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Jerry Del Colliano inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame
by Rollye James
Jerry Del Colliano: “They just sent me the video. Thought you’d get a kick out of it.”
If it doesn’t open in your browser, click here
Rollye: “It’s an honor that Jerry Del Colliano richly deserves. He’s one of the many
wonderful characters that embody what is probably the most colorful radio market in the
country. Evidence was this year’s Broadcast Pioneer Man of the Year: Jerry Blavat. The last
time I went to one of those dinners was over a decade ago with Blavat. I was there this year in
Jerry Del Colliano: “I really do wish you were there. It’s good from time to time to be among
our extended family. It helps realize why we worked in this crazy business, for crazy people
and now vindictive and cheap people. We all care about the audience.
“It was such an emotional night and one of great gratitude. My long time friend Tom
Lamaine who worked with me at WIP said it’s about time they inducted you. And I said, they
must have run out of candidates. Tom said, ‘I said the same thing’ a few years ago when I
entered the Hall of Fame.' Marlin Taylor was there. He was the first person to hire me and I
gave shout outs to both Marlin and Uncle Bill for their importance in my career.
“But I delivered a talk aimed at young people (I always channel the inner Steve Jobs in me).
That radio was the original social medium and done right could still be. Apps and websites are
good but we need to put personalities on them.
“I told a story about how my mother’s nursing home asked me to give a talk to residents with
dementia. I said to myself, well – I have the skills. My audiences nod off when I talk and have
trouble remembering who I am after I speak. But it this that made them forget dementia and
remember the good times. I asked the question: “Do you remember sitting around the radio
and listening to your favorite shows”. It was magical.
“Then at dinner the seniors used to listen to the 40’s channel ironically enough programmed by
Marlin Taylor at XM Radio. They would be listening to “Thanks for the Memories” while they
ate and then suddenly — Marlin being Marlin — the most authentic news from 40’s on top of
the hour: “It’s 5 o’clock and time for the news. Adolf Hitler has invaded Russia”. Wow! Did
they get upset because radio was believable even all these years later.
“I shared that radio as a social medium didn’t just apply to older people. That when Tim
Westergren, founder of Pandora, visited my classes when I was a professor of music industry
at the University of Southern California, the students were less interested in knowing the
genome Pandora uses to predict the music listeners want to hear and more interested in
knowing why Westergren insisted upon calling Pandora radio. Even in the digital age these
young people knew it can’t be radio without personalities.
“And finally that YouTube is everything to teens and Millennials but that they often watch
clips of traditional late night TV shows, SNL and other network content. YouTube has thus
encouraged the making of their own YouTube stars some of whom earn $10 million a year
from their fame.
“I also told the audience that we have an obligation to use the God given gifts we possess even
after our TV and radio days. There are always audiences to be entertained or people to be
informed. Believe me, I wasn’t telling that group anything they didn’t already know.
“What a great night. I just bored you with my speech. Philly is the place that nurtured me in
this industry, as I said Friday night, one cheesesteak at a time. We are family.”
Rollye: “And in case you were wondering about that ‘man of the year’… here’s the Geator’s
(if it doesn’t appear, click here
Rollye: “Over the years, some radio heavy weights have made fun of Jerry (and others of his
ilk like Art Laboe and Huggy Boy). They don’t get it on any level. But I’d love for today’s
radio denizens to see this, if only for Jerry’s philosophy about the importance of sponsors. Too
bad today’s approach buries spots in endless commercial clusters. Jerry’s sponsors are getting
value. Not many stations offer that any more.”
David Gleason: “I received this booklet from a user of my site. There are some interesting
names in there, such as Dale Dorman and Tod(with one “d”) Wallace.”
To see the whole brochure, click here.
David Gleason: “It brought back a memory of my visit to KBTR as a young teen radio
groupie. I was being given the “grand tour” by a station staff member when I literally bumped
into Don Burden in the hallway. Mr Burden, who later went on to have ex parte dealings with
a member of congress and lose his licenses, said, ‘Who’s this little prick?’. I was quickly
escorted out of the station.
“Of course, at the time I worked part-time for Richard Eaton, so nothing surprised me.”
