He was doing a story on the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, I couldn’t resist the urge to interject;
“The Klan; coneheads.”
“Well, I’m a newsman, so I have to remain objective.”
“I’m a disc-jockey, so I don’t. They’re a buncha coneheads.”
I could see, through the glass, Roger’s attempt to retain his demeanor of objectivity. He wore the “don’t laugh” smirk. I knew just what to say, assuringly;
“You may laugh, Roger.”
That did it. He laughed.
It was the morning shift at 1580 KDAY/L.A. and Roger Aldi and I were having the usual good time. Had this been any other day-part, I would not have interjected. But, in the mornings, we were truly a team. He knew anything might come his way. Sometimes, I wanted a real response to whatever I had planned and would not tell him exactly what was coming, just that something would arrive. Other times, I would tell him precisely what I intended to do. Always, I would check with him on the nature of his upcoming content so as not to tastelessly interject humor at an inappropriate moment, such as just before a story about a tragedy. And, I never did anything to really put him on-the-spot. He had to look good, after all, just as I did. Naturally, I poked at him ‘cause that’s what jocks do.
Years earlier, in my teens, I had listened to CKLW, among other stations, which emanated from the Detroit/Windsor area and came into Cleveland like a local station. They even did Cleveland weather. Though radio programmers hated the news requirements of the time, I didn’t. When “CKLW 20/20 News” would hit, I’d turn the radio up. That news team never did a simple recitation of fact. They colorized it. It was theatre-of-the-mind. I could “see” what they were saying. It was dramatic. And, I loved it, start to finish, no matter the story content.
Later, when I went to work at WABQ, there was Dick Michaels (or, Mike Dix, depending). He was a big bear of a guy and a typical radio/media freak who loved his job, which was “Checkpoint News.” This was not CKLW. WABQ lacked the big, 21-person news department budget. But, listeners couldn’t see you. So, you made it sound as you wished for it to sound. Dick Michaels made it sound as if there was, indeed, a full staff at work. When he was on duty, he was the staff, as were Phil Fink, Dennis Holly and Otis Rush when when they handled news.
Over time, I would get to work with others whom I admired such as Lee Marshall, the current voice of Tony The Tiger, and Lyle Kilgore. Both of these guys had worked 20/20 News at KHJ/L.A. Lee was an alumnus of the CKLW news team as well. Lyle had been Roger’s boss when Roger worked the KHJ newsroom. Then, Roger became Lyle’s boss when Lyle came to KDAY. They had fun.
While jocks had relatively wide latitude in terms of delivery, newsmen were considerably more constrained per format. So, the RKO Radio news guys, for example, would put their personalities into their news writing and their on-air “signatures”; the way they performed their end-of-newscast lock-outs:
“This…(three beats, or so) is Rr-ron-nn Casteel, K-F-R-C 20/20 News! And now, mo-ore music with Ste-eve L-lun-ndy-y!”
“This is Bill Ha-atch, K-F-R-C 20/20 News!
“This is Be-ee-Ar-rr (B.R.) Bradbury, K-F-R-C 20/20 News!”
And, in Houston way back when, Robert B. McIntyre, would over-pronounce his name, really hitting the “T” in “Robert” and the long-I sound of the “Y” in McIntyre as he would say;
“This is Robert B. McIntyre, K-I-L-T News!”
When things got really serious, it was the news people who kept things rolling in a big way. During the 1992 L.A. riots, Carl Nelson and Jacquie Stephens of the KJLH/L.A. news staff, kept the data flowing and interacted as one with the jocks during the long days of that ordeal. KJLH received a well-deserved Peabody Award for its service, in large part, due to the diligence of its news team.
In the early ’90s, I was invited to the KHJ Silver Reunion, held in a Century City hotel ballroom. Though I had never worked at KHJ, I had been on-staff at KFRC/San Francisco. Thus, I was a member of the RKO Radio “club.”
The Johnny Mann Singers and drummer Hal Blaine, who had recorded the chain’s wonderful jingles, were there to perform the KHJ jingles live. Paul Drew and legendary consultant Bill Drake were present as were various former PDs, jocks, newsmen and about 300 other former staff members. Near the end, newsman J. Paul Huddleston read a proclamation from Mayor Bradley. He went through all the “Whereases,” arrived at the “Therefore” and announced that the mayor had proclaimed it KHJ Day in Los Angeles. Finally;
At which point 300 people chimed in in nearly perfect unison.
“…is Ja-ay Pa-aul Hud-dle-ston, K-H-J 20/20 News!”
Such was the influence of the music radio newsman.
(Follow me on Twitter @jjsradioblog.)