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Stories, poems and articles mostly by Claude Hall

May 15, 2017

by Rollye James
Claude Hall

Claude Hall:  "I've just finished my latest book -- 'Popsie' and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
The cover is by radio legend Chuck Blore.  In a few days, I hope to install the book as an
eBook with Kindle.  Meanwhile, if you' like a free pdf version of the book, please drop me a
note and I'll rush one to you via email.

"Your pdf version can be read on computer, iPad, smart phone, etc.

"I've already emailed more than two dozen people pdf copies of the book.  But if you do not
have a copy, write me.  My address is at the top of Vox Jox.   The book contains the three radio
short stories I've written, the three stories dealing with Popsie, our family dog, some other
stories and a couple of articles and some poems.

"I hope to now work on another Smitty mystery."

Rollye:  “My copy arrived Sunday afternoon and I made the mistake of leafing through it.  I
say ‘mistake’ because it wasn’t long before a sentence caught my eye, and then it was all over. 
I couldn’t stop reading it.  So much for my regularly scheduled day.   Popsie is mostly a
compendium of short stories and some are downright classic.  The icing on the cake is the
cover art from Chuck Blore (above).  It was great to hear from Claude Hall throughout the
week.  One email was a forward from Bruce Miller Earle, who swears this story is true:”

The Flying Chicken
 (The true story of the Chicken Gun)
Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch standard 4 pound dead chickens at the
windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.
The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the
strength of the windshields. 
British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new
high speed trains. Arrangements were made and a gun was sent to the British engineers.

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel,
crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control
console, snapped the engineer’s back-rest in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the
cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.  The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of
the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the U.S. scientists for

NASA responded with a one-line memo: “Defrost the chicken.”

Claude Hall:  “Cute, huh?  Lets impose upon BME to write us about the night he and I went on
the air live on XEROK.  By the way, he showed me the legendary boot prints on the concrete
floor.  Lord!  BME is a storehouse of tales.”

Michael O’Shea:  “I really enjoyed the Cleveland Top 100 radio personalities. Some great
talent started there and some moved to many other markets.  I DID see Dancin' Danny
Wright (towards the end of the piece). Danny went on to become a terrific jock at KJR,
Seattle.   And to think further that most every major market of that era could also produce a list
of top personalities...Dallas, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, St. Louis,
Cincinnati...the list goes on and on.

“So great that our industry was the breeding ground for multiple decades (50's, 60's, 70's and
80's primarily) for truly wonderful voices and personalities. Where creativity and individuality
on LOCAL RADIO was such a vital media element.   We were all so lucky to have been a part
of that great breed of creativity and uniqueness.”

John Barger:  “Thanks for the recognition of Dick "The Wild Child" Kemp.  It was my
privilege/burden to be his PD at Buffalo's WYSL in 1966.

“Part of my McLendon duty list was being the WYSL Morning Man as "Johnny Dark." 
Dick's gig was 7pm-12m.  He called my apartment on a Thursday evening at 9:15pm (about
my bed-time) to say he had hit the Exacta with two long-shots at Batavia Downs and that his
bookie was running over to the station (19th floor of the Statler Hilton) with his $1,590.00
winnings, and that he was putting on a Ray Charles LP and leaving to celebrate with some
lady-friends.  Knowing I lived two blocks away in the Magaddino's apartment hotel on
Delaware Street, he assumed I would get to the station ahead of his bookie.  I didn't, but Ray
was only into his second cut when I arrived.

“Sometimes you have to accommodate greatness.  "Child" had the largest Hooper share on
1,000-watt WYSL up against 50,000-watt WKBW.  This was immediately after Joey
Reynolds took leave of the station.

“A couple of months later, I quit and went to work for Lyndon Johnson.  Kemp stayed on a
couple of weeks, spent the rest of the Batavia winnings, and then split to Cleveland and more

“I am happy to learn he enjoyed another 49 years of exciting adventures in and out of radio.”

Bill Tanner:  “Loved, but also saddened by reading the Robert W. Morgan comments.  Isn't it
ironic how he, the ultimate ironic jock, was not happy.  As with so many brilliant artists, it's
often that very unhappiness that drives great expressions of talent.   Best regards to all.”

