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by  Rollye James
Claude Hall

Rollye:  “I waited until early evening Sunday to compile the column, hoping in to hear from
Claude Hall.  I know you’ll join me, both selfishly and altruistically, in sending prayers his
way for feeling better soon.  Unfortunately, I related to the ole’ simultaneous ‘afraid you’re
gonna die/afraid you’re not gonna die’ feeling this week.  It started out as virulent food
poisoning and six days later has progressed to something else.  (“Else” is hereby a medical
term which will have to suffice unless I become concerned enough to find a doctor.)   Radio
back in the day used be the charm for making me feel better when I otherwise didn’t.  It was
truly a magic cure, and I bet you can relate. I’m grateful now that this column will get my
mind on other things for a while— and off google.  Searching for medical conditions always
yields the most alarming results.  I have to keep reminding myself of several years ago when I
was feeling less than alive.  Reading dire prediction after dire prediction and relating
positively to every out-there symptom, I was darn near hyperventilating until I got to the part
about “dull coat” and realized I’d been viewing veterinary medicine reports.    At least we’re
still here.  March has been brutal for passings.  I was saddened to hear from Ann Drew that
Larry Cohen has died.  And utterly surprised that there have been no industry obits. Ann was
our star reporter this week.  She got on the phone to confirm the bad news, talking with
several folks, including Buzz Curtis”:

Ann Drew:   “I spoke with Buzz Curtis again today  He says to say hello to you. Buzz once
again spoke to Tom Kennedy so we could get some more information.  Tom had worked with
Larry at the distributorship in Philly.  He suggested that I go on Larry's Facebook, I did. From
there I went to his daughters Facebook where she had posted a picture of herself and Larry
saying, "Forever my dad now my angel too." (See below)  This was posted March 14th 9:57
AM.   Buzz was going to talk to some of his other friends to see what if anything else he can
find, will let us know.  Larry's daughters name is Ashley Cohen.  She lives in Scottsdale,
Arizona.  Safe to say he did pass, We just don't know why.  I did try to reach out to Ashley
today, she was not at work but will be tomorrow.”

Ashley & Larry Cohen

Rollye:  “I got on the phone as well, called Val Shively (R&B Records, probably the largest
oldies record store in the world, in Upper Darby).  He too was aware of the news, but not the
details.  Larry would have been about 82, I believe. I’m very surprised that his death has not
been more publicized.  His contributions to the music industry were many.  It was great to
have him contribute to this column, and I was waiting for his next email.  He takes a great deal
of history with him that now won’t be told as only he could tell it.  I suspect once the news is
more widely circulated, the stories will begin.  Looking forward to all of them.     Speaking of
those no longer with us,  Michael Dresser has died”….

Charlie Barrett through Don Graham:   “Sorry to hear about Ron's passing.  Meantime...we
have lost another - - Michael Ray Dresser, talk show host for more than 30 years. Can you
send on this obit and photo attached to Claude Hall/Rollye James for their columns on death
of talk show host and my friend...Michael Ray Dresser?”

Michael Ray Dresser

If you spent time in Fairbanks, AK from the mid ‘80s till about 10 years ago, you probably
would have caught Michael’s talk show on KFAR.  The way the story goes, he went to
Fairbanks for a visit and fell in love with the place.  I have some trouble understanding that,
having spent time in Fairbanks.  The usual first reaction is “get me to Anchorage”.  Fairbanks
is hot as hell in summer, and has been known to make “arctic wind” seem like a warming
trend in winter.  It’s also small— about 30,000 people.  And downtown has an oddity I’ve
never been able to explain: several blocks of two-story apartment buildings that look like they
came from the Jersey shore.  But Alaska will forever be divided between those who like the
interior (Fairbanks), and the rest of us.   Michael not only liked the interior, he thrived there. 
Everyone in town listened.  Eventually he syndicated through a handful of small networks
over the years.  In 2006, he moved to Milwaukee to thaw and further develop the show with
business partner Suzy Greenman.  His last show, on Blog Talk Radio, was in November.  He
died at 73 of congestive heart failure.”

