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by Rollye James
Mel Phillips: “Let's say "Good Riddance" to the March Madness and hello to the "April
Fools." I can't ever remember as many of our radio friends joining the Radio Hall Of Fame in
the sky in such a short period of time then what we just witnessed in March. Enough! Give us
Rollye: “I’ve taken Mel’s request as a mandate. Unfortunately the news this week is no better,
but before we get into some sad details, how about a feel good story that embodies our
Real Don Steele Chuck Buell
Chuck Buell: “The story I shared with you a couple weeks ago about my watching Don Steele
from the other side of the Studio Glass Window at KHJ while he was on the air one afternoon
in the mid-60s reminded Ken Copper of the time he watched me in the same fashion during
a similar mid-60s afternoon when I was on the air at KIMN in Denver.
“That reminded me of my earlier times when I was starting my career in South Dakota when I
would listen to Art Roberts at nights ( while "watching" him through his Studio Window,
albeit created only in my imagination! ) when he was on the air at WLS in Chicago.
“He was such a great and huge Radio Star to me. So much so that a few years later when I
ended up at the Big 89 myself and was first introduced to him, I didn't know whether to shake
his hand - or ask him for his autograph!
“This Radio Fraternity and Sorority we're members of never fails to amaze me about how
intertwined our radio careers often are.”
Rollye: “Chuck’s story punctuates why bad news hits us so hard. We are a family, and each
loss is personal in different ways to us. The news I just got from Don Graham elicited
Don Graham: “Sad to say that Marie Davis (Danny Davis’ wife), called to let us know that
Danny has been moved to assisted living, diagnosed with “early dementia”. His legs don’t
work and he is unable to walk… Marie visits him daily and tells us any good wishes, notes
and cards that we might send to Danny are welcome. Send to: Danny Davis, 76758 Minaret
Way, Palm Desert, CA 92211. Best always, to you both.”
Rollye: “The long line of well wishers included Bob Fead, Bob Paiva, Dave Sholin, David
S. Chackler and many more. It even brought a heartfelt but brief email from Claude”…
Claude Hall: “ I’m so sad to hear about Danny's plight. He was always the "color" of the
industry that kept our spirits lifted. He made the music MUSIC! God bless Danny Davis!”
Don Sundeen: “So sad, I'll always remember Danny as the man about whom the great Gary
Owens once said: "Danny Davis got caught in a revolving door and hyped himself to death."
Along with Don Graham, Danny Davis was one of my early promo icons. He'll be sorely
missed in Vegas.”
Les Garland: “Thank you for the email, Don… I’ll be stamping a card tomorrow morning and
hope everyone on this distribution (whom I respect and send good regards) will do the same...
How could ya not love Danny Davis the 1st time meeting him? I know did…”
Russ Bach: “When I saw Bob Fead’s note, I thought that some of us have not seen Danny in
a few years, so I went to my iPhoto file and pulled up a few pics of Danny. He was still the
wonderful guy we all knew during our careers and a pleasure to spend time with.
“Danny and Marie at Thanksgiving in Palm Desert. We were doing his favorite thing— eating out!
“New Years Day in Palm Desert. (top) Vic Faraci, Ed DeJoy, Bach, Tony Pipitone,
(bottom) Danny, Jerry Sharell”
Rollye: “Dementia is such a heartbreaking thing— to those affected and those who love them.
Sad to report it was complications of dementia that took Dr. Toni Grant out last month, just
week’s shy of her 74th birthday. Here’s hoping Danny’s trajectory is slow and easy, filled
with many good memories to come.”
Frank Boyle: “We lost another great one last week when Bob Williamson went to the Big
Station in The Sky. Bob died in midst of his loving family at age 85 in Duxbury ( near
Plymouth Rock) Mass. For anyone who worked for RKO Radio or Metromedia Radio--you'll
all have a big smile when you think about "Willie"/ Always with a cigar-an insightful one
liner--wonderful team player--ran WOR-AM---RKO Reps and the RKO Radio Group; Loved
golf--played out of the legendary Winged Foot CC near Bronxville. Coulda made a good
living as a stand up comic. If he was your friend--you had a friend for life. A good man--when
Radio Management Giants walked the Earth and Radio was fun!”
