Saturday, February 06, 2010

go or geaux?

Although it really doesn't matter to me who wins the Super Bowl, I do want to pick a team and root for them tomorrow. I like both the Colts and the Saints and will have to dig a little deeper to find a preference.

The Colts are especially popular in Knoxville because of Peyton Manning. My friends outside Tennessee might not realize that he is a former UT Volunteer. In addition to all his national endorsements, he turns up on local TV in commercials for Mercy Health Partners. I am impressed with the star quarterback's ability, even if he is a little OCPD.

The City of Indianapolis also has something going for it in my book. One of the boxes in my basement contains the key to the city. Don & Mike and I each received a key when we did a remote broadcast from Indy at the invitation of then-mayor William Hudnut.

Although it has been many years, the Colts lose some points for the way they abandoned Baltimore. They should have left their name and colors behind like the Browns did when they ditched Cleveland. Instead of becoming the Ravens, the old Browns should now be the Colts.

The storyline of the Saints is appealing to me. I like that they were one of the last five teams to have never reached a Super Bowl. Their dedicated fans have been waiting a long time to win a championship. It's almost like the Red Sox or Cubs winning the World Series.

I've been to New Orleans a few times for the Morning Show Boot Camp convention and absolutely loved it. I like going to the Acme Oyster House and getting on their webcam. I love the Bananas Foster at Brennan's and just about anything étouffée at just about any restaurant in the French quarter.

So who's it going to be? Do I cheer for Peyton, whose work ethic and incredible ability I respect and admire? Or do I go with the feel-good story of New Orleans? Maybe I'll think about it tomorrow morning while I'm waiting for Mass to begin at All Saints Church. Hmmm... maybe I just decided.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

let's go to the pearly gates

George Michael was George Michael before the Wham! guy came along. Like the singer, the George Michael I knew had a real last name that wasn't radio-friendly. Because I remember how mad he got when The Washington Post printed it, I will respect his memory and omit it here.

George died today after a two-year battle with leukemia. He was one of the best deejays ever to grace the airwaves, most notably at WFIL. I remember hearing him at WABC when I was in high school. He was also the best local sportscaster I've ever seen. I'm not talking about play-by-play or color commentators, I mean the guys in the trenches squeezing as many highlights as possible into their allotted time on the evening news.

George moved to the Washington area a month or so before I did. For me, he always was the face of sports in the nation's capital. His enthusiasm is also partly responsible for my conversion to being a Redskins fan. My friends who interned at WRC confirmed all reports that George was a tough but fair boss. His off-air perfectionism is what allowed him to seem relaxed on the air.

My first full-time job in broadcasting was at WAVA. Our general manager, Alan Goodman, knew a good thing when he saw it and signed George to provide sports reports three times a week during the morning show. It was my job to call George and tell him that we were ready for his segment. He had a microphone in his house that was connected to our studios via a dedicated phone line.

Once a year, I think around Thanksgiving or Christmas, George would come in and play deejay. We would toss our morning zoo format and play oldies not normally heard on WAVA. And by we, I mean George and me. Unlike most deejays, George did not run his own board. He was major-market all the way and was accustomed to having a board op. I would load up the tunes and wait for George to point at me to hit the button. He had a hand signal for me to turn on his mic and another to start the next record. I'm using the old-school term but I actually played his oldies off CD.

There was one particular song that George insisted on playing every time. He would call me a couple of times in the days leading up to his appearance to make sure that I would have "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone. Excuse me for a moment while I listen to the intro that George loved talking up.

WRC-TV has posted a retrospective, much of which was also shown when George retired from his nightly duties in 2007. I found several other good links on the @redskinsblog Twitter feed. As you gather with your family this Christmas Eve, take a moment to say a prayer for the repose of the soul of George Michael. Rest in peace sir, rest in peace.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

called home

The death of Oral Roberts will make most people think of the time in 1987 when he said he was going to die. I am no exception. When my phone buzzed with the Twitter message from Celebrity Death Beeper, I immediately thought of my trip to Oklahoma.

After Rev. Roberts announced that the Lord would take him if he didn't raise enough money, Don & Mike began a countdown to his anticipated death date. As we got closer, someone suggested that it would be funny to broadcast live from the gates of Oral Roberts University. It sounds like something The Daily Show would do if it happened today.

