Final Curtain for LARadio.com
2020) This is the final act for
LARadio. My love affair with covering the
LARadio landscape for the past 25 years with my
three books and this website has come to an end
today. There are no long goodbyes. No parades.
The curtain comes down for the final time.
The thank yous are plentiful to Alan Oda, he was not just the editor and senior correspondent, but he became a dear friend. Others who played a huge role: Anita Garner, the Insane Darrell Wayne, the late Jim Hawthorne, Jim Hilliker, the late Scott St. James, Christian Wheel, and Steven Thompson. But the biggest thank you is to you for your kindness in supporting the website.
My goal from day one with my books and later website was to pay tribute to the men and women who have entertained us in LARadio for the past half century. The underlying theme was to paint an accurate, positive picture of on-air radio people who sit in empty rooms broadcasting to thousands of people, weaving tales that kept the listener engaged and enthralled – the ultimate storytellers.
I wanted to pay tribute to those who had gone before us and blazed the trail. Many of our profiles filled in so many missing pieces about the stories of our favorites we only thought we knew from behind the microphone. If you read a story and said, “I didn’t know that,” or “that’s fascinating,” then I accomplished my task. And when Los Angeles Radio People died, I never wanted that LARP, no matter how big or small, to leave in obscurity. It was important to make sure he or she didn’t leave as an unknown, but rather as a part of this rare fraternity of Los Angeles Radio People.
I never wanted radio to be thought of only as “the way it used to be.” I never wanted to live in the past. Oh, yes, I wanted everyone to be aware of the past, but never to live there. My intention was always to lift the medium up and be proud. When management or personalities stumbled, I was quick to point that out – not in a pejorative way but rather, how can we do radio better.
I grew up listening to Los Angeles radio. My own dream of being in radio was born while listening to the music and voices that I invited into my home in Santa Monica every day. Television had changed the voice of radio. The stars were no longer comedians or program hosts like Arthur Godfrey, but, rather a group of young people inspired by the spirit of a new kind of music. Rock ’n Roll, baby. And they spun the sounds. This was long before the Howard Sterns or Rush Limbaughs. They were an army of faceless men (women would come later, when radio went underground) who went from city to city, station to station, counting down the most popular records of the day, interrupted by rapidly delivered sensational news, bells and whistles, and commercials often advertising local businesses.
I was later to learn that the voices which surfed between waves of music belonged to radio people who could not help themselves. They were addicted to a small control booth, a cup of coffee, headphones tight on the head and music cranked up loud enough to deafen a small town. The love affair with the microphone was unconditional – a link to the listener. I always wanted to be there, never square. I wanted to watch the wax and groove to the tune. Oh, to be one of the ‘Seven Swingin’ Gentlemen,’ or one of the ‘11-10 Men.’ I would have settled for just being known as a jock. A real jock. You know, a DISC jockey.
I was lucky enough to work for Gordon McLendon. I traveled to FCC hearings with Gordon. We spent hours on airplanes one-on-one. I was fortunate to experience his genius, in fact, in my lifetime he was the only genius I ever worked for. Do we have geniuses today ready to give radio a new coat of paint and find a way to serve the listeners and not just serve Wall Street or the stifling debt? If the product is good and the radio station resonates with the listener everything else will take care of itself.
And the genius in my personal life for 55 years, my dearest friend, colleague, and mentor Earl McDaniel was such an inspirational force in my life. I take a page from Earl frequently in my attempts to mentor young men beginning their sobriety journey. Life is all about hope, especially in these trying times.
Before I do the sign-off, Alan Oda asked to share a few words:
I have been blessed with five careers – radio programming and management, tv news anchor, motion picture marketing, a family therapist, and author/publisher. Thank you for accompanying me on my labor of love journey for the last 25 years. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything but it is time to go dark.
Hopefully LARadio will take a page from the movie business. No matter how many gimmicks the movie studios threw at the movie-goer, those who emerged as the eventual winners were the storytellers. You can have all the radio and audio platforms you want to disseminate the signal, but at the end of the day did you provide compelling content that will engage the listener? Without storytellers, radio will end up in a digital jukebox pile of wasted technology.
Alexa, play Jesse Belvin’s big hit and get us out of here: