Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where the Hell is Bill Drake and Tom Donahue?

In recent days, a number of Great Radio people have passed on. I find it (amazing/sad/perplexing) that the passing of those who have contributed so much to our beloved radio business are largely ignored by our own radio trade press. (All Access and Radio Daily News are exceptions to this. Maybe it's just the "Dead Tree" guys) If they haven't been active in the last 5-10 years in the industry, it's as if they never existed, no matter how important their contribution may have been in the past. We seem to only pay tribute to those who are still here and active and able to sell tables at some function honoring them. This really struck home with me for the first time about 7 years ago when Thom O'Hare died at the age of 58. Thom was, among other accomplishments, Program Director of KMET, Los Angeles and KSAN, San Francisco back in the formative stages of Progressive Rock Radio (it's pre- rock radio name). Thom mattered. Thom contributed. Thom was an essential player in the Album Radio format movement. When he died, it barely registered in our industry's "journals of record". Thom deserved better, as did Bill Vermillion and Dick Meeder and all the unsung heroes of our radio industry.
The "Museum of Broadcast Communication-Radio Hall of Fame", the "N.A.B. Broadcasting Hall of Fame" and the "Broadcasters Hall of Fame" are another sore spot for me. Where the Hell is Bill Drake and Tom Donahue?
Please, all my friends in radio, become students of our shared radio history. We must honor those who came before us. They deserve nothing less.
You don't know where you're going, if you don't know where you've been.


Anonymous Barry Michaels said...

Well said, Lee.

12:19 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Bravos, Lee. Spot-on. Years ago the legendary radio programmer and strategist George Burns shared his thought that radio professionals share little history because we don't enjoy the benefits of an industry literature. Seems to me that's true. The first tribe of wireless continues to rely upon the oldest of all oral traditions, we trust to storytelling our collective values, beliefs and lessons. This includes remembrances of our most gifted, our most prized legends. My sense is folks like Bill Drake and Tom Donahue are national treasures, they deserve the respect of our recognition, tribute and appreciation because, as you have said, they've earned it. Finally, there needs to be far more transparency in the process of all these halls of fame.

Dave Martin

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Tom Kay said...

Want to see & hear the legends of whom Lee eloquently speaks? The Conclave Learning Conference. Bill Gavin, Bill Stewart, Chuck Blore, George Burns, Stan Freberg, Larry King, Larry King, Dick Orkin, Bruce Lundvall, Larry Bentson, David Martin, Thom O’Hair, Joe Kelly; they took the Conclave stage. In fact, your photo of Joe and Thom was taken there back in '92. Where the hell are Bill & Tom? You just might find their considerable echo each summer in Minneapolis (this year, 6/25-29).

8:16 PM  

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