"Online since 1999"
radio and growing up in New Orleans in the 50's, 60's and 70's!
Hello. Ran across your Internet site tonight and could not resist sending you both a memory from my childhood but also a request.
When I was a child of about 6 to 10 years old, my mother and one or two of her sisters would ride the "Rebel" train on the old GM&O RR down from Mississippi, for a day of shopping in New Orleans. After a trip in which I was required to stay close to the grownups while they shopped downtown in Maison Blanche, Godchaux's, etc., they saw how bored I was and began "depositing" me in the "Peanut Gallery" at the WWL studios in the old Roosevelt Hotel, now the Fairmont. I really grew to enjoy Henry Dupre, Johnny Dieball, Margie O'Dare, etc, (apologies for this spelling), and remember Al Hirt before he was "discovered" and Vince Alletto, who had just been hired from New York as staff announcer---what a voice! Anyway, that will stick with me and resulted in a life-long interest in live radio shows from that era.
Now for my request! I have a fairly good collection of radio programs (I understand that my Fibber McGee and Molly series is the biggest in the USA) and a number of radios from the 30's and 40's and a RCA 44B and 77DX ribbon microphones with stands. Now...I really want a vintage microphone "flag" from WWL, or at least CBS for either of these mics. Can you help me locate either a flag (in any condition) or someone who might steer me in the right direction?
By the way, I managed to acquire the original wrought iron gate from Harry Batt's old deco building at the entrance to Ponchartrain Beach Amusement Park just before it was carted off by the demolition contractor when the Park was torn down.
How ironic! When my mother got tired of my whining as she shopped on Canal Street she deposited me at the WTIX studios at 624 Canal St. so I could watch the DJ's. Look where that got me! And, you know, I really think that Pontchartrain Beach still exists in its entirety today...just in little pieces. From the top of the first Zephyr hill on display by Kenner City Hall, to Harry Batt's gate at your place, it's all still out there somewhere...just waiting to all be reassembled one day. If anyone can help Vic with his request for a WWL microphone flag, please email me.
Jean, the Weather Lady, as you discribe her was the FIRST weather girl for New Orleans and is my wife. Jean used her name of Doherty at first, but dropped it when we became engaged and was just "Jean". I was at WWL radio while she was on WWL-TV. I have a videotape of her last show.
The show was "The Weather with Jean" sponsored by National American Bank. She was on WWL-TV but had been hired by an agency, and was not an employee of WWL-TV. Louis Roussel finally cancelled the show to sponsor late-night movies, but didn't stick with it. WWL-TV wanted to hire her for 4 weekend shows, but at a VERY low fee. She turned them down, but kept doing commercials (some for Bank of New Orleans) for a few years. We met in a singing group. Bill Miller had heard me singing on WWOM from "The Living Room" on N. Rampart Street and hired me to sing in his choir at First Methodist Church. He had me (as understudy) learn the songs Norman Treigle was doing with Summer Pops. Jean was in the chorus. We were both married at that time, but when I returned from New York in 1966, she was doing a singing commerial at WDSU and I was being interviewed by Larry Johnson about my adventures on the road with 3 singing groups and roles in Summer Stock. Jean and I were both divorced by then and started dating. We were married the next spring.
Jean is an accomplished pianist, sings very well and before having eye problems was a professional harpist. Jean sang in a backup group behind Frankie Laine at Summer Pops. We also had a group of singers (The Kindred Spirit) who got together for many Christmas seasons to go caroling in retirement homes and hospitals.
Turning to radio, what about WWOM, the Wonderful World of Music? That was the WBYU-FM of the early 60's, playing "easy listening" which had a tremendous listenership of everyone who was not into R & R. WWOM was my first radio job in New Orleans in 1961. It was owned by the "trade-out king," Dave Wagenvoord. The other announcers were Jim Brown, Bud Jarvis, Sam Zack and Sam DePino. Ken Karlton (from WTIX) was Program Director. Sales Manager Harry Ladas moved to WSHO and took me with him. Nick Kreeger was an announcer there. I went to WDSU-AM as all-night man. I left WDSU to go to New York (Louis Read didn't like the fact that I had a beard ON RADIO from midnight to dawn!!!!) and worked at WNPS a few months before being hired at WWL as newsman. I went back to WNPS as News Director, afternoon host and doing a program of classical music (taped) in the evening.
