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by Rollye James
Rollye: Just as I started to write this column, the mail came and with it was a copy of Macey
Lipman’s “Recent Paintings.” His stuff is terrific, and I was an instant devotee, due to the
cover photo, alone. Is there any Angeleno who doesn’t love The Apple Pan? Not only the
hamburgers, but the best tuna sandwiches, and marvelous fries. No wonder there’s usually a
line around the block during the limited hours they’re open. They’re on Pico Blvd., in West
LA. Macey’s work is on display at the 2016 California Open Art Exhibition in Santa Monica
at the Bergamot Station Arts Center through August 26th. He’s often found at his own studio at
Remember the “Telephone Game” from your youth? Several kids would sit in a circle— the
more, the better. The lead kid would whisper a word, phrase or sentence— like “Ralph went to
the store”— just once, to the kid on his right, who in turn would whisper it one time to the kid
on his right and so forth until the last kid, on the leader’s left, would recite the phrase aloud:
“Cindy is a liar!” The lead kid would then reveal the original phrase, and everyone would
laugh. Generally the phrases weren’t that dissimilar, but dissimilar enough to make the game
sufficiently humorous to keep a group of unruly children quiet during a party held on a rainy
day. (Now parents just probably hand out smart phones.)
To an adult, it’s more of an alarming game, and it’s going on around us every day. I’m not
referring to the intentional slanting of news, which is a great subject for some other column.
This romp down memory lane is to punctuate the sad reality, that as time goes by, history
changes, at least our view of it. Even when first hand accounts are written, given enough time,
stories change. And when nothing is in writing, it doesn’t take many decades for Ralph going
to the store to turn into Cindy being a murderer. Recently, someone in the radio industry with
Dan. I’ll leave his last name out of it, as apparently his radio remembrances and reality bear
little resemblance. (But for the curious, or those who doubt my accuracy, here’s a link
for the rest of us, here’s what the guy said:
“Gordon (McLendon) was a stinker, and always got the last laugh in any deal he made.
Gordon had no intention of selling KROW (FM) its calls back then. He relished the idea of
selling KLIF-AM to some sucker for a princely sum and then taking the FM across town and
beating their brains out! Which is exactly what he did! His evil genius triumphed when
Fairchild bowed to his stratospheric asking price and then he chuckled darkly, slithered across
Commerce, set up shop and proceeded to make the Fairchild patsies squirm like grubs in an
iron skillet. He was the best there ever was. But somehow proving it for all to see was never
quite good enough. Muahahaha…”
Rollye: The only problem is that’s not what happened. Ken Dowe was there and he knows
first hand that only one thing in Dan’s narrative is accurate:
Ken Dowe: “Dan's a fine friend of many years. However, as decades pass "war stories" are
often embellished until too often they become truly tall tales. Because I was a part of the actual
narrative from Dan's story, I feel compelled to defend Gordon and succinctly (hard for me)
report the actual facts before this canard circulates any more than it has already.
“Gordon had no thought what-so-ever of suckering anyone with KLIF. He was in fact merely
selling off all his assets and exiting the radio business. He had first sold KABL in San
Francisco for the same 10+ million dollar price (cash) he was paid for KLIF/1190. The
Fairchild people were fine folks, and hardly "suckers."
“Nor, did Gordon ‘relish the idea of selling for a princely sum, and then taking the FM across
town and beating their brains out.’ He was not an ‘evil genius,’ but an extraordinary business
man who sold a prized property for a handsome (and fair) sum for a profit. Just as he had done
with KABL in San Francisco.
“KLIF's FM was KNUS, a low-powered FM Gordon had hoped to rid himself of in tandem
with Big KLIF. In our meeting, after the KLIF sale was consummated, Gordon said he had no
interest in keeping KNUS and the buyer was welcome to it for $150,000. The Fairchild people
left and privately conferred for 5 minutes or so, and returned with negative interest.
