Vox Jox homepage banner


Archives Index Page

                                                                                                              September 14, 2015
By Claude Hall
with Rollye James
I was born and somewhat raised on the edge of the fabled Hill Country where gentlemen such
as Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb were gods of music and Jimmie Rodgers, the father of
country music, was the god of all gods.  I’d heard about opera, but didn’t believe it until I
served in the U.S. Army in Germany right after World War II.  As soon as I was discharged
from military service, I entered The University of Texas.  Everyone was into folk music.  Some
was interesting; others not.  I heard the first time Elvis was ever on radio.  He appeared live on
“The Louisiana Hayride” and sang “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” his first hit.  It was a bluegrass
tune written by Bill Monroe and was first released on a small jukebox route in northeast Texas,
according to producer Sam Phillips.  I ran down to a race record store in Austin and bought a
copy.  This was exciting.
I heard some real r&b in an outdoor honkytonk on the other side of a stream outside Austin
while in college and had become a devoted Johnny Cash fan by now.  “The Louisiana
Hayride” broadcast live over 50,000-watt KWKH was something else!  A training ground for
“The Grand Ole Opry” at WSM in Nashville.  I did hear some Mexican music in the bars of
Juarez during my first newspaper job on the El Paso Herald-Post.  Loved mariachi from the
first teardrop.
And then I hitchhiked to New York City.  There was only a whisper of country music and it
was poor.  A club in East Patterson, a poor excuse for a radio station in New Jersey circa
1961-2.  The manager invited me to lunch when I was with Billboard.  He defended his station,
claiming that most of New York was Italian and a third was Jewish and he had all of the other
listeners.  I quietly got up, paid for my own meal, and walked out.  I drifted toward jazz while
in New York.  Especially the Jazz Gallery at 8 St. Marks Place just off Greenwich Village.  For
a dollar or two, you could get a beer and sit in some canebottom chairs on the side of the
room.  I tried a club or two uptown, but mostly I enjoyed the Jazz Gallery.  I once took a date
and sat at a table but she didn’t appreciate the music and it was a boring date and I never took a
date there again; I always went alone so I could sip at my beer and enjoy the music.  And the
club seemed to have the best.  Chico Hamilton, Monk, Coltrane.  The music wasn’t always
great, but it was always good.
Dates, I now took to the Greek clubs on Eighth Avenue.  Barbara loved Greek music and she
loved dining with me at the Mexican Gardens, 137 Waverly Place.  I love Greek music and
found it exotic.  Bill Mouzis of KHJ, Los Angeles, loved Greek music.  I never lost my love for
jazz, though.  There is something about jazz.  This is one of the reasons I enjoy the work of
Devon “Doc” Wendell, who plays guitar and writes about jazz with passion.  I’m pleased that
he’s around.  We need him.  God bless jazz music fans.
Doc Wendell:  “Hi, Claude, here's my piece on a rare album by the great Freddie Hubbard.  I
still wish I could play at the level of a jazz musician.  For now, I can fake it.  Hope you're
having a great holiday weekend.  Today, Sonny Rollins turns 85.  I had to write a special
tribute to my hero.  I'm loving the blog.   Here's my review of some new Latin jazz.  Cool
stuff!  Hope all is grand.”

Steve West:  “We have a group called the Old Farts Club made up of old KJR/KOL and record
industry people; 37 total in the group (I'm the appointed 'President for Life, and Beyond') and
once a year we gather at Salty's (the old Beach Broiler) for an annual lunch.  Recognize any of
these?”  (Rollye: Thanks to Don Graham for forwarding Steve's email to us.)

Art Wander:  “Hi, Claude. Thanks to Mel Phillips for the kind words.  Everyone knows of
Mel's great accomplishments and contributions to radio at the top level stations he developed.
 I made it a point to follow PDs and people I respected who excelled at their stations -- Mel
was one of them.  In his comments about me in the last Vox Jox, Mel mentioned the RKO
strike.  That brought back my memories of that time with WRKO and great guy Bob
Henabery.  The Boston strike was a time that we had an opportunity to cross paths.  It was
early in 1967 when I programmed WOR-FM.   Sister station WRKO was on strike and RKO
General wanted management people to perform duties there.  RKO volunteered me to be part
of the contingent heading to Boston -- for which I was paid a $25 bond.  When I arrived, my
first duties were running the audio board for the TV station.  That was interesting.  Then I was
given an assignment to do News on WRKO radio. 

