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And each envelope contained a used comb-- the response to Don Graham's promotion of
"Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" on KYA, San Fransisco.
L-R Don Graham, KYA personality Lucky Logan (Norman Davis), and KYA PD Jim Spero.
by Rollye James
Rollye: “So much for the superstition that death comes in threes. I’m sorry to say that this
week we’ve got four to report. First, the news that Bill Armstrong died last Tuesday. Bill
was known throughout the country as the US Senator from Colorado, serving from 1979
through 1990. For the past ten years he was president of Colorado Christian University, a post
he resigned recently due to increasingly ill health. With a political career spanning decades
and an increasingly conservative take on issues, Armstrong was known as a lot of things:
champion of limited government, promoter of a balanced budget, proponent of all things
Reaganomics, devout Christian. To some he was a hero, to others, a nemesis. His obits all
mention the fortune he made in radio ownership (which began with his purchase of
KOSI-AM 1430 in Aurora, CO from David Segal in 1959)— but missing is the fondness from
all of us who remember his even earlier days in the medium…”
Jim Ramsburg: “One of the original Storz Top 40 jocks passed away this week. Bill
Armstrong, "The All American Disc Jockey" passed away at 79. Bill worked at Storz'
KOWH/Omaha and WTIX/New Orleans while still in his teens. In February, 1956, when
Todd bought WDGY in the Twin Cities, Bill joined Herb Oscar Anderson, Jack Thayer,
Bill Bennett and program director Don Loughnane on the first staff of the "New" WDGY.
He was only 19 at the time. (I came on board three months later.)
“When Thayer became WDGY manager in 1958, Loughnane transferred to Storz-owned
WHB/Kansas City and Jack named Bill program director. The two eventually had a falling
out and Bill returned to his native Denver where his family entered station ownership, buying
“My favorite memory of Bill was late the night before Easter, I believe in 1957. We were
assigned the task to hide dozens of plastic eggs in Minneapolis' Loring Park for WDGY's
Easter Egg Hunt the following day. We convinced our dates that we'd have all sorts of fun,
having a few drinks and romping through the park at midnight. Unfortunately, the weather
turned and the four of us trudged through the driving sleet for over an hour getting rid of the
eggs as fast as we could. At one point, Bill stopped, wiped the snow from his face and asked,
‘Lemme get this straight, we went to college for this?’”
Herb Oscar Anderson: “Just would like to add to Bill Armstrong passing…..At WDGY I was
about 10 years his senior…hence in discussing the future he always leaned to
politics…bouncing off his family business (radio and I think newspaper) he launched his
successful career and became Sen. Bill Armstrong… his nickname in the Senate…Mr. Social
Security…a topic we both thought could not fail.
“I talked to him last when he was President of Colo. Christian …we laughed about going from
chopping block..(radio) to politics (even worse)…to a tranquil Ivy Hall seat…
“His love however remained radio and especially the one to one contact that we discussed so
many times. Those who knew him will carry his special ability to stay focused… and trust
that one can do it… if they only try…I’m sure he passed that on to his students. We shall miss
Burt Sherwood: “When I first became a broker I used to get calls for stations and information
from a Bill Armstrong…one day I woke up and found it was the Senator….and I knew he
was an old jock and we had some great conversations. He truly was one of the good guys of
our business….and to think a sitting US Senator would have my phone number was highly
flattering. He will be missed by us and our prayers go out to his family.”
Rollye: “Condolences also go to those who knew Larry Scott. At 78, he died Saturday.
Anyone with a passing interest in country radio from back in the day will recognize the name.
