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Ron Jacobs  1976


by Rollye James
Claude Hall

Rollye:  “So there I was, reading Claude Hall's comments in last week's Vox Jox.  He
mourned Charlie Tuna and mentioned the passing of John Rook  saying “I wasn’t that close
to John (Ron Jacobs can tell you why).”  I made a note to contact Ron figuring I’d get a story
as only Ron could tell it.  Instead, I get a lot of Ron Jacobs stories, most of which would be
highly humorous if the reason for the onslaught was anything other than his obit.  When I first
heard the news, I doubted it was true.  He’d written just the other day… oh wait, that was last
month.  But he was home after a fall, and back in his Pearl City apartment doing well.  His
Facebook page had numerous pictures of his hospital and rehab stays.  The images were
evidence that he not only survived but thrived, which was quite expected,  as Ron was the
ultimate survivor. 

“First the news of Tuna, then Rook, now Ron— and within a few days the list would grow
from internationally known figures like George Martin, to too many local radio personalities.
There’s an old adage about dying on a slow news day so the headlines are huge. Well, Ron can
rest in peace knowing that amongst far too many passings, it was his death that made the big
headline for most of us. 

“As for those Ron Jacobs stories… I’m so pleased that the first one comes from Claude

Claude Hall: “The first International Radio Programming Forum was slated for the New
Yorker hotel in Manhattan.  The opening session was power-packed.  At that particular
moment in radio, the most prominent people.  Gordon McLendon, a god in Top 40 radio not
yet recognized by the National Association of Broadcasters but already revered by everyone I
knew; George Martin, producer of the Beatles; Art Linkletter, whose daughter had recently
stepped from a high window thinking she could fly (this was an anti-drug campaign theme
that ran throughout our various Forums); and Bill Drake, a very recluse programming
consultant who’d scored heavily with KHJ in Los Angeles.  Hey, Bill Drake was going to be
“And then he phoned to say he wasn’t coming and was sending one of his people, a program
director named Ron Jacobs.  To say that I was pissed off would be an understatement.  I
mean, that entire conference featured dynamite speakers.  I’d worked extremely hard under
the aegis of a conference specialist whose name I cannot recall, but who drank tea instead of
coffee and raised that little finger when he did so.
“So, Ron shows up before the kickoff panel session and he’s dressed sharp in a suit.  He asks
how long I want him to speak.  Off the top of my head, piqued, I reply, ‘Twenty-one minutes’
and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t disappear, return in a Nehru jacket and medallion, and once
his turn comes speak for exactly twenty-one minutes, no ‘ands’, no ‘buts’, and there’s not only
a beginning to his talk, but a middle and an end.  Bill Drake heck!  I was impressed to all get
out with Ron Jacobs.  Phenomenal!
“True, but I never had many good things to say about Bill Drake for a while.  And, believe
me, he knew it.  He even kept the clippings from Vox Jox in his billfold and pulled them out a
few years later to read them to me as I visited him at his home in Beverly Hills.
“I guess I said a lot of good things about Ron Jacobs over the years when he was trying to
gain his part of the fame associated with KHJ.  I did two or three interviews with each for the
magazine as well as the book ‘This Business of Radio Programming’.  Both men, to be honest,
were outstanding radio men.  Just a few years ago, I ranked Ron Jacobs as more than likely
the fifth or sixth most important person in Top 40 radio.  Behind Gordon McLendon, Todd
Storz, Bill Stewart, Chuck Blore, and George Wilson.  The singular item that gave Ron
Jacobs so much of his glory in radio was ‘The History of Rock and Roll’ documentary.  The
first hit of Elvis Presley was ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ written by Bill Monroe.  It was
circulated on a jukebox route in northeast Texas, according to Sam Phillips and played on
KVET in Austin, TX.  Ron offered me the entire documentary.  I accepted only the hour
devoted to the birth of rock.
“Anyway, Ron Jacobs is gone.  Died, from reports, at home in Hawaii.  That caustic son of a
gun!  But we all come, do, go.  A huge part of my life goes with him.  He once wrote an item
putting me down.  He was somewhat bipolar at the time.  Later, he apologized.  I told him that
nothing he could say would ever change my opinion of him or cause me to cease calling him a
great friend.  Because, he was indeed a great friend.”

