Monday, April 18, 2016

When radio people get together

Went to a “celebration of life” (which sounds so much better than a “memorial service”) on Saturday for legendary radio program director, Ron Jacobs.  (Below is the video tribute to Ron.)  My friend Kevin Gershan did a great job organizing this event and it was attended by many.

I notice now that when radio people from the Golden Age (i.e. 20th Century) get together you can always expect the following:
Everyone drops their voice an octave (even the women).

Everyone still talks about drugs but now they’re for cholesterol.

Everyone compares which stations they were fired from and how many times they were fired.  (If it's less than six you weren't really in radio.)

Everyone has kids (that they know about).

Everyone wanted to work at KHJ.

Everyone has worked at KRTH.

Everyone has great stories.  Maybe a third of them are true.  

Everyone hated Paul Drew (another radio program director).

Everyone did the all-night shift at one time or another and still has the bags under their eyes.

Half the gathering had slept with the same girl. The other half slept with a different girl.

Everyone secretly considers himself the “fifth Beatle.”

No one still goes by their real name.

Discussions always include how much hair we used to have.

Everyone agrees that the Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Dan Ingram, Jackson Armstrong, and Larry Lujack were the best of the best.

Everyone still talks-up records in their car and can still hit the post. (It’s my greatest talent.)

Everyone misses the “competition” that went on back when two companies didn’t own every radio station in America. War was heaven.

Everyone refuses to believe the ‘60s are over (despite the existence of mirrors).

They’re the only gatherings in the world where people bemoan the lack of jingles.

Every conversation begins with: “Whatever happened to…?” or “Do you know a good cardiologist?”

Songs from the ‘80s are considered way too current to be classified as “oldies.”

And finally, everyone agrees that their heyday in radio was the most fun time of their lives.


Unknown said...

One of your best.
As a 63 year old I can certainly relate to the references to cholesterol meds.....and the search for a good cardiologist.
And although I didn't work in radio.....30 year veterans of the hotel business also talk about how many places they were fired.

VP81955 said...

To the days when I dreamed of being a top 40 jock!

YEKIMI said...

So, when you quit when you KNEW you were going to be fired....doesn't count as being in radio? Sometimes when you see the train coming it's best to get off the tracks.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...


blinky said...

DO they all have the story about when the new "genius" program director came in and changed the popular rock format to disco and the ratings went to zero?

VP81955 said...

Just one unrelated thing: Melissa Joan Hart turns 40 today (and Hadley Mills turns 70). Damn, I feel old.

Unknown said...

Since you brought it up:"Half the gathering had slept with the same girl. The other half slept with a different girl. "
Which girl were you with?

Anonymous said...

I would have been there (I wrote "The Rise and Fall of Boss Radio"), but I'm under the care of a good cardiologist.

H Johnson said...

Great post and mucho mahalo for sharing that video.


John Hammes said...

We are all navigating through life, and quite frankly, some days are one damn navigation after another. Here's to all the friends and mentors in our lives who have provided common sense examples, shown us the way, and kept us from making fools of ourselves. Mostly.

Rest in peace, good sir.

Diane D. said...

This is the sweetest, most charming post you've written in a long time, maybe ever. I doubt you will consider that a compliment, so please know that it is also hilarious, witty, and surprising.

The only knowledge I have of radio I acquired on this blog, and I have the most enormous regret that my childhood home did not include a radio (teenager in 1960s!!). I bet your book "The Me Generation" includes a lot of radio talk; I've been meaning to read it for a long time--hope it's available in non-electronic book form.

I would love to hear you "talking up records in your car" all by yourself!! I have forgotten what the "hit the post" part means, but I believe I did learn that on this blog at one time.

I also regret that as an adult when I did start listening to radio (at least in my car), I went straight to NPR and never turned the dial.

Thanks for a wonderful and touching post.

By Ken Levine said...

Thanks, Diane. My book is available in paperback and audio versions as well as electronic. Just go here.

Or click on the book cover on the right side of the blog. Thanks again.

SharoneRosen said...

Yep, sounds about right.. except, geek that I am, I wanted to work at KLAC, and was thrilled to be on that air for the last 5 glorious years it was LA's premier country station... still have those bags under the eyes, though

D. McEwan said...

Wow. I'd say what happened to Wink (Whom I knew at KGIL almost half a century ago) except it's pretty obvious what he's done to his face. I never get how people can think looking like that is better than just letting yourself age naturally.

VP81955 said...

Er, Hayley Mills. Damn spell check.

Pat Reeder said...

Overnight air shifts were great for me because I'm naturally nocturnal. Moving into writing a syndicated radio comedy service allowed me to continue the schedule by writing all night long and sending it out just in time for bedtime/morning shows at 5 a.m.

My radio/writing partner George says you can always tell you're in a gathering of radio guys because when music is playing in the background, everyone stops talking the second the vocal starts.

I also have my story of the idiot program director forcing the staff on our personality-oriented station to start reading nothing but dumb liners off of blue cards. Half the air staff quit, and when the ratings tanked, naturally, he blamed the on-air people who were left.

JR Smith said...

Wonderful post Ken. As someone who listened to Beaver Cleaver on TEN-Q and a few years later, worked TOP 40 radio...I really enjoyed this one.

Jake said...

Another great one gone:

Andy Rose said...

For those of us who worked in radio post-deregulation, the rule was slightly amended:

You didn't really work in radio unless you were fired in at least 6 cities by the same company.

YEKIMI said...

A Friday question [or any other day of the week] Do you think these rule changes will help the Golden Globes or is it always going to be a turdfest?

Duncan Randall said...

Maybe it's too early for this Friday question, but do you have any thoughts on the changes at Castle? Seems like a PR disaster at the very least.

Greg Ehrbar said...

"When you've moved on to higher things, you look back and you realize that you enjoyed every moment of the struggle."
- August Gunther (Charles Eggleston), The Honeymooners

(Unlike Entertainment Weekly, it should be pointed out that the real people who said this were writers A.J. Russell and Herbert Finn.)

Mike Botula said...

My recurring radio dream is getting locked out of the studio as the record either sticks or finishes playing. Another version is sitting in front of the mic to do the newscast and, just as the red light pops on, realizing that I left my script back in the newsroom and it's a ten minute 'cast! Did get fired a lot, but never worked at KRTH!