Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nixon answers the phone!

Havana North.....

WNWS Radio was temporally located in a old building on Flager Street...the main drag in Miami’s Little Havana district.  The building had bullet holes near the entrance...somebody didn’t like somebody inside I guess. (Neil Rogers and I would get a taste of that later during the Cuban boatlift) And there was no parking available despite the touristy location.  The building leaked so bad sometimes that we had to have umbrellas in the studio.  No repairs were planned as we were moving into new studios in the Kendall area of south Miami soon.
Two great things...Neil and I both smoke cigars... during our shows (no law against it yet) and the nearest cigar factory was across the street!  He smoked small skinny cigars and my preference has always been big maduros. Also...the Cuban coffee was just the what I liked to get me going.
Neil Rogers was an excellent issue oriented talk host and well known in the industry.  It would be a few years before he dumped the issues and become famous for lambasting the “old farts” for their sometimes strange habits in South Florida...a huge retirement area.
He was on his usual midday shift...the same hours he would work over the years with one infraction when he moved to morning drive for a year and it nearly killed him.  I followed him doing afternoon drive.  The station had a great daytime signal because the tower base  was out in the Everglades in several feet of water which resulted in maximum output capacity. 
All Miami radio stations on the AM band had crappie signals at night because of Castro.  He liked to put his propaganda on the air on the same frequencies of the Miami stations to keep the Cubans from hearing the if one of our stations went off the air...and Florida storms often caused cold hear the Cuban official radio stations as if they were local!
Miami radio psychic Mickey Dahne did a couple of hours each day and felt so sad for the Nixons...(yes, the booted out Prez) that she had flowers sent to Mrs. Nixon for her birthday.  A few days later Mickey was waving around a telegram of “thanks” from the former first lady.  I spotted the telephone number from San Clemente and wrote it down.
As my show started the next day I warned my listeners to pay attention....and told my producer to start a tape for recording.
      I dialed the number direct.  It rang several times and then a sleepy male voice answered. I think I woke the former President as he was napping.
Hello....Mr. President?  Mr. President....this is Stan Major and we are on the air live in Miami.  Would you chat with me for a few minutes?
The rest is history.  No one had interviewed Richard Nixon as yet after he resigned in August (1974) my chat with him which lasted about ten minutes or so was historic.
After we said our farewells...the press calls started to come in....and all hell broke lose.
My producer ( sorry...can’t remember his name) started to work and called the major news organizations offering the interview but warning that “it was copywrited” so I, and the station would have to be credited if it is used).
That was bunk...we hadn’t had time to do that but it didn’t matter. Everyone around the world heard the interview...including Radio Moscow....and Toyko...Europe....and of course across the US.
Newspapers carried it world wide as we fed the tape to AP and UPI and they wrote text stories for the next morning’s papers.
About a week later I arrived for my show (In our new studios, thank heaven) and was handed a phone message from none other than Nixon’s Key Byscaine buddy Bebe Rebozo.  I returned the call and Rebozo inquired if he might get a copy of the interview.  I ask him where to send it....and he gave me his local address.  
I assumed...that the tape would end up in California.

         In the meantime Neil Rogers and I started hanging out alot.  Now Neil was openly gay and had stated that on his show...but I’m about the most female engrossed male on the planet so we were an odd couple.  Our new studios (we took over a closed down funeral parlor!) on South Dixie Highway was not far from the largest mall in Miami...Dadeland Mall and Neil and I would head over there after his show to eat.  
We’d choose a table where we could people watch....Neil checking out the young guys and Stan the girls.
Then...Castro in Cuba decided to empty his jails and “nut” houses and our serene life ended.

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