Al Eddie Si Ross
I was a starving young actor in 1957 when my friend
Eddie Cochran landed me a job packing those little
45 rpm�s in mailing sleeves to send to disc jockeys
across the nation.
One of the Liberty recording artists was David Seville,
who had some success with an instrumental called
�Armen�s Theme.� While Eddie was experimenting
with his own guitar over-dubbing, David was about
to discover his first #1 hit, �Witch Doctor,� by
speeding up a tape in the studio.
Explaining his acting background, David took an
interest in me as we motored to lunch from time to
time in his big limousine, that he would drive himself.
Upon learning I had two different names, �Johnny
Rowe� the actor and �John Rook� my birth name,
David explained that his real name was Ross
Bagdasarian, with David Seville being a professional
name from his acting days.
It was during one of the times that David, or Ross,
would introduce me to Tennessee Ernie Ford, who was
largely responsible for my beginning a career in radio.
The success of �Witch Doctor� led to a recording that
would bring back vivid memories to me each holiday
season for fifty years now. While in the studio, Ross
with the aid of engineer Ted Keep created the
Chipmunks in 1958. The names given them Alvin,
Simon and Theodore , was Ross�s way of honoring
Liberty president Al Bennett, label founder,
Simon Waronker and Ted Keep.
So each year at Christmas time, a smile comes to my
face when I hear that holiday anthem called �The
Chipmunk Song.� Along with memories of my youth,
I give thought and thanks to my friends, Al, Eddie,
Si and Ross. They played an important part in my
life and while they are not with us anymore, they
often live on in my mind throughout the year,
especially at Christmas time� thanks to
= = = =
Bernie Ward Indicted
Bernie Ward, San Francisco radio talk show host of
a nightly program on top rated KGO has been
indicted on federal child pornography charges.
A former priest, who also hosts GodTalk on Sundays,
Ward, 56, is a frequent guest offering commentary
on national cable television network news programs.
Married with four children, he has surrendered to
federal authorities but the specifics of the allegations
against him are under seal,
= = = = =
Monkey see, Monkey do
One must wonder if Citadel, under the direction of
CEO Farid Suleman won�t be swingin� from the same
vine as Clear Channel with a round of terminations
in the weeks ahead.
As a medium sized market group, Citadel had plenty
of time to develop some great new programming
talent before entering the majors with the purchase
of ABC radio.
Instead, Suleman is forced to dredge up a grumpy,
tired ol� New Mexico rancher and orders managers
across the nation to air a syndicated I-Man and sound
excited in doing so.
While the move may have made headlines in the
printed press, Citadel stock is at an all time low
with revenue no where near what was expected by
stockholders. Sound familiar?
Clear Channel�s answer was to have a fire sale for
a few hundred small market stations, terminate
valuable programming talent and hire more sales
Farid Suleman, who came from the same side of
the hall as Clear Channel�s John Hogan, is
expected to make the same moves as he
scrambles to improve the bottom line.
Its monkey see, Monkey do
= = = = =
�Put On Your Listening Ears�
FCC chairman Martin continues to push for further
deregulation in cross-ownership rules in the nation�s
top 20 markets ignoring thousands of citizen�s that
have expressed a resounding �NO� to any
The two sane commissioners at the FCC, Jonathan
Adelstein and Michael Copps call Martin�s proposal
�a wolf in sheep�s clothing� that will open the waver
door for �a loophole that Big Media will drive a truck
through, permitting a newspaper/ broadcast
combination in any size market.�
Chairman Martin�s desire to expand deregulation
assumes newspapers are doomed and that only a
print/broadcast combination can save them.
In fact, a serious review of content could do
wonders for both newspapers and broadcast.
Under the total control of bean counters, deregulation
of the media thus far has reduced the coverage of news
and given the public fewer choices. More competition,
not further deregulation is needed.
The public has spoken, as Judge Judy would say,
�Put on your listening ears� Kevin !
