I had lunch with Bob Hardt today. Bob’s the radio friend I wrote about a few weeks ago. Like all radio people we mourn its loss, because radio meant so much to us.
I grew up thinking the disk jockeys I listened to were hot stuff. They were.
Radio isn’t like that anymore. To a large extent the voices on the radio have become inconsequential in a dying medium. Sad.
I got this note a few days ago from another radio friend named Bob, Bob Lacey in Charlotte. We met my first day on-the-air when Bob taught me how to operate the board.
Here’s his tribute to Lee Baby Simms. Lee was the kind of guy we wanted to be, sight unseen.
Hello to all,
Lee Baby Simms died two days ago of cancer in Northern California, he was 72.
He was a good friend of Bram Rigg, playing the record, and at least once opening a show for us in some large club near Hartford, I think. I believe Richie and maybe Mike or Peter sat in with him on air one night at WPOP. I think he also was the MC at the Oakdale for the Turtles/ Paul Butterfield show, and went on WPOP the next night talking about how that audience was from two very different planets.
He was the coolest guy on air, a white guy from the south, with a black jock’s pacing and biting observations. He worked something like 40 stations, and like many air personalities, was uncomfortable with people he didn’t know well. He was the hired gun who took the hard jobs. The period during which he was going up against the great Joey Reynolds on WDRC, turned staid Hartford into the most interesting nighttime radio market in the country.
When I auditioned for a radio job in always lovely Fall River, Mass., I tried to imitate Lee Baby. It did not work, you can’t steal or invent cool, but I lifted a couple of his signature phrases which were recognized by the consultant who once worked with Lee in Phoenix. He thought it was amusing to hear a 19 year old do that, and gave me the job for a sweet $158 bucks a week. Thank you, Mr. Simms, I needed that job.
The last time I talked to him was in the late 80’s when I was working for a week in Honolulu. I heard him on the radio, called him up and we chatted for a few minutes about the 60’s scene in CT. He was gracious, but I could almost hear the meter ticking. Not a man to live in the past, he portrayed himself as caring only about warm weather, women, and short hours. An enigma. His career ended a few years ago in Phoenix.
A listener sent me the attached story on him. I don’t know the guy who wrote it, but he got The Lee Baby.
I hope you all are well, best wishes,