Maybe only from its inclusion in countless hall’s of fame (CMA Disc Jockey of the Year,
ACM Disc Jockey of the Year, Western Swing Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame,
Texas Country Music… I could go on for a while). He’s remembered from his stints as a jock
on LA’s KBBQ and KLAC. And probably even better known from his hosting “The Interstate
Road Show” first on Shreveport’s KWKH, and then later taking over from Billy Parker on
KVOO in Tulsa. But only hard core fans will recall his 1972 record album “Keep On
Trucking’” which included “Diesel Cecil” and “Phantom 570” a play on Red Sovine’s
Phantom 309 and KLAC’s AM dial position. More recently he owned a trucking business in
his home of Terrell, Texas, though he could be heard on Sunday mornings for an hour on
KWKH until just a few years ago. Hall Smith wrote Claude Hall with the sad news, and like
many of us, Claude had a few Larry Scott memories…”
Claude Hall: “I sat in on Larry's show one night, as I recall. He was a damned good jock and
knew his country music. This is the guy who brought the Coors to Nashville one year for the
annual WSM birthday celebration, as it was called. He was a great one. We come, we do, we
Rollye: “In searching for more information on Larry's passing, I stumbled upon his wife Gail
Watson Scott’s Facebook page. I didn’t get to see it all (as I’m not her “Facebook Friend”)
but from the public posts, I could tell that Larry had been waging a tremendous battle for his
health over the past year. Gail’s email address was included on one of the entries. I don’t
know if it’s still active. But if you knew Larry and want to contact Gail, you might want to try
“I’m also sorry to let you know that Tom Marr has died. It came as a shock, as Tom at 73 was
in seemingly great health. He went in for minor back surgery (note: no surgery including
anesthesia is ever minor) and had a stroke in recovery. He lingered about five days and
succumbed Thursday morning. It’s a blessing for him, given the severity of the stroke, but a
loss for all his radio fans and what is probably even a greater number of personal friends. I
worked with Tom at WWDB in Philadelphia during his brief hiatus from Baltimore and not
only was he a delightful guy to be around, but a truly giving person. I can recall several
instances where he helped me (including one night doing my entire show) without asking for
anything in return and refusing compensation I think the last time I saw him was around
Christmastime 1999 in New York. He was in town filling in on the WOR Network and I have
no idea what I was doing— but I bumped into him on the street and he insisted on taking me
to dinner. It might have been The Palm, or some other place I wouldn’t have gone on my own,
and once again, he was a fun companion wanting nothing more than casual conversation in
return for his kindness. I regret not staying in better touch with him since then.
“Tom grew up in the D.C. area and got into radio doing high school sports on WWDC-AM.
After a stint in the marines, he worked in various spots (including WTAR in Norfolk), settling
in Baltimore in 1967 at WFBR. In addition to being news director, he was the play-by-play
commentator for the Orioles, and lived through the tragedy of WFBR’s decimation by losing
the Orioles rights to WCBM, which woefully overbid for them. Ellek Seymour’s bid
ultimately destroyed two radio stations— Seymour’s WCBM went dark over it (and WBAL
wound up with the rights) and WFBR never recovered. But it wasn’t long before WCBM was
back in business (bought by Baltimorean Nick Mangione) and Marr was on the talk lineup.
Other than his brief hiatus to Philly, he was there from about 1988 to last week.
“The fourth passing is of longtime New York “Quiet Storm” host Vaughn Harper. He didn’t
originate the Quiet Storm (that goes to Howard University's WHUR in D.C. and the late
Melvin Lindsey in 1975) , but to New Yorker’s, the soft soul night show belonged to only one
guy— Vaughn Harper. The standout high school and college basketball player was first
heard on WBLS in 1976. A few years later, he and co-host “Champaigne” launched the New
York version of the Quiet Storm. It wasn’t long before Harper was the signature voice of
WBLS at night. As Spinderella tweeted about Vaughn’s show “Babies were made to the
Quiet Storm”. More than a few artists can claim their urban AC hits were made by it, too.
Harper’s journey was not without health complications. He lost his voice for a while due to a
1993 stroke, but bounced back to return to WBLS where he remained until 2008. Vaughn
Harper died Saturday at 71, but he will not soon be forgotten by a wide array of fans
including young ones who may not know his name, but recognize his voice as ‘Vibe Radio’ in
the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto IV.’”
Claude Hall: “The novel ‘George and Me’ is finished and I’ll be making it available with my
other books at Kindle Books in a couple of weeks. Price 99 cents. For those of you who are
not into Kindle, but have a computer, I’m willing to email you a copy that you can download
onto your computer. Price? A dollar bill in a couple of sheets of paper (someone raids our
mailbox now and then) with your email address. My mailing address is: 2563 Paradise
Village Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120.
