Happy Friday LARP Birthdays

John Butler
Brian Clewer (d)
Dylan Littlefield

The most comprehensive listing of 6,000 Los Angeles Radio People, spanning the last 57 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!   



(Dick Warshaw, Lloyd Thaxton, Lane Quigley, Bob O'Brien, Bob Fox, Bradley Wright, and Rick Dees' album cover)

“Scott Mason will Definitely be Missed” – Bean, KROQ

(April 24, 2015) Scott Mason (l) died last Sunday, at the age of 55. His most recent job was in engineering, in fact, he had a pretty big job as the West Coast Director of Engineering for CBS Radio. But he was more than that. Readers of LARadio.com would probably not know his name if it hadn’t been for a very public kidney transplant a couple of years ago. KROQ morning co-host Bean (Gene Baxter) donated his kidney to Scott, who had been suffering for a number of years. At the end of this story, we will re-run the initial story that LARadio first published three years ago.

Last Monday morning, Bean opened up the Kevin & Bean Show with a moving tribute to Scott. It was clear they all cared about him greatly. Bean’s words:

Someone very close to us for a number of years here at KROQ has died. He is our old friend, Scott Mason. I wasn’t shocked when I got the call about his death. He had been very sick for a long time. Scott was the Chief Engineer of KROQ and oversaw the engineering department for many, many CBS radio stations, but he’s been with this station since 1979.

I talked with Dr. Drew (Pinsky) and Drew said Scott was one of the original hosts of Loveline. When Dr. Drew came to do Loveline in 1983, Scott had already been doing Loveline on and off for a couple of years.

Through all the departments of the CBS radio stations, who didn’t like Scott Mason?

We made fun of Scott Mason over the years, especially that hair. One of my favorite memories was when we were back in Burbank in the old days when we bought my goat into the radio station. There was a strict no-animal policy, under any circumstances you do not bring an animal to work. How often did Scott look the other way? Even with Kat Corbett bringing her dogs all the time. Scott Mason knew it was against the rules and knew that he told us it was against the rules, but he was so cool that he let us get away with it.

He would have been the guy behind the scenes who was responsible for all of the broadcasts remotes KROQ does over the years. He was the guy who set those up. He got the Weenie Roast and Acoustic Christmas broadcasts on the air.

He sure was smart, too. I’m happy to say that in recent years I became a lot closer to Scott because for those who don’t recognize the name, he was the guy I donated my kidney to 2 ˝ years ago, so I got to know his family, his mom, his stepfather, his brother and his girlfriend and the kids. They were just a delight in his life.

If there is one silver lining for anyone that young dies – Scott was only a little bit older than we are – in the last couple of years you really become a father. He had a girlfriend with these kids he just adored and became a scout master. He was able to camp with them and he spent so much time with them. He was so happy in recent years because of those relationships.

It was just really sad.

Long-time KROQ listeners may remember he was a dj on this station – Spacin’ Scott Mason - for a number of years and he loved that.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who did more for KROQ and he was more beloved in this building than anyone.

It is very sad news that we did lose our friend, Scott Mason. We won’t forget him.

I talked with him about three weeks ago and he had been in intensive care for some time and was now in a physical rehabilitation faciity, which was great because he had lost a lot of body mass and muscle being in the hospital.

They were physically rebuilding him so he could go home and he did end up going home and he spent some time out of the hospital. Facebook posts had him out with the kids having pizza. At least he was able to get out before things turned bad. He had auto-immune deficiencies his whole life. He had lupus. He had a lot of things that were fighting his body. He did the best he could for a long time.

We’re going to do the best can to move on today but I did want to give him his due because he’ll definitely be missed.

Bean interview. Larry Gifford has a tasty website, posting his 98th podcast. The podcast is all about Radio Stuff. He just put up an insightful interview with KROQ’s Bean, who talks about about being inducting into the Radio Hall of Fame and at the end he talks about donating his kidney to Scott Mason.

Click the artwork to download the interview.

LARadio Archives from November 2012

Plight Of Scott Mason Jars A LARP Into Action

(November 1, 2012) In the 20 years of LARadio (the books and website) there have been several stories that have touched the hearts of many. One that comes to mind with a powerful response is the plight of Shana, one of the earliest female personalities in LA Radio (93/KHJ, KEZY, KROQ, KLOS, KLSX and KPCC). About 10 years ago she was having a difficult time. Well, it was more than difficult. She was about to lose her cottage in La Canada and her car (her only means of going out on job interviews) was being repossessed. 

Her candidness touched your hearts and within 30 minutes of the column about her plight being published; a LARP who lived nearby drove to her home with her monthly rent and saved her from eviction. Within days, she received over $9,000 in help. She is back on her feet and consulting in the music business. It was an incredible outpouring of love and support from the LARadio community.

But the story you are about to read is a matter of life and death. Or at least the hope of an extended life versus a pretty crappy one. When I heard the story about a month and a half ago, I literally had to sit down. I was shaken and now as I write the story to share with you, I am filled with inspiration, hope, exhilaration, and awe. It is the most powerful story we have ever presented.

Scott Mason has been actively involved in LARadio since 1974. He is now the west coast head of engineering for the CBS stations. He was there for the launch of Rick Carroll’s KROQ in 1979. Scott was hired as chief engineer and weekend jock, where he was known as “Spacin’ Scott Mason.” (Photo: Scott Mason)

In 1981 he was made assistant pd at KROQ and moved up to operations manager in 1985. When asked for his most memorable moment, he recounted being on the air during the January 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake: "I just grabbed the console, opened the mike, and said 'we're having an earthquake, stay calm.'"

During my times with Scott I have found him to be a very humble individual who gives much of his personal time to charitable causes. He claims his life is balanced because of his volunteer work with the American Red Cross for which then-Mayor Richard Riordan acknowledged him. He has also been active in the Boy Scouts. Scott shares his passion for radio as a professor at a local college and I have been honored to be a guest lecturer there. That experience told me volumes about Scott. Where radio seems to get short shrift with young people today, his classroom was filled with students very interested in RADIO. I know it was because of the passion and respect that Scott has for the business. They really admired him.

What I didn’t know about Scott until recently is that he is a sick man, with kidney failure. He has a dialysis machine he uses in his home. He had a kidney transplant ten years ago but when cadaver kidneys from a deceased donor are placed in the pelvis, apparently they have a shorter shelf life than from a living donor; in Scott’s case he had a cadaver kidney in 1999 that started to go bad in 2010.

Turns out Scott has had medical issues since high school. They have affected a number of functions in his body over the years. “It has been off and on over the years, sometimes severe, sometimes mild and quasi non-existent,” revealed Scott.

“I’ve had a hip replacement, had pericardiectomy (surgery in the sac of the heart). I’ve had a lot of surgeries since the 70s. I knew my kidneys were going bad in the late 80s. Slowly but surely they stop functioning,” said Scott.

Mason was put on a transplant list at UCLA. Because he has Type-O blood, the waiting list was usually 6-7 years. “In 1999 I got a call from UCLA saying they had a cadaver donor. If I could be there in an hour they could make this work. I got there. I got the transplant. It lasted pretty good until 2010 when it started going bad.”

When his transplanted kidney started to fail, he got a dialysis machine for use at home. He plugs in the machine at night and is usually finished by 4 a.m. “I’ve had a very difficult time over the years with low red blood cell count. Climbing stairs is very difficult, and especially when I’m working in San Francisco with all the hills.”

Traveling is part of Scott’s job. Once a year he visits an island off Seattle where Bean (Gene Baxter), half of the enormously successful Kevin & Bean Show on KROQ, lives and broadcasts his daily morning show. Scott will calibrate the equipment in Bean’s studio and tend to any engineering issues. Scott usually spends two days in Seattle.