= = = = =
Clear Channel Management
�I�d vote for them�
After having been given a government approved
monopoly, the company has failed miserably with
company stock in a free fall necessitating the need to
be rescued by a private equity group who now seeks
proof Clear Channel is worth it all. Sweating it out,
the San Antonio based company has been forced to
cut expenses and is requesting they be given more
time to satisfy the buyers who are dragging their
feet on closing the buyout.
The powers that be at Clear Channel could always
run for public office when the day arrives that they
finally are forced out of radio. Seems their procedural
manual is the same one used by most politicians who
always schedule negative news leading into a weekend,
with the hopes any reaction will be lessened before
Monday rolls around. No one with an ounce of
knowledge would dispute that politicians for the
most part are moved by money, hide the truth,
never admit mistakes and show a surprising
disregard for ethics.
Money - And so it is with Clear Channel, who
announce they will be using the savings that come
from terminating long time programming personnel
to hire more sales agents to hopefully bring in more
advertising revenue. After all in announcing the
company�s agenda, company founder, banker Lowry
Mays made it clear dollars is more important than
sense when he advised Clear Channel was �not in the
business of providing news and information�
We�re simply in the business of selling our
Truth - Within days of telling the Los Angeles Times,
�There are some crown jewels of the city, and KOST is
one of those. It has such a dominant position, you just
don�t change that,� Clear Channel�s market manager
has a totally different "spin" when pressed to explain
the surprising termination of those who played a
major role the success of KOST, Greg Ashlock said,
"Clear Channel has been preparing for months"
to make the changes.
Mistakes - Clear Channel could learn much from the
recent steps taken by competitor CBS radio whose
president, Dan Mason, with a healthy respect for
programming, admitted the mistakes of his sales
oriented predecessor and took immediate steps to
Ethics � It took major fines from the FCC and the
threat of losing broadcast licenses to persuade
Clear Channel the vulgar, indecent programming
they endorsed had to end.
Yes, politics just might be perfect for Clear Channel�s
Hell, I�d vote for them just to get them out of radio.
= = = = =
"Tis The Season to . . . "
While visions of dollars dance in their heads, once
again it�s Christmas time at Clear Channel. Imagine
the joy it must give the bankers boys who have
each year established �giving� as the way of showing
their appreciation to those employees who have
labored all year long in the trenches.
In what had been a time honored tradition in radio,
never terminating anyone during the holidays, the
top management elf�s at Clear Channel now lift their
voices to sing, �Tis the season to save money,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,� as they deposit
more than $40 million from the fire sale of radio
stations in western states.
Unlike having to wait to open a gift on Christmas day,
Clear Channel begins distributing their surprises at
the start of the holiday season. In traditional
Thanksgiving fashion, chop, chop, chop signals
the start of the holiday period as the �giving� of
pink slips begins.
And so it was for Kim Amidon, one half of the top
rated Mark and Kim show on KOST in Los Angeles.
After nearly two dozen years of delivering a program
that greatly enriched revenue for Clear Channel, she
was �given� the word as she stepped out of the
Clear Channel studios a week after Thanksgiving.
Shocked upon learning of the termination of his long
time partner, Mark Wallengren said, �I am so
proud that the Mark & Kim lasted as long as it did,
22 years. I am proud to say that right up until
the very last day our ratings were better than ever.
Everything was going well.�
Also "given" a pink slip was mid-day jock Mike
Sakellarides, a 25 year veteran of KOST and
long time airborne traffic reporter Mike Nolan.
Greg Ashlock, Clear Channel�s market president told
the LA Times just two weeks ago, �There are some
crown jewels of the city, and KOST is one of those.
It has such a strong dominate position,
you just don�t change that.�
Across the nation Clear Channel managers will be
trying to "spin" the termination of programming and
promotion employees as "improvements" in the
days ahead, taking the fall for another blunder
from the company headquarters in San Antonio.
Expect the belt tightening to include severance
for even more Clear Channel employees
elsewhere as the company scrambles to stay
afloat in the perilous economic times ahead.
As usual for Clear Channel, cuts will be made
largely in area's other than sales.
