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Baloon Drop: Bill Stewart causing commotion in Dallas with another KLIF contest


by Rollye James
Claude Hall

Claude Hall:  “I loved the Billboard excursions to Nashville.  Unknown to most radio people
was that, for a while, I was also country music editor in addition to radio-TV editor of the
magazine.  Also, for a while until we found someone, classical music editor.  Lee Zhito,
editor-in-chief, later even tried to send me to Nashville permanently after he became
publisher.  But this was after I discovered some hanky panky going on in the charts (I’ve
written all of the details in one of my novels).  By then, however, I was too deeply entrenched
in radio and refused to go.  Thus, I was literally coerced, in my opinion, to leave the
magazine.  And Zhito had the bitter gall later to invite me to lunch one day to tell me why he
wasn’t going to hire me back (wasted the price of a hamburger, eh … but then I suppose he
put it on his expense account).
“The greatest trip to Nashville stands loud and clear in memory.  We took Mickey Addy with
us.  Primarily, we were there to gather stories and also to get them back to New York for the
pending issue of the magazine.  Paul Ackerman, music editor, and I were the major producers
of these stories.  It may have been that convention … or another … but Larry Shaw, then a
personality at KLAC in Los Angeles, created history when he drove an entire truckload of
Coors beer to Nashville and various culprits were ‘persuaded’ … hah … to hide cans of the
beer in their hotel bathtubs, amidst ice cubes, of course.  Bringing beer into the state thusly in
those days was intensely against the law.  Ask some of the old-timers about that if you’re
interested in laughing your head off.  Larry, by the way, had learned to drive a big rig as part
of his radio job to appeal to truckers at night.  Last I heard from his wife he was driving a mail
truck out in the West Texas area.
“I was also got a laugh from something else that weekend.  I’d just written a story about some
of the huge country stars and record producers preventing the growth of young recording
artists.  I was literally the talk of the convention, especially at a party by BMI thrown at the
Belle Meade Country Club.  All of it behind my back, but in close hearing range so that I had
no trouble hearing every word.  However, it wasn’t long afterwards that Anthony Armstrong
Jones hit the Billboard country charts with “Proud Mary” and the field sort of opened up for
younger artists.
“That was also the weekend that Bill Sachs, a former country music editor and well known
and loved in the genre, got so soused that we had to take him back to his hotel and put him to
bed.  At this time, Bill was production editor of the magazine at the printing plant in
Cincinnati, but was still a minor god in country music.  He’d also served as magic editor years
and years ago, as I recall.
“But Mickey Addy was something else!  When he retired as a promotion man with Dot
Records, he joined Billboard in the advertising department.  I don’t know if he ever sold an ad,
but he was a very valuable acquisition; he was always full of humor and his ‘tales’, wow.  He
and Tommy Noonan, head of advertising, were born comics.
“So we get to Nashville just as the newspapers announce the arrival of count such and such for
the country music convention.  I can’t remember his name or title … this goes back three
dozens years!  And the ‘official’ name of the event was the celebration of the birthday of
WSM radio.  There were even color photos of the count or viscount.  In uniform.  Loud! 
Bedecked with sashes and medals.  Goodness gracious.  It was enough to stop traffic on the
street.  And, of course, it was really Mickey Addy, who carried on the masked parade
throughout the entire weekend, with constant stories and photos in the newspapers, none
tongue-in-cheek as far as I could tell (though I’m sure the reporters knew, but fell in love with
Mickey as well as the act).
“One evening, we were also weary and, no doubt, I’d sampled one too many of Larry Shaw’s
illicit goods (hey, you couldn’t even buy Coors in the East in those days), Mickey persuaded
me and Paul Ackerman to join him for a late-night snack (it was getting close to dawn) and
we found a restaurant and Mickey ordered all of us a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream
and a glass of milk.  Understand, this was a count sitting on the counter and ordering us apple
pie from a startled waitress.  And it was good.  Best of all, absolutely no hangover or upset
stomach the next day.  Nada.
“Mickey was writing a book about the music industry.  On cassette.  He told me he was on
chapter 28.  But Tommy Noonan, first to enter his apartment upon his death, said he found
nothing.  That book would have been great.  Mickey, old school, considered even Frank
Sinatra, just “another young punk.”

Rollye:  “Stories as only Claude Hall can tell ‘em!  Nashville’s established artists’ distaste for
newcomers didn’t start, or stop, with Anthony Armstrong Jones in 1969.  Five years later
when I was handling promotion for Charlie Rich (who by then needed none, but his business
manager had a stable of new artists he was pushing), I remember well the ire caused by
Charlie being named the 1974 CMA Entertainer of the Year.  Worse yet to the entrenched
performers, Olivia Newton John was Female Vocalist of the Year.  Something had to be done.

