If you don't promote
a funny thing happens
NOTHING!

 

The most comprehensive listing of 6,000 Los Angeles Radio People, spanning the last 58 years, is now available just by clicking on your favorite personality. The listings provide a colorful snapshot of where they came from, where and when they worked, and what they’re doing now. Enjoy!   

A\B\C\D\E\F\G\H\I\J\K\L\M\N\O\P\Q\R\S\T-Z/W     

 

(Randy West, Rod Roddy, Jeff Biggs w/daughter Isabella, Shannon Farren, Nancy Plum, Mark Wallengren, Kristin Cruz, Bobby Shaw, Lara Scott, and Mary Hughes)

 

(Orson Welles, Bill Ballance Teen Age Fair, Laurie Laguna Ocean, Ken Levine, Cliff Levine, Jaime Jarrin, Bob Miller, and Tattoo) 

(Shadoe Stevens, Chris Hughes, Chip Ehrhardt,  Bob Adams, Christopher James, John Salley, Scott Hodges, Dave Smith, and Howard Stern)   

 

 

(Rush Limbaugh, Paul Freeman, Keith Urban, Katie O’Halloran, Tonya Campos, Ginny Harman, Brian Whitman, JILL/fm logo, Tim Ahern, and David Singer)

   

(Jeffrey Leonard, Don Barrett, Art Laboe, Tom LaBonge, Ted Sobel, Bill Seward, Bob Miller, Lisa Bowman, Jerry Clark, and Gary Miller) 

   

(James Brown, Isidra Person-Lynn, B. Mitchel Reed, Jeff Gonzer, Rick Scarry, Ace Young, Mike Johnson, Steve Tyrell, and clock reminder)

(Jim Ladd, T. Michael Jordan, Rita Pardue, PJ Butta, Joe Cipriano, Rick Dees, Katy Evans, and Shirley Strawberry) 


              Publisher of LARadio.com - Don Barrett

While daily posting of LARadio news will no longer be, please feel free to reach out to say hello or update
your Where Are They Now section.


db@thevine.net
  

 

LARadio Archives

 

I’m Walkin’ Out the Door

(July 15, 2015) ‘Say kids, what time is it?’ Time to turn off LARadio.

It has been a great run. Twenty years of books, website news, luncheons, and gatherings. But it is time for the next incarnation of radio news reporting. As of this morning, we’re pulling the plug.

The Long and Winding Radio Road

I grew up on the beach in Santa Monica in the fifties. I listened to the radio ALL the time. With no brothers or sisters, the voices on the radio became part of my family. My dream of being on the radio was born. My love affair with radio over the decades has been unconditional.

My first job after college was in Lompoc in 1965. I’ve been a program director, national program director for Gordon McLendon, and a general manager in Detroit and Los Angeles. I launched the first news/talk station on FM.  

One Sunday in 1972, a bunch of ragamuffins with a dream took 100.3’s parabolic antennae from atop the KFOX studios at what was referred to as the Tootsie Roll building in Long Beach, to 6430 Sunset building on Sunset and hoisted it up the side of the building, past the Jolly Roger Restaurant to the roof, aimed it at the tower in Coldwater Canyon and by 6 a.m. the next morning, the Southland heard a whisper, ‘Psst, K-100/fm, pass it on.’ In our first ratings book we had a loud and impressive 4.3.

Two years and two months later when K-100 was sold to Drake –Chenault, my last job working for a radio station ended. For the next two decades I toiled in the world of motion picture marketing, having the honor of working at Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and MGM/UA and being on the team of E.T., Thelma & Louise, Rocky, and James Bond films.

I never lost the childhood dream of radio and from time to time wondered what happened to those early influencers who launched KFWB/Channel 98 as a Top 40 station when I was in high school? And what about the 11-10 Men at KRLA? There was no Internet in the early 1990s, but I started working the phones and sending out mail. I tracked their whereabouts and put the information in a computer.

A friend was looking over my shoulder one day and thought it was fascinating to learn that the original morning man at KFWB/Color Radio, Bruce Hayes, was the guy in the Clorox tv commercial who surprised housewives in a laundromat by saying, ‘I’ll give you $50 for that t-shirt’ and then tearing it in half, washing one half in you-know-what, or Elliot Field, who never let his polio prevent him from climbing the steps of the Hollywood Boulevard studios and eventually going on to be mayor of Palm Springs. My friend thought it would be an interesting book. Thus, the books (published in 1994 and 1997) and website (1997) were born.

LARadio Made a Difference

In March 2006, Shana, a veteran of a half-dozen stations in L.A., was in desperate need of help. We told her story and the LARadio community responded. This was no asking for a job lead, this was desperation. It was the series of results for Shana that shouted to me that the website might have created a very caring community.

Shana needed help at the time. I wrote: “If you have an ounce of compassion for someone in this business, you can help. As a single mother she put three kids through college and after struggling for years to find meaningful employment now stood on the doorstep of losing what little she had left. Being unemployed, she had no insurance. A series of medical and dental emergencies had wiped her out. Her daughter recently required surgery and Shana was there to help the best she could.”

She was a proud woman who had been baby-sitting, and working for a temp agency. She applied for over 100 positions at monster.com and craigslist but with no offers. She had no credit cards, no savings and no investments. 

When I suggested that we put her story on LARadio.com, she originally rejected the idea. She was a proud woman. I convinced her that without friends, colleagues and others within the LARadio.com community knowing about her plight, no one would be able to help.