= = = = =
" I Love Christmas"
(Click to hear)
Tommy and the Shondells reunite to
offer this long overdue NEW music for the
"I Love Christmas" is a new holiday hit
from Tommy's new cd - "Hold The Fire"
Listen to "Isn't that the Guy" here
and "Sweet Cherry Wine" here
This cd is loaded with hits. Classic rocker
Tommy James is also a pioneer in the use of
phasers, vocorders and other electronic gadgetry.
Tommy never sounded better.
= = = = =
Radio & Records
= = = = =
Just out, a Christmas gift for Elvis fans available from
Amazon.com is "The Elvis Presley Family Album," a
collection of rare Elvis photo�s presented by his pal
radio�s George Klein telling the story behind
George & Friend
As he continues to broadcast live from Graceland on
Sirius, George tells us he�s readying a second book,
�Elvis-My Best Man� for release in the summer of 2008.
Meanwhile, Elvis leads all nominees in voting
at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame with the 2007
inductees to be announced the week between
Christmas and New Years.
= = = = =
Herb Alpert gives $30 Million
He would be the only recording artist to top the charts
with both an instrumental and a vocal. Selling in excess
of 75 million albums world wide and awarded
numerous Grammy�s, in 1966 his Tijuana Brass had five
albums on the best seller charts, four of them in the top
Now at 72 years of age, Herb Alpert pledges thirty
million dollars to fund a new music school at UCLA.
�The landscape of music has changed so dramatically
in the last few years, and the ways of making, delivering
and sharing music have become so diverse, there needs
to be a new approach to music education,� sez Herbie.
A 2007 nominee at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, you
still have time to vote for him here.
Michael Jackson is talk radio royalty.
With a top rated three decades long KABC stint, his
distinctive voice and unique questioning often made
the days news with no one escaping his probing,
always gentlemanly but never abusive inquiries
of news makers.
It was corporate home office �belt tightening� that
brought about his leaving KABC, who following the
departure of Michael and the Dodgers began a long
downward slide in the ratings.
Moving over to KNX, his immense talent was largely
unused as Michael was relegated to creating short
interview segments that were lost in a sea of
hum drum programming.
As Michael�s program director at KABC and a friend
during and since those days, I�ve repeatedly
counseled local and network talk radio to take
advantage of his immense talent.
Finally with the return of KGIL to the 1260 spot on
the LA dial, expect his fans to tune in beginning
October 29 when the magnet that is Michael Jackson
once again concentrates on issues mostly ignored by
nationally syndicated talk hosts crowding the
Los Angeles radio dial.
As a pioneer of talk radio, along with scores of
awards including one from the Queen of England,
his peers also inducted him in the national
Radio Hall of Fame
Michael Jackson is in a word � CLASS.
KGIL streams Michael here
= = = = =
Lujack does Vegas
"I�ll take my plaque and get the hell out of that place
within an hour of receiving it,� uncle Lar tells me as I
congratulate him for being named to the National
Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
The big event will take place next year in April during
the NAB convention scheduled for Las Vegas.
�They tell me thousands from all over the world will
be there� says Lujack adding �why they would pick
Vegas is beyond me, it�s one of my least favorite places,
thank god it isn�t a black tie affair and I don�t have to
get all gussied up for this one.�
�Don�t expect my usual warmhearted, sensitive words
of appreciation this time, this will probably be my last
opportunity to speak my mind,� says Lujack.
The award is the third of its kind for Larry following
his induction in the Illinois Broadcasters Hall of Fame
in 2002 and the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004.
Attempting to make him aware of the company he
would be in, I said �just think Lar, you�ll be joining
some of the greats in American radio, Edward R.
Murrow, Paul Harvey, Ronald Reagan, Arthur Godfrey
and Rush Limbaugh.�
Yeah, I�ve heard of most of them, but Rush who?
= = = = =
Barney Ales & John Rook
In Hollywood 9-27 for a meeting of nominating
committee members of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame,
Barney Ales and John Rook reminisced of those days
when Barney was president of Motown Records, the
hottest label in the business.
