Read excerpts from the forthcoming book, "Passing Thru"
"Clifford and David"
KABC - The Shrine of Talk Radio"
"WLS Bound"

Gang Raped"
"Friends. When It's All Said and Done"

"Happy Birthday, Bob Hope"

"Don't Forget Me
(Eddie Cochran)"
(Read about young Johnny Rook in the new Three Steps to Heaven - The Eddie Cochran Story)
"In Like Flynn"
"A Slice of Pie"
"Burt Lancaster"
"WLS-Art Roberts"
"The Presidents"

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�John Rook�s talent caused me to get him hired out of the market. A classy guy

with an abundance of ability, he�s a jewel�.  Ken Palmer - KIMN, Denver  (1965)


Broadcasters have named John Rook Program Director of the Year,

he�s considered the architect of WLS�s slick image. � Variety (1969)


�It pleases me the rest of the country thinks as highly of you as I do� � Bill Drake


�If we could find a dozen more John Rook�s, we would hire them�

Hal Neal Jr., President ABC radio.


�What a true professional John Rook is� � Walter A. Schwartz, VP WABC


�Yes, that�s John Rook you are hearing on WABC.  Besides being a great

director, he�s also a pretty darn good air talent.�  Bill Gavin (1967)


�And then there�s John Rook at WCFL.  After a five year stint at ABC�s KQV-Pittsburgh, Mr. Rook was brought to WLS in early 1967 as Program Director.  By mid 1968 WLS�s audience had risen to 4.2 million listeners each week and was #1 across the board. Mr. Rook was approached by Lew Witz of WCFL with an offer to counsel WCFL, and hopefully to bring the station in contention with WLS. Six weeks later Super � CFL knocked WLS out of the top position in the ratings war�. � Broadcasting (1972)


John Rook  pulled off a miracle in Chicago with WCFL and he did it in just 22 days.

Meaning, he was only in Chicago personally for 22 days.  This is actually better than

WCFL has ever done in it�s many years of trying to beat WLS. � Claude Hall, Billboard (1972)

 �Very few programmers have your natural ability of knowing what the audience wants before they do.�  Jack Thayer, WNBC � New York


�Please accept this token of ABC�s appreciation for a job well done.� Leonard Goldenson, President ABC, Inc.


Superjock Larry LuJack described John Rook as �the greatest program director of our time or any other time.�  ABC executive Bob Henabery is quoted as saying that �Rook understood the importance of doing everything right. He was a masterful Top 40 programmer.�

            Rook's Radiography

It's a pleasant surprise to find so much interest in the history of both the music and radio industry,
especially when others feature you in their websites. Thanks!   
John's Denver days... (click)
Pittsburgh and Chicago... (click)

Rook's Daily Clicks
All Access
LA Radio

Radio & Records
Radio Daily News
Radio Ink

John's Archives of Commentaries ...

And the Truth Shall Set You Free (read)

Please Mr. Hogan, Where's the Beef? (read)

No Knockout Yet -  (read)

Stop Media Monopoly:  (read)

Mel's Media Message (read)

Darkness lights deregulation issue (read)

Race to the Bottom --  (read)

LOUD and CLEAR -- 

Payola illegal, except for FCC chairman Michael Powell (read)

Rush is full of _ _ _ _ " (read)

FCC Clear Channelized (read)

Damn!  They were right! (read)

Ted Turner jumps ship, warns against FCC deregulation (read) 

John Gorman Archives

This is no surprise and I expect it will happen in some manner.  Lowry Mays understands the greater fool theory.   Foreign interests are lusting for a piece of US media and Lowry and Mel will be ready to unload their under performing properties (read)

FCC's Powell dances to a new tune on media monopolies � or does he really? by JOHN GORMAN -- (read)

"Clear Channel�s disdain for ratings is a prescription for disaster" (click)

FCC's Powell dances to a new tune on media monopolies � or does he really? by JOHN GORMAN -- "To be a member of President George W. Bush's administration, you have to be -- among other things -- an exceptional dancer. Take Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham for example. He's been doing the Electric Slide since the massive blackout a couple of weeks back. This week it's Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell's turn on the dance floor ... " (read

The FCC, that agency intended to promote widespread local ownership of broadcasting facilities and equal-time opportunities on the nation's airwaves, has caved in completely to a handful of wealthy monopolists.