Bill Kingman: “One of the smoothest, unaffected announcers I've ever heard, John Borders
was the golden voice who back-announced the hits on Stereo Rock, the TM Productions
(Dallas) format of the 1970s and 1980s distributed nationwide weekly on 10-1/2 inch reels of
tape, before satellite formats. He made our station #1.”
Rollye: “I’m glad Bill brought that up. I forgot to mention that John Borders was also the
original voice of the Sunday morning Southern Baptist offering, “Powerline” It was the best
of its kind, and that was due in large part to John’s talents. RIP John Borders. Last week Art
Wander was wondering why Jim Clemons wasn’t in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame”….
John Long: “We often get questions about people other feel are deserving of induction into
the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame. The short answer is that usually the persona has never been
nominated. This is the case for Mr. Clemons. The only requirement is the nomination must
come for a member. Selection of Legacy inductees is done by the board in February each year.
Complete information on membership and nomination may be found here
. Claude, be better!
Great job on Vox Jox Rollye.”
Rollye: At only $25 for a lifetime membership ($30 if you use paypal), it's a bargain every
one of us should seize. I know I will be joining.
Randy West: “So sad to hear Claude's struggling. It was "March Madness" indeed. It all
makes Vox Jox that much more beloved, as it keeps the spirit alive, and maintains that sense of
family that was so alive in radio. It's a mitzvah that you have taken on the cause.
“Surprised how many people have had something to say about the Cruisin' series. You have
it in recurrent rotation! Glad for my 2 cents.
“I was wondering if you would add the Johnny Olson book to the links you offer authors on
Vox Jox. And I didn't see your great work linked there either! I've got a second book about
80% finished, and it's wild. It's TV and radio too true stories of some of the flakes, the flukes,
and personal reflections on some of the craziness I've seen backstage. - Wayne Newton,
Carson, Borgnine, Merman, Bobby Darin, etc, and Barker, Wink, Eubanks, Trebek, way
too much truth about Dick Clark and on and on. I'll either be sued or knee-capped! Love you,
Rollye: “Too much truth about Dick Clark? I think you should be knighted. Sign me up for
the first copy! I would have sworn that the Johnny Olson book was on the left hand side bar
all along. It is now, with a link to amazon and to Randy’s site for those autographed copies!”
Mel Phillips: “Claude, Throughout the years you've given us a reason for reading
you, starting with print (Billboard) and moving onto the internet. I won't even predict where it
will end (holograms?). Not only have you introduced us to a radio "Who's Who", some
that we never met but read about in one of your columns (posts?) but you also gave voice to
the lesser known radio brethren. That means a lot to me because I place myself in the latter
category and I am grateful. But when you look back on your career, you're probably like most
of us. You treasure all the friends you've made and wrote about, but treasure your family first.
That and you never want to hurt. With that thought I leave you wishing 1) That you're not in
pain (and) 2) That you have great drugs in case you are. Bless you.”
Rollye: “Earlier in the week, I got a delight in my inbox. A lengthy email from Claude Hall.
It was a reply to an email he got from Woody Roberts. He also made good on his promise to
share a Billboard story”…
Claude Hall: “Woody, Lord, but it was great -- maybe even stupendous -- to hear from you!
I have been so weak, voice slurred, hearing out of touch -- that for some days I've merely
stayed in bed. Watched TV some. Mostly basketball. I will, for instance, watch the Clippers
in a while. And, yes, with Diet Pepsi. For about five weeks, I was on a strictly no-salt diet.
Lost more than 20 pounds. Barbara and sons John and Andy watched over me like bloody
hawks! The doctor said I could lose the weight or die. The valve replacement, for me, is a
rather complex one ... I would have to go to Mt. Sinai, Los Angeles, and he wasn't even sure
that they would take me.
