Today at 8:02 AM
March 16, 2015
Claude’s Commentary No. 55
By Claude Hall
I picked it up from the bookcase in the living room and made the mistake of opening it. A copy of “Disc Jockey Cookbook.” It’s birth was a joke from Lee Baby Simms, his recipe for Red Beans and Rice. He later said he made it up. But I cooked it and it was sensational. So I made up another batch and froze part of it and Barbara and I enjoyed it again … and even later. I had been cooking a soup I called Lazy Man’s Chowder for years and I wondered if anyone else cooked something special. So, I asked in Commentary – and sent out a few emails -- and received 32 recipes from different radio people. Rollye James claimed she didn’t cook, but wrote a very funny piece about not doing so. The rest of the recipes were serious, including from Chuck Buell, Gary Allyn, Art Holt, and Bruce Miller Earle.
So Jack Roberts and I developed a book and we used it as a fund-raiser for Jack’s Hollywood Hills blog. And, of course, eggs benedict for me and Barbara at Silver Sevens. Bobby Ocean contributed his phenomenal cartoons for the cover and inside. Don Graham later printed off a copy and that’s what I’m looking through now, but it was basically an eBook. The pictures were in color and great in color, including Bobby’s cartoons. The man is sensational!
Looking at this printed version, I’m pleased with the book. It was a fun project. Later, I gave Jack Roberts all of the proceeds from one eBook for a month. Today, it’s for sale via Amazon.com/Kindle Books. I suppose that one day I’ll install my cookbook with Kindle Books. I’m pleased with the cookbook. It’s worth three or four bucks just for the Lee Baby Simms stuff. We lost a good man when we lost Lee. I realize that we all have to go eventually, but I sure miss Lee, L. David Moorhead, Gary Owens, Jack Roberts, Larry Shannon, Jay Blackburn, and George Wilson. These men – and several others – played important roles in my life.
Rollye James Cornell: “Reading your latest email missive, when I saw, ‘I feel that I have achieved virtually nothing. Vox Jox will never win anyone a Pulitzer’, it stopped me cold. (And not over the literary merit of Vox Jox.) In that sentence alone, you evoked a wide enough range of raw emotion in me to win that prized Pulitzer, though I admit I wouldn’t recognize literature if it were bound in leather and embossed in gold in front of me. But what I do know is the human condition -- how seldom it is that we have a chance to really make a difference someone’s life, and how rare it is when we recognize our role and act on it. Claude, you did that every week. The feeling of exhilaration felt by an otherwise obscure personality upon reading their name in your Vox Jox became a memory forever emblazoned in the consciousness of far more names than you’ll ever remember dropping. The column you built was magical. Being included in it was confirmation to a jock that he mattered. You made Vox Jox a community. In reading it, we all had a sense of belonging, and seeing our own names in print from time to time was an extra kick.
“I know Vox Jox first hand from both sides -- the joy of seeing my name written by you, and the reaction I got from those about whom I wrote. After my Billboard tenure was over, all the squabbles over transposed call letters in headlines, or holding back big scoops for better graphic relief the next week have all receded in my mind. What I remember most is the response from jocks thrilled by being included. One of my favorites came from an editor at R&R. He was hosting some forgettable syndicated show and I mentioned it. He wrote me an effusive thank you note explaining that a longtime goal of his was to see his name in Vox Jox and now that he had, he know he’d made it. And this is while he was writing a weekly column in what was arguably the most widely read radio trade at the time! That was the power of Vox Jox -- the power that you, Claude Hall, gave it. No one before you or after had the impact you did. I rebuilt the radio readership for it, but I didn’t begin to recapture the importance Vox Jox had to so many of us, me included. Timing is vital, and granted, some of your influence had to do with a point in time that will never be recaptured. But most of it had to do with you. It may not be Pulitzer material. And I’m sure that whatever is Pulitzer worthy, just like your Vox Jox, evokes emotions and transports readers to a better place. But I’m just as sure that it probably doesn’t begin to approach the personal bond that you created when your words knitted us together then, and still hold us together now. For that, at least in my mind, you have achieved virtually everything.”
If I were ranking radio-TV editors of Billboard, I think I would place Rollye James at No. 4. She was good! She should have been a writer!
Paul Cassidy: “Hi, Claude: Stayed at the Algonquin last June, when I visited for the Belmont Stakes. Wicked Strong dead heated with California Chrome for 4th. He ran strides more than anyone in the race. Frank Sullivan, the humorist from Saratoga, had sent me memorabilia from the Round Table and I turned it over to the curator in the Algonquin. Who in turn told me they had lost all their collection from a theft several years ago. Great, historic, handy place to stay when you're in town.”
The Algonquin was a place where writers who were able to squeeze themselves into the inner circle were able to be with other writers of the same ilk and talk their craft. And, of course, booze it up.