Jerry Del Colliano:  “I heard Francis Albert perform at the God-awful arena in downtown
Phoenix shortly before he stopped performing and the elder Sinatra was both drunk (really
drunk), and in my view from the first row, suffering from dementia.  And to borrow a term
from Jack McCoy, as incredible as it may seem, it was the best concert I ever saw bar none
and like all of us that is quite a few.  But the reason was his orchestra and yes it was an
orchestra. Bill Miller on the piano, old guys with toupees.  In fact, they play music better for
some reason.  But I digress.  My point is that what brought it all together was Frank, Jr who
conducted.  When dad messed up the lyrics which was quite often, he played through.  The
sound was so rich and special I can remember saying something I rarely say to myself at the
end of a concert — please don’t stop.  In fact, if the orchestra wanted to continue, it would
have almost as good.  That’s a real testimony to a son who never really had a chance to eclipse
his famous father.  My parting memory of Frank Sinatra — who like me was born in
Hoboken although much earlier and lived on the same street (Garden Street) —  was looking
into those old blue eyes and watching him sing “It’s a quarter to 3, no one in the place except
you and me”.   In today’s world, music is different and in the opinion of this professor of
music industry at USC still very good.  The goal is to own the room — even a miserable arena
with the acoustics of a New York subway station — by creating moments.  Hope all is well
and Claude is on the mend to keep inspiring the rest of us.”

Rollye:  “That memory is a real tribute to Frank Jr.’s largely-unknown talent.  Thanks Jerry. 
The nicest thing about this column is asking for your input, knowing I’ll get it.  It was great to
receive this story from Johnny Holliday”…

Johnny Holliday:  “Happy to fill you in on Cruisin’ 64 which I was honored to be featured on.
Ron had called me asking when I left WHK in Cleveland for 1010 WINS in New York. I told
him it was Feb of 1964….he replied that’s fine…so you were still at WHK in January so that
means I can feature you on Cruisin’ 64!  We talked about air checks, style, the station,
the personalities, the city of Cleveland, you name it, he wanted to know all about it. I told Ron
that I had no air checks from that time period, he told me not to worry he already had some.
He wanted me to recapture the moments of my great time at WHK, and he was hoping for the
same sort of excitement and pacing that I had used in 64. I reminded Ron it was 1975 and
1964 was 11 years ago!! He wanted none of that and told me he knew I could  generate the
same sort of performance that I did every afternoon 3-7 on WHK. Funny how that worked, I
listened to my to air checks and did the best I could to get the same sound, same inflection,
same everything and I think I came pretty close to doing just that. He wanted me to recreate
the one liners I used…cliches as it were….and when I started doing the voice tracks, it was as
if It was 1964 all over again. I gave him a list of station promotions, the Radio Oneders
basketball team, the High School Hall of Fame, the WHK secret word, the Housewives Hall of
Fame. He wanted me two use all of them. Many  who bought the album and later cassette and
CD's had no idea Cruisin’ 64 was recreated!. I did the voice tracks, the intros to songs, the
commercials in our WWDC studios in Washington DC. Ron and his great crew did all the rest
on the West coast. I was honored and thrilled to be part of something special, the Cruisin’
series. Like everyone who ever came in contact with Ron Jacobs, I will miss him terribly.”

Rollye:  “I agree with Johnny about all who knew him missing Ron, but I’m equally sure
there’s a very high number of people who didn’t know Ron Jacobs, who will also miss his
behind-the-scenes talents.  Johnny's Cruisin’ experience so reflects how good Ron was— and
this next story, from Kris Erik Stevens, punctuates what a mess it could be without him”…

Kris Erik Stevens:   “Caught your article and request for input from me on the “Cruisin’
Series” albums....glad to oblige. Yeah I was chosen to be the featured jock on the Cruisin’
1970 album, which was the last one released circa 1995.  My recollection upon hearing it for
first time after release was something like “what a mess.”   It was hastily assembled strictly
from marginal quality airchecks of me performing my act on the Rock of Chicago, WLS.  I
remember having the feeling it had been edited with a chain saw rather than a razor blade. 
Highly detectable silence/pauses in the middle of jingles and other obvious content elements.
Some of the songs were not even close to being a hit!  Admittedly, it was not exactly a stellar
performance on my behalf either... a tad over-the-top on the enunciation factor.  But I guess
‘announcers’ were in then!
“After listening to the CD this week, I’m grateful for my voiceover career...as it truly
enhanced and changed my delivery style... from commercials & cartoons to trailers &
narrations, I was lucky enough to become a credible sought after voice talent in the world of
advertising.   Which brings to mind...I remember having just opened my
broadcast/recording/advertising business in LA...and Casey Kasem coming in to perform a
commercial in our newly opened studios.  I took the opportunity to ask him if he’d listen to
my Voice Commercial demo and give me some advice.  Nicest guy... listened, and said:
“You’ve got to dirty it up, it's way too clean & clear, just talk to me, no announcing allowed”
 Rings ever true today.
“And Claude ... regarding your health issues...my thoughts and prayers are with you... I was
raised on Vox Jox man!  You’re the best....   Thanks for all you’ve done for all of us.”