“Well, I lost the weight, but I haven't regained my strength. Even 2-lb. bar bells are difficult at
the moment. I've got an oxygen generator and will be supping from a tube as I watch the
“The heart specialist, a closet writer, said, "I give you permission to return to writing." Hah! I
wish. But I do hope. Meanwhile, I'm reading "Sea-Wolf" by Jack London. One of the best
books ever written.You've got to read this thing, Woody! I purchased the collection from
Kindle Books. Some trash in here ... then, POW!
“I do hope to get back to "George and Me" shortly ... perhaps next week. He was such a great
fictional character. But I realized where the weakness in the book was: my own character
wasn't strong enough to use as a mirror. So, "Buddy Holly" needs to loom larger, stronger. Not
a difficult stunt to do from a writer's view.
“I’m sending these notes, along with a note about Billboard, along to Rollye just in case she
needs some material for Vox Jox. I hope that Dr. Bob will keep her posted on "Hitbound"
about Lee Baby Simms and you and Joey Reynolds. Radio is such a fascinating genre!
“At one point, I had a cadre of about two dozen professors always about. Gone now. I've lost
touch with Mike Dunn at Missouri and the others. Thus, I feel honored that Dr. Robert
Weisbuch is still "one of us." Hope you're getting better, Woody. I am. But it's a slow go.
Love you and Dr. Bob. Stay with me!”
Rollye: “And we’ll get to that Billboard story, but first some background from Woody”…
Woody Roberts: “Hi Rollye, First, congratulations on the web resurrection of Vox Jox, you're
doing a great job keeping it fresh and providing an open platform for all the radio/music biz
heads. I like many befriended Claude during his Vox Jox years and too me he was and is the
first voice of Vox Jox. But when I left radio employment in 1972 and struck out as an
independent media consultant intending to focus on the entertainment and music industries we
“After he left Billboard I never heard from him or of him. Until, a few years ago. Out of the
blue I checked my totally inactive gathering dust Gmail account. I never check for mail.
Looking through its incredible list of spam there was mail from Claude Hall. Could that be
the Claude Hall? I opened it and it was! He told me Dr. Robert Weisbuch was looking for
me as he is going to write a book about a period of WPOP in Hartford when Lee Baby Simms
and I were on the air and Dr. Bob (as Lee named him) is a real nice guy, I should contact him.
Through Dr. Bob, I reconnected with Lee Baby whom I had not seen or communicated with
since NYE of 1976 when he was going from LA to Cleveland and I went along on the drive.
“I will be forever grateful that because of these exceptional men, Lee and me reunited. If I
hadn't gotten the email from Claude, it’s almost a certainty I would have read somewhere after
the fact of Lee's suicide. I loved Lee, deeply. And we had four wonderful years of almost
daily back and forth crazy emails most of which I've saved.
“Since that initial Gmail message I've gotten to know a different Claude Hall from his Vox
Jox persona; Claude the teacher and most particularly Claude the writer, and, through his
novels I have learned a great deal about Claude the man. A very special man. And so I send
him a mix of mostly personal emails and sometimes Vox Jox material. Particularly back when
it was a Commentary sent to a restricted list.
“Many people think Buzz Bennett is dead, but I think he may have just decided not to have a
web presence and sought invisibility. I did that. The reason Claude had to find me is Dr. Bob
searched high and low and there were no references to your truly. In fact, I didn't even know
about and never visited Hollywood Hills.
KTSA there have been two DJs in Texas who used Woody Roberts and one Woody
Robertson in San Antonio. So I also took woodyroberts.com. But never use them. One of
these days I may, especially since I "retired" in January on my seventy-fifth birthday. Now
I've got to find something to keep me busy.
“Although my radio career was brief and in retrospect meteoric, after I left there were only
five stations where I consulted; I also produced a long form radio special and consulted a
political talk show. So when I see comments from the pros on your excellent Vox Jox site, I
feel there is not much I can say of interest to everybody. But I do have a couple of tales and
stories that are unique and will send them to Claude to pass on to you if he thinks worthy.