Rollye: “Talk about colorful characters! Probably most of us reading this have a Don Burden
or Richard Eaton story to share. And regardless of how we might have felt about either of
them way back when, I think radio was better off for them, and others of their ilk— the
independent businessmen (I use the term ‘businessmen’ loosely) who were the unseen force
behind the exciting dynamic that radio was back then (albeit sometimes unwittingly). I’d trade
all the i Hearts of in the industry for just one of them today. The brochure brought back great
memories for me too. Hadn’t thought of Bud Ballou in years. And I remember Dan Clayton
so well. Nice rate card for the‘60s too!”
Jim Gabbert: “Rollye, for some reason the last column I received was the one about AM
stereo, etc. I meant to reply but did not. BTW, the reason AM stereo and FM quad did not take
off was the FCC. Rather than pick a standard after all of the tests, etc that we did, (I was
co-chair of the AM stereo Committee with Harold Kassens from the FCC, and Chair of the
Quad Committee) tons of research, testing, etc then the Commission decided to let the market
place decide so there was no standard and multiple systems which led to chaos and confusion.
Too bad as in San Francisco we would simulcast our FM stereo on our AM. The fidelity and
separation was very impressive on AM.”
Rollye: “For anyone not receiving the column, the easiest thing to do is use the link at the top
of the page to subscribe. The hardest part of that is finding and responding to the confirmation
email that’s sent to the address you use. But once that’s done, you’re in. If it still doesn’t
work, email email@example.com
and I’ll perform some voodoo. (It’ll work better if you use the
“I agree completely with Jim about the insane lack of standardization as the ultimate demise of
AM stereo. If they did that with television 30 years earlier, we’d still be watching black and
white. (Not that it’s a smooth process, which was proven in the television example by the
fortunately brief approval of the CBS color wheel around 1950— and I know that some of you
“Jim’s AM station was a joy to hear. That’s true of all his stations, radio and TV. But I’m
decidedly biased. I consider him be an engineering-god for K-101 alone. No other FM in the
Bay Area came close to its penetration back in the day— it was magic. (And as far as
television news, he was a visionary. I’m sure we’ve all groused about various news anchors
being dogs. But on Jim’s TV-20, on occasion, the anchors were dogs.)
“Jim’s engineering fastidiousness is more the exception than the norm. Apart from
standardization, my big problem with AM stereo was operators who did not clean up their
audio chains. Many were not only junked from inattention and economy, but succumbed to the
over-processing of the great loudness wars. Separating aural mulch is still mulch, sounding
bad in both ears. Sadly, in most locales it was impossible to know what the band would allow,
when audio chains wouldn’t allow us to determine it. Before I get off the soap box, I’ll add a
personal bias— it was my listening experience that the phase zone on 50w blowtorches
increased significantly— but somehow I bet Jim could have tackled that too.”
Not Rocky. Not Cocky.
Rollye: “That's Burt Young (‘Rocky’s brother in law, Paulie), and everybody’s favorite late
night radio host. Speaking of which, here’s the latest graphic from Joey”:
Bob Levinson: “Thanks for all those nice words in this week's Vox Jox; much appreciated.
And, talkin' turkey--best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!”
Rollye: “The turkey is courtesy of Claude Hall, who I was thankful to hear from a few times
this past week. In addition to Thanksgiving wishes (which I belated pass on to all of you
reading this), he forwarded some of his non-radio writings and an email exchange with Johnny
Holliday.. I smiled each time I saw Claude's name in my inbox.
“I’ve got an online radio show that has currently devolved into being just a placeholder for all
the aggregators that carry my stream. (I'd hate to lose those placements in case I ever have time
to do a real show again.) In recent years, it's nothing more than keeping a loyal band of fans
happy with a night of trivia once a week (and the stream replaying it until then next show). But
ever since I’ve been on the air, I’ve always made sure to work live on holidays. My
philosophy is that a portion of our radio audience is dependent on the connection they make
with us on the air to get them through trying times. Nothing is worse for that subset of
listeners than the holiday season. Their entertainment lifelines, us on the air unknowingly
keeping them company, disappear when they need us most— especially Christmas. So no
matter where I am, if I'm doing anything on the air anywhere, I do a Thanksgiving, Christmas
eve, Christmas night, New Year’s eve and New Year's night show.
