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WNOE New Orleans’ State of the Art Production Studio 1963

MAY DAY 2017

by Rollye James
Claude Hall

Ron Brandon:  “The old radio guys will get a kick out of this as I did.  Dug this photo out to
post on an engineering site and became so intrigued looking at it again after all these years.
One of two production rooms at WNOE New Orleans 1963 after they moved from the
Sheraton Charles hotel to their own building in the French Quarter.  Note the announce booth
in background.  First station I ever worked at where I announced something while an engineer
ran the show.  Note splicing tape in dispenser on the left in front of remote switches for Ampex
recorders.  On right bottle of alcohol for cleaning heads, and there were Q-tips in the cigar box
for same purpose.  Outside lines phone and intercom phone.  Small round item in middle I
think is stopwatch for timing spots. And as an aside.. the full-time off-air Production Director
(also rare) was Marty Lacker, who later departed to join Elvis' Memphis Mafia and become
best man at Elvis' wedding.  Sadly, Marty died within the past year.  Can't tell you what a thrill
it was to pull 9p-mid on that big signal that covered about ten states at night.The other two pics
if you want to use them are of the control room and that huge 50,000 watt transmitter site.”

WNOE Control Room

WNOE Transmitter Site

Rollye:  “As good as the new digs for WNOE were, what came out of the speaker was even
better. More than a few people list that station as their favorite from back in the day.  And Ron
Brandon was on it.  That is a thrill.   Did not know Marty Lacker was there.  (Wish Bill
Taylor was still around— I’m sure he had stories.)   Marty passed on Valentine’s Day this year.
Lots of obits, but the Ask Marty feature he did on  ElvisInfoNet.com may have the best insight
into his life.  Good pictures too.   Marty was co-best man at Elvis’ wedding.  Sad to note that
his best man counterpart, Joe Esposito, died a couple months earlier.”

Bob Sherwood:  “You must watch this !!....through to the end.   It’s less than a minute.

Can't see it?  Click here.

Rollye:  “Now tell me you didn’t laugh.  You’ll laugh at this next one too, after you digest the
very sad news that Linda Copper is no longer with us…”

Ken Copper:  “After fighting like a champ for three years, my wife, Linda, succumbed to
lymphoma on April 17.  I pass this on because she was known to more than a few radio
reprobates who look forward to reading Vox Jox every Monday.  We were married for 48 years
and she was along for all 17 radio moves and the crazy times they entailed.  Dragging home
the likes of Chuck Browning, Bill Moffitt, Bruce Vidal, Shotgun Tom and many others for a
continuing session of liquid show prep” never phased her.  She stuck with me through it all
even after I got boring.  

“During the last few days of her life we recalled the time we conspired to put our mark on a
station’s call letters.  It was late 1985 when my money partners in a 100kw radio station we
had launched in Las Vegas ran into money problems and decided to sell.  I was offered the
opportunity to buy the station but had a standing offer to return to San Diego for middays at
KCBQ from Charlie Ochs and Gary Herron that appealed to me more than hustling up
money from yet another group of partners.  We sold the station to a small chain out of Seattle.  

“The president of the soon to be new ownership hated our call letters and insisted on changing
them.  I saw absolutely nothing wrong with “96.3 K I T T….the Las Vegas Hit Kit”, but he did.
After two days of hours on the phone with this guy going through everything from KAAA to
KZZZ it was apparent to me that he hated every suggestion I offered.  As we enjoyed an
evening in the hot tub, Linda suggested that we trick him into a set of calls that would mean
something to us and sort of serve as an “up yours” to the new guy.  We came up with KKLZ as
a salute to our daughters Kelly and Katie and an L for Linda.  The next day I presented this
idea to the Seattle putz like this:  “Here is a set of calls that really doesn’t work.”  Of course he
immediately loved them and, as you know, those calls at 96.3 are now very solidly part of the
Las Vegas market landscape. You can see why I might miss her.  Thanks for all that you and
Claude do.  It makes Mondays a whole lot better.”

Claude Hall:  “L. David Moorhead and I had a dream.  We wanted to buy a piece of land just
north of Tucson perhaps and put in good well water, electricity, and a mobile home or two. 
And a telephone, of course.  For out-of-work radio people.  You get fired and had no place to
go, you could ramble out to Casa Grande and hangout until you lined up another job.  There
might even be a bulletin board of possibilities.  Plus an ice box and some TV dinners.  It was
more my dream than his, but he dreamed it, too.  Men such as Jim Coleman could always go
home to stay with Mom and Dad in Carlsbad, NM … and this he did many times between
jobs.  Sometimes, he would even work a week or two at one of the local radio stations,
including the radio station located in a furniture store. 