“Of course, very early in my career I did News at WKBW in Buffalo and then with WAKY in
Louisville -- the McLendon station.  Gordon himself, on one of the visits. told me two things
that stuck with me.  (1) Get the listener's ear in the first 5 words and (2) Paint the picture with
creative writing.  Bill Gill was the ND at WAKY and we worked wonders with the News. 
Each story would be preceded by a quick headline.  For example: if a woman fell from a
building, here's how it would be re-written and aired, ‘Louisville -- Death flies through the air. 
A voluptuous blonde bombshell plummet 8 stories to her demise, etc., etc., etc’.   Gill did the 8
a.m. newscast (the Bacon and Eggs edition) and I wrote it for him every morning.  He never
read it before going on the air.  I was impressed at the way he would always cradle the mike.  A
story came across that a fire broke out in a southern prison.  After the news opening, Gill
delivered what I wrote which broke him up, ‘Alabama -- Incarcerated inmate ignites
institution’.  Hence the break-up.  Jim Light, the PD, did mornings and he broke up. 

“By the way, Light later became GM of WBZ Boston.  Frankly, Gill and Joe Long were
outstanding McLendon newsmen.  Gill later became the Sunday morning TV host on the ABC
network.  Back to WRKO I applied the McLendon way of doing a newscast, writing and
delivering it.  I was used to re-writing the entire cast, including the weather.  Remembering
McLendon's edict, ‘Our words will be different than any other station in the city’ -- and they
were.  We never used any wire copy.  After finishing my cast, Bob Henabery came by
laughing (or was it snickering).  Bob and I chatted ... I followed his glorious career through the
trades and through mutual friends.  I hope he continues to be well -- he was a great radio guy
in those good radio days. 

“As for Claude's WOR-FM rememberences.  In 1966, I was flown to New York to be
interviewed for the WOR-FM PD job by the WOR GM who oversaw the beginnings of
WOR-FM.  We met at Steve Paul's The Scene (I believe it was on 48th St) with Murray the
K. Tiny Tim performed ‘Tip Toe Thru the Tulips’.  I was amazed at the response from the
audience and wondered, coming from Top 40,  whether I was ready for the ‘new’ format of
album cuts and new music and artists.  In any event, we spoke for a few hours, I was offered
the job as program director and accepted.  After I arrived, I became the PD of WOR-FM.  Tom
Reynolds (a big band fan) returned upstair to his preferred WOR.  While Tom sat in the PD
office, Murray and Scott Muni were involved in the programming, especially the music. 

“On arrival I wound up in that office as PD with a contemporary/Top 40 background.  It didn't
take me long to involve myself in album cuts, etc.  The FM was a phenomenal experience with
the ratings inching up very well.  Shortly after staging a summer 1967 concert at the Village
Theater -- with Janis Ian, the Doors, Richie Havens, Chambers Bros., Blues Project
(admission $3)  we were informed that RKO General would have Bill Drake take over,
causing me to choose leaving, followed by Murray, Scott Muni, Rosko.  Shortly after that
WNEW-FM took over the AOR format with Scott and Rosko winding up at that station.  Mel
later became PD of the station and did a fine job. 