What gives?  And when is the public going to say "Enough!"?

by Jim Wright, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives


Localism's Last Stand
by William Safire

This growing grass-roots grumbling against giantism is getting through to legislators ordinarily cowed by network-owned station managers or wowed by big-media campaign contributions. Some in-house pollster should awaken President Bush to a bipartisan sleeper issue that could blindside him next year (read)

SCANDALS & Scoundrels

Again, FCC chairman Michael Powell refuses to answer questions about a new scandal uncovered by the Center for Public Integrity.

The FCC's Strange Non-Profit 
Powell runs venture capital firm that claims it's private.

Read how he controls funds from those he is expected to regulate.  Outrageous!
(click to read)

All of the latest news concerning Media Monopolization (read)

Contact Links
e-mail FCC Commissioners

e-mail U.S. House Members
e-mail U.S. Senate Members
Complaints - On line to the FCC

"Guy Zapoleon & Gerry Cagle, two programming legends,
comment on my  "Well F_ck" commentary...JR

"Indeed I think Michael Powell's ruling on Bono's using the F-word will most likely push the line one more huge notch toward bad taste in the media. Sadly Mr Powell may not have realized the incredible upheaval his ruling will have. I can see it now in a desperate attempt to get better ratings, it will undoubtably start being dropped it into late night TV programs,  Then of course it will spread into late prime shows like the highly rated NYPD Blue, Detective Sipowitz will tell some criminal whose pushing his buttons to F**K off,  and before you know it Chandler & Joey on Friends will see Rachel in some outfit and exclaim F**K!!! Its only a matter of time now.
So in the past, forbidden words were brought into the norm of the Public airwaves based on whether these words were commonplace in America's language. We do hear the F-word all the time in movies and even in special shows and comedy acts on Pay TV. Yes, we certainly know that the F-word is an everyday word for a huge proportion of today's under 50 generation as it's commonly used as an exclamation or adjective to enhance the effect of a statement.   The sad thing John is that we are viewing things in the future without reviewing the past ..."  (read more of Guy Zapoleon's comments)


This could be the biggest story of the year....
Longtime consumer advocate and Green Party candidate (and charter subscriber to MusicBiz) Ralph Nader is about to expand his attack on corporate radio by petitioning the FCC to deny license renewals to more stations. The new petitions are on top of the ones he filed against 63 Clear Channel stations in September. Nader claims Clear Channel "violated the law on 36 separate occasions over the last three years, demonstrating its poor character...Clear Channel is not qualified to hold a broadcast license under the FCC's own character rules." Nader claims he'll take his case all the way to the Supreme Court.


Well FUCK !

Reader's Responses (click here)

While most Americans slept, the FCC approved the use of the word FUCK on all of  the  radio and TV stations in our nation.

We probably shouldn�t be surprised. It�s what the smut peddlers have wanted all along.

�We are merely echoing the language of the street�, comes the excuse from broadcast disciples of Larry Flynt. The same media that takes credit for being able to sell a clients product, hides from any responsibility for lowering morality standards in our society.

Deregulation is one thing, but opening the airwaves to a litany of profanity is quite another.  We are now allowing a few unprincipled, unscrupulous media monsters to control what used to be a respected industry�and destroy it they have.      

These are the same cash hungry industry merchants who can�t figure out why there is such a decline in listeners and viewers to the �public� airwaves. Shock jocks are now on almost every station, each trying to create a name by out-sterning Howard. If they don�t drive away listeners, then the commercials will.  Penis enlargement, titty tantalizers, porno palaces, all are accepted by these clowns who will sell anything for a damn dollar.  These aren�t broadcasters � they are advertising pimps. Their bottom line is built with slime. 

Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is equally to blame. He and the elected officials who sat quietly and didn�t express outrage over this repugnant use of barn yard vocabulary on the nations airwaves, are certainly diminished in my eyes.


