Vox Jox homepage banner


Archives Index Page

Three members of the Association lounge in the rooftop garden at the old Billboard “up
behind the Paramount Theatre” in the 60s.  Not only were the offices historic, but
everyone was welcome to drop by.
                                                                                                                       September 28, 2015

By Claude Hall
And Rollye James
Do I miss Manhattan?  It’s true that in a city of millions I frequently met people I knew on the
sidewalks of that several blocks area that ranged from around Paramount Theatre to RCA
Records to Atlantic Records.  This included the fabled Brill Building, 30 Rock, and the sensual
allure of Broadway, the rock, folk and the jazz from Greenwich Village.  It was a cold city with
warm people.  And excitement.  For a while, the energy that thundered in your blood as you
went from here to there was astounding!  Even after I lived in Hartsdale, I found the train into
Manhattan boring and tiring.  But once you stepped off the train and came through the crowd
of Grand Central and got upstairs amidst even more people, you suddenly came alive!  Maybe
it was the ferocious competition necessary to survive.  You had to fight through masses just to
walk across the plaza in Grand Central and climb the steps to reach the outer world.  And the
walk to the office at 146th West Avenue was always an elbow-jarring jaunt.
But I loved it!  And it was sort of a love-hate relationship because I always felt the need to be
on some south sea island with a beer in one hand and a good sun in my face.  A portable
Smith-Corona on the sand between my legs, a palm tree moving gently in the breeze above me.
However, the offices of Billboard magazine “up behind the Paramount Theatre” were ideal for
a music trade publication.  Not just because we were in the heart of the music business (except
for the businesses in Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville which were not only thriving, but
growing and there were music thrusts in Atlanta, Memphis, and Austin that were alive and
well).  I worked in a cubicle with a shoulder-high wall between me and someone else.  You had
no secrets.  But the office had character and there was an apartment upstairs with a very
pleasant rooftop garden.  Atmosphere!  And it was a warm and pleasant place.  Good to work
in.  Hal Cook, had an office in the corner, the only office with a door.
One night the train home was still.  Hal Cook, publisher of Billboard who lived in Ardsley,
finally lost his patience and began to make noises.  He grew louder.  I tried to calm him down
-- without success.   The conductor was going to toss him off the train.  Then there were more
conductors and threats flying everywhere.  Finally, the train began to move.  It was more than
an hour late leaving Grand Central.
“There must be somewhere else where we can put out this magazine,” Cook said.
Then word came in a few weeks that the headquarters of the magazine was being moved to Los
I felt fairly secure in my job.  By now, Bill Littleford, one of the owners, had loaned me
money for the purchase of a house in Hartsdale and gave me a raise equivalent to the monthly
payments for the loan, an unheard of move in the business world.
Paul Ackerman, music editor and my mentor, told me to “stay with Lee Zhito.”  That was my
first news that I was going to Los Angeles.  Or could go.  I bought a copy of the Los Angeles
Times and took it home that evening and asked Barbara if she’d like to read this newspaper
every day instead of the New York Times.  She was willing.
Now, all of these years later, I realize that it was a mistake to move the headquarters to Los
Angeles.  First, our New York offices were so well located.  A perfect office for a music trade. 
Walking distance of the Brill as well as Al and Dicks.  Walking distance of several recording