Don & Mike, our engineer Chip and I flew to Tulsa and checked in to a hotel not far from the huge statue of praying hands. Chip had arranged for a satellite uplink truck to meet us there for the broadcast. That's when people started getting nervous. Our intention was to do the show from the hotel parking lot. The management refused to allow the satellite truck on their property. We were told that Rev. Roberts owned the land under the hotel.

With our fancy, expensive satellite broadcast scrapped, all we could do was phone it in. My friend Bean and Shadow Smith anchored the show back at WAVA. Don & Mike called the studio from their hotel rooms. To add some local flavor, I went to a nearby Waffle House, talked with some customers and then called in a report from a pay phone. It was the first time I had ever been to a Waffle House, a feat I didn't repeat until 15 years later when I moved to Knoxville.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

oh thank heaven

Happy 7-Eleven Day! My friend Bean and I used to make regular trips across the street to the 7-Eleven on Lee Highway when we both worked at WAVA. Bean was such a fan that he... uh... obtained a 7-Eleven doormat for his home.

My family and I pulled into a 7-Eleven to gas up this afternoon on the last leg of our road trip. While I filled the tank, my wife and son went inside and noticed that they were giving away free 7.11 ounce Slurpees. They tried pouring a few flavors that weren't yet frozen before having success with a blue one that was labeled "Strawberry Pineapple Lime." Go figure.

I've been told that certain blue clothes enhance my eye color. Do you think a blue tongue makes my eyes pop too?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

mr. everybody

Shows like "America's Got Talent" and "Last Comic Standing" provide a showcase for two art forms that were more popular when I was a kid than they are today. Ventriloquists and impressionists also each got a tongue-in-cheek tribute week on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

Impressionist Fred Travalena died on Sunday. He appeared on Letterman's show a few years back. While on the surface he appeared to be one of those cheesy "luv ya babe, I mean it" celebrities, his actions proved he was a genuinely good guy. I always enjoyed seeing him when he would stop by WAVA to plug a gig in D.C. He was a gracious guest who managed to not step on the toes of co-host Mike O'Meara, who is a talented impressionist himself. Fred even came by the station when he had a private gig that didn't need any radio promotion.

At some point yesterday, they removed the "upcoming appearances" from Fred's website. It had previously listed gigs on July 31 at the Hoover Auditorium in Ohio, an Alaskan Cruise in September and a concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Florida on December 14.

I got the feeling that Fred would have liked to be in the Rat Pack but he was about 25 years too young. Instead he did impressions of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. among others. A lot of Fred's other impressions were of his elders, like George Burns and Groucho Marx.

The sad news about Fred's passing was announced by his long-time publicist, Roger Neal. Roger is a good guy too. When I was between jobs, he would have me do some odd jobs around Hollywood for him. I will always appreciate his kindness.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

two kings

Someone should write a book comparing the lives and deaths of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. The early news reports I heard failed to see the obvious similarities. Both were the absolute biggest things in all of music and all of pop culture during their heyday. Both fell into a weird, isolated decline. Both looked completely different in their later years. Both deaths were originally said to be "cardiac arrest." CNN is reporting that Michael, like Elvis, had problems with prescription medications.

Former Jackson publicist Michael Levine issued the following statement via his LBN E-lert: "As someone who served as Michael Jackson's publicist during the first child molestation incident, I must confess I am not surprised by today's tragic news. Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years. His talent was unquestionable but so too was his discomfort with the norms of the world. A human simply can not withstand this level of prolonged stress."

Although he had already died, Elvis was technically Michael's father-in-law for a while. I was sitting in the audience at Radio City Music Hall during the MTV Video Music Awards when Michael and Lisa Marie Presley walked on stage and kissed. I got to go to the VMAs each year when I worked at KROQ.

In the late '80s, I had an even closer encounter with Michael Jackson. He came to the D.C. area to accept an award. I don't recall exactly how I got an invitation to cover the event. I was told to rent a tuxedo and bring a tape recorder. I drove to a multi-million dollar home in McLean. I parked off-site and took a shuttle to the party. The members of the press were ushered into a smaller building that was probably a garage or carriage house. A large room had been set up as if for a press conference. I was told to plug my tape recorder into a mult box, which provided an audio feed to the camera crews. While we waited for Michael to arrive, I struck up a fun conversation with Ann L. Trebbe, who was then a reporter for The Washington Post. She later went to work for USA Today. Michael stepped to the podium and made some brief generic remark like "I love you all, thank you very much." Don & Mike would play that audio for years anytime Michael's name came up.