Bill Anderson and some cronies came up with “ACE” the “Academy Of Country
Entertainers”  The unifying theme was well stated by proud member Barbara Mandrell, ‘I
like Olivia Newton John but she isn’t country.’  (Ironic that a few years later with Mandrell’s
glitzy Vegas shows, the same accusation could be leveled about her.  But by then “ACE” was
barely a memory.)  For the record labels, the elusive goal had always been a crossover hit.  It
was simple arithmetic.  A #1 country album in 1974 sold 20,000 units.  A number one pop
album sold in the millions.  (Singles weren’t much more profitable— a number one country
single sold 100,000 units, 80,000 of which went to jukeboxes.)   With all the hoopla about
what was or wasn’t country, a much bigger issue for heritage artists surfaced back then. 
Country radio was beginning to embrace mainstream programming principles (and beginning
to win because of it).   Long term mega-stars had good reason to fear the increasing loss of the
100 record playlists on which they had always appeared.”

“Hearing from Claude once last week was great, hearing from him twice in a few days was
even better!”…

Claude Hall:  “Let's get one thing straight:  Bill Drake did not coin the term 'Boss Radio'.  His
name was Clancy Imislund and he's a legend in Los Angeles ... and further else!  He was a
promotion man with the station.  For countless years since, he has directed the Midnight
Mission in Los Angeles and was even the subject of an article in Reader's Digest.  Joey
Reynolds and I are Clancy groupies.  We have heard him speak several times and even taken
others to hear him.  If Clancy speaks, you'd better get there early or you will have to stand.
Barbara and I have even gone to hear his wife talk about him.  Drake was great.  No doubt
about it.  But in later years, I tended to give just as much credit to Ron Jacobs, who had his
flaws but was obviously extremely intelligent.”

Rollye:  “Drake was quick to set the record straight whenever the subject of the origins of the
Boss Radio” handle arose.  Clancy Imislund, a compelling speaker, told the tale in 1990 at
the KHJ 25th Reunion.  That now fabled event started with a call from Betty Breneman to
Robert W. Morgan saying that maybe they should celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary
of the start up.  She suggested a backyard barbecue get together for those involved.  Morgan
scoffed at that idea and put monumental effort into making it a production.  It's 51 years this
month since the May 1965 debut of KHJ.  Of the original crew on hand to celebrate the
quarter-century mark, Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs, Robert W. Morgan and The Real Don
Steele are no longer with us.  But at 89 years old, from what I've heard, Clancy, the hard core
drunk who sobered up in 1958, is still mesmerizing crowds and managing the Midnight
Mission. There’s a lot online about him (here's his Facebook page), and several youtube files
of his speeches (here's an incomplete list).”

Ken Dowe: “Not sure if you ever saw this 30 minute tape I did about 5 years ago for a project
of interviews for THE GREAT DEEJAYS.  There is a lot of anecdotal McLendon stuff, and
even a Bill Stewart aside. It moves quite quickly and as a radio historian and expert out of its
golden age, I will guess that you might find it quite entertaining.”

Rollye: “The video is captivating, bringing back great memories, but what makes it special is
how Ken shares them.  I was going to attempt to isolate it an embed it, but the page on which
it sits has some great pictures and stories I didn’t want you to miss, so the link above goes to
all of it.”

Burt Sherwood:  “I cannot tell you guys how important Steve Warren was to Ruth Meyer
He was a true and loyal friend, and I am sorry we did not get to know each other better.  When
I got to know him, he would not leave his residence in NYC and you have to be able to do that
to move on....be that as it may...he and Chuck Renwick and I worked together to make her
final days better, and if either of them want to comment on that they can. 

Jack Thayer and I moved from jock to management...he did not have to hide it...when I did
it, no jocks in the EAST had been a GM....so not much was ever said about being on the air,
and I vowed never to go on the air again.....Thayer and I attended the same Junior High School
10 years apart (we found that out just be before he died) .....and we talked every week that we
could long before I had the honor of working for him....someday we ought to do Thayer
stories...Jim Ramsburg and I do them all the time...he was quite a guy!     The column this
week was a long and interesting read ...lotsa of memories...thanks for the Danny Davis
info...he was the same guy, a very nice one as well!”