studios.  Music publishers around every corner.  In the center of music and radio and television.
True, the magazine was making money and in Los Angeles reaped a fortune.  Zhito told me
that someone had offered $70 million for the magazine; this didn’t include the fringe
businesses and our other magazines.  I was told that radio circulation alone paid for all of the
magazine’s expenses, including salary, printing, and distribution.
True, there was a beautiful flow of creative energy rampant on the West Coast.  But, basically
Los Angeles is sort of distant cold while Manhattan enjoys some kind of intimacy.  There was
then and probably even now something great about New York City.  Unexplainable, but there. 
Old and ancient.  Personal.  Too, what was the music industry without Morris Levy of
Roulette Records?  You needed a Levy and a Larry Uttal and a Jerry Wexler, Steve Sholes
and Bill Galagher and Shelby Singleton.  They made the music business interesting.
What would have happened had Billboard’s driving force remained in the center of
Manhattan?  And avoided that move into One Astor Place?  If I had stayed in New York City?
One thing:  The magazine would have kept its heart.  I believe we lost something important
when we shifted headquarters to Los Angeles.  On the West Coast, the people changed.  The
atmosphere was different.  We weren’t together anymore.  Paul Ackerman wasn’t there to
remind me that “publishing is where it’s at.”  Mike Gross would have kept that window
closed.  The warmth of the music business would have remained.  Something you could have
wrapped your arms around.
I believe we lost a great many things when we shifted to Los Angeles.  We left the past behind. 
We left those great traditions twined amidst old memories.  I believe we lost the heart of the
music business.
Chuck Blore:  “Claude ... wow!  That was great … very stirring for the few of us left to
remember.  No kidding, it was a blessing to us all at a time we'll never forget.  ‘God Bless
America’.  Thank you very much.”
Jim Ramsburg:  “I hate to throw water on your good story, but Kate Smith introduced ‘God
Bless America’ on her CBS Radio show of November 10, 1938, to mark the 20th anniversary
of Armistice Day the following day.  Her performance of the song on that broadcast, complete
with its seldom-heard verse, is posted at ‘Kate's Great Song’ on www.jimramsburg.com.  Also,
you'll find the movie in which she sang the song was the 1943 Warner Brothers film ‘This Is
the Army’.  Yup, Irving Berlin was in This Is the Army -- singing a song he wrote for Yip, Yip
Yaphank in 1917, Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.  ‘This Is the Army’ was originally
a Broadway stage musical based on Yip, Yip Yaphank with an all Army cast -- and Irving
Berlin -- in the summer of 1942.  (It was directed by Sgt. Ezra Stone, radio's Henry Aldrich
in civilian life.)  The show was such a hit that it went on tour until February 1943, when
filming began on the movie.   Berlin, dressed in a World War I uniform, sang Oh, How I Hate
to Get Up in the Morning in every performance of the show.  The stage version made over $2.0
million and the movie grossed $9.5 million -- all donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. 
Thanks again for the Vox Jox link to my GOld Time Radio.” 
Claude Hall:  “Hey, Jim, I actually thought you might have written that copy!  Thanks for the
update.  You’re the man!”
Doc Wendell, after I guided him to Vox Jox and praised Rollye James and mentioned the
secret apartment:  “Thanks, Claude, I truly appreciate that and I'll do that.  I've heard of her. 
She's very cool.  At 40, I feel I, too, need a partner!  It's a jungle out there on social media,
blogs, etc.  I work myself into horrible migraine cycles between the writing and being a
musician.  My dad says I'm older than he is in all the wrong ways! Here's my latest piece on a
semi-obscure album by Jackie McLean.  Real gritty, no bullshit music the way I like it.