After the worthless press event, the media representatives were allowed to go next door to the party. We were all dressed in formal wear, after all. The room buzzed when Michael made his entrance. He walked through the crowd, saying hello in his shy way to party goers who had paid top dollar to be there. As he got close to me, I reached out my hand and told him that I was with the local top-40 station, WAVA. I saw a change in his demeanor as his gloved hand shook mine very firmly and he said in a normal voice, "Thank you for your support."

I was working the afternoon shift at Star 102.1 on Thursday when reported that Michael had died. When I turned on the microphone, I wasn't totally sure what I was going to say. I said the date a couple of times and then said that the news I was about to deliver was as big as the death of Elvis was to the listeners' parents or perhaps grandparents.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

pity the fils

Sharing a meal with a vegetarian friend of ours usually means we'll be eating at one of three places: Trio Café, Panera Bread or Ruby Tuesday. On Friday night, my wife, our son and I met our friend at Ruby Tuesday in the mall for the salad bar.

During dinner I told him that I had talked about him on the radio recently. He had backstage passes to a Gavin Rossdale performance but didn't know much about him. When he met the singer, all he could think to ask was, "so, you're married to Gloria Estefan?" Brush with greatness fail. (FYI: Rossdale is married to Gwen Stefani.)

We talked about a couple of celebrity encounters from my past including the Donny Osmond "don't you wish you were me" story. My wife remembered the 7-Eleven shopping sprees I used to do at WAVA. After a celebrity was on the air with Don & Mike, I would escort them across Lee Highway to 7-Eleven. I used the phone behind the counter to provide on-air play-by-play as the celebrity grabbed as much stuff as he or she could in 30 seconds. It's hard to remember all the stars who made the walk with me. Mr. T came to mind because I still have a picture of him walking back to the radio station. I spent the better part of an hour looking for it in a stack of photo albums in the basement.

The series of anecdotes prompted my son to point out that I have never told him many of my old tales. They just don't come up in our normal conversations. It's as if I need to be prompted to remember them. I wonder if any of you former WAVA or KROQ or KLOS listeners can suggest some stories my son would enjoy.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

mic flag at half-staff

Paul Harvey loved his job so much that the only thing that could stop him was his death yesterday at age 90. He had been recently slowed by illness and by the loss of his wife Angel. For most of us, Harvey was on the air our entire lives and the airwaves will feel emptier without him.

I used to make a point of timing my commute home from WAVA to coincide with "The Rest of the Story." It aired during the Trumbull & Core show on WMAL. In the privacy of my car, I would shout out the name of the person I thought Harvey might be talking about. When I didn't know, I always guessed Abraham Lincoln, which was often the right answer.

The late David Haines had no problem with people thinking he sounded like Paul Harvey. Haines so admired Harvey that he recorded his idol's 8:30 a.m. newscast each day. Often Haines would be in the middle of his own newscast on WAVA but could reach over and press the record button on his AM/FM cassette machine without missing a beat.

Harvey set the standard for any announcer ever given the opportunity to do an endorsement commercial. He only spoke on behalf of products that he believed in, which meant that many potential sponsors were turned away. Don't tell me you wouldn't love to have one of those tankless water heaters he advertised.

Over the years I fell out of the habit of listening to Paul Harvey through no fault of his. The stations in Los Angeles and Knoxville didn't air his programs at a time that was especially convenient for me. In fact, I don't think the news/talk station here runs him at all. Now that he's gone, I want nothing more than to hear him again. Maybe there are some classic podcasts I can download from somewhere.

There are some assorted clips on YouTube including a "Letter from God" and a few examples of "The Rest of the Story." His Chicago flagship, WGN Radio, has an online tribute page with several audio clips available, including the classic phrase: "Stand by for news!"

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

out in the hall his whole life

Comedian Billy Gardell had the crowd in hysterics tonight at the new Side Splitters Comedy Club. I had only seen him as an actor on "yes, dear" and "My Name Is Earl" and not as a comic. His stand-up act is extremely funny. He mostly riffs on marriage and parenthood, telling stories that my wife and I could easily relate to. We didn't mind his salty language although we know people who might be better off watching an edited version of his routine on TV. Billy has four more shows this weekend, two on Friday night and two on Saturday night.