“Since the mid ‘80s, I’ve done an annual poll of the World’s Worst Hit Records. I start taking
votes on Halloween (a night of horror) and reveal the top 10 on Thanksgiving (a night of
turkeys). I’m surprised that after 30 years, I’m still getting votes at all— and more surprised
by what they’re voting for. Overall, they’re getting younger, the songs are getting newer, and
I’m getting older— by the day. More than anything, their choices alert me to what songs are
being overplayed on various formats. About all I can say is whoever has “Sailing” by
Christopher Cross in power rotation: stop it now. And Celine Dion’s Heart may Go On, but
the song has sunk with the ship. But then again, my rules demand these records be national
hits (any decade, any genre) which by definition means for every one that a listener hates, a lot
of other people loved it enough to plunk down good money to buy it. More frightening are the
occasional votes for quasi-hits like D.O.A. by Bloodrock. The scary part on that one is where
they might have heard it recently enough to jostle their memory to vote for it now.
“Speaking of music… Claude Hall also forwarded an email from Mel Phillips:”
Mel Phillips: “ In this hodge-podge world of audio music choices available almost everywhere,
at any time, how much passion is involved for listeners in making those choices? Apparently a
lot according to Bridge Ratings which has recently conducted a study about it...Bridge broke
down the passion level by format… for the rest of the story click here
Rollye: “Great info— and even better thoughts from Mel in the IMHO section. I apologized
to Mel for leaving out the jox shots in last week’s reunion update. I’ve rectified that below.
Mel’s off for the long Thanksgiving weekend, so I’ve reprinted last week’s reminder complete
with all the pictures that should have been in it.”
Mel Phillips: “To commemorate the launch of WRKO on March 13, 1967, invitations to the
Reunion Dinner will be emailed on that date, just 4 months from now. Our review of the stories
that made headline news in 1967 following the launch continues. Just below those stories is the
schedule of events surrounding our 50th Anniversary Reunion Weekend.
“In October, Hair opens off-Broadway bringing with it hits like "Hair", "Aquarius" and "Easy
To Be Hard". Tens of thousands protest the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. and Walt Disney
supervises his last animated movie, "The Jungle Book". At the end of October U.S. Navy pilot
John McCain is shot down over North Vietnam and taken prisoner.
The monument at Bruc Bach Lake commemorating the Capture of John McCain on Oct. 28, 1967.
“Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski wins baseball's Triple Crown and the AL MVP Award in
November and LBJ signs the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967...
Yastrzemski at Fenway Park
LBJ signing the Public Broadcasting Act
“Five of our original NOW CROWD personalities (Al Gates, Joel Cash, J.J. Jeffrey, Chuck
Knapp and Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg) will be back to celebrate on the air June 3, 2017...
Gates Cash Jeffrey Knapp Ginsburg
“Reunion dates to remember:
Friday, June 2, 2017: Invitations will be emailed in March for the Reunion Dinner at the
Crowne Plaza (Newton) Charles Ballroom. Cocktails at 6 followed by dinner. Jordan Rich
will emcee. Parking fees will be waived with front desk validation for those driving to the
Saturday June 3, 2017: On air live (7pm-11pm) on WRKO & Backbone Network streaming
(produced by George Capalbo Jr.) featuring a lineup that includes Al Gates, Joel Cash, J.J.
Jeffrey, Chuck Knapp, Arnie Ginsburg and other WRKO voices (TBD). Music & Jingles
will come from 1967. Art Vuolo will video tape the reunion, a copy of which will go into the
National Radio Hall Of Fame in Chicago...
Reservations: Rooms are still available at the Crowne Plaza (Newton). Check-in Friday (June
2) Checkout Sunday (June 4). Call 617-969-3010. Ask for special "WRKO Reunion" rate of
$159 a night (tax not included). You'll pay about $175 after taxes but more if you park at the
hotel. We suggest using a cab or car service getting to the hotel and while staying there...
Dinner invitations mailed in 4 months, party time in 7 months... Next update December 2nd