|Frank Morrow - 11/07/99 03:15:41
Location: Austin, TX
I previously mentioned the McCarthy era and its affect on radio in Tulsa. Here are two examples. I was doing my evening record show Music for Listening on KAKC when the general manager came running in with a strange look on his face. Get rid of all the Weavers records. We wont play any music of Communists on this station.
Sen. Joe McCarthy had just named the Weavers folk singing group as being on his list of subversives. Their transgression in reality had been mainly to support the unions and union organizing. Conservatives and liberal Democrats had used the Red-baiting Era to de-fang the unions by driving out the radical members who were providing the energy for the successes of the labor movement. Conservative union leaders had used it to take over power for themselves. In this they all were successful. (There are many good books on the subject. One is Red Scare by Don Carleton, who states that the only city in the country that was worse than Houston in being affected by the McCarthy Period was Tulsa.)
The good news is that, as a result of Joe McCarthy, I now have a nice collection of Weavers music on 78rpm records.
The effects of the McCarthy Period lingered on after the downfall of Tail Gunner Joe. (His legacy continues even today.) In 1956, when I was driving the KRMG newsmobile, Program Director Keith Bretz told me that the general manager, a man whose last name was Lane, wanted me to have a man (sic) on the street interview each day. I expressed my doubts, but went ahead with the assignment. Night after night I would park the Microbus on a downtown street, roll out my microphone cord, and stop people walking by. After explaining what I would like for them to do, the fear would immediately light up in their eyes, and they would say, I dont want to go on record to say anything, or I keep my opinions to myself. They then would rush off.
Meanwhile, Lane was putting pressure on Keith, who was pressuring me. The only solution I could think of was to stage the interviews. I started going to my Kappa Sigma fraternity house to do it. Occasionally one of the boys girl friends would join us. The interviews would take an almost pre-determine path: Two guys would express opposing views, start shouting, and end up getting into a fight. I could have given Sam Avey a lesson or two in staging events.
Eventually the requirement the man (sic) on the street assignment was dropped,
but Ill never forget the fear on the faces of the people I approached
when I asked them to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Clifford Statum - 11/06/99 15:29:00
Location: Brandon, Miss.
Mike Bruchas - 11/05/99 17:42:00
Lowell Burch - 11/05/99 13:24:00
Jim Ruddle - 11/04/99 17:11:24
Location: Rye, NY
Actually, the only real rodents I encountered worked in the front office.
Frank Morrow - 11/04/99 16:32:18
Location: Austin, TX
Before the coliseum burned down in 1952, the KAKC studios were in the basement of that building, on the northeast corner. There was only one exit--at the front. The studios were in the back. Near the ceiling of the control room there was the only window, a tiny, barred thing which looked out at foot level onto the street. There was a sealed door at the rear of the control room, the only thing separating us announcers from the myriad of rats which ran rampant in the large area under the used part of the building. It may have been used as a storage area. The rats made a terrible racket as they ran around, fighting, mating, bumping into things, and knocking things over as only rats can do. It was really spooky to be listening to this noise during a disk jockey program when you were the only one in the building.
It was not unusual to see the V/U meter jump when there was a thud coming from the back. One night, after experiencing a series of noises which were picked up by the mike, I explained to the audience what was happening, stating that we were broadcasting from the bowels of the Coliseum. I got a cease-and-desist call from the general manager.
At least the door separated us from the rats, but nothing protected us from the mice. During a newscast a mouse left its hole on the left side of the control board, and ran across my hands and script. I was too shocked to react.
However, I could not ignore the next incident several weeks later during a disk jockey program. A mouse left its home, ran across the control board, and hopped onto the spinning turntable, knocking the tone arm off of the record which was playing over the air, and slinging the mouse off toward the back of the room. (It was a 78rpm record.) I turned the mike on and explained what had happened. Fortunately, this time the general manager was not listening.
When the Coliseum burned, there must have been a terrible slaughter of
Bill Hyden - 11/03/99 03:11:39
Speaking of transposition of initial letters of sponsors - my first commercial announcer job was at KMUS, Muskogee, and we had to deal with City Chevrolet. Treacherous!
I am still searching for exKOTVers...talked with Larry Thomlinson tonight in Glendale, CA.
KOTV will not be handling any sale of its 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL...but
have awarded that to Broadcast News of Tulsa. I will have details of the
cost, etc. tomorrow...and order must be made to Wichita address.
