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Georgia Radio Museum's interactive Wall of Fame
(Nathan Scherer using the iPad to view details about his favorite inductees)
by Rollye James
Rollye: “Some of you have thanked Claude Hall and me for keeping our history alive
through this Vox Jox column (and for spreading the latest news as well). But particularly in
the way-back-when department, I think I also speak for Claude when I declare that compared
to some of you, we ain’t doin’ nothing. Case in point, John Long
and the Georgia Radio
Hall of Fame
. John was kind enough to send along a few pictures and a brief history. The
amount of work that goes into such a venture is astounding— but so worth it! On behalf of all
of us who love radio, my thanks to John and everyone involved for what they’ve created.”
John Long: “Claude’s quote from George Wilson regarding how radio professionals will be
remembered is the very essence of why Sam Hale
and I decided to found the Georgia Radio
Hall of Fame
. We had been trying to get recognition for the late Jim Davenport
Georgia Music Hall of Fame without much success. One of us said, “too bad there isn’t a
GRHoF”. The other said “let’s start one”. I contacted Kent Burkhart, one of the principals in
the formation of the Texas Radio HoF; after giving me recommendations, he suggested I
contact Larry Shannon, the man behind the organization. Larry had started the Texas group
in 2002 and I was a member. Larry was most gracious; we spent an hour on the phone and I
took pages of notes. The GRHoF was born on March 15, 2007; its mission to recognize
Georgia radio professionals and preserve Georgia radio history.
“We never dreamed our organization would grow to have nearly 1,000 members worldwide.
Almost immediately, members and others began to send us memorabilia, antique radios, and
radio equipment radio. It became apparent that people who had devoted their lives to radio
wanted its role in history to have provenance. In 2014, we opened a small museum in St.
Marys, Georgia (where I live). Once again, our members demonstrated their belief a radio
career mattered by contributing nearly $20,000.00 for the construction of the small facility.
The museum visitation has grown steadily; April 2016 registered the highest visitor count
since opening. Due to a recent influx of museum worthy material, we are now seeking a new
“In 2013 we also partnered with Georgia State University on the “History of Radio
Broadcasting in Georgia” project. Much of what is donated to us is forwarded there for
continuity, preservation, and access for future researchers and generations of the families of
the men and women who shaped the industry in our state.
“There are no salaried personnel at the GRHoF. It’s all volunteer. People often ask me why I
do the work as President/Curator. I point to the moving acceptance remarks by family
members of Legacy inductees. They remember their loved one as a “star”. They were proud of
their father/mother, brother/sister, husband/wife. They sincerely appreciate their family
member is finally recognized for entertaining listeners and serving their community through
public service. Those remarks are the best “thank you” for me.
“I have included a picture of our interactive Georgia Radio Wall of Fame, part of the Georgia
Radio Museum as well as one of our rack cards distributed to motels along I-95 and in visitor
centers in South Georgia and Northern Florida. Love Vox Jox.”
Rollye: “And we love you, John— not only for preserving our history, but as John pointed out
“star”. It’s rare that anyone is in a position to really make a difference in another’s life—
especially the lives of strangers. Over the years, while marveling over the work that goes into
preserving what is dear to those of us entrenched in radio, I missed that aspect. As rewarding
and appreciated organizations like John's are to us radio-freaks, I can see how that pales in
comparison to the pride felt by the family members of that seemingly forgotten, but now
inducted, “star”. There’s a star in heaven for John Long, and everyone involved in similar
ventures, for that.
“And thank you to Nathan Scherer (pictured above), too. Nathan is John Long’s son in law
and it was his IT handiwork that made the “Wall” interactive. If you haven’t taken me up on
you pass that up? Check out the museum’s Facebook page
too. If you can’t make it to
Georgia State University in person for History of Radio Broadcasting in Georgia exhibit, a
portion of it is online here
. It’s worth the time to peruse.
Georgia Radio Wall of Fame
Rack cards available in hotels and along I-95
Rollye: “Was it coincidence? While I was immersed in reading about that exhibit, Claude
it’s ongoing after Larry Shannon’s passing. Of course the TRHOF was more than just Larry,
but as history has shown repeatedly in other cases, it could have been a lot less without him.”
