Friday, December 20, 2013

holiday tribute...GORDON MCLENDON

I worked for legendary broadcaster Gordon McLendon at his all news operation in Chicago in 1966.  
I sent this bit of fluff to Tom Taylor of NOW (daily FREE national radio newsletter) 
here’s Tom’s re-write:( he’s a much better writer)
This boss wasn't "Undercover"...He just wanted to see what the work was like. Talker Stan Major says "In the mid 60’s, [station owner and innovator] Gordon McLendon flew in to Chicago to check out his all-news station.
I was a senior charge of getting copy together for each 20-minute newscast. He approached me and said he’d like to pull a shift the next day. I was to treat him as a regular staffer...not any different. 
Bernie Shaw (later ABC & CNN) was also one of our anchors. 
Gordon did his first couple of casts, and all went well. Then in the third one, at the seven minute break for spots, I saw him waving frantically to get my attention. I rushed into the booth and he confessed to leaving his copy in an outer office. I looked at the desk where he was sitting and saw no copy of any kind. I rushed out to get his cast and got back before the break ended. 
McLendon, being the ultimate professional, had simply ad-libbed the first seven minutes of news from memory. No wonder he’s a legend
He was a hoot.  
He and his national Program Director Don Keyes came into town and started at the front office and worked their way to the back of the small building throwing out everything that wasn’t furniture. This included everyone’s personal stuff from desk loss was an extra pair of glasses.
This was an indication of what “cleaning house” really meant. He ended up firing us all and putting classified ads on the air 24 hours a day!

Dave Baum writes:

From: Dave Baum
Subject: Gordon McLendon’s all news operation Chicago

I was not around for your description of the "Gordon trashing." 
Had left in early 1965 to join WIND (Group W) in Chicago as a newsman. 
Shortly after that Bernie Shaw joined me at WIND. 
I went into talk after 5 years of political + general news coverage at 'IND and Bernie joined Group W's Washington Bureau and then to ABC as a foreign correspondent.
    Enjoyed working with the  Stan Major-Mike Wolverton-David Martin-Larry Webb at WNUS. 
Bernie Shaw (later at CNN and Baghdad) and I were the only two journalists there. It was a blast to watch guys rip-n-read newspaper wire copy and try to make it 'conversational'. 
BBQing in the backyard of our Southside radio
station was fun, too. Steak lunches + dinners fresh off the grill
during your break from reading all the news the wires could print.
    (You can quote me).
While we’re on the subject of all news WNUS Chicago...

I sent this to Tom Taylor of NOW: 
The wrong spot at the wrong time - Syndicated talker and veteran radio journalist Stan Major saw yesterday's  story about the unintended pairing of the news of a Pope dying and the playing of "Dropkick Me, Jesus", and was reminded of his own story. 
He says "I was at Gordon McLendon's all-news WNUS, Chicago in 1965 when major political figure [former Democratic Presidential candidate] Adlai Stevenson died. We ran the bulletin, then want to a commercial break, and wouldn't you know it, our lead off spot was Pepsi's 'Come're in the Pepsi Generation.
I later wrote this post script to Tom:
You might wonder why an all news station had a Pepsi spot.
Gordon McLendon had his GM call all the Chicago agencies and invite them to send spots over for FREE use to make the format sound good. More of the McLendon legend!
So in addition to having some great "pros to be" like Bernie Shaw...Larry Webb...Dave Martin and Dave Baum...we had the best sounding commercials on the air!

Here’s Tom Taylor and the NOW webpage: (SIGN UP...GET IT DAILY...FREE)

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