At WBYU-FM, I replaced Mike Jackson. Mal Pelham was P.D. Al Braud took over as P.D. when Mal moved to sales. Sam Ford (Bradley Kimbrough) was an announcer for a while, as was Rod Wagener. Jay Richards worked at WBYU-FM and then sister station, WSHO. Jimmy Steelewas the sports man on 'sho.
I thought of some other names at WWIW (I was there when it was in the Superdome): Ron McArthur and Bob Castle(Hasselman).
FYI, some of the on-air guys at WEZB-FM (back when the music and programming were "EZ" there) were Steve Bellas, Bob Middleton and Layton Martens (the room-mate of David Ferrie of JFK probe fame).
Our thanks to Jean for all the sunny days she brought us.
BETTY THATCHER IN HAWAII:
Dear Bob, Paul Yacich sent me your website address. I am a homesick ex-Orleanian who grew up with Paul. We started school together 'way back when. Gayarre was our school but I understand it has since been renamed and given a facelift. Paul's father wrote our school song; we were proud kids in those days and I understand Paul and his sister attended one of the anniversary parties for this school. I so enjoyed reading oh, so many familiar names of "famous" places where we kids hung out, attended dances and loved to visit. The Blue Room was for special occasions and the Fountain Lounge was our hang out in the 40's and 50's. I believe my mother's cousin, Hal Jordy and his orchestra also played at the Fountain Lounge. Paul and I lost touch with each other when he went into the Navy; I married a Marine Officer and moved away from my beloved city in the early 50's. Paul and I met at a F.T. Nicholls High School (also renamed) Reunion about 10 years ago. It was just wonderful to renew our friendship, reminisce about our childhood, school years and pick up where we had left off nearly 50 years earlier. We are now in touch often via e-mail; Paul and Rita, his wife, have come to Honolulu where I now live and had some good times together when my husband and I return to New Orleans. Unfortunately, not often enough but the strong friendship has survived all these years. When my husband was overseas without family, I lived in New Orleans with three of my young children. They loved the "Morgus" show that Paul and Rita produced and I was proud to tell them this was the brainchild of my old and dear friend, Paul Yacich. I am sorry I left New Orleans before you probably were born so never had the chance to hear any of your broadcasts but judging from the response to your website, you and the show are very popular. Good luck in your career. Aloha from Hawaii.
Glad to hear you've had such a long and nice relationship with Paul and Rita. Hop over from Hawaii anytime and have an erster po-boy with them anytime. And, whew, I'm glad they didn't change the nickname of De La Salle to the ... bobcats ... like at the former Nicholls High! But Nicholls will always be the Rebels forever!!
YO BOB! What a fun site!!! A few years ago, WWL ran a series of short snippets from some old broadcasts. These included The Dawnbusters. One of the guys trere (a real gentleman) sent me some recordings of about a dozen of these snippets. I was raised in Houma and Paincourtville (on Bayou Lafourche) and the only station we could get in the thirties and early forties was WWL. Consequently, I developed a devotion to shows like "The Dawnbusters," "The Renfroe Valley Gathering," "Lets Pretend" broadcasts from "the Blue Room of the Rosevelt Hotel," Lowell Thomas, Jack Smith, Beula, etc., etc.,. I would like to buy a collection of recordings of this material. (I was born in 1934). Do you know where I could find such a thing? Does the library at Loyola have any of this stuff? Thanks for reading all this.
You've got me there on those old broadcasts. If anyone out there knows where Carl could get some of those programs, please email me.
Just loved your website. A friend sent me the link and boy did it bring back memories. What stood out the most was when the Nola show collapsed. My oldest brother was there that day, left unharmed thankfully. And of course, The Magnificent Morgus!!!! Thanks for contributing so much of New Orleans to us.
Rough job but somebody's gotta do it! Morgus and I are both happy that your brother got out the Nola Theater in time before the roof collapsed!
RON BRANDON (N4AH):
Hello Bob... enjoyed spending some time browsing your site. Many years since (at the ripe old age of 21) I graced the WNOE control room (first in the Sheraton Charles and later on Bienville). What great fun it was in the glory days of rock and roll with an AM that reached six states at night!
Got into ham radio in high school.. out of school with a 1st phone.. and three years later at WNOE. What fun. Well.. I used to drop in vampire voice tracks on the air.. some local kid did them for me as I recall.. also did some JFK voices..but had to drop them when he was killed. Great to remember Jack the Cat, Eddie Gale, and Jim "the Stew" Stewart. I know Jack the Cat died (I later worked with him at WLEE Richmond).. do you know the whereabouts of any of the others. I cant tell you how exciting it was to work on the big signal at night.