Josh Holstead: “Howdy all, from the way North Texas office of the TRHOF. Just wanted to
drop you a friendly reminder about the upcoming voting period for 2016. It begins on June 1st
and will run through June 31st, with inductees announced around July 4th.”
Rollye: “Now that is impressive. Not only is Josh continuing Larry’s hard work, but he’s
managed to add a day to the calendar to do it. But play it safe and get those nominations in by
the traditional end of June on the 30th.”
Josh Holstead: “Again this year, we will exclusively utilize our online voting portal and
single round system which really worked out well last year. Here are a few things to keep in
mind: You will vote once and only once. With the new system it also allows you to upload
pictures, biographical information and anything else you feel would be helpful should those
you cast your vote for be Inducted. I cannot stress enough how much this helps us. You will
have ten people in which to vote for, so really give it some thought. You must be a Lifetime
Voting member to cast your votes. If you are not, you may join here
. If you are a previous
Inductee, you have earned those rights with your induction and dues are not required.
“We also let the cat out of the bag early this year about our special tributes. This year we will
recognize those "Behind the Scenes" and "Magnificent Mentors." Many of our members
agreed that there were plenty of owners, managers, engineers, sales people and others who
never stepped in front of a microphone that are just as deserving of recognition, and we agree.
“Our event will be held in Tarrant County in early November, and we will update you on the
location, date and time in the next few weeks. It will be our 15th year, and it will be great to
be back in Ft. Worth where it all started. If you have not taken a peek at our YOUTube
you should. Highlights from last year's shindig in Austin (including acceptance
speeches) are posted and as always, a lively discussion about the event and Texas Radio in
general can be found on our Facebook page
. Lastly, should you have questions, e-mail is the
Rollye: “The online presence is wonderful, but unless I missed it, there’s no physical address
(like Georgia Radio Hall of Fame’s museum in St. Marys). I’m sure Josh has more than
enough to do, but here’s hoping for a brick and mortar location at some point. There’s
nothing like walking through a town and stumbling upon a radio museum of which you
weren’t aware. It happened to me years ago in Bellingham, WA. Walking down Bay Street,
looking in the storefront windows, to my surprise I found the American Museum of Radio.
There went the rest of the afternoon. Great stuff, especially if you’re into the Atwater Kent
era. It started out as the Bellingham Antique Radio Museum
, and now is the Spark Museum
instance), nothing beats the experience of seeing it for yourself.
“Well, almost nothing. There is one thing online, which equals any street address it in its
ability to take you back in time, and that’s ReelRadio.com
. For years I had a fantasy of
driving through a tunnel and instead of no radio, I’d hear radio from 50 years ago— somewhat
akin to the Twilight Zone episode “Static” where the guy finds an old radio playing old radio
shows. Never did it occur to me that something like it might actually happen. While I’m
taking poetic license, what’s available in terms of real time air checks of disc jockeys of days
gone by, equals it. And it’s all because of Richard Irwin (“Uncle Ricky”). On a cosmic
level, he deserves health and wealth for this effort alone, but on a completely selfish level I
wish him both so I can keep hearing what I heard when radio got into me. (I argue that we
didn’t get into radio, radio got into us.) All this is to say that when Uncle Ricky isn’t doing
well, radio fans aren't d oing well. And right now he’s not doing well.”
Richard Irwin (“Uncle Ricky”): “Many seem to want an update on the condition my
condition is in. The hospital wanted me go to rehab for 30 days. I could not without
abandoning my business. The IRS and State require a form 990 this month and I am the only
one who can prepare it. Going into rehab would have required all sorts of legal maneuverings
to explain why the form isn't filed, which can only be done from my office. So I am
reluctantly home, back on the knee scooter, though they gave me a wheelchair.
“It's impossible to work in my wheelchair. I can't even turn the corners in this house with a
wheelchair. This is my fate for the next 30 days, when my antibiotic regimen is completed and
my foot has started to heal from the last surgery, which involved putting screws into my leg
and foot bones to hold it in place with an "external fixator". At the end of the month, I will
probably need another six weeks to heal - with no pressure on the foot.
“I am hiring a bonded, certified, trained home helper to make a couple of meals for me each
day, do the shopping, take out the garbage, maybe help get my medication, etc. Meanwhile I
will continue to inject myself 3 times a day and try to get out at bed at a reasonable time.