If you haven’t been to the bottom, and hopefully you will never experience it, it is a very alone, dark and lonely place. And Shana’s story reached the hearts of many. Mike Callaghan, chief engineer for KIIS, read the story, got in his car and on the way to work, he stopped by Shana’s cottage and gave her a month’s rent to keep the sheriff away from foreclosing that afternoon. Before it was over, readers of LARadio had sent more than $9,000 to help get Shana back on her feet.

Tooth Fairy

For those of you who were around this website ten years ago, you are familiar with the story of my then-16-year-old daughter Alexandra who suffered a freak accident while having her four wisdom teeth removed. It was a nightmare.

Again the LARadio community came to the rescue.

While the oral surgeon was removing the final wisdom tooth, he experienced a hand cramp. He released the tooth, removed his hand from my daughter's mouth to squeeze/pump his hand to get the circulation moving.  When he went back into her mouth, the tooth was gone. It was not in her mouth, but rather it took the path of least resistance and went up into the soft tissue of the sinus wall.

I had no idea what to do. I posted the scenario to you in an email and received over 550 notes of referrals, suggestions, phone numbers, experts, and prayers. I was moved to tears by your caring and responses. One of them was from Dan Halpert who runs one of the leading dental imaging clinics in California. He had sophisticated equipment and volunteered to do whatever was needed. I placed his information in the stack of suggestions. I had never talked with Dan. He has been a long-time supporter of LARadio.com but we had never communicated before this email. He just loves radio and reading about what goes on behind the scenes.

Within a week, I chatted with four oral surgeons and placed a call to the UCLA Dental School. I was getting mixed information and no one seemed anxious to correct a colleague's accident. UCLA would see Alexandra in 6 to 8 weeks. I needed an intervention. My prayers were to have people come into our lives that were well qualified and could act NOW. (Photo: Alexandra ten years later with dad and older brother, Tyler)

About the time I was feeling very frustrated, KABC/KLOS general manager John Davison called asking about my daughter. I explained the frustration. Dr. Bruce Hensel, seen on KNBC/Channel 4, had a Sunday afternoon show on KABC. John asked if it would be okay to call Dr. Hensel. Yes, it would be great.

Within minutes Dr. Hensel called. I explained the situation and within minutes doors were opening, which led me to Dr. James Jensvold in Woodland Hills. Alexandra met with him the next day and made an instant connection and we elected to have him find the tooth and extract.

The concern was the tooth would move to an undesirable place in the face. With the worst case scenario of partial facial paralysis, it was decided that we needed a couple of weeks for the tooth to encapsulate so it wouldn't move when attempting to remove it.

Two weeks later we were set for surgery. Upon arrival, the tooth had moved slightly and Dr. Jensvold wanted to double check on what was behind the tooth and on each side of the tooth. He said there was a sophisticated 3-D dental imaging machine that would help him enormously. Expensive but well worth the investment. He said the dental imaging clinic was run by Dan Halpert. I knew the name from somewhere, but where? When I pieced it together with Dan Halpert's kind offer from a month before, bingo!

That morning, Dan did his thing and the process was quite magical. With X-Rays in hand, we went to Dr. Jensvold's office. He was very pleased with the X-Rays and off Alexandra went to an operating room. Within minutes, the nurse came out with the wayward wisdom tooth on a platter. I gave a standing ovation.

Personal to the Foodie

As I was approaching 70 years of age, KNX’s Melinda Lee and her husband, Steve, did something so selfless and generous, it literally changed my life. I will forever be in her debt. Thank you, Melinda.

Events

Publishing LARadio was not only a daily treat, but we had so much fun putting together live events so fans of the website could personally meet their heroes.

The Entertainers Staged a Show at LARADIO.com Day

(October 30, 2000) For three hours on Saturday afternoon, nine legends of early Southern California radio dazzled a packed house at the Museum of Television & Radio with stories, anecdotes, laughter and insight into what made radio so entertaining in the 50s, 60s and 70s. It was simple. The consensus? The djs were entertainers, not jocks. "Sweet Dick" Whittington, who had traveled from the Central California Coast to be part of the festivities, was choked up during a 5-minute video saluting the high points of his incredible career. (standing l to r: Chuck Cecil, Chuck Blore, Bill Ballance, Dave Hull, Gary Owens, Jimmy O'Neill, Earl McDaniel, Carol Morgan. Front row: Al Lohman, Don Barrett, "Sweet Dick" Whittington)

"It's nice being at this stage of our lives where we really don't give a damn, but it is very nice being with a group of people that didn't attempt to emulate one another," said Sweet Dick. "You could easily identify each one of us, just by virtue of what we were doing. I couldn't be Gary Owens. I couldn't be Dave Hull. I wouldn't want to be Jimmy O'Neill. (Big laugh) I don't think we have any right to comment on what goes on in today's radio. They're pushing parameters. We pushed parameters. We took chances. They took chances. There's some kid, somewhere in the Midwest practicing or is an intern at a small radio station and he's going to do something and he's going to crack it wide open. And then Howard Stern and Tom Leykis will be sitting on this panel 20 years from now wondering what happened. We have no right to be critical. We set the stage for them."

As each guest was introduced, an audio or video clip of their work was played. Al Lohman separated from his long-time partner Roger Barkley abruptly one day and never talked again. Obviously the experience of hearing a bit titled, "Seven-second delay" as he was introduced, touched him. "When you were playing the clips, that hit me, what a talented group of talented people I'm associated with. And including, in all fairness, I re-realized what an outstanding straight man Roger Barkley was." Big applause.