Lowell Burch - 11/02/99 22:09:45
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Fantastic Theater
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Mazeppa
In remembering the George Harrison concert, I thought about the time my dad
bought us tickets for The Beatles concert in KC. He was called out of town
suddenly and my mom refused to take us (I was 13). Dad would have let us
miss school, Mom would not. I think that she got to feeling a bit guilty
later so, almost as good, the Rolling Stones played the Tulsa Civic Center
and she took us to that. Dick Clark MC'd. Anybody make that concert? Honestly,
it didn't really seem like there was much of a crowd for a Rolling Stones
Frank Morrow - 11/02/99 02:17:01
Location: Austin, TX
Johnny and I were schoolmates from junior high school through college. He was in the class ahead of me. With his bright face, great smile and wonderful wit, he always was so much in evidence wherever he was.
For a Horace Mann Jr. High Christmas pageant Johnny and I shared the singing role of Joseph. Because the pageant was presented twice, there were two different casts of soloists. We all rehearsed together, however. My pre-pubescent tenor voice was high and thin, much outclassed by Johnny's full, mature voice. The girls in the cast loved to listen to Johnny sing. The teacher ("Big Bertha" Cook) should have had Johnny sing for both performances. (By the way, Johnny was a great whistler, too.)
At Central we not only occasionally were on stage together, we also appeared now and then on our weekly radio program "Experimental Theater of the Air" over KOME on Saturday morning. (I emphasized radio and plays at Central, while Johnny participated more in singing groups as well as plays.) I remember one broadcast where, as the announcer, I was introducing the songs which were being presented from the current Central operetta. During rehearsal, after I had introduced one song, Johnny came up to me and corrected my French. When the program came on, I made the same mistake, and, sure enough, here came Johnny who whispered the correct pronunciation again in my ear. I finally got it right the third time.
When we were both at KRMG in 1956, I was at Johnny's house one night. He
and his wife had a baby, and Johnny did something I have never seen anyone
do before or since. When he wanted to know if the baby needed changing, he
merely inserted his hand down inside the diaper from behind. If his hand
came up wet or brown, he knew immediately that a change was in order. Right
then and there I knew that he was a braver soul than I.
Jim Ruddle - 11/01/99 14:19:16
Location: Rye, NY
In 1966, I was co-anchoring news at WGN-TV, in Chicago, when a woman from the program department told me that the station was auditioning for a staff announcer--a job that opened rarely there--and she wondered whether I knew anybody who might be a good candidate. I immediately suggested John Chick (or Johnny, as those of us who had known him when we were school kids together called him) and pretty much forgot about it.
A couple of weeks later, the lady said the station was bringing Johnny up for an audition. In due course, he arrived, went up against the best talent in Chicago and won the audition with nobody even a close second. Later, we had coffee together in the station cafeteria and he told me he didn't think he would take the job.
Now, I knew that WGN was not overly generous with beginning salaries for a station of that size and revenues, and new staffers would automatically be at the bottom of the totem pole, however, the station was probably the best local producer of children's programs, with Bozo's Circus, the Ray Rayner Show, Dick Tracy, Garfield Goose, and several others, and Johnny seemed to me to be a natural for the place. Obviously, he would shortly be installed as a talent on one of the programs or be given one of his own.
I asked him about his reluctance to take the job, and he explained that he was very happy doing what he was doing in Tulsa, that he genuinely loved doing the show he was doing there, and besides, moving to Chicago would mean a major upheaval in his life and his family. In short, he stiffed WGN and went back to Tulsa and his legendary career there. I'm sure he made the right decision.
The brass at WGN was completely confounded by his action and unable to comprehend
that anyone would balk at a chance to work for them. But, then, they didn't
understand a lot of things.
Erick - 10/31/99 16:27:08
Lowell Burch - 10/31/99 02:44:06
At least that is the way I remember it.
I found a picture in Tulsa Magazine of the Leon Russell Oiler Park concert
in '71...my first concert. Freddie King was the opening act. I will get that
out here soon (see the Briefcase, Photo Album 1).
Mike Bruchas (again) - 10/30/99 12:39:25
You remember the old tower lights flashed red off and on or were solid red. At 8 - we would call the FAA to report of the Lookout Mtn. short antenna lights were burnt out - just in case someone in a small plane was admiring the night view of Tulsa might be flying too low. Since 8 now has a chopper out there - I am sure they have much better illumination on that and the new phallic radome/water tower.
