On The Passing Of Dick Clark

Is it possible? Was Dick Clark the last survivor from the live black and white era?

Dick Clark has died.

I met him once. It was at 95PEN (WPEN) on Walnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia. He once worked there. Me too. He was cordial.

I also did a talkback satellite interview with him one New Years Eve on Channel 8. He was in Times Square. It was promotion for the affiliates. Nothing worth noting.

I’ve watched him all my life. I was a little young to watch Bandstand myself, but I was around when it was on and caught it in passing. There was also the Beech-Nut Show (It’s flavor-ific) on Saturday nights and Where The Action Is weekday afternoons.

What you saw of Dick on-the-air was important, but his professional life was much more complex. A very successful businessman, he owned most of the shows he was on! He also owned a lot he wasn’t on including a few made for TV awards shows.

I’ve heard he was less than happy he was only an employee on Pyramid.

Dick Clark was very interesting as a performer. He was exceptionally consistent. There are no memorable Dick Clark moments because his performance had no highs or lows! He was always the same.

That being said what he did was very good. There are few who came close. And he worked fast! Dick was not a “Take 2” guy. Doing voice tracks or ins-and-outs with few takes saves a lot of money over the long run.

Dick was very wealthy. Very, very wealthy. He watched and earned every penny.

My friend says Dick was really the successor to Gary Moore. Dick’s obvious successor is Ryan Seacrest who possesses the same skillset.

Is it possible? Was Dick Clark the last survivor from the live black and white era?

Local Radio Is Dead And I Am Sad

Radio isn’t fun any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. And, rapidly, radio isn’t local any more.

When I was a kid I loved radio–listened to it intently. I wanted to be on radio and once college told me I was through being educated radio is just what I did.

Radio was everything I expected it to be and I loved it. Sure I fought with my bosses (Peter–I’m talking about you among others) and even got myself fired a few times, but radio was satisfying.

Doing mornings at WPEN is probably my all-time favorite job. I was given reasonably free rein and had a great time. I’d do it a little differently today, but I have no regrets.

I fell in love with radio because of the people I listened to on radio. They were smart, often witty and funny. I listened to Brucie and Dan Ingram on WABC and Gary Stevens on WMCA. Jean Shepard talked to himself for 45 minutes a night on WOR and I never missed him.

My favorite station was WKBW in Buffalo. I couldn’t hear it until the Sun set. I was a member of Joey Reynold’s “Royal Order of the Night People” and listened to Danny Nevereth, Bud Ballou and Sandy Beach. Rod Roddy, who later became the announcer on “The Price is Right” did overnights on KB–and I listened.

Radio was full service back then. Even stations ‘for kids’ had hourly newscasts. It was tough to be an uninformed teen. That’s much easier today.

Radio isn’t fun to listen to any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. Radio isn’t local any more. What was local is evaporating rapidly.

The radio stations I listened to created a community. There is no more community. I can’t see anyone loving radio the way I loved radio… the way some of my friends loved radio. There is little to love.

Today Clear Channel Communications announced they were cutting another 600 jobs. They cut nearly 2,000 back in January. Local people are being hatcheted and replaced with nationally syndicated shows. Local people used to talk about local things in the time slots now devoted to Ryan Seacrest, Billy Bush, John Tesh and Rush Limbaugh.

R&R has a list of some of those let go. It’s sad to see. Lots of 10 and 20 years veterans. Lots of people whose shows were getting good numbers.

Helaine often says when TV is through with me maybe I should go back into radio. I don’t think there will be any radio left.

I am saddened.

Censoring The Emmys

I watched the Emmys tonight. Helaine recorded it, knowing we’d be home after 8:00.

Boy there are a lot of people on TV I don’t know!

With the show over, I have two questions. Is Ryan Seacrest the right guy to be host? And, why were there three obvious edits to censor material?

Seacrest first. I remember him on CNet TV. He was a correspondent on the show Richard Hart hosted. He was fine.

Am I surprised he’s hosting a huge, killer hit like American Idol? Absolutely. But he’s fine as a straight host.

No cheap jokes, please.

The Emmys normally have an entertainer as host. I don’t see Seacrest in that role. In fact, as the show opened up, Ray Romano basically took over the host’s job of doing a monologue.

That brings me to point two. Why was Roman censored? This was more than a beep. The full video feed cut away.