Scott and Bean are not close beyond the yearly visit. They’ve known each other for over two decades as colleagues who respect each other greatly. But they don’t get together in their off time or even talk on the phone. It is a respected professional relationship. (Photo: Bean)

On Scott’s yearly visit last spring, Bean thought Scott had slowed down quite a bit and wasn’t looking well. He had a grayish tone to his skin. Bean asked if he was okay.

Scott decided to tell Bean what was going on. He told him that he has a number of issues going on and he had to really take care of himself because his kidney was going bad. He told him he was on a transplant list but he had Type-O, which made it more difficult to find an organ donor. He had exhausted his immediate family as possible donors.

The issue of blood compatibility has made great strides over the last few years. Cedars is one of four hospitals in the country that has the capacity to make blood neutral. It is called a plasmapheresis process.

“This is crazy,” said Bean. “I have two working kidneys. You can have one of mine.” That night over dinner, Bean and his wife Donna discussed the issue. She readily agreed and in the morning Bean confirmed to Scott that he would like to begin the procedure. “It was absurd that Scott was so sick with no working kidney and I had two that were working great. I thought this was a no-brainer. Scott and I have worked together for 23 years and I’ve always admired him a great deal, but we’re not close friends. We don’t have a relationship outside of work at all. I don’t think we’ve ever shared a meal together. We don’t talk on the phone. We’re colleagues who admire one another.”

Bean’s almost flippant approach to this transplant is amazing. He says, “It would be like you and I going to lunch and I have two sandwiches and you have none. ‘Hey, have my other sandwich.’ It was as simple as that. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. It seems obvious, but I got the impression from some of the questions they were asking that a lot of people have a lot of fear about the surgery, but I didn’t. I don’t have any question that Cedars-Sinai Hospital is going to do a great job. I’m not worried about the surgery going well.”

Bean said the organ transplant people think some people were doing it for other reasons. “They make it very clear that I shouldn’t think that I was saving somebody’s life. The transplant may not happen. His body may reject it. It may not work. He may need another one in a year. They paint the worst possible scenario because they don’t want you going in there thinking, ‘I’m a great guy and I’m a hero, because you’re not. This might not work. None of this bothered me. They want you prepared for whatever the outcome is.”

Scott knew getting a kidney from Bean was a long shot. “There are a lot of obstacles to get through to be an organ donor. There are compatibility issues, etc.,” he said. “If you’re serious, here’s the organ transplant person at Cedars and you can get on the track with all the tests.”

Bean contacted Cedars (http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Kidney-and-Pancreas-Transplant-Center/) and the tests have been going on for months. There is a Cedars sister clinic in Seattle dealing with organ donations. They began the process on Bean with blood and urine tests, a complete physical, and a stress test. The clinic sent the results to Cedars in Los Angeles. And with each test passing, there were more. At some point Bean had to fly to Cedars and spend a day. “I met with all the various departments, telling me about the surgery, post-surgery, and psychological ramifications on expectations. Cedars does a great job letting you know that right up to the last minute there’s a possibility that it won’t happen. There are times when a patient has been wheeled into surgery, given anesthetics, and wakes up to find out that it didn’t happen. Maybe it was too difficult to get your kidney out or some issue with the recipient.”

Part of Bean’s testing at Cedars was psychological.

·        Why do you want to do this?

·        What is it you’re expecting to come out of this?

·        What is your relationship with the recipient?

·        What do you expect the relationship to be afterward?

“The list is small of those who have the physical and mental condition to make a successful donation, which was a surprise to me,” said Bean. “It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it was going to be. But it is a much more complicated procedure for Scott. He’s got a lot more challenges facing him in recovery. I’m more concerned about how he’s going to come through than I am.”

I asked both if they were afraid. “I’m always afraid before all my surgeries,” said Scott. “There’s always something that can go wrong but I could get hit by a car on the way to work.”

Bean responded quickly, “Not at all. I know there is a tiny percent of complications from any surgery. I have a lot of confidence in the Cedars organ donation program. They have the highest success rate. I’ve met the doctors who will be doing the surgery. I have a lot of confidence in them. I think they know what they’re doing. I’m not worried.”

Bean said that he is hoping that within a few hours of surgery Scott will instantly feel better and not be poisoned anymore. “I hope, as a minimum, everyone will state on their driver’s license that they will be an organ donor. It seems inconceivable that people would want to bury usable body parts – livers, kidneys, eyes and anything else that can be transplanted. We shouldn’t throw away those spare parts.”

For Bean, he hopes to be off the air for only two weeks. “I’ve been told that I will be uncomfortable for a few weeks but after that I expect my life to go back to normal, like it never happened. I don’t think there will be a significant change in my life but it’s likely to give Scott 15-20 years of feeling good. And that’s a trade-off I’m certainly willing to make.”

Bean comes back to Cedars on November 6 for final orientation. The transplant is scheduled for November 13. He will stay in LA for at least 6 days recuperating. On November 19 he hopes to be able to return to Seattle to have Thanksgiving dinner with the family and rest in his own bed before returning to the KROQ morning show on November 26. He will then spend the next couple of weeks raising awareness about organ donor contributions.

“There’s no way I can repay Bean or thank him,” said Scott. “There’s no way to pay him back. It’s a gift. I can’t think of a greater gesture. I couldn’t get a kidney from my own family. My parents are too old. My younger brother had been on blood pressure medication and was rejected. He tried very, very hard. And here is a colleague willing to give me one of his kidneys.”

Bean was philosophical about the past half year. “I have been unbelievable with my health. I’ve had a couple of broken bones as a kid but I’ve been so lucky and so healthy for so long that I’ve wondered since this process began, maybe it’s part of the deal. The reason I’m in such good shape now is so that I would be the right person at the right time to do this right thing to help out this guy. I thank my lucky stars.”

Walk for Scott. If people are moved to want to do something in Scott Mason's honor, tomorrow morning is the Donate Life Run/Walk and Family Festival at Cal State University Fullerton.  Lisa May and Deborah Howell will run/walk in Scott's name and lots of good folks from CBS and other media outlets will be on hand to get the word out about organ donation. "It will be a wonderful day of music, food and fun spent with people who've received organ donations, are waiting for them, have donated themselves, and their loved ones," emailed Deborah. "I can't wait! Here's a link about the event. If people can't attend, they may want to make a donation in Scott's name. http://www.donatelifeoc.org/ "

Hear Ache. Winner of the 2015 GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band performs a Swinging Tribute to Count Basie for the KJazz 88.1 FM Summer Benefit Concert at the Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, June 27th. Made up of 18 of L.A.'s finest musicians, the Big Phat Band puts a contemporary spin on the Big Band tradition. Joining the band is special guest guitarist Lee Ritenour … KLAC’s JT the Brick and Tomm Looney will be in Las Vegas broadcasting the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight and the 2015 NFL Draft preview April 29 - May 1 … Charese Fruge, former program director at KYSR (Star 98.7), has been named vp/programming and ops manager for CBS Radio's six stations in the Houston market.

LARadio Rewind: April 24, 2010. DJ Hideo, who had called himself “the hardest working DJ on the west coast,” dies of cancer at 42. Upon learning in 2009 that Hideo had been diagnosed with fourth-stage colon cancer and was undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, music industry veterans Vivian Son, Tawala Sharp and Kathleen “DJ K-Sly” Taylor arranged an “Operation Hideo” fundraising concert at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, featuring Eric Bobo, Spindrella, Evidence, DJ Rhettmatic, Hot Dollar and other hip-hop artists. Hideo would live only one more year.