(l to r: Chuck Blore, Carol Morgan,
Dave Hull, Al Lohman, Earl McDaniel,
Don Barrett, Bill Ballance, Jimmy O'Neill, "Sweet Dick" Whittington, and Chuck Cecil)

Some of the participants knew each other, others knew of each other. For Dave Hull, there was some trepidation. "You know, there were some tense moments for me when I learned with whom I was going to be on stage, because several people, including myself, didn't get along that well with one another during the years we were together - principally Bill Ballance. But, things went extremely well in spite of the egos present," said the "Hullabalooer." On stage, Dave thanked Bill Ballance for being instrumental in securing the "Lovelines" program for him at KGBS.

Ken Levine was in the audience and loved the event. "Forget age, forget era, forget style - talent is talent and these gentlemen were and are extraordinary," emailed Ken.

Chuck Blore explained the success of KFWB's "Color Radio" and he said, "We hired performers and people who could bring magic between the records. I used to tell them, it ain't the records, it's what goes on between them. Everyone went along with this philosophy except Al Jarvis." Al was a holdover at KFWB, who started in 1932 and wasn't too keen on playing rock 'n roll. "That's like asking Picasso to paint a house," he told Chuck. "In a 60 station market between 1958 and 1963, we averaged a 34 share and Jarvis averaged a 42. The second station was KMPC, which had an 8.8." Al Lohman interjected: "Have you ever stopped to think that those original teenyboppers that tuned in to KFWB when it first went on the air are now Chuck Cecil's groupies?"

"I've always been impressed with the show business - show and business. Two different words, but they apply to our industry," said Earl McDaniel. "Everybody thought KFWB was teeny-boppers and then Chuck Blore put this little person on the air who said, 'My mommy listens to KFW [pause] B.' This established to the advertising agencies that there were, indeed, adults out there and this was a real grown up radio station for everybody." Chuck said he had his 5-year old daughter tape the line because the station was #1 within three months and management was putting pressure on programming because the sales people couldn't sell it.

Al Lohman remembered that when he was at KLAC, Roger Barkley was the program director. "I received a memo, probably based on the success of KFW (pause) B promo line. 'You are supposed to do the call letters K L A (slight pause - slight elongation) C.' I used to tick the hell out of him because I would say 'This is K L A slight pause, slight elongation C.'"

Halfway through the three hours, Al Lohman interrupted to ask the audience a question, "Does anyone have a prostate as big as a Voit volleyball? Don, we have shared this stage pretty well for a bunch of screaming extroverts, but I will pretty soon upstage the whole group by peeing in my pants." And he excused himself. Dave Hull yelled, "It's locked, Al." (l to r: Don Barrett, Carol Morgan, Dave Hull, Al Lohman)

"Those clips you played Saturday remind me [in case I sometimes forget] why I love radio and how incredibly entertaining it can be," emailed KABC newsman Sandy Wells, who was also part of the audience. "What a group of minds and talents! It shows how perverse is the perception that radio is the doormat of the entertainment industry. The brilliantly clever repartee of Ballance with his caller was really impressive; the word-play of Gary Owens with the Preparation H spot; and the wit of Dave Hull and Al Lohman, and the poetry of Cecil's narration and the whimsical magic of Sweet Dick Whittington and that amazing clip of Shindig with Jimmy O'Neill...not to mention their gorgeous voices. And the originality of Chuck Blore's programming concepts, combined with the artistry he demanded of his air talents, none of which has ever been repeated, let alone improved upon, in my mind, at least," concluded Sandy.

Chuck Cecil was asked if he had changed his Swinging Years show with the new demographics listening to the swing music revival. "I've changed the tempo as I've become acquainted with swing dancing. I can't change the format too much, but I'm making a subtle change." To which "Sweet Dick" Whittington quipped, "If you've listened to this man recently with this reorganization of a younger generation, with each intro over a Jan Garber record for example, the last word that comes out of his mouth prior to going into a record is, 'Let's Rock!'" Gary Owens added: "Chuck has a great collection of Tex Beneke groupies." And Al quipped: "Chuck is the only guy I know who gets payola from the Jan Garber estate."

"I sat in the audience and I laughed and cried. It was just a great evening for me to be with all those legends," emailed Craig Hines. "And to see the paths that crossed... I'm just sad it had to end! I could have sat there for hours and marveled at their wit and wisdom. There will never be another Bill Ballance or 'Sweet Dick.' And certainly there will never be another Earl McDaniel. Personalities/Programmers will never rise to his level because there are no owners that let them do 'their thing.'"

 
Bill Ballance greets Chuck Blore Jimmy O'Neill and Carol Morgan Bill Ballance, Gary Owens,
Jimmy O'Neill, Earl McDaniel
 

Carol Morgan shared how she met Robert W. Morgan. "Robert and I were in our second semester at a little college in Ohio. We met in a required speech class. He was asked to critique my speech and afterwards we went out and within a month we knew we'd get married some day. Robert was studying political science. He didn't have the slightest idea he would be a dj. During Spring Break he wrote me a letter and signed it attorney-at-law pending." Carol told the group that Robert was devoted to music and was quite a musician. "He played the piano in the mode of Errol Garner, George Shearing and Dave Brubeck. He could listen to music and then sit at the piano and play it perfectly."