One of Billy's bits is about wanting to kill whoever came up with the idea for the DIY Network. After the show, I had chance to tell him that the network's headquarters was just a stone's throw from the comedy club. We also talked briefly about former WAVA intern Greg Garcia.

Promoter John Hodge had invited us to check out the new Side Splitters. It is a definite improvement over the old Comedy Zone. The evening started with an announcement of upcoming performers including a couple of my favorites, Leanne Morgan (April 30 - May 1) and Ralphie May (July 16 - 18). Club owner Bobby Jewell did a set before Gardell. Afterward he told me that he had been using one of his jokes for twenty years. The punchline is even painted on the wall in the lounge area: "If you're gonna drink and drive, don't take our matches." Since Side Splitters is delightfully smoke free, it might be time to update the line.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

radio ga ga

The message I got yesterday from David Edgar said, "Well, you know we always have some sort of contact around February 12th!" He is referring to the anniversary of WAVA's last day as a Top 40 station. I'll be sure to make time tomorrow to listen to the final hour that David produced in 1992.

Two years ago I wrote about WAVA on the 15th anniversary of the end. In the time since then I've kept in touch with some former co-workers, made contact with some and lost contact with some others. Knoxville readers know that I work with another WAVA alumni, Marc Anthony. It's also obvious to regular readers that I keep in touch with Bean, who was known on WAVA as "Flash Phillips."

Sandy Weaver met me at a Waffle House on her way through Knoxville last year. Loo Katz sent a nice holiday card with a photo of his kids. Mark St. John comes to Knoxville a couple of times a year in his capacity as the consultant to the cluster of stations where I work. By coincidence, Mike Beach turned up on today's installment of Knoxville Radio History 101.

Last year I got several invitations to join Facebook, including one from Don Geronimo. I signed up and have also connected with Janet From Another Planet and Susan Raider. The message I got from David Edgar was through Facebook too. I will try creating a WAVA alumni group and I already made an event listing for the anniversary. The social networking site has helped me communicate with some co-workers from KPWR, KROQ and KLOS too. However I have been ignoring friend requests from about ten people I don't know. No offense, of course.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

glorify your name

No offense to our parish priests but the best sermons I heard this weekend occurred not at Mass but during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Both Darrell Green and Art Monk spoke beautifully about their faith, their family and football.

Darrell told an amazing story of how he barely missed the chance for a ride home from college with his best friend Carnelle. He was homesick and depressed that he didn't get to visit his family for the weekend. On Monday morning he learned that Carnelle was killed in a car wreck. Had he gotten the ride, Darrell's life would have probably ended too. Later he said that he felt God had a plan for him to remain with one team when he could have easily been a free agent. By staying with the Redskins, Darrell Green could also stay with the same church. He and Art Monk both mentioned Grace Covenant Church in their speeches. Art and his wife turn up in a photo on the church's website.

Monk must have thought for a moment that he might never get to his speech. He set receiving records throughout his career. Last night he set a record for receiving the biggest ovation from the crowd. The four minutes of applause helped make up for the eight years he had to wait for his enshrinement.

Monk and Green are two of the main reasons I became a Redskins fan. I come from a family of Giants fans. While working at WAVA, I had the opportunity to meet several of the players, including Art and Darrell. At first I would cheer on the individual accomplishments of the guys I had met. How could I not want success for those two? Before long I was rooting for the whole team, just as I am tonight as the Redskins play the Colts.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pondering pachyderms

Something must be up with the elephants. My wife and son enjoyed seeing Tonka and the other elephants at the Knoxville Zoo on Saturday. My friend Bean sent me a photo of Batman on an elephant and Byron just sent me a link to see Abby Ham shoveling elephant manure at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Don't worry Ham fans, she still has her regular job on the Channel 3 News.

Abby's dung-filled day reminded me of something we did one spring at WAVA. When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town, I had the opportunity to ride an elephant through the streets of D.C. Before they left, the circus would offer free bags of elephant manure to anybody who wanted some for their garden. We got several bags of the stuff and spread them in the parking lot on top of an envelope, which we had sealed in a plastic bag. We invited listeners to come and dig through the manure in search of a buried prize. When one of the listeners finally found it, he ripped open the envelope and saw nothing but the words "April Fool!"