Born in 1967 in Japan, Hideo Sugano opened shows for Coolio, Xzibit, Cypress Hill and other artists and spent nine years at 100.3 KKBT as a mix show director. He co-hosted the “Friday Nite Beatdown” program and was a part of the morning shows of Steve Harvey (2000-05) and John Salley (2005-06). Hideo taught mixing at Scratch DJ Academy, founded by Run-DMC member Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, and was a member of the Bumsquad DJz (now The Mix Syndicate), an organization of radio DJs, club DJs, mixers and music directors. Hideo gave out hundreds of t-shirts bearing his likeness and his motto: “Live life.” (LARadio Rewind is meticulously prepared by Steve Thompson)



Email Friday

We GET Email …

** KNX News

“I would like to see CBS admit that they made a mistake and either bring back Andy Ludlum or someone of his caliber to watch over the minutiae that goes into making KNX the great station that it is. A good program director does not let the nonsense happen that I am hearing. Julie Chin by herself does not have the time to do two jobs as neither Andy nor Julie really had the time to do each of their jobs by themselves.

In the interest of being honest, when I mention Jeff Baugh, I really mean all of the traffic team. It is just that Jeff bought some barstools from my factory when he moved into a new condo a few years ago so I have a soft spot for him in my heart [and wallet]. If memory serves me well, Chuck Rowe also has some of my furniture purchased before he moved back east.” - Bill Mann, South Pasadena

** KNX On Your Corner  

"A quick comment on Bill Mann's essay concerning KNX. Although most of his points are well taken, I think the claim that the 'On Your Corner' remote had no backup may be unfair. In fact, it may very well have been a 'backup' that saved the remote when it picked up at the top of the hour with excellent audio quality. Maybe Bill just got frustrated and didn't keep listening. 

I say kudos to the KNX engineers who manage to put these broadcasts on the air despite some extremely challenging behind the scenes technical hurdles." - Sam Lawson, retired engineer from KNX, KFI, Premiere, and others.

** Rick Buckley’s Radio Role

“I was more than pleased to read the kind things Saul Levine had to say about Rick Buckley.

Rick hired me when he was program director of KGIL.  As a 22 year-old Top 40 disc jockey I found Rick [everything was first name basis with the Buckleys]  to be a wonderful employer.   

I’ll never forget a couple of unwritten rules Buckley went by: No door to any office was ever locked. In fact, during business hours doors to every office were wide open and pretty much stayed that way.

When Rick [as general manager] made me program and music director of the station I was told that part of my job was to work with sales and, in fact, attend any and all sales meetings. That, plus working directly with sales people on specific projects gave me tremendous insight into what they faced daily. On the other hand, all sales personnel were told to stay out of the on-air studios.

I later learned that this was the reason most of the better general managers with Buckley Broadcasting came out of programming.” – Chuck Southcott

** Fox Role

I have to agree with Fred Wallin on his comments of Michael Fox who was the program director of KABC. I once told manager George Green to ‘buy’ me out of my contract at KABC, but Michael Fox said they had to approve a buyout. I cooled down and stayed for almost 25 years. I later retired at the age of 66.” – John Naimo 

Has KNX Taken Their Eye Off the Ball?
An essay by Bill Mann

(April 23, 2015) As you have pointed out Don, it has been about a half year since KNX has had a program director.

Although my hat is off to Julie Chin for the job she has done, especially with the new programming, she is one person doing two more than full time jobs. I would like to see her survive without being killed by overwork.

My reason for this missive is that I see a roller coaster at KNX. Great programming, fantastic breaking news coverage and the proactive traffic that Andy Ludlum developed. I love it when Jeff Baugh tells me to take Figueroa Street instead of the Arroyo Seco, instead of just ‘Hey, Bill, there is a stuck car on the Arroyo Seco.’

However, the delivery is getting very sloppy. The delivery is what I hear, not the behind the scenes planning and executing.

KNX On Your Corner with no back up and going off the air and the studio having to take over while I am engrossed in what Frank Mottek was saying about Burbank. John Kerry being introduced as the new Secretary of Defense? Duh, I thought he was the Secretary of State. Who is reading the script before it is handed to the anchors?  Back to back ads. Yes I like George Foreman but not back to back spots. Or competing ads back to back. DiTech Funding followed by a great ad by the kid who's mother loaned him some money to start a mortgage company. Windows by Bill and his wife followed by windows by Anderson. Cunning Dental followed by Newport Beach Dental. Split them up so I hear one ad in one break and the other ad in the next break, not both in the same break.

If it has taken CBS more than six months to find someone as good or better than Andy Ludlum, perhaps Andy was too good to have been terminated to start with.

Don, although I agree with you when you said that business news twice an hour on the weekends is a waste of air time, to have Bloomberg reporting financial news after Frank Mottek leaves the studio is also a waste of air time. Bob McCormick gave me local news and things meaningful to both me personally and relevant to the Southern California neighborhood. Bloomberg News could not care less about what is happening in Santa Monica, Pasadena or my bank account. Losing that local touch has diminished the role that Frank and Bob worked so hard to build.   

Perhaps that is why I am listening to KUSC a heck of a lot more than I used to.

Respectfully, Bill Mann, South Pasadena

Hey, KIDD. Saul Levine purchased KIDD-Monterey for $50,000. “It will be a huge challenge to relocate the transmitting facility by December 31, 2015,” emailed Saul. “The Buckley Family had confidence in my ability to do so. The 630 low frequency will have a large coverage area from San Jose to King City.”

American Dream For Sale. KNX will take an in-depth look at the high cost of housing in Southern California that for many has turned the American dream of owning a home into a cost prohibitive nightmare this morning at 10 a.m. In a press release, the station stated not only can fewer people afford to buy a house, L.A. has become one of the most unaffordable rental markets in the country. Add it up and it makes finding a place to live near your job unlikely and often prevents employers from attracting the most qualified candidates. Los Angeles is the least affordable housing market in the country – and experts say it’s only going to get worse.

KNX Spotlight: American Dream, L.A. Nightmare will be hosted by KNX anchor Tom Haule and investigative reporter Charles Feldman and will feature experts who will answer listener questions about how to find a home, be it an apartment or a house, that are actually affordable.

Wood Plan. Jason Insalaco formerly served as Tim Conway Jr.’s producer at KFI. He recently made news in a story published in Los Angeles Magazine the cult movie favorite Ed (Plan 9 from Outer Space) Wood. An actor friend who appeared in an Ed Wood film, Paul “Kelton the Cop” Marco, is related to Jason. A private display of historical items from the estate of Ed Wood has been assembled by Marco’s great nephew Jason. “Spread out over several rooms of his San Fernando Valley home were artifacts ranging from a signed program from Wood’s postwar theater troupe The Casual Company (Dear Mom & Dad; ‘Another great success for me,’ Jr., October 25, 1945) to an angora sweater purchased for a relative, to his sleazy 70s porn stories. Insalaco restored the lost black and white tv special Final Curtain and premiered it at the Slamdance Film Festival. He brought these items back to Los Angeles and hopes they will further the legacy of the movie legend.”

LARadio Rewind: April 23, 2012. One month after rebranding New York City’s WYNM as “AM 970 The Answer,” Salem Communications rebrands KRLA-Los Angeles as “AM 870 The Answer” and KTIE-San Bernardino as “AM 590 The Answer.” Heidi Harris, former morning host at KDWN in Las Vegas, replaces Glenn Beck in mornings. Two months later she will be joined by Brian Whitman and Ben Shapiro. Whitman had hosted or co-hosted programs on WABC, KKBH in San Diego, KABC and KLSX and for 14 years did impersonations on the Rick Dees morning show at KIIS/fm. Shapiro is an author, political columnist and Breitbart.com editor-at-large. In 2013, Harris exited the morning show and was replaced by Elisha Krauss, a former producer of Sean Hannity’s syndicated program. Also in 2013, Shapiro and political activist / author David Horowitz launched the www.TruthRevolt.org conservative news site.



