Monday, October 26, 2015

Been There, Did It All...Rest In Peace Stan Major (1935 -2015)

A message from Stan's son, Chris Major:

It comes with great sadness and immense respect that I must announce the heartbreaking news that my father, Stan Major, the greatest man I've ever known, passed away at the age of 80 on September 25th, 2015.

Stan lived, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most incredible, storied, and satisfying lives anyone could ever hope for. The places he traveled, people he met, and memories he made were enough to last ten lifetimes.

Born Stanley Thomas Major on September 9th, 1935 in Paris, Illinois, Stan spent the better part of the last century journeying around the world, experiencing things of which many of us could only dream.

His life, in my opinion, has always been something to be celebrated. To my friends and I, my father's legend would grow with every story and recollection. It was for this reason that I insisted he begin writing everything down a few years ago. What started as a simple collection of documents on his computer quickly turned into the idea to publish a blog.

I believe it is monumental that Stan's voice and thoughts have been experienced across the entire chronological spectrum of media's technological evolution...from early 1950s local radio to being globally broadcast via NBC News during Vietnam, to national broadcast and satellite radio, all the way through writing a successful blog and having all of the aforementioned media archived digitally online. His work started on a Ham radio station in rural Illinois, and ended up being permanently archived for the entire world on YouTube, Soundcloud, and Google - to borrow a line from our favorite show, Mad Men... "He's an astronaut".

It pains me greatly to write these words, knowing how many of you have followed him over the years and admired not just his recent writings but his entire body of work. It has taken me the entire month to find the strength needed to make this announcement, and for that I apologize.

I will continue to update this blog and repost his best stories from time to time. It has long been a dream of mine to collect his stories, edit them, and turn them into a book for him. I was not able to accomplish this during his life, but still hope to out of respect...something I can pass on to my kids some day...if anyone out there knows someone who can help make this a reality some day, please reach out to me.

I thank you all for continuing to keep Stan's memories alive, and invite you all to revisit this blog, dive into the archives, and relive his stories with me. I assure you...there is some amazing stuff written in these pages. Please feel free to leave comments or reach out to me personally at for any reason.

And one last time, his classic line...

"This is Stan Major, NBC News, Saigon, signing off..."

Thank you.

Here is one of Stan's greatest moments, interviewing President Richard Nixon:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Little ole me...LIVE ON NBC!


  “ have an important assignment.” 

      “You’ll be on live television tomorrow morning with John Chancellor but you’ll have to go out to the Saigon broadcasting building to get hooked up for it.” This from the NBC News Saigon bureau chief.
      “Oh boy.” 
      Was my reply...partly in shock about the live NBC-TV thing and partly concerned about that facility with it’s antiquated radio equipment.
      That place did not have a good reputation for being able to do anything that worked.  If you’ve seen “Live From Baghdad” about CNN having to use a similar facility you’ll know what I’m talking about.
        Seems President Nixon was making an official policy announcement in the evening New York time, and Chancellor would be anchoring and ask me in from Saigon for only.    
       So I would have to get out there and hope we could make the connection to New York...then sit quietly and listen to Nixon’s remarks and then respond to John’s questions off the top of my head.
      Heady stuff for a little known radio correspondent but I was not flaked out about the thing. 
      They picked the sharpest cameraman as he was very well versed in audio stuff to accompany me in case the circuit had problems...(or the local Vietnam engineers did). 
     We arrived an hour before the speech on “Vietnamization” was set to start. 
 The call was placed with no problem and we sat around waiting for the Prez.
 The address was not long...Nixon sounded like he was turning the whole damn war over to the Vietnamese...but that was public relations.  I think he also took the opportunity to announce more reductions in US troop levels to appease the student protesters back home.
      Chancellor was cool, as usual, and ask me what I thought. I was subdued but ok.  Then he asked me to guess at the reaction in Vietnam to the President's comments and I was ok with that. 
      He closed our portion of the coverage (there were studio guests also) saying:
      “Thanks Stan...that was NBC News correspondent Stan Major reporting from Saigon.” 
      The only video they used (I saw the report later)  were a few slides of me and some troops with this at the bottom of the screen   
     “Stan Major NBC News reporting from Saigon”.
      My parents were thrilled...I was relieved that it went so well and I returned to the bureau to get my radio reports ready for the two daily circuits.
 So...if it’s in the NBC News archives and you can get access to that...the date is:   
       November 3, 1969
 President Nixon’s Vietnamization announcement.
     John Chancellor anchor...with
 NBC News correspondent Stan Major live in Saigon.