Stuart Odell when at 6 - went with Chief Engineer (the late) Chan Allen to Coffeyville or wherever the KOTV repeater was once. Chan conned him into climbing the tower in daylight for something - maybe a bulb change-out. The tower may have been taller than the short one at KTUL on Lookout Mtn. but still climbable without getting a nosebleed.
Stu was young and foolish and got up the tower and his glasses fell off to
the ground and had to climb down near blind! I don't think he volunteered
for this duty again....
Mike Bruchas - 10/30/99 12:26:08
Location: In DeeCee but wishin' I was back in Tulsey
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Joe Kreiger Sportsman Show? Am I daffy???
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Donnell Green
They had great film and tape - someone at WOIC/WTOP/WDVM/WUSA tv did have a sense of history and showed promos, shows and the station's move to "Broadcast House" in 1954 - the first custom built TV station here in DC. They are now in Broadcast House (deux) designed by OKC's Frank Rees.
Is KOTV selling a video copy on VHS? I remember 4 in OKC still is of their 50th show.
The Chuck Fairbanks thang - most of us behind the scenes staff at 8 called
him the "inverted" name but had to be careful blurting this around talent
so we wouldn't infect them with this version on air.
Christopher - 10/30/99 08:47:30
I remember when 23 and 41 towers were being built. When they got them up and turned on the lights, they were very bright. (I grew up in Coweta.) I remember listening to KRMG's NightLine and people were calling in asking what the weird lights were east of town. Some thought the UFO's were invading. It was quite an interesting night to say the least.
And yes being so close to the tv towers really screws up the reception. You
can almost watch tv with the set turned off!
Erick - 10/30/99 06:50:47
Favorite Tulsa TV show: KOTV 50th Anniversary Special
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Today it's Cy Tuma
Stupidest local commercial: Any new car dealership late night infomercial
Lots of nice footage though, which I loved to see. I felt they could've spent more time showing interviews with certain folks, but with only an hour to fill, I feel it was well-made. One major gripe, why not go all out and do 2 hours? Would that have been overkill to the majority? Probably.
Scott Thompson did a wonderful job of hosting. That guy could describe a
blank sheet of paper and make it sound interesting.
Mike Ransom (webmaster) - 10/30/99 04:30:19
I was surprised and happy to see that there was more old footage available
than I thought. There was a good segment on Lewis Meyer. I saw a brief glimpse
of Randy Ess with the Rogues 5, a band that appeared frequently on Dance
Party. Good bits with Lee Bayley. I would have loved to see more of the Lee
Woodward and Gailard Sartain interviews, and we saw only one brief, current-day
comment from Bill Hyden. Lionel still has it! More later...but good show;
could have been longer for my taste.
Therl Whittle - 10/30/99 03:31:09
Location: Fairland, Okla.
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Up to date news
How did you find TTM?: Fw.E-mail
Frank Morrow - 10/30/99 02:26:42
Location: Austin, TX
Although the program occurred on my shift, I did not ascertain what had happened
behind the scenes, because I was new to the staff, and still very inexperienced.
This was during the McCarthy period, and Tulsa was one of the cities most
deeply affected by that scourge. Any outspokenness beyond the restrictive
range was anathema.
Terry Young - 10/30/99 00:01:48
Dick Van Dera--Uncle Zip - 10/29/99 17:05:01
Great stuff about Dick West...I remember the sign off well....right MIKE?
Don't know where Dr. Ding is today. My show followed his. Uncle Zip appeared
on Dr. Ding to play the piano and the song guessing game.
Mike Bruchas - 10/29/99 13:14:17
Christopher - 10/29/99 06:35:40
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Mr.Zing/UncleZeb
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: John Chick, Bob Hower
Stupidest local commercial: Linda Soundtrack
How did you find TTM?: Channel 2 web site
I was living in Ada when the tower fell in 1987, but came home a few days later to see it all in a twisted mess on the ground. I bet that was an interesting site to see.
I was reading in the first guest book, and noticed a comment about Dick West's Indian Sign Language. It was at the end of Channel 8's day. Dick was a good friend of our family. Mr. Leake (who lives in Muskogee) got Dick who at that time was resident artist at Bacone College to do it. Dick was a tremendous artist. He later went to an Indian college in Kansas, then retired to Ft. Gibson Lake. Some of his paintings can be seen at Gilcrease Museum, at Bacone, and even the Smithsonian. He moved to Arizona to be close to one of his sons, and died a few years ago.