Email Thursday

We GET Email …

** Fox Passing

“Enjoyed the piece on Jerry Hawkins.

He mentioned that Michael Fox had passed away from a heart attack some fifteen years ago. I did not realize that had happened and it makes me very sad.

Let me say, that in all my time in radio, Michael Fox, was one of the most honest and square shooters in the business and the business could use a whole lot more like Michael Fox.” – Fred Wallin, Sports Byline

** Tantum is a Hawk for Facts

“Ordinarily I would let things like this pass but the recent piece by Jerry Hawkins needs some clarification. 

My recollection is Jerry Hawkins did some traffic reporting for us at KFWB during my years as PD/Executive Editor but he was never one of our anchors. Pete Demetriou was the first reporter to file from the field on the morning the Northridge Earthquake followed by incredible work by all our reporters, anchors, writers and editors. 

As for the day of the O.J. slow speed chase Jerry may have been one of Shadow’s traffic reporters but if memory serves me correctly, Jeff Baugh was doing his usual masterful play by play from the jet copter, as well as our reporters on the ground.

As I said at the start, ordinarily I would let Jerry’s revisionist history pass, but it is important that the actual KFWB team that devoted a lot of blood, sweat and tears [and putting up with me] during those historic events is remembered for their heroic efforts.” – Greg Tantum

** Remembering Hawkins

“I and my fellow KFWB reporters, anchors and news managers are having a great deal of trouble remembering Jerry Hawkins at any of the major news stories mentioned in your current blog. I and Pete Demetriou were the only KFWB reporters on the air in the minutes following the Northridge Earthquake. I was the lead reporter/anchor on the KFWB inside reporter desk on the first day of the L.A. Riots. I would have been the one who threw to field reporters, traffic anchors and chopper pilots; there was no Jerry Hawkins. My memory could be failing, but I think a little investigation needs to be done about the veracity of Jerry Hawkins’ claims.” – Mark Rocchio​​

 ** KFWB Confusion

“I don't remember Jerry Hawkins [and I emailed him to that effect]. Pete Demetriou called in the first live shot in the wake of the Northridge quake on KFWB, not Hawkins.  I should know. I was anchoring at the time, along with John Brooks and Jayne Bower.

I also don’t remember him being ‘at the anchor desk’ during the OJ Simpson chase. Perhaps he worked at KFWB using another name.

Incidentally, his picture doesn’t look familiar, either.” – Ken Jeffries

** Hawkeye Responds to Questions

“Quite a surprise to see this feedback today from the LA Radio crowd! The facts are as follows:

I was an on-air employee for Shadow Broadcast Services from 1989 through 1994. I was one of the primary weekend anchors at Shadow for the duration of my time there, and my primary duties for Shadow were on the KFWB anchor desk [noon - 6 p.m. shift].

I also serviced a half-dozen of the other 38 stations in Shadow’s Network at the time, usually depending on where they needed me. I worked the 10a - 3p midday shift for the latter several years of my tenure at SBS, dropping reports on KFWB every 10 minutes during that daypart.  I was also often the first-call fill-in when other fulltime traffic anchors at KFWB were out, and therefore often found myself working a weekday shift here and there.

During this time, I also happened to fly 25-hours a week as fixed-wing Pilot-In-Command for Kevin LaRosa at Jetcopters, the aircraft services contractor at the time to SBS. Therefore when I wasn’t being flown around as a reporter, I was often doing the actual flying of other reporters. There was one exception to that scenario, and that came on the evening of the In-N-Out Burger executives jet crash in December 1993, while on a 5-mile final approach to John Wayne. My regular reporter was out sick that day, so I actually did the news drops for KFWB and flew the airplane simultaneously. While I was very capable of handling this chore, it was also a very stressful evening to be sure, because of the time [afternoon rush hour-dark], the close proximity to the airport and the numerous other aircraft circling in the immediate vicinity.

I happened to be on the Shadow anchor desk for KFWB  on the Friday afternoon of the O.J. slow-speed chase, but cannot recall where Robin, the regular full-timer for that shift, happened to be that day or why she was out. I do recall with great lucidity receiving calls from some of our other Shadow affiliates around the country asking me for live drops, or to provide them ‘inside information’ about what events were unfolding with that ordeal. And I told them that afternoon that I was swamped under with my local LA stations responsibilities, and that in fact we had the studio monitor tuned to the same network coverage (CNN) that they did – and that therefore I couldn’t be of much help to them.

I also phoned in my first drop from the field at about 5:05 a.m. from my then-fiancé’s cell phone on the morning of the Northridge quake.  It was about 40 minutes after we were rocked out of bed that morning, still dark of course, and that first drop was from the front yard of the young couple’s home who were attempting to extinguish their house fire with a garden hose. They were in their underwear, and it remains a haunting image in my mind to this very day. The reason I was even there in the first place was because I couldn’t gain access to the locked hangar to access the airplane at that hour, and whoever was on the editor’s desk that morning told me that was fine, that he would prefer to have ground-based reports from the field than to have nothing at all. 

For those of you declaring my propensity for ‘revisionist history,’ I really have little to say. While it is hurtful to hear this kind of feedback, the fact that you cannot recollect means little to me, and it certainly doesn’t change the facts. I also find it interesting that I have trouble remembering what I had for dinner last Tuesday night, and yet several of you wasted no time assuring anyone who would listen that you are 100% certain that I never existed or did the work I claim to have done some 20 years ago! 

For you doubters, I was hired by Lin Durling at Shadow, a name I’m sure you’ll recall. Bill Thomas was instrumental in bringing me into their fold, and remains my friend to this day. Michael Fox was the SBS Ops Director during most of my tenure there. I worked alongside people like Lee Marshall [the voice of Tony the Tiger] and his son Steve.

Tom Story and Alan Lee were also friends and colleagues of mine there. And I shared many a helicopter ride with Jeff Baugh. And Mark, to your specific point about KFWB not utilizing Shadow, you are simply incorrect. It is true that at some point either before or after my tenure there, KFWB may have used Metro Traffic [your reference to Rhonda Kramer makes me think that this is where your confusion lies]. She in fact did work for Metro at one time, and my old friend Lance Locher was actually the longtime president of that organization, hence, Rhonda’s boss. 

I left SBS shortly after Mr. Fox offered me a full time position because of an AFTRA/SBS dispute in which SBS wanted to pay me part-time wages for fulltime work. I had more integrity than that. I have been a member in good standing with SAG/AFTRA since 1975. If it matters to you, I would encourage you to ask any one of those individuals about my presence and work there. I also just happen to have hundreds of hours of aircheck tapes from my work on KFWB sitting in a box right here in my home, including many news drops from the field along with hundreds of traffic reports from both the airborne side, and from the in-studio anchor desk. I went by ‘Jerry the Hawk’ originally, and then morphed my on-air name from the airborne platform to Jerry the ‘Hawkeye in the Sky’. When on the anchor desk, I was always known simply as Jerry Hawkins on KFWB.

Don, please feel free to share this correspondence with anyone you wish. I am sorry if this has caused you any embarrassment, but I think some of these folks in the news reporting biz should check all of the facts before putting garbage like this out there for anyone and everyone to see.” – Jerry Hawkins 

Where Are They Now?
Hawkeye Landed in Tulsa

(April 22, 2015) The Where Are They Now feature at LARadio.com is a great resource to find those Los Angeles Radio People you used to listen to and then disappeared from the airwaves. It was never meant to be a full biography or copy of LinkedIn but rater a quick snapshot of what they are doing now. With over 6,000 LARPs who have passed through Southern California we are dependent on the personalities updating their activities.