I’ve seen Ray Romano in person. He is not a blue comic. Even if he said a ‘curse,’ I’m convinced it wouldn’t have offended my mom or her mom (though it’s a little late to ask my grandma).

The same cutaway thing happened to Katherine Heigl and Sally Field.

Actually, with Heigl they didn’t cut away soon enough and so America got to see her mouth the word “shit.” Crude and inappropriate as it is, I’ve never understood why shit is considered a curse word. It has little to do with the more sexually oriented words that can get a network fined… or worse.

I believe Sally Field got pulled for saying goddamn. It’s not polite to say goddamn. It’s never been my choice to say that word on TV. But it’s Sally Field for heavens sake.

I must be missing something? What could Sally Field possibly say that would injure me?

I believe it was Letterman’s staff who began the tradition of having weird intros to the comedy writing nominees. That’s something I now look forward to. I enjoy it a lot.

I also liked the nice eulogy for Tom Snyder, pieced together from contemporaneous remarks by late night talk show hosts. Tom liked adulation. He would have enjoyed that genuine emotion.

Idle Time For Idol

It’s possible I’m the only one in America who can say this, but I’ve never watched American Idol! Six seasons, hands down number one show, but no views from Geoff. That I work nights has a lot to do with it, I’m sure.

Actually, Steffie was in the audience a few seasons back and in the first row. I watched some of that show.

Tonight, with the night off from work, I sat with Helaine and took it all in.

This was one of the prelim shows when Idol wannabes audition. I just can’t imagine the winnowing process before they get in the room with the cameras.

I saw some high five figure numbers on the tags they wear. That’s a lot more than Simon, Randy and Paula can see.

I’d heard about the audition shows and thought the people who are really bad know they’re really bad and are just trying for their 15 minutes of fame. Now I’m not so sure.

There were some very sweet people who thought they could sing. They could not.

I also got to see a little more of Ryan Seacrest and was more favorably impressed than I expected. He seems genuinely nice. The entrants find him approachable – a telling sign and valuable for anyone on TV.

Based on what I saw in front of the judges, and the other auditions winners who only got a few seconds on camera, it’s obvious this is a vocal and physical contest. If you’re a good looking girl with a nice body, your chances seem improved.

In that regard, American Idol doesn’t differ from the rest of life. Being attractive helps.

I am impressed with Simon Cowell. Usually, people who are typecast try to break out. That’s doubly true when your fame is based upon something so simple to do.

Not he. Simon seems more than pleased to be dour and spiteful and irritable, even though I’m quite sure it’s mainly an act.

I understand why this show hooks people. It will not hook me. No DVR slot for Idol. I am, however, glad I watched.

Another New Year’s Eve

Helaine has headed to bed. Steffie’s upstairs, watching TV by herself. New Year’s Eve has ended at the Fox house.

We were together at the stroke of midnight. Helaine and I kissed. She always gets choked up at New Year’s. It’s actually very sweet.

The three of us sat together and grazed the TV dial as the new year approached. Everyone station seems to be doing something special tonight.

Tony Orlando was performing in Atlantic City and it was live on Fox News Channel. Good lord – he’s the size of two houses! He and the band looked like poster children for ‘going through the motions.’

In his defense, how many times could you sing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” before going postal?

On NBC, Carson Daly was holding down the fort. Years ago, he was very nice to Steffie. I, in turn, will be nice to Carson. He’s very thin and I’m jealous.

MTV looked like a community access channel, albeit with good lighting. I have no idea who their acts were. I have less idea who their hosts were, except Steffie pointed to one and said, “That’s Perez Hilton.”

Oh, that’s what he looks like.

On ABC, Dick Clark was supported by Ryan Seacrest. You can see Dick’s mind is sharp, and he looks good, but it’s still painful to hear him speak.

Approaching midnight, he had trouble keeping up with the countdown to the ball drop. He actually dropped a number to get back in sync.

He has to have worked hard to get back to where he is. The problem is with me. I need to be more understanding. This is my weakness.

New Year’s Eve is a bittersweet night for Helaine and me. Most years we stayed at home, quietly spending the time together. One year, just after arriving in Connecticut, we went to a party and a former co-worker began to hit on my wife!

Our first New Year’s Eve together, back in Buffalo, we went to a party at our friend Phil’s apartment. Who knows why, but we had a fight. Neither of us remember the specifics. It was twenty four years ago tonight, and it was the closest we ever came to splitting up.

I like New Year’s Eve at home better.

