from the serious content, Irons’ poem is full of humor.  Take this excerpt from the 1974 chapter for instance:

About Barbra Streisand, now let me be clear,
She’s one of those singers, that so many revere.
She has perfect pitch, her voice has no flaws,
At her concerts between songs, all you hear is applause.

“The Way We Were” topped the charts three weeks in a row,
From her same titled movie, which helped it I know.
The movie did well, it was a box office smash,
To say I didn’t see it, would I get lots of backlash?

“Larry’s book proves a gem that any historian, musicologist, fan, or student should take great pleasure in.  And dare I say it: somebody should put these fine words to music!”

Just FYI, Andy is a poet and honored with his name on a park “bridge” in downtown Las Vegas.  He currently teaches English at UNLV.

Ah, Don Graham … undoubtedly a sneaky genius.  He’s now promoting for radio a CD by Isabel Rose for Christmas.  The trick is that the CD only has two songs – “Hanukkah! Oh, Hanukkah” for radio to play for the holidays and the single that Rose is really promoting “Never Satisfied.”  And both tunes are bright and catchy and you’ll love them and listeners will love them.  Good job, Isabel!  I loved “Never Satisfied.”  Should do well for you.

Mel Phillips:  “Good Saturday Morning, Claude.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and Barbara and to everyone in your vast web of worshipers.  I was 18 when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home (Brooklyn, NY).  This was my first job in radio and it was as far away from home as I'd ever been.  WJBB Haleyville, AL, was in the northwest part of the state about 90 miles from Birmingham -- 40 from Muscle Shoals. Population was barely over 3,000.  But -- a big but -- I was on the radio for the first time in my life.  I was working that Thanksgiving and, of course, I just had to tell everyone that I was.  An hour later Bert Nichols and his girlfriend Davene knocked on the station door loud enough to hear despite the station monitor blaring Jerry Lee Lewis ('You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain').  My Thanksgiving dinner was still hot and had all the trimmings -- just delicious.  Bert's dad, Red Nichols, ran the only funeral home/ambulance service in town.  I lived upstairs in a tiny make-shift bedroom for free.  State law made it mandatory for someone to be on the premises but I didn't have to do anything -- just be there.  Happy Thanksgiving.”

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mel, and everyone else.  Personally, I feel blessed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 38r2

Today at 7:44 AM
November 17, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 38
By Claude Hall

Lyn Stanley’s “Potions – From the 50s” CD is beautiful and superb and the acoustic quality will startle you.  It’s like listening to music for the very first time in your life!

I go back to early stereo.  Long before I joined Billboard and got involved in promoting/forcing stereo radio and later quad records and quad broadcasting, I bought one of the first stereo LPs.  Louis Armstrong on Audio Fidelity.  At Colony Records on Broadway in Manhattan.   I still have it.  In fact, I probably also have the second largest collection of quadrasonic in the world.  Still have my demodulator.  I used to invite people up to the house just to hear quad.  I had quad in my study and in my bedroom – both discrete and matrix – and stereo out over the swimming pool.

This is just to let you know that if you like quality audio, you’re going to love this CD by Lyn Stanley.  The difference is magnificent!  Even on this laptop.
You can hear everything!  The lilt of her voice, which you’ll love on “Lullaby of Birdland.”  Every nuance of her singing is there.  Superb phrasing.  Bright, sophisticated.  Wonderful to listen to!  I believe you’ll enjoy every song on this CD.  I liked “Cry Me a River,” “Hey There,” “I’m Walkin’,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “After the Lights Go Down Low.”  Difficult to find a tune that isn’t tremendous.  Call it jazz. Call it adult contemporary.  I’ve listed all of the songs as ballads, the same as Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Annie Lennox, and Glen Campbell and Frank Sinatra.

Lord, but you’re great, lady!

Lyn Stanley: “Just in from my performance in L.A. this past weekend.  Thought you might like to read this:

“It’s Lani Bennett here... just to let you know how much i enjoy your Commentary!  I am now FB friends with three powerful radio/music guys from my past... Gil Bateman, Bob Hamilton, Mark Driscoll and, lucky me, Bobby Ocean has never left my life.  Or my heart!  Please let me know where i can order the book Aircheck?  Thank you for all that you do  for the world of Radio & Music ... certainly now and ‘then’.  Still no news regarding Buzz.  Did hear from a close former friend of his. That his disease of addiction took him all the way down. That was in 1997 this person saw Buzz ... said it was a super bad situation ... sad to hear.  But my early recovery days... all I heard over’n’over again in the AA rooms ... addiction ends 3 ways... jails... institutions and death.  Kinda beginning to think he has passed on from this world... but ... you never know?  Anyway best to you alway ... Cheers!”

Can’t help you about “Aircheck,” Lani, but perhaps someone reading this has information that I could pass along to you.  Thanks for the email.

Art Wander:  “Having read all your columns, and also the items in Hollywood Hills, I finally saw the name of one of the great air personalities in the glory years of Top 40 radio.  That’s Danny Neaverth, a person who I consider a friend and who I wanted to hire at both WMGM and then WOR-FM.  In Buffalo and the Eastern Seabord, Danny is a legend.  Danny always refers to one time during our time together at WKBW in Buffalo.  Before I left to join McLendon in the late 50s, WKBW had 15-minute newscasts.   Though Danny was a jock, he read his own news.  I wrote the news for him and then I noticed a mis-pronunciation of a word I wrote.  The next 15 newscasts I wrote for him, he was shocked that I typed every work phonetically.  The became thuh.  Person was typed pehrson.   Buffalo was Buhfahlow.  I was eye … and so on.  Instead of 3 or 4 pages of news, he had a stack in the form of a large book.  To this day, in recalling that event, Danny mentions it.  As for his contributions to the industry, no one was more fondly accepted by the Buffalo audience than Danny Neaverth.  Now, I’ll probably get a reply from Don Berns for not mentioning him.”

I, too, think of Dan Neaverth as a legend.  You think of Buffalo, you think of Dan Neaverth.  He was/is Buffalo.

Robert E. Richer:  “Took HOA’s advice and tuned into his program.  Wonderful!  Not the kind of radio available anywhere else on the planet.  Just warm, heartfelt and great fun!
Give it a listen.”

His ratings are pretty nice, too.  Good on you, HOA!

Bob Fead:  “Simple thanks, just makes the day so rewarding!”

I like Don Imus.  Since the day he did an Eldridge Cleaver “Look a Like” contest in Palmdale, CA.  One of the funniest things I ever wrote was the interview of Imus and Robert W. Morgan.  Imus is great.  I know for a fact that Jack G. Thayer, once head of NBC Radio, was proud of him.  So I was a little upset that Imus thought Thayer had done him dirt, so to speak.  And if it was true, I was upset about that, too.  At this stage in my tender young life, I hope all that is “under the bridge,” to use an old cliché.  At least, I hope so.  Burt Sherwood, as everyone who knows him knows, is a damned nice guy.  Salt of the earth.  All of those clichés.  I like Burt Sherwood.  If Jack hurt Don in any way, I hope that Don forgives him.  And that Burt forgives us all.  Basically, I don’t want any of my friends teed off at each other.  It’s late in the game, folks.