As of October 1, 2007, over 50,000 fans have cast their
votes for their favorite recording artists from 1950 to
1975, many of the votes came from Europe. Each of the
nominees are required to have at least two top ten hits,
singles and/or album of any genre.
Voting began in late March 2007, with fans playing a
vital part of the nominating committee�s selection
process for the induction in December.
Recording stars continue to receive the support of
fan clubs worldwide supporting hit makers,
Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Teresa Brewer,
Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Nat "King" Cole, Bing Crosby,
Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Connie
Francis, Johnny Mathis, Ricky Nelson, Patti Page,
Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross & the
Supremes, Johnny Tillotson and Jackie Wilson.
Their hits are as appreciated today as much as they
were when first recorded years ago.
Music fans are encouraged to suggest the names of
future nominees at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame
website with voting to begin anew at the start
of the New Year.
A �who�s who� of both the music and radio industries
have nominated more than one hundred recording
artists in that 25 year segment. Each of the artists are
featured on the Hit Parade Hall of Fame web site
accompanied by their biography, photo and a listing
of their biggest hit recording. Fans can vote by
going to the Hit Parade Hall of Fame website here.
= = = = =
Telephoning each other, we communicate often but
a few years have gone by since we last met face to face.
That ended when we were invited by our mutual friend
Allen Shaw to be his guest in Los Angeles at the annual
Ella awards honoring Gladys Knight.
In accepting my offer to join WLS as one of Chicago�s
top on-air personalities, his quick wit and enthusiasm
immediately brought a good natured put down from
Super Jock Larry Lujack who chided him as �a brash
youngster� deserving almost daily ridicule.
Kris Erik Stevens at WLS
Later, uncle Lar would join me in welcoming him to a
newly named SuperCFL before �the kid� established
himself as one of the nation�s top voice over talents
in California with his Kris Erik Stevens Enterprises.
Kris & John 9/2007
And so with great affection it was a joy spending
some time together again reliving memories of those
Chicago days during dinner at Gladstones and
attending the �Ella� a night later at the Beverly Hilton.
What goes around�
It was George Green who kept KABC on top in the Los
Angeles ratings for three decades. Certainly the most
dedicated, energetic manager I have ever worked
with, it was during his watch that KABC landed the
Dodgers, stealing them from KFI.
As a member of ABC radio management back then,
I understood the pride and appreciation the home
office had for KABC. With the backing of company
founder Leonard Goldenson, George Green, like an
attentive parent, gave his �baby� KABC
Very seldom were decisions questioned as KABC not
only topped the ratings locally but was the nation�s
top revenue station. George was a �hands on�
manager, nothing escaped his attention. His
discovery of on-air talent not only gave birth to
dozens of radio stars who even today are heard
on the nation�s airwaves, George also demonstrated
his appreciation of programming monetarily.
The destruction of a great radio station began with
the purchase of ABC by Disney who ordered major
cuts in programming expense. Shown the door
along with the Dodgers and George Green were
talented performers who had made major
contributions in making KABC several times,
�radio�s station of the year.�
Now owned by Citadel, comes word that the Dodgers
will return. It�s a start toward replacing some of the
luster that has been sadly missing from the
once mighty - KABC.
= = = = =
Mason Moves in LA
I�ve been following the moves made by CBS radio since
the arrival of Dan Mason at the helm. He is handling
the responsibility much like the great top management
executives of the past, prior to deregulation. Dan in
knowing it all begins with programming, within a very
short period of time has corrected the dozens of
missteps of his predecessor.
Now with the top management changes at CBS radio in
Los Angeles, Dan Mason once again has taken the
correct steps in removing both KFWB & KNX VP/GM
Pat Duffy and oldies KRTH VP/GM Maureen Lesourd.
Deregulation brought on a wave of sales managers
elevated to top management positions in radio. They
had almost no feel or knowledge of programming.
Believing they didn�t need ratings to deliver revenue,
some are finally being shown the door.
CBS radio managers should be receptive to the new
leadership of Dan Mason.