Bob Hope & Neil Armstrong
Chu Chi 1969
The Bob Hope interview.......(repost)
Bob talked with me for NBC’s Monitor and then invited me to accompany him thru the hospital at Chu Chi. A
lot of this tv footage was seen on his Christmas 1969 program back home.

Friday, September 18, 2015

New York New York...nope...tried but........

My Barry Farber fill-in.....
...didn’t last long! (repost)

    After leaving WWDB-FM Philly I took a week in New York City to fill in on WMAC for Barry Farber in afternoon drive.
    This was not long after the infamous “subway vigilante” incident on a New York subway train.
    As could be expected New Yorkers wanted to talk about that so we least for a couple of days.
    Then...I was told by management at WMCA that my fill in days had ended. Seems they disagreed with my then popular position that shooter Bernhard Goetz had taken acceptable action under the conditions so far described.
    It was interesting to actually get on the air at WMCA.  The owner manager was...the same guy who years earlier had ask me to fly in from Chicago to meet with him and when I did...he wouldn’t see me!  Another weird management type.  
    Same thing happened in St. Louis at the big KMOX.  There..I did meet with the big boss man who seemed impressed with me...enough that he pointed out places nearby where I should check apartments.    
    A few days later he wouldn’t take my calls.
    Such is our radio business.
    I’ve been in hiring positions several times and have NEVER acted so impolite or discourteous as not to talk to a person I’ve showed interest in.  I still can’t believe either incidents.
    Luckily for goes on and better things did happen.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

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a couple of good clicks for you.....

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

the NSA the CIA what the hell is going on here?


This falls under the category of “what the hell’s going on here!”

Headline 1:
   NSA surveillance program gets three more months.
and then
Headline 2
   Idaho Judge Asks Supreme Court to End NSA's Phone Surveillance.
   then the congress seems as confused as those headlines.
Only in D.C. yep!

(repost spying)
some guys from my past deserve mention here.

      First is a man I’ve written about...Grayston Lynch...former CIA dude who helped lead the ill fated (as they say) Bay Of Pigs invasion.
      When Gray was on my show in 75-76  in the studios of  WDAE in Tampa...he revealed for my listeners...that the “agency” and/or others like it had the capability of spying on anyone simple by using the telephone.
      He said...the spies could call your number...not say anything...and when you hung up...your telephone would be like a microphone and they could monitor everything that was said in your room(s).
      So to combat this...Gray recommended that if you answer the phone and there’s no one there...hang up the phone and IF you feel some spy might want to “bug” you,  “simply go to the wall and unplug the cord...wait a few seconds and plug it back in.”  That, Lynch contended, would defeat the attempt to bug your home using your own phone.
      Of course with all the spying government does now...they just use your computer as a conduit for all the info about you there is!  You can’t do much about THAT!

      My long time guest and dear friend Bill (Doc) Leavell used to piss off the CIA cause he had a phone number that if you dialed it...and listened to the info that responded to your phone number and would tell you whether your phone line had been tapped by ANYONE.
      We gave the number out on the air across America and my listeners called it...and they had to change the system!  The Govt spy guys were not happy with us!


my email: (For NSA, CIA, NRO, FBI, IRS, and any other I may have missed!)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Nick Clooney's invite opens my eyes to the south

Now...George’s Dad...Nick Clooney.                                               repost

     In the summer of 1956  Nick returned home from AFN Europe and called me at my parents home in Effingham, Illinois.
       He suggested I drive down to Lexington, Kentucky to a ranch and hang with him and get up at 4AM to clean fancy race horse stables. Boy that sounded like fun (not) but it would be an interesting trip. 
      I had my first real taste of the deep south...the whites only signs at the water fountains and stuff like that.  I was somewhat startled at this which is strange as I lived in a town that allowed NO blacks...and they couldn’t sit down in any Effingham eatery. And this was southern Illinois not Mississippi.
      I had been born and lived for sometime in Paris, Illinois where blacks were treated as least...although they had to live in the southeast section of the city. Black basketball players for Paris High School were great...and I remember lanky Bob Owens leading the Tigers to the state basketball championship two years in a row...whipping the socks off the big bad Chicago teams!
      But the Paris Tigers were not welcome to play in Effingham.
No teams with a black payer could play in Effingham...and you know what...if you read my earlier blurb about the two interstate highways crossing just northwest of the city...then you could guess how that whole thing would radically change.  And it did.