Burt Sherwood received Commentary a little late and replied:  “Thanks I got it and read it first on my cell phone then re-read it this morning.  I was glad that I got it late as the stomach was churning from the comments about Thayer.  In the scheme of things I have forgotten about Perry Bascom.  I met him when we were at a meeting in Bahamas... I was in Philly then.  He was a very nice man.  The comment about Jack wanting Imus to be fired and Sherman to bring him back is crazy... Jack found Imus when he was working in Sacramento, and heard Imus on the air at another station... Imus got fired there and Jack thought so much of him that he took him to Cleveland with him... and then to WNNNNNBC New York.  Over most of that period I was in weekly conversations on the phone with Jack.  I know Pittman was sent to bring him back... if Imus still thinks it was Sherman and Pittman ... that is OK ... I do not think he remembered much from all that at that time in his life... and I leave it there.  All I know is that Imus never showed at Jack's Memorial in New York as I was one of the eulogizers for Jack. I looked up and commented that there are some people missing here who have short memories ... the house that Jack built wherever he was ... was always trying to be the  best ... ask Frank Boyle about the Thayer days in NYC... he repped both NBC stations, Chicago and New York... I worked for a lot stations as first as anannoucer/dejay ... then as a manager... the 8 AM calls from Jack on the inside line were legendary.  My management days were never better or more supported than they were with Thayer ... we did well for him ... I asked him one day ... if we had not done so well would he have canned me!  The big blue eyes opened wide and he laughed and he said ‘certainly’.  When Jack was terminated I called him and said I wanted to quit... he said he’d pound me to the floor if I did.  He yelled at me and made me stay ... and I guess it got back to Silverman as I got a terrific raise to be on board ... my wife Anne liked that very much.  There was no one like Thayer ... and the memories I see written are in 3/4 time ... almost all the facts are almost there to get it to 4/4, but a lot is missing and not true ... and if it were not for Thayer most of your bloggers on this subject would have never gotten as far as they did... and I cleaned that up a lot... I am pissed!”

Jimmy rabbitt, a couple of years ago, offered me this great old cliché in regards of a ratings disagreement between him and a competitor, Frank Jolley, in Dallas:  “It’ll all come out in the wash.”  First time I heard that line was when I was a kid.  From my grandmother Pearl Gilmore Smith.  Mel, Don, Burt and you others: let’s cool it until the final wash.

David Carroll:  “Thanks again … what a nice pick-me-up each Monday!  And it’s great to see a mention of Ron Brandon.  We were lucky he passed through Chattanooga a few times.”

I listen to music a great deal.  The person who introduced me to Little Feat was Rob Moorhead, once music director of K100-FM in Los Angeles.  Great group.  Now and then, I have to hear “Jamaica Will Break Your Heart” on the “Rooster Rag” CD.  Great music is great music.

Just FYI, Frankie Avalon performed at the South Point here in Las Vegas on Nov. 14-16.  Tickets from $45.  And a show “Ricky Nelson Remembered” is at South Point Nov. 21-23 featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.  As I recall, a couple of Bobby Vee’s sons were performing in the band, including Tommy and Jeff Velline.

Larry Cohen sent me information that Jim Schwartz, president of Schwartz Brothers Dist., died last Wednesday at 91.  The news spread like wildfire in the music industry.  He was a great music man.  Everyone knew him.  A major contributor to the entire music industry not only in the states, but around the world.  Schwartz Brothers was one of the great independent record distributors.  A sign of the time(s).  We come, we do, we go.

I asked Danny Davis for some information regarding Rudy Maugeri, who I believe was once music director at KFI in Los Angeles and prior to that a member of the Crewcuts.  “Authorman: Right on both counts!  Youse' ain't lost it kid!  Lemme let ya' in on what's wit me!  Got an appointment wit' da' neuro-surgeon on the 24th!  Gonna' adjust the shunt in my head!  Ain't had it done since I went in for NPH years ago!  Writing that piece for you wuz 'sumpin' else!  When the shunt need 'tweaking', you're a LOT 'loopy'!  Trying to stay good till the 24th.  Give a shout out for a cancellation, from anybody, so's I can get it done sooner!  Best to ya', once again!”

Good luck on the medical stuff, Danny.  I’ll say a prayer for you.

Danny Davis:  “Claudius!  Leavin' this email same as it came to me!  I wuz trying to help another friend get Freddy Cannon to do a show at Sun City!  This shocker came this AM!  I know Freddy wouldn't wanna' spoil The Gramcrackers birthdate!  Freddy IS a GOOD GUY!”

From Freddy Cannon to Danny Davis:  “Danny, you’re a good friend, but I had open heart surgery on Sept. 26.  Also have COPD.  Trying to recover.  It’s been rough.”

Prayers are in order for Freddy Cannon.  We wish you a speedy recovery, Freddy.  You’re a valuable part of American musical history.  Come to think of it, so’s Danny Davis!

Scott “Scooter” Segraves:  “Claude, read Commentary with great enjoyment every week but usually don’t have anything to add.  Sadly, today I’ve just seen this on Facebook’s “Pop Jocks” page:  Joe Knight, a giant among Baltimore radio greats, has died.  Never got to hear his show, since he'd migrated to Baltimor e by the time I started at Tulsa University in fall '58. But listening at night to KRMG (BTW, a primary reason for my college choice), I frequently heard 'Young' John Chick or 'Doc' Hull refer to afternoons with ‘the Knights of the spinning turntable’."

Good to hear from you, Scooter!

Don Sundeen: “My only real memory of Peggy Lee was at the time of ‘Is That All There Is’, promotion man Sammy Alfano presented her with a $5,000 cake to celebrate the record's golden success.  She loved it, and he got away with it.  I imagine that knowing that she was the inspiration for Miss Piggy resonated with her need for love and attention in a very interesting way.  After reading this, I was glad I never had to work with her, because I had plenty of ‘Problem Children’ as it was,  speaking of which; I'm trying to get my head around a Jerry Lee Lewis piece, there’s only room for so much craziness.  If that sounds like something you might like let me know, ditto if you’d prefer these to stop.”

Sundeen sent an item on Peggy Lee by Michelle Dean reviewing a new book on Peggy Lee titled “Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee.”  Barbara and I caught Peggy Lee’s act in Las Vegas about 30 or 40 years ago.  She was great.  She demanded the best, when it came to music.  I recall that she flew in a musician from Los Angeles, an almost legendary harmonica player who doubled on guitar.  Can’t recall his name at the moment.  But she wanted him in her band and he sat front and center.  One of the great pities in life is that Dave Dexter, a veteran writer and record producer, never did his intended book with her.  He knew her well.  He wrote several penetrating and fascinating books about music.  I have a couple of them in my study that he autographed and gave to me.  One is called “Playback.”  I treasure these.  I’ve often wondered what he might have said about her.  This new book by James Gavin published by Atrium probably paints a cruddy picture of her.  From the review.  I shall not read Gavin’s book.  I thought she was sensational and my memory will keep that view of her.  “Fever,” to me, is a classic.  God bless Peggy Lee!

