Radio Daze

WOLF - Judy Manzer Berman and Richie Havens

By Judy Berman

Irreverent, hysterical, saying out loud what most of us only think.

I’d tune in late at night as a teen, and listen to these bad boys of radio, wondering what it would be like to work with them.

Years later, I found out. These disc jockeys were just as crazy in person as they were on air.

Radio news director Ron Bee was one-half of the morning team, Rick and Ron, at WOLF-AM radio – a popular Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll station in Syracuse, New York.

I was still in community college when he hired me to do an early-morning on-air Sunday news shift.

This was a time when most good little rock ‘n’ rollers were safely asleep in bed.

Unfortunately, the general manager was not.

I had never broadcast live before. At best, my delivery was shaky. My career was almost over before it began.

WOLF - Rick and Ron

Ron lobbied for me to stay on to do one of the taped public-affairs programs. His confidence in me spurred me on. I couldn’t match his booming, on-air delivery. But I learned a lot from his writing, his humor and his patience.

One lesson was to really “listen” during an interview. The subjects ranged from Bill Kaysing, considered to be the father of the moon hoax, who wrote the book, “We Never Went to the Moon,” to more controversial subjects like nuclear power.

After co-worker Sandi Tams Mulconry and I taped our separate interviews – the pro and con on the subject – in the studio, I sat there pleased with myself. I had done my homework.

But, to my chagrin, when I listened back, I found the interviewees had neatly tap-danced around the situation. They never answered the question.

Lesson learned.

Also, I should take my own advice. One night, as snow pummeled the area, I was advising listeners to get off the road and stay home. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Minutes later, I headed for my car.

I got stuck in a snow bank before I even left the station’s driveway. Passing motorists stopped to push me out. Closer to home, I got stuck again. Again, someone stopped to help.

That commute – typically 10 minutes – turned into a two-hour ordeal before I got home. But I made it in time to make our daughter tacos for her 6th birthday and to celebrate her big day.

The hours were long. But, hey, I got to interview folk singer Richie Havens, golfer Arnie Palmer, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and met some of the pop singers of the day. Heady stuff.

Another bonus? Being accepted by the merry pranksters at the station.

WOLF - Charlie Brown, A & M rep Mike Van Orsdale, Captain & Tennille

Sure, I was a target for their pranks. But it was all in fun. I’d look out from the news department and see that DJ Charlie Brown was talking to me from his on-air booth. I’d frantically turn the dials, trying to open up the sound to hear him.

Nothing. Dead air.

When he started laughing, I realized he had been lip-synching. I’d been had. OK, game on, my friend.

Listeners at home had no idea what was going on. When I broke out laughing during a newscast, you can bet there was mischief afoot.

But their gags were mild compared with some stunts that I’ve heard were pulled elsewhere.

It was high school all over again, and it was a lot of fun.

There are many I worked with at WOLF that I’d like to thank for their support and guidance. I couldn’t have made it thru that first year without: Ron Bee, Rick Gary, the late Jim Sims, Peter King, Carol St. John, Sandi Tams Mulconry, John Gabriel and Rick Charles. I apologize if I’ve left anyone out.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video movie clip – Wolfman Jack and Richard Dreyfuss – American Graffiti   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99z-H_NEccU  

Video clip – WKRP in Cincinnati – TV show – Turkey Drop in 30 Seconds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST01bZJPuE0  

Main photo – Judy Manzer Berman and Richie Havens – my own photo on the WOLF 1490 Tribute Site

WOLF – 1490 – Tribute Site – Pages 24 and 25 contributed by me (Judy Manzer Berman)  http://www.wolf1490.net/id46.html and http://www.wolf1490.net/id47.html

Photo – WOLF –  Rick and Ron – 1490 – Tribute Site – Rick Gary and Ron Bee – Page 18 –   http://www.wolf1490.net/id30.html

Photo – WOLF – Charlie Brown, A & M rep Mike Van Orsdale, Captain & Tennille – Page 25 – Wolf – 1490 – Tribute Site (my photo)

Strange What We Take Pride In

Snow - Syracuse, New York - Jan. 2014By Judy Berman

Snow is often the backdrop for terror or for light-hearted comedy in the movies. But, in real life, it can be a constant grueling battle with the elements.

Digging out and piling it on. Among five Central New York cities, my former home of Syracuse is now the setting for the dubious honor of winning the Golden Snowball Award.

My former neighbors are having a tough winter. Their claim to fame, as of Feb. 18th, is 100 inches of snow.

Snow - Mark Bialczak

I recall a record year when we had nearly twice that at 192.1 inches in 1992-93. That’s when I had a round-trip commute to work of 110 miles a day. It’s the year when Syracuse was the “Snow King in the Blizzard of 1993.” It beat out 1966’s record snowfall for one storm with 42.9 inches – just six-tenths of an inch more than 1966.

All the city did for that distinction was just sit quietly and get dumped on over one weekend in March. When all was unsaid and done, we were buried under 3-feet of snow – on top of what we already had.