Ed Gursky:  “Earlier this afternoon, one of RJ's FB Friends posted on Ron's Timeline. It's spot
on:   ‘I just learned that my dear friend Ron Jacobs has passed.  One of the most outrageous
people I've ever known.  A true Maverick.  An amazing, impossible, funny, brilliant, flagrant
f**king asshole, Genius, Maverick!  Bless you Ron.  Love you.’  Dave Mason of Max 105.7 in
San Diego posted this lengthy, and somewhat outdated bio (likely written by Ron himself).”

Rollye:  “Kevin Gershan emailed the same bio to me as well.  Since it is lengthy, and
contains several references you might want to check out, I’ve given it it’s own page here.  
Kevin also forwarded several interesting links—  R.I.P Ron Jacobs by Ken Levine,
Remembering Ron Jacobs - RAMP by Kevin Carter and Steve Resnick, the local Honolulu
newspaper account… this YouTube video:

“If you can't see the embedded video, you can easily access it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHcfklY84i0  It’s a moving pictorial of Ron’s life,  the
work of Bob Meadows.   (You might remember Bob's “Growing Up With Boss Radio” video
that we embedded in the January 25th column.  Among those who liked it was Ron Jacobs
Liked it a lot actually, as he wrote in the February 8th column.  I’m pleased that Bob and Ron
were able to get to know each other.)     Some of Bob’s pictures begin to convey Ron’s
madness, but Jerry Del Colliano put it to rest in a recent column he did. Here’s an excerpt”…

He was crazy. And I say that with love, admiration and much respect.

I told him this as early as 2002 when Clear Channel was suing me for $100 million. They
didn’t like my exposes about them in Inside Radio, which I founded. Randy Michaels was CEO
of Clear Channel Radio at the time and a real dirty tricks artist.  Ron hated him. Thought
Randy was bad for radio and he spoke up and took the bully on publicly. Keep in mind life was
lonely for me then (until I won my $125 million countersuit settlement) and few people
publicly crossed Randy.

Ron had cojones.  Ron was one of the greatest programmers of all time or as I told him – the
greatest because he was nuts.  He was the program director all of us wanted to be – crazy like
a fox for our listeners and an advocate for less bullshit.  KHJ, the Los Angeles iconic station
of the 60’s with Bill Drake and Ron Jacobs was a combination of – well, both discipline and
total lack of discipline.

Today’s radio sucks by comparison because there is no passion in it. You can tell the suits
have taken over and turned even good people into robots. But Ron Jacobs was no robot. He
was crazy.”…

"Crazy" Ron Jacobs

Rollye:  “Read the rest of it here at Jerry Del Colliano’s InsideMusicMedia.com.  After
Kevin Gershan sent a link,  I heard from Jerry himself.  Then the hits kept coming.  Of all the
pieces I’ve come across, Jerry’s is the one with which you resonated most.  And
understandably so.  Ron was crazy.  All of us who dealt with him came away with hard core
evidence of it.  And it was part of why we loved him.  True embarrassing confession:  it was
also part of why we occasionally avoided him.  I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, and
I’m sure I’m joined by all of you who felt it from time to time in also saying that underneath
the insanity, he pushed us to be better. 

“I remember vividly hearing from him around 1985.  He had decided to add more albums to
the “Cruisin’” series, and he felt that no one but me could decide on the jocks to feature.  I
gave him a list.  That wasn’t good enough.  I had to justify (with examples) every choice.  I’m
not sure if it felt like an accomplishment or a relief when he eventually proclaimed it perfect. 
For a number of predicable reasons, it didn’t come to pass, but looking back on it, it was fun
sitting in the downtown Los Angeles library reading old radio rags for hours on end to satisfy
Ron’s anal compulsivity. 

“To people he didn’t know, Ron Jacobs often came across as arrogant and bombastic.  Like
many characters, that hid a dose of insecurity— a big enough dose to compel him to greatness.
Nothing less would have been acceptable to him.  And success so nicely hid his vulnerability. 
I wish Robert W. Morgan was still around so you could hear the story of how Ron Jacobs
got the KHJ PD gig, but I’ll do my best to accurately recount the events, which go back to
Fresno when Bill Drake’s handiwork at KYNO competed with Jacobs’ KMAK. 