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

prey for Cas Walker

The dream of almost everyone who has done a commercial voiceover is to become a cartoon character. I've always been a fan of the voices behind the drawings. When I was casting the radio dramas we did at KLOS, I would be sure to get some talented voice actors to work alongside the more well-known celebrities. Jess Harnell was in all of my productions. At other times we had Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh and the legendary June Foray. Mark Hamill was in several of our productions. He is known for his on-camera performance in "Star Wars" but truly shines for his voiceover work as the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series" and other roles.

The topic of voiceovers came to mind when my friend Sandy Weaver Carman left a comment on my blog entry about downloading a Mark Twain audiobook. DC radio fans will certainly remember Sandy as one of the best deejays to ever grace the market with her work at Q107 and WAVA. She recently launched her own voiceover business and a blog that will help push her name to the top of the search results.

Sandy's blog inspired me to add some newer samples on my own voiceover page. I recently did a couple of radio commercials using character voices. Although I have yet to become the voice of an animated cartoon character, publicist Zane Hagy asked me to create a voice for Ronnie Raccoon, the spokesplushy for Saving Little Hearts, a charity for kids with congenital heart defects.

One day last week, there was a slight advertising emergency at the radio station. A local used car dealer wanted someone to do a superhero voice for their new commercial. The others who had tried it weren't "whitebread" enough. Strangely, I was asked to give it a try. Because of the circumstances, there was a rush to get it done. On my way to the studio, I saw that the script called for three voices. I thought it might be funny if I did all of them myself. If it didn't sound right, they could still get somebody else to be the announcer or the woman in distress. Gene Wooten added some reverb and the perfect music. Bottom line: the client loved the spot and wants to do more. Former radio PD Gishelle Diva Gish called the request line on Sunday to tell me that she too thought the spot was good. Click here to take a listen for yourself. C'mon it's only 30 seconds!

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Friday, March 14, 2008

who doesn't?

When they said the Osmonds would be on stage tonight, they really meant it. By the end of their concert, the stage was completely packed with Osmonds, performing and otherwise. They were the headline entertainment at the Children's Miracle Awards, part of the Children's Miracle Network Celebration going on this week at Walt Disney World.

My wife and I wanted to see the performance but we wanted to skip the black-tie dinner that preceded it for two reasons. First, we didn't bring any formal wear with us to Florida. Second, the entrée was filet mignon on a Lenten Friday. Instead we went to Epcot to get fish for dinner. And by fish, I mean sushi at Tokyo Dining.

After dinner we tried to hurry back to the Coronado Springs Resort. Because it took us a long time to find a bus going from the hotel to Epcot before dinner, we thought it might be faster to make our return trip via Monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and then by bus back to the hotel. It wasn't. We worried that we might miss the Osmonds. Instead that fortunate mistake put us in the right place at the right time to have our pictures taken with Donny Osmond, who was crossing the hallway outside the ballroom about half an hour before showtime.

We used our ticket to the formal dinner to slip in to the back of the ballroom where we found a lone empty table just waiting for us. The award ceremony was almost over. Before long, the Osmonds (including Alan) came on and sang shortened versions of their hits. To mark their 50th anniversary in show business, the four original Osmond Brothers sang an old barbershop song about an auction. Donny & Marie came on to sing a medley of their most famous songs including "Little Bit Country / Rock and Roll," "Soldier of Love," "Paper Roses" and "Puppy Love." Marie stepped aside to let her brothers sing a medley. The only song of theirs that I recognized was "One Bad Apple." They had an odd song about horses and some loud pyrotechnics that took the crowd by surprise.

For their finale, the performing Osmonds brought on their two oldest brothers who are deaf. Jimmy was given the task of explaining how the performing Osmond Brothers got their start as a way to raise money for the education of the two deaf brothers. The serious mood was broken by a series of Wayne's corny jokes (wear two pair of pants when golfing in case you get a hole-in-one). Marie got choked up and got the crowd feeling the same way as she talked about what it must be like to be born deaf into a musical family. Then Donny invited all the other Osmonds in the audience to join them as they sang "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." The two eldest signed as the others sang.