“I visited my folks in Carlsbad once and he lined me up an interview in that radio station.  
Price tags dwindled from the table on which the equipment was placed … and even the chair
on which I sat.  When I took over the chore of radio-TV editor at Billboard, the guy leaving to
join the First National Bank advised me not to get into the job-finding market.  But I did.  I was
able to help a few people away.  However, it was never a smooth nor perfect situation and I
think Casa Grande might have been a good solution.”

Rollye:  “I recall when Roby Yonge had a related dream.  He envisioned an old radio folks
home complete with secretaries typing fan mail to the residents with names still misspelled.  It
would be great if radio had something akin to the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Country
House and Hospital, an enviable facility on Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills, CA but it’s
not an easy proposition. Even the Country House was slated to close a decade ago.  Only the
intervention of some big names (and even bigger money) made the difference.  Math alone,
there are many more radio folks in need, but the undertaking likely dwarfs the abilities of the
Broadcasters Foundation (a terrific fund for radio and television pros in need).   But who
knows?— with the demographic demand for senior housing of all types, maybe themed-venues
will somehow emerge.  Not exactly what Claude (or Roby) and had in mind, but still a dream
worth pondering.  

“I’m so pleased to report that Claude is still writing— and has still got it.  I think you’re gonna

Claude Hall:  “Just finished this.  I'm now thinking about trying to write another short story
about Popsie, then perhaps tackle another radio novel ... this time with you guys mentioned.  A
fun novel, though Woody would have made a great ‘James Bond.’

Felix, Claude & Gail

“The photo of me with Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail Davis was a party photo at the
Bitter End on his birthday.  He flew his folks in for the occasion.  I took Barbara with me.  I
was honored to be invited, but Felix knew I was a huge Cream and Mountain fan.

Paul Butterfield

“The photo of Paul Butterfield, I took when he performed one night at the Cafe au Go Go.  It
was at the time a huge favorite spot for music in Greenwich Village.  So was the Bitter End.
 They had an ice cream dish at the Cafe au Go Go that was absolutely sensational.

“One night at the Cafe au Go Go, I pulled out my camera and a greasy guy quickly came over
and told me that I couldn't take pictures of Albert Grossman.  I didn't know Grossman;
wouldn't have recognized him from a moondog.  I told the guy to flip off or something like
that.  The place, by the way, was jammed, as it usually was.

“I caught many acts at the Cafe au Go Go.  Loved the place.  Saw Cream on their first
performance in the states, the first and second groups called Blood, Sweat and Tears.  It was a
great, great place.”

Rollye:  “I was delighted to get several emails from Claude last week— one of them was a
forward from Antonius Branco:”
          Hi,  I'm a record dealer from Brazil who sells vinyls and CDs of  International UK, USA 
          artists and Brazilian music  too.
          If you have interest  to receive the lists let me know or if you have a want list for        
         Brazilian pressings on vinyl or CDs, please send it to me.
         Thank you in advance for your attention

Rollye:  “Interesting to find a seller from Brazil.  Over the past few years, everyone’s been
talking about a buyer:  Zero Freitas, the Brazilian bus magnate who has over six million
albums in his collection and is driven to obtain a copy of everything ever pressed on vinyl. 
You might have read about him.  If not, here’s the New York Times article.  Even if you’ve
neve heard of him, he’s probably bought a collection from someone you do know.”

Bruce Miller Earle:  “A last minute call from a Chilean client advised me of their arrival at the
NAB. Thanks to God and Southwest Airlines I was able to make a one day cameo appearance. 
It was a whirlwind trip, but worthwhile as I met up with two dear friends of many years.   Jose
Luis Gonzalez from Mexico, DF and Timothy Cutforth of Vir James Consulting Engineers in
Denver.  I'm blessed to have participated on many projects with both of these engineering
legends.  More important is having known these guys for many years and that we are still
happy to see each other as the first time we met. The only down side to this cameo appearance
was not being able to visit the palacios Hall Estates. For sure with better planing I will make
that happen next year. Please pass my best to Barbara.”

Burt Sherwood:  “I am looking at 103,000 people at the convention in Vegas.  Unbelievable!  

Ray Kassis was indeed a great guy…I was in touch with him in his last days….he was very
ill with heart trouble…I too miss him.