“Note that there was a time that Jacobs was doing mornings, and Robert W. was still known as
Bob, but I digress.  When Drake chose Morgan for mornings on the soon to be revamped KHJ,
a decision on a program director was still in the offing.  Morgan used the opening to push for
Jacobs.  Not only would it be comfortable working with a known entity— his PD at KMAK,
but Morgan knew Jacobs was the guy for the job.   Jacobs wasn’t as sure.  In fact he was
downright resistant, and for good reason:  Jacobs’ jail time on a marijuana bust.  Today the
stint is not only well-known but laughable, but back then Jacobs saw it as a potential
impediment to employment within the corporate culture of RKO General, should it be
discovered (many years before General Tire’ behavior led to the loss of every RKO license,
but I’m digressing again). Jacobs was so convinced as to the outcome that he wasn’t up for
even doing an interview.  Morgan drove him to Drake’s office (in a Volkswagen as memory
serves), parked around the corner and waited a couple hours while the interview took place.  It
would be a great ending to the story if Jacobs’ came back to Morgan’s car with job in hand,
but the reality was Ron was right again.  RKO flinched.  Drake personally went to a board
member to assuage the fears (a story for another time) and just in time, Jacobs was in.”

Mel Phillips:  “Sorry to hear about the death of former KHJ Program Director Ron Jacobs. I
was glad to correspond with him many years after his reign in Los Angeles ended. He even
sent me a copy of his book on the history of KHJ. I remember telling RJ how much the other
"Drake" PDs hated him because we were so envious of the phenomenal sounding station he
created. R.I.P. Ron Jacobs (1937-2016).”

Chuck Buell:  Geesh, Rollye, when we have a few days like we have lately, maybe brief
special non-Monday VoxJox Updates would be order!  Tuna . . . Rook . . . Jacobs . . .  Just a

Rollye:  “I think that’s a great suggestion, although this past week, we’d be sending out
enough email updates to qualify as a spammer.  Before moving on to who else is no longer
with us, I wanted to share prolific Ron Jacobs’ Facebook page poster “Loo Ow” thoughts.  I
believe he succinctly said what we all feel:  “Missing 'Whodaguy' Ron Jacobs. Who used to
come into to our homes through the radio and stayed in our hearts with Aloha.”   If Ron is
with us in spirit, I know he’s pleased— and maybe a tad surprised— by the outpouring of
respect and affection.

Kris Erik Stevens: “I sure was pleased to see your words regarding John Rook’s passing.....
the man meant a lot to me...and we remained in frequent contact over the years.  He hired me
at WLS....where we formed a close bond and friendship.  He also pulled me back into the fray
along with Larry Lujack ...when we both sorta defected across the Chicago River to work for
John at WCFL.  And, yeah, we beat WLS soundly in the ratings...a first! So Claude gets the
“After that gig I motored West to LA.... where I started my own business... but managed to
work again with John while he was at KFI.   I was saddened to get the call from Jason (Rook)
telling me he’d slipped away overnight.   He will be dearly missed by many... a special guy
and an amazingly talented Radio Programmer.”

Chuck Buell:  “John Rook was my mentor in my early radio career from the time we first met
when I was but a daily after class and weekend high school On Air Radio Personality in Rapid
City SD. Later we shared some unmatched and amazingly memorable times working together
at WLS in Chicago. Both experiences built the foundation for my successes and the valuable
industry reputation that I enjoy to this day. Fortunately, I did thank him many times as our
lives went on in their own separate radio directions, and I do so again now.”

Ken Copper:  Rollye, Many thanks to you for picking up the baton to continue this always
welcome newsy radio e-mail.  I share your good wishes for Claude’s return to excellent health
and many more years of time with his multitude of friends in the radio business.  I’m guessing
that his doctors are suggesting he steer clear of those Vegas buffets from now on.  As I recall,
they slapped a few pounds onto my carcass when I was there in the early 80’s.  I think the last
time I saw you was during my days of running 96.3 (now KKLZ) with Bob Hanna.  You did a
terrific interview with Bob who had more great radio stories than just about anyone.  He died
way too soon (only 60) and I miss him every day.  We had some wonderful times in that
market and someday I’ll tell you about the inspiration for those KKLZ calls.