P.S. - To you who may find this commentary offensive�my apology.  But get ready for more�a lot more to come on the �public�s airwaves�.

In the days ahead, I have asked distinguished broadcasters to comment on this subject...we will feature them here.

Reader's Responses (click here)



Reformatting the FCC

If anything comes from the awakened public outcry of concern for too much media deregulation, perhaps it can come in the way of a totally reformatted Federal Communications Commission.

Like so much else these days the agency given the responsibility of regulating the public airwaves has been exposed for what it really is, a political football controlled by those it is charged with overseeing. 

As we have noted many times before - man is greedy, an inch of leeway will turn into a mile with the help of an aggressive lawyer. As with so much else in our society, instead of following the law as intended, politicians and the media will do whatever it takes to bend or change the rules to better serve themselves, with little thought given to serving the public interest.

The misdeeds of those who serve as underlings and commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission are well documented by The Center for Public Integrity and other respected organizations who speak on behalf of the public. We will attempt to not focus on the lack of ethic�s and/or corruption itself, but to suggest changes at the FCC that will better do what that agency should be doing - protect the public�s airwaves.

The Federal Communications Commission was once one of the most respected regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C.   It wasn�t that long ago, broadcasters realized what the agency gives, it can also take away.  The past dozen years not only spawned deregulation of the media, it also gave away to almost a total disregard for the rules and regulations of the FCC. 

Appointed officials have proven to be obligated to serve agendas of special interests, not the public.  The Federal Communications Commission today is controlled by the party in power. Perhaps future FCC commissioners should be chosen by a direct vote of the electorate. At least one of the elected officials could be an �independent� with no party affiliation.  These commissioners should be subjected to a similar �review of performance�, as licensees of broadcast facilities are.  How to achieve this is a question yet to be answered.

The rules limiting controlling interest of newspapers, television and radio should continue.  This is especially true in smaller markets, where monopolies limit dissent.

Deregulation, without a strong regulatory agency willing to enforce it, has proven to be ineffective in protecting the public�s airwaves.  The first goal of the Federal Communications Commission should be to the public, not the industry it regulates. Broadcasters should concentrate on serving the public interest at least equal to the financial interest of the licensee.

Receiving a license without paying a spectrum fee, does little to create value for the right to �use� the public airwaves.  Competitive bidding for leasing the use of the public�s airwaves should be considered.  A lesser fee could serve as an incentive for providing programming or service not duplicated by another facility in the community of license.  Above all, a prospective licensee must be accountable for providing local news and information to the community they pledge to serve.  Seeking out issues of importance to the community and inviting comment, should be an important part of a licensees responsibility.

Deregulation has led to a decrease in local news, information and public service programming, with licensee�s largely aiming their programming to attract what is referred to as �the money demo� � the audience advertisers pay premium rates for.

This has given to an abundant duplication in programming, with several stations in a given market each competing for the same audience.       

The rush to deregulate now places the onus on the public to prove a broadcaster is unworthy.  That should be reversed.  Before renewal, a licensee should be required to prove they have provided an exemplary service, possibly in open hearings in their community of license.  This would do much to direct a licensee toward truly providing local service.  A licensee should provide documentation detailing the expense of local news and services provided.  Bartering programming from distant sources may enrich the finances of a licensee, but it pales in comparison to the service local programming can provide.  

Local programming is the key to radio�s success�past and future.  Satellite radio is staking it�s claim on national programming.  Local radio had better do what it can do best�concentrate on local programming.

We welcome your thoughts on this important subject of reformatting an agency whose deregulation of the media has done little to address the needs of the local community.  

In the days ahead, we will feature your comments, anonymous if requested, with your ideas on how the FCC can accomplish what it was intended to do. 




Randy and Mel, what a team !


Had they ever teamed up, Randy Michaels and Mel Karmazin surely would have unseated Larry Flynt - the King of Smut. 


