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When it came to morning drive in Hartford, there was never a question that Bob Steele was #1. For
WPOP and WDRC, the contest was which one would be #2. This plaque was placed on the
Travelers Building last year at the intersection of Prospect and the previously renamed “Bob Steele
Street”, home to WTIC (“Travelers Insurance Company”) when Steele joined the station in 1936.
by Rollye James
Rollye: “George And Me”, Claude Hall’s latest novel is available! You can purchase a copy
at the Amazon Kindle store. They don’t make it easy to find, though, so here’s a direct link
If you’re not a kindle person, fear not— Claude will email a copy to you if you mail him a
dollar. Put it between a couple sheets of paper so his mailbox gremlins will be kept at bay and
send it (along with the email address where you want to receive the book) to: 2563 Paradise
Village Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120. Claude will promptly respond, but that doesn't guarantee
Warren Cosford: “I never received The Book. Perhaps it got lost in my SPAM. If you have
time....please try again.” [Warren, I forwarded this to Claude. You should have a copy by now.
If not, please let me know— Rollye]
Rollye: One way or the other, we’ll have you reading “George And Me”— and based on the
reviews so far, I think you’ll love it.
Woody Roberts: “I have almost finished your final edition and am totally blown away by the
smoothing you have done and new twists in the tale. There is no doubt in my mind that
anyone involved in top 40 radio and the record industry, especially 1955 to 1975, will get a lot
of nostalgic pleasure from this flashback to a bygone era novel. New kids on the block will be
fascinated discovering how their progenitors did it. Watching the book emerge from your
desire to write a story about George Wilson to first draft and now completion has been an
honor and inspirational.
Rollye: If you can’t see (more aptly, “hear”) the video, here’s the link:
every minute of your time to hear it. “Pop goes your radio - the story of Hartford’s first top 40
station” is part six of an amazing 10 part WWUH documentary series on Hartford radio
produced by Brandon Kampe last year. The other parts are great too.
Woody Roberts: “This link to WPOP's history tells a good story. My era starts at 42.15 with
Danny Clayton and Bill Bland and Bob Paiva whom I had made music director and the
segment lasts until 101:40. It drills down on my format at 54:00.
“This was the period Dr. Bob is writing about for Hitbound. You said you'd never heard Lee
on the air and a great example of his unique story telling starts at 57, you need to check it out.
“That someone made the effort to do the history of Connecticut radio speaks to kind of
listeners we found in Hartford, they were true deejay fans, dedicated listeners who became
involved in our augmented on-air lives. Lee was 23 and I was 25.
“I have told many there were two people key to unlocking the Hartford market. Lee Baby
Simms and Bill Gavin. Lee Baby attracted new listeners to the station and Gavin did me a
huge favor. His policy was only one station per market but he made a roundabout exception to
his rule and let me report from Hartford. So the station technically wasn't reporting, I was.
This totally altered Bertha Porter's control over the record companies and new releases, now
if she turned down a promotion man's record for a Gavin tip they could walk across the street
to WPOP. Prior to my arraignment with Gavin she was getting all the new releases for WDRC
days ahead of POP. With Bob Paiva doing the music survey and myself reporting new songs
to Gavin the station was rejuvenated and gained prominence in the eyes of the record industry.
Likely only the old timer programmers can appreciate the influence of the Gavin Report. Bill
invited me to be a speaker at his 1967 Gavin Programming Conference in Las Vegas.”
Claude Hall: “Ken Levine is a TV writer/director friend and here he reports on a trip to
Manhattan that you'll love”:
Hot town, Summer in the City: Back from a week in New York, which in the hot humid summer
is like being inside Fidel Castro’s mouth. I was there to teach a weeklong comedy writing
workshop at NYU. All the money that usually goes towards football programs goes to teachers
at NYU (which explains why you never see NYU at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl).
Landed late Sunday night so the taxi line was only six miles. Took close to an hour to get a cab.