Rob Frankel:  “Thank you for the additional information on the Cruisin’ series. I guess the
Joey Reynolds edition will remain a mystery for now. Great story about Tom Rounds and the
BMR Cruisin’ 1963 LP.  I have to admit that while the series overall was masterfully
recreated, as a native New Yorker, I was always bothered a bit by the WMCA recreation. The
one jingle that was used was from the Anita Kerr Singers, and dates back to the pre-Good
Guys days. The station sounded very bare-bones on the 1963 recreation, when in reality, by
mid-year they were running the Johnny Mann jingles and beds and had a highly produced
sound. A few years ago, I took the Mann jingles and other WMCA production elements and
produced a remix of the album that better reflected the WMCA that I remembered. I played it
for Harry Harrison and former WMCA engineer Phil Cecchini, who both gave it their seal
of approval for accuracy. I then sent it to Uncle Ricky at Reelradio. Ricky really liked it, but
we agreed not to give it any public exposure due to our respect for Ron Jacobs. Maybe
someday after enough time has passed, we’ll put it out there via Reelradio. And maybe
someday a new series of Cruisin’ albums could see the light of day, this time with cleaned-up
old airchecks. I wonder if (apart from those of us who read Vox Jox) there would be enough
people out there who would like to hear Jackson Armstrong or Dan Ingram or Lee Baby
Sims in their prime. The whole concept of air talent as entertainers is mostly gone, and the
future of radio (if there is one) is not likely to include a 21st century version of Cousin
Brucie—nor should it. The concept would be as alien to millennials as Fibber McGee was to
me. I’m just glad that we have Vox Jox to remember the lost art of radio entertainment and tell
the stories that need to be told.”

Rollye:  “I suspect Ron’s choice of jingles had everything to do with available rights, and I
wouldn’t hesitate to have Uncle Ricky post a more reflective  version of Cruisin’ 63.  Today it
seems harder than ever to clear copyrighted material, so I’m not holding my breath for a new
Cruisin’ series.  But bless Uncle Ricky for everything he does to keep so many air checks
alive.  The $10 I spend for six months of access is an insanely good deal.”

Ken Copper:  “Chuck Buell’s story about dropping by KHJ and getting in to see Ron Jacobs
reminded me of being an Iowa high school kid crazy for radio—me—who, while on a family
vacation, stopped by KIMN in Denver sometime in the mid 1960’s.  The guy on the air was
Chuck Buell and I watched him do his show for about an hour in that old transformed dairy
building.  He was having a great time and it naturally confirmed my desire to run away and
join the radio circus.  Though our paths never crossed, he wound up replacing me at K-BEST
when I “got quit” in December of 98’.  It truly is a small incestuous business.

“By the way, didn’t you work with John Emm in Miami?  John and I worked together at
K-101 in San Francisco in the early 80’s and owned a couple of bar stools across the street.
John retired out of KOA a few years back and is now living in Sausalito with, I think, wife
number five.  Barbara Whitesides—( Mrs. Emm number 2 and also a Miami radio
veteran)—is in San Diego these days.  I believe she is teaching at National University and
doing some freelance voice work.  She and I did a couple of shows for SignOn San Diego
back when the Union Tribune was experimenting with an on-line radio operation around 2007.
“You mentioned owning a couple of radio stations in Arizona.  Where are you exactly?  I
gather it is somewhere near Phoenix and that, in spite of all the work required, you are at least
able to pump out some of those prized obscure R&B oldies in your collection.   Thanks again
for kindly taking up Claude’s labor of love.”

