Thursday, September 16, 2010

*!##*& my father said... on the air

Today is my dad's 83rd birthday. He remains my hero. You of course recognize him as the host of the restaurant Nancy Travis entered in ALMOST PERFECT. Today's post is another excerpt from the book I'm writing on growing up in Los Angeles in the 60s. I selected it because it features my father. In 1967 he was an account executive at KABC radio (yes, the same KABC that I do Dodger Talk on).

NABET, the ABC engineers’ union went on strike that spring. And AFTRA, the talent union, went out in support – at least on the radio side. That meant that KABC executives manned the control boards and became the air talent. My dad got tapped to do the morning sports and then host a talk show from 6-9 P.M. So for about three months, until the strike was settled, he worked from 5 A.M. until 9 P.M. every day. And only half those hours on the weekend.

This is the infamous strike that cost me my trip to Paris when I got unceremoniously booted off THE DATING GAME without so much as a tube of GLEEM toothpaste.

Dad’s first morning on the air I rounded up all my friends in the parking lot and had them gather around the car radio to hear his broadcast debut. I was beaming with pride. He then signed on by saying, “Filling in for Cliff Levine Sports, I’m Allin Slate.” Like I said, I was so proud.

At first he just read the scores. But within a couple of weeks he was demanding the Lakers trade Rudy LaRusso and the Dodgers man up and admit they were horseshit that year.

He began feeling more comfortable hosting the talk show too. It shocked him (and me as well) that callers were asking his opinion of Viet Nam and the issues of the day. Why the hell did they care what he thought about anything? He was just some Joe Schmoe. But because he was on the radio, they did. And then our neighbor would call constantly to badger him about trimming our hedge.

I must say it was kind of cool having my father be a minor celebrity. That was certainly new. Friends asked if it was weird hearing my dad on the radio? I’d so no, but every so often he’d voice an opinion or share some personal anecdote that I didn’t know. That was bizarre. And then I wondered, what is he revealing that I didn’t know on nights I wasn’t listening? Does Ruth in Downey and Lester from Alhambra know things about my father that I don’t? I found this disconcerting but not so disconcerting that I’d listen to him over Vin Scully when the Dodgers were playing.

When the strike finally ended he said he was relieved. But deep down inside I think he missed it. Damn the company and unions for negotiating in good faith from that point on.

Happy birthday, Dad. Love you.


Troy said...

Okay, this explains where the great hair comes from.

tb said...

You're on the air...
"Yeah, so are you gonna cut that damn hedge or what?"

Great story, Ken

Mac said...

Happy Birthday to your Dad. I worked at a small commercial TV station where the same situation occurred. One of the Execs, after making a fine old mess of the continuity announcement, sighed and said "Well that's my career f***ked then. " At which his colleague said "Well it will be if you talk like that, your mics still open."
Luckily for him this was pre-internet days, and being a small station probably only a handful of viewers thinking "Did I just hear that?"

blogward said...

Actually, I'm touched by that. And the mind boggles at the way your relationship might have informed Frasier and Martin Crane - shame Marty never got to sit in... or did he?
WV: latin

Gary said...

From the fuzzy picture, your dad seems to resemble Richard Mulligan. After his acting success, did your dad change his name to, say, Claven...or Allen Slate?

(I just looked it up...the Dodgers WERE horseshit that year! Their first season after Koufax retired, but it looks like they needed a lot more than him.)

Sunshine Vitamin said...

I enjoyed meeting Cliff Levine at the Sitcom Room II, where he played the part of "studio executive giving unwanted notes" to some acclaim. A charming fellow indeed. Happy happy!

W.V. Shwash: how the Nike logo stays so clean

Paul Duca said...

Can you clarify why your father was on for three months? According to the tribute website for WABC,, the AFTRA portion of the strike was only around two weeks, so that"s how long Rick Sklar and his New York associates took the place of Dan Ingram, Cousin Bruce Morrow, et al.

Richard Y said...

I am glad you linked to a past post as I somehow missed that one. Very funny. So keep up with the 'reruns' as somewhere along the line one that was missed will be new again.

Happy Birthday to your DAD.

Paul Duca said...

And here is the link to the Musiciradio 77 page about the 1967 AFTRA strike, complete with an aircheck featuring the East Coast suits at the microphone.