“One of the highlights of my tenure was Murray's interview of Brian Epstein who played a
song from the forthcoming album.  In April 1967, he wrote me saying the title was ‘A Day in
the Life’.  That letter is a prized possession.  There were other highlights -- artists coming in,
like Roger Daltrey of the WHO, to just sit and listen to the station.  That experience helped
me program AOR at several stations I was involved with.   Shortly, I will submit a commentary
on one of the strangest happenings of my involvement at WOR-FM -- something that I don't
think any PD ever experienced.  Again Mel -- thanks for your generous comments, I appreciate
it.  You, Claude and so many outstanding programmers, were a big part of the great generation
in radio in those great years.”
Claude Hall:  “Art, a phenomenal letter.  A historical document that I hope everyone reads! 
My sincere appreciation.  I’m looking forward to your next contribution.  Below:  Michael
Randolph is the son of PoPsie, the legendary New York showbusiness photographer.”
Michael Randolph, executor to estate of PoPsie Randolph:   “Claude, the Vox Jox logo came
up to my att.net email system (thru Yahoo) as SPAM!  My system deletes same as unread and
then same gets trashed.  YEARS AGO I deleted ALL of my ADDRESS files of contacts and
ALL of my SENT MAIL addresses.  Hackers can get into these files and attach trojans and
phishing scams.  I keep all of my contacts on printed sheets at my desk ... very safe, fast and
convenient.  Last week, one of my colleagues mentioned that my email came up as spam. 
Checked out my Maleware software ... you have to check for Hijack.Trojan.Siredof.c
maleware in your register.  It is a shame ... the internet turned to international scams. 

“Was in Miami last week (Key Largo) checking on the house ... and business meetings.  Just
got back from my weekend trips to LA ... televised the Mosley fight at the FORUM.  On my
way to Chios, Greece, for the day to argue with my cousins and do house chores.  HOT as
HELL everywhere ... back to Vegas for another boxing broadcast.  As an FCC (1st class &
general licensed engineer) been busy with special communications operations.  Still living on a
plane for day trips ... TV broadcasts ... 100,000 miles a year ... having fun ... as long as I can
walk the golden retrievers on the beach in OC, NJ, when I get home. 

“Will keep you posted on my new photo book ... Frank Sinatra - New York, NY, Very rare
PoPsie photos of a young Frank at the Paramount and NY Clubs from 1940 to 1956.  Over 250
images ... have never been published ... FS family never knew they existed ... printing begins
this week.  I tried a fund raising campaign on KICKSTARTER ... just to see if there was
interest in the FS photo Book.  I can provide the funds myself.  You would not believe all the
trash and SPAM and desperate souls that came out of it ... riot!  Most people could not get on
the site ... if they did ... they could not make pledges ... and the site crashed their computer as
they attempted to do so.  What a RIOT!  Too bad...

“YES ... I still have the Buddy Holly glasses.  Pet your doggies and PLEASE stay out of the
traffic!  YOU’RE THE MAN, CLAUDE ... may PoPsie send you a shooting Star!  Sorry for
the long email ... I will call next time ... LOL!”
Chuck Blore: “It's such a great pleasure to have Vox Jox still rolling along ... maybe re-rolling
would be more accurate.  Thanks to you and your lovely friend Rollye, whom I have long
admired, for the many memories and magic moments.  Your long time pal.”
Claude Hall:  “Wow!  Fifty years ago I can visualize this new book by Mel Phillips –
Timeline Memories” – being easily worth $100 a copy.  If you could steal one.  It would have
been, instead of a book, a stack on index cards on the desk of a very successful radio
personality.  The book covers a year with the major incidents of that day listed.  Music, too. 
For example:  ‘On March 11, 1911 – Up in flames:  146 people (123 of them women) are
killed at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan.  The owners of the company are
charged with manslaughter when it’s discovered that the doors are locked….’  That’s just one
of the items.  Actually, the doors opened inwardly, thus the teeming ladies couldn’t open them
as others crowded behind them.  This is why the law states that doors should open outwardly. 
This is the site in Greenwich Village that’s now the home of NYU.  Great book, Mel!  Worth
whatever Amazon is charging.  Especially for a working personality.”
Rich Robbin: “Hey there ... I loved your old format.  It reminded me of a really cool
down-home chat over the back fence ... really homespun and personal, so I'm wondering why
you made this huge change?  Finding that email in my box Monday Mornings was the
highlight that started my week!  Now there's a bunch of gobble-de-gook w/signing on that site,
signing up, etc., etc., etc.  My old dad used to say ‘you don't fix what ain't broke!’  Love ya
anyway, pal ... PS -- and I'll betcha if you asked around many of your other fans would
indicated they liked the informality, friendliness and ‘radio family’ feel of the emails better ...
OK, I'll be still now.  Stay well!”
Claude Hall:  “It was a necessity, Rich.  The old methodology was hard to handle – a list is not
as effective in staying power (I still get emails from the column when it was carried by Larry
Shannon in RadioDailyNews.com and Jack Roberts in Hollywood Hills as a website -- and I’m
only going to be around a while longer and wanted to find ‘some other way’ and thank God
Rollye James was around to take over.  I consider this lady a radio angel.  In the long run, of
course, this ‘watering hole’ only works if you guys keep the comments coming in.  I’m
astonished at the way things have gone so far.  First, 14 years with Billboard, then two or three
years as a list to some radio friends, about 10 years with RadioDailyNews, two years (about)
with Hollywood Hills, then more than a year as a list, now with Rollye James and Vox Jox
again.  Amazing!  I apologize for the hassle, Richbro.  Suggestion:  Bookmark the site, as I do. 
I click on the bookmark and, voila, there’s Vox Jox!”
Jim Rose:  “Brings back fond memories to read about Trippy Domino Rippy in your
Commentary.  In 1975 when I’m MD/DJ on Top 40 KXOL-1360 in Ft. Worth, TX, we had
several different 6-10 pm DJs.  One of them is bushy-headed biker Trippy Domino Rippy
who talks behind the radio mic louder and faster than any other radio DJ in existence.  Each
night before he goes on the air at 6 pm he sits on KXOL-1360 front porch with its front door
propped wide open and tokes a stream of smoke.  Those were the days my friend.”