Jonathan Little: “Dave ‘Duke’ Sholin recently turned me on to a new book that’s a poetic history of pop music number ones.  I think you’d love a new book called – ‘Number One Songs – The First Twenty Years’, a poem by Larry Irons.

Larry was a jock for years, stopping along the way in Vegas, Sacramento, and San Diego.  He creatively weaves song histories, snippets of artist bios and his reflections on life and radio into a totally cool book that is so much fun!   I just spoke with Larry and he’d like to send you a copy.  Just email him where to send it.”

Claude Hall, 2563 Paradise Village Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120

Ron Jacobs: “Aloha, Claude. The Longhorns kicked ass and we await the sunrise. Monday is Commentary Day, hooray!  Most of our written correspondence has been private, between the two of us.  Man, goin’ back decades, can you believe?  I do have something I wish to share with your readers, even if they possibly may not be old Jewish and Italian men, most of whom worked in radio and records on the East Coast when they and Top 40 were young. Hey, I kid you, in yellow highlight letters!  I have been into computers since 1972 and have decided as my final shot to merge into one lane on the info highway.  My blog of seven years in its current form, and my Facebook postings, have now been merged to unify things.  As we both realize, we never know what word will be our last to type.  We pay, we cum, we split.  Please include the following URL among all the boss favors you’ve done to encourage, yay, support, my bipolarized ego. I will awaken in the dark out here in Lava Land to see if you were able to include this.  Hello to anyone I know.  Where I’m at is:”

My apology to Ron Jacobs.  I got this too late for last week’s Commentary.  Just FYI, Ron presently lives in Hawaii, his native land.  He sent me some photos of the volcano the other day.  Fascinating!

I was a few hours late in sending out the last Commentary, thus this note:

Mel Phillips:  “Well worth the wait, Claude. It was brilliant. And how in the world did you get Imus to comment? I loved that. I know Jack Thayer did a lot of great things and you were a big fan. Everything I mentioned about him in connection with his feelings about Imus and the conversations he had with Perry Bascom are absolutely true.  And yes, I might be a bit biased about Jack because he fired me, brought in Warner and Pittman, who put his girl friend (at the time) Ellie Dylan on morning drive replacing Imus. Not his best move.  Finally, it's all ancient history.  Let's live in the present.  I try to do that about 99.9% of the time.  Best.”

Bob Barry, referring to a previous request for into:  “My error, Claude, in asking about Herb Oscar Anderson.  It was POA, Paul Oscar Anderson, that was hired at WOKY in 1970.  I think George Wilson brought him in. Do you know anything about him?  Great voice.”

No information at the moment, Bob.  I know the name, but ….

Latest promotional gem from Don Graham is a four-tune CD by smooth-voiced Matt Forbes featuring Christmas songs, including a sassy big band version of “White Christmas.”  From F3 Records.  Damon Tedesco did the recording.  You’ll also like “Mele Kalikimaka.”  I was thinking as I listened to this package that it’s nice when the old generation fades away a new and very excellent singer like Matt comes along.  He may not be a replacement for Frank Sinatra, but he certainly fills the vacuum left by those great singers of yore.

News from Don Sundeen:  “John Sebastian recently returned to Phoenix where he’s starting a voice-over business.  Who better to chat about that with than the great Charlie Van Dyke?”

Charlie Van Dyke and John Sebastian, November 2014, below.

Two of my sons are hip when it comes to music, John A. Hall, Esq., and Andy Hall, English college professor at UNLV, Las Vegas (Bobby Vee gave Andy a guitar lesson).  This review of “My Dream Duets” featuring Barry Manilow and others on Verve Records is by Andy Hall.

“The album will speak to ‘Fanilows’ and even casual listeners as it is well done and showcases Manilow's voice quite well.  Highlights are the Whitney Houston track – “I Believe in You and Me” -- which deserves a few Grammy nods as it blends Barry's and Whitney's pipes so well it seems natural and revelatory.  Potentially a bigger hit than Whitney's late-90s rendition.  The song was originally written for Levi Stubbs Jr. of the Four Tops.  Also trading verses and harmonizing with John Denver, Manilow's crisp, pop could-be-operatic voice provides a nice contrast with Denver's light twang.  Manilow shows on this album he can do anything he wants, and as Durante suggests, following the heart is what matters.  If Manilow wanted hipsters, he could work with Rick Rubin, if he wanted to do opera or country, he could do it.  Give this album a spin and you will see Marilyn Monroe swinging with Manilow in your dreams.”

Thank you, Andy.  I should point out that Manilow’s duets also include Mama Cass, Sammy Davis Jr., and others.

Scott St. James: “From my view, this was the birthday party of ALL birthday parties.  Two tremendous Hawaiian singers who were also big time musicians, great turnout, great food and a very happy Don Graham.  I could go on and on, but.....WOW!!!!!”

Among those at the birthday party and shown here with Don Graham is singer Lyn Stanley.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 37r2

Today at 2:33 PM
November 10, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 37
By Claude Hall

Herb Oscar Anderson:  “So great to read your Commentary.  So many of the old names ... such good memories ... would it be wrong to ask you to mention I'm still pumping out a song or two and would love to hear from the old gang?  The show is ‘Conversation’ and we talk about the way it was and still sing a song ... Google on the web ... WOSN FM.  We're trying a new experience combining the web, Facebook, and podcast.  The results after two years is rather gratifying ... we try to make it like old-time radio.”

If you’d like to touch bases with HOA, drop me an email and I’ll forward it to him.  I told HOA that I considered him a legend.  But, come to think about it, we’ve got a lot of really good people contributing to Commentary now and then, including Dan Neaverth later.  And all of them are fun.

Lyn Stanley:  “Super newsletter -- as always!  I have a show coming up this weekend on Saturday night at Vitellos in Studio City.  A great band -- and I will reveal a very special story about ‘Cry Me a River’ that I just received from Arthur Hamilton.  My new album is out.  Radio promo next quarter.  Could I send you an advanced copy?  Where?”

So I sent her my address.

Lyn Stanley:  “I will send it, Claude.  I entered my first singing contest.  It went on for months and had over 500 entrants from around the world.  It is called 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.  I came in as a Top 40 Finalist.  Over 4,000 songs were submitted.  Ann Callaway Hampton was one of the judges.  Winners were from all over the world.”

Good on you and God Bless Sarah Vaughan.

John Barger:  “Please slip me Red Jones' email.  I want to reconnect with him.  By the way, in addition to doing mornings and PDing in Houston at KILT during the late '50s, did he do an overnight ‘trucker show’ later on WWL in New Orleans, say in the 70s or early 80s, and in between, mornings at KTSA in San Antonio?  Also, was the guy in Detroit mentioned by Bill Hennes, Mickey Schorr, any relation to Arnie Schorr, PD at KHJ in the very early 60s (pre-Drake) who had Lucky Pierre Gonneau starring late mornings (9-12N)?  Thanks in advance.  Keep the great columns coming.”

