(Jillian Escoto, Bruce Scott, Steve Harvey, Carla Farrell, Nephew Tommy, Shirley Strawberry, Chris Little, Tim Conway, Jr., and Jim Rome)
Nostalgia Sunday - 9 Years Ago Today
Hats Off to Larry
When last interviewed by LARadio.com back in 1998, Larry said he’d decided to leave radio because of the precariousness of ongoing format changes. “After a many years in radio and television, I made the successful transition to a very lucrative career as a voice talent, every day doing promos, commercials and trailers, much of it out of my home studio,” said Larry. There was really no pressing reason for him to return to radio. Yet there was something missing.
“After ten or so years I missed the interaction with friends and co-workers. I had been doing some fill-in news anchoring at Arrow 93 in morning drive. When it made the switch to JACK/fm, I called Ed Pyle, KNX news director, and told him I missed the excitement and challenges of radio. He was so kind and generous and invited me to audition.” Larry got the job as a weekend and fill-in anchor on the all-news station. “In hiring me, Ed gave me the opportunity to enter one of the most productive and satisfying chapters in this road many of us travel. It has reawakened all the feelings of excitement that brought me into broadcasting in the first place.” Larry also thanked former KNX gm David G. Hall, who put Larry in his current 7 p.m. to midnight news anchor duties each weeknight. “Although it sounds cliché, I wake up in the morning now, and can’t wait to get to work. It reminded me that what we do is meaningful…and fun!”
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Larry later moved to the Southland where he attended Los Angeles High School. He recalls how important radio was from his earliest years. “Radio was always a big part of my life. As a youngster, I listened to all the radio serial shows. I remember sending away for a decoder ring so I could decode secret messages. I waited for what seemed like months and then the excitement of going to the mailbox and seeing that little package … sitting there saying, ‘OK big guy…now you’re in the in-crowd!’” Then it was Chuck Blore and KFWB Channel 98 on Larry’s radio dial. “I always treasure the fact that later in life, I actually got a chance to be directed for some spots by the architect of Color Radio, Chuck Blore. Larry also listened to KHJ, as “Boss Radio and all the other iterations of modern radio flowed out of all our speakers day and night as I grew up.”
How did Larry first get interested in pursuing his own radio career? “While the other kids were playing baseball, I was playing dj using a wooden spoon for my microphone. I actually ripped off all the labels of my mother’s canned food and pretended they were earphones. For months, she never knew what she was opening for dinner … she still kids me about that.” Eventually Larry’s parents purchased him a Webcor tape recorder, “and I was off to the races.”
His first job was at Saul Levine’s fm jazz station, KBCA. “I’ll always be grateful to Saul who gave me my first chance to do what I always dreamed of.” Back then, Larry’s audience was a bit limited. “To even hear fm, you had to have a special under-dash radio, or if you really had some bucks, you had a Blaupunkt installed in your car. We didn’t have a lot of listeners or commercials … but, I was finally a dj! My dear grandparents, who would really be more comfortable with Montovani, listened every night because they loved and were proud of me. They could tell you the difference between Thelonius Monk and Chet Baker…bless their souls.” Larry’s grandparents listened to their grandson at every opportunity, “too bad we didn’t have the PPM’s in those years.”
Larry then traveled to KXO in El Centro, doing just about everything at the station from powering up the transmitter to helping with janitorial duties. “One of the proudest tasks I was assigned at KXO was to bring in the Richfield Reporter on Sunday nights, which was fed from KNX in Los Angeles. It was so exciting to be involved with a major market giant like that. I never dreamed that I would ever get to actually work there. What a trip it is to even remember the awe I felt and still feel for the station.”
One of Larry’s first stops in Los Angeles was KGFJ. “I worked there with Hunter Hancock, Rosko (Bill Mercer) and Larry McCormick, et al. On the day I auditioned, I went into the studio to cut a demo and when I came out, no one was around . . . I found everyone gathered around a tv in a back office. I asked what's going on? ‘Someone said the President's been shot.’ I actually remember saying ‘the President of what?’ That was the day JFK was shot and killed. I guess this falls into ‘Everyone remembers where they were that day.’”
“We did live reports from our wedding, I did a remote from the hospital when my daughter was born. I put together a one hour montage of music to reflect how happy I felt that day, and the listeners were part of it.” Larry’s colleagues at KGIL include many renowned personalities: “Sweet” Dick Whittington, Tom Brown, Wink Martindale, and Paul Compton, “all led brilliantly by Chuck Southcott.” Larry fondly remembers when Paul Compton would offer the lyrical intro, “we’re coming to the intersection of Compton and Van Nuys… Paul was an amazing and poetic man of great depth and character which came across on the air.”
“Larry had a great sense of the music. His sense of the music was amazing. Larry did some long shifts when he first started at KGIL, doing 8-hour weekend and fill-ins, yet he did a great job orchestrating his program over all that time,” said Chuck Southcott, Larry’s former colleague and program director.
Chuck chuckled as he told the story of the Studio City Christmas Parade, for which Larry and Chuck served as emcees from an announcing booth. “It was a terribly rainy day. The grand marshal was Andy Griffith, we went out with a mic and had him greet the crowd. Then there were a number of female stars who were headed for the Queen Mary. Larry went out in the street – in a pair of Gucci shoes – and talked to Carol Channing, about what she was doing now, a little bit about her career. ("Why does Chuck always bring up the Guccis?" mused Larry). There were other stars, then Judy Garland appears. Wait a minute, we thought – Judy Garland is dead. Turns out these starlets we interviewed were men dressed up as women, female impersonators heading for a nightclub called the ‘Queen Mary,’ not the ship in Long Beach. It was a very strange night I shared with Larry.” Of Larry’s current work, Chuck said “he’s the best sounding news guy in town … he’s great on KNX.”
(This series was researched and written by LARadio.com senior correspondent, Alan Oda. In part 2 of “Hats off to Larry,” more tales from KGIL including the recollections of Dick Whittington, Larry’s tv work, including – of course – Help Thy Neighbor, voiceover work with Aaron Spelling Productions, serving the Arthritis Foundation, and more about what he enjoys today doing Newsradio. You can reach Larry Van Nuys at: email@example.com )
For his part, Larry has his own story about the man once known as ‘Sweet Dick.’ “He was finishing up his shift and called my wife Marsha and made it sound as though the call accidentally got on the air, and said, ‘well the jerk is going to be on the air for 5 hours, so I'll be over in about 20 minutes . . . is there anything you want me to bring?’ Marsha said without missing a beat . . . ‘Kleenex.’ Bill Smith [late of KTLA], who used to work with Dick in the morning still tells that story.”
Larry was also prominent on that other medium known as television. “I had the good fortune to work at KTLA when Gene Autry owned it. Given his stature and prominence globally, it was amazing to watch him take the time to know everyone’s name on the lot, and foster an environment that encouraged creative people to be their best.”
He recalls his days hosting the tv show Help Thy Neighbor. “It was a live show that aired at 7:30 p.m. every night following Bowling for Dollars with Chick Hearn. It was a show where people who needed some help would appear and the audience would call in with solutions. It was live on the air. I couldn’t possibly share all the amazing and emotional stories that played out on the air. We found solutions for everything from people who needed a kidney to finding work for an unemployed elephant … I kid you not!” The show received national attention in publications including Newsweek, Readers Digest and TV Guide, as well as winning “a wheel barrow full” of prestigious awards.
“I also hosted the forerunner to Wheel of Fortune called Guessword. It was the same game [Hangman] but without the wheel and Vanna. Also we didn’t give away trips to Europe or shiny new automobiles … it was more like dog food and hand towels. It did, however, have the distinction of being maybe the only live game show in history.”
Larry would later become the voice of KTLA, which led to other voiceover opportunities. His game show hosting talents weren’t later wasted. “Hosting Guessword helped me immensely when Dan Enright asked me to do the announcing for shows like Tic Tac Dough. From there, my skills grew and I found a whole new venue for my talent when Mike McLean, an associate of Aaron Spelling hired me to voice his shows during the years he spent with ABC…Dynasty…The Love Boat…et. al.”
But his voiceover career all started at KTLA. “I will be forever grateful to Tony Cassara, the gm of Channel 5 at the time. He became the President of the Paramount Stations Group and opened up a whole new world of voiceover opportunities for me.”
“With the fast moving, changing events around the world, people have a hunger for news and all of us at KNX take that responsibility very seriously. All the other broadcast disciplines are seductive in their own ways, but they all have one thing in common – they are all about communicating, they’re all about trying to identify your own truth and connecting with the people who are spending their valuable time with you.”