“I’m sorry we never got together when you were in San Diego.  How long were you at
KFMB? Was it when I was at KCBQ or KBZT?  I was doing mornings at K-BEST from
January of ’92 until December of ’98 and I think that was when you were in town.  I didn’t get
sober until December of ’99 so we may have actually had lunch or something and I simply
don’t remember.  Like so many in radio, I overestimated my ability to handle the sauce and it
was completely stupid.  No excuses, just continued vigilance.

“I regret that I didn’t get in touch with John Rook after Linda and I retired to Coeur D’ Alene
in 2014.  He and I had some mutual friends but I had never met him.  It was on my list of
“things to do” when my wife was diagnosed with lymphoma.  After that our lives revolved
around ridding her of that disease and the fight continues to this day.  She had a stem cell
transplant last year at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance which required a four month stay and we
only returned to Coeur D’ Alene on December 23.  She is a fighter and, so far, the transplant
seems to be working but we have another several months of doctor visits and breath holding
before she’s out of the woods.

“Again, a sincere thank you for keeping radio alive with Vox Jox.  I hope the world is spinning
in well greased grooves for you and only good things are on the horizon.  If you’re ever up
this way, stop by!  We’re on the lake and the boat goes back in the water next month.”

Rollye:  “I was at KFMB 1993-1995.  I remember Bob Hanna fondly.  He was the kind of
radio character we don’t see anymore and the industry is worse off without his ilk.   No we
didn’t do lunch in San Diego. I never managed to get up by the crack of noon to eat anything. 
But I do fondly recall visiting you at the station in Vegas.  Worlds of luck to Linda for a full
recovery!  I hope you’re enjoying Coeur d’Alene.  We lived on Hayden Lake for several years
and we miss it. OK, we don’t miss the lousy upload speed from TWC, and we don’t miss the
insanity of not using salt in winter (one winter, the mountain road leading to our home was ice
covered from November through April— the next year it rained every day and Jon and I are
still arguing over which was worse), but I sure miss the view.  I miss John Rook too, even
more now that I can’t drive up and see him.  But maybe you and Bill Hatch can find time to
get together”….

Bill Hatch: “By now you've heard of the passing of both John Rook and Ron Jacobs two
programming giants I heard of only peripherally during my brief sliver of time in "Big Time
Radio" on the west coast.  I came close to working for RJ when I was at KFRC but turned
down an offer to transfer to KHJ. I worked with folks in both San Diego and San Francisco
who later worked for JR in L.A. John spent his last days on his small horse farm in northern
Idaho. Although my job takes me periodically to our office in Coeur d'Alene and while I had
exchanged Facebook and email messages with him from time to time, I never managed to
meet the man.   Because your latest (3/7) newsletter states that Ron Jacobs can explain to us
why you were not close with Mr. Rook...and because RJ is now unable to ever tell anyone the
story again...how are we to get this obviously interesting information? It sounds like one of
those great radio stories.  I wait with bated breath.”

Rollye:  “Hopefully at some point Claude will be telling it.  I was so pleased to hear from him
this week. Like many of you who wrote, Claude was on top of George Martin’s passing”…