The Syracuse Post-Standard boasted in its 1993 editorial page: “You have to pity the denizens of boring Southern California, or arid Arizona, or dusty Nevada, where the forecast is always the same: sunny, dry and mild. They’ll never experience the thrill of being caught in the grip of a rock-‘em, sock-‘em, knock and block’em snow storm like we had – unless they come here, to Central New York.”

I mean – you can’t buy an attitude like that.

Here are the bragging rights that no one talks about:

1)      the longest number of uninterrupted days of no sunshine

2)      the bitterest battle for the last bottle of antifreeze

3)      the tallest snow mound – piled high in our driveway.

This does get deeper. Hang on.

4)      The world’s longest and loudest recorded wail held by my husband, Dave, when he realized that he’d have to remove the white stuff.

5)      Dave also tied the record for holding his breath and turning blue during the same dramatic meltdown scene.

Fortunately, Dave got a last-minute reprieve when a couple of independent snowplow boys cruised into our neighborhood. They plowed us out after they coaxed $20 out of Dave’s wallet.

Then, six of our neighbors ran up crying and waving money at them. Before the snowplow boys left our block, they were very rich and planning to flee to Florida.

Snowman - Diane H. McDowell Gray and Donna Cox Austin

Other areas measure their success by their year-round attractions. We measured ours with something that doesn’t stick around – thank heavens!

Here’s wishing my former neighbors have an early spring and that Mother Nature takes it easy on them for the rest of this winter.

Snow - cardinals in tree - provided by Roland Allen

So, what are we in Florida bragging about? The Sunshine State leads the world in shark attacks in 2013. Fortunately, no one was fatally injured.

Florida’s lightning strikes, however, are a greater hazard. It is the lightning capital of the U.S.  Four people died in Florida in 2013 as a result of lightning strikes.

What are the strange bragging rights where you live?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A movie to avoid if you’re snowed in – “The Shining” (1980) with Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the movie is based on Stephen King’s horror novel.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cb3ik6zP2I 

A movie to cheer you no matter how much snow piles up – “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) with Steve Martin and John Candy. Directed by John Hughes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKtFIgmoqoI  

Best Snow Movies List – http://www.buzzsugar.com/Best-Snow-Movies-13219938

Main Photo – Snow – Syracuse – provided by Danielle and Keith Wallace

Photo – Snow piled in a Syracuse driveway – Mark Bialczak – http://markbialczak.com/2014/02/09/more-signs-of-syracuses-significant-snow/

Photo – Snowman hitchhiking to Florida  – a reader (see comments below) says that a family friend, John Santiago, made the snowman in Andover, N.H. on Beach Hill Road. (It was provided by Diane H. McDowell Gray.)

Photo: Snow – cardinals in tree – provided by Roland Allen

“Blizzard of ’93: Why Was it the Storm of the Century? Accuweather  http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/blizzard-of-93-the-storm-of-th/62671

Hunger in the Land of Plenty

Child - El gato

By Judy Berman

The boy fought back tears when we talked. He worried about where his next meal would be coming from during the long holiday weekend.

He’d had no steady address for several weeks after his parents split up.

Our school offers free breakfasts. He, like many other children, was no doubt enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program.

But the uncertainty that weighs on children like him is the nagging thought about the weekends and the long holidays. Where will the food come from?

Hunger in the Land of Plenty? Unthinkable.

Last weekend, that young man was on my mind when I agreed to join my husband, Dave, and his co-worker, Stacey Barchenger, in the “World’s Largest Food Packing Event” in Melbourne, Florida.

Children's Hunger Project - Copy

There were nearly 3,000 volunteers who helped pack meals for elementary school children to take home over the weekend. It’s part of The Children’s Hunger Project.

It was an opportunity to provide the start of a brand-new day for some child.

Bob Barnes, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit organization, said the program serves more than a 1,000 children a week in 27 schools in Brevard County.

A few years ago, he said he was stunned to learn from a news report that claimed “17 percent of children nationwide are on the free or reduced-price lunch program.”

Barnes told volunteers there that he’s not going to argue about why this is happening. He just wants to do what he can to end child hunger.

I’ve heard the criticisms: parents or guardians are to blame for not managing money better, or for not having the right priorities for their spending. Or some blame charities for spending money on advertising or huge salaries for their top officials, instead of focusing donations on those it’s intended for.

But it’s the children who are the victims in this.

“The Children’s Hunger Project is driven by the belief that knowledge is power, and only by being attentive and driven in the classroom can children absorb knowledge properly.

“A hungry child is less likely to do either one,” according to its website, http://www.thechildrenshungerproject.org/about-us.html

Check your area to see what is being done to ease child hunger and malnutrition.