Right now, I stink, and you don't want to know what's required to bathe when you have areas
on your body that must not get wet and one foot that doesn't work!”
Rollye: “Money isn’t everything, but it goes far in making everything better. I’m guessing
that more money would make it a lot easier for Uncle Ricky to navigate his health woes and
going. $10 buys you six months of access to all the air checks he’s got
online (in the thousands). Beyond a bargain, but more importantly you’re supporting a
broadcast resource. Donations are also welcome, as are your prayers.
“We talked about Ruth Meyer last week. Claude and I asked Steve Warren to weigh in. I’m
so pleased he has!”
Steve Warren: “It seems like old times, writing to both of you about radio stuff. Enjoyed your
article about Ruth Meyer. I guess, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and being with her from
the time we met at WHN in 1973 to the time of her death. I visited her at least twice annually
in Kansas City from the time she moved there. Other than regular visits from Joe O’Brien,
Ruth only got together with many of her old radio guys when she would visit NYC from KC
once every year or so.
“Sure we talked radio, but even with our combined experiences, it’s a subject that can wear
thin and we had gotten to know more about our other mutual interest. So, it was more than just
to talk radio. I actually did a lot of chores and work around her house and yard. I helped pack
a lot of her things at her NYC apartment when she first moved to KC. She had a very cool
penthouse on E 53rd Street that she had rented for many, many years. The building owners
were taking the place Co-Op and tried everything they could to get the remaining renters to
move out. Ruth held steadfast as long as she could but her employment picture in NYC was
not working out, so with the help of some advisors, she was able to buy her apartment at fair
market, then flip it to another buyer at retail, pocketing the difference…enough to make a
sizeable down payment on her house in KC.
“Ruth was in good health her first year in KC and chose to go back “home” to help her sister,
Rosemary, whose husband had serious health issues. Then, Ruth had her stroke. Strokes,
regrettably, always seem to strike at the skills people relish. In her case it affected her vision
and ability to read. She was a voracious reader, everything from cookbooks, mystery novels,
and most of all travel books. She had probably over 1000 books in her house, which also
featured a huge yard and garden. Her stroke cause the “letters to jump all over the page” and
she was never able to just read a book cover-to-cover. She was able to read things like TV
guide and newspaper/magazine articles with the help of some post-stroke therapy and a
magnifying glass. She went to KC to be a care-giver, but wound-up needing care for
herself…a twist of fate and role-reversal that really pissed her off.
“After the stroke, it was impossible for her to maintain the house, so she put it for sale and
moved into an apartment. I went to KC for about a week to help her move, and stayed at the
empty house fixing some electrical and plumbing and maintenance items prior to showing for
sale. It did sell and that created some cushion income. She gave me boxes and boxes of books
and home items, kitchen, tablecloths, etc. as she downsized into the apartment. I shipped them
back to my place from KC.
“After staying at the apartment for a few years, her health and mobility declined and at one
time falling in her apartment and crawling on the floor for a whole day before someone heard
her cries for help. Again, it was decided by her and her family to move into an assisted living
apartment. It was quite nice and had everything a luxury apartment would have, including
standby medical professionals, a dining room, etc. It was small. Another downsizing with my
returning to KC to once again pack and ship and help with the move. More of her books and
décor stuff given to me and back to NYC it went and some into storage in KC. This facility
also had a few rental hotel-like rooms for families visiting, so I was able to be nearby, had a
car, and we’d go out for dinner almost every night I was in KC. That’s what we did and that’s
the protocol we started back in NYC.
“Ruth was mostly cared for by her two nieces, Jan and Bev, and their families, so I got to
know most of her family members. She was called “Aunt Suzy” by her family, for some
unknown reason, since there’s no straight line from Ruth Ann Meyer to “Suzy”. Jan called me
when Ruth died to break the news. She also asked me to come back to KC after everything
was sorted out to join the family in a celebratory dinner as well as the sale of the remainder of
Ruth’s stuff. The family had hired an auctioneer who rented a vacant house to stage all of
Ruth’s things to display prior to sale. The family asked me to go through all the remaining
items and help myself at no cost. I don’t have that much space, but I did retrieve some nice
things including many of the gifts I had brought to Ruth when I returned from Europe, usually
from places she had directed me to go in the first place.
