I’m often asked who were my comic influences? Aside from the usual – Nat Hiken, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, Marshall & Belson, Kaufman & Hart, and Dan Ingram – I’d have to put at the top of my list Robert W. Morgan. For almost thirty years Morgan ruled the morning airwaves in Los Angeles (and briefly in Chicago).
He passed away seventeen years ago yesterday.
still miss him. I still look at something I’ve written and wonder,
“what would Robert W. think?” He was never shy in telling me. We worked
together briefly in 1974 at a station called K100. (I say briefly
because I was fired long before he was.) Robert W. could be a tough
critic on you (if you call threatening to come down to the station and beat the shit out of you
tough). But he also could inspire you to new heights if he believed you
had it in you. There was no middle ground in his eyes. You had the
potential to be great or you were Judy Tenuta.
Morgan himself on
the air was truly amazing. Hilariously funny, wickedly subversive, a
master of comic timing, and ALWAYS spontaneous. In the moment. One “morgan” (you never said “morning”, you said “morgan.” If I pronounced my name Le-Veen and did a night time shift I'd be on from 6-10 in the E-veeng.
Fortunately for all concerned, I'm not ) when he was on KMPC he had to
do a live phone interview with Ray Malavasi, the head coach of the
Rams. He asked his first question and Malavasi fell asleep. Instead of
trying to wake him, and without missing a beat, Morgan just kept asking
him questions and pausing while Malavasi snored.
There is a Robert W. Morgan tribute website
well worth checking out containing this and many other classic bits.
Comedy on the radio is a lost art. Robert W. Morgan was one of its great
artists. Morgan also was blessed with a gorgeous voice. Rich, mellow,
and warm (as if I wasn’t envious enough of his talent). In 1969 while at
KHJ he narrated a 48 hour radio special – THE HISTORY OF ROCK N’ ROLL.
This epic work painstakingly traced the roots and trends of rock music
and to this day is considered a masterpiece. (back in the days when the
only hits Phil Spector was known for were records)
Robert W. was only 61 when he passed away. Way too young.
Lung cancer. DON'T SMOKE!! He should still be around, probably
writing biting comments in this blog.