Somehwere I have an aircheck and some souvenir stuff... I'll hold onto your site and try to pull it out and share it with you one day.
Thanks for the memories.
Ron Brandon...now semi-retired, owner of night clubs in Charleston, SC
Hey Ron! Geez, you were the night time DJ around '63 and I remember that vampire character..."Count Brandon" as I recall? You were one of my inspirations to get into the biz in '65. What a pleasure to hear from you. Please do find that old WNOE aircheck...I'm wading thru my mountain of old tapes from WTIX and digitizing them. Sometime later this year I'm intend to put up a New Orleans Radio Audio Museum site and I'd like to get one scoped 2-3 minute aircheck of as many New Orleans jocks as I can from the 50's thru the 70's to post to show people what they each sounded like. All the best to you and thanks for the good times!
Dreamland Show, Elysian Fields and Burgundy. On Friday nights you could get in for a nickel and a Blue Plate Margarine flap. We use to go to Schwegmann's on St. Claude and Elysian Fields and procure the flaps than go to the show. For Clubs, how about House of Zin in the Lower French Quarter near the Old Gaiety Show. For Dances, don't forget the Italian Hall on Esplanade Ave, 900 or 1000 block.
We not wealthy by any means but we always had something to eat. My father, Alex "Red" Martin, worked at and managed Martin Brother's Restaurant at 1940 St. Claude Avenue, 504-949-9209 (Ahh the things we remember). The restaurant was originally owned by my father's uncles Benny Martin and his brother Clovis Martin, and then later by a cousin, Lehman Martin and his partner Vital "Vic" Orgeron was the originator of the poor boy (correct name, not po-boy) sandwich. The bread being made for them by Angelo Gendusa. I sometimes worked as a delivery boy for them. We definitely delivered to some characters, from Roswell Thompson, perennial political candidate, to the musician's hall where there was always a card game going on. The occasional old lady who was naked and wanted you to bring her sandwich into the house. It was interesting.
In Martin's you never new what you were going to see. At that time there weren't many 24 hours eateries. You went in after The Quarter was winding down and you would see people with tuxedos next to women with pedal pushers and bras on. You would have Pete Fountain or Al Hirt eating after their clubs closed next to a local junkie. There was also the obligatory police officer trying to eat without having to get involved in whatever was going on in the restaurant at the time. They served, besides the traditional potato sandwich, the largest hamburger steak I've ever seen. Another good choice was the pane' chicken.
I was lucky to also have in our family another New Orleans classic, the Swiss Confectionary, then located at 606 Frenchman Street, now located at 747 St. Charles Avenue. When I was growing up the Swiss was owned and operated by Laurent Moecklin. The business was then run by his son Laurent, Jr. (Junior) and the store area by my aunt, Olga Dussor. The bakery is now owned and operated by Laurent, Jr.'s son Larry Moecklin and his wife Rhonda. Many of our family members worked there, either on an as needed basis or as a regular employee. I also delivered for them when needed.
You can see why we always had something to eat.
Off of this topic I also had a rare opportunity to go to a FREE Catholic Grammar School, Holy Trinity, on Royal and St. Ferdinand Streets. It has long since closed. When I started there around 1950-51 it was free and by the time I graduated eighth grade it went to $5.00 per month for the first child then $4.00 for the next and $3.00 for the next (Ah the rhythm method of birth control).
Thanks for bringing back memories.
Hard to believe the risque movies they showed at the Gaiety would now be rated PG-13. The other 90% of your email made me hungry for a POOR BOY myself...with Creole tomato slices and lotsa my-nez!
I ran across your website on Pontchartrain Beach and could not resist getting my 2 cents worth in. Do you remember the "Billy Goat" machines they used to vacuum the gay midway. I was only two or three when I first encountered one of these industrial maintenance marvels, but they scared the tar out of me at such a tender young age. Now, at 48, I make more noise and am probably uglier than they were. Oh yeah, has anyone mentioned the sky-lift that was added during the latter years. I attended the party given by Ed Muniz for then WAIL-105 fm (later WLTS) at the Bali Hai. I think that was one of the last functions to take place there. Some others in attendance were the WAIL crew at the time, and George Mayoral, my then boss from WSDL. I believe the Costellos were also there. There was a live performance in the Bali Hai by Sister Sledge and some other up and coming singers. The Bali Hai was also the site of our before prom dinner (and probably loads more high school seniors).