Rollye:  “So nice to hear from Bill!   He’s right.  Unhappiness is an effective driver, but I’m
convinced the biggest impetus to greatness is insecurity.  Robert W. once said it was a good
day because his self-esteem was up to his knees.  Like Johnny Carson, he battled childhood
memories of a belittling mother, and his success was undeniably tied to his need to prove
himself.  One night, he called me to play a promo he’d just completed.  Per usual, it was
perfect. I was sincere in my praise that it sounded as if the music was written for his lines.   He
darn near swooned, saying,  ‘Baby, that’s better than phone sex.’

Rich Brother Robbin:  My GOD I can’t stop laughting ... if you’ve never seen/printed this I’d
suggest you get hold of this guy and get his permission (if necessary); it’s truly hilarious ... I’ve
been giggling all day! 

You were first hired by a GM who actually worked in radio before becoming GM.
Radio stations were no place for kids.
You excitedly turn the radio up at the sound of "dead air" on the competitor's station.
Sales guys wore Old Spice to cover the smell of liquor.
You were playing Elvis' number one hits when he was alive.
Engineers could actually fix things without sending them back to the manufacturer.
You worked for only ONE station, and you could name the guy who owned it.
You remember when normal people listened to AM radio, and only "hippies" listened to FM.
Radio stations used to have enough on-air talent to field a softball team every summer.
You're at least 10 years older than the last two GM's who fired you.
You used to smoke in a radio station and nobody cared.
Engineers always had the worst body odor, not because they worked too hard, but because they
just didn't shower that often.
You can name at least 2 receptionists that you nailed who now have grandchildren.
You know the difference between good reel-to-reel tape and cheap reel-to-reel tape.
Religious radio stations were locally owned, run by an old Protestant minister and his wife,
never had more than 20 listeners at any given time, and still made money.
You have a white wax pencil, a razor blade, and a spool of 3M splicing tape in your desk
drawer - - just in case.
You know people who actually listened to baseball games on the radio.
You can post a record, run down the hall, go to the bathroom, and be back in 2:50 for the
The new guy you're training has never listened to an AM station.
He couldn't even name one in his own home town if his life depended on it.
You knew exactly where to put the tone on the end of a carted song.
You spent most of the time on Friday nights giving out the high school football scores. And
when they weren't phoned-in, you got really pissed off.
You never thought twice about drinking from the same bottle with another DJ.
You only did "make-goods" if the client complained. Otherwise, who cares?
You can remember the name of the very first "girl" that was hired in your market as a DJ.
(Margaret? Leilani? )
Somebody would say, "You have a face for radio", and it was still funny.
Sixty percent of your wardrobe has a station logo on it.
You always had a screwdriver in the studio so you could take a fouled-up cart apart at a
moment's notice.
Agents were people like James Bond and the Man From Uncle.
You would spend hours splicing and editing a parody tape until it was "just right", but didn't
give a damn how bad that commercial was you recorded. Hey, I can only work with what they
give me, right?
You still refer to CDs as "records."
Dinner? Let's see what the last shift left for me in the refrigerator.
The only interaction between you and someone else prior to bedtime is, "Thank you. Please
pull ahead to the second window."
Your family thinks you're successful, but you know better.
You played practical jokes on the air without fear of lawsuits.
You've been married at least 3 times, or, never married at all.
You answer your home phone with the station call letters.
You used to fight with the news guy over airtime. After all, what was more important: your joke
about your ex-wife, or that tornado warning?
You knew how to change the ribbon on the teletype machine, but you hated to do it because
"...that's the news guy's job."
You had listeners who only tuned in for the news, and not you.
You could never figure that out.
You know at least 3 people in sales that take credit for you keeping your job.
You remember when "Rock" wasn't a bunch of guys who look and sound more like girls.
You have several old air-check cassettes in a cardboard box in your closet that you wouldn't
dream of letting anyone hear anymore, but, you'll never throw them out or tape over them.
You can still see scars on your finger when you got cut using a razor blade and cleaned out the
cut with head-cleaning alcohol and an extra long cotton swab on a wooden stick.
You still have dreams of a song running out and not being able to find the control room door.
You've ever told a listener "Yeah. I'll get that right on for you."
You have a couple of old transistor radios around the house with corroded batteries inside
People who ride in your car exclaim, "Why is your radio so loud?"
You remember how upset people used to get about Richard Nixon.
You have at least 19 pictures of you with famous people whom you haven't seen since, and
wouldn't know you today if you bit 'em on the ass.
You wish you could have been on "Name That Tune" because you would have won a million
You even REMEMBER "Name That Tune."
You were a half an hour late for an appearance and blamed it on the directions you received
from the sales person.
You've run a phone contest and nobody called, so you made up a name and gave the tickets to
your cousin.
You remember when people actually thought radio was important.
...Thanks to Steve Lager - KCIY Kansas City

Rollye:  “And my thanks to Ray Dennis at DesMoinesBroadcasting.com for giving us
permission to reprint Steve’s list.  Ray's name sounded familiar to me— and apparently mine
to him as well.  As you’ll read, Ray’s got some legendary call letters behind him—  Bill
Shirk’s WXLW in Indy, and Davenport’s KSTT where it’s a good bet that at least a handful of
you hung your hats for a while.  I think Ray and I last talked while I was at Billboard.”

