Saturday, March 21, 2020

RIP Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers’ music was the soundtrack of my life.  As a kid, I heard a song by The First Edition called "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town.” It was provocative for its time.  I had no idea it was a Country song.  I barely knew what Country music was.  

Then, in the mid-70's, Kenny was attempting to resurrect his career as a Country star.  My brother Dan and I attended a United Artists Records show at The Nashville Auditorium. Kenny Rogers closed the show and impressed a tough crowd of radio programmers.  Several years later, songs like "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County" were a mainstay during my programming and on-air career.     
In New York, my station (WHN) premiered "Islands In The Stream", while our competitor fumed.  A few years earlier, backstage at a Kenny Rogers show, I asked Kenny's manager Ken Kragen if it would be ok to ask Kenny to do some promo liners.  Kragen said no.  I asked Kenny, and he said yes.  
 Fast forward about fifteen years, and I'm on a CRS Panel, "Too Pop or Too Country" (or words to that effect), and I'm sitting next to Kenny Rogers.  NEXT TO KENNY ROGERS.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  He was open and real and told us that he just wanted a shot to stay in the game.  
And he did, longer than most artists.  My last encounter with Kenny was at a show in Trenton, New Jersey, where I had a chance to say hello backstage.  It was a brief encounter after an energetic show by the then 70-ish entertainer.  
Kenny, we'll miss you - but we'll always have your music through the years. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

RIP Don Imus

I stood in awe. I met Don Imus in Cleveland when he was a guest on the morning show on my station.  He was touting a new book and was amazingly fun and clever, as always. .  A few years earlier, he had worked at my station (WHK) and I always thought it was cool that I got to work the same board he did. 

As a kid, I remember when he came to New York to WNBC from WGAR in Cleveland.  The show was fresh and outrageous.  The Right Reverend Billy Sol Hargis selling his plastic Jesus for your dashboard, complete with music accompaniment, was just great radio. 

Before becoming a talk jock, he broke the rules in music radio, singing along with the songs, and changing the words to get a laugh.  He had demons that drove him from New York to Cleveland and then back to New York again, where he cleaned up his act and thrived.

Charles McCord, the staff news guy at WNBC, and Imus just clicked.  I felt his show was never the same after Charles retired, though Imus soldiered on. 

I was one of his biggest fans and feel honored that I met him, albeit briefly.  A giant in radio is gone and I'm sad.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Let's have songs with more tempo and less snap tracks.  

Some strong artists reaching the superstar level.  Other new artists starting down that road. 
The NAB will come up with a campaign to promote the brand of FM/AM radio.  

More women like Lynn Anderson and Crystal Gayle will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

More women Brand Managers and General Managers.
Less people get laid off from radio companies.
Digital integration that will further benefit broadcast radio, while in the process broadcast basics will not be neglected. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

2017 CMA Awards

This year's show had a different feel.  It was more somber, yet set the right tone in the wake of the Vegas massacre. 

Eric Church opened the show with a touching version of Amazing Grace, followed by every star of the show performing Hootie and The Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand”.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood had another great opening monologue, with Tim and Faith teasing them about their 10 Years as hosts (giving them Brad and Carrie Barbie Dolls).

Keith Urban has a surprise win for Single of the Year with “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

Taylor Swift wins for Song of the Year for “Better Man” (recorded by Little Big Town).  Women have now won the CMA for Song of the Year for seven consecutive years.

Eddie Montgomery (from Montgomery Gentry) was joined by Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley for “My Town”, in a tribute to the late Troy Gentry.

Brother’s Osborne paid tribute to Don Williams singing “Tulsa Time”.  (They also won for “It Ain’t My Fault” for Video of the Year and Vocal Duo of the Year).

Tim and Faith killed it on their new song “Rest of My Life”.

Little Big Town remembered Glen Campbell with “Wichita Lineman.”  Amazing harmony.  The writer Jimmy Webb, played piano.   And LBT won Vocal Group of the Year.