And it’s apparent that Larry is one veteran not content to sit on his laurels. “My challenge is keeping it fresh and honest. To make something that’s difficult look effortless. It has taken me a lifetime to find my own voice in this business…and I’m still learning.” He relates how he brings his experience honed on music formats to his all-news anchor duties at KNX. “I think the trust that an audience has with you is a key element in the success of any broadcaster. It takes years for an audience to really get to know you, feel like a friend . . . and for that trust to develop. Also, no matter what kind of radio you're doing, there needs to be an entertainment component. Even with news, I think your unique personality is a big part of the product and has a bearing on its ultimate success.”
Larry humbly acknowledges his blessings from his on-air journey. “We are all influenced by those who came before us. For me, Johnny Magnus was my hero…I wanted to be that great someday. It still shocks me that I’ve had so many opportunities to know and work with some of the iconic figures in our business. Sitting in for Ken & Bob at KABC … Dick Whittinghill and Robert W. Morgan at KMPC … following Lohman and Barkley at KFI. These are the people I grew up admiring. These are the people that remind me that excellence isn’t achieved without hard work and a love and respect for the audience. Again, how wonderful it is when you get to do what you love … I still have the passion.” (You can reach Larry at: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Email Saturday, 4.21.18
|** Times Moving
“Great seeing the photo of Bob McCormick on today’s page. He’s a guy I miss encountering at the station back in the day… and a couple times at Flair Cleaners in Burbank. Hard to believe ‘back in the day’ is 12 years ago already.” – Ed Pyle
|** Hayes Played a Role
“Thank you for reprinting the Johnny Hayes story. Growing up, I shared many of the same thoughts and excitement about radio that Johnny enjoyed, to the point that I became a huge fan of KYA living in Palo Alto. I wanted to attend college in SoCal, partially because of the radio business.
Dreams became reality, when Johnny gave me my first job in life, at the wondrous KRLA in 1968! What a life experience. My business path was set, thanks to him.” - Ann Beebe
|** Remembering Johnny Hayes
“Thank you for the LARadio.com Nostalgia Sunday piece on Johnny Hayes. I wasn’t a regular KRLA listener during my younger days in the West Valley — KMPC was our regular station during my most impressionable listening years — but when listening alone with the dial at arm’s length, I’ve rarely been able resist the impulse to tune the dial to see what else is on.
There are many ways for a radio station to capture my ears, but among the rarest is the voice that I could just sit and listen to regardless of what he or she is saying. The voice of Johnny Hayes was one of those voices, as they say, what a great set of pipes. As a radio listener, I would sometimes fantasize being a program director. There were three disc jockeys I wanted for my imaginary station: Johnny Magnus, Chuck Niles, and Johnny Hayes, each playing whatever he wanted, as long as he talked between each record. I’m glad to read more about the man with that voice.
And since I’m writing, over the years I’ve really enjoyed LARadio.com, which my dad [from whom I must have received a radio-listener gene] will still bring up pretty regularly when I speak with my folks of the phone. Growing up we almost always had the radio on — Bob Crane, Arthur Godfrey, Denny Bracken, etc. - on KNX when I was a young boy. I got my first radio around the 3rd grade, first listening to KFI, I think KNX was all-News by then. I switched to KMPC not long after Lohman and Barkley came about — hey, I was 9! — so I came of age with Dick Whittinghill, Geoff Edwards, Gary Owens, Roger Carroll, the news and sports crew, and the Angels.
Yet as I said above, I turn the dial a lot [even as a 3-year-old quietly taking my ‘nap’ after watching Sheriff John in the den — it was really mom’s nap time — I would turn that dial to catch KFWB Channel 98, or the Spanish announcers and music on KWKW, putting it back to KNX when nap time was over].
And I always read the radio columns in the papers [Citizen-News, Herald-Examiner, the Times Calendar section]. So many of those names [especially from the morning shift before school or work, or the weekends of the non-commercial FM stations] of various formats from the ‘60s, 70s, and ‘80s, both AM and FM, are part of my radio memories of the first half of my life living in LA. So I thank you for sharing your labor of love with all of us.” - Ad astra, Reverend Steven P. Tibbetts, born in Hollywood, playing in Peoria
** Lunch with Johnny Hayes
“In-N-Out Burgers sponsored the Johnny Hayes Count Down on KRLA from the very start. I can’t remember the number of years it lasted. He did an outstanding job, ad-libbing all the commercials, never once off a prepared script. Before the program went on the air, we met with then In-N-Out president, Rich Snyder [later killed in a plane crash at John Wayne Airport] who gave us a tour of the entire company followed by lunch in the back of one of the restaurants [only drive thrus in those days. You could listen to the show while you waited for your order in the car].” – Tom Bernstein
** The Art of 91X
“George Junak [a former co-worker of mine from my days at 91X in San Diego] says Art Bell did a weekend show on 91X in 1979, using the air name Art Trey. That's something I have never heard before or seen in print anywhere. According to George Junak, Art Bell asked then consultant Frank Felix if he could use the name Trey Bell on the all-Music format, but Felix told him no. They settled instead for Art Trey. Junak says he even has an old air check of Art's show on 91X from 10/27/79.
I didn't join the 91X/Mighty 690 family for mornings and programming until January of 1980. So, apparently, we just missed each other. I don't recall ever hearing that Art Bell was a music host before his start in talk radio. So this all seems rather mysterious.” - Ted Ziegenbusch, KOST 103.5
** Memories of Art Bell
“Back in the late 80s, I had a friend who lived in Las Vegas and he would tell me about this late-night radio personality, Art Bell. He told me he was on KDWN, a 50,000 watt clear channel station so I could probably hear it in Los Angeles. I think this was the pre-syndication days as the show was more political in nature, had a hometown feel, but still touched upon the UFO stuff from time to time. If the weather was clear, I could pick the station up just fine and would listen to various guests telling their tales of alien abduction throughout the wee hours of the morning. At that time, Art was playing some interesting bumper music and a few tunes came to mind that I thought he would like. I put them on a cassette, on my next visit to see my friend we wandered up to the Union Plaza Hotel, which was the home of KDWN, and made our way up the stairs to the studio.
We were told Art hadn’t arrived yet, which surprised us because it was pretty close to airtime, but the receptionists said she would give him the cassette so we headed out the door. On our way back downstairs we passed Art rushing up to the studio. He was real. We saw him! Back at my friend’s house we were drinking beer and listening to the radio. Unbeknownst to me he dialed the station in hopes of talking to Art. After a while he had to relieve himself, so he tossed me the phone and said ‘hang on to this for a second.’ Before heading to the john, he cranked up the volume as far as it would go.
I sat there holding the receiver to my ear and with the radio blasting I think I barely hear someone say ‘you’re on the air.’ I said ‘I’m sorry, what?’ and then Art went ballistic shouting ‘HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU PEOPLE TO TURN DOWN YOUR RADIOS?!?!?’ Then I heard the phone go CLICK and he hung up. Seven seconds later my friend exists the bathroom to hear Art shouting at me over the air and he yells at me ‘I was on hold for 45 minutes and the second I go to the bathroom he takes my call.’
Several years later I was listening in LA and heard my friend on the air with Art, so at least he finally got through. Oh, and about those songs I dropped off for bumper-music, one was by violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and the other by a group named Shadowfax. Art used them for years on the air.” - Gary Gibson, Montrose
** Is KLOS Sound?
“I note that even with EMF removing 100.3 as a competitor, KLOS' ratings are flat. In my not-so-humble opinion this should be sending a message to Cumulus that they aren't doing Classic Rock properly for the market. Their ‘brand’ of the format apparently appeals to zero percent of The Sound's former audience.
I bet they're all listening to Sky Daniels' well-executed AAA format on KCSN.” - K.M. Richards
** Radio Ink Article Praising KABC PD
“Good job, Drew Hayes! While KFI saw a ratings bump in March to 4.2, you have been successful in keeping KABC on a steady course in 37th place with 0.5. It must not be easy maintaining that coveted 37th place spot, but somehow you have managed to do it.
Could it be the ‘compelling’ programming, such as evening reruns of morning shows during the week? Or is it the weekends packed with infomercials, while KFI has actual weekend hosts that do real radio shows, like Bill Handel, The Fork Report, Leo Laporte, Mo Kelly, Bryan Suits, Dr. Wendy Walsh...and the list goes on.
But don't let KFI's success distract you from your focus on remaining #37. It's good to be goal oriented like that. I have been so stupid, and I apologize. Now I realize why you run so many retirement seminar commercials. It's symbolic for the number of listeners that have chosen to ‘retire’ from listening to KABC.