Then I find out I could have called Uber. If that’s true or Google Maps has a shortcut
for walking into Manhattan, I’ve stood in my last JFK taxi line. And then there was gridlock
traffic at 11:00 at night getting into the city. Was there a Sharknado attack in the Hamptons?
Stayed at the Club Quarters in Midtown, conveniently located near Times Square and the
dressbarn. The rooms are somewhat smallish -- MRI tubes with hair dryers. There was a whole
group of Rhodes Scholars staying there so I didn’t feel too stupid not knowing where to insert
my card key to activate the elevator.
At midnight Sunday Times Square was still packed. Everyone had their iPhone out taking
snapshots. Huckleberries posing in front of Ruby Tuesday’s. I’m guessing none of the Rhodes
Scholars were among them, taking selfies in front of the Sunglass Hut.
And the new thing they have at Times Square (well, new to me) are naked girls in body paint
taking pictures with tourists (for a fee). They were not getting many takers. Who’s going to pay
good money to get a photo standing next to Lena Dunham painted as the Statue of Liberty?…..
: For the rest of the story, click here
. Ken, as everyone reading this column likely
recalls, was Beaver Cleaver on LA Radio. Claude Hall says that his blog is one of his greatest
After reading Ken’s New York thoughts, New Yorker Joey Reynolds had a few things to say
Joey Reynolds: “Water is an issue in California, they have to empty the pools to put out the
fires, except for certain celebrities who have helicopters dowse the burn with coconut water
from the Philippines, while the Filipinos go to Starbucks to have the concentrated coconut
steamed for the latte.
“We have the subway in NY, you have the NOWAY !
“I called Uber at Burbank airport and waited for the next ride from an independent driver who
has camel rides around Griffith park off hours. No one in history has made skirts any shorter
than the girls at Barney's Beanery which was famous for it's 'no fags allowed 'sign over the bar.
This will keep em out.
“Hollywood at night on the strip is filled with gender challenged princesses and frogs who will
be kissed in a sunset bar and turn into missionaries with bullhorns and car speakers blasting out
the sound for Trump . When they say cross dressing they are speaking of their anger.
“Every arena and stadium has a sponsor these days, the Los Angeles arena in south central is
merging with the rose bowl in Pasadena. A good brand is Mount Sinai medical centers since
the Jews are replacing the nuns converting all Catholic hospitals into Briss and circum houses.
“San Fernando Valley is over run with treasure thrill seekers playing Pokemon and the James
Cordon driving school which includes large text on the dashboard for karaoke, and a sermon
from a stand up comic to satisfy the DMV with safe driving and tickets with points on your
license, I saw Larry David scalping parking tickets. …We better not make these comments
Rollye: Joey’s quip about renaming a stadium for Mount Sinai Medical Center reminds me of
Chattanooga. We moved there for a while when they became the Gig City (fastest broadband
in North America— synchronous gigabit speed). Apparently they didn’t have much else going
on, as walking through the city’s largest mall, Hamilton Place, revealed. Lots of
advertisements in malls everywhere, but in Chattanooga, they’re all centered around health.
Or lack of same. They should have rethought the mural that touted a particular hospital as
being “a great place for kids”. Parks, pools, playgrounds— those are great places for kids.
Hospitals? Not so much. Just sayin’. And on a related ill-health note, note the following
obituary from mourner Chuck Buell:
Chuck Buell: “The VCR, the Video Cassette Recorder/Player is Officially . . . Dead. Funai
Electric Company, the last company to manufacture VCRs, after 33 years stopped production
of the machines yesterday, July 31, 2016.
“And while vinyl and turntables have enjoyed a "Cool Factor" resurgence over the last few
years for what audiophiles will defend as their warmer sound than what is heard on today's
recorded audio technology, video tapes do not have such a fervent following as the video
display and audio quality is just not acceptable for any reason at all when compared to the
latest video reproduction display.