New Years Eve At Home With Dick

Originally we thought we’d be in Los Angeles tonight. That didn’t come about. So, Helaine and I are home. Steffie is with a friend as we change years.

All week I have been talking about snow for tonight. Not a lot, but enough to make things slippery. It started late this afternoon.

Helaine asked Stef if she’d let me drive her. I’m sure Steffie could have made the drive herself, but I think she was happier to not risk it.

We left the house with an inch or two on the ground. As we came to the big hill, heading down to a well traveled road, I stopped and shifted into 4-wheel drive low.

I was about 1/3 of the way down the hill when I spotted a 2-wheel drive sedan stopped in the uphill lane. I pressed the brake to slow, but there was little traction. Even with ABS brakes, the car was beginning to skid.

Quickly, I made the decision to take my foot off the brake pedal. I figured maintaining steering was more important than attempting to stop.

As I continued to approach, the driver of the other car shifted into reverse and started to back down.

On this narrow, curvy road, he wasn’t anywhere near the edge. I nudged our SUV slightly to the right where the snow was uneven – probably rocks or gravel at the side of the road.

We passed this idiot (yes – if you back up, with traffic approaching, in a vehicle that already has shown it can’t grip this road surface, you’re an idiot) with a few inches to spare.

I would be lying if I didn’t say my heart wasn’t beating faster.

The rest of the trip to East Haven was uneventful and slow. We did 40 mph down I-91. Most, but not all of the cars, were slow and cautious.

I dropped Steffie off and headed back north. From home Helaine made the call for Chinese food. Garrison Keillor was coming on the radio and I turned his homey, anachronistic music up loud.

I want to take a second to talk about the Chinese take out place we frequent because they do something that defies description. When Helaine orders she is not asked for name or number (they don’t have caller ID). When I pick up they never ask what I ordered. We always get the right order!

Usually it’s not busy and I had attributed our success to that. Tonight it was busy. It was still the right order, no questions asked – literally.

Now the two of us are home, as we are nearly every New Year’s Eve. I think the last time we went out was when we were dating. We got into a fight and nearly broke up. New Year’s Eve out lost its luster that night.

Later we’ll watch Dick Clark. There’s a certain dread along with the anticipation tonight. Dick Clark was a no show last year, after having a stroke. Now, rumor has it, he is still physically challenged.

Last week word came that a publicity shot of Dick, Ryan Seacrest and Hillary Duff had been Photoshopped so an older picture of Dick could be inserted. He hasn’t been seen at all in any of the live publicity for the show.

I know this is cruel to say. I don’t want to see Dick Clark if he’s not well. Even a valiant effort on his part will put me ill at ease.

The show starts in 11 minutes.

Blogger’s note: I came back on to edit this at 10:46 PM. No Dick Clark yet.

Happy New Year Dick Clark

It’s a family tradition that we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve. There are a few really simple reasons for this. First, I usually work. Second, we don’t drink.

Years ago, the last time we really went out for New Year’s, a drunk guy started making a pass at my wife. In fact (though we laugh about it now) we almost broke up on our first pre-marriage New Year’s Eve together.

This year, we stayed home with Steffie and watched some of the goings on in Times Square. Helaine said she wasn’t, but I was very worried that some masterstroke terrorist act would take place in Times Square while the World watched.

Though we moved back and forth between Fox, MTV and ABC, we mostly stayed with ABC. Sure, I work for an affiliate, but there is also a tradition with Dick Clark. Again this year, for at least the second year in a row, Dick was inside a warm studio above Times Square. I’m sorry. He needs to be outside. And last night, the weather wasn’t all that bad.

I was also upset at the use of Steve Doocey – who represents Fox News Channel’s morning show – as ‘talent.’ This is not to say Steve isn’t good… he is. But, this is another case of cutting your nose to spite your face. Why would ABC want to shine such a bright spotlight on someone who is trying to eat their lunch? Doesn’t anyone in the company realize that using talent from other networks is the equivalent of dumping the Disneyland live shots for Six Flags or Universal?

There was a pretty tough article on Dick Clark in Newsday recently. I’ve attached it to this link.

Maybe because I knew most of this before, or maybe just because it’s becoming more obvious now, I have trouble finding Dick warm and likable. His interaction with others, especially on ‘tosses’ from live shots, or look live taped pieces, is forced and a little too staged.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to cede New Year’s Eve to Ryan Seacrest or the stable of hosts on MTV (none of whom stick out in my mind).

Happy 2004

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