He knows the path to success.
= = = = =
= = = = =
The Pendulum Swings
Throughout history, often popular music advanced
the acceptance of risqu� language on an
unsuspecting public. What shocked the sensibility
of one generation would be acceptable to another.
In the early 60�s, Denver dj Royce Johnson forced a
change in licensee for KIMN when he decided to flush
a toilet over the air. In Kingstree, South Carolina,
Charley Walker of WDKA cost his owner a license
when the Federal Communications Commission
deemed his humor, minus profane words of any kind,
�coarse and by innuendo vulgar.�
Before becoming a sausage brand, Jimmy Dean was a
recording star that rode to the top of the Hit Parade
with his �Big Bad John� in 1961, but not before radio
forced a re-record of the ending from �he was one hell
of a man� to �he was one big, big man.� The word
�hell� wasn�t acceptable for the public airwaves.
At the same time a lady that was �pregnant� was
referred to as �being in a family way.� Ass and butt
was a �rear end� and/or �fanny.� While common
today, any performer using the term �pissed off�
or �knocked up� would have been swiftly terminated.
Broadcasters voluntarily followed a strong industry
wide code that reflected community standards.
The change came with deregulation in the 1990�s as
irresponsible new radio owners opened the flood
gates of profanity.
With the urging of millions of Americans, the FCC
took steps to erase vulgarity and smut from the
public airwaves only to have the U.S. Court of Appeals
rule �Sh-t� and �Fu-k� should be allowed.
While the ruling by the New York court is
disappointing, expect the FCC to rightfully appeal
this decision and continue to hold licensees
responsible for what they broadcast.
= = = = =
Hands off Talk Radio,
the heartbeat of a nation.
Following Trent Lott�s need to �deal with� talk radio,
is a new report of Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer
considering a legislative brake to stop the public
from hearing opposing views to their beltway agenda
and Senator Diana Feinstein saying she is "looking at"
the possibility of reviving the fairness doctrine.
Not satisfied with the majority of the media echoing
their views and/or delivering a menu of non news,
politicians are threatening to muzzle what they
call �conservative� talk radio.
The immediacy and mobility of radio combined with
the Internet is providing a valuable service to our
country during one of the most important times in
our nation�s history.
More than any other media, they give a voice to a
public that deserves being heard. Instead of
threatening to silence them, politicians should
listen�they�ll hear the heartbeat of a nation.
= = = = =
In the more than forty years I�ve known him, he has
always been very protective of his privacy, cautioning
against sharing his home telephone and/or e-mail
address with anyone.
Several years ago after a lifetime of radio that included
heading up programming of the powerful RKO chain,
he retired to Georgia. I was surprised when he recently
called to advise he had returned to make Los Angeles
his home. �Don�t tell anyone John.�
So imagine my amusement on 9/5 when millions of
Tonight Show viewers saw Jay Leno surprise Paul by
knocking on his apartment door and enlisting him in
one of that shows skits.
I guess its no secret anymore that Paul Drew is
back living in Los Angeles.
See Paul's Tonight Show debut here
= = = = =
One of the greatest singers of all time,
Luciana Pavarotti, after battling pancreatic
cancer for more than a year, has died at his
home in Modena, Italy.
He was 71 years of age.
Pavarotti is the best-selling classical artist,
with more than 100 million records sold since
the 1960s and he had the first classical
album to reach No. 1 on the pop charts.
�Nessun Dorma� the classic from Puccini's opera
Turandot, which also served as the theme tune
for the 1990 World Cup, has surged in internet
popularity since Pavarotti's death on 9/6.
In 1998 Pavarotti performs it live in Paris here .
Hear his "O Sole Mio" here and Ave Maria here
= = = = =
= = = = =
Rolling Stone Magazine Hits a Sour Note
With Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
To anyone who�s still reading or buying Rolling Stone:
It�s time to boycott Jann Wenner�s flagship magazine.
I�ve never participated in a boycott � not of lettuce or
grapes or anything else. But enough is enough.