I had a chance to chat separately with Donny and Marie during my remote broadcast on Star 102.1 this morning. It's been about four and a half years since I last saw Donny at a Morning Show Bootcamp convention and about ten years since I booked him as a guest on KLOS. Every time I see him, Donny remembers me from when he would visit the Don & Mike show at WAVA. We were one of the first stations to play "Soldier of Love." One memorable morning we had Donny ride through DC in a limo while standing in the sunroof opening and shouting to passersby "I'm Donny Osmond, don't you wish you were me?"

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Friday, January 25, 2008

let the points soar

Every year I get frustrated by the NFL's momentum-killing bye week after the playoffs. I've even suggested that they excuse the Super Bowl players from the Pro Bowl and move the Hawaiian two-hand touch game to this weekend. Or stage a consolation bowl between the Packers and Chargers.

As I wait and hope that the Giants can be giant-killers, the NFL Network is giving me something to pass the time. Several times a day they have been replaying games in their entirety. Tonight they showed the Giants vs. Packers game from last Sunday. They've also been running some Super Bowls from the past.

The other day I flipped past and got immediately hooked in by a classic Redskins victory. My wife and son watched with me. We were just in time to see Doug Williams' first touchdown pass of Super Bowl XXII. The Redskins went on to score 42 unanswered points, winning the game 42 to 10.

Seeing the old coverage made me appreciate the advances in television since then. The 20-year-old graphics and camera angles seemed truly archaic. The announcers were Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf and an unrecognizable Al Michaels. His voice has changed dramatically over the years. Is it just me or does Michaels do the overwhelming majority of the talking on the Madden NFL video game?

It was great to see my son watch that game for the first time. He's a Redskins fan who is too young to remember the last time they were in the Super Bowl. For my wife and me, it was complete nostalgia. After each extra point, we shouted "Ali Haji-Sheikh," the name of a place kicker we had long since forgotten. The ABC cameras didn't always cut away, which let us hear this sound several times.

As Ricky Sanders caught touchdown after touchdown, I was reminded of his performance at the team's victory celebration back in D.C. This young broadcaster was there to witness Sanders catch a pass from President Ronald Reagan. My good friend Bean and I described it live on WAVA.

In the time leading up to the game, we did some anti-Broncos smack talking on the morning show. Management complained when we said "Denver Sucks" on the air so I came up with an alternative catch phrase by looking in the dictionary: "The Broncos draw liquids into their mouths by creating a partial vacuum with their lips, cheeks and tongues." A listener made us some "Denver Sucks" hats, which we ungraciously wore to the White House. I have a picture taken using some antique technology. As you can see, a flaw in this "film" makes it look like I have something coming out of my nose.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

if ever he would leave us

The great Robert Goulet has died of pulmonary fibrosis. He was always one of my favorite radio guests. He never broke character but still seemed to understand the inherent campiness of his appearance on the morning shows I produced back then. At WAVA, Don & Mike would pre-promote the next appearance of "Goulet on the Zoo" more than most other guest bookings. Each year the largest and best Christmas card I received was postmarked in Las Vegas and bore a return address that said "ROGO & ROVE." The card always had a new photo of Robert and his wife Vera on the front.

During my time at KLOS, we would put on old-fashioned radio plays. At first it was just "A Christmas Carol." Later we expanded it to "The War of the Worlds" one Halloween and two episodes of "The Witch's Tale" the next year. Our most ambitious effort was probably the production of "The Wizard of Oz" we did one Easter. Dwight Yoakam was the first celebrity to sign up. He knew right away that he wanted to play the Cowardly Lion. Mark & Brian wanted to play the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow but neither wanted to sing, especially since they would be compared to Dwight. I had the idea to get them a stunt double, somebody who was a consummate professional yet would get the joke. We didn't tell the audience about it in advance. The listeners were expecting to hear Brian sing "If I Only Had a Brain" and Mark sing "If I Only Had a Heart" but instead they heard the robust voice of Robert Goulet both times. You can see Mr. Goulet in the center of the cast photo below.

The Wizard of Oz radio play - April 17, 1998 - (left to right): Mary Oppermann, Tom Mazur, Lisa Boisse, Jess Harnell, Alan Young, Sandra Gould, Robert Goulet, Dwight Yoakam, Peter Scolari, Brian Phelps, Sheena Easton, Mark Thompson, Frank Murphy

I still hear Robert Goulet's voice every night singing the theme song to "Jimmy Kimmel Live." My deepest sympathy goes to Vera and the rest of his family.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

give us 22 minutes

In lieu of writing a blog entry tonight, I decided to share an email that I received this morning. At least I added a bunch of hyperlinks for your clicking enjoyment.
Frank, I Googled WAVA tonight and found the salute you guys did on the 10th "death" anniversary of the station. I wish we had done something like that to observe the 10th "death" anniversary of the ORIGINAL (at least for my money) WAVA, the all-news format.