Chuck Dunaway about WIXY owner/manager Norm Wain: “Last time I was in touch with
Norm was about three years ago ... he was living 6 months a year in Florida and spending
about six months a year in Cleveland and teaching radio at Cleveland State University ... Norm
was the best manager I ever worked for.”
Claude Hall:  “I go back with Norman Wain to the day he and a couple of partners owned a
neighborhood AM.  The towers and studio were just a half a mile to the north of the house
Barbara and I owned in Hartsdale, NY.”
Kevin McKeown, Santa Monica, CA:  “No more cruisin’ Santa Monica in an almost 50-year
time warp with the Real Don Steele on KHJ, thanks to ReelRadio?  Today in the car I was
listening to a classic 1964 Dan Ingram air check, and tonight I read the Vox Jox email from
Uncle Ricky warning that this radio resource I think we’ve all taken for granted could go
dark.  The check isn’t in the mail -- I made my donation (I was already a subscriber) just now
online.  How many ex-DJs will it take to keep our history alive?”

Don Graham:  “GOOD NEWS, Matt Forbes’ new CD ‘Coulda Woulda Shoulda’ set to be
featured on ‘Martini in the Morning.com’ with Brad Chambers Thursday 9/17, once an hour
with giveaways all day!”

Jenni Finlay:  “The 2015 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass has been
awarded to Danny Barnes, eclectic clawhammer and three-finger picker from Texas.  Barnes
is a former leader of Bad Livers.”