After the announcement late Friday of the nominees�
ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there�s only
thing to do: Hit publisher Wenner, who controls the
Rock Hall, where it hurts.
If you love rock 'n' roll, stop buying Rolling Stone
until the tremendous insults of the Hall of Fame
Read all of Roger Friedman's remarks here
= = = ==
Threatens Talk Radio
Annoyed by talk radio�s ability to expose the
scamnesty that is senate bill #1348, the Republican
whip of Mississippi, carrying the water
for the Bush administration said:
�Talk radio is running America.
We have to deal with that problem.�
At some point, Mr. Lott said, Senate Republican
leaders may try to rein in �younger guys who are
huffing and puffing against the bill.�
Hoping to rush the flawed legislation past a sleeping
public, conservative talk radio hosts did what only
radio can do by immediately reviewing the bill and
making their findings known to the American public
who in turn expressed their outrage by swamping
the senate and the white house with faxes and
The heat was enough to stall the senate from moving
forward until President Bush, an advocate of open
borders and known for ignoring the voices of
Americans, stepped in urging senators to reverse
course and reconsider S-1348.
Now, hoping to corral talk radio from offering
further opposition, senator Lott threatens talk radio.
We urge talk radio on and suggest, �inept politicians
like senator Lott and President Bush is running
America. We have to deal with that problem.�
= = = = =
English Please !
As radio�s new owners rush to cash in on the invasion
of millions of illegal Hispanic�s by switching
programming from English to Spanish in hundreds
of markets, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
says Latino�s who want to learn English more quickly
should avoid Spanish-language media.
"It�s that simple. You�ve got to learn English. I know
this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect
thing to say and I�m going to get myself in trouble.
But I know that when I came to this country, I very
rarely spoke German to anyone,� Schwarzenegger
tells the National Association of Hispanic Journalists
attending a convention in San Jose.
With first hand knowledge, the governor advises
immigrants from European countries have an easier
time learning English because they don�t have many
opportunities to speak their native language in the
"You�re just forced to speak English,� notes Arnold,
"and that makes you learn the language faster.�
= = = = =
A Gold Star for talk radio
Guard against a government intent
with silencing it.
Those who question the effectiveness of radio need
look no further than the power talk show hosts
demonstrated in awakening the public to what the
white house and the senate thought would be a
slam dunk amnesty that would be rushed through
with little public awareness.
Within two weeks of Senate Bill 1348 becoming
known, it stalled when lobbyist counting on
politicians in the pocket of big business, failed to
override the millions of Americans that flooded
Washington with non stop faxes and phone calls
expressing outrage with what president Bush
peddled as �comprehensive immigration legislation.�
Once again newspapers and television failed to
inform the public of the dangers of this scamnesty.
It was talk radio that sounded the alarm that made
Americans aware of what was in the bill, directing
them to internet websites such as NumbersUSA,
ALIPAC and Grassfire, where citizens organized
to fight the proposed Kennedy/Bush legislation.
However, even with polls showing the vast majority
of Americans insisting our current immigration
laws be followed and our borders strictly enforced,
the Bush white house continues to twist the arm�s of
lawmakers in an attempt to keep S-1348 alive.
George Bushed ?
An administration that failed to control the border
and failed to enforce the law on employers, insists
we need a new law to replace those they have failed
to enforce. Worse yet, president Bush threatens
that if he doesn�t get his way with the passage
of S-1348, he will continue to just pay lip service in
recognizing the invasion of our borders and the
Trojan horse already within our nation.
With most of the media content with bombarding
the public with a steady stream of insignificant
Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith coverage, we are
privileged to have talk radio.
Politicians intent with diminishing the resolve of
citizens, sapping them of their will to oppose, have
recently threatened to reign in talk radio hosts
that recognize their responsibility and are
courageously exposing the flawed desires of
elected representatives under the thumb of
We can take pride in talk radio and those hosts
that recognize very little is more important today
than the future of our country and the nation
we leave for our children.
We must also guard against a government that may
soon take action to silence them.
= = = = =