“She was like that…the minute she knew someone was going to anywhere in Europe, she’d
map out your journey and give you the names, addresses and contact people at hotels,
restaurants, and shops…and be sure to mention her name…and when I did…she was always
“I had a wonderful dinner with the family and shipped the items I had selected back to NYC
which are now part of my apartment. If I glance in any direction in my place, my eyes always
fall upon an item or gift from Ruth and some of the things I had given her, because they suited
her, and because by having them myself, I also had the back story on their origin and meaning.
Although she did not leave a substantial estate, she had a few investments and the proceeds
from the sale of house goods. At the closing of the estate, I was surprised and honored to be
the only non-family member to whom a small percentage was bequeathed.
“In closing, Ruth loved horses…but hated to be photographed. She avoided being in promo
pictures and snapshots unless absolutely necessary. Many people don’t remember that Ruth
loved to ride horses and regularly would saddle-up and ride in Central Park in the days when
there was a stable there. She would almost tear-up when telling about riding the beautiful
white horses along the Mediterranean beach in The Camargue region of Provence, France...her
favorite place in the whole world. I have only one photo of Ruth on my hallway wall, it’s her
with a horse. Of all the books she’s given me, the one I treasure most is her copy of “Black
Beauty” from her childhood.
“Anything else anyone wants to know about Ruth and the years we were in NYC and KC, just
give me a call. I am usually at my studio/office from 10am-4pm weekdays and I’d love to
share or answer any questions. 718-729-1962 (it’s a real phone)”
Ruth Meyer & Friend
Rollye: Thanks to Steve who I hope will follow up with info on what he’s been doing. Check
he’s put together Chinamerica Radio
and I’m sure he’s gained some fabulous insights about
radio here and there in the process. Speaking of “there”, when it came to Ruth Meyer, we
also heard from Australia.”
Ian Wright: “Hi from ‘Down Under’, Rollye. Just lovin’ your 2003 interview with the
wonderful Ruth Meyer. Just fabulous and what an honour for you to talk to this great radio
lady and get her on tape before her death ! Rollye, would I be able to share your audio (with
full credits) on a couple of our radio Facebook sites down here ? I know many radio folks
down here would get much from your great interview. And I can tell you, Australian
commercial radio owes much to people like Ruth Meyer. Please pass on my regards to
Claude when you are next speaking with him. He IS a great man and we have corresponded
over the years. Rollye, trust your work load is allowing you some rest and family time ?”
Rollye: “Rest? Family time? I’m compiling this column tonight from the Inland Empire in
California. We bid a thousand bucks on what is easily $80,000 worth of video gear and didn’t
expect to win. That’s why the part about “pickup only” was barely considered. So here we
are on Sunday with what will never fit in a Jeep (even with the car top carrier, but of course
the Newfoundland dog takes up most of the cargo area), so tomorrow we will find a u-Haul.
Fortunately we’ve done this enough that we have a very sturdy hitch. Meanwhile, it was my
the audio with this:
Ian Wright: “This is a truly amazing 36 minute interview recorded in 2003. The American
radio host is Rollye James and the person being interviewed is the legendary female
Programme Director, Ruth Meyer. To put this in perspective, Rollye James is a very
accomplished music and talk personality in the USA, she & her husband own a regional
market station and she also is currently maintaining a weekly blog for the great Claude Hall,
former editor of Billboard Magazine. Claude, whose health has been poor of late, has
ALWAYS been a great friend of radio and not just in the USA. He was a good friend of former
2SM General Manager, Kevin O'Donohue and I have been corresponding with Claude for the
past 10 years or so. Ruth Meyer who passed in 2011 was a Programming Superstar, having
developed and grown Chuck Blore's 'Good Guys' concept, on the flame throwing, legendary
WMCA 'Home Of The Good Guys' in New York City. The concept spread to Australia, in fact
later in her career Ruth actually consulted 'Down Under'. For those who lived through the
glory days of '60s-'70s Top 40 Radio or those who have heard the airchecks or for the young
guns of today, 'how' this lady won BIG TIME by managing the 'talent' AND 'Management' is
just so cool. Thanks to Rollye James
) for giving me the OK to share this jewel of
an interview from a jewel of a PD. By the way, Ruth Meyer was spotted, employed and
groomed in the USA by the "father of the Top 40 radio format, Todd Storz. This is a very
Rollye: “1968 was a terrible year from WMCA. Ruth Meyer was replaced by Terrell
Metheny in August. Gary Stevens (the Good Guy’s longest running night man) left in
September. Three days after Stevens’ goodbye party at the Americana, Harry Harrison left
for WABC. A week later the Sure Shots and Long Shots became Pick Hits and it wasn’t long
before The Good Guys were gone, in name and spirit (along with those highly sought after
sweatshirts in Ruth’s favorite color)— gone were the music meetings with the jocks voting on
titles and the camaraderie with it. By the end of November Joe O’Brien left. Overnighter
Dean Anthony was off the air a month later. But did you know that closer to the time when it
all began, they almost had Joey Reynolds!”