Ray Dennis:  “I think I remember you from back in the 70s.  Could I have talked to you on the
phone with the Gavin Report or the Bob Hamilton Report?  I was PD when we switched
WXLW in Indianapolis from big band old line CBS to Top 40 in 1971.  Later, I was PD at
KSTT (was a great station), in the Quad Cities for a couple years.  Our paths may have crossed
during those years.   Rollye is a name one remembers.

“Would you consider mentioning my name in connection with DesMoinesBroadcasting.com?
 I have been out the the business for so many years, I have lost track of so many people and
someone might see my name and get in contact.  George and I started the site in 2002 and he
did a lot of the original narrative and most of the research on WHO and Ronald Reagan in the
early years, but he got busy with other priorities and it has been solely my baby for about the
last 10 years.  You are doing a great job with Vox Jox.  Peter McLane put me onto it.”

Mel Phillips:  “Your piece on the two Steve Warren's was like a ‘To Tell The Truth’ open. I
had the pleasure of having the N.Y. Steve Warren on my staff when I was PD at WNBC ('76 -
'77). That Steve Warren was born to do midday's and did a swing shift for us, doing just that.
No one was more versatile, knowledgeable and likeable on the air. He was a treat to work with.
Also, attached is a photo of 3 people, one of which is Howdy Doody…”

Buffalo Bob and Mel Phillips

Rollye:  “Speaking of Howdy Doody, here’s a fitting piece on the pulling power of Buffalo
Bob Smith.  I found it thanks to Warren Cosford. It’s from Pat Bergin’s blog.”  

Warren Cosford:  “Considering all the "history" I read each week on Vox Jox, I thought I might
alert you to a ‘Blog.’   Many of us have talked about writing a book about our experiences in
radio but Pat Bergin actually has..... and put it on The Web.  

“He was ‘Scott Carpenter’ when I worked with him.  By any measure he became one of the
great ‘CHUM Jocks’ during the J. Robert Wood era. After he left, I lost track of him until a
few years later while calling around the U.S. trying to find a Morning Show for CHUM, I
spoke to a PD in Washington.   He told me there was this guy at the Country Station “’cross the
street’ that he'd love to get out of town.  His name?  Scott Carpenter.   As you'll read [here]....
Pat Bergin has had quite a career.”   

Don Graham:  “Our pal, Charlie Barrett, sends along this remarkable collection of industry
friends, complied by Pete Senoff (Dir/Publicity-Blue Thumb 1969)… Some fabulous friends
and memories.  Enjoy.”

Rollye:  “With 26 pages of pictures, you’ll see someone you know,  including on page 2 in the
top row, Claude Hall.  Click on any picture that interest you and it will pop out in full size.”

Joey Reynolds:  “Back in the day?  Whatever that means, I was on WNBC with Imus in the
Morning, Soupy Sales middays.and I was the aftershock afternoon  drive choice  after
Howard Stern left.  All they wanted me to do was to 'keep the numbers' and we did a good job
25+ in the morning and afternoon drive, but the middays were treated like Don McNeil’s
Breakfast Club at ABC.  Soupy used to break me up when he was bragging by saying ‘We are
Number One in cars’!    I found myself last week talking to Paul Dver who was Soupy's
producer saying ‘We are number one in Lawndale on bikes.’”

Rollye: “Joey may have been in the shocking category more than once in his career, but now
he’s downright mainstream (though still relatable and hilarious).  Some might say Joey
mellowed.  Forget that.  He’s mellow by comparison to what you might hear on the air now. 
Take Benson, Arizona. It’s a micro-market almost-border town with not much going for it.  Jay
Melnick send along a story that’s suddenly everywhere on Arizona media. You know my
adage: radio stations are licensed to serve the public interest, not the interested public.    The
Cave 97.7 is definitely succeeding at the latter.  As for the former, it’s a debate.   Is a PSA
telling listeners to hide their child pornography where no one can see it serving the public
interest?   Here’s a Tucson television station’s report on that. 