It was Earl McDaniel who hired Robert at KEWB-San Francisco. Carol still had Earl's telegram to Robert confirming his hiring. Robert was working in Sacramento at the time. Carol brought the telegram and showed it to him while everyone was gathered in the green room at the Museum.

Carol recalled that they were not thrilled about leaving the Bay Area to join KHJ but it was such an opportunity that he couldn't turn it down. "As we were beginning the drive South, Tony Bennett's song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco came on the radio and we both got teary. When we got close to L.A. we were listening to Gary Owens and there were a number of times he pulled over and got out of the car. He was bent over the car and very upset. He wondered if he could compete in Southern California with such great talent like Gary Owens," Carol shared.

ComedyWorld's Frank Murphy wrote following the event, "You actually made me feel gypped for having to grow up listening to New York radio instead of L.A. radio."

Jimmy O'Neill detailed how Shindig became the first network primetime Rock music show. He did the pilot when he was only 20 years old and they couldn't sell it. The pilot sat in a closet for two years and through a fortuitous happenstance, the right person saw it and made it happen, despite the network wanting James Darren, Frank Sinatra, Jr. or Barry McGuire to be the host.

Earl McDaniel borrowed a line from George Burns. "I'm so happy to be with this august group. At my age, I'm happy to be anywhere. Earl's first job in Los Angeles was the all-night show at KGFJ, a 250-watt station. "Their motto was 'The first 24-hour radio station in America' and as far as I know, it was true," offered Earl. He also talked about working at KFVD, which became KPOP, then KGBS and now KTNQ. "The station kept all the old logs from the 30s. It is hard to conceive today. They had no spot sales then. They sold programs. And when the 30-minute program was over, the radio station signed off until the next sold program was scheduled. Then the station signed on again. Radio has come a long way," Earl said.

Chuck Blore talked about the importance of jingles to the success of KFWB's Color Radio. "Every commercial had an audio trademark and radio stations were not doing that. I had just seen West Side Story and thought this was the best music I've ever heard and I wanted our jingle package to sound like that. Bob Sandy and Larry Green put together the KFWB jingle package. I told them that whenever you do the call letters, every single time the logo has to be the same. I wanted to talk about the station, but couldn't do that, so we sang the sales points as a commercial. And the logo jingle signature is still on the air 40 years later."

 
"Sweet Dick," Jimmy O'Neill, Chuck Cecil Dave & Jeanette Hull              Al Lohman, Earl McDaniel, Gary Owens

Dave Hull told about the madness in bringing the Beatles to the Southland. "KRLA became #1 with the Beatles and it was a time that was wonderful for us until KHJ kicked our butts with Robert W. Morgan and The Real Don Steele."

Bill Ballance, who had celebrated his birthday the day before and had driven up from San Diego to be part of the activities, shared stories about the wildly successful breakthrough talk format, Feminine Forum at KGBS. He talked about how he met Dr. Laura Schlessinger and ended up "thrashing together like crazed weasels" for over two years. (Dave Hull admitted to being the most boring man in the whole world. "While Bill Ballance was out balling Dr. Laura, I was going home to my wife. What the hell did I know?" said Dave. Gary added, "So was Bill!") Bill talked about the reason why he decided to release the nude photos of Dr. Laura to the Internet. (Gary Owens revealed that "Sweet Dick" had nude photos of Rush Limbaugh.) When asked about his feud with fellow KFWB dj B. Mitchel Reed, Bill yelled out, "You really want to know - that son of a bitch." Chuck Blore interjected that his job was to be referee as the two had to pass each other in the hallway at KFWB (B. Mitch was on 6 - 9 p.m. and Bill was 9 to midnight). "Bill was this tough guy Marine and Mitch was the Boy on the Couch. There was a four minute news break and we had only one little announce booth and they were both going to the same place with Mitch coming out and Bill going in and you never knew if they were going to make it." Bill recounted that he knocked him down after catching him stealing mail. "Splat, I let him have it. God, those were happy days."

When Al returned from his restroom break, he said, "This is a beautiful Museum, but it's the one thing they forgot to put in. I had to go over to Nate and Al's." Bill added that it was now called Nate and Alzheimer's.

Chuck Blore remembered one day waking up and hearing his morning man Bruce Hayes sound laconic. "I called him on the hotline and I said, 'You're on the radio, jerk! After the next record, I want you to say there is an amoebae loose and ladies with butterfly nets are chasing them.' I figured it would brighten him up and didn't expect it to go any further. It worked. In the middle of the next record, he stopped the record, which was absolutely against any policy and said, 'More information on the amoebae. It was seen going over the side of the Pasadena Freeway.' We did it all day long. By noon that day, it was like Orson Welles. That afternoon the front page of the LA Herald Examiner featured a cartoon of a guy on a lamp post holding a radio to his ear looking down with a frightened look on his face. Out of the radio, 'the amoebas are coming…the amoebas are coming.' The health department called the FCC because they couldn't get calls through. The FCC called me. I said this is fun. And they called back a half-hour later and said, "You're right, this is fun."

When the panel was asked which station each listened to, Chuck Cecil said, "I listen to myself. I did the show in 1963 and it still sounds great." When the laughter subsided, Bill Ballance added, "That way you will always have a loving audience." Dick Whittington said he didn't have time to listen to the radio. "I'm too busy teaching my 14-year-old Filipino wife her ABC's, which is on-going."