Ken Dowe:  “Hey, Claude!  I forgot what a handsome young Texan you were back in the day. 
And, still smoking along at 83!  Awesome.  Dottie came across some old photos of me just
recently and gave me a … ‘compliment?’  ‘Look at these!  You used to look like a movie star!’ 
‘Thanks, Dottie.  I really appreciate the candor’.  It’s okay for us older dudes, Claude.  I
recently saw an old fellow at a local breakfast spot outside Santa Fe, ambling across the dining
room for another cup of coffee.  He was all wrinkled.  (Clothes and skin.)  Just another average
appearing elderly gentleman.  Appeared to be a nice guy.  Nobody special.  I tapped Dottie on
the knee.  ‘Know who that is?’  She didn’t.  ‘Well, it happens even to the best.  Say good
morning to Robert Redford’.  Tell Rollye the look of VOX JOX is really outstanding!”
Claude Hall:  “After seeing last week’s issue, I emailed her that we had a winner.  She,
however, is concerned about losing 20% readership due to spam blockage.  I thought that if
everyone who reads Vox Jox and likes it would just pass along the address – voxjox.org – to a
friend or two, we’d be doing good.  Thus, we shall see.”
Jim Ramsburg when I spelled out why Rollye James was a vital factor in my column:  “Hey,
Claude: You got off easy!  I spent 3 1/2 weeks imprisoned in a Minneapolis hospital for the
same thing last summer.  (If you listen closely when you pass the hospital up there you can
hear the "quack, quack, quack.").  It wasn't until we got back to Ft. Myers and another week in
the hospital that I got the necessary valve and stents installed.  Take it easy and stay well.  I'm
in no hurry to see Jack G. Thayer again and neither should you be.”
Dick Taylor:  “Hi, Claude & Rollye, Dave Martin just tweeted Vox Jox was back.  I was
thrilled.  I grew up in radio reading Vox Jox religiously.  I too was stunned with the dismissal
of Shotgun Tom Kelly & Charlie Tuna from K-Earth.  So much so that I wrote about the
trends in radio in what's been my most popular blog post ever.  You can read more about it

“A couple of years ago, I took a vacation in LA and had the opportunity to spend a day (thanks
to Art Vuolo -- a great friend), with Jhani Kaye and Shotgun Tom Kelly at K-Earth.  It was
one of the highlights of my life.  I was a 40+ year radio guy who entered college teaching as an
assistant professor of broadcasting at The School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western
Kentucky University, Bowling Green, over five years ago.  I started my blog at the start of this
year and publish every Sunday. 

“I was distressed to read in your column about the state of ReelRadio.  I'm a subscriber, but
was shocked to read how few members of our radio community do subscribe.  The unscoped
airchecks that can be heard via this site are golden.  Surely one of radio's elite could set-up a
foundation that would sustain the operation of this enterprise.  Anyway, just wanted you to
know that now that I'm aware you're back, I will be checking in to read what's going on. 

“Will you have a LINK to get an email when you post a new column in the future?  I know my
blog via WordPress sends out an email to all of my subscribers when a new post goes up on
Sunday.  Best of Luck with the new venture.”
Rollye:  I'm working on that link.  Reader tip:  Skip to the next paragrah and avoid more info
than anyone needs on the mailing list saga.  For the curious though, my initial approach, (a
SYMPTA list) did not work out too well.  I've pinpointed the reasons but addressing them is as
much a guessing game for me as it is for the email providers who are blocking and reporting
my mailings.  What I’m planning to do next will take some time and how well it will work
remains to be seen, but I’ll start on it and will not originate a mass mailing--or bore you with
another explanation-- until the next grand experiment.    But as long as you can remember that
a new column awaits you every Monday morning at VoxJox.org, you’re good to go.  
Bookmark this page if you like, check on Mondays, and you'll always be up to date.

Rich Robbins' puzzlement over why Claude stopped emailing the column is partly answered
by Michael Randolph’s description of what happened to the mail he didn’t get.  In an online
world of what is probably billions of spam emails daily, every email provider looks for ways to
minimize what junk you receive.  Some are more aggressive than others. All have to guess
when they set out parameters. Few actually return the undelivered emails to the suspected
spammers.   In other words, for some folks the column made it to their inbox, others never saw

Apart from digital logistics, and Claude's health, there are some powerful reasons to have the
content online.  As Claude pointed out, it has staying power.  It can be accessed by anyone
anytime, and can easily be shared with a URL link.  But best of all, it creates a community. 
Claude’s concern was what would happen if he got to the point he could no longer write the
column at all.  I’m praying that’s a long way off, but whenever the inevitable occurs, as it will
occur to us all, those remaining will continue to have the backyard fence that Rich Bro

And there are things we can do on a site that are not practical by email.  The links to
everyone’s pet projects or books, for instance.  I view the site as Claude-centric, but on a
broader scale, it is yours.  I hope you’ll take me up on sharing links, images, suggestions, and
most of all your thoughts.  Speaking of sharing, I’ll close this week with a happy link from

Timmy Manocheo:  “Dave Hull is still going strong!”