“Gordon and I departed with a signed contract for KLIF, taking a slow walk back to the
McLendon Executive Offices. He neither chuckled darkly, slithered, nor proceeded to make
the ‘Fairchild patsies squirm like grubs in an iron skillet.’ What he did was to turn and say to
me: ‘Well. I haven't a clue what to do. You have any ideas, Ken? Looks as if we have a
non-performing tiny FM. What do you think we can do with it?’ I asked for 24 hours to think
“The next day I presented Gordon with a 1.5 page plan of attack for KNUS. He gave me an
immediate "go" with a kind admonishment: ‘Try not to make it too similar to KLIF, Ken. That
wouldn't be Kosher!’ (Sly smile.) That is ‘..what he did.’ There was no ‘..triumph by an evil
“I again hired Michael Spears, who had done great work for me in Dallas and Buffalo, to
quarterback the new format. We brought aboard the perfect guys to execute it: Beau Weaver,
Jon Rivers, Kevin McCarthy, Christopher Hayes, Jim White, Mitch Craig, Darcy Kane,
Dick Mock, and a handful more. Sixteen months later DFW had a new #1 radio station, the
market's first viable FM, and one of the 3 or 4 FMs in the vanguard of America's sudden
change-over in radio from AM to FM.
“Sadly, for them, our success came at the expense of KLIF/1190, which never recovered from
its abyss. KNUS, rejected for $150,000, is today's highly successful KLUV. Before the plunge
of radio values, KLUV's worth was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I have to be candid and report that I often get quite upset as those who were non-players, or
on the periphery during radio's greatest days, inflate their own importance when usually they
were but shadows on the Hall of Fame. And, when they take undeserved credit, or tell untrue
tales that defile deserving individuals, they steal real memories and accomplishments.
Whomever told Dan that corrupted story is a real putz.
“‘Proving it for all to see was never good enough,’ is clear evidence that whoever told Danny
the lies didn't know Gordon McLendon. Likely, he never even saw him in person. Gordon
was perfectly confident within himself, and never bothered for even a microsecond with
anyone else's opinion of him.
“This story is frankly, a total hoax. I know, because as Gordon's EVP, I was there 24/7, and
intimately involved with all aspects of the McLendon Corporation and McLendon's personal
and professional life during those years. The only correct component is that Gordon was a
genius. The only one I have ever known.”
Rollye: The best part about Ken’s account is that the truth is a lot more interesting than the
fiction. I love Ken’s stories. Not only would his book be a wonderful read, but if he will write
one, it will go far in setting the record straight for generations to come. I share Claude Hall’s
frustration over his not having time to write many more books [notice I said “many”, Claude: I
think you’ve still got a lot of life in you to write more]. Without written accounts, how many
legends— people, stations and groups, will live on only through inaccurate oral history— if
that? How many— virtually all of us, if George Wilson was right— will be lost forever?
Warren Cosford: “Love The Newsletter. Look forward to it every week. And thank you for
re-sending your novel George and Me.
“I’m old enough to recall when there were very few books about Radio. The first I purchased
was in 1981. It is WYXIE Wonderland (An Unauthorized 50-Year Diary of WXYZ Detroit) by
. I purchased it new for $30 and I see it on Amazon
today for $116.00!
“In 1994 when I moved to Windsor to help create Canada's first Duopoly.....CKLW AM/FM,
CKWW/89X I called Dick and invited him to lunch. What a guy! He was 97 years old and
"sharp as a tack". Later, at his home, he brought out boxes and boxes filled with scripts.
Among them was a series he wrote in The 1930s that, today, we might call New Technology.
One of them was about a new substance found in food called The Vitamin.
“Dick was very helpful in helping me understand the dynamic and unique Detroit Radio
Market and I was pleased to bring back some classic Radio Theatre weekdays on CKWW
introduced, of course, by Dick Osgood.