I forwarded John’s note to Jones and Hennes and also Larry White, who, I think, knew Lucky Pierre.  Ah, the trucker show.  Does it exist anymore?  Larry Shaw, KLAC, Los Angeles, may have not been the biggest, but he was good.  He even learned how to drive a rig and would go on the road.  Last I knew, he was driving a mail truck out in the Texas panhandle.  This was quite a few years ago.

Bill Hennes said the Schoors were not related.

Jim Ramsburg: “The smell of molten lead in an open tank next to a linotype machine.  I still remember that smell from going to the printer to file late sports stories for the Minnesota Daily back in the fifties, handing my copy to the operator with a cigarette hanging from his mouth who set the machine in motion with a loud clanging sound.  (With all those fumes I wonder what his life expectancy was?)   What newspapers are missing today (among other things) is sound - the sound of typewriters in the newsroom and linotype machines in the composing room and people yelling over them to be heard.  The last time I was in a newspaper office I remarked to my escort, ‘It's as quiet as a mortuary in here!’  He replied, ‘That's appropriate’, he replied.

“Did you happen to notice an item from November 7, 1949, on This Week In The Golden Age at  Where would Bill Drake have been without that?  (How's that for a cheap way to earn another page hit?)  Speaking of hits, my web site got 6,400 in October, a new month's record.  I returned home this afternoon from a fast four days at Health Park Hospital in Ft Myers -- a beautiful facility where a surgery team performed a transcatheter aortic valve transplant procedure on my heart on Thursday and then popped two stents into my heart's arteries on Friday.  They didn't even give me time or reason to complain about the food!”

Jim, anyone with two stents can make Commentary.

Mel Phillips: “Loved your last Commentary. In it, the whereabouts of Perry Bacom were asked about. Sadly, Perry, my GM at WNBC passed away several years ago. After retiring he and his wife moved near Atlanta where Cathy opened an antique shop. Perry lived a retired life. We stayed in touch up until the end. While talking about Perry, I'm reminded about how supportive he was of me as PD of WNNNNNBC (more on that coming up).  He had so much pressure on him from Jack Thayer. We were expected to challenge WABC without a budget.  It was a David and Goliath story but it was won by Goliath.  Art Wander mentioned in your last Commentary how badly Thayer wanted Imus back, but there's more of a story to that, so follow along with my first-person account of the way things transpired regarding Thayer and Imus.  Perry would receive a morning call from Jack after Imus left the air each morning.  While Thayer played Don's best friend in phone conversations with him, Jack wanted Perry to fire him.  This was a daily occurrence in the parts of the two years I was there.  I know this is true because Perry would confide in me about it.  Neither Perry nor I wanted Imus fired.  He was one of the most famous brands in New York radio. As much of a problem as he could be from time to time, he was the biggest thing we had and worth saving.  Imus was fired after Bob Pittman replaced me as PD with the approval of his GM Charlie Warner and NBC Radio President Jack Thayer.  Pittman also got the budget Perry and I would've killed for. He spent most of it on TV ads. In the ads, Bob sat on a desk and introduced himself and then went into ‘this is your radio station and we want to know what you want to hear’ dialogue.  In the end, Pittman couldn't beat WABC either.  Now to the WNNNNNNBC story:  Sometime after I took over as PD, I made a trip to Beltsville, MD, to inspect the diaries and discovered that most of the Arbitron respondents still thought Bruce Morrow was at WABC.  Cousin Brucie was doing midday at WNBC until I put him back on nights -- one of my first moves.  I was convinced that unless we made it clear that listeners were listening to WNBC and not WABC, we were in trouble.  I decided to hammer away with the dial position and call letters (dropping the ‘W’): ‘66 NBC’ (with the emphasis on the ‘N’) is what we started using on-air to distinguish the difference in call letters between the two stations. Imus emphasized the ‘N’ better than any of the air talent. After I left, the ’66’ was dropped and just the call letters were used with the emphasis on the ‘N’. And now you know the rest of the story, to use a line from the great communicator Paul Harvey. See ya next week.”

I’m not sure that Jack Thayer is being painted correctly.  He was a good friend.  My wife Barbara and I were at his hospital bedside after he had his stroke.  Later, he learned to walk so he could come up to talk to my students at the State University of New York at Brockport.  He stayed up all night with them.  They loved him!  By the way, at other times Don Imus and Joey Reynolds and others came up to SUNY events, including Gary Theroux, then doing music for Reader’s Digest.  Fun times.

Don Imus:  “I just saw the Perry Bascom note.  It was Perry who initially hired me for WNBC.  I was at WGAR in Cleveland.  Thayer came to NBC two years later.  Pat Whitely was the PD.  Charlie Warner fired me and Bob Sherman brought me back.  Period.“

Dan Neaverth, ex of WKBW and WHTT, Buffalo:  “Hi, Claude ... the tear jerker song you referenced is ‘Baggage Coach Ahead’. It's about a grieving person traveling by train with the loved one in a casket in the baggage coach.  Also upset that Art Wander mentioned that Moron Don Berns instead of me.  Just kidding.  Berns is a good friend.  Wander never mentions his Real glory days, running the local VA hospital in-house radio station.  And did he mention he married an ex-nun?  Ask him.”

Bobby Ocean:  “Reading you, Claudie, reminds me of how much, in our younger versions, we used to love sharing radio stories about one another WITH one another.  It was part of the ride, hearing about this cool name from this mysterious metropolis, listening to airchecks, sharing your impressions with someone else.  This was a pre-internet Social Media Network made up of flesh and blood -- made up of us -- excitedly sharing the new music, fresh personalities and curious call letters with one another.  I have a Chuck Blore/Bobby Ocean story for ya, a true account, but one-sided - -from my POV, and dated like the 13-year-old embedded cartoon.  Chuck's would make this a whole new tale.  This radio story goes back a few decades.  It is from once in time, along my All-California chosen career path, when I was happily disc-jocking at KFRC, San Francisco, yet was curious, thus snooping out the LA market.  My curiosity had me flying to LA for an interview with RKO People In High Positions at KHJ, but not stopping there.  I had also added a Personal Must to my agenda, an interview with the legendary Chuck Blore.

“That's the way I would go after radio gigs back in those times.  Early on, I figured out that, when you enjoy doing it, you can't call it ‘work’.  So, I'd find the station that sounded the best, or had people on staff I admired, then go knock on their door. While KHJ was in my crosshairs, I had nothing but admiration for Blore. Who knows?  Maybe something would click.  He was enjoying tons of success in LA, but, before that, I had become familiar with his programming ingenuity at KFWB, Oakland, Color Radio, the station he orchestrated prior to his move south.  His ability to express the hues and tones of his imagination with audio impressed me to no end.  Meanwhile, I was younger, immortal, way over confident and wearing a killer, new, tailored black suit for the trip.

“Chuck Blore, when I first met him face to face, put me so at ease!  Nothing stuffy at all in his office stuffed with awards and trophies.  He sat relaxed behind his desk during the entire hour we leisurely spent in conversation.  I sat across from Chuck as I had rehearsed, in a ‘rugged, kicked-back guy’ pose, legs crossed but open as if I was relaxed in the saddle. I was delivering a rather polished, easy-going, way cool Bobby Ocean DJ, I thought. ‘This is going well....’  Blore's manner had me completely relaxed throughout our time together.  He was interesting and interested, I found him fascinating and I knew I could have spent the day without looking twice at my watch.  But my hour was up, and when I started collecting myself from his comfy office furniture and began assembling sentences of departure – ‘gotta go, time for my next appointment, please accept my thanks, etcetra...’ -- Chuck, smiled.