Jerry Hawkins was one of those big voices from Shadow Traffic in the 80s and 90s who provided news and traffic for various LA stations like KFWB, KYSR and KLSX. He recently sent an update of his activities since leaving and shared some of his memories while here.

Jerry moved to Tulsa and started the Airborne Traffic Division for Clear Channel. He is now president/ceo of his own aircraft sales & brokerage firm, called Hawk’s Nest Aviation in Tulsa. He is also a part-time consultant to the news media and guest lecturer at Tulsa Community College, speaking on Media Broadcasting career opportunities for young men and women. Jerry also completed one year of study in the Broadcast Meteorology Department at Mississippi State University. He also celebrated his 25-year anniversary as a licensed commercially-rated pilot, performing aerial photography services for the Tulsa World newspaper in addition to years of airborne breaking news and traffic reporting duties. If you want to reach out to Jerry, his email address is: Jerry@HawksNestAviation.com

Jerry shared some memories of his time working in LA Radio.

WOW! What a loaded question! You better believe I have tons of memories, mostly fond memories of my time there. Surprising to see how many people have passed away – that was my biggest impression running through the site this week so far. Glad to see others still out and about though. Lee Marshall was a friend with whom I worked and was shocked to see that he died a year ago. I would love to locate his son Steve, but can’t seem to find him anywhere on the site – perhaps he is out of radio altogether? Do you know him or of his whereabouts?

My good friend Bill Thomas is still doing airborne traffic [for KABC] and while I talk to him occasionally, I notice he isn’t listed on your site. That is probably by design, as Bill is a very low-key guy in real life and isn’t big on self-promotion. He’s a quiet, shy type, but an excellent reporter as I’m sure you are aware.

I happen to notice a lot of people don’t update their info on a regular basis. Case in point was Mike Fox, former pd at KABC Radio. He was my pd at Shadow in the late 80s – early 90s, and I heard that he had dropped dead of a heart attack some 15 years ago? He was always very high strung, and we had a few run-ins from time to time over AFTRA disputes and the like.

I miss Barbara Barrie from the KZLA days. Jeff Baugh was an old buddy, as was Jennifer York and many others in the traffic side of things. Sadly the big corps have run us all into the ground [pun intended!] because they discovered a ‘cheaper way to deliver the product.’ Problem is, they’ve stripped the interactive personality side of the equation out of the mix, so the ‘product’ they deliver today isn’t really the same at all. Radio as we knew it growing up is pretty much dead and gone, and I AM CERTAINLY NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!

As far as other memories of events, I have a chapter full that are going into my book – eventually.  Among the standouts was the time we were dispatched to OC to cover a train versus vehicle where the vehicle tried to outrace the train crossing sticks on their way down.  The train won, as it usually does. So we are circling overhead and the paramedics on scene took one look at the driver, who had been thrown some 200 yards downrange, and covered him with a tarp. While awaiting the arrival of the coroner’s office, the medics were standing around drinking coffee when one of them noticed the “dead guy’s” hand twitching under the tarp! He apparently dropped his coffee and began screaming “this guy’s not dead!”  They dispatched the LifeFlight from USC Med to come get him, but he apparently expired for good in the helo ride over.

Another wonderful memory was when I was working the midday shift one day, when we were approaching the downtown area and I happened to notice a long stretch of I-10 coming in from the East that seemed to have very little traffic. So I saw an L.A. County Sherriff’s chopper about two miles from my position and I called him up on the 2-way multicom channel to ask him whether they were in pursuit or surveillance of anyone. Sure enough, they were following a VW with four teenaged kids inside, and no sooner did he get those words out than he started screaming “Skywatch One fall back – fall back at least one mile!! We have just taken a couple rounds of fire!!” Needless to say, I fell back to give them the room they needed, but continued to follow the action (and the story) until its conclusion. Turns out that the four kids had skipped school that day and raided the gun closet of the dad of one of the kids, who apparently had a small arsenal of weapons in this closet. One of the kids took  a couple of potshots at the Sheriff’s chopper (to this day I still don’t know what he was thinking!). Suffice it to say that this was not his best move. That chase ended downtown at the intersection right in front of the Staples Center at Figueroa and 12th.  When we arrived overhead a few minutes later, I counted some 29 black-and-white units from LAPD, LACSO surrounding the location. The four kids were face down on the hot asphalt with the boots of the officers in their backsides.

Of course there was the Northridge quake in ’94 in which I was the first reporter in the field to start phoning in reports to KFWB at 5am.  At the first house I stopped at in the Valley, there was a young husband and wife, both in their underwear with a garden hose in hand, trying to extinguish the flames coming out of their already-nearly consumed house. From there drove up to the 118 in Granada Hills only to have someone chase me down screaming “Don’t go out there!” I asked why not, and he said that the freeway on-ramp had collapsed, and that I would tumble off if I went another 75 yards further down. I still have an aerial photo of the I-10 collapse at Fairfax from that event, a bridge that they re-built in record time due to construction incentives. I was on the KFWB anchor desk throughout the O.J. slow speed chase, and was working the streets while under the dusk-to-dawn curfew when martial law was declared during the south Central riots. You get the idea!  I think I can fill at least one chapter in my book.

LARadio Rewind: April 22, 2007. Howard Larman, longtime FolkScene co-host, dies at age 73. He had been in failing health due to injuries suffered in an auto accident the previous June. Howard and his wife Roz launched the weekly folk music program in 1970 on KPFK. It moved to the World Wide Web in 2000 and returned to KPFK in 2002. Roz continues to host and produce FolkScene. The program features recordings, interviews and live performances and is syndicated nationwide. Born in 1933 in Chicago, Larman served with the Marines during the Korean War, then worked as an electrical technician for the aerospace industry. He attended the Don Martin School of Broadcasting and began working at KPFK in 1970 as a part-time engineer and soon had his own program. He and Roz were unpaid volunteers. They covered all production costs and initially taped the program in their home. They gave early exposure to Tom Waits, Dwight Yoakam, Don McLean, Dave Alvin, David Bromberg, Katy Moffatt, Debby McClatchy, Mary McCaslin and hundreds of other artists. They also produced folk music festivals. KPFK airs FolkScene from 6 to 8 pm Sundays. http://folkscene.com/ (LARadio Rewind is meticulously prepared by Steve Thompson)



Email Wednesday

We GET Email …

** Mason Highly Innovative

Scott Mason was a very large part of the history of CBS Radio in Los Angeles. Scott was involved in every CBS Radio Station’s on-air sound. Scott was dynamic, hardworking, fun-loving and always interested in what you had to say.  Scott was a great guy and an innovative person who always tried to make things better.” – Bob Moore

** Horse Race Veteran

“I didn't realize Bill Garr was 98 years old. I actually filled in for him once on KRKD, as well as Charley Clifton who gave out info on the ponies. Always thought we were about the same age.

Calling horse racing is probably the toughest game to call and he knew his stuff. He had the looks of a movie star.

Rest in peace brother.” – Jack Naimo


“We had a great time at RAIN Summit, NMX and NAB!

It was busy, a book signing, a panel, and fun seeing friends and of course, meetings, meetings, meetings, it was great.

The audio version of the Beyond Powerful Radio book will be out and available on iTunes and audible.com, May 1st! For the time being Focal Press is continuing the conference discount which is 20 percent off if you order from www.bit.ly/beyondpowerfulradio and input code SRK89 at checkout.” – Valerie Geller, Geller Media international (Photo: Suzanne Whatley and Geller)

Setback at SCBA

(April 21, 2015) The already small two-person office staff at the Southern California Broadcasters Association got even smaller, as both staffers were let go last week. The only person remaining is the president, Thom Callahan. Apparently the bulk of the association’s funding came from outside sources.