I had moved from Indiana to work at the station and was caught up in the great firing of everyone on the staff except for Mike Del Colliano.

So many of the anchors at the old WAVA went on to other things. Many of us and some from WASH founded AP Radio. Some of us became the main Washington staff of the late UPI Radio Network, including myself.

Anyway, great Web site. Brought back a lot of memories.

Dennis Daily

KYOS, Merced, California

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

it's greaaat

Rusty Ford was one of the people I could not find when I put together a WAVA tribute page five years ago. He was arguably the most creative of all the production directors during the station's top 40 days. I remember that he and I both came out of a screening of "True Stories" raving about how great the movie was. Not everyone at the station agreed with us.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from Rusty. He recently found my WAVA page after doing a Google search for some of our former co-workers. His email address gave me a clue that he is somehow affiliated with Pine Magazine. According to their website, Rusty is a co-founder and publisher as well as marketing and advertising manager. A little more digging led me to his myspace page and to an online portrait.

I had never heard of Pine Magazine before today. In the time I spent looking at it, I found some great reading. I especially enjoyed an article about the Body Farm and one about the synchronous fireflies in the Smokies. In the archives I found an article called "Things I Learned on My Smoky Mountain Vacation." Those three articles alone should keep you busy for half an hour or so.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

tonight's the night

The problem with anniversaries is that they make you think about the passage of time. I don't feel 15 years older than I did the night WAVA died, but I am. And so are you. During a long period of unemployment, I had the time to build a simple website for my former co-workers to reconnect on the 10th anniversary of WAVA's demise. Even though the site's not all that fancy, it does have a link from Wikipedia.

In 2002, I wrote that I hadn't communicated with Don & Mike since 1996. In 2005, that changed. I had gotten fired from an oldies station and was looking for a new job. When my phone number was listed in one of the radio trade magazines, Don & Mike saw it and called me on the air. We talked about the reasons I chose not to follow them to WJFK and reminisced about the good old days.

A couple of months later, after I had started working part time at Star 102.1, I went to Northern Virginia for my niece's First Communion. Don had suggested I contact him the next time I was in town. I did and he invited me to stop by that Saturday morning. We had a good long chat about radio. He especially enjoyed the story about my involvement in an on-air feud between Kevin & Bean and Rick Dees.

That summer, Don's wife Freda died in a tragic auto accident on the same day that David Haines died. I bought an airline ticket and went to David's funeral and Freda's wake. While there, I talked with Don, Mike O'Meara and Loo Katz. Later that weekend, I met up with some other former WAVA-ers, Janet Elliott and Paula Kidwell at O'Meara's Restaurant.

I still think fondly of my time at WAVA.
One of my favorite stories from those days explains how Don Geronimo got an audio clip of David Letterman saying hi to Washington. The almost eight years I spent there may have left me unprepared for all the job changes that were to come but I wouldn't trade my WAVA experience for anything.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

congratulations, I guess

Even after 15 years, the mention of a past love can sting a little bit. That's the way I felt when I saw the news that the current incarnation of WAVA had won the religious talk station of the year award from some group. It's been through several formats and was a rockin' top 40 station when I worked my way up from intern to full time employee. If enough of my former WAVA colleagues send me updates, I would be willing to update the web page I made five years ago on the tenth anniversary of the death of WAVA.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

good times

The last weekend in October was always one of my favorite weekends of the year. As I mentioned last year, my friend Bean and I put together a one hour recorded show to fill the extra time on the WAVA music log when the clocks got turned back. It aired every year from 1985 to 1991 and I would try to stay up to hear it.

When we lived in Burbank, my wife and I got involved with staging a haunted house fundraiser at St. Finbar School. One year, I had one of the parent volunteers to dress as a TV news reporter. At the entrance, we showed a videotape with the basic safety announcements disguised as a news report about a killer on the loose. Once the customers got inside, they saw the killer and his victim, the TV reporter. Our friends Charlie and Anja were in charge of the haunted house and always threw a great "wrap party" at their home. Charlie is a comedy writer and always made sure the experience was as funny as it was scary. Even after the school discontinued the haunted house, Charlie and Anja continued hosting the parties and Charlie would dress as a recently deceased celebrity.