Then, he casually, quietly pointing, added, ‘Of course, you'll want to take at look at THAT and make your repairs before you go’.  I followed the bearing of his pointed finger. I looked to the spot he was indicating and it was exactly where I was sitting. Oh no!  The tailored seam in my cool new suit's pants had completely come unstrung and there, like an explosion in a linen factory, my billowing white boxers flowed from the unintended opening in an attention-grabbing picture of contrasting bleached white cotton against the new suit's sharkskin black.  How long had I sat there swathed in glossed-over, practiced Boss DJ relaxation ... with my pants ripped wide open and my chonies flapping in the air?  How much time had the great one, Chuck Blore himself, been exposed to this foolhardy scene?  Any pretensions of being the ‘Cool One from San Francisco’ evaporated in a flash. I was deeply embarrassed.  But it only lasted a split second. In a sudden swoop, our senses of humor collectively overtook us.  Unexpectedly, an enormous belly laugh burst forth from the direction of that glaring rip in my suit and its energy absolutely swamped all feelings of shamefaced pretension. Chuck also immediately erupted in giggles and, for a few seconds we were out of control.  Not taking it personally, it was funny as hell.

‘In that split-second of hilarity, I lost track of all notions of being the Bobby Ocean character and was simply myself, whatever that is, in high enjoyment. Chuck was laughing WITH me.  What began nervously as an interview with someone I highly respected but knew little about personally, had flopped, then flipped. All tension was gone. As I left his office, things were different. I was saying goodbye to that rare individual who, in his own reality, breezes past stories of his legend. I had made a quality friend with whom I had shared a personal vulnerability and laughed it away. We were tighter now as I was leaving and seemed to have known each other for a much longer time. It was more focused and evident than when I had entered the room earlier: we hailed from the same enormous, hugely diverse family.  The family of broadcasters.  Because this is one of my favorite stories, to this day, Claude, I still feel those laugh wrinkles forming on my face whenever I hear Chuck Blore's name or see it in print.  And as I'm guessing, Chuck's recollection of this story is probably much more entertaining.  I'd love to hear his version.  Stay well!”

Bobby Ocean … wonderful tale!  And thanks for the cartoon, which I should have run with the tale, but ….

Robert Richer received this from John Myers in the UK, to wit his blog about the “commercial suicide of commercial radio” over there.
Scott St. James: “Yep, we're all going to have a good time while we celebrate Mr. Graham's birthday on November 15.   What's amazing is his age.   I had no idea he was born that many more years ago.   First of all, he looks younger than I do and now my mission is to eat better and sleep better so that someday I'm (hopefully) able to reach the ‘number’ he's about to have.   Amazing.  Annnd ... I agree with Don Graham's very good friend, Don Sundeen regarding Annie Lennox's new CD.   Mr. Graham sent me a copy of Annie's CD the day before I was booked to act in a student film.   I needed to be on the set for three (split) days and I listened to that CD (a lot) when I was driving to and fro.  Loved, LOVE it!  Ahhh, #36!   Keep those Monday treats a-comin' Mr. Hall.”

Shadoe Stevens sent out a note regarding his recent art exhibit in Los Angeles:  “Thank you for coming out in support of my art show.  There were hundreds at Galerie Michael.  To be shown nestled among Picasso and Dali was one of the great moments of my life.  Craig Fergson made it with his son Milo, Joe Mantegna, and Paul Feig … people I hadn’t seen in years.”

Ken Dowe:  “I think you've started something, Claude.”

Ron Brandon: “Hi, Ken ... although I recall our meeting (you, me, Ernie) at WGVM I had forgotten, or did not know, that you had also worked there until reading Claude Hall today.  Thought you might enjoy seeing these old pics.”

Ken Dowe:  “Thank you, Ron.  I never really got to ‘work’ there.  During my JR. and SR years I ran the board for the preachers on Sunday morning. And, Saturdays on air with rock 'n roll. All for the ‘experience’.  FREE.  Mr. Seagal did give me a $25 check for Christmas in the SR year.  And, Eddie Gus and Jack Stull got me a job at WHSY.  Didn't think you'd ever hear those names again did you?”

Ron Brandon:  “I don’t think I stayed there longer than 6 months or so.  And yep, I worked that Sunday morning shift with its assorted characters.  Wally Hoy was the PD while I was there ... think that was his name.  One of the other announcers … was it Jack Stull ... had been a professional pianist in NYC.  Another memory: while there the FCC conducted a nationwide test of Conelrad ... when all stations either switched to 640 or 1240 or signed off air ... weird with nothing else on the band.  Remember driving out to the levee to try to hear WNOE on skip at sunset before they changed patterns.  Remember driving over into Arkansas with Ernie one night in pursuit of some young ladies and sliding my '57 Plymounth off gravel road into ditch and farmer pulling us out with his tractor ... never did find the girls.”

Ken Dowe: “Correct on Wally Hoy.  He bought and managed a small AM station in Tallahassee for a number of years.  Jack was the Sales Manager at WGVN.  He did have the persona of a professional pianist.  Must have been Jack.  I used to pray the preachers wouldn't have enough money to be on the air.  That's when I could play records and intro Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Five Blind Boys, and the other great gospel singers.  My closest radio friend in town worked at WDDT.  I would sit with him and learn.  He taught me to say jew-el-er, instead of ju-ler, and to move my lips when I talked. So much he taught.  He was a great jock already.  We used to drive his old ‘Chevy to the levee’, which was just downtown, holding back the raging waters of the Mississippi which had annexed a block or more of Greenville during the 1927 flood.  Many evenings he and his wife would share their meals with a growing teen-ager, then he and I would get an elevated perch on the levee and turn the old Chevy until it was aimed at Memphis. That's how we could hear WHBQ, home of Wink Martindale:  Hey, Winkie ... hey, Winkie!  Cool stuff!  And, so began my life long friendship with Jay Cook.  Stay tuned.  Different times.  Different stations!”

Ron Brandon:  “Well I grew up in New Albany and Memphis so heard Wink when he was doing mornings at HBQ and of course he had a teen TV show as well.  We did, in fact, while I was a high school kid in Memphis listen religiously to Dewey Phillips on HBQ.  He introduced us to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc., plus his outrageous behavior on the air.  Yep, I remember collecting cash from the Sunday morning crew ... no cash and I would get to spin some tunes.  The Pentacostals were the wildest bunch … they would pack the small studio ... talk in tongues, roll on the floor ... quite a show.  I bumped into one of the preachers in the hall who stopped me to relate that he had bumped into one of our announcers (can't remember name) incarcerated in the local jail and was all aglow that he had ‘saved’ said announcer.  He also mentioned he had loaned him some money.  Don’t think we ever saw that guy again.  The guy who was a pianist was a white haired and bit older guy … guess he might have been 50 or so ... at the time thought he was kinda old to be playing rock and roll … but he was quite talented.  I was in Greenville after my tour in the Air Force and when an opening came along at WELO in Tupelo I returned there, where I had worked for a year or so before the military.  Stayed there a year or so before snagging the job at WMOC, Chattanooga, where I once again crossed paths with you.  It's interesting to me that I've found out more about guys I've known for many years in the past couple of years with Facebook and the net than I ever knew about them in person.  Kinda fun.”