“Plus, there's something to be said about "looks" and "feel" of such audio versus video; the
smooth and shiny surface of a record of any size versus the one-size-fits-all dull, black plastic
box that is known as the "VCR Tape;" the remarkable number of colorful phonograph player
styles and designs that stood out or complimented any decor as opposed to the simple,
rectangular black or silver box that was relegated to sit only below our television sets."
So, another icon of our lives has begun its journey into obscurity.
“The VCR. RIP. ( Record in Peace )”
Rollye: And if that wasn’t hard enough to take, the news that Miss Cleo has passed was
unsettling. Of course she knew about it beforehand, being the gifted Jamaican psychic and all.
Actually Youree Harris (her given name) was gifted. Hailing from Los Angeles not anywhere
near the Caribbean,, she nonetheless nailed that accent. For a scam like the psychic hotline,
there was no better choice. But I was scratching my head over a line in her obit that said, more
recently she (as Miss Cleo, presumably) was the voice for a Broward County car dealer. Don’t
car dealers have a bad enough reputation already? I had to check it out. Not only was it a car
dealer— it was a used car dealer. I couldn’t find the spots themselves, but the write up in 2005
touted her suitability for Plantation-based Uncle Mel’s cheap heaps, uh, Used Cars. (For all I
know Cleo referred to them as cheap heaps.) I assume they bought cable.
While we’re talking about out-there personalities now much farther out there, Gary S. Paxton
is no longer with us. You might remember him as half of “Skip & Flip” (didn’t matter which
half, the group was named after Brent Records’ Bob Shadd’s poodles— though for the record,
so to speak, Gary was “Flip”— Clyde Battin was “Skip”)— they did “It Was I” and a remake
of Marvin & Johnny’s “Cherry Pie”. Some hilarious stories about that label deal, but more
likely you know Gary from “Alley Oop”. Paxton put together “The Hollywood Argyles” for
that one and it went to #1. (Sandy Nelson was in The Hollywood Argyles, but not playing
drums. Since Lloyd Price’s drummer, Ronnie Caleco was on board, Nelson, who played
garbage cans, is most notably the screamer after “Look at that caveman go.” Gaynell Hodge
(The Penguins) is on piano and one of the session singers was Dallas Frazier, who wrote the
song.) Paxton also owned GarPax Records, around for a few years but memorable for only
one thing: “The Monster Mash”, which Gary produced. Though he worked on a lot of hit
records after that, Gary is probably more remembered for his relationship with Tammy Faye
Bakker (while she was Mrs. Jim and the PTL club was in full swing). I’ll leave those tales to
But back to blogs, I was reminded of another good one, thanks to an email from Don Graham
particularly good news for radio in this one:
something to brag about. Knowing radio, as we do, it doesn't take much to give radio
ammunition to use in this highly competitive era we live in. Radio will happily run with this
report and fire away...
What the results of this report show (in weekly reach):
• Over 90% of adults listen to radio each week.
• TV accounts for 47% of the total average audience among adults 18+.
• Adult Smartphone consumers use their phones 6 days a week.
• Adult TV viewers are watching an average of 5.7 out of 7 days per week.
• Adult tablet consumers use their device 5.2 days a week.
• Adults listen to radio 5.1 days per week.
• Adult PC users chalk up 4.4 days a week.
• Adults use TV-connected devices 3.5 days per week...
The biggest takeaway from Nielsen's latest Total Audience Report is that although streaming is
climbing, broadcast radio continues to dominate the audio platform. In addition to the 5.1 days
adults listen to AM/FM, the minutes of listener-per-day totaled 2 hours and 42 minutes, down
just 2 minutes compared to a year ago. The overall reach moved from 92.8% of American
adults to 92.6%...
David Gleason: “I loved the set of comments from Gerry Cagle. Particularly great were his
comments about his encounter with Bill Drake.