“That sounds like a lot of fun, Claude. What wild tales could be told by the walls of that hidden
apartment? I know often times, us writers need a hidden sanctuary.  I used to hide out in the
most horrific and seediest motels in New Jersey, Atlanta, and Hollywood, hoping to get some
actual work done.  It always backfired.  Within 20 minutes of checking in, an unholy
celebration would suddenly erupt out of nowhere.  Whiskey bottles, porcelain dolls, and fast
food wrappers everywhere.  I realized I would get more actual work accomplished if I placed a
tiny mobile office smack in the center of the street on 7th Avenue and 51st Street.  I think I
actually tried this once.”
Hal Smith:  “I thought you would be interested in this.  Elvis, Bill Black, Scotty Moore and
Sam Phillips.”


Claude Hall:  “Ah, memories, Hal.  They were all so very, very young.  I once tried to get
through to Elvis to get him to record some of the old standards.  No luck.  The colonel had an
iron fence around him.  Can you just imagine Elvis Presley singing “Stormy Weather” or
Tom Russell:  “Hello from Belfast!  Soldout show tonight … here below are the six or seven
categories our record company submitted for the Grammy Ballot for ‘The Rose of Roscrae’ …
if you have voting rights with NARAS or could pass this along to friends who do, much
appreciated …   the record received great reviews and much alt airplay.  Thanks, y adios from
Tom Russell – ‘He Wasn't a Bad Kid, When He Was Sober’ from: ‘The Rose of Roscrae’
Tom Russell, Maura O'Connell – ‘I Talk to God’ from: ‘The Rose of Roscrae’
Tom Russell – ‘The Rose of Roscrae’ (album)
Tom Russell, Norwegian Wind Ensemble, Mats Hålling -- Overture from: ‘The Rose of Roscrae’
Also -- Best Liner Notes
Claude Hall:  “I’m a huge Tom Russell fan and I know that Ken Dowe likes ‘He Wasn’t a Bad
Kid, When He Was Sober’.  Lord, but wouldn’t it be nice if Tom won an award!  Or two.”
Charlie Barrett as the result of a teaser email about the Vox Jox you’re reading:  “No ... I never
knew Billboard off Times Sq. in NYC had a 'secret' apartment in their offices on West 46th St.
 Tell us more!  I worked there at Billboard in NYC very briefly in 1967 as an asst. writer to
Aaron Sternfield, but you most likely to do not remember me. Later, I worked as music editor
of the Hollywood Reporter in LA from 1975-1979, when I joined NBC-TV.  Today, both
Billboard and Hollywood Reporter are owned by same company ... who would ever guess!” 
Bob Sherwood:  “OK, so it’s a relatively quiet Saturday morning -- the beyond-magnificent
Pope Francis doesn’t resume his stunningly impactful visit to the United States for another
couple of hours, Beyonce and company do their hunger benefit in Central Park mid-afternoon
and the USC/Arizona State game doesn’t begin until 11 p.m. my time (!!)  so I’m left with the
following:  …why is it that every time I put together an essential Top Ten Desert Island Discs
list (that inevitably goes to 135 or more) I neglect to include Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’? 
And yet every time I regularly hear it on one of the four or five oldies stations that I get from
NY, CT, & NJ -- headed by WCBS-FM and the amazing Scott Shannon, who’s wonderfully
Still Crazy After All these Years’ -- I immediately turn the volume up to 10 and joyfully join
Rod like I was a back-up singer.  But he never makes one of my lists.  I wonder why? 