“Rollye, did you ever work in Austin? May just be an old man's confused memory but I have
listened to your hot talk show and could swear it was on KLBJ AM 590. There was a
controversy. Somewhere back in the (early?) nineties, I think. Maybe not, maybe it was via
the web. My best to you and your good work.”
Rollye: “Your memory is good, Woody. At KLBJ, I had fun on the air— and even more fun
off it. Some slow news week I’ll provide some details, but the culmination of the story is I
became the only person in the history of Travis County to defeat the LBJ family in open
court— and they were represented by Roy Minton! It was quite the three ring circus. The
online accounts miss the salient points— but the jury didn’t.
“I think your contributions to Vox Jox have been great, and I hope you’ll send them directly to
me in the future. My goal is to have Claude obligated to do nothing except what he wants to
do, when he wants to do it.. After writing Vox Jox for over three years myself, I should have
known what went into Claude’s compiling the column each week. The amount of time it takes
surprises me. It gives me even more respect for Claude soldiering through, regardless of how
“The truth is, I don’t have time to do this. But what spurs me on is reading the priceless
messages I receive. They make me find a way to carve out hours from somewhere. Today,
music adds and writing a spot for a new advertiser will have to wait. Next week, I’ll do it
from the NAB. But I’ll continue as long as the emails keep coming. And I’ll look forward to
hearing more from you.”
Claude Hall: “The tale, just for Rollye: I'd dipped slightly into the genre of trade journalism.
You cannot imagine the history! Up to and including weeklies about the horse-drawn wagons
on rails that toted people around in the streets of the major cities, a la John Wayne in the film
"The Shootist." Billboard started out to cover billboards, moved to the carney industry, then,
when I joined, was moving into the coverage of records. The name stayed, but the logo
changed. Sometime before my arrival in March 1964, the Littlefords paid a Japanese artist for
a new logo. I heard that he charged them $10,000. It was the word all lowercased with color
in the holes. One day, I was fumbling around an old typography book when I noticed a font
that seemed familiar. Yep, the same as the word billboard, all lowercased. It was, as I
remember, the font Fat Albert. The Japanese artist had taken the word and put color in the
holes. I remarked to someone that I would have done it was only a thousand dollars. They
didn't laugh. Just FYI, the logo is still the same, but I noticed they've dropped the color.”
Rollye: “Sounds like the Littlefords I knew— at the time, it drove me crazy that they’d let
obvious marketing opportunities slip through their hands repeatedly. But after the family was
gone, I missed them more every day. As when Sol Taishoff was no longer at Broadcasting,
Billboard was not the same without the Littleford family. One of my guilty pleasures was
wandering into the archives. I’d read for hours— and it was those early issues that grabbed
me. The Billboard, as it was called, was synonymous with carnivals of all type. The ads
were great— circus needing “fat lady”, “trained monkeys and big snake” wanted for “high
class side show” (now there’s a visual)… Remnants were still running when I subscribed in
1960 (for $15 a year). June Bundy was writing Vox Jox, and it was hardly the highlight
Claude would make it. It was still “The Billboard”. But a year later when Amusement
Business was spun off, it became the cumbersome “Billboard Music Weekly” for a couple
years before sporting the red Billboard logo in place when Claude joined. It must have taken
them a while to decide on that new logo. It debuted in the July 16, 1966 issue. I remember
thinking it looked cool. Now that I know the back story, maybe not $10,000 cool (a lot more
than the average annual salary then), but cool. Fun memories, and though the magazine
moved and morphed over the decades, Claude Hall will always be synonymous with
Billboard to most of us.”