Also, let us not forget Good ol' Bob Drew's local kid's show where we were hypnotized into saving the USDA "837A" label on the package of King Cotten Hot Dogs for whatever "valuable premium".....the Great Mac Nutt (Wayne "Killer Bees" Mack) and kids crawling through that rediculous barrel on "Funny Company".....Johnny's Follies ( who was that Guy?) and sending off for the Pepsi cap shaped Yo-Yo. What a Prize! How about John Pela as Captain Mercury and that bogus space ship set. (O where have all the creative geniuses in Television gone?)
Dem Billy Goats did a great job. That gay midway was always spic-n-span. The Skylift gets mentioned in our musical visit back to Pontchartrain Beach in the New Orleans Jukebox Gold section of this ole site. Check it out! That was Johnny Miller in the striped suit on Johnny's Follies. And didn't John Pela look like a dork in that silver tin foil spacesuit as Captain Mercury??
Hi Bob. Excellent website; brought back alot of memories for this 1973 grad currently residing in Delaware! Captain Humble Hugh Dillard, Doug Christian and a VERY hip show for it's time, the short-lived "On Air." Channel 26 in the early '70s is all I can remember about this one; can you tell me whatever happened to Humble and Christian? Also, the superbly weird NEW ORLEANS NIGHT PEOPLE with Harry the Singing Mailman and Ruthie the Duck Girl making regular appearances. Any news on the whereabouts of these two? Did Harry ever record?
Frostop Butterburgers with ice cold Birch Beer in that weird megaphone-shaped container! Mona Lisa Island in City Park, and concerts at the Warehouse. Paying some little kid a quarter to "watch your car" during the Warehouse shows. Thanks for the memories!
Cap Humble is in business on the Northshore advertising a car dealership. Doug Christian is out of radio and into computers (a wise decision) last I heard. Forgot all about New Orleans Night People on 26. Eric Tracy hosted that one as I recall. Ruthie and Harry are still lurking around. No, Harry the Singing Mailman never recorded, to my knowledge. See, there IS a God!
Hi Bob. Although I have not finished browsing your website and all the links it contains, I can share my memories of the Beatles visit to N.O.:
I was a student at St. Francis Xavier Elementary on Metairie Road (I must have been 10 or 11 at the time), but even back then the Beatles were THE THING!
I remember that during a routine weekday recess prior to the concert, a crowd of kids -- I mean a BIG crowd of maybe 40 or 50 (and this was unprecedented) -- were gathered around the pay phone in the school yard because someone had Ringo on the phone from his motel room at the Congress Inn on Chef Menteur Highway!
I never got to talk on the phone myself -- I was stuck at the back of the crowd -- but I have no doubt that given the relatively unsophisticated security common at that time, one of my schoolmates had indeed managed to find out where the Beatles were staying and had actually gotten through to them.
Another thought -- the long defunct Congress Inn was probably equivalent to today's Hampton Inn (being generous!). Can you in your wildest imagination picture any celebrity today staying at a mere motel during a major tour??
Ringo must have been loafing and watching the telly when the phone rang! It's a wonder one of the girls there at St. Francis didn't take the phone for a souvenir. By the way, Hugh Dillard (Captain Humble) told me he was trapped in the next room at the Congress Inn with George Harrison and couldn't get out with all the screaming "birds" outside the door in the parking lot. BTW, as I recall, none of the major hotels here in N.O. wanted to house the Beatles because of disruption, so they were forced to stay in the boondocks of Chef Highway while visiting New Orleans for their concert in 1964.
Hi, I'm a west banker (Algiers) and I have memories that might trigger the memories of others. How about the New Orleans Bandstand (Dr. Pepper was the drink of the day) on TV. On the west bank, Friday night dances at the Pythian Hall with Jack the Cat and Jackie the Kitten; Saturday night dances at the VFW Hall with live music from such celebrities as Clarence Frogman Henry, Frankie Ford, our man Fats, etc; Nelsons; DaWabbit, the Algiers Drive-In. Over this past holiday season my grandson and I went to see the movie The Majestic, talk about stir memories. It so reminded me of the neighborhood movies that catered to the us since they were neighbors themselves. School sponsored Sock-hops hosted by D.J.'s from WTIX and WNOE. Saturday night with "Morgus the Magnificent." King Cake parties; spur of the moment parties when we would get together turn on the music from either WTIX or WNOE and dance. Live performances at Pontchartrain Beach. Actually having a sandy beach on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain to have a beach party, swim, etc. After the game parties when we would meet at the Glass House and the Proprietor (Snookie) would open the back room for us to dance and have a good time serving us the hugest platter of french fries ever offered. The Martin Behman High School Class of "62 was the first to graduate from the Municipal Auditorium (large class of 205 graduates, we knew everyone in the class), graduation had previously been held in the school auditorium, we still wore white gowns and carried long stem red roses, the boys wore tuxedos. Our prom was held in the Jung Room immediately following the graduation ceremonies.
