Radio Waves: August 25, 2023

Honoring radio’s historian: Don Barrett 

Don Barrett is one of the radio’s biggest supporters. Not only was he in radio — among other accomplishments, he launched KIQQ (now KKLQ, 100.3 FM) in the early 1970s — he is and has been a friend even to those radio personalities he never met.

His book, “Los Angeles Radio People,” set out to highlight every radio personality who was ever on the local airwaves between the years of 1957 to 1994 (First Edition) and 1957 to 1997 (Second Edition). As much as possible, many behind the microphone were also featured.  There was supposed to be a Third Edition, but a tragic hard drive crash and the lack of suitable backup caused the update to be abandoned.

In order to publicize the book, Barrett created the Los Angeles Radio People website, at laradio.com. At first it was just information about the book, but it soon grew in to a news and information site that quickly became a must-read daily gathering of radio people and radio fans alike. In time the site eclipsed the book in importance, with daily updates of the industry including what people were up to, the state of the industry, and even a call for help for those down on their luck. Kind of the gathering place at the company cooler.

Barrett always made sure that both in his books and the site, he was always positive. Rare was the case when he wasn’t presenting only positive vibes. Even after he decided to retire from the daily updates, he still maintained contact with his thousands of radio friends, updating the “Where Are They Now” listings, and continuing to act as radio’s cheerleader with re-posts of past columns highlighting various achievements, awards, and more.

Last week, Barrett posted something more serious.

“I discovered the writings of Joan Didion late in life,” he wrote. “She coined the phrase, ‘ordinary instant.’ Perhaps the phrase leaped off the page because death comes in such a rushing finality. She wrote: ‘Life changes fast/Life changes in the instant/You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.’ Joan’s husband was robbed of 3,500 days. In an ordinary instant.

“For the past two months, I have been in constant pain. Doctors, hospitals and ERs. Yesterday I was in the San Luis Obispo ER for more tests. And there it was in an ordinary instant – advanced stages of liver cancer that had spread.

“The doctor was sorry to pass on the news and couldn’t hold back tears. Cherie and I looked at each other, burst into tears and almost simultaneously said, ‘I think this is my ordinary instant.’

“I have been blessed with two great loves in my life. I struggled with relationships for the first 70 years. In 2012 the most amazing woman entered my life. Cherie taught me about unconditional love. She is the greatest blessing ever. It is never too late to start over. My three children embraced her from the beginning.

“My second love has been radio. Thank you for supporting my love affair for over a quarter of a century. I will be shutting down LARadio in the coming days.”

I asked Don if it was OK to share the news, and he told me that he keeps no secrets … and immediately thanked me for all I’ve done … typical Don … looking toward the positive. His positivity over time helped me to become more positive in life, a better person overall, and certainly a better supporter of the radio community. I have truly appreciated our friendship.

Barrett supported others as well, writing in that same post, “Another blessing, after 42 years of being clean and sober, I have been so privileged to share my experience, strength and hope with younger men on the path to sobriety.

“If we’re lucky we get 28,000 days. Cherish them and don’t waste one of them. God bless!”

The site’s front page is still up as I write this, but no content is available except for a mention of the shut down: “In an ordinary instant – cancer has taken LARadio.com

Don – may your remaining time on earth be without pain and as positive as you deserve. Be with your family. And remember, you will forever and always be radio’s historian.

Condensed Access

AllAccess.Com founder Joel Denver announced in July that mid August would be its shutdown; early August bright some good news, with the following post on line … “The outpouring from the radio and music communities, our clients and partners since our ALL ACCESS closure announcement set for August 15th has been unbelievable. Thank you, so much. Your feedback gave us pause to review what could still be possible despite the financial headwinds we have been facing.

“ALL ACCESS has heard you loud and clear, so beginning AUGUST 16th, a modified/abbreviated ALLACCESS.COM site will be available with some basic services still intact.”

The daily Net News updates have been discontinued, as have much of the original content. But various elements will live on even if just archival form. Of course I hold out hope that over the course of time, more original content will return. For now … it’s good news regardless.

///