Joey Reynolds: “I was named Joey Reynolds by Steve Labunski and Ruth Meyer while at
their station in Buffalo managed by Harry Trencher and Arnie Schorr. They auditioned me
at WMCA as Joey Reynolds, They came into the booth and asked me if I could do a one hour
show instead of 6 ten minute shows, I was all over the map.
“I became the number one jock in the US after learning from the rejection, I was literally all
over the map with 42 stations and 50 years of 10 minute shows. Years later I returned to NY
on Z100 with Scott Shannon in the morning zoo. I am still all over the map. Just got back
from Detroit editing the mini documentary on Vaping.”
Burt Sherwood: “Hi...thanks for the Ruth story. As to my writing style...it is made to read
aloud like a newscast. As we lived close to the University of Chicago, all the Illinois grade
schools and high schools were under the Hutchins plan.. he was the Dean of “everything” in
English....I have been reading and writing since before I was 4. The school systems kept
giving me exams to see how good you were in all subjects...the last class I had in English was
the 8th grade... and I graduated High School at 17... they told me to stay writing the way I do
and I was able to go to College with all the requirements met. At my age I am a bit
embarrassed by my “style”. I am trying to write a book...and Anne (wife) will have to make
sure I look fairly intelligent.
“One more thing...the day President Kennedy died, was when I got of my first GM job in
Brattleboro , VT (WTSA)....have no idea when Thayer got to do his....but I do know I was
ahead of Gary Stevens, as I used to talk to him when he got started in management. Neither
one of us had training...he did very well as I knew he would…”
Rollye: “Burt was almost seven years ahead of Gary, and about six years after Jack. I had
always thought Jack had been PD before becoming GM, but I thought wrong. I also thought it
was in ’62 and that was really wrong. The lead in Vox Jox on July 8, 1957 (written by June
Bundy) was all about Jack: Veteran deejay Jack Thayer, WDGY, Minneapolis, has been
named general manager of the Storz station. Commenting upon the appointment, a Storz
chain spokesman said: “It is probably the first time in major market radio history that a disk
jockey has gone ‘on the air’ to general manager, literally overnight.”
“That wasn’t the only thing about which I was confused. Apparently I somehow in the middle
of discussing Burt Sherwood’s questions about Danny Davis managed to call him Bob.”
Bob Sherwood: “I plead ‘not guilty’ in the Danny Davis matter. I only knew the justly famed
LA promo guy but I haven’t been in dialogue about he nor the Nashville person.”
Mel Phillips: “I didn't know Bill Drake as well as the late Ron Jacobs did. Ron had Drake
right in his Southern California backyard. When I became program director in Boston
(WRKO) we had already reached #1 when Drake signed on as the RKO General programming
consultant (summer of 1967). There were 2 reasons I didn't see Drake that often: 1) We were
number one (and) 2) Drake hated cold weather.
“Most of my contact with Bill was on my visits to his Bel Air spread and whenever and
wherever we had group programming meetings at various locations (usually tied into an NAB,
Gavin, Rudman or R&R convention). There were some visits to the east from Drake which he
would usually make in the summer or wearing his mountain-sized mink coat whenever the
temperature would dip to 60 or below. Aside from Ron Jacobs, the rest of the PD's would
mostly spend consulting time on the phone with Drake's lieutenants Bill Watson, Bernie
Torres or Gary Mack on programming, and Betty Breneman on music. I may not have spent
that much direct time with Bill Drake but I did spend enough time with Bill and his crew to
know this - Bill Drake followed Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon, the fathers of Top 40
Radio and should be credited as perfecting the format...