Specifically, the Army National Guard, which operates from government funds, did not renew their ad campaign with the organization. The SCBA seeks sponsors in exchange for spots run on Southern California stations.

Callahan is hopeful he will find a new sponsor soon.

Monterey Bay City Roller. Saul Levine has extended his presence in the Monterey market to five stations with the purchase of KIDD, a frequency at 630 AM. KIDD is presently silent due to the erosion of the two former radio towers located near Monterey Bay, which were recently demolished as a safety measure.

“I can’t disclose the price yet, but it was so reasonable, it was irresistible,” emailed Levine. “Interesting, this was the last of all the Buckley properties. In 1993, I closed on the purchase of KGIL from Buckley. Rick Buckley came to my office for the closing. It took only about ten minutes. Rick was a classy, dynamic person. This transaction with the Buckley Family has been equally harmonious.”

“The erosion was in the towers. The towers were more than 50 years old in a wet environment,” explained Saul. “The towers (about 380 ft.) were rusted. They were in a flight path and the tower riggers would not climb them to change the light bulbs. So they just pulled the towers down.’

Mount Wilson FM plans to construct a new transmitting facility.

Great Scott. Lara Scott is back to middays at Christian Contemporary KFSH, the FISH, after having her second baby. “While I was pregnant, I got certified as an aroma therapist and started working with an essential oils company,” emailed Lara.

“I’m also certified as a family herbalist and I'm now teaching classes and educating people about the power of natural medicine. If you know of anyone in radio or another business that might like to learn more or even join my team and create a second stream of income, they can email me at laralaralarascott@gmail.com.”



Fox on Crystal Awards. Bob Fox just returned from the NAB that was held in Las Vegas last week. “Among other things, I attended the radio luncheon,” emailed Fox. “Regarding the Crystal Awards, three of the 10 winners were Hubbard stations and the company also had a couple of more nominations. There were no stations nominated from California [none in L.A, S.F., San Diego or the smaller markets]. Many of the nominees were from small markets in various states. Hubbard gets it. From the top of the company and down, they understand that successful radio stations provide local news, strong local community service, and local air talent. It is local, local, and local with a heavy involvement in each of their communities. That has always been the mantra of successful radio. Too bad the major consolidators don’t get it.”

Hear Ache. KLOS' Heidi & Frank discussed yesterday what you did when you got very high. A caller name Jared was visiting a friend after high school and smoked so much that he got the munchies. He looked high and low for something to eat. “All I could find in the kitchen was a box of candles. I started eating them and thought they were candy. I was cleaning wax out of my teeth for hours.” … I understand local market revenues for March are down double digits. Ouch.

Calvary Anniversary. KWVE pd Brian Perez sent along a terrific six-minute video created by the video department at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, which has owned KWVE for 30 years (and five days).  “We showed this video in front of a near-packed house at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa earlier this month during a concert that we put together,” emailed Brian. Click the artwork for the story of KWVE: Past, Present, Future. Click the artwork to view the video.

LARadio Rewind: April 21, 2014. The Woody Show joins ALT 98.7 KYSR for mornings. Jeff “Woody” Fife had begun co-hosting mornings with Tony Mott, Renae Ravey, Greg Gory and Jason “Menace” McMurray in 2006 at Live105 KITS in San Francisco. On April 1, 2009, Fife was fired along with Mott and Ravey for playing 30 seconds of an unreleased track from Green Day's upcoming 21st Century Breakdown CD. Mott quit radio and Fife moved to KDSK in St. Louis to co-host The Woody & Rizz Show with Scott Rizzuto. Ravey joined the show in 2013. Fife, Ravey, Gory and McMurray reuni ted in 2014 and replaced Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery on the ALT 98.7 morning show. Program director Mike Kaplan declared, "They’re genuine. They talk about things that are important to all of us. These are the friends listeners will want to hang out with after work, at a party or any time." http://www.alt987fm.com/onair/the-woody-show-54307/ (LARadio is meticulously prepared by Steve Thompson)

 Funnie. Rare picture of a nesting Falcon (from Rich Brother Robbin)


Email Tuesday

We GET Email …

** Death of Scott Mason

“Wow ... I remember Scott Mason as a kid back at the old KKDJ. I'll always remember him as an involved, helpful guy who caught whatever passes were thrown to him [even as a ‘kid’ in his teens].” – Rich Brother Robbin

** We Lost a Legendary Broadcaster

Scott Mason was one of those wonderful, unique characters that rarely come into our lives. To have worked with him was to know what it was like to have a real friend, as well as a professional colleague. 

Scott’s early entry into radio broadcasting began at KKDJ at Sunset & Vine in Hollywood. I never got tired of hearing him share the story of how he became my intern when I was a jock at KKDJ under legendary program director Rick Carroll. Scott would answer my request lines and loved just being around the radio station, high up on the 16th floor overlooking the Pacific coast. Scott was particularly moved with the passing of Rick, and offered his heartfelt goodbyes as we all said farewell to Rick over the Pacific Ocean. 

Our friendship continued well past our time together at K-Earth 101. Whenever I had an IT issue around the house, Scott was there to solve the problem. He would often text just to say hello and to let you know how much you were missed back at work. Scott had radio DNA in him.  He loved being on the air, and supporting all the talent with whom he worked.  He never complained about his medical issues, even when he was in the midst of distress. 

He did his best to remain positive and always turned the conversation around to inquire about how you were doing. It's the passing of an era in Los Angeles radio engineering. Scott touched so many of our lives. He’s truly a legendary broadcaster.” – Jhani Kaye

** Scott Mason Made It Easy

“So saddened by the passing of Scott Mason. He made it easy to do our job in programming via the terrific support from CBS/LA Engineering. A wonderful guy who will be missed greatly.” – Rick Thomas, Program Director, AMP Radio New York

** Norway Turning Off FM

“It is my understanding that Canada is dropping DAB (Digital) and returning exclusively to AM-FM.” – Saul Levine

** Old School

“I'm not sure whether I feel good or bad about the demise of fm in favor of digital. I guess I'm the Old School type who prefers to listen to a radio and watch a tv, rather than getting everything off of my phone.” – Jerry Downey, Detroit

** They’re Off and Running

Bill Garr is a name I had forgotten. But for a few of years in the mid 60s I listened to him most early evenings. In those days I would go to Santa Anita as often as I could cadge my uncle's clubhouse pass--several times a meet. At the time my uncle owned one-third of a horse. I never made a nickel off his third in five tries. The most interesting part of the racing show was the commercials for the various tout and tip sheets. I knew if I used their services, and there were many, their tip of the day would make me a winner! Well I didn’t and I’m not. I'm just old with a pleasant memory of a very entertaining show.” – John Hindsill, Highway Highlands (Glendale to you)                     

Scott Mason Dies

(April 20, 2015) Scott Mason, veteran broadcaster and executive, died yesterday, at the age of 55. Dan Kearny, CBS.LA svp/market manager, sent this note to the CBS/LA staff last night:

The entire CBS RADIO family is grieving today over the passing of Scott Mason, who has been part of CBS since 1979.    With his spirited passion for radio and unwavering dedication to his work, Scott’s accomplishments were numerous, from being an on-air personality at KROQ to hosting diverse programs like the popular “Loveline” and “OpenLine,”a long-running public affairs show, to overseeing the design and construction of CBS RADIO L.A.’s state-of-the art facilities on the Miracle Mile. Our thoughts today are with his family and all those who knew and worked alongside Scott during his amazing life and career.

Due to Scott's wishes, no funeral services will be held. A memorial will be planned in the weeks to come.

In late 2012, Scott was the recipient of a kidney from KROQ morning co-host Bean (Gene Baxter). It was Scott's second kidney transplant. The first one was from a cadaver in 1999. He has had kidney issues for most of his adult life.

