Saturday, February 7, 2009

An Editorial:

April 1970 TV Guide Ad for "23 Total News" featuring Jerry Healey on Sports..Healey passed away this week..

Good morning:
Before I go on, I want to mention briefly the passing of Jerry Healey, disc jockey for Akron's WAKR and WCUE in the 1960's to early 80s. Healey died February 3, 2009 at the City of Hope in Duarte, California...He was well known as a Morning Host at WAKR and also did sports play-by-play..Condolences to his family..

Obituary on

Item on Ohio Media Watch

A few thoughts:

Among many internet sites I go to every day is "Television" and "Listening Party" message boards..Though the conversation there is often less than stellar, to say the least. A question was brought up this morning that made me think..Over the last several months, a number of NE Ohio broadcasting legends, including Herb Score, Bill Gordon, Harry Martin and most recently, Jerry Healey..have left us..It was brought up on the boards that considering how legendary these personalites were, there has been very little discussion about them, or what they meant to the radio industry or to listeners as a whole..Are we so immersed in the "here and now"..that we cant take more time to reflect on the absolute icons of the business? Also, some seem to want to focus a bit more on the negative side of some personalities.."He was ok in public but.."

While I have never been in the broadcasting business, I read enough daily to know the industry is in bad shape..But I think we still need to reflect on the greats that came before..The DJ's that didnt have to be crude to get a laugh...That could be creative and "adult" at the same time without going for gutter humor..Those that exemplified class and dignity in the profession when class and dignity meant something..

I realize I dont often "editorialize" but I felt something like this needed to be said..Have a good weekend everybody..


  1. Just stumbled on your blog. Former Clevelander myself who was born there in 1950 and lived there until 1974. I couldn't agree more with your post today. I was googling about Barnaby and now I have a lot to read in your blog. Thank you for doing it! I miss all those guys from back then. Now I'm going to look up Gerry G (or however he spelled it). I remember signing his name over and over and over on pages of lined paper; the school with the most signatures got a free party or something! (We never won...)

  2. Never doubt, there are people all over who lack any appreciation for pioneers in broadcasting, or almost any other field. Several responses to a recent blog item written by the the Cinci Enquirer's media reporter displayed the same complete disrespect -- he'd posted an item discussing a book written about Ruth Lyons, a hugely popular and influential personality on WLW radio, WLWT TV and the Crosley network for about thirty years.

    The rude comments were amazing -- "Who cares about her?" and "Great -- let's stay buried in the past!" capture the flavor pretty well. It actually made me sad, and a bit angry too.

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  4. Tim, I made the orginal post about Jerry Healey on While I wasn't a regular listener to him while growing up, my parents were, and I listened to him every once in a while. When I first moved to Ohio [late 1970], the ones I listened to were Imus, before he moved on to New York, John Lanigan, Bob James, and a few others and a few that came later, Vernon with a V, Danny Wright, etc. When finally deciding to go into radio after high school, some of these guys were extremely helpful and very nice to me and gave me pointers [Lanigan was even nice enough to use jokes that I had written and gave me credit on the air for them which he didn't have to do], Bob James gave me a ride home once from where I worked at [when my ride ditched me] and gave me some valuable pointers about working in radio, and even Imus said "Good luck" when I talked to him a few years after he had gone to NYC. I remember listening to WLW on winter breaks from school and in the summer some afternnon variety program that was on about noon that was pretty entertaining and seemed very much a throwback to the early days of radio. Cannot remember who the hosts were or the name of the show, it very well may have been Ruth Lyons. DX,ing for me was fun, laying in bed in the middle of the night and listening to all the great stations coming in from far away USA and Canada and a lot of the DJs names I still remember, far too many to mention here.The few I have met today seem to be all about "me, me, me" and tend to discourage other kids from going into broadcasting when they ask how to break into radio. I asked one why and he said "I don't need the competition, there's enough people out ther already trying to take MY job away". I wanted so badly to say, Don't worry, your corporate masters will take your job away before any of these kids do. Sadly, I think very few of the newer ones around today may be remembered 30, 40 or 50 years down the road when they begin to pass away.

  5. Anonymous, if you were listening to WLW radio during your childhood and listened to a noon/early afternoon talk/variety show, it almost certainly WAS Ruth Lyons and her "50/50 Club". It was THE thing in southwest Ohio for many years. She started in radio full-time in 1929, moving to WLW in 1942.

    Crosley had stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and (eventually) Indianapolis, as well as WLW radio. Audio of her 90 minute show was simulcast on radio over its entire run, as far as I know. She retired in 1967, shortly after the tragic death of her daughter.

    She's often credited as an inventor of the TV talk show, and was an outspoken advocate of racial equality (among other issues) in an era when that was hugely controversial. Memories of Ruth Lyons may be fading as her former audience ages and passes away, but she remains a notable personality from the early days of radio and TV here in Ohio. Anyone who's 50+ years old will probably remember her very well.

  6. Couldn't have been her then if she retired in 1967, I was in my early/mid teens [don't know if that still qualifies as "childhood" at that age] when I first stumbled across it and that was in the early/mid 70s [but I am 50+ now] but the "50/50 Club" name is ringing a faint bell in the back of my mind, so maybe it was still called that in the 70s.

  7. After Ruth Lyons retired in 1967, the show continued under Bob Braun, who'd been her sidekick during most of the later years on TV & radio. I believe it was renamed "The Bob Braun Show" after Ruth left, then at some point became "Braun & Company" until it completely ended in 1984. Most of the same Ruth Lyons crew continued working with Bob, and it was on WLW radio through some of that time.

    Bob was notable in his own right -- he started in radio at age 13 around 1942, won the top prize for singing on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" in 1957, and even recorded some moderately successful records. His greatest fame came through Ruth Lyons and his association with the 50/50 Club and its successors. After those shows ended, Bob went out west to work in commercials and act -- including a bit part in the second "Die Hard" movie. He returned home and worked in radio again until just before his death from Parkinson's disease. His replacement on his radio show? None other than Nick Clooney, the father of George Clooney and brother of Rosemary Clooney!

    Bob's son Rob is now the primary male news anchor on Cincinnati's WKRC-12.

  8. And the same people (Crosley) also owned WLWA-TV (which is now WXIA-TV/DT) in Atlanta and WOAI-TV in San Antonio, TX. And to bring it full-circle, WOAI was purchased by Clear Channel, and sold to Newport Television, which now owns WKRC, which until 2007, WAS the station that provided weather forecasts to air on...TA-DA...WLW!

  9. Is the Bill McKay in that TV Guide the same one who was later on channel 8? Either way, I doubt if it was long after the date of that ad that Fred Anthony took over as news anchor because he's the first one I can ever remember seeing doing the news on 23.