“Then there’s this … why is it that all the semi-to-full oldies stations are playing the same 30
records like they were Top 40 of old?  Many of the artists are getting more airplay that when
they were originally making hits!  I think of Eddie Money’s ‘Two Tickets to Paradise’ and
Take Me Home Tonight’ (“that’s what Ronnie said,  ‘be my little baaay-be’), Aerosmith’s
Dream On’, Chicago’s ‘Feelin’ Stronger Every Day’ (greatest back-up rock track ever!) and
25 or Six to Four’, Toto’s ‘Africa’ and ‘Roseanna’, Boz’s ‘Lowdown’, Tommy Tutone’s 
867-5309 (or whateverin hell that number was that got us sued several dozen times), and
Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’, for instance.  I know this with some certainty because I
was working them all at some position during my time at Columbia.  And it’s nearly
impossible to scroll through the Oldies stations without hearing ‘Miss You’ (some Puerto Rican
girls are just dyin’ to meetchu!), ‘Hotel California’, Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’,
Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, Billy Joel and Elton John.  Certainly Clear Channel,
Cumulus, Entercom, et al don’t discuss programming with each other -- for one thing, they
don’t care about it -- so how did they all arrive at this select list?  Just wondering?  In closing, I
just reminded myself that the late and truly great Ray Anderson who was my Columbia
Promotion VP at the time, and I were in LA at the same time and went to the studio to join
Toto, its management and producer for the first listen to the just-completed album (remember
them?) containing ‘Roseanna’ and ‘Africa’.  We were so totally blown away that we
simultaneously yelled No. 1! ... at the same time. Something we religiously never did for fear
of being tortured beyond measure if we didn’t deliver!  Those overwhelming feelings of being
so moved by recordings are among the things I most miss about radio and the record business. 
We return you now to regular programming.”
Larry Cohen: "Hearing from former radio greats for me is like ‘taking a step backward in the
right direction’.  Miss the Danny Davis stories & always look forward to reading the
‘kvetching’ from the iconic Roger Carroll.  Best regards & keep the flame kindling that keeps
the column going.”
Claude Hall:  “Lyn Stanley reports she’s traveling.  ‘Over 15,000 albums sold worldwide in
the past 15 months.  Soon to be released in 2015, ‘Interludes’, a story about love's breakups
and makeups.”
Don Graham:  “Hi ya, Claude! … hi ya, Rollye! … great news … Matt Forbes’ new CD goes
Top 10 in Amazon’s hot new releases! … (all prior to the nat’l release date!).”
More Bob Sherwood: “Hi again, Claude.  I don’t think my comments below have much general
interest but as the first group involves Willie Nelson and Texas I thought they might be worth a
quick read by you.  FYI, D Dubya (my nickname), the original recipient in the 1240 KROY
Group is Dave Williams.  I hired him at 17 to do weekends and relief at KROY.  He eventually
became PD at ‘HBQ and K-RTH and for couple + decades was morning News/Talk co-anchor
on KNX and KABC.  He’s presently doing the same thing for KLIF in Dallas.  All the best for
the remainder of your weekend.”
Dave Williams:  “Very nice! I love reading about your Saturday morning and the relatively
trivial thoughts sparking your synapses. I believe this is frequently referred to as ‘stream of
thought’.  Saturday morning in North Texas dawned late and cool.  We're finally moving
toward Fall with overnight lows dropping below 85.  I believe it was about 66 when I awoke
this morning and the humidity was closer to normal than it has been for a long time.  The
lovely and feisty Carolann Williams is away for the weekend with a friend for a
sewing/embroidery retreat in Celeste, Texas.  Celeste is one of the dozens of small towns
within an hour's drive of the DFW Metroplex which still looks as it did 80-100 years ago
minus the hitching posts and most of the businesses.  To give you the true flavor of rural Texas
towns, which I dearly love, here is a blog post I did shortly after I arrived nearly four years
ago. I took the short drive south of Dallas to the town of Abbott, home of Willie and Bobbie
Nelson.  The pictures give you a good idea of how life exists today much the same as it did 80
or 90 years ago.  I think you'll enjoy it if you have a couple of minutes.  It's not long.  The
friend I was traveling to visit in Waco was, indeed, our own JD Hinton, formerly Don