Scott was first heard on KKDJ in 1974. He moved on to KIQQ and KGBS/KTNQ. In 1979 he joined KROQ and had been with CBS/LA in various capacities since then.

When Rick Carroll's format at KKDJ ended, Scott moved to "K-100" where he "button pushed" and did overnight IDs. At "the new Ten-Q" Scott did engineering and was given a weekend shift.

When Storer Broadcasting sold KGBS/KTNQ in 1979, Scott's old friend Rick Carroll asked him to help establish a new format at KROQ. Scott's position was chief engineer and weekend jock, and he was known as "Spacin' Scott Mason."

In 1981 he was made assistant pd and moved up to operations manager in 1985. When asked for his most memorable moment, he recounted being on the air during the January 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake: "I just grabbed the console, opened the mike, and said 'we're having an earthquake, stay calm.'" He hosted KROQ's "Openline" talk show for nearly 10 years. Scott also participated in the successful evening show on KROQ, "Loveline."

He claimed his life was balanced because of his volunteer work with the American Red Cross for which Mayor Richard Riordan acknowledged him. 

Perfect Memorial for Gary Owens and Earle C. Festoon. If a Hollywood producer wanted to orchestra the perfect Memorial, they wouldn’t have to look beyond what was done for comedy legend and #1 voted disc jockey for the last half of the 20th Century, Gary Owens.

Hundreds of his friends, colleagues and family members gathered at the Writers Guild in Beverly Hills to pay tribute to one of our outstanding giants. In a two-hour ceremony, there was a flawlessly magical flow to the stories, videos, audio, and memories that captured his life.

The MC/host was John Rappaport, producer and writer known for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, M*A*S*H, and The Lily Tomlin Show. “We wanted to open this tribute to anyone and everyone who knew and loved Gary,” said Rappaport, “but the Coliseum was booked.”

“Gary Owens was a comedy genius,” said Rappaport. “He was a wonderful golden-throated performer. He was the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. And most of all, Gary was a family man.”

The chronological part of Gary’s life was told by his two boys, Chris and Scott, as well how he got to Hollywood, which was conveyed by his widow, Arleta.

“About a month before my dad died, he told my mother that he worked with everyone he wanted to work with, did everything he wanted to do, and every day was a new adventure. He enjoyed working with the most interesting people at the top,” said Scott Owens, a musician and Emmy nominated producer.

Scott said his dad was born on May 10, 1934 in Plankinton, South Dakota. “My dad had a sister, 13 years his senior who had a great sense of humor named Adelaine.”

Gary’s mom was a housewife and his father was the Mitchell, South Dakota sheriff. When he was eight years old, Gary’s world changed. He overheard his doctor tell his mother that he had developed Type 1 diabetes and “probably would not live until his teen years. This conversation set in motion a lifetime of determination to prove them wrong,” said Scott.

Gary had another setback shortly after the onset of diabetes. His dad had a series of strokes, became an invalid, resulting in his death. His mother became the breadwinner.

During his childhood, Gary was a budding artist, perhaps to divert his thoughts from some of the challenges with his own health, as well as his father’s condition. He was truly a budding artist, Scott said. He won a $250 art scholarship, which was awarded to him by Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.

 Arleta Owens, John Rappaport, Gary's Star on display, Joanne Worley

Gary was 12 was spent a weekend in Chicago. On his own he found his way into WMAQ where he met Bob Arbogast. “My dad was interviewed on the air by Arbo and they became lifelong friends, eventually working together at 710/KMPC. He was hooked on radio,” said Scott. “At home he would crouch behind the radio and interview his mother every day and read newspaper stories out loud. Gary knew he was definitely going to become a radio man.”

Chris Owens, Gary’s tall and lanky award winning producer son next took to the podium and talked about his father’s teen years. “My dad was a natural athlete. He excelled at basketball and baseball and also performed in school plays. Every summer, he had a part-time job at the radio station in Mitchell filling in for people on vacation or writing copy.”

Connie and The World Famous Tom Murphy, Mike Johnson, M/M Jason Jeffries, Wally Clark, Howard Gershan, Kevin Gershan, Sandy and Norm Epstein

When Gary traveled to L.A. at age 17, that was another life-changing experience. “After seeing palm trees, Sunset Boulevard, the Pacific Ocean, and Wallichs Music City, dad was hooked,” said Chris. “To him, Hollywood was the center of the universe.” Chris added, “My dad loved whatever he did.”

Gary’s wife Arleta completed the story on how he got to Hollywood. The couple met in 1956 in her junior year of college. She recalled how he got out of Mitchell. A program director for a radio station in Iowa was passing through Mitchell and got stranded in a snow storm. He heard Gary and offered him a news director job in Shenandoah. “Gary threw everything he owned in the trunk of his car and headed for Shenandoah. It didn’t take long to become disenchanted with the new job. He would have to cover the local rodeo. He saw cowboys falling off these bulls and getting trampled. Gary just didn’t want to do it.”

On a trip to Omaha for a meal and a movie, they accidentally met the manager of KOIL radio station. Gary was offered a job. “We went looking for an apartment,” said Arleta. “It was a Sunday and we started looking for places on Park Avenue. We thought Park Avenue sounded very upscale so we rented a place. On Monday we discovered we were in a ghetto. We only had enough money for one utility, so we picked electricity. We cooked dinner on an electric popcorn popper that we got as a wedding gift. We didn’t have much money for food so it didn’t matter.”

The winter was brutal, so when Gary got a call from Denver where it was 72 degrees, he took it. But the times were changing. Gary wanted to be part of the new music for baby boomers – rock ‘n roll. When he got the call from Gordon McLendon, Gary and Arleta were off to New Orleans. He became a trouble shooter for McLendon and ended up in San Antonio.

Next stop was WIL-St. Louis. “This was the largest city we worked in,” recalled Arleta. “The city had an Eastern sophistication and a Mid-western friendliness. Gary’s salary tripled. Everything was great until a tornado came through town where buildings were destroyed and people were killed. This intensified Gary’s visions of getting to California.”

Chuck Blore called next and offered Gary a job at KEWB-San Francisco. He was getting closer to Hollywood. “Chuck promised Gary a job in Hollywood when there was a next opening. Two years later he was transferred to L.A. Gary was home and he was here to stay.”

“We had a great life,” offered Arleta as a conclusion.

Robin and Don Graham with G.O., Chuck Southcott, Commander Chuck Street, Marta Monheim, Randy Kerdoon, Ben Fong-Torres, and Shotgun Tom Kelly

Frank Sinatra impersonator Monty Aidem was the next to speak. He recalled his own days starting out in radio in Cedar Rapids and rural areas of Iowa. “The station I worked for was so rural that the animals refused to be in the farm report.”

Monty recalled that Gary was part of show business history. “He introduced Sonny to Cher. However, there is no truth to the rumor that Gary taught Sonny how to ski. He also acknowledged the talent that Gary mentored, including Ken Levine.

He ended with: “May you live long and perspire.”

Before introducing the producer of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, emcee Rappaport said Gary was the king of trivia. “He knew everything. I was at his house one day and the phone rang. Arleta got the phone and yelled to Gary, ‘Google’s on the phone, they want some information.’”

George Schlatter recalled when he met Gary. “Nobody auditioned for Laugh-In. We sold this thing to NBC but really didn’t know what it would become. Personalities just kind of appeared. Our offices were across the street from the Smoke House in Burbank. I was in the men’s room at the Smoke House facing the wall and I hear ‘Well, hello, George. The acoustics in here are wonderful.’ This was really bizarre. We’re both facing the wall and I tell him that’s what I want you to do. He said, ‘You want me to face the wall?’”