We don't see much of Mr. Leake anymore. His yearly auction is still a success. Does his family still own Griffins Foods in Muskogee? He is such a nice man. He donated his time and money to so many causes.
My wife is from McAlester, and growing up in the 60's and 70's Channel 8 was just about all she could watch (until cable). Mr. Zing and Uncle Zeb hold fond memories for us both. I was on Mr. Zing in probably 1969, just before it went off, but I don't have any keepsakes of the experience. I do have a funny story though. After we had driven from Muskogee, I needed to use the restroom, so one of the office people took me to a rest room and when I came out, there was Mr. Zing, his hand was over his mouth because he didn't have is moustache on. And he didn't want anyone to see Mr. Zing without his moustache.
Does anyone else remember the toy ads for Uncle Zeb featuring "Time for Timothy" I think it was for OTASCO.
Remember when Uncle Zeb would ride a ride at the fair. He always waved his bandana when he was getting sick, so the operator would stop the ride.
Remember when Uncle Zeb left the cartoon business they replaced him with
Dr. Ding's Cartoon Lab. Who was that guy and what happened to him?
Dick Van Dera--Uncle Zip - 10/29/99 00:20:11
Location: Tulsa, Ok.
Frank Morrow - 10/28/99 23:49:16
Location: Austin, TX
KRMG: During a sportscast (presumably Creagers) the other announcers set his script on fire while he was on the air. Creager was busy trying to save his script by pounding it onto the desk (quietly) with used pages while continuing to read as if nothing was happening.
KRMG: A variation of the above occurred to the same announcer. His buddies laid a trail of lighter fluid completely around the edge of the table being used. After it was lighted, Creager (presumably) frantically tried to continue amidst the wall of flame.
KRMG: During a 60 second commercial two fellow announcers crept up behind their on-the-air colleague. At the end of a sentence one conspirator quickly turned off the mike while his collaborator pulled the trigger on a CO2 fire extinguisher, placing a short blast onto the back of the head of the reader. The mike was immediately turned back on. It took about a third of a second to complete the act.
KTUL: Joe Cummins and I were doing a station break. After I gave the call letters, Joe started a 60-second commercial. I took my coke and started to slowly dripping it onto the top of Joes head. He kept his cool and continued reading. It was not until the coke started rolling down his nose, falling onto the script, and fizzing that Joe finally broke up.
KTUL: Jack Alexander was asked to start a weather program--something new.
Because there was not really enough significant information to fill the entire
program, I would scour the AP and UP wires for something interesting. The
only thing I could find was weather from obscure places. I would run into
the studio while Jack was reading, and hand him a piece of news onto which
I had printed Bulletin! in large letters. Jack would usually
break up, particularly when I would come in with the weather from Antelope
Valley. Neither of us knew where Antelope Valley was, but it was absurd enough
to break up Jack every time. After a couple of weeks Jack asked me to desist,
because Program Director Karl Janssen had admonished him.
(Click here only
if you would enjoy two more somewhat gamy, R-rated radio anecdotes from
Elizabeth Chick - 10/28/99 16:06:31
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Mr. Zing & Tuffy
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: John Chick
Stupidest local commercial: More like craziest commercial. I remember Dad doing a live commercial for Cathey's Furniture where he was standing on top of the table, showing its strength and durability. After hopping on it a few times the table broke in 2 and Dad fell to the ground. Stunned but with his wonderful wit managed to save the reputation of himself and the Furniture Store.
How did you find TTM?: my sister Jenny
Mr. Zing's Daughter
Mike Ransom (webmaster) - 10/28/99 16:00:38
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: John Chick
I recently loaned to Jack Frank of KJRH some old movie footage that I
took of George Harrison's 1974 concert at the Civic Center. Seeing it again
after many years, it looks like Leon Russell was a special guest at the show.
Can anyone confirm this?
Mike Bruchas - 10/28/99 14:51:57
Besides this he had a home studio in scenic New Prue where he recorded "up and coming" country artists. Someone said at one time he did "scouting" for record labels for new talent,too - Decca or Dot as I recall. His own record company was AloeVera Records or some spelling like that - for Al and Vera Clauser.
This story is about Vera. Living out at New Prue was pretty remote in the early 70's. Evidently Vera had a trusty .38 for protection when alone. Al told us one day - Vera was in Tulsa at some ritzy department store shopping and opened her purse to pay - and her .38 fell out on the counter. The clerk was horrified, Vera just picked it back up and put it in her purse. I can't remember if they called store security but Al had us chuckling about it. As he said - who would be stupid enough to think a granny type would be a stick-up artist? She just carried it for protection!