Robert E. Richer: “And speaking of Quad, let’s not forget that the Starr brothers, funded by William F. Buckley, took NYC Classical music station WNCN off the air and replaced it with WQIV (Quad 4). The first song played was ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. The station was an unmitigated disaster, for several reasons: One, nobody had a Quad receiver, and Two, the programming was awful. Further, the changes exploded the wrath of Classical listeners all over the New York Metro area … a hugely influential and powerful group. Buckley was, of course, a part of that group, and he was vilified by his friends and associates. In addition, FCC field inspectors started dropping in on all of the other Starr stations around the country for unannounced visits. Buckley got the message in a hurry, and sold the station to GAF corporation, which returned it to the original WNCN call sign and Classical music. Then I was hired to become the GM. GAF turned WNCN into an audio and visual tour de force, including using the acoustical genius of Dick Sequerra, and we were able to make the station into an important part of NYC’s broadcast spectrum. Great fun!”
A great story, Robert!
Don Barrett’s LARP.com has this news: K-EARTH’s Shotgun Tom Kelly will be honored at the next Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters luncheon. And the Diamond Circle Award will be presented to Wink Martindale. Two great radio men. Good on you both! And, come to think of it, good on Don Barrett, too; provides a great service though I sometimes have trouble identifying who’s who in his photos.
Jim Ramsburg: “Greetings from SW Florida, Claude. Several weeks ago I saw that David Gleason contacted you. Let me endorse his great website, www.americanradiohistory.com. It's a terrific collection of historic radio and television publications. I'm flattered that his site links to www.jimramsburg.com.
Timmy Manocheo: “Here is the link to a youtube video, Please post it on your blog site. This is a great song about the state of our dearly beloved friend, RADIO. Don't let the short burst of profanity dissuade you. It's a REALLY good tune & it's by a wonderful person, a star from our Top 40 world of yesterday, Mary Weiss. Mary was the lead singer of the 60s girl-group The Shangri-las.
Don Graham: “Lori tells us that Dick Forster passed yesterday, Sunday 3/8, at 5 p.m. (pdt), Marin General Hospital … complications of congestive heart failure and pneumonia … a truly special guy … Dick, was, is and always will be, my life long friend.”
Joey Reynolds will be the keynote speaker April 17 at Chef’s Restaurant in Buffalo for a meeting of the Buffalo Broadcaster’s Association. Checkout www.buffalobroadcasters.com. Be nice if someone wrote me about the goings on.
Morris Diamond: “Hi, Claude – I'd be remiss if I didn't pass on this little story of a personal incident that occurred last week. Steve Tyrell came to Palm Desert to play the McCallum Theatre, as he's done yearly for the past fifteen years … always a sellout. The show is emceed by Jazz DJ Jim FITZ Fitzgerald and is titled FITZ'S JAZZ CAFÉ AT THE McAllum. We're pretty close friends to Fitz and his wife and he generally comped Alice and I for the show. I took ill last Thursday morning, the day of Steve's show and was hospitalized. Alice phoned Fitz that morning to suggest he pull our tickets from the box office because of our inability to make the show that evening. Obviously, later in the day, Fitz told Steve Tyrell about me being in the hospital. That evening, in the middle of the show, Steve told the packed house about me being hospitalized and how I brought him to his first show at the McCallum, 15 years ago when I co-managed him with Ken Fritz, and for everyone to think good things for a speedy recovery for me. The next day we must have received at least 15 calls from friends who were in the audience and wanted me to know what Steve had done. As it happened, my treatments while in Eisenhower Hospital did improve my illness and I was back home by the next night. This is probably the nicest, kindest event that's every happened to me and I feel worth sharing with my friends in our industry.”
What a great story! Great on you, Steve Tyrell. Fitz, too. And Morris, may the good one bless and keep you. Get well! You and Alice still have some eggs benedict coming at the Silver Sevens here in Las Vegas. I was over there just a day or so ago with Barbara and two of our boys – John and Andy. The waitress has gotten to know me.
Marlin Taylor: “1967 was a giant year in Boston radio. Not only did WRKO turn half the market upside down in March ... but WJIB (FM), featuring my Easy Listening/Beautiful Music format, arrived in mid-September, turning the rest of the market on its ear! That was less than two years before I arrived in the Big Apple to do battle via WRFM, where we landed in the Top Five within a year. This kid, who was just one generation removed from a Pennsylvania farm, has so much to be thankful for as I celebrate the 60th anniversary of my first paying job in radio ... and am still on the programming payroll at Sirius XM.”
Joe Nick Patoski: “As always, I'm digging your Commentary, which I can now say is better than your Billboard column because you can write long and get all the news in. As a displaced Texan, I thought you might be interested in this music documentary I've directed, which premieres at SXSW Film in Austin in two weeks. Woody Roberts knew the film subject pretty well. It's time everyone else heard about him, too.