Randy, who I must admit I never heard of as a programmer, rose to the top of Clear Channel radio from his one claim to fame, that of a shock jock.  As a programmer,

he never advanced into the nations top 20 markets. His idea of a great radio station would have featured Lenny Bruce and Andrew Dice Clay in drive time and Jerry Springer doing mid-days.  Too hell with class or serving the public, ratings at all cost obviously was his motto.


Mel came from the other side of the hall.  I can only imagine how the program director of the station must have battled constantly with the guy Wall Street now calls the Zen Master of sales.  Karmazin, not to be out done by Michaels, gave radio Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony and Deminsky & Doyle.


Heretofore, radios reject - Stern, given a free pass by Mel, proved what we have always known, shouting profanity will indeed create attention, but it doesn�t demonstrate much programming talent. Karmazin built an entire company on Howard�s slime. 


With FCC chairman Michael Powell�s blessing, Mel again decided to cash in with Opie & Anthony.  They finally were dumped by Karmazin when they encouraged  listener�s to have sex in St. Patrick�s cathedral, but only after advertisers began to effect the stations bottom line. Even then it took enormous public outcry before Mel�s buddy, Michael Powell and his two republican rubber stamps were forced to accept the wisdom of democrat FCC commissioners Copps and Adelstein.  Seems to me any broadcaster in this kind of hot water, would have immediately taken steps to assure the radio stations licensed to them reviewed their programming, or lack of it. Not Mel, who was used to paying thousands of dollars in fines levied against Howard Stern, as a cost of doing business. He continued to give the green light to a classless act in Detroit - Deminsky & Doyle, who FCC commissioner Michael Copps termed �the most vulgar and disgusting indecency� he had ever heard since joining the FCC.


Smarting from his inability to do much right as the FCC chairman, Powell was unable to prevent a hefty quarter of a million dollar fine being levied against Mel�s Opie & Anthony.  I�d like to think that got Karmazin�s attention, but somehow I think the real Zen Master at Viacom, Sumner Redstone, probably took Mel to the woodshed. As a salesman, Mel has proven he�d sell ice cream to the devil, if he could make a dime. 


It was a decidedly changed Mel Karmazin, who now understands more fully the importance of program director�s with balls as he now admits during a recent conference call, the Opie & Anthony debacle caused �grave financial consequences� for the company. Notice, it was the almighty dollar that caught Mel�s attention.  


Even a bigger lesson could take place as the FCC considers revoking the license of Infinity/Viacom�s Detroit station, home of the former Deminsky & Doyle show.


Clear Channel took the right step in removing Randy Michaels from management of that company�s radio division.  Don�t be surprised if Sumner Redstone learns from the Mays family.  They still haven�t recovered from Randy�s lack of management skills.


Neither company, Clear Channel or Viacom seem to understand it�s programming that delivers sales�not the other way around.  This is a lesson they are just beginning to learn from Sirius and XM satellite radio, both have respected programmers in the lead chair. 


Without programming, all the marketing in the world means nothing. 



"Get out of the way and let them PROGRAM !"

UPDATE - 11-07-03

Infinity Appoints Steve Rivers VP/Programming

With Infinity hiring radio's Steve Rivers VP Programming, he will be responsible for the programming of all Infinity stations across the United States.

As the former chief programmer of AMFM, Rivers brings much needed expertise to Viacom's radio group, Infinity broadcasting.

Perhaps finally, sales driven Infinity has signaled they understand the simple basic's of radio...product must come before marketing and/or sales. The hiring of Steve Rivers and David Hall in recent days indicate Karmazan & company have begun to place some real importance on what's coming out of the radio speaker. Let's hope they allow the programmers to do what they can do...they won't be disapointed.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel minus the legendary programming of Rivers and Hall, have yet to learn the valuable lesson Infinity has. Instead, the boys from Texas are now ordering sales personnel to bring in more revenue...with less ratings. History has proven that kind of thinking wrecked more than one broadcast group.

Good luck to Steve and David. Infinity bosses - get out of the way and let them PROGRAM !



All Content on this Web site � 2003 John H. Rook
All Rights Reserved
The opinions, commentary and satirical material posted on are those of John Rook, unless otherwise identified