It is told that you can't go back to the old days, but our memories can. Thanks - Y.
We had our 1963 De La Salle graduation ceremony in the Municipal Auditorium as well. What a thrill finding out our guest speaker turned out to be...Julius LaRosa...who was in town appearing at the Blue Room. I'm still winding down from that one!
Paul Yacich's reminisces are fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the one about the way the equipment and all worked... technical stuff about doing a show.... and I have a reminisce about WDSU I want to share, too.
I was modeling for Star Studios when I got a call to audition for WDSU-TV for some network promos. I was happy to be in the studio since it had been my first TV studio. I was on Miss Muffin's show when I was five. And I was delighted when I was the one cast to do the spots.
The man who introduced himself as my director was incredibly handsome. He looked just like Burt Lancaster to me. But I soon forgot to feel shy about his looks when he showed me he was a consummate professional and was able to support me to being the same. The difficulty we had was the copy was twice as long as the time we needed to get it in for. A 10 second commercial was 20 seconds worth of words. So the director had me talking a blue streak to get all the words in for each spot. This was not that hard for me to do since I'd grown up in a house with five other women (mother, grandmother, and three sisters) where you had to talk fast to get a word in edgewise. But I think I impressed this director because we got in about 50 commercials that first day, and he invited me back to do some more. I'm not kidding when I say that we did at least 100 commercials, all told, and maybe 150. It was a LOT!
When I moved to the Big Time (New York and L.A.) a few years later and people asked me to modify commercial copy by means of my delivery (usually to speed it up), I would think of that handsome guy in New Orleans and smile to myself at how well he had trained me to be a better actress. And with every residual I would be reminded of my roots in the biz and know to be grateful to one who had been so kind and helped me so much on my way.
His name? You've already figured it out when I said "handsome." He still is... Mr. Paul Yacich.
Just another reason why Paul Yacich is one of our TV greats!
I, too, was on Miss Muffin's show, three times. Remember how she gave each kid a free toy or game? All three times I got a Mr. Potato Head game. Go figure!
Your experience with those commercials reminds me of an experience of my own. I was hired by WGNO Channel 26 in 1990 to record their promos of the show lineup coming up..."Next, so-and-so, followed by ABC at 8, then XYZ at 9." Several dozen breaks were recorded in advance for each week. Each break had to be 11 seconds long. They sounded great, nice and comfortable reads with emphasis and style. Then some brainchild decided to start adding a few more words with details of the upcoming shows. But it still had to fit into 11 seconds. So my delivery sped up a little...no problem. Since the added copy was successfully being fit into 11 seconds they decided to add more. So I read faster. They added more. I read faster.
Finally, they fired me because the readings weren't sounding good!
ROBERT BAKER, SAN ANTONIO, TX:
As one who lived as a kid in Hammond, LA during the 50s and early 60s, I was thrilled to find your "Live from the Blue Room" RAM file... Boy, did it bring back the memories! We tuned in WWL to hear the 10 pm broadcast from the Blue Room. Also got a kick out of the station associating the time with cigars. "It's 10:30 pm and it's time to light up.... a King Edward cigar".
Your site is incredible! I will be sharing its URL with others who have fond memories of those days in the Crescent City.
And we could almost smell those aromatic King Edward cigars that we were too young to smoke!
The Bell show on Grande Route St. John on the corner of Gentilly Blvd. across from Stallings Playground was an institution for those of us who grew up around the racetrack. It burned down in the sixties. I saw Stve McQueen in "The Blob" there, and regretably, a number of Frankie and Annette beach party flicks. I still have my damn Southern Metal products t-shirt from when I played Little League baseball at Stallings. Can you believe that? A thrill back then was to visit Mr. Buddy's Sno Ball stand next to the B&C Grocery.
I bet the Friday night fare at the Bell also included b&w gems like "From Hell It Came" and "Attack of the Crab Monsters," many times in those beloved double features. I bet a Frankie & Annette theme party would be great at La Maison de la Bonne Vie! And there was nothing like those hot summer nights in the Little League parks...I still remember watching slugger Louis Bertucci starring on the diamond at St. Patrick's Park.