“It’s not a great book. Some people, however, will find it interesting. Please be aware that it’s
about me probably more than about George Wilson. I wanted to do a book about George. It
just didn’t turn out that way. Some things that I wanted to include are missing. For example,
Rollye James wrote me a couple of emails a few years go about her experiences with Lee
Zhito. They evidently rest on my old Power Mac that now gathers dust in the other room.
Shades of Hillary. I couldn't locate the emails. Pity. Because her experiences with Zhito
parallel my own. Ah, ah, ah! I keep wondering what might have been. If only ….
“Just FYI: Barbara and I have had a copy printed and bound to present to her brother, the only
printed copy. And, yes, I’m already writing a children’s tale titled ‘Popsie and McCloud’.”
“I’ve mentioned that ‘George and Me’ is my last book. After all, I’m 83. But ….”
Rollye: “Life works out as it should. Many of you may not remember Lee Zhito, and give it a
few more years and that’s guaranteed to be nobody. But Claude Hall? We’ll never forget
him, and long after we’re all gone, his writing will live on. Some kid somewhere in 2066 will
find his books and while he won’t have personally enjoyed the fun, through Claude’s words,
he’ll know what he missed. If I ever find the email for which Claude searched, I’ll reprint it
here. But it won’t be a fraction as good as the stories in ‘George and Me’.”
Don Graham: “One of the stars of the popular weekly TV show “77 Sunset Strip” was Edd
“Kookie” Byrnes. Warner Brothers Records released a single, “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me
Your Comb” by Byrnes. Norman Davis (aka Lucky Logan, world class DJ) on KYA, San
Fracisco, broke the record, for a huge national hit. Our thanks to Norman for sending the
photo [which heads this column], and the email.
Norman Davis: “Just got back from a trip to S.F. as KYA was selected as the Bay Area Radio
Hall of Fame's Station of the Year. The only other guy from my time there was Bob Anderson
(Mike Flynn at KYA) who has been a producer at 60 Minutes for a long time. Terry Sullivan
(Scotty Day) is still around in NY, but had some eye surgery scheduled at the same time and
couldn't come. I took along my KYA scrapbook which includes an 8X10 B&W of you and I
and Jim Spero standing around a huge pile of letters sent in by listeners in your brilliantly
conceived "Kookie Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" contest. Each one of those letters (more than
30,000) contained a used comb, which you promised to replace with a "Kookie Comb". You
should really have gotten an award for that one Don. Maybe you did!”
Rollye: “Norman deserves every Bay Area radio award out there. A lot of folks can claim
working at a lot of radio stations in any given town, but few have had the flexibility of
Norman/Lucky. From top 40 to progressive rock to big band, Norman Davis (under any
name) was Bay Area radio, surviving it all (including a very ugly time at KYA when he
couldn’t be fired, but could be tortured— or bored to death, anyway).”
Dave Sholin: “LOVE this photo. And the statute of limitations has run out so I will admit to
buying a copy the single..pink WB. Not sure where but likely Westlake Shopping Center..”
Rollye: “Be proud of that purchase, Dave! Songwriter Irving Taylor was known for his
oddities (Soupy Sales covered “Pachalafaka”), but “Kookie” may have been Taylor’s
ultimate work. Is there any other rock lyric line more quintessential ‘50s than ‘I’ve got smog
in my noggin, ever since you made the scene’? The flip side version of You’re The Top wasn’t
half bad either.”
(on the Danny Davis
obit written by Charlie Barrett
that we reprinted here
Charlie did a good job of recapping Danny's illustrious career, but I think it would be almost
impossible to describe what a great character he was; funny, energetic and kind to his many
friends and admirers. His energy level back in the day was amazing, and he could get records
on the radio, one way or another.”
Dave Anthony: “In response to your discussion about AM radio last week, I spotted some
interesting research results from Strategy Analytics a few days ago. While these points don’t
address AM radio specifically, they do mention a couple of the other statements made, such as
satellite and Internet radio. In short, they support the continued strength of AM/FM radio and
how consumers think about radio in their cars. The link to the article is here
, but here’s a quick
read of some key points:
“The number of Americans who say internet radio is a must-have feature for their in-car
infotainment system has dropped ten points compared to a year ago while those who say
FM/AM radio is a must rose in the same period. It also remains at the top in usage and interest.