“Since then, I've purchased every book about Radio that I've heard about.....and there have
been many. The disappointing thing about all of them, though, is not being able to "hear"
examples of what made The Radio great. The one exception is "The Hits Just Keep On
Coming" by Ben Fong-Torres, the soft cover of which has a CD featuring airchecks of some
of The Greats.
Others in my library include:
Man of High Fidelity by Lawrence Lessing
A DJ's Spin by Dick Williams
Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella by Joey Reynolds
Growing Up With The Hits by Nevin Grant
Something In The Air by Marc Fisher
The CHUM Story by Allen Farrell
The Birth of Radio in Canada by Bill McNeil and Morris Wolfe
Okay, Okay I Wrote The Book by Chuck Blore
“But my prized possession is "The Development of The Top 40 Radio Format" by David T.
Rollye: I share Warren’s feelings about the MacFarland’s book, which recounts much of the
Storz history. And I just ordered “The CHUM Story” from Amazon, a book of which I was
unaware. Claude & Barbara Hall’s “This Business of Radio Programming” is a must have,
for the interviews alone. Right now there are five hard cover copies on Amazon for a penny.
You gotta take advantage of this
: To add to Warren's list (off the top of my head, so it’s by no
means inclusive and apologies in advance to the writers of all the great books I’m ignoring):
Gordon McLendon - The Maverick of Radio - Ronald Garay (I’ve heard conflicting reports
about the accuracy of some of this book, I’m sure Ken Dowe could fill us in.)
The Deejays - Arnold Passman - written in 1971, it includes many of the great MOR morning
men like Don Sherwood and Dan Sorkin, speaking of which…
Don Sherwood - The Life and Times of “The World’s Greatest Disc Jockey” - Laurie Harper
The Blabbermouths - Dan Sorkin
Chicago’s Personality Radio - Stew Salowitz
Superjock - Larry Lujack
The Cool Gent - Herb Kent
The Pied Pipers of Rock’n’Roll - Wes Smith
Border Radio - Gene Fowler & Bill Crawford
Voice Over - The Making of Black Radio - William Barlow
Sounds In The Dark (All Night Radio in American Life) - Michael C. Keith
You Only Rock Once - Jerry Blavat
Bandstand, The Untold Story - Stanley Blitz
Not just a sound - The Story of WLW - Dick Perry —and associated with it:
Here’s Bob - Bob Braun and..
Paul Baby (Confessions of the Mayor of Kneesville) - Paul Dixon
The Bingham’s of Louisville - David Leon Chandler (written about the owners of WHAS)
Puget Sounds - David Richardson (Seattle radio & TV)
Dream House - Bill Earl (the KRLA story)
When Radio Was Boss - Bill Earl (early So Cal top 40, lots of pictures)
But That’s Not What I Called About - Hilly Rose (for title alone! A look at 60s & 70s talkers)
God’s Other Son - Don Imus
Bare Bones - Bobby Bones —he’s a relative newcomer, currently doing very well as a
syndicated country morning man out of Nashville— but the book is compelling and his story
Rollye: I’m sure I’ve left out more than I’ve included. Eventually I’ll get links to those that
are still available online. And one of these days, let’s do a list of great books on the record
industry. I’ll start with my all time fave : “Sound of the City” - Charlie Gillett. —Good
news on Dick Osgood’s WYXIE Wonderland— Warren’s link now has one available at $79.99.
(That’s the beauty of Amazon. If you’re patient, you might anything for a fraction of what it
was previously, though I won’t hold my breath on it happening with this one, which is long out
Don Graham: “‘Citizen Beverly Hills’ …184 N Canon Dr. New restaurant/bar and open-air
lunge, celebrated grand opening last week…shown above attending: (L-R).. Mark
Graham..Dave Koz…Bill Leopold (Mark and Bill are co-managers to Dave)
Morris I. Diamond: “Dave looks great. Just up the block at 350 N. Canon Drive is our old
Caffe Roma....still a hangout for our music industry bunch as it was for me for 23 years before
I moved to the Springs - and a larger group of industry-ites.”