How times have changed!
Jennifer Boys - 10/27/99 22:28:56
Location: Tulsa, OK
How did you find TTM?: Mike Miller
We are now in Guestbook 25. We had just heard from Betty Boyd for the
first time in Guestbook 24.
- 10/27/99 18:01:07
Location: New York
Favorite Tulsa TV show: Uncanny Film Festival...
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Mazeppa! Teddy Jack Eddy. Mr. Zing
Stupidest local commercial: Buford T. Harrington - Townsend Tops
How did you find TTM?: friend...
Mike Bruchas - 10/27/99 17:27:54
We were running Bush's Beans spots at KTUL and Cy Tuma - who was relegated to "the voice of KTUL" - started to talk in rapture about Bush's Showboat Beans.
He hadn't had any in a long time and it triggered a "gotta have" in him. The Safeway at 15th and Lewis was in his neighborhood and I guess the manager knew him. Also that because of his need to use a walker - getting around in the store wasn't easy for him in these pre-ADA days.
So Tuma called in a favor, the manager at Safeway had a CASE of the beans waiting for him with a bag boy when Cy got off duty - drive-up grocery shopping. And for the next few weeks Cy would tell us all about Bush's Beans whenever a spot ran....
We didn't run the movie, "Tulsa" at 8 but I think someone had it on cable
and Cy told us that the hotel used in the movie was where he met his wife.
He was playing clarinet in a combo there I guess in some restaurant or club
and she worked in the coffee shop. Back in those days a struggling musician
from Grand Island, NE could afford to stay there.
Jim Ruddle - 10/27/99 15:35:30
Location: Rye, NY
Terry Young - 10/27/99 06:03:30
Favorite Tulsa TV personality: Cy Tuma
I've contributed a few things that indicate my interest in broadcasting from an early age. I also had a deep interest in local politics from an early age. It is REMARKABLE who and what I had the chance to experience along the way. Cy Tuma was no LITTLE part of it.
I remember him SO vividly when he was the MAIN MAN of local TV news. He was a handsome man. Resonating and authoritative voice. (I would have killed to have his voice!) My mother trusted him more than Americans trusted Walter Cronkite. I remember as if it were yesterday the night the tornado sirens malfunctioned at a most inopportune time (when there was bad weather in the area -- and remember -- we didn't have ANYTHING like Doppler!). Sirens were screaming. Rain and hail and wind was all around. My dad was at work. I was at home with my mom. She was terrified. I was in her bed with piles of sheets, blankets and pillows. We were terrified because the tornado sirens were wailing! CY TUMA came on the air -- live. He let us know that the sirens were due to an electrical failure. He stayed on the air (as I recall) reassuring us all. I was in my mother's arms and I KNOW that her blood pressure and anxiety level fell to acceptable levels because she believed and trusted Cy.
What a blessing I had working with him later at KTUL-TV. We developed an incredible relationship. Much beyond our broadcasting interest... he had run for Mayor of Tulsa in 1966 against Jim Maxwell.
Now, you must know that Jim Maxwell was my absolute political hero. I interviewed him when I was in the 6th grade as a part of a Tulsa history study section at Holmes Elementary School. Jim Maxwell and my mother and my uncle all went to Central High and all knew each other. So, when I went to interview Maxwell, I went in with the mind-set that I KNEW HIM WELL. Maxwell told me at that interview that he DID know my mother and uncle. And it was THAT day that I decided I wanted to be Mayor of Tulsa when I grew up. (I recognize that there are those who believe I became Mayor BEFORE I grew up...but that's another article altogether!).
While I worked at Channel 8, Cy Tuma and I became incredibly close as a result of him being a TV idol of mine and because of his mayoral aspirations combined with the fact that Jim Maxwell was a political idol of mine and MY mayoral aspirations. Cy was also one HELL of a clarinetist, too -- all despite the long-lasting paralytic effect of polio. His brother-in-law was one HELL of a violinist who also was my barber for most of the first 20 years of my life.
Cy lived to see me elected Mayor. I went to his funeral service in Owasso.
If I were to submit one of those "Most Unforgettable Character" pieces to
Reader's Digest, Cy would be one of mine. You miss people like him who influenced
your formative years...but you miss people like him because there aren't
any more of them. You can canonize Clayton Vaughn and Betty Boyd and Bob
Hower... but you could get to know Cy Tuma.