Radio Waves: 3/8/19

Readers respond to History and Rock

The columns of the last two weeks covering KHJ’s (930 AM) History of Rock and Roll and local radio in Iowa brought out numerous emails and letters, which reignited my enthusiasm of radio itself — I am not alone in wanting good radio, and I more than ever feel that radio is under-programmed, in the send that it isn’t being programmed and promoted to its potential.

I received a few letters from not only current and former management and staffers of Waterloo, Iowa’s Rock 108, but listeners as well, all of whom apparently read the column on line. People are very proud of that station, for good reason as mentioned in the column.

As to the History of Rock and Roll, there were so many letters from people who heard it when it originally aired, I felt like I was there … even though I was only six years old when it aired in 1969. Well, five technically, since my birthday is in April. Frankly, and unfortunately, I don’t remember it from the original broadcast.

I did find that you can write to the curators at ReelRadio and you CAN get a membership if you ask, even though the site says you can’t as it gets revised. Reelradio has all of the original show … Go to

One of the emails came from Gary Theroux, who was the man in charge of revising the HORR for Drake-Chenault in the mid 1970s. He tells the story of how he had not come up with what he considered a good way to wrap up the production, so he decided to take a break.

“Partway through production,” Theroux explains, “one of the engineers told me that his girl was upset that he was out night after night working on the HORR. To show her what he’d been doing, he made a dub of the #1 hits element reel,” that was used to wrap up some of the hourly segments. He “set it to play for her on his home tape deck and then went out to pick up a pizza.

“When he returned, he found her sitting cross-legged in front of the speakers with tears in her eyes. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked.  ‘It can’t be that bad.’ ‘No,’ she sobbed, ‘It’s wonderful.  But I’ve just heard my entire life pass before my ears.’

“When I heard THAT, I knew how I’d end the HORR – by editing all those #1 hits montages together into one long monster medley – and that’s exactly how the show ended. That #1 hits montage became the most heavily bootlegged part of the HORR – and later sparked a series of hit montage singles featuring Elvis, The Beatles, Jim Reeves, etc.  I later read that the 1981 #1 medley hit by Stars on 45 was inspired by the last hour of my 1978 HORR.”

Snarky Oscars

Ken Levine was known as Beaver Cleaver in a previous life on the radio. Heard locally on Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM) in the late 1970s as well as other stations in such areas as San Diego such as B-100 (KFMB-FM, 100.7), Levine went on to great success as a writer, producer and director for numerous television shows including M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, Wings, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, and many more. He’s done play-by-play for three baseball teams, and, as they say, much, much more.

One of his current activities is an online blog and podcast known as Hollywood and Levine, where he uses his extensive background in radio, television and screenplays to entertain and talk about radio, television and the movies… with an intelligence and, well, let’s just call it snarkiness, that makes it among my favorites.

And while it isn’t directly radio-related, he recently posted his annual “Snarky Oscar Review” that is very much worth a listen. Levine has insight that is hard to match … he actually knows and hobnobs with the people he is talking about. And he’s not afraid to call it like he sees it. Check it out at

What Would You Do

Inside Music Media’s Jerry Del Colliano has been following the trials and tribulations of Cumulus Media — owner of KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) for years. Recently he wrote of the sell-off Cumulus finds itself in, making the point that no station is necessarily safe. So the question was suggested: what would I do with KABC and KLOS were I to buy them? 

I have some ideas. Before I present them I want to know what you think. Send your comments to me at, and I’ll put them and my own opinion in a near-future column.