     Anyway I cleaned the stables and bid Nick farewell but I got a phone number for him as he said his next stop was Beverly Hills...not necessarily at his sister’s Roxbury address but at an apartment they had on the south side (poor?) of Beverly Hills. 
 (NOTE:  For the story on Nick Clooney trying the acting bit use the "search" box on the top right of each post and put in "Nick and Stan back together again" and you'll get it.  It's VERY interesting.)

my email:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Here's the whole list!

109 NATIONS.............93,000 Views(Google numbers)

stan                                         neil                  

The Stan Major list... 
Best 15 radio personalities in history.

1. Gary Dee... Cleveland
2. Wally Phillips... Chicago
3. Neil Rogers... Miami
4. Long John Neble... NYC
5. Bill Ballance... LA
6. Joe Pyne... LA
7. Rush...national
8. Howard...national
9. Dr. Ruth...national
10. Bob Collins... Chicago
11. Tom Lykis... LA
12. Henry Morgan... NYC
13. Allan Prell... Baltimore
14. Art Bell...national
15 Richard Hayes & Susan Bray... Philly(tie)


Rest of the best...(pretty good!)

the rest of the BEST

Final personalities in radio
 Bob Collins, Chicago...Tom Lykis, LA....Henry Morgan, NYC...Alan Prell, Baltimore...Art Bell...Richard Hayes and Susan Bray...Philly.
    For Bob Collins please see earlier post on Wally Phillips and Bob Collins WGN Chicago.
   Tom Lykis currently has a web streaming show...Google it.
   Tom was Program Director and PM drive guy at KFYI in Phoenix in 1985 and hired me out of Philadelphia for a midday slot.
   He went on to Los Angeles to make his mark.  Tom was witty and fun on and off the air.  Who else could do three hours bashing the Moms who drove around with “baby on board” signs on their back window. 
    Tom was one of the good people in our business.
    Henry Morgan NYC....known mainly from the TV shows “I’ve Got a Secret” and “What’s My Line” was really radio’s first trailblazing unbridled talker taking on his bosses by name on the air (ala Neil Rogers)...bitching about his sponsers etc...but with a wonderful tongue in cheek humor that made him famous. And like most of us in the radio business...he was fired a lot!
     Here’s an excellent obit on Morgan in the NY Times:
    Allan Prell...longtime morning talk guy with WBAL Baltimore fits into the Gary Dee, Tom Lykis and Neil Rogers mold.  Crazy on the air... defiant with bosses....great for audiences over the years.
    I worked fill-in for a week with a small D.C. suburban station where music was still supreme and he hooked me forever by starting his three hour show one day with Abba’s “Dancing Queen”....and then playing it over and over and over for three hours!   I loved it.
      Art Bell.....national.
   Art killed my national all night show...took my stations away in droves but he hit upon a subject..UFO’s...that caught fire in an all- night radio atmosphere.
   I have regrets but no animosity with what show still lasted nearly ten years and I had some great affiliates that even Bell couldn’t pry away until late in the game.
  Art deserves a mention despite what happened. 
Richard Hayes and Susan Bray WWDB-FM (talk) Philadelphia
 Let's wrap this long list of top radio players up with a couple of friends from my old stomping grounds in Philly.
   As Opts Manager at WWDB I hired Hayes to do a soft talk (ala Collins and Phillips) all night show and it worked.  Richard drove in from Long Island every night, five nights a week and then drove back...hitting morning drive in New York City(ugh!) 
   He was excellent and just what you need to soothe the souls of his all night audience...and (important) he was live taking calls every night which helped our morning ratings.
    Susan Bray middays for all....not just the ladies.
    Susan was well informed on the issues...a  gal who could challenge the best politicians or listeners on any issue.  I remember Susan and I were selected to appear on the local tv talk show at the CBS station...and you don’t get those kind of invites unless you’re making an impact in the market.
    Susan and her husband are back in Aussieland now (see my earlier post on her) and she deserves “honorable mention” in this list.
 That’s it for my list of top radio personalities in the years I’ve been in the business.
 Just my’ve got yours, I’m sure.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dr Ruth goes right ahead!