Miranda Lambert wins for 7th time as Female Vocalist of the Year.

Garth Brooks walks away with Entertainer of the Year for the second year in a row.  I prefer to focus on that aspect of Garth's evening.

(My wife says the men were better dressed tonight than the women, do you agree?)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Merle Haggard RIP.

As you can see, I haven't blogged in several years.  Merle Haggard has inspired me to do so once again.  Merle (along with Johnny Cash) IS the reason I fell in love with Country music and later, Country radio.  He could do it all.  Write, sing, perform, even produce. Merle was a great collaborator with Willie Nelson and others. He did it his own way, sometimes to his own detriment.  I can't believe it took until 1994 for him to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Seriously?  I had two brief encounters with the man prior to shows.  Once early in my career, and later in 2013.  As you can see from this picture, he looked you in the eye and made the moment count.  This picture is one of my most prized possessions.  When he saw the picture again in 2013, he remarked, "you've aged better than me".

While I feel sad, I feel honored to have grown up with Merle's music and his presence in the world which will never be replaced.  As Eric Church said in a recent song, "I Pledge Allegiance to the Hag".

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Barbara Mandrell

On Christmas day, I find myself reminiscing about one of the greatest entertainers ever - Barbara Mandrell.  Today is her birthday.  She personifies grace, beauty and talent.  How difficult it must have been to be a woman (let alone a tiny woman) in a man's business.

When I was an on-air PD at WEEP (then WDSY's sister station) in Pittsburgh in the 80's - Barbara surprised our station with a visit.  I was on the air.  She entered the lobby.  Unbeknown to me, I started playing one of her songs (I think it was "Woman to Woman")
- and talked about how she had really come into her own - and how her career was blossoming.  She heard every word I said over the lobby speaker.  Once the on air light went off, Barbara burst into the studio, sat on my lap and finished the show with me.  Barry Mardit was there too.

A luncheon was held in her honor that day - and she insisted that I sit next to her.  From that day on, I was a lifetime fan.  I was sad when she retired in 1997 - but not before winning countless awards, hosting a successful network TV show and entertaining millions.  She never carried the bitterness that some performers have when the next generation surpasses their popularity.  Barbara left us wanting more - as it should be.

Monday, November 11, 2013

CMA Awards 2013

Luke Bryan opened the show wearing sequins and a baseball cap with "That's My Kind of Night" ... and Florida Georgia Line cruised through their biggest hit. Do sequins and baseball caps go together? Just askin' ...

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley's monologue was excellent as always! Best laughs were for Obamacare jokes. 

Loved the Zac Brown-Luke Bryan hug during Brad and Carrie's monologue. Is the hatchet buried? Was there ever a hatchet to begin with?

Song of the Year was "I Drive Your Truck". Lee Brice graciously congratulated the writers of his number one hit.

The network censored "roll a joint" from Kacey Musgraves song.  Wonder if the unsensored version aired in Colorado and Washington?

Florida Georgia Line had a big night with a Single of Year win for "Cruise" and the Vocal Duo of the Year award.

Taylor Swift increased her Country "cred" performing with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss on an acoustic version of "Red".

Blake Shelton wins Album of the Year - the award he really wanted to win. He also walks off with Male Vocalist of the Year.

Tim McGraw looked painfully thin ... (Steve Jobs thin) - is he OK? Let's hope so!

Taylor Swift's Pinnacle award was presented to her by all the stars she opened for ... Rascal Flatts ... George Strait ... Brad Paisley ... Tim and Faith ...and Keith Urban. She seemed genuinely touched.

Miranda Lambert has now tied Martina McBride & Reba McEntire for most Female Vocalist of the Year awards (four).

Blake Shelton wins Male Vocalist.

George Strait wins Enterainer of the Year.  Did anyone see that coming?  A great honor to cap off an amazing career that's still going strong.