By the way, I don't know if you ever listen to your own station, but Dr. Drew and Lauren Sivan have ZERO on-air chemistry, and Ms. Sivan seems disengaged from the show a good portion of the time. I'm sure she's a very nice, very intelligent person but she certainly doesn't pair well with Dr. Drew. And I'm sure I'm not the first person you've heard that from. Don't forget to have some promotional T-Shirts produced that say ‘We're Number 37!’ Say it loud -- say it proud!” - Peter Thomas
Paraquat Kelley Sets Up GoFundMe Account for His Wife
|(April 20, 2018)
Carl Swanson checked in from Washington, DC, where he is an
engineer for the Voice of America. Carl used to work at WW1, KFI, KMPC,
and KCRW. “This may be more appropriate for Email Saturday, but have you
heard anything new from Pat Paraquat Kelley and his
wife?” asked Carl. “I saw and contributed to his #notcrippledinside
campaign and saw a few posts, but now he's gone quiet. The announcement
you published about his total disability [and the back link to his
initial diagnosis 12 years prior] shared the sh!t out of me, because I
was given the same diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis 14 months ago, after
a series of 6 seizures in 4 months [one of which landed me in the
hospital for more than a week, and off work for almost a year]. “It's
frightening to think I'm probably riding the same train he is but I am
really wanting to know if he's still fighting the good fight,” emailed
Carl. “Thanks to a good federal employee health plan, I have drugs that
(hopefully) slow progression and I don't need to pay $89,000/year for
In reaching out to Paraquat, he responded immediately and the timing could not have been better because a GoFundMe account has just been established. “Carl’s lucky he has relapsing remitting MS. I have progressive MS, the worst and rarest form. It’s a drag for sure but I have Melody to help me through. The GoFundMe account is to help her so that when I’m gone she’ll have something to help her.”
Carl passed on a message to Paraquat: “Tell him there's one brother in the struggle pulling for him.”
|(April 19, 2018) Former KNX/KFWBer Bob McCormick was visiting his parents in Detroit this week. Take a look at the snow on the patio of his parents’ home. Bob is reading Charlie Seraphin’s (ex-general manager at KNXfm/KODJ) book, One Stupid Mistake. “Short and full of great stories of how one false move or word and your goose could be hooked,” said Bob … Congratulations to former KTWV personality Sandy Kelley as she celebrates 19 years of marriage … Forbes magazine has a story on how to turn iHeartMedia around with sage advice to the new owners. The first piece of advice is to bring in real radio people to run the company. "It needs smart, experienced radio people at the controls. Get rid of the financial whizz-bangers who leveraged the company up to its eyeballs in debt and brought about its collapse. Lesson learned." Another suggestion: "Do radio, just radio, and do it right. Done right, radio alone can be very profitable. Sell off the other businesses that don’t directly support radio, such as Clear Channel Outdoor. Those businesses were acquired, and at huge cost, with the idea of creating cross-media synergies. Bad idea, bad execution, loads of problems best forgotten. Program for listeners, only listeners. Early radio had the right idea. Entertain your listeners" … Nicole Sandler saw her oncologist and got the good news that her scans are clean. “Cancer free” are nice words to hear … NBC’s The Voice was No. 1 for Monday night, besting ABC’s American Idol by 31% in 18-49.|
Jim Ladd Returns on Monday
|(April 18, 2018) “The Jim
Ladd Show returns from High in the Hollywood Hills,” was how
Jim announced on Facebook his Monday return to SiriusXM Deep Tracks,
Channel 27. He had been absent from the satellite service for a number
of weeks. “Let’s Get Loud! Lord Have Mercy!”
The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) announced the winners of the 43rd annual Gracie Awards. The Steve Harvey Morning Show’s Shirley Strawberry won in the National Radio Co-Host category. The Big Time with Whitney Allen won for National Crisis Coverage. The Gracie Awards gala will take place on May 22 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and will recognize some of the most talented women in television, radio and digital media.
Dred Scott, former personality with KLSX and 100.3/The Sound, prefaced his Facebook announcement with “NOT fake news.” He will be the new morning host on The Coast, KOZT in beautiful Mendocino (coincidentally, the county of his birth). “The largest music library in the USA, the one and only Joe Regelski on news, iconic Bay Area djs Tom Yates and Kate Hayes and a great connection to the community. Oh, and broadcasting from one of the most picturesque areas around plus streaming live worldwide. Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in...”
In other news: Michelle Boros has resigned her position as music director/midday host at Entercom’s AMP Radio. She joined the CHR station in 2010. Prior to joining KAMP, Boros programmed and hosted afternoons on CHR “20 on 20” for XM Satellite Radio and worked in the Dallas market.
No Mas Holiday Music and KOST Tops the Charts
(April 17, 2018) KOST takes the
top spot in the March '18 Monthly Nielsen ratings, PPM 6+ Mon-Sun,
6a-12mid. We are used to seeing the AC station at the top for a couple
survey periods over the holidays when the station plays non-stop
Christmas music, but usually the station falls back into a Top 5
position until the next holiday period. Sister station, Hot AC, KBIG
(MY/fm), drops to second, while Classic Hits K-EARTH holds at #3. Talker
KFI moves up to #6. Here are the Top 40:
1. KOST (AC) 5.3 - 5.9
2. KBIG (MY/fm) 6.1 - 5.7
3. KRTH (Classic Hits) 5.2 - 5.0
4. KIIS (Top 40/M) 4.9 - 4.7
KTWV (the WAVE) 4.4 - 4.7
6. KFI (Talk) 3.9 - 4.2
7. KCBS (JACK/fm) 3.8 - 3.8
8. KLVE (Spanish Contemporary) 4.0 - 3.6
9. KLAX (Regional Mexican) 3.5 - 3.4
10. KNX (News) 3.3 - 3.2
11. KAMP (Top 40/M) 2.9 - 2.9
12. KLOS (Classic Rock) 2.8 - 2.8
KRCD (Spanish Adult Hits) 2.5 - 2.8
14. KPPC (News/Talk) 3.0 - 2.7
15. KPWR (Top 40/R) 2.6 - 2.6
16. KRRL (Urban) 2.4 - 2.4
KYSR (Alternative) 2.5 - 2.4
18. KSCA (Regional Mexican) 2.3 - 2.3
KXOL (Spanish AC) 2.3 - 2.3
20. KROQ (Alternative) 2.2 - 2.2
KXOS (Regional Mexican) 2.1 - 2.2
22. KKGO (Country) 2.5 - 2.0
23. KBUE (Regional Mexican) 1.9 - 1.9
24. KCRW (Variety) 1.5 - 1.7
25. KJLH (Urban AC) 1.6 - 1.6
KUSC (Classical) 1.6 - 1.6
27. KDAY (Rhythmic AC) 1.2 - 1.4
28. KSSE (Spanish Oldies) 1.0 - 1.2
29. KRLA (Talk) 0.9 - 1.1
30. KLYY (Spanish Adult Hits) 0.9 - 1.0
KSPN (Sports) 1.0 - 1.0
32. KEIB (Talk) 1.0 - 0.9
KWIZ (Spanish Variety) 0.9 - 0.9
34. KKJZ (Jazz) 0.9 - 0.8
KKLQ (Christian Contemporary) 0.6 - 0.8
36. KFWB (Regonial Mexican) 07 - 0.7
37. KABC (Talk) 0.5 - 0.5
KFSH (Christian Contemporary) 0.5 - 0.5
KLAC (Sports) 0.4 - 0.5
KYLA (Christian Contemporary) 0.4 - 0.5
Art Bell Was a True Radio Original
|(April 16, 2018) For some
strange, bizarre reason, it somehow seems fitting that Art Bell,
creator and original host of “Coast to Coast AM,” heard locally on KFI,
had died on Friday the 13th. He was 72.
No matter what you might have thought about what Art talked about – and that included the paranormal, abstract, conspiracies, and the world of UFOs – Art was a radio original. Broadcasting from a double-wide trailer in the Nevada desert for more than two decades, Art talked to his listeners in the middle of the night about their stories of alien abductions, crop circles, anthrax scares and, as he put it, all things “seen at the edge of vision.”
While serving in the US Air Force in the Vietnam War, Art indulged his childhood passion for radio by operating a pirate station that played anti-war music otherwise unavailable on official channels, broadcast to American servicemen. Following his time in the service, Art’s love of radio led him to working as a disc jockey for an English-language station in Japan. Over there, he set a Guinness World Record for broadcasting some 116 hours straight to raise funds to rescue over 100 Vietnamese orphans left stranded by the conflict in their home country.
Back in the states Art started his radio journey doing overnights on KDWN in Las Vegas. Syndicated nationally in 1993, Coast to Coast AM became a phenomenon. He frequently would end up on the yearly list of Best LARP.
|Art drew an audience of about 10 million
listeners a week, when his show was syndicated on as many as 500
stations. He believed in possibilities, and he loved the idea that his
openness to paranormal events had helped build the nation’s appetite
for Twin Peaks, The X-Files and other expressions of
the edges of reality.
Born June 17, 1945, in Jacksonville, N.C., Art grew up with a seven-transistor AM radio tucked under his pillow at night. When he was supposed to be sleeping, Art listened instead to the pioneers of talk radio as they batted around alternative ideas about who really killed John F. Kennedy or how the CIA controlled people’s minds.