David Gleason: “Hi. It’s the guy from Radio Algeria here. And we have a special on live baby
chicks just for you!  Seriously, I was reading the write-up on the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame
and decided to join that very moment. This type of preservation effort is really important, and
you know I am well beyond crazed about preservation of the stories and artifacts and
publications of radio.
“I thought you’d like to mention that I will link any of the preservation and museum groups
from my site. Where it is a tribute site to one of those great stations like CKLW or an actual
museum with cool radios and stuff that you can touch and seemingly feel all the great radio
that came out of them, I’d like to be able to link them from www.americanradiohistory.com.
We are getting around twelve thousand average page views a day, so there must be a lot of
folks who like my pictures of musty, moldy old magazines and charts with bullets and stories
about “Color Radio”.
“If you can add a link among those already honored with one in the left margin, anyone who
wants to get their site or museum mentioned can contact me. And I am still looking for the
missing issues of R&R, The Gavin Report, The Hamilton Report and others. We are now
almost totally complete on Billboard from 1940 to 2010, so all of you columns and those of
Claude are available and even searchable.
“I always stay up on Sunday night until I can read your column. It’s my mental nightcap to
each week.  The postman will be delivering the chickens soon. Guaranteed 75% live delivery.”
Rollye:  “What a nice compliment!  Many thanks to David for the link, too.  I can't imagine a
better site on which to be seen.  And what a great offer for everyone working toward
preserving radio's history.  If you're wondering about the inside jokes:   David was involved
with Radio Alegria in LA in 1979 (the slogan is somewhat akin to the old “Fun Radio”—
“alegria” translating to joy in English).  But that was lost on one of my KMPC listeners at the
time who was sure he saw it right.  He called into my overnight show, frantic that America
was being over run by foreigners.  “Now Radio Algeria has an office on Hollywood
Boulevard, for God sakes!”  Truth be known, David could probably run Radio Algeria too.  I
think the man can do most anything.

“As for those chickens… I, like many of you, listened to John R. and Hoss Allen on WLAC. 
It was a toss up if the main sponsor category was record stores or mail order poultry. I ordered
close to every record package that Randy’s Record Shop and Ernie's Record Mart offered (a
bunch of 45s for couple bucks — one of which everyone heard, the others unknown to all—
but those were often the real winners).  And I wondered about the chickens.  The copy would
promise and warn:  “50% guaranteed to be alive at time of delivery.  At this price, sex can not
be guaranteed.”  This is the honest to god truth— as a teen I wondered what kind of people
listened to that station.  Who would want to have sex with a chicken?   It never dawned on me
it was the sex of the bird, not with it, because I knew nothing about farm life. 

“But I knew opportunity when I heard it.  I chose two tony addresses—  Park Avenue in New
York and Collins Avenue in Bal Harbour (on the ocean, by Miami Beach), and ordered.  Did
you ever see a poultry truck?  Out of place is the best description for where I had them sent.  I
was utterly amazed they’d show up.  So were the recipients (one of which was my mother),
especially when, to their horror, the Reich Poultry Farms made more than good on that
'guaranteed to be alive at time of delivery' pledge.  While I can share this more freely now that
the victims (and chickens) are long dead, I usually don't.  David, however, hasn’t forgotten.

“It is my pleasure to add a link for American Radio History.   Can’t believe I didn’t think of it
myself!   If I were stranded on that proverbial desert island and could only access one website
on all of the internet, without a doubt, hands down, with no close contenders, it would be
American Radio History.  What I used to have to sit for hours in the public library to read, I
can now browse in bed.  Nothing comes close to the ease, convenience and thoroughness of
this radio repository.  There are five million pages online.  Finding, digitizing and hosting is a
startling undertaking.  And David won’t even take monetary donations.  But if you peruse the
site and happen to have a volume or two of something he’s missing, I know he’d love the
opportunity to digitize it for all to see, and return it to you, if you’d like it back.”

John Long:  “I opened my email before I read Vox Jox and saw David’s membership
application and wondered what prompted that. I had sent him some stuff in the past. Then I
read VOX JOX and figured he must have responded to your column.

“Thank you for featuring the GRMHOF.  If anyone wants to start a state radio hall of fame,
we'll gladly share our experience. I am only too happy to help others since Kent and Larry
were so much help to Sam and me.”

Rollye:  “John’s generosity is far reaching.  Recently he donated a couple teletype machines to
the Texas Museum of Broadcasting and Communications, something I didn’t know existed.
Glad to see it does.  

“When it coms to the radio industry we knew and loved, I don’t think there’s any state in the
US that can’t boast some stand out performers from back in the day.  But how many have any
organized effort to recognize them?  Personalities, stations, venues, and more that bring back
marvelous memories, will be lost forever once we pass from this plane if not for the love and
labor of folks like John Long.  If you see the need in your state, John can offer great advice—
maybe the most important of which will be that you can do this.  With his help and others who
will probably surface once you get in the serious planning stages, you can make it happen.  I
hope you will.”