I want to again thank each of the panel members who so graciously gave of their time and themselves to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime gathering. It was a rare treat for fans of Los Angeles radio. And I want to thank Alan Oda, Shelley Herman and Jeff Leonard for assisting behind the scenes in making everything go smoothly. And a special thanks to the Museum's Kelli Gates who fought to carve out a chunk of time for LARADIO.COM in their weeklong salute to radio.

Al Lohman and Dave Hull are now on the radio in Palm Springs. "I'm listening to Berlitz tapes studying English as a second language," quipped Al. "Sweet Dick" Whittington has completed his novel and he's at war with the publisher. They want an up ending and Dick wants a downer. Gary Owens is part of the Music of Your Life satellite-delivered programming and he has a very active voiceover career. Chuck Cecil has been on the air in Los Angeles continuously since 1952. His Swinging Years show airs on KCSN. Chuck Blore has a successful commercial production business and is preparing for the launch of Color Radio on the Internet come the first of the year. Jimmy O'Neill is involved in a number of entertainment related projects. Earl McDaniel is retired and splits his time between Gig Harbor, Washington and Scottsdale, Arizona. Bill Ballance is living in North San Diego County and will be part of Chuck's Internet project.

Neil Ross was in the audience and summed up the feelings for many who emailed. "What a great event! What a great evening! It was magic. So wonderful to see and hear those guys again. For a brief moment on the way into the auditorium I worried that some of them might not be up to it; that the years might have eroded too much of the wit and talent that had made them what they were. Fat chance! They were bright, sharp, hilarious and heartwarming. They made me remember why I fell in love with Radio in the first place, and wanted so much to be a part of it. Every one of those guys was and is a class act. I could have happily sat through another three hours and still it wouldn't have been enough. My memory hadn't played tricks on me. Those guys are just as great as I remembered them. Sadly, I fear, we'll never see or hear their like again. It was a particular pleasure to see and chat once again with the great Earl McDaniel. Seeing and hearing him again reminded me of how I learned from that man! I'm so happy to see how great he looks and to hear what a wonderful life he's having. He richly deserves it," concluded Neil.

We were able to host another panel the following year with another equally star-studded array of personalities.

Legends in the Fall

(October 22, 2001) On Saturday, a jammed packed audience at the LARADIO.com Day seminar at the Museum of Television & Radio was treated to a quick-witted three hours of memories, anecdotes, laughs, and insight into the early days of Top 40/Rock radio in Southern California. The early pioneers were in top form. I thought the best way for you to relive what happened on Saturday would be to hear from those who were there: 

Swingin' Gentlemen

Ted Quillin, Wink Martindale, Elliot Field, Jim Hawthorne, Perry Allen, Gary Owens, Casey Kasem, Art Laboe, and Don Barrett moderating (not pictured but participants in the seminar: Hunter Hancock and Chuck Blore)

*Jerry Lewine: “I am awed by how incredibly talented these people are. What great storytellers! I had to wipe my eyes from laughing so hard over some of those stories - conversations with the boss who had an accent so thick he couldn't be understood, Art Laboe's story of how he was on a couch with a girl - and the stack of sticking 45's on the record player as the explanation of how the Oldies but Goodies albums came to be, Perry Allen's story of throwing up on camera during the early days of live tv and of course, the story of the glass knife that sliced Jim Hawthorne's finger on live tv. I found it particularly interesting that the only personality mentioned as listened to by the panelists was Phil Hendrie."    

* Scott St. James: "With the stories told, everyone one of those guys showed that what helped them be successful was their not being afraid to fail. CLASSIC stories. And while being impressed by all the panelists, I left the museum feeling sorry that I'd never had the opportunity to work with Chuck Blore during the Color Radio days. I mean, the stories he told and the stunts he pulled...what a MIND! Jim Hawthorne was someone I wasn't familiar with and he left quite an impression. Every guy on the panel showed he "still has it" and I am big time happy I made the extra effort to find a parking space. It was a flat out WONDERFUL 3 hours! Take a bow, panel. And take a bow, Don Barrett."

*Randy West: Absolutely magical! I was immediately moved by the camaraderie and mutual respect among these legendary personalities, and of course their glib, easy-going senses of humor.

While I've worked with Wink, I'd never heard the full story of the genesis of his hit record, Deck of Cards. From Ted Quillin, I learned that the payola investigations included an L.A. component where djs were not only summoned to Washington, but that testimony was also taken by ‘G-men’ locally at the Hollywood Roosevelt. The origin of the long-disputed ‘Make Believe Ballroom’ was finally clarified for me in learning that Martin Block had worked for Al Jarvis before instituting the show in New York. (Left to right: Art Laboe, Wink Martindale, Gary Owens)

Hunter Hancock detailing the birth of his groundbreaking r&b program was fascinating, and at the ‘meet and greet’ I learned that he'd never known or spoken to his East Coast counterpart, Alan Freed. I'd known of Perry Allen from his WKBW work, but wasn't aware that he too had a resume akin to a coast-to-coast train ticket.

Gary Owens always has humorous and insightful comments to share about the true golden age of Top 40 radio, and I was again amazed at his encyclopedic knowledge of who worked where, and with whom. And when it comes to call letters, he's a walking Broadcasting Yearbook! And I could listen to Chuck Blore (r) for days on end recount tales of imaginative radio promotions, advertising campaigns, and the psychology of electronic communication.

