I Hate Writing About Dead People

Scott Muni died today. He was 74.

I’m going to write about him even though I write about entirely too many dead people. It makes me seem old. It’s depressing. Still, these are people who have influenced my life and, in a blog that revolves around my life, they should be mentioned.

You may or may not know Muni, though I’m sure you’ve heard his ‘gargling with razor blades’ voice. When I was growing up, Scott Muni was a larger than life figure on WABC, a larger than life radio station.

The fact that he survived for over 40 years in New York radio speaks volumes by itself.

Scott was in radio when radio had amazing power. The best example of that is what happened when the Beatles came to the United States.

Whatever you know about big rock stars, the Beatles were bigger. When they came to New York for the Ed Sullivan Show they stayed at the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue. The streets surrounding the hotel were jammed with young girls. They were there by the thousands.

Scott Muni was there, in the hotel waiting for an exclusive interview, and broadcasting live on WABC. When he said, on the radio, that the Beatles had arrived, you could hear a roar – a huge roar from the assembled crowd. Many of those girls outside the hotel had come with transistor radios and they were listening to WABC.

It was very impressive. It’s probably the most impressive example of radio’s immediate power in the 1960s that I have heard. It represents a golden age of radio which will probably never reappear.

As FM radio began to take hold, Scott went with it. He was associated with nearly every rock group of any import over the last 30+ years. He had been with WNEW-FM for 31 years before they finally let him go.

How do you fire a legend?

I heard his show late in his time at WNEW. At that point, to me, he no longer sounded like he fit. He was a 70 year old man playing music for people in their teens and twenties.

My memories of Scott will always be those years on WABC when radio spoke to me and Scott was one of its strongest voices.

Now, I’m asking nicely. Please, no one else die.

Gene Klavan

When I was growing up, my parents (mostly my dad) listened to WNEW. To me it represented what adult life was about. It was sophisticated and upwardly mobile. The stars of that era of popular music hung out at WNEW and socialized with the disk jockeys.

It was a Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Steve & Eydie kind of place.

The morning show was Klavan and Finch. Gene Klavan was the comic and Dee Finch his straight man. This past week Gene Klavan died at 79.

I was speaking to my dad tonight, looking for the right moment to tell him about Klavan, when he told me.

I stopped for a minute. Is it right to tell a 78 year old about the death of a 79 year old? And then I asked him.

I didn’t want to pry, but I wondered how my dad looked at death. I think (and he reads this so he’ll tell me if I’m wrong) that he just sees it as a part of life. Where he lives, in Florida, he is surrounded by it.

His life now is the best it’s ever been. He and my mom are incredibly active – much more so than ever before. He says, 78 is an age he never imagined, much less consciously thought of.

I see my parents living forever. But they are so much better at dealing with reality than I am.

Continue reading “Gene Klavan”