Claude Hall:  “George Martin, too, has passed away.  Producer of the Beatles.  One doesn’t
need to say more.  That puts him soundly in any music hall of fame.  We come, we do, we go.”
Andy Hall:  “I am now a recipient of the Teach Nevada Scholarship which will fund the better
part of my Master’s of Education/Alternative Route to Licensure program. May God have
mercy on all the students whose minds I will warp.” 
Claude Hall:  “The above was lifted from Facebook.  Andy already has two master’s, one in
English and one in poetry, and an ABD at Illinois State.  Andy was honored a few years ago
with his name for poetry on a ‘bridge’ at a park in downtown Las Vegas.”
Jerry Naylor:  “I am privileged and greatly honored to have been the lead singer of the
Crickets through 1965, the Crickets’ Liberty years.  For over 50 years our loving friends and
loyal fans have remained faithful to Buddy Holly and the music of the Crickets, for which I
am eternally grateful.  As a gesture of my appreciation, The Jerry Naylor Company’s
Rockabilly Legends Project’ has created a special tribute CD and vinyl LP to commemorate
five decades of dedication by our friends and fans, giving them rejuvenated versions of some
of their favorite cricket songs and music that they have requested for many years in the pure
rockabilly style to cherish.  It’s called ‘The Rockabilly Legends 50th Anniversary Tribute by
Jerry Naylor, Crickets Don’t Ever Change 1961-1965’.  To bring you this special Crickets
Collector’ Edition commemorating five decades of dedication by our friends and fans, I have
partnered with my dear old friend, Rainer Zopfy, and The Rockabilly Legends Media Group
to promote, market, and distribute of the Rockabilly Legends Project products.  Be one of only
250 rockabilly legends fans to own this special collection.  To order your limited edition copy
Claude Hall:  “Great on you, Jerry!  Just FYI, Jerry Naylor actually worked on ‘The
Louisiana Hayride’ back in its KWKH days out of Shreveport, LA.  And for further info, you
might contact Zopfy at 888-614-0757 … or write him via rainer@rockabillylegends.com or
see his site at www.rockabillylegends.com.”
Woody Roberts:  “Claude, I've have been extremely ill and was in bed 22-23 hrs a day all
through February.  Went over a week no food and lost a lot of weight.  Just now looking at
email and moving around, still weak and shaky.  I'll be back with more details.  Have now
downloaded latest ‘George’ and anxious to read the latest version.  Sorry I haven't contacted
you (or anyone else), friend Eddie Wilson brought me supplies.  My Dr. of forty years and
Google have no explanation for my symptoms.”
Robert Weisbuch, author of the coming book of “Hitbound” featuring Lee Baby Simms,
Woody Roberts, and Joey Reynolds:  “You guys just have to stop this illness trend right now.
Claude, I, too, was relieved to hear from Woody and your account of the complication after
your angio was totally horrifying.  You both need to take care of yourselves. I am not only
Doctor Bob but also your Jewish mother-substitute.  And I don't even know if Woody is seeing
a good physician.  It is hard to have this distance when honored friends are ill.  Please take
care both and all.”
Claude Hall:  “Believe me, Bob, I tried matzaball soup.  Unfortuanately, that, too, is now one
of the things I can’t have.”

John Barger (to Claude): “Go ahead and take the shot with the pig-valve or what-ever's the
newest thing.  Better to go down trying than to waste away.   George Marti made the choice
three months ago and never came back, but his memorial service in Cleburne was fantastic,
since he had been walking around town three or four days earlier and glad-handing the people
he had employed for years at his microwave electronics company (get the Marti and sell a
remote this weekend).   Bruce Miller Earle came back (at nearly Medicare age) from a liver
transplant five months ago and is in full gear doing radio engineering and investments on both
sides of the Border.   Creative and expressive guys opt for quality of life ... every time.  Go for

Chuck Buell:  “Well, Claude, I have been reading with sad interest of your current medical
issues, and I wish for you all the Best to help you fight them. During our longtime
professional association, you have always been so good to me acknowledging some of my
many radio activities and so supportive of my broadcast successes from the paper and ink days
of "Vox Jox" in Billboard Magazine to your current online computer byte days of "Vox Jox"
online.  I just want to take this moment to thank you again so much.  And, to say, Byte Me!”

Ian Wright:  Claude and Rollye greetings from South Australia.  You’re efforts are appreciated
and your dedication is beyond reproach.  Wishing you both the best, knowing that Claude has
a great offsider to keep Vox Jox alive and well.   Claude, may the Doctors keep you
comfortable, as we all grow older and hopefully wiser.”

Rollye:  “Also sad to note the passing of Fred Sanders.  He was 70, living in the
Greenville-Spartanburg area, and still doing radio— creative services for Entercom.  We
worked together in Miami around 1970, but reconnected big time when he became the
overnight jock on WMAQ, as I was still promoting country records and never missed an
opportunity to take an act to a trucking show, at a time when a good number of 50kwers had
one at night.  WMAQ joined the ranks of WBAP, WWL, KVOO, WHO, WRVA, KGA, WLW,
and many others.  Fred got into the advertising side as well, understanding what it took to sell
overnight radio, and who to sell it to.  He put that knowledge to good use when he struck out
on his own, syndicating a similar show for over a decade.”