I've always been fascinated by the larger-than-life likes of Todd Storz, Gordon McLendon and Bill Randle; I sure got a good dose of anecdotes and insight into the personalities of our founding fathers. And from a story about suspected payola, I also learned about a dark side of one of the indie record promoters with whom I had a relationship throughout the 1970s.

Finally and perhaps most profoundly, I realized that having the courage to risk and reach for personal goals in the first half of your life can create a sense of accomplishment, pride, and a cache of great memories that can sustain you into your 80s and beyond. I became truly aware that some of the veterans of the radio wars are reaching advance ages, but couldn't help but notice that once seated and in the spotlight, each of these legends were young at heart, glib and still have the all the magic that made them great. Thanks for a magical moment."   

* Bob Pond: "The airchecks unclouded my memory regarding the golden days of Top 40 radio. The transition over 45 years has been so gradual that I had forgotten how it really sounded. I was fascinated about the stories about great innovations that happened by accident like Art Laboe's Oldies but Goodies albums, and how [anglo] Hunter Hancock played Jazz for two years in order to cater to the black community until he found out that they prefer r&b and only THEN attracted that demographic!

The three hours went by faster than a Friday drive-time shift and they were just getting started when we had to clear the hall. You could write a book about these guys. Oh, that's right - you already have!"

* Brad Pomerance: "I had no idea I would be in for such an inspiring evening when I signed up to attend this event.  The ten stars offered a glimpse into the early days of Southern California radio that can only be described as galvanizing.  The audience reaction to their war stories demonstrated just how deeply radio touched its listeners in its infancy.  It reaffirms our commitment to ensure that the medium continues to reach out to the public like no other outlets can." 

* Ryan Fox: “I have to admit I didn't know who half of them were, so it was a very educational experience. But, since I'm going into radio, it seems only right to pay my respects to those that have paved the way. I especially loved hearing Casey Kasem's early airchecks from Oakland/San Francisco. It was interesting to hear about the humble beginnings of the countdown genre and American Top 40. Who knew a janitor indirectly helped with it's inception.” (Left to right: Jim Hawthorne and Casey Kasem)

* Rick Burke: “Perhaps most telling was the panelists' responses to the final question, in which they were asked what radio stations they listen to today. Most answered public radio or all news; nobody mentioned even one commercial music station or personality as their favorite [excepting one honorable mention for Phil Hendrie]. Is this surprising? Chuck Blore mentioned that if you programmed a station today with many distinct personalities around the clock, as he had with KFWB, rather than just morning personalities as is done today, it would still be number one as KFWB was in its heyday.  While it was truly wonderful to see all these great radio personalities together, it was a reminder of what we have lost
in radio. The panel was both uplifting and bittersweet.”

*
Darrell Wayne: “While I marveled at the talent and experience showcased at the Museum event, the impression that I will take away, as with last year, is how overwhelmed I am by the creativity and energy of Chuck Blore. The glimpse into the mind of his promotional genius was a world away from any of the meager attempts from stations today. I would like to think that we did some pretty wacky and successful things at KROQ, but they failed in comparison with the fire and compassion that exists in Mr. Blore. His stories of looking for the KFW ‘Bees’ and the Minneapolis promotion where the other stations in town were running spots for Formula 63 (the new station in town) were classic. Today's stagnant radio minds should sit up and take notice of how a true professional takes risks and thinks ‘outside the box.’" 

Don Barrett, Elliot Field, Perry Allen, Hunter Hancock, Jim Hawthorne,
 Casey Kasem, Art Laboe, Wink Martindale, Gary Owens, Ted Quillin, Chuck Blore

* Karen Martin: “I loved Gary Owens' response to the final question, ‘Well, I listen to a kaleidoscope of radio... and then I listen to a myriad.’ It was a perfect example of his talent, articulate and funny, delivered with impeccable timing in that unmistakable voice.” 

* Matt Johnson: What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to be part of this event. Although I am too young to remember all but a couple of these personalities, I was privileged enough to get a sense of what radio was all about during the 50's and 60's. I think the thing that was only touched on for a few minutes turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon for me, and that was when someone asked what radio stations they listen to now. That kind of got the ball rolling on the issues that plague Southern California radio today."  

* Jeff Baugh (KFWB): “The moment of the seminar was when Chuck Blore said he always told his people that the most important word you can use is...YOU. I'm just a pup when it comes to broadcasting but when I started, I promised myself I would bring something new and good to traffic reporting. That was, trying to actually speak to someone...YOU. Boy, did I light up inside when he said that!” 

* Geoff Nathanson (KNX): "For me, this event was all about the history of the radio business. The most amazing thing was that the panelists were so entertaining in their reflections on the radio business. Jim Hawthorne is a real talent, funny, witty, and sharp. The stories about how the AM radio business worked back in the 50's and 60's was very interesting.  These guys loved what they did and it showed. Hearing the aircheck of Casey Kasem doing a fast-talking dj style in Oakland was really something since I only knew Casey in his present delivery.  Ted Quillin knew Elvis, Wink had a #1 song, Casey started out as a fast-talkin jock. KFWB had 10,000 bees released as a promotion. Great stories, great evening. And I realized that Don Barrett really exists!" 

* Neil Ross: “Frankly, I had my doubts as to whether you could match the quality of last year's presentation, but my fears were soon allayed. Another stellar group! 

