Buy my current book first. But to tease you, here’s another Top 40 tale.
In the fall of 1974 I had finally made the big(ish) time. I was hired to do the evening shift on K100, Los Angeles. This was the first time I was on the radio in my hometown, and even more exciting – the station was owned by Drake/Chenault, the same consultants who created Boss Radio KHJ. And most of the disc jockeys were former KHJ Bossjocks. The great Robert W. Morgan did mornings and the Real Don Steele did afternoons. As Beaver Cleaver, I got to follow the Real Don Steele. Forget that I had to play “Billy, Don’t be a Hero” and “You’re Having My Baby” every ten minutes – how cool was that?
Robert W. Morgan was one of my idols. He was the complete package. Great voice and wickedly funny. Within three weeks of my joining K100 Morgan almost drove down to the station with the intent of sending me to the emergency room.
Here’s what happened:
After my first week the station began a contest called “The Secret Stash.” Ten items (like stereos, trips, motorcycles – things kids wanted back then besides drugs) were in “The Secret Stash” and the first listener who could identify all ten would win them all. We took a contestant every hour and also provided hourly worthless clues. We would tell the contestants when they correctly named an item and eventually listeners were closing in on all ten. The contest took about a week.
When someone finally got the last one, the jock on the air was required to make a huge deal of it. The recording of that exchange was then used as a station promo for several days.
Usually you like your best jock to be the one on that promo. In this case, it was Robert W. Morgan. So once nine of the ten items were identified and we knew we were close, a giveaway clue was to be given on Morgan’s show. The next contestant would easily then win.
So that was the plan. But the night before, on my show, the contestant got it right. I made the requisite big hoop-dee-doo, my voice was on the promo for the next week, and Morgan was steamed. I heard about this but what could I do? It wasn’t my fault the skeesix won.
Sure enough, Morgan had had one or two adult beverages, called the Real Don Steele and said, “I’m going down to the station to beat the shit out of that kid!?"
Now he had warned me beforehand that if I gave away Secret Stash #2 instead of him he would hurt me, but I just assumed that was an idle threat. But now I was thinking -- was it? I knew Morgan had a temper. What if he did come down to the station? I hadn’t been in a physical altercation since the 7th Grade. I didn’t want to fight him. He was my idol. On the other hand, if your idol is kicking the crap out of you that takes away some of the adoration. Would I swing back? Three weeks ago I was truly honored just being in the same room as him. Now I’m trying to get him in a headlock?
Fortunately, Steele talked him out of driving to the station. He simmered down but wouldn’t talk to me for a month. Eventually we became very good friends. In his last year before succumbing to lung cancer I once joked with him. I said, “We never resolved this Secret Stash business. You want a piece of me? Come on. Let’s do it. Right now.” He looked up at me, in his somewhat frail state and said, “I could still take you.” He was probably right.
God, I miss him. I don't miss "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" though.