Wednesday, January 09, 2013

R.I.P. Bill Mouzis

Among the people I wanted to be when I grew up was Bill Mouzis. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he was a hero of mine. He sat in a tiny windowless closet surrounded by archaic equipment and made magic. If ever there was an artist and alchemist in radio it was Bill Mouzis.

He was the production director for 93/KHJ Boss Radio back in the ‘60s. Today we have audio editing programs on our computers and can do multi-tracks, sound effects, equalizing, reverb, any number of tricks with just a click of a mouse. Back then it was a couple of old reel-to-reel tape recorders and a razor blade. Yet, Bill’s promos sounded better and more complex with antiquated facilities than any of today’s whiz-bang high tech digital productions.

One of the hallmarks of KHJ was their creative contests. And even more creative promos. A three-man team collaborated on them. Creative genius Ron Jacobs conceived and wrote the spots, Robert W. Morgan voiced them, and Bill Mouzis assembled them. He laid in music, effects, added drama and distinction to them. They were better than any Madison Avenue commercial.

And in 1968 he was given an added assignment. In addition to the :30 seconds promos he made (that took all day), he was asked to produce a radio special that would be 48 hours in length. Incredibly, under adverse working conditions, and an absurd deadline, Bill Mouzis put together the KHJ “History of Rock n’ Roll.” Imagine someone said to George Lucas, “Here’s a movie camera that was used in 1930, $500, and no sets. We want you to make STAR WARS in two weeks.” That was Bill’s challenge with the History of Rock n’ Roll. He organized thousands of hours of interviews, laid the narration over the music, and created special elements like music montages and time sweeps. I still don’t know how he did it.

He was also a wonderful, kind man. On several occasions he sat in a booth at Nicodell’s restaurant and patiently advised and encouraged a certain wide-eyed callow college geek.

Bill passed away this week. He was a decorated World War II veteran, a loving husband and father, concerned citizen (his Op-Ed pieces ran regularly in the LA Times), and dear friend for well over 40 years. He touched the lives over everyone he met. I will miss him greatly. Bill was 90, and yes, that’s a good long run, but I feel cheated that he didn’t reach the big 93.

15 comments:

Scottso said...

I'm glad that you paid tribute to Bill Mouzis, one of the greatest radio production men, past and present. The production value of The History of Rock & Roll holds up against anything produced today. Certainly, Boss Radio on KHJ would have been different without him.

NEWSBOY said...

HUGE loss to anyone who was inside the biz or grew up hypnotized by Boss Radio..


--Jeff Prescott

BMR said...

Well said Ken. At least we still have Tina Delgado.

Randy West said...

We were just talking at that Smoke house lunch about all THREE versions of the History of Rock and Roll that Bill produced over the years. As a kid in the 60s I was enthralled by the Humble Harve narrated version, and only learned how magical it really was when I tried to recreate some of Bill's production tricks in the 70s. Great to see your tribute to a real talent.

HarryOsibin said...

...beautiful piece...

MikeBo said...

Sorry to hear about Bill Mouzis. His work impacted all of LA Radio, not just KHJ. And, "The History of Rock and Roll" was an absolute masterpiece. Thanks, Ken for letting us know.

fred said...

Losing Our WWII Vets So Fast ..

YEKIMI said...

I think he needs to be nominated for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame just on the basis of the "History of Rock & Roll" program he produced. I've heard them here and there over the years and was always amazed by them.

willieb said...

I have several friends who worked at KHJ during the later part of "Boss Radio" in the 70s. One was in the news department during the days of Bobby Ocean. I mentioned to her that I thought Ocean's production was great. She replied, "Ocean knows EQ. Mouzis knows everything."

Doug said...

KOOL FM in Phoenix used to run History of Rock and Roll (voiced by the legendary Bill Drake) on Memorial Day and sometimes Labor Day, too. That ended just a few years ago, and yes, it sounded great. Not bad for a nearly 40 year-old program. My only gripe is there was too much Barry Manilow, which is to say there's any Barry Manilow at all. But that was not Bill Mouzis's fault. And yes, it's very sad that radio production is the bastard child of an already-decimated industry. If radio would get off its collective arse and realize that fun production and fun commercials attract LISTENERS, maybe more people would listen. Come home Hudson & Landry, all is forgiven.

Pat Reeder said...

A hat tip to one of the greats. As the former production director of KLUV in Dallas and music librarian of TM Programming when we produced the Gold Picks library, I started out in the final days of the razor blade, reel-to-reel, create-your-own-slapback-echo era, before digital took over. So I appreciate the effort and artistry that went into building those amazing edifices of sound that used to make radio fun.

VincentS said...

Fine tribute, Ken. Thanks for telling us about this man.

Anonymous said...

Magnificent tribute from one of the L.A. teenagers hypnotized
by 93/KHJ. The biggest reason I wanted to be in radio.

Gary McKenzie

Joey H said...

The History of Rock and Roll was truly a work of art.

RIP Bill

Anonymous said...

Boss Radio's first program director, Ron Jacobs, is putting a montage of Bill's work on his blog site at www.ronjacobshawaii.com.

Rest in Peace, Bill.