His nightly “Coast to Coast” show ran from 1989 to 2003, then he continued broadcasting on weekends until 2007. Art briefly returned with a satellite radio show in 2013 and an online program in 2015. That show ended after a few months, because, Mr. Bell said, someone had taken to firing a weapon at his Nevada property.
Art was married four times. At the time of his death, he was married to Airyn Ruiz, whom he met when she befriended him online after the death of his previous wife. Ruiz was then 22 and living in the Philippines.
Bell was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.
Nostalgia Sunday - 12 Years Ago Today
Johnny (Hayes) Be Good
Johnny was on the stage as part of the KRLA jock line-up at the Beatles concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger Stadium. In 1983 and 1984 he won Billboard’s Personality of the Year and was the only non-morning drive winner in 1984.
In the next few days you’ll read about his fascinating life, the influence of Art Laboe on his career, the week he was fired only to be rehired before the week was out [and how the pd that fired him was himself fired], his friendship with Bill Drake, KRLA as the “Avis” of Top 40 radio, always trying harder behind KFWB or KHJ, the role that Emperor Bob Hudson play in his life, and life without K-EARTH.
“A very vivid early recollection of radio was sitting with my mama, my daddy and my grandparents around the radio listening to Gabriel Heater who gave war news in World WarII,” reminisced Johnny over lunch at a trendy restaurant in North Hollywood. “Listening to the war news was very, very important. Radio stations would normally broadcast orchestras or bands from hotels and big showrooms live on the air. When WWII ended, I’d say from 1945 on, the Big Bands were touring but it came to a point where it was no longer practical or economical to get 40, 50, 60 people in buses and take them around the country to broadcast live and be on radio stations. And it was during this period, the live band broadcasts gave way to more radio dramas and serials – ‘The Shadow,’ ‘The Lone Ranger,’ ‘Gangbusters and those shows. It seems to me it was in the early 50s that I started hearing what later became known as disc jockeys.”
As a youngster, Johnny used to press his ear up against the speaker of the family radio and he discovered that records sounded different according to what jock had played them. “I started paying more and more attention to disc jockeys. I visited a radio station in my hometown – Macon, Georgia – met the program director and started hanging around the station,” remembered Johnny. “That’s the great thing about being born in a small town. You could hang around a station and sit in the booth with a guy. I was hired without any experience to do a show on a Saturday because the program director and his wife were having a party and he didn’t have anybody to take his place. He put me on the air with no experience and that was the most terror I had ever known. The records seemingly lasted for 5 seconds and I was so scared that I would not only let records run out, but there were other records that no sooner did they start that I would pick the arm off of them while they were playing. You’re laughing.”
He acknowledged that he has a recurring dream to this day - about being on the air at a station and everything going wrong. “You can’t reach the mike switch. Or you can’t get back the studio in time. There was one thing I could never do and that is read 60 second live commercials. And in my dreams I’m always given dozens of 60 second spots to read which are impossible. In the 50s – and I went on the air in 1959 – they had to do a 15 minute world news round-up at the top of the hour and at the half hour there were 5 minute newscasts. Well, that was 20 minutes of news, all live by the disc jockey. There were hundreds of words I didn’t know how to pronounce. There was a great deal of news during the late 50s about Patrice Lumumba and news people in Africa. There was nobody that worked at the station that knew enough about world events to be able to even pronounce the words either. They would just strike them out. I would get to Patrice Lumumba and I would just blaze right over the record and go from the word before his name to the word after. Sometimes on a newscast, I would say, ‘It’s June 35th, 1959.’ I never know what would come out of my mouth.”
Johnny’s grandfather was a cotton farmer in South Georgia. Johnny’s dad attended the University of Georgia. He was with the Georgia Power Company for almost 40 years. Johnny’s father grew up in a little town called Sasser, Georgia, which coincidentally was next to a small town called Dawson, the birthplace of Otis Redding. “My mother was from another small town in Georgia, Cochran, and somehow they met in Macon and that’s where I was born in 1939,” said Johnny. “I never asked them, or if I did I forgot, how they met. But in those days, in the ‘30s, people met at dances and things like that.”
Johnny said his parents had a wonderful marriage. “They loved each other terribly. I’m very grateful that I had the parents that I did. There was no drinking in the house. My mom spent all day long trying to make life a little more pleasant for daddy and me. She’d get up at 6 or 7 in the morning and start shelling peas and start cooking. You know in the South, they start cooking around 9, 10, 11 in the morning for a 7 o’clock dinner. You smell it all day long.”
He lost his mother first. “She died in 1973 of pancreatic cancer. Never been sick a day in her life. She had the strength of a horse,” said Johnny. “One day she got sick and it was cancer. Then my daddy lived until 1984 and he died of lung cancer though he had not smoked in over 40 years. No, I don’t know if the damage had already been done, like Don Steele had not smoked in many decades, yet he died of lung cancer. Now, I haven’t had a cigarette in 31 years, and I recently told my doctor that I was losing so many friends and going to so many funerals and I told him, ‘My friends are just dropping left and right, none of them smoked, none of them drank.’ And he said, ‘What should I do?’ And I said, ‘I’d like to have some X-rays done on my chest to see if I’ve got any problem.’ Came out clean as a whistle…no damage from cigarettes. Neither my mama nor my daddy had ever been sick a day in their life until they got sick and died.”
Johnny’s father never understood radio or his son’s success. “My daddy was the son of a cotton farmer and he thought I should go to work for A.S. Hatcher Company, which was a wholesale hardware company as a salesman. He said, ‘Those guys make good money.’ I mean, radio was all that was ever on my mind. I didn’t know you could just walk into a station and luck had it that the guy had to go home and he put me on the air. But that’s how my career started. My daddy never understood it. We had a conversation in 1963 when I was at KYA in San Francisco, and he said, ‘Johnny, don’t you understand, if you went to work at A.S. Hatcher Company, you could be driving a nice car now?’ And I said, “Well, daddy, I have a new Cadillac Coupe DeVille and he just couldn’t grasp that you could be on the radio and get paid for it. He wanted me to go to school and all sorts of things. But I saved him a lot of money by not going to college in Georgia.”
Email Saturday, 4.14.18
|** News Was the Pitts
“I was greatly saddened by the passing of Don Pitts. He was my first agent in Los Angeles, and continued to be a dear friend through his years of retirement. He always loved to talk, always returned phone calls, and treated people with respect. Many of today’s agents who have such a high opinion of themselves should take a page from Don's book.
It’s highly likely I put together the aircheck you have for him. He came over to my house on quite a few occasions, and we went through archives of tapes and made several different ones. We would talk for hours. If you knew Don, which I’m sure you did, you know what I mean I would meet Don and Gary Owens at Jerry’s in Encino on occasion for lunch. I’ve saved voicemails from Gary on my answering machine. He was another terrific gentleman of the business.
The first time I sent Don a demo was when I was in San Francisco and he called me back. We were on the phone for an hour, talking radio stories, etc.
Again, love your LARadio emails. I read them every day. You’re a great person for keeping all of this going. It’s got to be a lot of work.
RIP Don Pitts. I’ll truly miss him.” – Craig Roberts
** More Pitts
“I’m very sorry to learn of Don Pitts’ passing. He was hugely popular with a fabulous sense of humor.
Back in the mid-50s, Don Sherwood ruled at KSFO-San Francisco. Two or three times a week at the Fairmont Hotel, I had breakfast with Don Pitts, Don Sherwood, and Herb Caen. Great laughs and good ties. He was a special friend.” – Don Graham
** Pitts Aging
“Being born and raised in the Bay Area, I’m old enough to remember Don Pitts on the air.” – Tom Bernstein
** Cumulus Concern
“I saw the speculation about Michael Savage in today’s column. It seems that Cumulus is cutting like crazy. In the New York market, not only did they cut Don Imus loose, when they moved Bernie McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg, a local show, to mornings, WABC replaced them with a syndicated show out of DC hosted by Chris Plante. He’s a low budget, low talent Rush Limbaugh wannabe. It will do a zero rating in NY, as there’s nothing new, it’s not entertaining, and it sure doesn’t have any NY feel to it.
Cumulus, which had been going in the right direction prior to its chapter 11 decision, is definitely in reverse. They were local in NY from 6a to 3p, and again from 5-6p. Now they are only local from 6-9a and noon to 3. They are on the road to destroying WABC as they destroyed KABC.” – Bob Scott
I am Not a Victim - Larry Gifford
2018) Wednesday was World Parkinson’s Day, and it was the day
that Larry Gifford, former program director at KSPN,
announced for the first time publicly that he has been diagnosed with
Larry starts his story with an observation from his son: “Daddy, why’s your arm shaking?” That question came one January night in 2017. “My outstretched arm was trying to hand my eight-year-old son a glass of water. It was shaking uncontrollably. I wouldn’t have an answer for my son for seven months when I was diagnosed.
His diagnosis officially arrived last August after months of tests to eliminate much scarier and deadly diseases. “My symptoms were a disparate collection annoyances; a shuffling, foot-dragging walk, tremors in my arm, loss of coordination and balance, and difficulties speaking, sleeping and focusing sometimes. I never linked the symptoms as one thing. I assumed I was tired or my shoes were too heavy, or I was just out of shape.
By the time I was diagnosed, I probably had been battling the disease for a decade. Symptoms began appearing three or four years ago, and through those undiagnosed years, doctors tell me I lost approximately eight per cent of my brain cells.”
Parkinson’s is a relentless, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It directly impacts nerves that handle motor functions for the body as a whole. As the disease advances, the body slows down, arms and legs stiffen and shake, with a whole slew of fun surprises arising.
“For me, each day is
different. I take pills four to five times each day which control my
tremors. My whole right side is slower than my left. The delay causes a
shuffle, drag or clomp in my walk and I can’t really run anymore without
increasing my chances of a face plant (not that I ran much to begin
with).” Read Larry’s honest
details of what is happening with him. Larry says he and his family
create new memories each day that he hopes aren’t stolen by
In other news, Urban One founder/chairperson Cathy Hughes accepted the 2018 Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Broadcasters Foundation of America ceremony at the NAB Show in Las Vegas … Andy Bloom, former pd at FM Talker KLSX, has been appointed operations manager at the Entercom cluster in Minneapolis, which includes stations WCCO, Country KMNB and KZIK (JACK/fm) … Music promoter extraordinaire, Don Graham, recently began representing Deborah Silver. Her album, The Gold Standards, hit #1 on the Billboard Jazz charts. She is getting so big that everyone wants her. She’s sold out venues like Catalina’s locally and others in Florida. She needs a booking agent to represent her to keep up with demand. If you know a good booking agent, get in touch with Graham at: email@example.com
Is Savage Being Set Up?
2018) Rich Lieberman watches over all things media in the Bay
Area. His ear is uncanny about what is going on. Twice last week he
heard syndicated Talker Michael Savage (based in San
Francisco) say on the air "...in case I'm not here, you can always get
me on my website, Facebook and Twitter."
Could Cumulus be screwing with him, wondered Lieberman “More to the point, could Savage be their latest cost-cutting victim? It happened to Don Imus in NY, it also effectively ended Ronn Owens run in the Bay Area after 42 years and there's more cost-cutting on the way. Why? Cumulus is in the midst of a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding and is letting go of high-priced air talent; those who make over six-figures are supposedly high on the hit list.”
Savage offered a terse "no comment" when Lieberman asked Savage, via phone, about the speculation about the conservative talker’s future. He did indicate that his numbers are consistently high, especially his streaming numbers. Said Lieberman: “Oh, Savage’s contract is up before the end of the year. Might this be the opening round of negotiations – after all, Cumulus will have a sufficient amount of operating cash after its BK is settled, although that’s still being litigated by a judge who might not care about broadcast ratings. Time will tell.”
News Is the Pitts. Subscribers to LARadio received
via email the news about the passing of VO agent Don Pitts.
Word came from the death of Don via blogger Mark Evanier.
As an agent, Don had some great VO clients: June Foray, Casey Kasem, Mel Blanc, Robert W. Morgan, Orson Welles, Paul Winchell, Gary Owens, and Rod Roddy.
Don started in radio in 1945, but in the sixties and he made a move to Los Angeles and into representing other folks in front of microphones. An aircheck of Don working KGO and KYA is here.
“Blessed with boyish good looks but saddled with a thick, high voice, he wasn’t a natural radio star,” wrote Ben Fong Torres in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Don was thought to be around 90 years of age.
A Peek Into a Time Gone By
|(April 11, 2018)
This morning’s link is a real treat. If you grew up in Southern
California, you will love the sights and stories posted on a new blog,
“Heard on Olympic & Bundy.” Even if you are a newcomer to the area,
embrace the past and relish in it.
“Not to blow my horn too loudly, but director-producer-author Joel Tator and I discuss (in a cursory fashion) L.A. television history on KTTV's Olympic & Bundy podcast” wrote KTTV/KCOP archivist Mitch Waldow, and a veteran of the LA broadcast market, including KFWB when it was all-News.
“We recorded this episode some time ago, but I believe we mentioned local radio at some point or another. Many of L.A.'s tv pioneers – in front of and behind the camera – came from local radio. Your readers might find the anecdotes amusing.”
The pair share their memories and knowledge about the history of television in Los Angeles, including the first television helicopter, the first big breaking news stories covered on television, the first live coverage of an atomic bomb, the careers of people like Betty White, Lawrence Welk, and much more. Click the photo for a nice blast from the past.
Three LA Radio Stations on List of Top 10 Billers in 2017
|(April 10, 2018) WTOP, all-News
in Washington, DC, is America’s top radio biller for the seventh time in
eight years. “The list of the top-ten billers remained the same, (from
2016) with only a few slight changes in the order,” remarked BIA
Advisory Services’ Dr. Mark, Fratrik. Three of the top 10 are LARadio
stations. At #2 is KIIS/fm down from $65.9 million to $63.2 million.
MY/fm (KBIG) up from $44 million to $45 million. Coming in tenth is
2017 Revenue Growth Rate: -2.0%
|In other news: Condolences to Julio Flores, ex- KWIZ, KLSX, KGIL/KMGX, KTWV, KRLA, KSCA, KLSX, KOST, on the loss of his mother. “She will be truly missed and I appreciate all the things she taught us. It's going to be really strange not to be able to call her and mention the things I'm doing, but I will have wonderful memories. She was always very proud of us.” … Rusty Citron, a movie guru, published an interesting perspective on how the movie industry tends to categorize everything by box office gross and that might not be the best way to do it. “Black Panther, which is a GREAT MOVIE, was recently crowned the #1 movie of all time by the entertainment press. I wish they would have done some math, since that's not totally true. Adjusted for inflation, Titanic's box office is $1,002,901,481.50 when the 1997 Average Ticket Price was $4.59, which puts it in 5th PLACE among the top 5 of all time. Gone With the Wind is #1, with $3.2 Billion when the average ticket price was...wait for it....23 CENTS!” … Sheena Metal is celebrating her birthday on Sunday, April 29, at the Improv.|
Twitter Storm Over KROQ's Bean
|(April 9, 2018) #FedHedge
follows KROQ’s Kevin & Bean on Twitter. After
Kevin Ryder offered an update on Gene (“Bean”) Baxter,
his missing radio partner on Twitter, #FedHedge accused Ryder of lying
about the status of the missing Bean, currently on medical leave for
self-described mental health self-care. Ryder had posted:
“Unfortunately, (Bean) is taking a medical leave. We don’t have any more
information, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can.”
In response, #FedHedge posted: “What’s weird is that you @thekevinryder have been working with Bean for over 20 years and yet you act like you have no idea what’s going on...WTF? What kind of dick are you?? Sounds like Bean got Garman’d...” the last comment referring to the recently dismissed entertainment reporter. This prompted Ryder to reply: “The kind that believes Bean is a human being. And his medical leave is his business. Not yours, no matter how entitled you believe you are.” Kevin’s pithy response was just the beginning. #FedHedge then received a number of annoyed and angry reactions from the Kevin & Bean audience.
“So this is what a Twitter Storm is like. Wow! Guess I’m the Dick on this one! Sorry Kev Dog, I think I jumped to conclusions too quickly. I assumed Bean’s ‘mental health’ was code for something more nefarious. I’m a fan of the show and would hate to see it go the way of M & B (Mark & Brian).” Ryder appeared to accept the apology, tweeting: “Thx for the response. I really appreciate it :) Just trying to send love and support to Bean.”
Hear Ache. Condolences to Steve Futterman, heard frequently on KNX, on the loss of his mother. “She lived a long life, but at the end was in extreme pain and made the choice to die. She was loved by many and impacted many of our lives. We will miss her every day,” wrote the CBS network correspondent … Scott Thrower was at KBIG in the late 90s. When he left the Southland, he worked mornings at KURB-Little Rock for six years until late summer of 2006. “In Aug 2008, I left radio for a career in medicine and am with a large hospital in Little Rock,” he wrote at 440int. “Even on my worst days as an RN, there’s not been even one time when I've thought, ‘Why did I leave radio?’” … Reports out of Chicago suggest Ed Lover, ex-KKBT morning man, will be the new morning personality at WBMX “104.3 Jams.” He gained national attention as host of Yo! MTV Raps back in the 1990s … Condolences to former KXTA Talker Dave Broome on the loss of his mother, Laura, after a courageous battle with cancer … K-EARTH is again giving away moola, redux of their contest “Say it and Win.” If you are the lucky caller, the more times you say ‘K-EARTH 101,’ you can win $100 every time you say it in 10 seconds … KRLA morning man Brian Whitman returns after a couple of weeks, with some time spent in the hospital … More sad news, Mike Raphone (Ritto) lost his wife last week. “She battled cancer for five years and it finally got to her,” wrote Mike. “My only solace is that we were able to get her home from the hospital and she passed in peace at home with family. She was my rock, my partner, love and best friend. I will go on with her in my heart.”
Nostalgia Sunday - 5 Years Ago This Month
We Crossed the Line - Bill Handel
(April 2012) There is a sea change at Clear Channel’s talk operations in Los Angeles. After suffering massive outcries from black and Hispanic groups following what were deemed inappropriate comments by Rush Limbaugh and John & Ken on KFI, the company initiated a three-week series on 1150AM, KTLK, called Diverse LA. Every day a new talk show guest host joined Morris O’Kelly, publisher of The Mo’Kelly Report. The guest hosts ranged from comedians to attorneys, cultural leaders, to activists.
It was never clear if the guests were auditioning, or the program was a knee-jerk reaction to respond in a positive way to the cries from the Hispanic Alliance and the Black Media Alliance. During the final hour of the three-week, 45-hour series, some things became clear. KFI’s Bill Handel joined Mo Kelly and talked about the need for changes in Talk radio and how far the line of good taste had moved.
“The talk show host used to be a moderator and very old school. And then a guy by the name of Rush Limbaugh came and totally reinvented Talk radio. I think Rush is totally whacked out of his mind – politically and in terms of self-aggrandizement – but a great broadcaster. How many times can you hear that Barack Obama kidnapped the Lindbergh baby? I’m up to here with that,” quipped Bill “but Rush reinvented radio where the talk show host interacts with the audience.”
Handel said that this newfound freedom turned into “shock” radio. “The line kept on moving,” said Bill, “and you got to the point of a Howard Stern where you got to insane sexual innuendos and he was really out there sexually.”
As this new freedom quickly evolved, Handel said everybody became a target – race, religion – and it was wide open. “We’ve now come back. The pendulum has come back because it went too far. The ratings kept on building. KFI, a predominately white conservative audience, loved hearing it. You could attack everything and the audience went nuts.”
Even with KFI’s success, there was no thought of pulling back on the rhetoric because “the ratings were too big, too great, too much money was being made, and it was too much fun to say things as a Talk show host that you couldn’t even say at a cocktail party amongst friends,” said Bill. “That was the state of radio and it made a lot of money. The line just kept going and going and then you had comments by John & Ken and Rush.”
Morris O’Kelly asked how Bill kept from losing himself with everything that was going on. “You don’t,” Bill answered candidly. “You love yourself in all of that. You are part of the movement. You see it happen. I love being outrageous. It’s fun. The line keeps on moving. It wasn’t a question of not seeing it happen, I didn’t even care to look at it. But it was thrown in our face during the last two months.”
“Talk Radio is going to pull back and just not be so outrageous,” declared Bill Handel in this far-ranging interview with Morris O’Kelly on KTLK Friday morning, the final hour of the three-week ‘Diverse LA’ promotion. “We are going to have to incorporate many more voices. It has to go from a bunch of conservative white guys to include women, to include African Americans and to include Hispanics. When you have a HUGE Latino population, you can’t run a Talk station without being inclusive. It’s impossible, in this day and age. And it shouldn’t be. There are too many members that are not represented.”
Bill said there were some new rules. “I can’t make fun of blacks the way I used to. I can’t make fun of Protestants the way I used to. The group I get a pass with is Jews because I am Jewish and I get a pass on gays because I have been so pro-gay for so many years. With my surrogacy business I have helped so many gays have children through the help of surrogate mothers.”
O’Kelly wondered if Air America had a chance to come back. “No,” barked Bill. “And that has more to do with the fact it was boring radio. In the end it has to be entertaining radio. There are a lot more liberals out there that should be listening to Talk radio but don’t because it is so damn boring.”
At the end of the hour and the conclusion of the KTLK ‘Diverse LA’ series, Mo Kelley announced that he would be taking over a two-hour KFI shift on Saturday nights beginning at 6 p.m. On Sunday on KFI, KTLK’s David Cruz will also host a two-hour show from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
“Just to let you know, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a ‘groaner’ this big!” – Mike Sakellarides
** More Groans
“Been meaning to drop a line and tell you how great your daily cartoons are. It’s hard to keep the funny stuff comin’ every day but you’re doin’ it; they always get at least a big smile out of me and sometimes all the way up to a huge laugh.” – Rich Brother Robbin
“Was that sign [on the right] stolen from the parking lot of KFRG in the IE?” – K.M. Richards
“Of course, I had to laugh at reading the April 1998 ‘Nostalgia Sunday’ bit. I remember great April Fool’s bits used to be common and could last all day.
KRTH supposedly went all-News one year until 12 p.m. They were pretty good at it. The ‘John Sebastian – KZLA’ one is hilarious. considering KZLA went from Pop/Rock to Country to Arrow. I even used to go to the Movie Nights KZLA hosted and gave my best friend a ‘KZLA Card’ from one of the special events. She won a Fiat with it! Two months later they went Country.
Sad thing was the staff was one of the best, from ‘Natural’ Neil Ross to Fritz Coleman. Then the Country staff brought in great talent like Barbara Barri and Ken Cooper and was ‘must-listen’ for their broad and eclectic playlist. Still miss that lineup.” – Julie Byers
** Flanagan in the David G. Hall of Fame
“When I was 11 or 12, I would listen to the radio and marvel at how they always seemed to play my favorite song whenever I tuned in, and how the dj always seemed to be talking only to me, no matter where I was or what I was doing. One of the guys I would spend hours and hours listening to just passed away.
John Mack Flanagan was the afternoon drive guy at KFRC in San Francisco. The music he played was the soundtrack of my youth, and his voice and style of talking up records was its narration. It was because of listening to him and a handful of others that one day I decided radio was for me, picked up the phone, and started my career.
Once I took a 3-hour bus ride into The City just to be in the studio with him for about five minutes while he worked. Other than that, I never got to meet him, thank him, or tell him of his influence on me and what would turn out to be my lifelong career.
In my little circle of friends here on Facebook, I see a lot of tributes and comments. I realize that there were many kids who he influenced and who ended up in radio as a result. There are a lot us standing on his shoulders. I love that. I hope he knew that before he passed.” – David G. Hall
** Welcome Home, Brother John
“John Flanagan was great on the air, one of the best ever, but he was a better person as a friend. I knew John for more than 25 years, and although his last few years were a struggle through a multitude of health issues, his spirit was always strong and his faith and courage never wavered. Welcome home, brother.” – David Ferrell Jackson, Bay Area Radio Museum & Hall of Fame
** Flanagan an Ole Cowpoke
“John Mack Flanagan was named after Western movie actor Johnny ‘Mack’ Brown (1904-1974). Flanagan hosted the Church of The Hollywood B Cowboy podcast on Cowpoke Radio KWPX. All ten episodes can be heard here.” – Steve Thompson
** Bad Company
“I wanted to clear up something that was in your Monday piece on Academy President John Bailey. You mentioned that both Bailey and Ryan Seacrest were alleged to have committed illegal or inappropriate acts, and that Bailey had just been cleared by the board at the Academy. Next you quoted Peter Bart of Deadline, who wondered ‘Even though he has been cleared, will Bailey effectively ever be cleared? Or will he fade into the Ryan Seacrest-like grey zone where charges are vehemently denied, and yet tacitly believed?’
This is not fair to Mr. Bailey, but neither was the original report by Variety that stated he had been charged by three accusers on the same day. In fact, there was only one accuser. Comparing the allegations against Bailey with those against Seacrest is also unfair as we have heard from several accusers (ed. note … Fact check: Isn’t there only one Seacrest accuser, with a witness that supports her allegation?) with vivid accounts of abuse and inappropriate behavior by Mr. Seacrest [which may in fact be untrue], but nobody has heard any charges against Mr. Bailey other than a memo Bailey sent to the Academy. He corrected the leaked and inaccurate story of there being only one accuser, and that the accusation was that he had attempted to touch someone inappropriately while in a transit van on a location more than a decade ago.
When you put Bailey and Seacrest in the same sentence, they get lumped together. The merits or discrediting of either of the accusations get blurred together, which is not only unfortunate but unwarranted.” – Gary Gibson, Montrose
** Whole ‘Nuther Thing
“Terrific to see you back at it, even in an abbreviated fashion. Hope things are well with you and your family.
Still doing my thing but now relegated to HD2 since the KCSN / KSBR merger on 88.5. My archive site at podomatic.com, however, is thriving to the tune of 2000 plus Downloads & Listens each week. Terrestrial Radio done well is still a viable medium, and for most Baby Boomers it’s still the only way to listen.