“Those remarks reminded me of my only one-on-one encounter with Mike Joseph. Now Mike
was known to be a bit abrasive and cantankerous. as anyone who worked with him will attest. I
had never met Mike, but had heard the stories from people “across the street” from me at a
combo he consulted for about 30 years.
“So I was on a panel at a Billboard conference in LA a few decades ago and saw someone
seated in the second or third row that looked a lot like Mike. But I was not sure, since, as I
said, I had never met him. And Mike did not seem to get a lot of pictures of himself in the
“So the seminar is over, and like all good panelists we had tried to tell folks something
interesting without revealing any secrets. And then they guy I thought was Mike walked up,
extended his hand and we shook. He said, “I’m glad I only had to compete with you in one
market.” He turned and walked out.
“So one of the best compliments of my career was also the strangest one.”
Neil Ross: “Might I be permitted to humbly suggest that Jerry Cagle’s memory might be
playing tricks on him? The Lee Simms (two m’s, Jerry) “snake ate the baby” line he alluded to
last week, comes from a now legendary aircheck of Lee “Baby” on KCBQ, recorded in
November of 1970.
“Jerry says he heard the bit in a rental car driving to a meeting in San Diego with Buzz
Bennett to discuss programming Y-100 in Miami. I’m pretty sure Y-100 didn’t exist in
November 1970 (the station was on the air but with different call letters). Wikipedia says the
Y-100 era began in August of 1973. I’m not sure that’s correct either. Seems to me those call
letters began to be used in 1972, but certainly not in November of ’70. So I think he may have
conflated a couple of different memories. Jerry: "The record began to fade out. I wasn’t even
affiliated with the station (that would come later) and I began to panic. The massive processing
of KCBQ began to pull me into the vortex. I could almost hear the grooves in the 45 (yes, 45)
as it began to track. Dead air on The Q? Where was the jock?"
“This simply didn’t happen and I’ve attached an mp3 of the bit in question to prove it. The
entire aircheck is available on ReelRadio.com
and other sites. I highly recommend it. Lee
Simms was far too professional to ever let dead air happen on his watch. And Jimi Hendrix's
The Wind Cries Mary, which Jerry says was playing at the time, ain’t involved either. Actually,
Lee artfully segues from Joe Cocker’s Cry Me a River into Mr. Cocker’s Hitchcock Railway
without skipping a beat, let alone allowing any dead air.
“Jerry's reminiscences seem to indicate that Lee was working for Buzzy when this was
recorded. I’ve seen other online references to Lee having worked for Buzz. Lee never worked
for Buzz (except for a ten day period I’ll cover in a moment). At the time this amazing aircheck
was recorded, Lee was working for one of the finest, yet most under-rated program directors of
the the era - Gary Allyn.
“Following an insane war of big money give-aways between KCBQ and crosstown rival KGB,
KCBQ GM Dick Casper blinked and decreed that no more money would be spent on contests
and promotions. Gary decided we would have to get the numbers by sounding great (what a
concept) and he took a chance on the newly emerging album rock, then only available on FM,
creating what he called The Long Play format, a brilliant blend of the best of the top-forty
(minus the bubble-gum) and the best of the album product.
“The result was one of the greatest sounding stations I’ve ever heard - let alone had the
privilege of working for. To say Lee Simms thrived in this format would be an understatement.
He reveled in it. He did some of his finest work in those days, and said as much in an exchange
of emails with Gary Allyn a few years ago. The aircheck speaks for itself.
“Did Lee ever work for Buzz? Yes, for about ten days. When Buzz took over at KCBQ in
January of 1971, he told Lee that he could stay, but that he (Buzz) would have to “fix” Lee.
Ten days later Lee walked into Buzzy’s office and informed him that he was heartbroken to
report that he wouldn’t be able to stick around and get fixed. He had just accepted an offer
from Dick Sainte to come up to KRLA in Los Angeles. Apparently Mr. Sainte didn’t think Lee
needed fixing. Lee chuckled as he told me the story several months later in his Laurel Canyon
aerie when I came up for a visit. Interestingly, it was the brilliant November 1970 KCBQ Long
Play aircheck that got Lee the KRLA gig in the first place.