My two favorite one liners: Pixyish Perry Allen telling Wink Martindale that he'd had jobs that hadn't lasted as long as Wink's pre-recorded WHBQ-Memphis show open. Ted Quillin talking about teaching Spanish to Bill Ballance and Gary Owens asking if Ted was the one who had told Bill that 'cabeza de mierde' was Spanish for 'hello there.'  Speaking of TQ, what a treat to hear that folksy, down home baritone again. A voice like that is truly a gift from the Gods. His sincere comments about how important it is to reach out and really touch the listeners was quite touching in itself. (Left to right: Don Barrett, Elliot Field, Perry Allen)

My two favorite stories were: 1. Casey Kasem's tale of being informed by management fifteen minutes before airtime at KEWB that all humor was out, discovering a book of artist bios and trivia in a waste basket that was propping open the studio door, thumbing through it and reinventing himself on the spot thereby saving his gig and laying the groundwork for what would become American Top Forty. 2. Art Laboe's story of how a long ago make out session on a couch led to the invention of the Oldies But Goodies albums. [You had to be there.] Speaking of Art, what a mindblower to think that the man has been on the radio in Los Angeles since the forties! And still going strong. 

Which leads me to Hunter Hancock. What a charming, feisty irascible gentleman. And how fascinating to hear his tale of accidentally becoming the first L.A. dj to feature the music of African Americans on the radio in that strange, sad period when it was known as 'race music.' 

Great to see and hear Elliot Field again along with Wink Martindale and Gary Owens - always ready with a great one-liner. As T.Q. said, "He's never let us down!" A particular treat to have old friend/boss/mentor Jim Hawthorne on hand. He hasn't slowed up one bit. A brilliant, witty man who left his mark on both L.A. Radio and Television. What a nice surprise to have Chuck Blore join the panel. Any time that man wants to reminisce about the glory days of Color Channel 98 - I'm there! 

A truly wonderful evening, Don. Three hours flew by in a twinkling. I could have stayed for three more. Heck, I wish we were still sitting there. Thanks so much for putting it all together. Very much appreciated." 

* Ken Levine: “It was quite a contrast for me. The night before I saw Dylan at the Staples Center. I understood three words the entire night – ‘could,’ ‘blue,’ and [I think] ‘Alabama.’ [Instead of selling T-shirts in the lobby they should offer Decoder Kits]. Then yesterday these gentlemen all ten or more years his senior were razor sharp, funny, articulate, and insightful. Forget the voice of my generation. Give me the voice of THEIR generation!” 

* Phil Harvey (Phil Harvey Productions): “I will carry those three-hours with me for the rest of my life. It was your special guest, Chuck Blore, who really impressed me. The legendary program director truly spilled the beans on how to program a #1 radio station. While the panelists obviously had a few miles on them by now, their souls and wits were still pristine."

*
Tyrone Dubose: “I heard Wink after it was all over say. ‘I thought that this would have been too long, but it seems as though it was not long enough.’ That was true. You didn’t have to live in L.A. to know how important these people were to radio.” 

* Jackie Smith: "I'm in my late 30's and listened to radio constantly growing up: KHJ - [when Rick Dees was on the air], KTNQ and KGFJ were THE stations I listened to on my radio - and I thought I grew up during the best era of L.A. radio! I had no idea that Los Angeles had SUCH a rich history in radio; what a privilege to see these gentlemen that shaped radio the way we know it today. It made me realize what a close knit community radio truly was 'back in the day.'  My favorite was stories were from Hunter Hancock, who brought the 'race records' to Los Angeles - such a quick wit and sharp as ever! It's obvious that the men on the panel have never lost their passion and enthusiasm for Los Angeles radio." (Perry Allen, Hunter Hancock, Jim Hawthorne)

* Norm Garr: “As far as Saturday goes, the story that hit me the most was the one Art Laboe told about how he got the idea for Original Sound Records. He was trying to make the moves on his girl friend but kept having to get up to change the ten 45's on her automatic record-player. When his girlfriend stated she wished they were all on an album.....wah-lah, a company was born.”

Thanks to the Desiree Vander Wal and her staff at the Museum for making the day so special. Special thanks to Lane Quigley for escorting Hunter Hancock and Kevin Gershan for his assistance with the audio. Photo contributions came from Alan Oda, Pam Baker, and Scott Hawthorne. And my humble thanks to the ten personalities who reminded us, oh, so briefly on Saturday afternoon, that personality radio was pioneered by a unique breed of broadcasters. 

Dimples was the scene for one-on-one interviews with Michael Jackson, Commander Chuck Street, and Saul Levine, three very diverse LARP who brought their stories alive to a packed house on a Saturday afternoon in 2003.

The 2009 LARadio Lifetime Achievement award went to KNX’s decades-long iconic general manager George Nicholaw. Colleagues flew from Texas, Florida and New York to pay tribute to George at a luncheon held at Vitello’s in North Hollywood. For an hour, George told stories about his early radio days in Big Sur and how he launched KNX as an all-News station in 1968.

A year later we honored Art Laboe (r) for his half-century dedication to the world of Oldies music. For those who were at Vitello’s on that Saturday afternoon in 2010, you’ll remember that Art could barely pass through the lobby to get into the main room because of the well-wishers and those wanting to pose for a photo.

George and Art – giants in the history of LARadio! 

