New Orleans the City of Dreams...1973
What an interesting city we have here. First and foremost of course, is the French Quarter. The radio station WGSO...was actually located in the French Quarter.
If you ever watch that great movie HOTEL you will see Rod Taylor walk up a flight of stairs and into an office. That was the back entrance to our radio station in the Quarter. What a way to get to work. Parking a few blocks away and walking into the Quarter each day with the multitude of tourists and past the great shops. They were in the process of moving the station into a big bank building out of the quarter...which was a disappointment.
I did a nighttime talk show and had great guests. Everyone with a name hit New Orleans for obvious reasons.
Mort Sahl came to town and joined former District Attorney Jim Garrison for a couple of dynamite hours in the studio to talk about the Kennedy assassination.
The next day I was in my office and I got a mysterious call. It was a young guy who refused to give his name. He said he had all the answers to what really happened and who was involved and about Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in New Orleans. He said he’d call me again. He didn’t and I left the city on my radio “merry-go-round” a few months later. Was he a crank? I have a good sense about these kind of things and I don’t think he was. We’ll never know.
Another great guest in New Orleans was classic western actor Chill Wills. I asked him about the movie GIANT and about James Dean, Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor. He said he didn’t think Dean bathed the whole few weeks they were filming in Marfa, Texas! I found that hard to believe as rumor had it Liz Taylor took Jimmy under her wings during that time.
The tragic gay nightclub fire took place while I was there. 32 persons were killed at the Upstairs Lounge...June 24, 1973.
I went on my show the next night and raised some money to help out....without being asked to do that.
The city was also interesting in that the Super Dome was just being completed near the quarter and our station had a early tour set up for some bigwigs with food and drinks. One guy from New York was Tom O’brien of ABC News head of the radio division. I would see him again when I returned from Vietnam in 1970 and he would try to persuade me to return for ABC News. I turned him down but I did thank him for his public comments that my NBC News stuff was “killing them” from over there. My boss at NBC News, Russ Tornabene got wind of that and passed it on while I was still in Nam.
Finally...I had a nice apartment near a big pleasure boat dock on Lake Ponchatrain. The complex had a rec room with a pool table and guess who I played friendly pool with almost every night after my show. None other than Peter Starr...head of Starr Broadcasting (bunch of music stations...no talk) who admitted he was a fan of my show. Starr had an apartment there and a huge yacht parked in the water across the street. This was William F. Buckley’s brother despite their different last names.
I hate to say this and don’t want to offend anyone in New Orleans...but almost every weekend I would hop in the car and drive to Destin, Fl. in the panhandle to take in the beautiful beach. I’ve lived in South Florida for years now and still think Destin is one of the best...right up there with the Gulf coast beaches of Marco Island and Naples. (Robert “Bourne” Ludlum told me to keep quite about those last two places cause he lived there and didn’t want anyone to find out how beautiful they were)
(end New Orleans part 1)