Rollye:  “I almost crossed paths with John  and Barbara Emm in Miami.   I believe they
were at one of the FM stations—- 93.9 maybe (might have been Magic Bus or Love 94 by
then).  They came in from Cincinnati, Barb’s home town.  (Her dad worked for GM there.)  I
was leaving South Florida about the time they arrived.  But we all worked together briefly in
Los Angeles.   Through an odd twist of fate, I became program director at KPOL in 1979.  The
station was owned by Cap Cities— whether they wanted it or not.  Back then, by FCC
engineering  standards,  it would have had to pass a proof of performance to be sellable, and it
couldn’t.  So ‘bastard step-child’ would have been a step above what it was.  I don’t recall
how the news director hired John and Barbara (and several other souls as well).  Perhaps it
was along my reasoning of turning the pace into Cap Cities Moving And Storage for anyone
wanting to come to town.  (I even hired Hy Lit.)   John went on to the Bay Area.  I wouldn’t
be surprised if he recalled a few "Radio Poland" stories. I’ve got a classic I’ll share some slow
news day.  Barbara reverted to Whitesides and remained in LA for quite a while, doing news
at KUTE, being a talk show host on KFI, and probably several others I’ve forgotten, before
spending a year in St. Louis at KMOX.  From there she went to San Diego and it sounds like
she never left.  Glad to hear they’re both doing well.  Retirement is truly a status symbol in
this business.

“We’re in Globe-Miami, a mining area about 90 miles east of Phoenix.  Our FM, KQSS, is the
local leader— it’s country-based.   I leave the music to the guy we have doing mornings, and
it must be working given the reaction to it. It's on in virtually every business.  I wouldn’t know
why it works and I’m no so stupid as to offer input.  It helps us that the other two stations in
town have their eyes on Phoenix (though whether they could ever be viable move-ins is, at
best, a questionable affair).  We’re immersed in everything Globe-Miami and the listeners see
us as the station of record, so that’s a factor too. 

“Our AM is oldies.  The morning guy also set that up.  My husband won’t let me listen at
home because I hear stuff I don’t like (including non-original 45 versions, remixes, and
stunningly bad songs)  and throw things.  In self defense, I immediately added 350 obscure
soul oldies to the otherwise awful playlist when I got here, but my plan to convert it entirely
keeps taking a back burner to everything else going on.  I won’t make the switch until I’m
ready to go, and I’ve got about 1500 titles in, with at least as many still waiting for the initial
group.  I do this individually by hand— from vinyl (no ripping, no mp3s),  removing the pops
and clicks manually, and then entering the info into the logging program once I have it
processed.   So it’s a slow-go.  Since there are no other AM signals in listening range and there
is no business on ours (by design at this point), I feel perfectly fine rebranding it as “None of
the hits, All of the time” when I'm ready.  It will be primarily 50s and 60s R&B and soul, but
there’ll be a surprising amount of other off the wall stuff (like Toquinho & Vinicius— sure
why not?— an obscure Brazilian oldie category).  We’ll be bringing back memories you never
had with your new favorite oldies.   I found time to add Frank Dell’s “He Broke Your Game
Wide Open” before I got sick last week.  No correlation.    On an emotional level, it’s what
keeps me going when the days are long and I’m feeling shaky. 

“The other thing that saves us is our FM tower and site— it’s my “rental property”— the
highest point in town, and home to Verizon, T-Mobile and others.  I’m about to add a wireless
broadband provider so I can be back to the gig-speed I knew and loved from Tennessee.   God
Bless Bill Taylor for leaving it all to me.  I promised Claude that one day I’d share some Bill
Taylor stories— another of radio’s most underrated, a friend to the industry and all who knew

Gary Allyn: “My good friend Claudius... Thanks for sending your update on your current
health situation.  Fearing bad news, I was delighted to know that there is at least some good
news in that there may possible solutions to this heart valve condition. Thank God it was NOT
being sentenced to listen to many hours of I Heart Radio! Instead, I was looking in to sending
you a years supply of Valvoline, but my "trade out" contacts have dried up. Enough of "heart"
jokes. I just email to let you know how much we all have appreciated your writings in their
various forms over the years, and  how much you mean to all of us old disc turners of the past.
VOX JOX is as much of our collective Radio Lore as a microphone and/or a turntable...or a
Lee Baby Simms story. If in the end, a man is known by the company he keeps, then you,
Claude are well known, well respected, and indeed well blessed. I wish you continued success
in the water & weight loss regimen. In the mean-time, I may start to write a sequel to your
tome "George and Me”.  I’ll call it "Claude, George and Me". What a quinella huh? Best to
Barbara as well.  Sincere best wishes always,  Gary Allyn (that's with a "Y" Claude)”