Bob Meadows: “ I was going to write you sooner but I thought I'd wait till after I finished the
first video in the Ron Jacobs Story. I hope you get better quickly Claude. I'm sorry for what
you're going through but hang in there. You've got more writing to do. I'd like to thank you
and Rollye for posting my videos and the nice comments you made. I knew something wasn't
right 1 week before R J passed away. He would call me everyday. Sometimes 2 or 3 times. I
loved it. I really enjoyed talking with him and hearing his stories and ideas. We connected
creatively. I could see how some would get offended by Ron but I'm so glad I was able to
look past that because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to go on this E-Ticket ride and get
to know him. I loved that he enjoyed talking with me. When the calls stopped suddenly and I
couldn't get ahold of him, I knew something wasn't right. He didn't respond to voicemails,
e-mails, messenger or texts. I even wondered if he was upset with me for something. . I was
very depressed March 8th when I got the news. Wasn't easy to work that day. In the afternoon
I got an overwhelming feeling that I should make him a memorial video and get it out the
same day. That was the quickest video I've ever made. Thank you for sharing it here on Vox
along with your awesome Tribute to Ron. Here
is the link to the first video in The Ron
Jacobs Story, "Elvis Comes to Hawaii 1957". I know he will be able to see it but I won't be
able to hear his comments. Thanks Again and get better Claude! Mahalo & Aloha.”
Rollye: “The YouTube video won’t show up in the column’s email version, but it’s easy to
Ron Brandon: “Bill was correct.. except it was "five blocks from the Sheraton Charles hotel"
not three. No, my memory is not that great but there is an old aircheck of me on ReelRadio
and the liner is on there. As best I recall we did run it twice an hour, never changed, and was
still running when I departed.
Rollye: “Gotta Love ReelRadio.com
! Speaking of which, I heard from Uncle Ricky
going through some tremendously trying times, particularly health-wise. I didn’t ask for his
permission to reprint his email, so I’ll leave it that for now, other than to say that
is a very valuable industry resource. And even with some daunting issues,
Uncle Ricky is still updating it monthly (not that he needs to, in my opinion— what’s there
already is a treasure trove). You can have six month’s access for $10.00. That’s ridiculously
cheap for a site that preserves our history and gives us hours of entertainment.
“As for that WNOE announcement proclaiming its studios being blocks from the Sheraton
Charles, at the time I used to wonder what kind of an awful lease Governor Jimmy must have
signed with the St. Charles Hotel that twice hourly mentions would survive both the hotel’s
rebranding as the Sheraton Charles and the station’s move of its studios for a protracted time.
As Ron said, it was still running on WNOE when he left. But looking backward, it’s 50 years
later and I’m still delighting about that liner, so maybe Gov. Noe wasn’t so foolish after all.
I’d bet Bill knew it was five blocks— it’s my memory that’s questionable. But no so
questionable that I don’t remember the antics that permanently surround Joey Reynolds”…
Joey Reynolds: “Thank you for keeping me in your memories.”
Rollye: “Our memories would not be nearly as rich without a heavy dose of Joey Reynolds
in them. The above shots are visual proof of Joey’s dedication to radio. The king of 50,000
watts appears to have asked for industry help from an even higher power.”
Joey Reynolds: “Ron Alexenburg explains to the owner of Ben’s Deli that Vinyl is a bogus show. I
thought Michael Imperioli should be the lead, although he and Bobby are my friends.
taking over in the wake of John Rook's passing. In case Joey's caption needs a translation (it
did for me, but my knowledge of television is minuscule), Bobby Cannavale plays Richie
Finestra, the lead characater on the HBO series Vinyl, created by, among others, Mick Jagger
and Martin Scorsese. Michael Imperioli was a star on The Sopranos. You probably knew
all that. I had to look it up.”
Jerry del Colliano: “Thanks for mentioning my conference. I can hardly wait to be with a
roomful of people who actually care that much about audiences and advertisers to come
together for a day to bone up.”
Rollye: “Given the extensive and intriguing topic list I saw, no doubt it was rewarding for
Jerry and all involved. I know people pay big money to come, and there won’t be streaming
or archival footage, but if ever Jerry wants to share some of the wisdom cliff notes, or even his
take on whether any of today’s up and comers have what it takes to do what we did (said ever
so un-humbly), I’m certain we’ve got a lot of receptive readers right here. Thank you for
being one of them!”