“There was always so much misinformation circulating about Drake's so-called rigid
stranglehold on radio (‘None of the jocks could talk more than 10 seconds’, ‘Drake always
calls the jocks on the batphone as soon as they make a mistake’, ‘You have to follow the
format or you'll get fired right on the spot.’) Did you have to follow the format to the letter?
Yes (but there was always some leeway for the morning show or other high-traffic shifts). Did
you have to keep your intros and backsells brief? Yes (no one wants to listen to a music station
and hear the jock ramble on needlessly). Did you always have to move forward with positive
energy? Yes (maintaining anything less wouldn't work with a top 40 format)...
“While Drake came up with the term "Boss Radio", that was principally used in Los Angeles
at KHJ. We never used the term in either Boston or New York. We started in Boston using
"Now Radio" and eventually morphed into "The Big 68". WOR-FM used "The Sound Of The
City", morphing into "The Best Of The Old, The Best Of The New". "Boss Radio" was a west
coast phrase that never came east...
“Bill Drake's name deserves to be mentioned along with Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon
as the programmer who took Top 40 one step further in the 60s and 70s. All three were
the most influential and innovative Top 40 programmers in the history of radio…”
Rollye: “Bill would be humbled and pleased to be in their company. McLendon was a radio
idol of his. One night in Denver while going through my cassettes he found a tape of the last
appearance Gordon made. It was at the 1985 Country Radio Seminar, and McLendon wasn’t
well. He also wasn’t sober. About 10 minutes in, Drake, drunk at the time, says ‘Turn that off.
He’s drunk!” I didn’t. A few minutes later we agreed that even drunk and sick, Gordon
McLendon outdistanced about everyone we knew in radio.
“But wait.. there’s more!... Philip Kives has died. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, his
products will… Kives was the man who brought you the Miracle Brush, the Veg-O-Matic,
and the entire K-Tel catalog (he was the “K” in K-Tel). If you think infomercials started with
Ron Popeil, it was his father, Seymour Popeil who was the real inventor, said Kives who
hawked Seymour’s products early on. (Ron came later, much later.) To the world, Kives was
from Winnipeg, but he was actually born on one of Saskatchewan’s Jewish Colony Farms in
1929. There’s an interesting, but decidedly non-media history about them, so I’ll spare you.
“Kives came to Manitoba in ’62. He wasn’t a musical visionary. In fact, he thought his foray
into records would be one, maybe two titles. When the second one, “25 Polka Greats” sold a
million and half copies in the United States alone, Kives was hooked. His “Hooked On
Classics” was his best selling album ever at over 10 million units. (As for top product ever—
that goes to that Miracle Brush. 28 million were sold in the 1960s alone.) With K-Tel, he
became the compilation king, inexpensively licensing titles from record labels that didn’t
realize what they had.
“Kives did better than he ever anticipated— so much better that he over-exended himself in
American investments in oil, gas and real estate to the point of his very public bankruptcy.
He was a fixture at Winnipeg’s Assiniboin Downs, where he was the owner of K-5 Stables.
When I read in his obit that his relationship with horse racing netted him a place in the
“Manitoba Jewish Athletes Wall of Honour”, I had to look it up. It has more members than
you might guess. Speaking of Canada, Claude got an email from J. Robert Wood in Ontario:
J. Robert Wood: Hi Claude!I truly hope this email finds you in good health and good spirits!
I came across one of your online columns this morning that you used to distribute by email.
The memories in this one column alone brought back many special memories of the golden
days in radio. Would LOVE to hear how you are doing! Please drop me a note or send me
your phone number if you’re up for a call. I really appreciate all that you did for radio and for
me personally. Thanks very much, and I hope to hear from you!
Rollye: “Claude replied, as he did to many of your emails, which brings me to this: From the
foregoing, it almost looks like Claude was absent from this week’s column. Nothing could be
further from reality. He forwarded numerous emails that came to him directly and made
several comments about them, all of which shaped this week’s edition. I am grateful for his
contributions— and again, I say publicly, anytime Claude Hall is of the mind to take over Vox
Jox, I will gladly take a back seat. Until such time, I’m lucky to have his input— and yours.
Without it there would be no column. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org