To quote, Claude Hall, another writer of all things radio, ‘I Love Radio.’” – Bob Goodman
Wheelchair Van Need for a Former Area PD
2018) Mark Hill, who programmed KHAY/fm in Ventura for years,
is in need of real help. He was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer
and requires a vehicle that will accommodate his wheelchair.
He’s had one of those fun, nomadic journeys in radio where he was pd of a station in Grants Pass, Oregon, then on to a New Age station in Santa Cruz with Lee Abrams. “We were successful. When the station was sold, I worked for a while as operations managers for a Classical station KBOQ in Monterey. I ran it like an AC and we had a #1 25-54 book which drove the market nuts.” For the past half-dozen years, he has been at a Country station back east until his first tumor deadened his left leg last summer.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help secure a wheelchair van. Or maybe you have one that has served its purpose.
KROQ’s Bean was a no-show at the April Foolishness
concert last weekend. The station announced that Bean is on medical
leave. He’s done this before, taking some personal time off to assess
and reassess his life. For many years, Bean did the show from his home
on Vachon Island, off Seattle. A year or so ago, he moved to New
Orleans. Bean posted on social media: “I am humbled by your well-wishes,
thank you. Happy to announce I am still physically the healthiest man
alive but am taking this time for mental health care. We’ll talk soon!”
Book ‘em. Remember Heidi Harris? She was at Salem’s KRLA in morning drive for a year, beginning in the spring of 2012. She has been a big deal on the Las Vegas airwaves. Heidi’s written a new book, Don’t Pat Me on The Head! Blowback, Setbacks and Comebacks in Vegas Radio. Harris says the new book “covers my various life experiences before radio, my nearly 20 years in radio, and 15 years as a cable TV talking head. I discuss how to pick topics, callers, and guests, and share some great behind-the-scenes stories, as well as how I’ve survived treacherous colleagues and the politically correct, who sometimes want to slit my throat.”
Hear Ache. Christina Kelley, former nighttimer at K-EARTH, is now doing fill-in morning drive news at KABC. After she left KRTH, she went back to journalism school, “which is what I was doing before music radio changed everything,” said Christina … KGO was once a powerhouse in the Bay Area. Two years ago, a video was produced about the station. …Steve Harvey is defending his wife Marjorie, after she landed herself in some hot water on social media. The couple was recording a cooking video, when she apparently had difficulties cutting vegetables.” Marjorie claimed her husband was thinking she was “r_____ed.” She was slammed on social media for using an outdated pejorative, typically aimed at people with intellectual disabilities. Steve’s defense of his wife (“What you trippin bout cause my wife said the word r_____ed...it’s a word, ain’t it?” caused a further uproar on social media.
Mike Walker, King of Gossip, Dies
|(April 5, 2018) The first time
I met Mike Walker, King of Gossip for the National
Enquirer, was ten years ago at a trendy spot on Santa Monica
Boulevard. When we were introduced by our mutual pal, John
Phillips from KABC, Mike blurted out to me, “how is
it covering a
dying industry?” I could have said something similar about the
publishing industry, but Mike was more than just the guy from the Enquirer.
Mike was an entertainer.
He died February 16, 2018, at the age of 72.
If you didn’t read the National Enquirer, perhaps you remember him from his three years at KABC or his weekly guesting on the Howard Stern show playing ‘The Gossip Game,’ [Walker read four stories and Stern had to guess which one was true]. Or maybe his foray as morning man at “Real Radio” KLSX. It could have been his newsmagazine, “National Enquirer TV.” Or the book he wrote in 2005, Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News. Walker co-wrote with Faye Resnick the #1 New York Times best-selling book about the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Nicole Brown Simpson: Private Diary of a Life Interrupted in 1994.
“The Hemingway of Gossip” — that’s how Howard Stern once described Mike Walker. To Geraldo Rivera, Walker was the “Guru of Gossip — the Dean of Celebrity News and a first-rate TV personality.” And Ryan Seacrest may have put it best when he asked: “Has Mike Walker ever missed a beat? Nope! Not to my knowledge. That guy impresses me — he always nails it!”
Mike Walker wrote, and some might say he was the face, of The Enquirer for five decades. Walker — who bravely battled a long illness with courage and humor — carried on writing items for his “Gossip: Coast to Coast” column right up to the end. “I knew I wanted to be a journalist by the time I was 12 or 13 years old,” said Mike. Leaving his family’s home in Boston at age 16, the future “Gossip King” joined the U.S. Air Force. During a four-year stint, he taught himself how to be a working journalist by freelancing features to daily newspapers. After the Air Force, Walker remained in the Far East and became the youngest-ever foreign correspondent for International News Service, honing his reporting skills on a top newspaper in Tokyo, Japan.
“What intervened then was a wife and two small children, and because I wanted to give them American roots, I decided that I had to give up the show business thing and go back to the States.” In 1970, Walker landed in The Enquirer’s newsroom, then based in Lantana, Florida. A colleague remembered: “Mike was hired as ‘Chief Writer,’ and he was a perfectionist. He was usually the first guy to arrive in the morning and the last guy to go home at night. He loved The Enquirer; how colorful it was and its great spirit.”
Jim Ladd Alive and Well
|(April 4, 2018) Jim
Ladd, our iconic album-oriented personality, has been missing
from his SiriusXM shift at Deep Tracks. Social media has been insistent
attempting to learn if he is okay. Well Jim has put a note up on
Facebook: “Hey kids...note from me: Jim Ladd is alive and well! Hello to
EVERYONE checking in on social media! I know you have been wondering
where I am so let me say...I will be back on air real soon and will post
the date and announce show returning on Deep Tracks same battime, same
batchannel in advance of the first show, so hang in there and be ready
to ROCK! Peace, Love, MUSIC. You can send song requests to me direct
email as usual at: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Good news, indeed.
Marc Germain (Mr. KABC) has been certified by the Citizens Police Academy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. What the heck did this entail? Will we see him on the Vegas edition of Cops? “Ann and I signed up because we wanted to get to know the local law enforcement and learn more about policing. Ann thought it might be helpful with her PTSD from being at the Route 91 Festival massacre. It was a 12-week course, 4 hours of classroom time a week, by invitation only, very eye opening. Some in the class were considering trying out for the Police Academy. We got a certificate and pin for completing the course but it entitles us to nothing – not even discounted doughnuts.”
In other news: An LA Times reader from Glendale appeared on the sports page: “I’m listening to the Dodgers’ opener on the radio and it seems like every stat is brought to by some commercial plug. I can just hear it now: ‘This next pitch is brought to you by Anheuser-Busch’ or the out at second base was brought to you by ‘Jack Daniels, the official bourbon of the Dodgers.’ Here’s an idea: How about we just call the game?’” ... KROQ posted on Twitter: "Many of you have noticed that Bean hasn't been on the show for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, he's taking a medical leave. We don't have any more information, but we'll let you know as soon as we can. We're thinking of him, and wish him a full and speedy recovery."
John Mack Flanagan, ex-KHJ, Dies of Congestive Heart Failure
|(April 3, 2018) John
Mack Flanagan spent part of 1975 in Los Angeles at KHJ, but his
hugest success happened in the Bay Area. The KFRC legend died March 31
of congestive heart failure. He was 71.
The San Francisco veteran called his brief stay at KHJ "the single biggest event in my career,” when I interviewed him for Los Angeles Radio People. “I had always dreamed of L.A., and Charlie Van Dyke asked me to assist and pull a couple of shifts."
In 1978, while working in the San Francisco market, John was Billboard Jock of the Year finalist. He was glad he didn't win, saying: "Never climb to the mountain top – the only way is down."
In the 1990s he was fired four times in two years, the consequence of duopoly sales. When he left KYA-San Francisco during the summer of 1994, a family friend who owned KJOY-Stockton soon offered him afternoon drive. John was delighted: "I love it! I'm out of the pressure cooker and having fun for the first time in many years. Please pray for radio, it needs it...never been harder to survive.”
Airchexx.com posted an aircheck from late 1977. Listen while you learn about him. Airchexx says about John: “This is about as good as AM Top 40 got. There’s always that tug of war between East Coast listeners who preferred the WABC approach to the format, with its reverb and Dan Ingram’s one-liners, and West Coast listener favorite KFRC, which along with KHJ in Los Angeles, was owned by then media-giant RKO General. Listen to this aircheck and most will agree, KFRC going into 1978 was hotter than almost every other Top 40 radio station, AM or FM!"
John did much VO work, with Voice 123 describing John as “One of the richest, warmest, friendliest -- and most memorable -- voices in the history of American radio. As both the imaging voice and top-rated afternoon drive star of the legendary Big 610 (KFRC- San Francisco), John Mack Flanagan is known throughout the industry for his skill at connecting 'one on one' with each and every listener. Listen to another aircheck here.