Ken Dowe:  “I well remember the Pentecostals on Sunday mornings at WGVM. Talking in tongues, rolling across the floor, and going into rigors. The black pastors would often show up with only a portion of their money, but promise to pay it next week.  I would hold out, hold on to the money (cigar) box, and suggest preacher man collect the difference from the visitors.  Sometimes they would, and sometimes ... I would play me some Sam Cooke ... and the Soul Stirrers.  I remember listening to WMPS, Memphis, as a young kid.  In the mid-fifties I was folding my newspapers as I did daily, between the ages of 10-15, while listening to rhythm and blues, hillbilly, and the rest of the stale block programming I could pick up on my Bakelite Philco radio.  Listening one afternoon I heard the jock on WMPS say he was about to play a new song from a Memphis boy that was a new sound. ‘His name is Elvis Presley, and I think you'll be hearing a lot more from him’. He queued it up, and played ‘Milk Cow Blues Boogie’.  The year must have been 1955.  It was electric. Elvis, and then came ‘Blackboard Jungle’ with ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and Bill Haley.  There was a whole new format hitting the nation.  And, Rock 'n Roll was here to stay.”

Gentlemen, I appreciated the tale!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Claude's Commentary No. 36r2

Today at 8:09 AM
November 3, 2014

Claude’s Commentary No. 36
By Claude Hall

I worked on the kind of newspaper that was fast disappearing.  We didn’t know it.  We thought we were something else and great and just as good if not better than the New York Times.  The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, however, was even then right out of a history book.  The newspaper still used hot-metal type set on Linotype machines that looked like monsters out of a horror film and made a noise that would have pleased a Jack Nickelson.  Our photos were etched with dragon’s blood.

My children haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about.  That kind of newspaper is history.  To be honest, most newspapers are also fading into that distant realm of what used to be.  And I may have also written the last rush-to-print story.  I’d been investigating Jim Garrison, the district attorney.  He was filing charges, but never bringing the “culprits” to justice and the assumption, then and now, is that he was being bought off.  You don’t take the culprits to court.  Time expires.  Eventually, they go free.

Finally, I’m writing the story for pi (page one) and not only the city editor, but the editor-in-chief are hanging over my shoulder.  No sooner than I typed a couple of paragraphs on that old manual Smith-Corona, one of them would pull the paper from my typewriter and start editing what I’d written with a No. 2 lead pencil.  I would quickly insert another page of newsprint and continue to type.

My “exposé” appeared top left with a byline the next day.  I doubt that Jim Garrison even raised an eyebrow when he read it.  He was locked into the political system and got reelected anyway and later became famous when he claimed the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy.  I think there was a movie about it later.  He was a crook.  But that was more or less the modus operandi of New Orleans, a great city for a reporter.  I’m still very proud of my reporting career.  I later had many exclusive stories when I worked on Billboard magazine in Manhattan and would sometimes have three good stories on page one (only one with a byline).  I’d like to think that my reporting soon put Cash Box into a distant second place in the industry.  But I never had the intense excitement with an exclusive news story that I had with that Jim Garrison exposé.  All this before Barbara and I  went north again and I joined Billboard.

Art Wander:  “Your articles continue to bring joy to this tiny tot of the kilowatt (thanks Perry Allen).  It’s so great to read the great names like Art Holt, Ken Dowe, Mel Phillips, Don Berns and so many others.  I just want to say that I was saddened by the passing of Marcia Strassman following a 7-year battle with breast cancer.  In early 1967 when I was programming WOR-FM, faithful secretary told me a nice girl wanted to see me.  I said OK.  In came this delightful looking person.  What impressed me was that she was wearing yellow tinted glasses.  She said, ‘Neil Diamond suggested I come to see you since you were featuring new artists on your station and if you would play my recording’.  I said I would listen to it, which I did.  The song was ‘Flower Children’.  I told her that I would be unable to play it since I was seeking compatibility to the format.  She thanked me and I then told her how impressed I was with her glasses.  She said, ‘Come with me’.  She took me to her optometrist and bought me a pair of glasses, which I selected blue tinit.  I was so pleased for her when she scored as Kotter’s wife on ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ and the many appearances she worked on ‘M.A.S.H.’  I still have the glasses.”

Burt Sherwood writes that when I printed “Bob Sherman was the general manager of WNBC when Sherman brought Don Imus back from Cleveland” I was not totally correct.  “Sherman was the GM alright and Pittman was the PD.  It was Jack Thayer that made Pittman fly down to Cleveland and bring Imus back ... I think he said ‘or else’ ... not sure on that.  Thayer told me this many times over ... I have yet to see Pittman use WNBC as a place he worked (or WMAQ)  ... let alone the Ellie Dylan story.”  Burt also said that it was Pittman who fired Imus that first time from WNBC.  Thayer by then was president of NBC Radio.  He’d hired Imus for Sacramento, then WGAR in Cleveland, then took him to WNBC in New York City.

Freddy Snakeskin:  “I enjoy your Commentary every week and find I’m looking forward to it every bit as much as I used to look forward to your column in each week’s issue of Billboard, way back when. Especially liked hearing from some of the other ‘kids’ who likewise grew up reading Vox Jox.  My parents bought me a $20 gift subscription every Christmas beginning from about 7th grade on.  I got bit by the radio bug very early, but since I didn’t know anyone who actually worked in a radio station I learned everything I could about the Biz from the pages of Billboard’s Radio-TV section – maybe I couldn’t listen to much outside Phoenix, but at least I knew all about the big-time Top 40 stations, their famous boss jocks, assorted national programming wizards, etc.  Or so I thought.  But I was sufficiently inspired to start my own (pirate) radio station from a small storage room at my folks’ house in Phoenix. My ham radio friend set it up – sounded like total splattery crap, and we had to wait each afternoon until a certain AM daytimer signed off because that was the only frequency we had a crystal for.  But it got out almost a mile, and we were on the air!  I noticed in your column that you sometimes ran items from new stations asking for record service, and I got to wondering if that might work for me.  So I wrote you a very nice letter, and sure enough, you were kind enough to help me, by printing my heartfelt plea for free records (along with mailing address) in Vox Jox. I was elated! Initially I had my doubts whether you’d go for it – for one thing, I didn’t have any kind of letterhead on which to type my ‘official’ station letter. Then there was the matter of the call letters I’d chosen for my ‘station’ – KRUD (remember, my staff and I were all age 12 or 13).  Then about a week later, my mother got a phone call from some guy inquiring about employment opportunities at the ‘New KRUD’. She burst out laughing, then when she realized it wasn’t one of their friends making a joke call, patiently explained to the poor guy, ‘Sorry, dear, but the program director is my son and he’s in 7th grade, and unless he has a source of income we don’t know about, I highly doubt he’s going to be hiring anyone for anything.  And the station’s in a closet off our carport’.  At that point he just hung up on her.  And apparently to get back at me (for not having a job for him?) and my mom (for laughing at him?) he then proceeded to snitch me out to you. And a couple weeks later you even printed a retraction, warning your readers to ‘watch out for KRUD’ (see attachment).  Oh well -- easy come, easy go!  And I hope by now that you have forgiven me, for trying to put one over on you (just as I hope the Statute of Limitations on 1967 Mail Fraud cases has long since expired).  I’d also like to belatedly thank those few record companies that DID service me back then (on your recommendation). I hope that by now they’ve all, at least indirectly, gotten their moneys’ worth for those free records they did send me; (for the record, in addition to my humble KRUD roots, my resume also includes such illustrious stops as KRDS, KRUX, KRIZ, KPFT, KTNQ, KWST, KROQ, KSRF/KOCM, KEDJ, KZON, Sirius, plus a few other stations too dubious to mention).  For the past 8 years I’ve been with KCBS-FM (JACK) in LA (doing music programming), and KROQ-HD2 (, doing all programming.  Nobody ever sends me free records anymore, but if you wouldn’t mind mentioning in Claude’s Commentary that I’m looking for service, I’d appreciate it!  Thanks again Claude!  PS:  In the attachment the KRUD’ mentions are near the top of column 2 (1st page), and in column 1 on the 2nd page. (BTW Billboard actually misspelled the name of my street, but I still got a few packages every week, at least for a few months.) [It also just occurred to me that perhaps you’ve even heard this story by now – sometime last year, at dinner with mutual friends I met your son John Alexander Hall; pretty sure I told him the story that evening….]”