“The survey finds 17% of drivers think internet radio is a required feature, down by more than
one-third compared to the 27% who said so last year. The report also suggests that, faced with
all the new dashboard options, drivers are taking a second look at traditional broadcast radio.
More than three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed labeled FM/AM radio a must-have. That’s
up five points compared to a year ago.
“Meanwhile one-quarter of Americans say they view satellite radio as a must-have in the car.
That’s down 10% compared to four years ago, even though daily and weekly usage of
SiriusXM Radio remained steady during the past 12 months.
Ron Brandon: “Out-Of-The-Box format for down and out AM radio station in a medium
market. Back in the 70s every radio station newsroom (what's that?) and every auto repair
shop had a police scanner. They're out of fashion now (CB killed the golden goose) but I
think the idea is still valid ("Cops" is till on some tv channel at almost any hour). I wonder
if... I could find someone to write the software to control the computer.. that would prioritize
police calls available on any scanner roughly in this order: local city police, local fire dept,
county police and fire, and as a backup if things are dull.. local airport frequencies.
Intersperse with regular forecasts and conditions from the National Weather Service (available
in every market) and program to interrupt with local weather warnings. Of course, program in
commercial breaks..but again, prioritize.
“What happens if there's absolutely nothing going on..we don't want dead air.. perhaps the
sound of gentle ocean waves. The audience would lean heavily to men..probably older men.
You'd have to be careful to have permission to rebroadcast and not to use any "private"
frequencies. Seems like just an expansion of traffic reports. Cost would be next to nothing
once up and running. Hhmmm... (Would not work in larger markets..too busy..too many
frequencies..) Let's try it on a 1 kw top-of -the-dial AM that's tried every format in the book at
least twice and is now programming Hungarian folk songs to a potential audience of less than
Rollye: “I love it, but…. and the kick in the butt here is that technological advances are not
our friends. Encryption and trunking (which has the audio switching frequencies every few
seconds) have done us in. Fortunately, encryption is fairly rare as unscrambling it is illegal.
But trunking has become all pervasive and it’s not easy to handle. (Receivers can be had that
will follow the audio but programming them to do it is maddening— to the point that some
ex-staffer stole the pricey unit that I had been working on, and I was almost relieved to see it
disappear.) I won’t say Ron’s idea is utterly impossible, but today’s technology makes it a
formidable task. Of course, take some teenage nerd (said lovingly as I was one of ‘em) who
isn’t allowed to leave his bedroom at night, and in no time flat he might have a solution. I’d
love to hear the results.”
Chuck Buell: “I read with interest in last week's Vox Jox where you wrote about Gary
Edens' successes with KULF AM - KKBQ AM and FM in Houston in 1982. Great radio
“Shortly before that when I was at KULF doing Afternoon Drive in the late 70s, I am proud to
say, had one of my fastest rising, and best, rating successes by taking the AM station's then
Pop Adult Contemporary Afternoons to Number One in a very short period of time even
beating our Morning Show! Then a couple of years later after I had moved on, Gary turned
that AM station into a successful Top 40 format followed by moving it to his FM. It was
within a year of that I, then in Denver, had moved to my first FM station and became a
Morning Show Host for the first time thanks in part to my experience at KULF.
“I had originally taken the opportunity at 79-KULF, thanks to then PD Steve Roddy, to get
away from my then recent, and equally successful, non-stop, fast paced, high energy style of
Boss Radio afternoons to stretch my talent by seeing if I could perform a bit calmer, more
adult-targeted, approach. And the results were - I could! And I did! The challenge had served
me well by building yet another new foundation in my radio career to grow on in markets that
followed including my later transition to becoming a Morning Show Host. KULF-AM had
some great radio mileposts for both Gary and me!”