Jim Sloane: “This is the ad that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star the day K-HOS signed on
the air..I flipped the switch and on came Tucson's brand new 24 hour a day Country
Station...and my Tucson radio career started...53 years ago today... August 10, 1963.”
Don Goldberg: “This is a little off-topic but I wanted to put it out to the list. In the '70s, an
award-winning radio production house in NYC called The Radio Band of America (Harley
Flaum was the creative head) produced a series of spots for a candidate named Charley Holt.
I lost the demo reel years ago and wonder if anyone might know where I can get a hold of
these. If you have a clue you can write me here
Rollye: You might try Paul Messing. I think he became VP/Creative Director at the Radio
Band in ’72, which would have been the year they did the Charley Holt spots. Haven’t
thought of Charley in over 40 years. If memory serves, he was a Republican from Delco, and
was considered a mudslinger, or even vulgar (polite by today’s standards). He was a young,
wealthy guy who lost in the primary. Messing was at WMMR before Radio Band. I’d suggest
asking Harley, but he passed away over 20 years ago (in his 40s). Here’s a link
card from the PRX (public radio exchange). Hope the info is still current. I wouldn’t be
surprised at all if he had the spots. He lived in the area.
Don’s question got me to thinking of political ads. Remember when Gordon McLendon ran
for the Senate in ’64 (as a conservative democrat, losing in the primary to incumbent Ralph
makes you smile.
Claude Hall: “This is a picture I took at Jerry Wexler's Miami place when Paul Ackerman,
music editor of Billboard, and I visited during a NARM convention. Paul at left with Jerry.”
Rollye: It’s always good to hear from Joey Reynolds, but even better when he’s sending along
one of Jerry Del Colliano’s “Day Starters”. (If you haven’t read Jerry’s book, there’s a link
on the column to your left— it might show you a side of him you didn’t know.) Most radio
readers think of Jerry as the guy with the goods— on everyone. But Day Starters is inspiration
in your inbox. The one that Joey sent along is from last Friday on Ageism:
The Washington Post did an interesting piece on how baby boomers are losing their battle
against ageism. But Millennials roughly 18-34 years old are also fighting ageism from the
other direction. They were born into an economy that left many of them unemployed or
under-employed. Today Millennials are still facing age discrimination in that they find it hard
to get full-time jobs with benefits. So ageism either has nothing to do with age or something to
do with age for everyone. The best gauges for hiring are …
: Jerry goes on to make some great points, and you can read them all right here
don’t have to be a subscriber to sign up to get them regularly (though subscribing is a pittance
and the info is priceless). Joey also sent along a couple YouTube videos. One is from his
WOR Radio Network show, featuring the late Soprano’s actor, Cha Cha Circia, and choice
Art Vuolo comments:
If nothing shows up, click here
. The other video is one recently sent to Joey from marketing
ace Peter Weedfald. It’s particularly interesting as it’s from Joey’s brief late night New York
Mel Phillips: “There are still some rooms left at the Crowne Plaza (Newton) for our reunion
weekend. The rooms are very reasonably priced at $179 a night. To reserve your room, call the
hotel at 617-969-3010. If you run into any problems with the booking, ask for Candy in the
sales office. Check-in is Friday, June 2, 2017 with checkout Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Negotiations continue with the location of our Friday Night party venue. Nothing new to report
“This week's photos feature all the General Managers we had at WRKO during our Top 40
area, followed by an assortment of WRKO Music Surveys from 1967.”
Jack Hobbs Bob Fish
Perry S. Ury (73-78) (80-81)
(67-72) John Papas
WRKO 50th Anniversary Reunion Weekend
June 2, 2017: Friday night party for all WRKO employees past and present. (Venue TBD).
June 3, 2017: Saturday Night on air: 7-11 PM WRKO-AM and Backbone Network Streaming
(produced by George Capalbo Jr.)