“I don’t mean to beat up on Jerry, and Lord knows my memory leaves a good deal to be
desired, but when I read what he wrote last week in Vox Jox, I could hear Lee Baby screaming
in my head from beyond the grave. “Dead air!!?! Dead air!!? I never allowed so much as a
nanosecond of dead air in my entire effin' career!! Something might have been pulling that cat
into the vortex, but it sure as shit wasn’t me!!!”
“That's the mp3 of the moment in question. Links to the entire aircheck on ReelRadio:
Rollye: In order to hear these great air checks (and about 3500 other ones), on ReelRadio.com
you’ve got to subscribe. For $10 bucks to access everything through the end of the year, it’s
beyond a bargain. It’s a gift. So here’s another gentle reminder to support Uncle Ricky’s
Mel Phillips: “Your writing was merely brilliant and you got all my names right. And who
knew Gerry Cagle wrote up a storm except you. Enjoyed it all. You are my favorite person
named Rollye in the entire world.”
Don Barrett: “ You and Claude promote numerous books. That’s all well and good, but
EVERYONE should know about your excellent tome that Randy West so eloquently reviewed
Rollye: Thank you, Don. You’re so right about Randy’s words. They’re likely the nicest
things anyone’s ever said about me. I’m not comfortable plugging my own stuff, but sharing
Randy’s sentiments is a pleasure. Read them here
I had the pleasure of talking to Ron Cutler last week. He’ll forever hold a place in my heart
for the wonderfully obscure oldies he played when he was Ron Diamond in Philly, but his
career has been so much more than that. Now he’s turned his attention to a great audio drama
podcast concept. Check out www.parcast.com
to learn more. There are two serials.
“Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths” debuts this Wednesday, and I’m already captured. And the
true crime stories of “Unsolved Murders” are downright compelling. As I type, I’m listening to
the details of the death of the first Hollywood murder (William Desmond Taylor, if you don’t
keep up with these things). Check it out— you’ll be hooked.
Roger Carroll was cleaning out his picture files finding plenty of evidence of an outstanding
Roger Carroll working as a teen on WFMD, Frederick, Maryland
Roger Carroll hitting the big time at ABC
Roger, working a double shift at KMPC
Roger's KMPC one-sheet
Roger, drumming up voice over work in his spare time
On stage talking with Tommy Smothers
Rollye: Good memories. Speaking of same, memories will be made and recalled next year in
Boston. Here’s the latest WRKO Reunion update:
Mel Phillips: “I’ll start with a reminder to book your rooms now if you haven't yet. Call the
Crowne Plaza (Newton) at 617-969-3010 while the special "WRKO Reunion" rate of $179 a
night is in effect. You will be required to hold the room with a credit card. Check-in will be
Friday, June 2, 2017. Checkout is Sunday, June 4, 2017. If you have any problems in booking,
ask for Candy in the sales manager's office.
“Photos of the WRKO jocks during the Top 40 era (A to Z/on-air name)(Part 1) are featured.
B: Dick Burch
A: Mike Addams B: Dennis Jon Bailey C: Joel Cash
B: Chris Bailey
D: Dale Dorman E: Jim Elliott
D: Johnny Dark G: Al Gates
G: Arnie Ginsburg H: Chip Hobart J: J.J. Jordan
J: J.J. Jeffrey M: Gary Martin
K: Chuck Knapp P: Jon Powers
K: Tom Kennedy M: Bobby Mitchell
“WRKO 50th Anniversary Reunion: The weekend of June 2, 2017.
A Friday night party for all WRKO employees (past and present). Venue TBD.
On Air Saturday Night June 3, 2017 (7-11 pm with On-Air lineup TBD)
WRKO-AM and Backbone Streaming (produced by George Capalbo Jr.).
I hope to see you there.”