Rollye: “Chuck sounded great on KULF. It was one of the wonderful pop-adult stations— a
format that doesn’t get enough play in the radio memories sector, which is a shame as many of
those stations were a joy to hear. Dick French and Steve Roddy did a great job with KULF.
(To digress a moment, who in their right mind forego their perfectly fine-for-radio birth name
of Ken Lowe to become Steve Roddy? I never asked him how he came up with that, but
given his career success, I probably shouldn’t second guess it. After many milestones at
Scripps Howard (including starting HGTV), today Steve-as-Ken-again is CEO of Scripps
Howard Interactive.) Andy Bickel created a masterpiece at WBT in Charlotte. George
Johns turned WIBC in Indianapolis into a monster. Charlie Murdock and all his PDs
(including, briefly, Michael O’Shea) had WLW soaring (their morning man, James Francis
Patrick O’Neill was an amazingly literate comedian, ranking among my all time favorite
personalities). All the Golden West giants... I bet you can come up with half a dozen
marvelous pop adult stations off the top of your head.”
Marcia Winters: “Hey...laughing about the variety of Honor House products...when I was at
WPOP, I not only bought the XRay Specs, but also the white soap that turned your hands
black when you used it.
“I was kinda disappointed to see that the XSpecs were just cardboard frames with pieces of
feather covering the eyeholes, giving you the illusion of seeing X Ray images when using
“The white soap that turned your hands black sort of worked. I put it in the men's room at the
station, stood outside whenever a guy went in there. To my dismay, some guys did not even
wash their hands, the soap was unused. But..someone must have used it, for the next day, I
saw it was tossed into the garbage... Oh, well…”
Rollye: “Marcia’s purchase of Honor House anything might be a first— in that she was over
14 years old at time time. But what a prime example of an unanticipated research result! I
guess it’s safe to say WPOP didn’t spend much on soap. As for the hygienic minded soul who
did avail himself of Marcia’s contribution… wouldn’t you have loved to see how long he
lasted before he realized the ruse? Even more interesting if the guy who tossed the soap
wasn’t the first to use it. Allen Funt made a career out of this stuff.”
Elliot Field: “Lotta words. Lotta knowledge. Lotta joy going through the biz with y'all.”
Ken Dowe: “Fun column Rollye. Much information I didn't know about. And, speaking of
"all Ken Dowe all the time," it is a good moment for me to be quiet and let others share their
views. I enjoy listening, too! And, a lot of our friends have a lot of enlightening points to offer.
I'm going to put down the mike. Haha!!”
Rollye: “Noooo.. Ken, do not stop writing. My playful comment was meant to cause other
folks to follow your lead and contribute, not for you to stop. Don’t stop, Ken. As for
everyone else: Start. Now. Right now. Email your memories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mel Phillips: Rooms have started to be booked at The Crowne Plaza in Newton. Just a
reminder that there are a limited block of rooms available for the WRKO 50th Reunion. The
hotel is located about 20-30 minutes away from WRKO and is easily accessible by car or cab.
The hotel is giving us the best rates in Boston for a very tough weekend to book rooms (with
schools having graduations). The rates are in effect for check-in from Friday, June 2, 2017 to
check-out Sunday, June 4, 2017. The daily rate is $179. You are advised to BOOK EARLY by
calling the hotel at 617-969-3010 and mentioning that your reservations are for the "WRKO
Reunion" (call instead of sending email). If you have any trouble booking at this special rate,
ask for the Sales Manager. You will need to reserve a room using a credit card. DON'T WAIT
LONG. For your convenience the Crowne Plaza has a bar/lounge, restaurant, indoor
swimming pool and exercise room.
“This week's photos feature some of our award winning newsmen from the 20/20 News era.
Caroline Kennedy & Jordan Rich
ND Roger Allen & Twiggy Ken Wayne
Ernie Andrews (Anastos) Ron Hurst
WRKO 50th Anniversary Reunion:
When: Weekend of June 2, 2017
Where: Boston metro:
A Friday Night (June 2) Party for all WRKO employees past and present (The party venue is
close to being finalized).
On Air: Saturday night June 2, 2017 7-11 pm WRKO-AM and Backbone Streaming
(produced by George Capalbo Jr.).