John Hale:  “I doubt that you remember me, but we worked at KLBJ in Austin at the same
time back in the day.  I know you don't want Vox Jox to start reading like the daily obits.
However, I wanted to pass on that a legendary south Texas broadcaster is no longer with us.
Bob Guthrie spent over fifty years as a news reporter and anchor with WOAI in San Antonio
before retiring in 2009.  He had one of the great voices in the business, and was a talented and
fine reporter.  Bob covered some of the seminal events, and not just in San Antonio and south
Texas but all over the state.  He was a daily habit with thousands of central and south Texans
who depended on his newscasts, and Bob always delivered the news simply, without special
effects, and written so that it was easy for his listeners to understand.  Bob was a legend in
south Texas who has plenty of opportunities to move upward, but chose to make his mark
where he lived.”

Rollye:  “I absolutely remember you John. I think you gave me a cassette with The Uniques
Greatest Hits on it.  My fave has always been ‘Not Too Long Ago,” but ever since hearing it on
that cassette,  “Every Now And Then I Cry” rivals it.  Glad to hear from you, but sad to learn
of Bob’s passing.”

Ed Gursky:  “On another topic, recently discovered that Jack Roberts'
HollywoodHillsGroup.com site had been taken offline. Don't know if it's possible or if you're
interested in getting the rights to the content, & resurrecting the site as read-only. It was a
treasure trove of 1st-person radio history.   Thanks for your efforts in keeping Vox Jox alive.
Look after yourself.”

Rollye:  “I’d be happy to keep the Hollywood Hills Group material online.  I’m not sure who
was handling it, but I bet Claude knows and I’ll ask.  When he’s up to it, I’m sure he’ll point
me in the right direction, and I promise to follow through.”

Marcia Winters:  “trying to subscribe to Vox Jox weekly, but for some reason, can't get the
captcha.   I am Marcia Winters, formerly Miss Fox, of the Woody Roberts morning show on

Rollye:  “I’m indebted to Marcia for causing me to finally remove the captcha.  My blind
friends have been complaining for a while. It’s been impossible for them to sign up.  So if
you’re “seeing” this with a screen reader, you now can use the link at the top of the page and
have this column delivered straight to your inbox.  No captcha needed. (But to be added, you
will need to acknowledge the email you’ll receive.)”

Dave Anthony: “I was truly sad to hear about Charlie Tuna’s passing. Charlie was a classic
and a true professional. After he’d already spent a lifetime in LA radio, we hired Charlie in
1990 for the morning show on KODJ. Here I am the new PD and he appeared every morning
in my office at 10:00 sharp to get any constructive comments I could offer. And he really blew
me away when he insisted on starting his show at 5:00 a.m. each day instead of 5:30. Who was
this guy? Nobody has EVER pushed me for a longer shift.”

Mel Phillips:  “My best to Claude for a complete recovery and many long years of stories that
only he can fashion. In the meantime, I hope you continue to keep Vox Jox alive. We need
more women who know and can write about radio and music as well as you do. I don't think
you're aware of how well respected you are. You are, you know. On the subject of Charlie
Tuna: I was the PD across the street (@WRKO) when Charlie gave it a shot at WMEX. He
sounded as good as he ever has while at WMEX but frankly, he was up against us. When I
later cleared his syndicated radio show at Global Satellite Network, I finally met Charlie (Art
Ferguson as he introduced himself) on the phone. We had a great conversation and swapped
many Bill Drake stories. He was a nicer guy than he was a good radio personality. He was
great at both. BTW, Larry Lujack also worked for WMEX when I was at WRKO. He too
didn't stay there long. Not bragging just very fortunate to have shared that success with a great
group of radio people. We won't see (or better yet - hear) the like of Charlie Tuna or Larry
Lujack any time soon. Write on Rollye.”

Rollye: “Will do, Mel.  I’m humbled by your very kind words.  Coming from you, it means a
lot to me.   

“I knew the time would eventually come when Claude would ask me to head the column.  I
often wondered what I might write— and who, if anyone might contribute.   No worries on
those fronts this week.  Even apart from Claude’s unexpected and wonderful comments, there
was no shortage of material.   For the first time, I’ve actually got items left over for next week.
I’m saddened by the losses that led to your contributions, but grateful to all of you who took
the time to drop me a line.  Please don’t wait for someone else to die to do it again!”