Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Go West, Young Man!

Go west young man....

My radio (and sometimes tv) career spans more than 50 years.
The first time I was ever ON the radio was in front of the Chicago Theater where there was a radio program sponsored by the “20th Century Limited” a high speed fancy train nightly from the Windy City to New York.
My Dad had taken me to see the College All Star football game at Soldiers Field and we were walking on State street when we saw the announcer holding the mike and interviewing passersby. We stopped and he spotted me and stuck the mike into my face and started asking questions.  I was still in grade school so I probably 
mumbled the answers not quite sure of myself.  But...that was it.  I was on the radio at least for five minutes!
But I would be back...a lot.
My future in radio/tv in Chicago included being Program Director and jock at WJJD in 59-60...senior news editor/reader at Gordon McClendon’s all news station WNUS in news writer-producer at WMAQ(NBC) in 68...that was when NBC News assigned me to be their Saigon correspondent in 1969. 

But a lot happened before those years.
My love for “Hollywood”  began when my Father took us on an extensive western trip....and I mean we saw everything from Illinois to Southern California and on up to Washington State. 
The only thing that really impressed me was studios..NBC and CBS...fancy theaters (can you say Grauman's Chinese Theatre...Alan Ladd and John Wayne hand prints among many.
      We took the movies stars homes tour.  I really got the bug about the place.
Mom and Sallee went to Catalina Island and I drug my Dad to several radio shows.  
I was most impressed by Lux Radio Theater and The Railroad Hour with actor Gordon MacRae.  That was basically a musical hour sponsored by the nation's railroads.  The announcer for the show was Marvin Miller who would become famous later as the star of “The Millionaire" tv show.  When we returned home I found Miller's address somehow and wrote him a letter and he actually responded a few weeks later.  Nice guy!
       So...I had the "Hollywood" bug.  I would return to that area on at least three or four occasions...try the acting bit and search for radio work. The only acting bit I got would be in 1960 on the original Bob Newhart show at NBC. I donned a Dodgers uniform took a glove and rushed onto the set on cue to catch a baseball in a fireplace. That Newhart show never made it to dvd so no one will ever see that great catch!
       The casting directors out there had a great gimmick not to put you to work. 
They would say are you SAG...the Screen Actors Guild union.  And of course I wasn't. 
      " Well, you can't get a part unless you are."  
       "Wait a minute where do I get the card."
       " can't get a card unless your have a part!"
       What a scam!  
       Another one...I had an appointment to see a top casting director and when I walked into her office she screamed at me:  "You've been here before!!!"  I said no...I've never been here.  But to no avail.  That was her way of eyeing you and getting rid of you quick.  Nice people.
       Even with that kind of crap to deal with I still loved the challenge....the possibility that something might break...the phone might ring.  But, of course for me and millions of others on the same didn't happen.
       Not even for my AFN friend...Nick Clooney...can you believe.  
When Nick got out of the Army he moved into what I think was his Mother's apartment on the south side of Beverly Hills. I had found a job at the Beverly Hills post office as a clerk so I hung out with him from time to time.  So...this is his story.


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