Raised in New Mexico, John started his radio career in the summer of 1964. He served in Vietnam before working in the Bay Area at KWSS-San Jose, K101, KSFO, KYA, and KBGG (“K-BIG 98.1),” as well as KFRC. He is a member of The Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame and National Radio DJ Hall of Fame. The organization wrote a beautiful tribute to John you can read here. He wrote a book about his life, Tight & Bright: A Diskjockey - Vietnam Memoir. John Mack Flanagan was named for the Western movie legend John Mack Brown.
“I've never wanted to be a relic. I never want to hear, 'Oh god, he was great in the 'Seventies,' or 'He was great in '64 in Lubbock, Texas.' I've never wanted that. I've always wanted people right now to go, 'Wow! It's him!'"
|(April 2, 2018) In
searching for an update on John Bailey, the newly installed president of
the Motion Picture Academy (I am a member), I unexpectedly came across
some references to KIIS’ Ryan Seacrest. Both Bailey and
Seacrest are alleged to have committed illegal or inappropriate acts.
Bailey was just cleared after being investigated by his own Board at the
Academy for unstated allegations, assumed to be involve sexual
Ever since the Harvey Weinstein sexual explosion, the criminal justice system has largely been sidelined in the current trial-by-media cycle. At the end of it, Bailey, an accomplished cinematographer, was cleared. Peter Bart, former exec at Variety and now with Deadline, asks “Even though he has been cleared, will Bailey effectively ever be cleared? Or will he fade into the Ryan Seacrest-like grey zone where charges are vehemently denied, and yet tacitly believed? Or the Charlie Rose zone when, despite denials, a career is terminated by heavily publicized accusers.”
Has Seacrest successfully avoided a career-breaking charge? Suzie Hardy, Ryan Seacrest’s former E! News stylist, is now taking her allegations against her former boss to the police. The filing of the report follows the conclusion of E!’s internal investigation into Hardy’s allegations of inappropriate conduct against Seacrest. The inquiry found insufficient evidence to substantiate the claims. (To read Hardy’s story in Variety, click.) If you believe in conspiracy theories, Hardy said she was ready to tell her story to Megyn Kelly, but that the show canceled the interview days before it was supposed to air. Hardy told DailyMail.com. “No explanation was given.”
Seacrest has adamantly denied the allegations.
Ryan says, “I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result. I’m proud of my workplace reputation and believe my track record will speak for itself. I’m an advocate for women. I will continue to support their voices.”
Whether it be vengeance or an out-and-out lie, high profile entertainers have struggled with being charged with everything from indiscretion to aggressive sexual contact. Some might suggest the ‘casting couch’ scenario has been around forever, but social media seems to have elevated the discussion to a new, albeit vocal #MeToo level.
As charges are made and denied, some with sensational headlines, it is hoped that everyone (accused and accuser) gets a fair day in court. And how will the lingering residue of innuendo do for careers? Ryan Seacrest is arguably the highest profile Los Angeles Radio Person caught up in this arena. Ryan shares the spotlight at the highest levels of network tv. But he also shares responsibility in answering charges.
We covered his initial denial and will follow through with his case until the conclusion.
Archives 3rd Quarter 2017: KBIG big in the ratings; Open Email to KLOS
PD; Entercom shuts down The Sound; Art Laboe
celebrates 74 consecutive years on the radio; KNX shuffles shifts; Top
20 AOR stations of all-time; 2 non-coms go Triple A; Fake news at AMP
radio; Book on Nancy Cole; Ellen K
makes list of Inspirer women in radio; 1,000 apply for morning drive at
AMP Radio; Gene Sandbloom exits KROQ; Alan Oda
digs Japan; Outlaw Radio - Animal House for grown-ups who haven't grown
up; Art Astor car collection auction; Idol producer on including
Seacrest in reboot; Carson Dal out at AMP Radio; Lisa Bloom publishes
Shattered Peacock; KN wins Edward R. Murrow award; Charles Pyne
reported sexual harassment case; Summer reading; KROQ GM to Santa Monica
Mayor; Passing Parade includes: Helen Borgers,
Steve Gonzalez, Barry Turnbull, Don
Bishop, Jay Thomas, Tommy Hawkins,
and Bill Smith
Archives 4th Quarter 2017: Stern worth $1/2 billion; traffic LARPS honored; empty spaces at KABC/KLOS; fire threatens radio towers; LARPs caught in Northern California firestorm; K-LOVE versus EMF; Stern appears with Kimmel; unthinkable happens to Delilah a second time; three faces of Nicci Ross; LARPs at Las Vegas massacre; KNX wins Edward R. Murrow award; Passing Parade includes Joe Reiling, Bob Eatman, Helen Borgers, Cliff Winston; Hilly Rose; Greg Ashlock promoted to President at iHeart; Jim Duncan exits iHeart; Jeff Federman returns to CBS/LA cluster that is now Entercom; Kiplinger says announcing one of the worst jobs; KBIG dominates ratings; Is Bill Handle in trouble? Jeff Baugh involved in SigAlert; Charley Steiner complaints; Countdown until The Sound shuts down; essay on The Sound; Love letters to Sound staff; Field of Dreams; Scully scolded; KABC's Tweeden claims Al Franken groped her; Laboe marshall of Xmas parade; Seacrest denies behaving "Inappropriately"; Pope moves from San Jose to Inland Empire; Night disco died; Jingle Ball reviewed; Steve Edwards departs Fox morning show; Bill Brown found; Ralph Garman fired from CBS after almost two decades on Kevin & Bean Show; radio reunion; Allred/Bloom tiff?; LARP traffic people mentioned in NY Times story; massive firestorm; Tammy Trujillo writes broadcast textbook; Top stories of 2017 by Alan Oda; Scott St. James' challenges; Memories of Chickenman
Archives 1st Quarter 2018
Al Michaels broadccasts from home for the first time; Norm Pattiz to step down; At first whispers, and then a roar; Passing Parade of 2017; Paul O'Malley heads to Charleston cluster; Chuck Blore essay; new AMP morning team; latest KFI news anchor, Mary Kate Gaffney; In Bed with Broadcasting; Morning Side of the Mountain - personal stories of Montecito mudslides; Keith Jackson's death makes front page in two LA Times sections; KGO ready to simulast KABC personality; Passing Parade: Jack Sweeney, Bill Lally, Paul Cassidy, Jon Badeaux, Lyle Kilgore, Joe Frank; Lisa Worden new ALT 98.7 PD; Thanks for the ride, Don Imus; KOST holiday ratings on top; Lauren Sivan joins KABC middays; Ellen K to announce Grammy broadcast'; The Real Don Steele voted Best LARP of All-Time; Billy Bush repairing his career and life; KABC wins Golden Mikes; Reel Radio founder needs help; Rob Frazier's new gig takes him East; Corbin Carson joins KFI News; Chelsea Briggs joins AMP morning show; LARadio readers listen to KFI and Tim Conway, Jr.; Val Maki and Janet Brainin out at Power 106; Gary Owens with a story for the ages; Ryan Seacrest tells it like it is; Behind scenes at KOST, Cumulus uses outdoor to promote Dahl; Gloria Allred's Netflix docu; Craig Fiegener new to KNX news; 80-year-old LARP sues 77-year-old LARP; Michael Harrison chats with Trump; New mornings at Power 106; LARP memories of Billy Graham; busy JoJo; is podcasting worth it? Ryan Seacrest woes; iHeart in deep financial trouble, files for bankruptcy; Mary Beth Garber's new career; Carson Daly has high anxiety; A Noble journey; Bill Handel rushed to hospital; Rich Brother Robbin is an Oldie and a Goodie; Andy Chanley to 88.5/fm; Sun sets on Don Imus Show;
About the Publisher of LARadio.com, Don Barrett
As publisher of LARadio.com, Don Barrett chronicles radio news and lists 6,000 people in Los Angeles who work or have worked in radio in the past 60+ years. Barrett is a historian of contemporary Los Angeles radio history and author of Los Angeles Radio People, published in 1994. He published a second volume of the book a year later, along with the launch of a daily website column.
In 2013, he started as the radio columnist for the Orange County Register.
Barrett's Southern California roots (Santa Monica) include a bachelor's degree from Chapman University. He also earned a master's in psychology. He spent 10 years in radio working as a disc jockey, program director and general manager (W4-Detroit and WDRQ-Detroit).
He launched KIQQ (K-100) Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
In the mid-1970s Don joined the motion picture business, working as a marketing executive at Columbia, Universal, and MGM/UA. Barrett was part of the marketing team that released E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Back to the Future, Thelma and Louise, Rocky and James Bond movies.
He also represented a number of films at the Cannes Film Festival.
He was the first recipient of TALKERS Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award. Don has been honored with an honorary Golden Mike and Special Recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.