Thursday, May 29, 2008

LEGENDS : JOE KELLY and THOM O'HARE

Pictured here : JOE KELLY and THOM O'HARE

My old friend, Joe Kelly, e-mailed me in response to my latest diatribe on Radio's unsung heroes and their lack of acknowledgment by the industry that they helped to build.
For those who know Joe only as the "voice talent extraordinaire" that he is, I thought his e-mail might help introduce some of you to some more of Joe's history as a pioneer. Joe is never one to mince words or hide his true feeling.

Joe wrote:
Lee, this is an excellent observation. I agree with you 100%. I knew Thom O'Hare well because I was "national PD" for Metromedia back in '67 and I also knew Tom Donahue. I went to Tom's home in Marin Co. one night and he sat in a huge wicker chair and passed a bong around!
We all sat at his feet and listened to him talk about the world, about music, etc. Later, Bill Graham stopped over and also a guy named Ron Poltee who managed Quicksilver. I was 27 and had never smoked pot before! By the time I went back to my hotel at 4 or 5 am, I was changed forever. Later, Tom introduced me to people like Jann Wenner and Herbie Herbert (Journey) - also Wavy Gravy! I loved the whole scene so much that I resigned from Metromedia and went back to being a jock - the deal was, I'd work for Drake on one condition - that he hired me in San Francisco. And that's where I spent the next 10 years. I came back to Milwaukee for Christmas one year, was introduced to Bill Lynett(owner of WQFM-Milwaukee)by Steve Ewing and that's why I came back to Milwaukee - to put QFM on the air. Otherwise, I'd have never left San Francisco but I wanted to introduce Milwaukee to Rock on FM.

I guess it doesn't really matter anymore. It seems, everything today is totally disposable. I've managed to maintain a career in Radio or related businesses since 1962 but, today, nobody in Radio knows who I am anymore. It used to be easier for me when they did because my good work was my currency. But now, I can only be successful when I do something that works AT THIS MOMENT in time. History seems meaningless to those in the business now. Part of that is consolidation, which dulled everyone's senses and sucked the romance out of the biz. Like everything else, it's now all about corporations. But there are still some people who are doing great things - Randy Michaels at Tribune is one that pops into my mind. And there are some passionate & creative PDs still around. Maybe it'll all come back on the net - creative radio.

Anyway, one of the things I had to promise my girl - before she would give herself to me as a life partner - was to leave the "Joe Kelly" identify & mind-set back at the office. That took some time to accomplish. But these days, I have somehow managed to leave the Radio thing at work and, when I lock the door and get into the car, I'm Marty. It works for me. But through that process, I learned that all of us are eternal because energy is forever. Our works - our contributions - or ideas - they just melted into this huge pot. Whatever we created is there forever.
Just like the 1940 broadcasts on Radio - the shows that still play in outer space - somewhere - millions of miles away - somebody may be listening!

Joe
You can reach Joe at JOE KELLY CREATIVE SERVICES. (LINK)

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