“I have enough things I've been putting off to keep me busy for a couple of weeks today.  That
generally means I won't accomplish any of them.  The dogs have my rapt attention and they
aren't doing shit.  Well, they did that already but I don't expect any further productivity out of
them.  Anybody use Periscope?  Maybe I'll do a little live streaming in a bit.  Look for me
under @KLIFDave  One pot of coffee is in me. I have much to do and need to get started
ignoring it all.  Have a lovely weekend, all.”
Bob Sherwood:  “A ‘good morning’ backatcha, D Dubya.  Delightful and illuminating piece on
Abbott, Texas.  You certainly captured a real sense of the place … albeit somewhat
melancholy, bordering on sad.  As an aside, I despise all ‘big box’ stores and what they’ve
done to small towns and small businesses.  It was all inevitable, but that doesn’t necessarily
make it good.  Your mention of Ol’ Will triggers a memory which you may find somewhat
amusing.  First, Willie and I shared an attorney at the time -- Joel A. Katz, who truly kept him
out of Federal prison -- which was a connection beyond record company exec and recording
artist.  But the memory is from back in the ‘80s when Walter (Yetnikoff) grabbed one of the
CBS jets so he and eight or ten other senior Columbia label, Nashville, CBS sales and
international execs could fly somewhere in the South or Mid-west to join Willie for the
opening of a tour.  Following the show and back-stage Walter and several other of us were
invited to join him in his tour bus for some ‘refreshments’.  At some point the CBS
photographer snapped a picture of Willie roaring with laughter and falling almost face-first in a
pizza (God knows what was baked in it) immediately after I made a tasteless joke about the
IRS.  The photo remains one of my prouder possessions on the artist wall back home.  Your
comments have inspired me so as soon as the Pope completes Mass in Philadelphia I’m going
to step back outside to stare at the waters of Cape Cod and do some more ‘streaming’.”

Rollye:  Mainstream media is doing a great job covering everything Papal Visit related, but the
press did encounter a few stumbling blocks this past week:

Chuck Buell:  “Oh no!  not Yogi BEAR too!   According to an Associated Press news alert
Tuesday morning, September 22, 2015, cartoon character Yogi Bear is no more.  An AP wire
alert sent Wednesday morning stated, New York Yankees Hal of Fame catcher Yogi Bear has
died. He was 90.  AP later updated the alert with the correct name.”

       Yogi Buell

Rollye:  The rush to be first often supports the law of unintended consequences.  I’m sure there
are still meetings going on at Tribune Tower as you’re reading this, after venerable WGN-TV 9
chose last week to illustrate a story on Yom Kippur, the highest and most somber holy day on
the Jewish calendar.   It can be surmised that newsroom workers observing the holiday were
not on hand to tell the hapless editor that the chosen bright yellow Star of David with the word
“Jude” in the center was actually the holocaust image mandated by the Third Reich for Jews to
wear as identification.  But deadlines are not always the culprit. Nothing explains how Time
Magazine in the 1970s could write,  Ohio and it’s neighbor to the west, Illinois…   That they
did not know another state is sandwiched between the two was not nearly as vexing as where
they thought Indiana might be.

David Martin:  Thought you, Claude and your readers would enjoy these photos. Once upon a
time when talent picked and programmed their music - after all, they were hired to do "a show"
- labels sent product directly to them. Records were sent not only to the station but to the
 homes of DJs. The photo is the cover of the package of one such mailing to my dad from RCA
Victor in 1957. He worked on the air at WLOU and later WINN in Lousiville. The cartoon is

David Martin:  Buried the lede  - the cartoon is signed by Will Eisner. Can you imagine, RCA
commissioned a cartoon for use on a promo dept mailer.  Eisner, a legendary pioneer in the
American comic book biz, coined the term "graphic novel."

Rollye:  My husband, Jon, who is kind enough to clean up countless images for me,
particularly enjoyed it.  He’s a huge comic collector.  (Tens of thousands, and I can’t complain
because I have even more records.)   With his own background in comic illustration way back
when, Jon immediately recognized Eisner’s hand, but I had to explain why I was laughing.  
The envelope art is wonderful, though ironic in that some of those B Side labels were nearer
and dearer to many a disc jockey’s heart— and wallet— than the estimable RCA.  Thanks! 
And thanks to all of you for reading.  Remember there’s a new column from Claude Hall
every Monday morning at VoxJox.org.
picture of the Association members
picture of Elvis, Black, Moore & Phillips
Chuck Buell initials with Yogi Bear
Mailing envelope with Eisner art to disc Jockey Johnny Martin in Louisville
Will Eisner envelope art-- three promo men at disc jockey door, 4th from B-side label lying in a tent as if waiting forever