John told me the tale.  Funnie!  Still, I’m pleased to hear from you now, Freddy.  It’s obviously difficult to keep a good radio man down!  By the way, I’m really pleased at the help this week from you guys.  Some awfully good people in Commentary!  And I loved all of the tales!

Dan McCurdy, Sherman, TX (Charlie Brown, Dan Patrick - KLIF, Dallas; Fenway at WMEX, Boston; Dan Patrick at KBOX, Dallas):  “Claude ... for every 1,000 radio heads, I'm sure each entry into radio's tempting talons is different from any other.  Mine began with a benign invitation to be a 'guest DJ' at KSAM in Huntsville, Texas.  As a high school freshman football fullback, I bravely accepted the challenge, and did OK. Still, no big deal to me, until the next day, when a number of school folk told me, ‘Hey, Danny, you sounded pretty good last night’.  ZOINK!  The needle was in and I haven't shaken the high yet. ‘You mean I can talk into a contraption and a bunch a folks think I'm cool?’  ZOINK!  The me-kid was a bowl of wobbly fantasies.  After moving to West Texas, I lied my way into a freebie Sunday afternoon show on KDWT, Stamford, when a buddy's cousin wanted Sundays off.  Fast forward to Abilene, my college town, where I lied my way into '8 O'Clock Rock' on KRBC. ‘Yessir, Mr. Owner, I've been at a station in Stamford for two years’.  I conveniently omitted the fact that it was for no pay and only on Sunday afternoons, subbing for a guy I don't think the station manager even knew skipped work once a week.  From KRBC, an aircheck was sent to KLIF a few years later which began my major market radioverdose; an OD begun years before with an innocent  'guest DJ' needle injection.”

Does anyone know anything about Perry Bascom?

I don’t receive many records these days.  I remember the day when if I mentioned liking Marty Robbins, someone sent me the entire catalog.  Same with Frank Sinatra’s Capitol years.  And once I mentioned that I would love to have a copy of the original “Boxcar Up Ahead,” I think that was the title of the tearjerker, and a buff sent it to me.  Not so anymore.  But Don Graham, the Don Graham, sends me a CD now and then, for which I’m grateful.  He just sent me the new Blue Note CD of Annie Lennox.  I showed it to my son Andy who teaches English at UNLV.  Eyes light up.  He is impressed.  Tells me all about her.  Says my other sons would know her, too.

Then I get this note from Don Sundeen:  “Hi, Claude, if Don Graham hasn’t sent you a copy of the new Annie Lennox CD, ‘Nostalgia’, demand that he do.  Although there’s been a fad the last few years for pop singers to redo the American Songbook, few had the pipes and range to do tunes like ‘Summertime’ or ‘God Bless the Child’.  But Annie does it with spades, and she kills, singing 12 great tunes and accompanied by some wonderful, hip production.  I was not paid for this review … check it out.”

Truth is, we’re all paid by Don Graham.  In favors.  I owe him a truckload of favors.  But you’ve got to be aware that Don, the Don, deals in quality.  The man knows winners.

How do I judge music?  First, would other people like it?  Second, do I want to hear it again?  That is, do I keep it on this laptop?  “I Put a Spell on You” is dramatic, different, intriguing.  I think a good programmer would play this tune.  I know for sure that I want to hear it again.  Several times!  And Don Sundeen is right about “Suppertime.”  It’s a bit slow, but powerful.  Annie has, as Sundeen said, a killer voice.  “I Cover the Waterfront” is a soft ballad for the evenings.  Quite good.  Jazz.  Annie, I loved “You Belong to Me.”  Definitely a song radio should play.  What a magnificent job on “I Can Dream Can’t I.”  “Mood Indigo” is a bit long.  Great, though!

So I’m talking with our youngest, now an adjunct professor of English at UNLV, Andy Hall, and he gives me a 15-minute lecture on Annie Lennox.  “Doesn’t matter what she turns out, it’ll sell a million or more copies.”  He tells me about the Eurythmics.  “She can do the blues.  She can do just about anything she wants to do.”  And I have to agree.

And it appears that Annie Lennox can turn some old standards into beautiful and quite new ballads.  Great on you, Annie Lennox.

Jack Casey, WERS, Emerson College:  “Long time no talk.  I think the last time we spoke I was PD at Magic (WMJX) in Boston.  Lot of water under the bridge since then.  Roger Lifeset forwarded one of your recent blogs and I loved it!  I’m wondering if you could put me on your mailing list.  I would sure appreciate it.  I knew most of the folks who posted.  Maybe that’s because our numbers are dwindling but it was nice seeing what guys are up to.  Let me know if you’re ever in Boston… would love to have you talk to our students.

Scott St. James, Los Angeles:  “Claude, those of us who live here are looking forward to celebrating Don Graham's 80th birthday on November 15.   I'm thinking about wearing a grass skirt.   Don and I had the pleasure of seeing Isabel Rose perform a week or so ago.   Fun, fun evening.   She has terrific stage presence, I love her new album and my favorite song is ‘Never Satisfied’.  Meanwhile, I hope all is well at your end.”

Things fine.  John has gone back to LA and Darryl to SF.  Only Andy is home at the moment.  Thank God!  He does all of the shopping and errands.  Going to miss the Don Graham party.  Cry, cry.  My best to you and my very best to Don!