Dr. Ruth shakes things up....

It doesn’t get any better than this.   Dr. Ruth Westheimer was on hundreds of stations talking about sex...going as far as the  FCC. would allow...doing the same on syndicated TV...and appearing on Saturday Night Live!
My 9th pick is this dear lady who speaks of sex in funny but informative ways.
Dr. Ruth is 84 and still talking sex on her various webpages.
She was interviewed this year by NPR and was as “playful” as ever....about herself, her subject etc.
There were several other women who followed suit and had long running syndicated shows on the subject of relationships and sex....but there was only one Dr. Ruth!


and some other big talkers

Joe Pyne...Los Angeles and others....
“Go gargle with razor blades”

Just as Bill Ballance brought sex to radio in Los Angeles...
    Joe Pyne brought “fury”.
He was unique as the original controversial host on not only radio (KLAC/KABC) but television and ended up riding that bombastic technique to fame across the nation.
Talk radio host Ray Briem wrote in 1985, "Joe Pyne was the only radio personality who had higher ratings than Dodger baseball.”
Joe Pyne fills the number 6 slot on my list of top radio personalities of all time.


In the 7th and 8th slots are Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern.
Rush is the most successful radio talk host in history both in stations and money.
Stern in his own way pioneered sex talk for the early morning hours.
I don’t listen to either of these guys so you be the judge.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bill Ballnce HAD to be muzzled, then listen to John & Marsha

        But Ballance was sooooo good...of course
he had to be muzzled!

Just as Wally Phillips had all the woman in Chicago listening every morning...for pleasant conversation...calling for gifts etc...
our next personality had every woman in Southern California listening....for far different reasons.
Bill Ballance (KGBS Los Angeles) is number 5 on my list of the greatest radio personalities...for his daily not to be missed “feminine forum” discussion of the sex life of the better half. 
In the 70’s this show was the opening for others who would come along years later. The few times I had the opportunity to listen I  marveled that Bill could talk about stuff with women that you might save for parties or for your wife or mistress...or both.
But it was actually okay for radio....and it was a must listen... even for the guys...until it got too hot even for open minded as that place was.
Ballance ruled the airwaves for a couple of years before management decided it was a just too much. would just be an interesting sex talk program and not the extremely popular “side show” it was in 1973.  But there were problems...feminine groups...pressure on advertisers (which  only happens now to the likes of Savage and Limbaugh).
Bill Ballance was indeed unique and discussed subjects that needed to be banded about on the air...both funny and serious and for this he deserves to be named along with: 
Gary Dee in Cleveland, Wally Phillips in Chicago, Neil Rogers in Miami and Long John Nebel in NYC as number five on my list.

        And then L.A. had Joe Pyne too. 
             He’s next.



They can't ALL be runaways

repost:      They cant ALL be runaways

...A lot of young white girls go missing in Florida.
If you saw the movie TAKEN you have a pretty good idea of what happens to them.
    I have had the sad experience to know two parents who have lost a daughter.
    One was right here near fact the teen's car was found parked at a Dairy Queen about three blocks south of here. Her father ran one of  those mail centers and the daughter used to work there at times.
    She was also a waitress not far from here in a fairly fancy part of town and reportedly left work at the normal time...with her boyfriend (maybe) never clear on that..parked her car at the DQ...took her belongs and has NEVER been seen or heard from since.  This story was on the Walsh TV program several times.
    The other story hits very close to home and happened in St. Petersburg, Fl to a fellow radio worker who happened to be a Psychic on the air.  The daughter was much younger...probably not yet a teen and up and disappeared one day out of the blue.  My friend came by crying and we sat down and I tried comforting her.  She thought the girl might have contacted me and my girl friend  because we got along so well...but I had heard nothing. 
    She also vanished into thin air.
    Now you could put these down as a possible runaways, especially the older teen.
    But I have my doubts.  I think runaways have a record of contacting home eventually to set the parents mind at ease.  That apparently didn’t happen in either case.
    Police think the Bahamas is the first destination of a kidnapped or missing girl. It is a short boat ride away.
    There are no easy answers....for anyone.  Just trauma and sadness.   