More Scoops Than 31 Flavors

It would be easy to look back on the huge exclusives and news stories we broke at LARadio, but that would probably be a little more braggadocio than I am comfortable with. Let it be known that those exclusives could not have come without the help of many who were willing to email or phone with a tip. I remember one exclusive came from a very confidential memo. At the bottom of the memo was the warning: ‘This is not to be distributed to ANYONE beyond those listed. If this email appears in LARadio and we find out who sent it, they will be immediately fired.’ Within a few minutes of distribution of the confidential memo, I had received it from five different people.

It was nice to be trusted. Management never understood that there no longer are any secrets and there will never again be anything that can be kept under wraps for very long.

Most Touching and Selfless Story

In 2012, I was so touched by the news that KROQ’s Bean (r) had agreed to donate one of his kidneys to West Coast CBS engineer topper Scott Mason.

Time was running out for Scott and he was in desperate need of a kidney. I really wanted to tell the story but both were reluctant. What if it didn’t go well? Will it look like it is being done for publicity purposes only? There were a myriad of other concerns from both of them.

About a month later both Scott and Bean agreed to exclusively tell their moving story. There was an immediate outpouring of reactions to the story and deed. Months later the operation took place. It was a success.

Scott’s lifetime of challenges caught up with him a few months ago and he died at age 55. But his colleagues maintain that he squeezed in a few extra quality years of life because of Bean’s selfless act.

30,000 Foot Story

I shared a personal story about singer Michael Jackson around the time of his death. On my way to the Cannes Film Festival one year I was traveling on a flight from LA to Germany where I had to change planes. Two rows in front of me was superstar Michael Jackson traveling with two bodyguards. A man sitting in the row between Jackson and myself was drinking heavily and becoming loud. The drinking passenger got rip-roaring drunk and had an issue with the steward when he was cut off. He found fault with the steward’s decision, stood up and started swinging at the steward. They ended up on the floor of first class rolling around. Before the pilot could come down and break it up, Michael Jackson went to the brawling mess on the floor and broke it up with some very gentle words. Jackson sat with the passenger until he passed out.

The story was reprinted in a dozen publications. Who knew?

Thanks Are Never Enough

There are so many who played an active role in preserving the rich history of LARadio, starting with our historian Jim Hilliker. Even though our focus has been a tribute to the men and women who have entertained us for the past 50+ years, Jim jumped back even further and painted a picture of the early pioneers when call letters were first just numbers and letters. Jim, your contributions were well appreciated by the readers.

Jim Hawthorne and Steve Thompson prepared the daily almanac. Jim called his offering HIStory and Steve has been doing the Rewind column for the better part of a decade. Thanks for reminding us of those meaningful dates in radio history.

Over the years, Jerry Lewine and Christian Wheel helped with the technical challenges of maintaining the website, dealing with outdated software, and equipment that just plain wore out.

Alan Oda has been the magic behind the site. He was far more than a senior correspondent who gathered interesting stories, he brought a sense of stability and class to the proceedings. Alan and his wonderful family, his wife Donna, and two boys, Peter and Drew, have become amazing friends that will continue far beyond the closing of LARadio. He is one of the real good guys and wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in addition to being a full-time professor, he was able to continue to tell stories about the storytellers?

Anita Garner has been like a soul sister and her contributions have been immeasurable. We met while researching my first book, Los Angeles Radio People. She was struggling with her mother’s illness as I with my mother’s ALS. The former afternooner at KBIG and voice of KCET/PBS, Anita has helped numerous writers with their writing projects, whether editing, shaping or in some cases, even ghostwriting. Thank you my dear Anita who loves plugging her laptop into a skyscraping redwood tree outside her Mill Valley cottage and writing and creating.

Life Is But a Dream

Gordon McLendon was the only genius I ever worked for. As one of the candidates in his Magnificent Seven program, I spent a month living on his 500-acre ranch north of Dallas. Every day, seven of us were tutored in every facet of the radio business. Experts from management, ad agencies, and FCC lawyers came to the ranch or to the downtown KLIF studio headquarters. We even learned how to shake hands from Elmer Wheeler, author of Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak. It was a life-changing magnificent experience.

One of his bits of wisdom, repeated frequently by Gordon, was to ‘find the void, and fill it.’ He was directing his comment to the radio business, but I used it in writing Los Angeles Radio People, Volumes 1 and 2 and starting the website LARadio.com. The inside guts of radio appeared to be underserved. There was no one carrying the banner that the medium was vibrant and exciting. I believed it was the Radio People themselves who were at the vortex of its very existence – the men and women sitting alone in a small room telling compelling stories to tens of thousands every day.

But, no one was telling their stories. The book was called Los Angeles Radio People, not LA Radio Corporations. I wanted to tell the stories of the unseen voices. Where they came from, what they did while in the market and if gone, where are they now? Not much more complicated than that. That was the void and I attempted to fill it the best I could.

I never wanted radio to be the way it “was.” I have never been nostalgic for Boss Radio, Part 2, or a new Color Radio. There was only one Station of the Stars. I would like radio to be forging new audio vistas. Who will be the next generation of storytellers? Storytelling is what radio does best. 

And there will be a new journalist who will have a new way to tell their stories. I was nothing more than a passionate cameraman who took a snapshot of the radio landscape on a daily basis.

Time to go walking on the Santa Barbara beach. Thank you for being a part of the LARP community. Nat King Cole sang it every morning at the end of the KMPC Dick Whittinghill Show, and it somehow seems appropriate to end this journey in my life with the same song.

I'm walkin' out the door with you on my mind

I'm walkin' out the door with you on my mind

But every step away from you, I feel like cryin'

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Last modified: August 12, 2015