“The genesis of the announcements is an Arizona law that landed one school teacher in prison
for over 100 years because he possessed a few pictures of children in compromised positions
on his computer.  The station owner is not weighing in on whether kiddie porn is acceptable,
rather that the Arizona law is not.  His opinion is that actions against children are criminal, but
simply possessing a picture should not be.  But the way he’s sharing it is off-putting to many. 
The off-putting part to me is that these PSAs have been running in late night/overnight hours
for two years now.  Two years? It took two years for someone to notice?!  I hope the Cave
produces better results for paying sponsors.   Not that radio seems to care much about that
these days…” 

Bob Sherwood:  “I guess traffic directors were the first to go, because this afternoon I listened
to a once great radio station---WCBS News Radio 880 in NYC---program a Lexus 30 directly
followed by a Honda spot. That was quite stunning by itself….but dramatically topped by the
Hyundai and Nissen spots that immediately followed !

“FOUR auto commercials in a row !

“The first spot may have had some impact but its message was certainly massively diluted by
the three that followed….and those latter three were absolutely worthless. Better to light a
fistful of hundred dollar bills on fire and throw them out the window. 

“Somebody explain to me once again how de-regulation benefitted anybody !?!?”

Rollye:  “Deregulation was destined to fail— and inappropriately named, too. The government
only “deregulated” half of the equation— the amount of stations an entity could own, but not
the total number of stations available.  You don’t have to be a nobel prize winner to recognize
the economic result of that.  Anyone who has ever played musical chairs knows what would
happen. Predictably, prices skyrocketed.  20 years later, the government continues to confound
me.  I’ve never been an IBOC fan, but presumably, the FCC supports HD Radio.  They’ve got
a funny way to show it when they allow HD sub channels to be used as originating stations for
FM translators.  

“But the real wonder is why anyone advertises on radio at all. I joke that if the CIA wanted to
share state secrets, they could buy the fourth spot in, on any music station, and be guaranteed it
would never be heard.  Nielsen thinks I’m far off, but if anyone is listening to seven
commercial minutes in a row, I gotta believe they aren’t hearing any of them— until a
train-wreck like Bob described.  I’m impressed they had four automakers buying time. 

“Last time I checked, radio’s entire revenue stream came from commercials.  Is their any other
industry that intentionally demonizes it’s income base?  I’m proud to say that our stations
rarely run two spots back to back, and never more that two, regardless of length.   Most are
standalone elements. We don’t run much national programming, but on the few shows we air,
we won’t insert local spots at all.  After four units (2 minutes of national ads), the last thing a
listener needs is a fifth.  (Maybe that’s exactly what they need, though I’ve strayed from
commercials with that comment.)

“Claude Hall passed along an email from Robby Vee…”

"Vee had a edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell ..."      -Bob Dylan

Dylan Fest, Duluth, MN May 20. 

Robby Vee and his Rock-N-Roll Caravan kick off the 2017 Duluth Dylan Fest at Karpeles
Manuscript Museum.  Tickets available online now at www.eventbright.com.  (Search for
Duluth - Vee.)

“We will be celebrating the earliest roots of Elston Gunnn aka Bob Dylan, and my father’s
career along with our good ol’ foot stomping’ style of rock n roll. 

Coming up:  Back to the 50s,  Minnesota State Fairgrounds, June 24.  Visit our full schedule at
www.robbyvee.com.  Hope to see you at the show!  Keep it rockin’ on and on…

Mel Phillips:  “Just 3 weeks away: 

“Last Chance invitations to the (Friday) June 2, 2017 dinner are already in your hands if you
haven't committed to the dinner yet (don't wait any longer) - for everyone else, it's party time
in 3 weeks.

“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 in Newton. This will be
followed by dessert with coffee or tea. Closing time: 11pm. 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. If you're staying at the hotel, just take
the elevator to the lobby and enjoy yourself...

“Following the dinner, Jordan Rich (above left) will emcee and a video tape of the event will
be shot by Art Vuolo (above right) for inclusion in 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

(left-right): Al Gates, Joel Cash, J.J. Jeffrey, Arnie Ginsburg and Chuck Knapp,  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/Bay State College (Streaming) produced
by George Capalbo Jr., with your host, Mel Phillips  (both below).

“If you haven't sent in your completed RSVP form and $75 check for dinner, do it now. If you
have, see you at the party…”