Next year the time change moves to after Halloween. The move to November is fine by me but I still think the clocks should be changed on a Friday night/Saturday morning, especially in the Spring. Any takers?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

outside my window pane

Halloween is less than a week away but I'm not feeling it yet. To get in the right frame of mind, I need to hear a certain song by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. "Halloween Spooks" is an old song from the '50s that I didn't discover until the '80s when it turned up on a compilation disc called "Elvira's Haunted Hits." Don & Mike saw the camp value of the tune when I suggested they play it on WAVA. In the '90s, Kevin & Bean had a lot of fun with it on KROQ, permanently cementing it into my Halloween psyche. A blog called Cake & Polka Parade has a link to an mp3 of "Halloween Spooks." If you have a little more time, you might enjoy a podcast that also includes ten other Halloween novelties at a site called Why Fidelity. I tried playing the song on each of the Knoxville stations where I've worked but none of my co-hosts enjoyed the bit. Apparently the "so bad it's good" concept is not for everyone.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

guaranteed to have the time of your life

Everyone born in the '60s or earlier can remember where they were and what they were doing when Spiro T. Agnew resigned the vice presidency. Right? I was with my dad at Shea Stadium watching a playoff game between the Mets and the Reds when the news was flashed on the big scoreboard in centerfield.

The postseason started today for fans of the Twins, Athletics, Cardinals, Padres, Tigers and Yankees. Fans of the Mets (like me) and Dodgers have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. This year marks the seventh playoff appearance for the Mets. Game 1 is inconveniently scheduled at 4pm, during my nap time. Game 2 starts Thursday at 8pm, as if I didn't already have enough stuff to watch in that timeslot. Obviously I will record all my regular shows and watch the baseball game live.

My dad did some public relations work for National Bohemian, a major sponsor of the Baltimore Orioles. As a result, he was able to go to the 1969 World Series with his clients from the beer company. In 1973 it looked like the Orioles and Mets would have a World Series rematch. When the O's lost to the A's in the playoffs, Dad offered to buy the World Series tickets that National Bohemian had already purchased for the three games at Shea Stadium. Trying to look like a good guy, he must have bought several hundreds of dollars worth of tickets. I got to go to a game and so did some of my grammar school teachers and principal.

In 1986, I was working in the promotion department at WAVA. The station had chartered a plane and arranged for 105 Redskins fans to fly to New York to see a Monday Night Football game against the Giants. After the Mookie Wilson miracle in Game 6 and a rain delay the next night, Game 7 of the World Series would take place on Monday, the same night as the football game. I was at Giants Stadium with our contest winners. There were times during the game that the Giants fans would cheer wildly even when the Redskins were doing well. It turned out that many people in the stands had brought portable televisions and that they were actually cheering for the Mets.

My good friend Bean just sent me a fantastic belated birthday / early Christmas gift. It's a DVD of Vintage World Series Films from 1969 and 1986. I'm and psyched and ready to sing the song. Who's with me?

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

what was it that Katie did?

Terry Morrow, the television critic for the Knoxville News Sentinel, invited me to be a guest blogger on his site while he's on vacation. My blog entry appeared there today. I wrote about the backlog of shows on my TiVo.

Speaking of TiVo, I forgot to record Katie Couric's debut on the CBS Evening News yesterday. I remembered to turn it on with ten minutes left in the newscast. I've been trying to watch the rest of it on the CBS News website but I haven't been able to get the video to play on my laptop. I'll have to try it from another computer. I wanted to watch tonight's newscast too since I slept through it.

I had thought that Katie might go back to using the name Katherine for her new job. I remember her days as a local reporter for WRC-TV in Washington, DC. I met her at a couple of charity events and she once came to WAVA to report on a special broadcast we did. Our general manager had made a deal with Radio Moscow for Don & Mike to host a half hour broadcast while President Reagan was in Russia for a summit meeting. The show aired live on WAVA and Radio Moscow. We did the show late at night so that it would be morning in Moscow. After the radio broadcast ended, Katie needed to record the closing for her report. I remember that we gave her a boost so she could sit on a counter top. The camera got a great shot of her with the radio sound board in the background.

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