Monday, September 7, 2015

My best...a list

109 NATIONS.............93,000 Views(Google numbrs)

stan                                         neil                  

We'll brake here...have more details of most later.  Some GREAT radio personalities coming up!

The Stan Major list... 
Best 15 radio personalities in history.

1. Gary Dee... Cleveland
2. Wally Phillips... Chicago
3. Neil Rogers... Miami
4. Long John Neble... NYC
5. Bill Ballance... LA
6. Joe Pyne... LA
7. Rush...national
8. Howard...national
9. Dr. Ruth...national
10. Bob Collins... Chicago
11. Tom Lykis... LA
12. Henry Morgan... NYC
13. Allan Prell... Baltimore
14. Art Bell...national
15 Richard Hayes & Susan Bray... Philly(tie)


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Two of the best...both in the Windy

Bob Collins...personal friend

Best of the Windy.....

A Duo of my best personalities in radio history.....

Both at WGN Chicago:    Wally Phillips & Bob Collins

It’s was said that every woman in Chicago listened to Wally Phillips.  There are probably numbers in rating books in WGN’s office archive that can prove that.
What can you say about the guy who basically held down the morning drive program on WGN for so many years...taking calls from “nice” people and having a surprise gift for them at the end of every conversation.
When I was Operations Manager for WWDB (FM) Philadelphia I instituted the same thing and now I admit where I got the idea.  Our fine morning personality Dominic Quinn handled it well too...but he was no Wally Phillips.  Wally would be my number two best radio personality...of all time.

  Bob Collins

Bob joined WGN from Milwaukee in the early 70’s where we both worked at WRIT AM/FM.  Bob was Program Director there and had hired me for their evening talk slot.  We were good friends.
Bob got a call one day from an exec at WGN...and went down to their studio for an interview and audition.  He told me the next day the so called audition was nothing more than a rigged call in show with WGN staff calling him on the phone while all this was taped.
Now in Milwaukee...and Florida and for most of his career Bob was a rock jock playing the hits...but WGN wanted someone who could take calls and handle listeners and maybe play a record once in awhile.  They loved Bob and hired him almost immediately.
Wally Phillips was still the morning guy so Bob was slipped into several slots and also used as fill in for Phillips.
When Wally retired and that slot became available...WGN knew who could fill it:  Bob Collins.
And, of course, Bob was great...smooth and friendly just like Wally....and he would probably still be there today if it wasn’t for his craving the excitement of flying light planes.  He crashed in the Chicago suburbs and that was the tragic end of a great radio career.
He paid me a huge compliment a few years before that mishap took his life.     He liked to vacation in Phoenix where he had a fancy motorcycle stored away just for his use.
I was on the air at KFYI in Phoenix doing my talk thing when he magically appeared unannounced in the control room...smiling and waving at me.     During a break I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into my studio and sat him down at the mic. He didn’t want to go on the air...but I forced it.
He invited me to visit him at his hotel in Scottsdale but I had some commitments that evening and missed that chance. 
He was killed not long after that.  Bob was an excellent replacement for the great Wally Phillips...and he was great in his own way.

   A personal note here.  
I’m a guy who doesn’t like small planes.  I had to fly in a bunch of them in the three trips to Vietnam and had no choice. and there, of course, were a lot of helicopters too.  I came out of that swearing to myself that I would never again fly light or in a chopper.  I succeeded in that and I’m still around to write this blog years later.
I was at our family home south of Rockford, Illinois when the news came on that NBC News Chicago anchor Floyd Kalber had crashed his light plane into a cornfield about 20 miles from us.  Thank heavens he was unhurt.  
A couple of years later I would be writing for Floyd and we would discuss small planes and disagree.
WGN Chicago lost two really great personalities who will be remembered as the backbone of that great radio station in its best years.

anyhow...I got MEXICO!

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