Bill Hennes:  “Claude, your letters just keep getting better and better! I came from a somewhat musical family.  My dad, who was an attorney, played a mean piano and my mother was a wonderful alto and I played the drums.  So I came by my love of music on the radio quite naturally.  Then in 1956, when I was 14 years old, I entered a radio contest, that WXYZ/Detroit number one DJ Mickey Shorr was running and I won first place.  The prize was a Webcor tape machine.  I was really lucky, Mickey took a liking to me.  He was a lot older, and he recognized that I had a unique ability to pick the hits and I knew what he should be playing.  I got the chance to know and hang around with the likes of Hal Neal, who was GM of WXYZ, and, of course, went on to run the entire ABC Operation.  Thus began my radio career. Then after PM DJ Ed McKenzie, who was the ‘original Jack the Bell Boy’ at WJBK, resigned his afternoon drive show at WXYZ in '59 over refusing to play what he termed ‘Silly Teenage Records and Formula Radio’ (he went to work at WHFI-FM/Detroit playing jazz and standards and I became his record spinner and newscaster).  My real first on air job was working for Milt Maltz at WBRB AM/FM in Mt Clemens, MI, which is a Detroit suburb.  My father, who was an attorney, always said I was ‘Vaccinated With A Phonograph Needle’.  Thanks for all you do.  Love it.”

Red Jones, Georgia Radio Hall of Fame:  “You had a couple of stories about early days of radio, just starting out in the crazy business.  Brought back this memory. I got the job at my hometown station KRGV, Weslaco, TX, in 1948 ... control room operator (announcers in a booth with a cough button).  The PD befriended me and I worked hard for Sunday relief on-air work.  I was not all that good, age 17.  But decided to enroll at UT in Austin and gave my notice.  GM Barney Ogle (he has passed away) called me in and told me to forget radio, ‘you ain't suited for our work.  Do something else’.  Fast forward through four years in Austin with KVET and UT, three years with AFRS, Berlin ... and there I was at KILT, Houston, with McLendon and in 1957 named PD.  Walked in one morning and who should be waiting for ‘The PD’ with the latest Pams jingles ... my old GM buddy Barney Ogle.  We briefly talked about ‘old times’ and with the subject of jingles, I introduced him to our GM Bill Weaver who had already heard my story about the past.  Bill had fun with him.  Jingles bought?  No.  Found out later that Ogle was DUI on his way back to Dallas.  Maybe we should have eased up a bit.  But, it takes all kinds.”

Jay Lawrence:  “I was in the air force (our side) was MC'ing on base shows at Lackland Air Base, San Antonio.  Air Force Band of the West show on WOAI invited me to announce for their shows.  First song I ever announced was ‘Valencia’.  Career, WEAW (Edward A Wheeler) Evanston, IL.  Phone call from Mr. Wheeler almost every 10 minutes. ‘We are not a humor station’.  WJPS, Evansville, IN; WIRL, Peoria, IL; KLIF, Dallas (hIred by Don Keyes, fired by Bill Morgan, rehired by Don Keyes, fired again by Bill Morgan).  KTKT, Tucson (my first station with David (Guy Williams) Morehead; WNOR, Norfolk (first talk show, Malcom X guest for two hours, he tore me apart, news director.  I had everyone using sound effects with news stories, DUMB.  KYW, Cleveland (became WKYC).  I probably should have gone to Chicago with Ken Draper, Dick Orkin and rest of staff, but NBC offered me a TV show to stay, gave me contract, new manager fired me.  I looked for new job in the Mediterranean, Checks sent to PO box in Athens.  Strangely enough did not find job in Med.  Fifteen months later (end of NBC contract) went back to Cleveland, WBBG, then to WGR, Buffalo.  Then back to David Morehead, KFI, Los Angeles.  Then KLAC, (thought I was going for talk, turned out to be country, I stayed, loved it), then WNEW, NY.  Also talk at WMCA and Boston, (Emperor Hudson ‘argued’ with PD.  I was temporary replacement).  Then WNDE, Indianapolis, Gulf Broadcast Group.  David hired me to be new Arthur Godfrey (too many stories for less than a book).  That ended, I went back to WERE, Cleveland, to create talk station.  Then to Seattle, KMPS Country, Then to KJJJ Country, Phoenix, became KFYI, I went to KTAR talk, stayed more than 20 years until I ran for office.  I have been elected to AZ House of Representatives.  Claude, as you know, all of us have stories that should be a book.  Mine would sound like Rally Round the Flag (hopefully that funny).”

Ron Brandon:  “I may be the only one you'll run into who got into radio by accident.  In the 10th grade in high school in Memphis, I picked as an elective ‘typing’.  Upon being told ‘sorry typing class is full’ I was given the option of taking ‘bookkeeping’ or ‘radio’.  Tough call ... hah ... radio sounded simple.  I'll float through that like the ‘art’ class I was also taking.  Some weeks later, upon being told by the instructor that I was going to fail the radio class if I did not learn the Morse Code (the radio course consisted of learning the code, radio theory, and a new subject, television theory).  So I buckled down and learned the code.  Turns out the FCC examiner came to Memphis four times yearly to give exams at the Federal Building downtown and if you took a test, you got out of school for the entire day.  We would always take a test, and upon graduating in 1956 I had a ham ticket, a 3rd class telegraph ticket, and a first phone.  I thought perhaps I could get a job servicing taxi 2-way radios, but some guy from WTUP in Tupelo called and wanted to know if I would be their engineer.  Forty dollars a week and no real work ... just hang my license on the wall (all stations had to have a 1st in those days).  They had a kid playing rock and roll after school afternoons, and when he quit I told the GM ‘I can do that’ ... (I'd been watching the kid talking to the girls on the phone, etc.)  GM realized that he could save a paycheck by letting me do it and you know the rest.”

Roger Lifeset sent notice that Dale Dorman, a Boston radio legend who began his career playing Top 40s hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and then played the same songs as oldies to the rock 'n roll generation, died Tuesday at his home in Tewksbury after a long illness.  He was 71.  Dorman was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2010.  He worked at WRKO, Boston, for 10 years, starting in 1968.  He also worked at KISS-FM for 20 years.  He ended his career at WODS.

Mel Phillips:  “After 2 days of unseasonable 70-degree weather we've cooled down.  We'll hit a high of 59 today.  And I hope it stays that way.  Has it dropped below 100 in LV yet?  After Bill Drake came along to consult all the RKO stations in the summer of '67, WRKO supplied some great talent for KHJ, including Shadoe Stevens, Bill Todd (WRKO's Johnny Williams), Jerry Butler and Charlie Fox (I was one very fortunate program director with some extraordinary on-air talent in those days.)  They would also get our promotion director -- the best in the business, Harvey Mednick.  Very rarely would Drake send us any talent but in the summer of '68, KFRC had a DJ who wanted to come back east and we decided to hire him as our morning man.  He managed to work out pretty well, lasting 10 years at WRKO and then moving over to KISS-FM and CBS Oldies station WODS-FM. He never left Boston, spending 46 years in The Hub. On October 21, 2014 we lost one of the great morning personalities in radio history when the legendary Dale Dorman passed away. R.I.P Dale Dorman (1943-2014).”

We come, we do, we go.