And don't forget, if you're bored on a Saturday 5-7 your time, the Texas Music Hour of Power airs on marfapublicradio.org and kxwt.org while a bunch of volunteers known as Image Wranglers do Picture Radio on my Facebook page, posting images and information about the music that is playing. Check it out sometime. Keep radio-ating.”
Really pleased to hear from you, Joe Nick. Joe Nick also reports that “Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove” premieres at the SXSW Film Festival March 2015. I’ll bet Jimmy Rabbitts wishes he could be down there for the music. Me, too!
Jeff March: “I enjoyed your comments about Larry McMurtry, Winters, TX, and the writers you admired. Despite your humility about the literary worth of Vox Jox, rest assured that jocks and aspiring jocks throughout the country hung on to your every word, and greatly appreciated your insights. For younger jocks, mention in Vox Jox was perhaps the most prominent form of professional validation. I know of your book ‘This Business of Radio Programming’ that you wrote with Barbara Hall (with an introduction by Jack Thayer), but I'm sure that readers would enjoy going on that journey back to Winters that you mentioned.”
Jeff would like to speak with Reb (James Dennis Bruton) Foster, KRLA and KFWB. He says that Reb relocated to Armarillo, TX, but has misplaced his phone. Anyone able to help with phone number or email address?
Don Sundeen: “Great radio record back in the day, coming out of a boring news break, weather or spots; the distinctive guitar riff by Brian Carmen jumped right out of the radio and said, ‘Wake up, We're Rocking Again’. The band was very much a part of the California Surf scene and toured nationally behind their hit, ‘Pipeline’. There’s a videoclip of the band here performing on, of all places, the Lawrence Welk Show. How that happened is hard to say, but maybe Larry had a piece of the record. Anyway, it’s really primitive, they’re dressed in Beatle-like suits, and young Brian makes a speech like at a school assembly, but the music is still there and it really resonates even today. We’ll have pieces like this soon when my blog called TheDonRocks is launched. Meanwhile, you can connect to our Facebook page at the address above, and we’re tweeting at: https://twitter.com/TheRealDonRocks with a lot of stuff every day. I’m getting my feet wet on the web, but my brilliant daughter, Jacqui Kramer in Seattle, who does this IT stuff for a living is designing and building the site. Those who sign up to follow us on Facebook and Twitter will be the first to be alerted when the TheDonRocks premiers. I think you’ll find it very different and entertaining, complete with some great folks joining weekly writing Golden Age (1955-1980) Record and Radio history with videos like this. Hope you’ll join our rocking party, coming soon to a digital device near you.
March 10, 2015.
Orange County surf rock pioneer and 'Pipeline' guitarist Brian Carman of the Chantays dies at 69
Don Elliot: “Although it's more than a month away, my ‘dance card’ is filling up faster than I anticipated for the Las Vegas show. As you recall possibly, I won the auction on 1500 a.m. for Los Angeles and will have engineer and attorneys meetings at that time during the show. Unlike last time, this trip I am forcing my own calendar to make you a priority for coffee, lunch, or better. I apologize for letting my hours get ahead of me before and I would certainly like to see you if you have time. Perhaps sometime Tuesday the 14th?”
Don, I’m not sure this is the proper time to visit. I may still be recovering from a foot operation March 24. Sorry about that!
John Long: “May I suggest that some of Bob Pond's friends get together and apply for assistance from the Broadcasters Foundation of America. This is a wonderful resource for broadcast vets.”
Danny Davis: “Claudius! By reason of the stories crowding my ‘recollections’, am a believer when it comes to the marvel of a music maker, known as Philip H. Spector! You’re right, Scott Paton! I ‘weren’t there! Neither was my bride of 57 years. But sadly, I’m holding more fuel on Philzee than was ever meant to be poured from a Heinz bottle might be alluded to in my book, but not viciously! The genius was great to me, and mine! BUT I know the category! And Marie offers prayers weekly for the life Phil allowed us! And how could I ever forget the titled back side of the tune he allowed my ego to reference! Stay well, Philzee!”
Dave Anthony, www.DaveAnthony.us: “Claude, after reading your paragraphs about Larry McMurtry, I’m afraid what jumped out at me was your mention of the Quad technology in the 1970s. Sorry, I know that wasn’t the point you were trying to emphasize, but I haven’t thought about Quad in years. In 1975-76, I was on middays at Malrite’s WZUU in Milwaukee. The legal ID at the top of every hour was something like ‘WZUU Milwaukee … in Quad!’ I never heard the Quad effect because our control room only had two speakers. Sigh. But I tried my best every hour to sound excited over a technology I couldn’t experience. By the way, those call letters were the hardest-to-pronounce because we could only say them as ‘Z’ (pause) “U” (pause) ‘U’ every time. And each letter had to be uttered enthusiastically. When ABC’s KXYZ in Houston called, their far easier call letters were among the reasons I left.”
Good on you all!