At the time of Laugh-In, George admitted there was nothing beautiful about downtown Burbank, a phrase made popular by Gary, because in 1967, there was only the studios for Disney and NBC, plus Forest Lawn. “Everyone loved Gary,” said George. “Even Burbank loved him.”

Comedian Joanne Worley remembered a line of hers: “If you like Burbank, you’re going to love Paris.” She invited everyone at the Memorial to stand, cup their right hand over their ear and repeat, ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank.’”

Ben Fong-Torres flew to the memorial from his home in San Francisco where he writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time of Gary’s death, Ben devoted his entire column to one of his favorites:

Gary Owens is famous as the announcer with the booming baritone voice who cupped his right ear, old school style, on “Laugh-In,” which came to us, he’d say, from “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.”

But to me, Gary was a friend and mentor. He came to Oakland from St. Louis in 1959, to a new station, KEWB, and took over the morning ratings – even beating KSFO’s legendary Don Sherwood. (“By one point,” he told me.) His reward, in 1961, was a ticket to his main goal: Hollywood.

There, at KFWB, he succeeded again with his formula – a friendly voice, silly jokes and non sequiturs, cartoon voices (including one character who gave weather reports while tap dancing), and audience-building devices, like membership in his “Complete Failures Club.” He would soon be lured to KMPC, a station in the mold of KSFO. He prospered there, and, in 1968, landed a nice side gig: on “Laugh-In.”

By the early 70s, I was at Rolling Stone magazine and was doing my own DJ show on free-form KSAN-FM. But I never forgot Gary and his role in my life.

Back in 1960, a buddy, Al Kostors, and I became official fans – that is, Complete Failures. When I was commissioner of assemblies at Oakland High, I opened each program with an emulation of Gary’s mellifluous greeting, “Hi, Gang.”

He responded to my fan mail with a return address of “The Gary Owens Building” in Oakland. It was actually the Bermuda Building, on Franklin Street, and I got to meet him there when I landed a job on weekends during football season, passing scores along to the news anchor. One day, on a walk downtown, he asked about my college plans.

He knew that I loved radio, and that I harbored fantasies about doing what he was doing. Gary knew that success in radio was a difficult goal for anybody, let alone a Chinese kid in the early Sixties, when the number of Asians in broadcasting could be counted on…well, no hands, really.

He told me that I shouldn't concentrate only on radio. Take liberal arts, he counseled, in his radio voice. Learn a bit about as much as you can, so that you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way. He offered further wisdom in his autograph in my Oakland High yearbook, writing, “Stifling a child’s extraovertentualities tends to subjunctuate his biophysical transmogrifications.” Yes, he was a mentor.

Like an idol we had in common, Steve Allen, Gary was a Renaissance entertainer. Outside the radio studio, he made novelty records, including “What is a Freem?” and an album, “Put Your Head On My Finger.” He was an accomplished cartoonist, voiced hundreds of characters in animated cartoons, did thousands of commercials, and wrote books. He had a hand in the 1964 best-selling joke book called Elephants, Grapes and Pickles

Through the years, we stayed in touch. Whenever I had a project that involved Top 40 radio, he was there. He sat for an interview for my book, “The Hits Just Keep on Coming,” hosted a reading at the Book Soup one evening in 1998, and took part in an all-star panel that I moderated at the Museum of TV & Radio. His appearance no doubt drew several more reclusive types, including the iconic program directors Chuck Blore and Bill Drake, to join us on stage. One afternoon in June, 2004, Gary flew into the Bay Area for a Top 40 panel I moderated for the Broadcast Legends. It was a wonderful radio homecoming.  He’d only worked in Oakland for about two years, but his peers remembered and admired him.  And Gary recorded funny liners for me, whether it was for a radio show or a music start-up. As a voice talent, and the author of How to Make a Million Dollars with Your Voice, or Lose Your Tonsils Trying –  he probably commanded big bucks. But he’d pop into whatever studio he was working in, cut a few silly things and send them. My program directors could NOT believe it.

I called him in January to let him know that I’d run a photo of us in my column, recalling his influence on me. He sounded pleased, but weak. He said he was fine and still doing some radio. That was nice to hear. Gary was a good guy, a family man, with wife Arleta and two accomplished sons, Chris and Scott.

Unlike the members of his fan club, he was a Complete Success.  

Fred Willard remembered the time when Gary called him about hosting the Burbank Film Festival. The Festival rep told Fred there was no money to be MC but it was a lot of fun.  “Two weeks Gary called and asked how it went. I told him it was a lot of fun but no money. Gary said, ‘no money? Last year they gave me $2,500.”

“I know if go to heaven,” said Willard, “Gary will be standing there and saying, ‘Hello, Fred, c’mon, let me show you around.’”

Arnie Kogen, writer for Bob Newhart, the Tonight Show, and Carol Burnett, was the last to speak. “As I said to my wife on our honeymoon night, I’ll be brief.”

Kogen did some research on how a guy from Mitchell, South Dakota got so funny. “Gary grew up on the lower east side of Mitchell. You got into comedy or you repaired trailer hitches.” Arnie said he and Gary got together for lunch frequently and posed questions like, ‘Who do you like better, Ferrante or Teicher? Or Proctor or Gamble?’”

Arnie concluded with “Gary was brilliant zany and the sweetest, loveliest guy in the world. “And now I’m going home and listen to Gary’s album, ‘Put your Head on My Finger.’”

As the group filed out into the lobby of the Writers Guild for refreshments, his classic Preparation H commercials ended the formal Memorial. In the lobby, friends told Gary Owens stories and raved about how perfect the Memorial for Gary was. And it was.  

LARadio Rewind: April 20 

2015 - Former KLLC/KMVQ sales manager Larry Blumhagen becomes sales director of CBS Radio in L.A.

2012 - KPFK interviews ex-nun Catherine Morris regarding Vatican's investigation of "radical feminist nuns."

2011 - Hot 92.3 KHHT announces the hiring of former KHJ/KIIS/KMVN morning man Rick Dees.

2011 - Ted Quillin, dj at KELP, KFWB, KRLA, KEZY, KFOX, KORK and Armed Forces Radio, dies at 81.

2009 - Al Racco, former general manager of KLAC, KFRC, KGO and WABC, dies of heart disease at 80.

1999 - Wolfman Jack, veteran of WNBC, KRLA, XERB and XEPRS, is inducted into NAB Radio Hall of Fame.

1965 - Hector Chevigny, a KNX director and comedy/drama script writer from 1935 to 1943, dies at 60.

1958 - On his CBS radio show, Jack Benny portrays "Zeke" Benny, fiddle-playing leader of a hillbilly band. 

1933 - Frances Gumm, later known as Judy Garland, sings on KFI's Al Pearce & His Gang program.

1915 - Evelyn Scott, 1940s KMPC/KHJ dj and Peyton Place co-star, born in Brockton, Massachusetts. 

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LARadio Archives

April 2015 Archives

Doug Krikorian remembers Joe McDonnell; Rush Limbaugh king of TALKERS Talkers; Look back at Lloyd Thaxton; B-100 Reunion a success; Jimmy Kimmel featured in 8-page Entertainment Weekly cover story; Larry Mantle celebrates 30 years of Airtalk with KPCC; "It Only Took 21 Years to Get My Shift Back at KLOS" - Bob Coburn; Fond memories of Stan Freberg. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to go dark; NAB Update; Dan Mason steps down as head of CBS Radio; Andre Fernandez steps up as head of CBS Radio; Scott Mason Dies; Memorial for Gary Owens; Kevin & Bean Inducted into NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame; KFWB reunion; Roy Laughlin's new role announced at NAB; Trouble at SCBA; Hawkeye landed in Tulsa;  Morning Drive Ratings; Horse racing broadcast veteran Bill Garr dies; March '15 PPM Ratings

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