Broadcast people – don’t they beat all!

By Anita Garner

Broadcasters are some of the most talented people I know.  They’re doing their radio and television stuff, then a whole bunch more.  Standup comedy, voicing characters in cartoons, writing plays and movies, acting in them, producing and directing, singing and writing songs and playing instruments, painting pictures, writing newspaper columns and stories and books and on and on.

I’m in awe of the variety of talent among my colleagues, and after years of attending their performances and reading their writing you’d think I’d be used to it, but once in a while there’s another sweet surprise.

I met Allan Hotlen in San Francisco in the 80’s when he was Program Director at KSFO (studios in the beautiful Fairmont Hotel. Sigh.)  We talked about doing something together.  I was living on the slope-y part of Green Street between North Beach and Russian Hill, floating all over town, soaking up a life I loved, in talks with KOIT radio (studios on beautiful Maiden Lane. Sigh) about doing a show for them.

Before either KSFO or KOIT could happen, Gene Autry’s Golden West Broadcasting sold KSFO and it would be “going in another direction.” KBIG Los Angeles (sister station of KOIT) made me an offer I thought I’d better not refuse.  Allan moved away.  I went to L.A.

Years later, I was producing and hosting Something Special, a syndicated show, and choosing songs for a Christmas special when I came across  Christmas Isn’t Christmas Without You, a song I loved that wasn’t played often enough. The composer listed was Allan Hotlen.  With two l’s. Could this be radio Allan I’d met in The City By The Bay?

It was.  He was then across town, programming a Los Angeles radio station.   Yes, he said, he did write that song  with Peter DeAngelis.  I asked if he’d record an introduction for the Christmas special and he did.

This year, listening to Christmas music, I played his song and started to click over to Facebook to say hello, then decided to say hello this way, right here.  So, hello dear Allan.  Thank you for years of good radio and for this beautiful song.

Click the picture to play the song.

“Christmas Isn’t Christmas Without You”
Written by Allan Hotlen
Sung by Wayne Newton

 

 

The Last of KFWB’s Seven Swinging Gentlemen has something else to say.

By Anita Garner

Elliot Field onstage – 1950’s

It’s Hollywood in the 1950’s.  It’s the high school cruise.  We’re up and down Hollywood Boulevard then looping over to Sunset and back.   We’re listening to the radio and sticking our heads out car windows, greeting students from other towns whose radios are also blasting KFWB.

KFWB’s disc jockeys, the Seven Swinging Gentlemen, are celebrities.  We know where the studios are and we know we aren’t allowed up there on the second floor at 6419 Hollywood Blvd., but we like being close to the stardust, so we honk each time we pass  the building.

Decades later, I met Elliot Field, the last of the Gentlemen, through Don Barrett, Los Angeles radio guru, and we were immediately friends and collaborators on two books.

Conversations with Elliot are adventures. He’s multi-talented.  He’s brilliant.  He’s feisty.  And who gets to have hair like this in his 90’s?

Now he’s talking about a new book.  He’s written a few pages and do I want to hear?  What he read to me a few days ago is visceral and beautiful.  Do I think we should do this one more time?  He has things he’d like to say.  About being one of the early polio cases during the gruesome era of iron lungs and leg braces.

As told in his first book, getting the job at KFWB presented challenges none of us listeners knew about.  The fact that the Hollywood Boulevard studios were on the second floor meant planning ahead to navigate steps in heavy metal braces to get to the microphone in time to do his show.

He’d like to share some thoughts on what life is like now, about how polio affects aging and vice versa.  I urged him to do it because when Elliot tells a story, it’s worth listening to.  His goal this time is to write brief essays about different aspects of his life in Palm Springs today and he’s offering to share his experiences with individuals and organizations that can use the information.

One worry he has  about putting together a new book is losing the word he’s reaching for.  He said when we started this phone conversation he had a word in mind and now it was gone.  Did I think we could put together a book, even if he loses a word now and then?  Yes I do. I’ll try to help fetch lost words.  One idea – I can be his thesaurus, suggesting words until one comes close. Another device that might work – changing the subject, stop grasping for the missing word and see if it’ll drift back in.  We agreed to get started and were about to say goodbye when he said,

“Dinosaur.”

“Pardon?”

“Dinosaur.  That’s the word I was looking for.  That’s what I am,” he said. “Not complaining.  Just stating a fact.”

Timeless.  Wise.  Witty.  Those are words I’d suggest.

In his first book, Elliot wanted to end with his greatest hope, staying vertical, so here’s where we left off.  Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Vertical

It’s the last leaf in the plant pot.
It stands up straight and tall and proud.
I so admire its presence and strength.
The other leaves are bent, bowed, and almost horizontal.
One is vertical.
I’ve always admired vertical.
I think vertical is worth the effort.
It’s not an easy way.
It’s not uncomplicated.
But, I’ve always felt it’s worth the effort.
I water and feed Mister Vertical.
He responds with strength.
The other leaves also get water and food.
I’m always hoping they’ll stand up.
One of them is really making an effort.
We know the time will come when all of the leaves will lie down,
Will rest forever.
Meanwhile, I’m feeding all of them,
And cheering on the survivors.

******

 

Gilmore Girls Again

We’re watching Gilmore Girls again.  And again.  The youngest person in the house is now exactly the right age to find Lorelai and Rory fascinating.  Everything about their relationship, their town, their troubles and triumphs, their fast-talking search for wisdom – all of it  – watched and discussed right here.

Writers/producers, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino are creative past any point I can imagine.  Because of the quirky charm of Gilmore Girls (now available on Netflix) I followed them to their next shows, Bunheads (haven’t found it streaming yet) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.

When my blogging buddy, Dave Williams and I were both on the radio in Los Angeles, he spoke often of his devotion to the show. I came to it later thinking, if Dave’s so crazy about this, I’ll give it a try.

Now, thanks to the magic of streaming, we have the opportunity to re-visit the town of Stars Hollow and share interesting conversations at home with the resident teen.

 

 

 

 

Fifteen Minute Nostalgia Rule

By Anita Garner

Listen to blog with music here.

Those were the days, weren’t they?  In memory, they’re golden. We also want to know about a colleague’s passing, comfort each other about health issues, but that can also occupy every conversation.

A  friend and colleague, Don Barrett, is Los Angeles radio’s teller of tales, and often our prophet, at www.laradio.com. He’s had several careers with contacts ranging far and wide, and he’s in touch with multitudes of people he knows in movies and broadcasting. Don’s our resource when we need to find someone.

But Don has a fifteen minute nostalgia rule and then he wants to know about today. Are you still on the beach? (In radio talk, being out of work is being “on the beach.” I don’t know why.) Do you have plans? He’d rather hear about right now.  What are you doing?  Where?  How do you feel about it?

Radio and television and newspaper and all manner of media ruled our careers for decades, creating exciting relationships, and then when that part of life moves on, there’s a desire to remember when, with groups we once worked with. I like Facebook for that.  And emails. But I also respect Don’s approach to staying in touch with what’s happening now.

Music this week is “Moon River.” Chris Whiteman on guitar.


Version 2

 

Chris plays “Moon River” on his 1959 Gibson ES-125T

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjBXNTW5hb4

And more mighty fine listening from Chris here.

Subscribe to Chris’ You Tube channel here.