“Next Dan Sorkin…what a great talent…we knew each other from our Chicago days….  and
his great slogan that went on bumper stickers everywhere   “Mary Poppins is a junkie” I was
told even Julie Andrews put it on her car…do not know if it was true.  but it was funny
….certainly got him noticed…he told me a story about working with Gene Autry
“It was at the annual company dinner or Christmas party…do not recall which…Gene had an
album of his hits placed on every place setting for his people to take home….most ignored it,
Dan said, and they  left the album for the clean up crew…Dan for some reason had to go back
to the place and saw all the albums that were left…he felt embarrassed and gathered them all 
up….and took them home….he then opened one, and found a $100 bill….and he opened them
all…..only he could tell the rest of the story….He loved Autry as I did .”

Rollye:  “I remember Mary Poppins is a junkie...  another classic from Sorkin.  I think he was
one of the most underrated guys in our industry— ironically probably because he came from a
format at a time that spawned so many great talents.   Love the Gene Autry story.  I can just
picture it.  Fond memories of those Christmas parties when Ina (Gene’s first wife) was still
with us.  The LA soirees were held at some throwback restaurant/hall in Inglewood near the
Forum.   Can’t recall if there were any party favors at the plates, but if so, I was probably
among the hordes that left them in place.  Good for Dan!    I can’t believe he’s been gone
almost a year and there was never any major press coverage on it.  Oh, wait— yes I can.  Sad
commentary indeed.

“So glad you knew Ray Kassis and were there when he wasn’t doing well.  I remember when
we were kids knowing he had a heart condition— at the time, all it meant was he would be 4F
and not draft eligible.  The last time I saw him I was concerned about his weight— but he
brushed it off, saying he felt great.  I wanted it to be true.  Even though we didn’t regularly
speak, he was still a big part of my history, and it is entirely my loss that he’s gone.” 

Joey Reynolds:  “Les was a mentor for me and my ridiculous attempts at being famous for
being funny, he taught me stand up comedy by humiliation,  every Monday night at the Iridium
in NY Les featured me and when it bombed he told me "there is a phone call", I would leave
the stage and after the show Les asked me why I thought Bush jokes were funny when all they
did was split the audience.  Thats when I surrendered the concept and became a political

A convenient way to catch all of Sunday Night Live, the Late Joey Reynolds Show from April 16th.
Can't see it?  Click here.

Mel Phillips: “This is circa 1971. The gold record was for "Close To You". (left to right) A&M
Promotion's Bernie Grossman, Richard, Karen, PD Mel & WRKO Music Director Paul

“The Crowne Plaza has run out of rooms at the special ‘WRKO Reunion’ rate and has just
added additional rooms for $159 a night (about $175 a night after taxes). There are less than 3
weeks left to make your WRKO 50th Anniversary Dinner reservations for June 2, 2017.

“Just a few of the people you worked with who sent in their completed RSVP forms and dinner
checks this past week: Gordy Brown, Sheila Charton, Deb Daigle. Also planning to attend
with his crew: Harry Bud Nelson and a group of people from Emerson. Next week I'll be
sending out a final invitation to the dinner (to those that haven't yet sent in their completed
RSVP form and $75 per person for dinner). This will be your last chance to do so. Sorry to say
there will be no walk-ups permitted to either the Charles Ballroom bar or dinner There is still
room but you must make reservations now. For those who've already committed to this
once-in-a-lifetime, see you June 2.

Friday, June 2, 2017
WRKO 50th Anniversary Dinner (w/cash bar from 6pm to 10pm). Dinner will be served
promptly at 7pm in the Charles Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza (Newton). Dinner, coffee or tea
plus dessert will be served. Dinner will end at 11pm. If you're staying at the hotel - no problem.
If you're driving to the dinner be sure to self-park after 6pm in order to avoid a parking fee.
You must also get your parking ticket validated at the front desk before leaving the
hotel.  Jordan Rich (above left) will emcee and a video tape of the event will be shot by Art
Vuolo (above right) for inclusion into the Radio Hall Of Fame...
Saturday, June 3, 2017:
A 4-hour tribute (7pm - 11pm) to WRKO with 5 members of the original NOW CROWD
playing the hits from the Top 100 of 1967 using the original WRKO jingles. Live broadcast
will be aired on WRKO (AM/Streaming) & Backbone Networks (Streaming) produced by
George Capalbo Jr. (below) Seen below George, (left-right): Al Gates, Joel Cash, J.J.
Jeffrey, Arnie Ginsburg, Chuck Knapp & your host, Mel Phillips...

“Thanks to those who've committed to the dinner. If you haven't sent in your completed RSVP
form and $75 dinner check. Please do it now...”