Children's Hunger Project - Stacey Barchenger, Dave Berman and me - 2-8-14

We found that the time we spent helping pack boxes of food was well-spent. I just wish that there wasn’t a need for an organization like this.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Music Video – “Brand New Day” by Joshua Radin – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhUfVcLLvjo 

Photo – Child – El gato – Taken June 8, 2012 by Juanedc, Zaragoza, España    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/El_gato_%288293825146%29.jpg/640px-El_gato_%288293825146%29.jpg

Photos from the Children’s Hunger Project in Melbourne, Florida on 2-8-14:

  • volunteers packing food trays for needy children – taken by Stacey Barchenger
  • volunteers: Stacey Barchenger, Dave Berman and Judy Berman

Overheard While Just Passing Thru

alligator - marshamallowBy Judy Berman

As a tourist, you get only a quick glimpse of what life might be like in the places you visit.

What I’ve found is sometimes you’re in on the joke that the tour guides tell. Other times, you’re the butt of the joke.

Still others, it’s like you walked in the middle of a movie and leave before it ends. You’re left wondering how it turned out.

It took only a few minutes on a bus tour in Seattle, Washington, to realize there was a real culture clash between the logging industry and environmentalists who were trying to stop trees from being cut down because of its effect on the wildlife.

The bus driver, over the speaker, told his passengers: “We’ll be stopping for lunch. You can have the condor or the spotted owl.”

Many passengers erupted in laughter at the inside joke. Both are endangered species – and will not be found on any menu.

On a swamp tour in New Orleans, we saw nutria (a large rodent that is not a native of Louisiana), great blue herons and alligators.

To make sure we saw more than the bulging, beady eyes and snout that were just slightly above the water line, our guide threw marshmallows over board.

A gator scooted over to the boat and scooped up the bobbing treats from the water.

A woman, with a Boston accent, piped up, “Don’t you ever feed the gators anything but junk food?”

Clearly irritated, the guide retorted, “Sometimes we feed them Yankees. But I guess that’s junk food, too.”

Now, I’m from New York (Syracuse). Maybe I should have been offended, but I burst out laughing at the guide’s joke. Or, at least, I hope he was joking.

dog sled - Alaska

Mealtime can also provide a few laughs. At a restaurant in Fairbanks, Alaska, we chuckled over a meal offered on the kids’ menu: liver and onions.

Well, the little wrangler will be delighted to know that, even if he is real ornery, it’s unlikely his Mom and Dad will order the yuckiest thing on the kids’ menu. The reason? It cost $28,212.99.

Now, that’s something to cheer about. That and the folks in Fairbanks obviously have a wonderfully warped sense of humor.

What a long, strange trip it was when we hit the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California. There, apparently, were still some folks there that looked like they were trapped in a time warp – leftovers from the Sixties when Flower Power ruled the area.

Haight Ashbury, San Francisco

As we walked along Haight Street, a guy ahead of us is trying to get the guy he’s walking with to change shirts with him. No dice.

“We got to get into a bar before the cops come,” he said.

As if on cue, a cop car pulls up. A cop steps up and politely says, “Can we talk for a second?”

“Sure,” the guys says, acting nonchalantly.

Ten minutes later, as we walk by on the other side of the street, the “talk” continues. Now, four cops are on the scene.

This is where I’d thought we’d stumbled into one of Alfred Hitchcock’s pranks.

Ever the Master of Suspense, he’d appear to be in the midst of a gruesome story when new passengers stepped into the elevator he was on. Naturally, they were all ears. But, as luck would have it, they reached the main floor before he wrapped it up. Which was Hitchcock’s mischievous scheme all along.

No telling what you’ll see and hear on your travels. But I sure wish I knew the rest of the story about that “talk.”

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Elevator Story as told by Peter Bogdanovich http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqXFtWSBBd4  

Photo: alligator – marshmallow – http://www.wwtid.com/2012/11/20/the-alligator-and-the-marshmallow/  

Photo – dog sled – Alaska – A musher departs Slaven’s Roadhouse in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve during the 2005 Yukon Quest sled dog race. Taken Feb. 5, 2005 by the U. S. National Park Service http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/Slaven%27s_Roadhouse.jpg/640px-Slaven%27s_Roadhouse.jpg

Photo: Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, California – Piedmont Boutique on Haight   Street. Taken by Bernard Gagnon, Sept. 3, 2008  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5d/Haight_Street%2C_SF.jpg/640px-Haight_Street%2C_SF.jpg

Dragon Love and a Thank You

Dragon's Loyalty Award - Mark BialczakBy Judy Berman

While my longtime friend Mark Bialczak slogs thru the slush and snow of Syracuse, New York, I’ll be sending him many warm regards for nominating me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award this month.

Mark is a prolific writer, and a news reporter with an eye out for a good story. As a former Syracusan, I naturally gravitate toward his column. But his entertaining stories reach beyond the interests of Central New Yorkers.

I’ve also posted this award on my Awards and Acknowledgements page. Thank you, Mark. Forgive me for breaking the rules. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness.

To learn more about this award, check out Mark’s post at: http://markbialczak.com/2014/02/03/for-the-dragons-loyalty-award-ill-melt-snow/

The Mob Built This City

Las Vegas - Flamingo Road

By Judy Berman

Did the mob once run Las Vegas? Some dispute that, but few would quibble about the explosive growth in Sin City as a result of the Mob’s presence.

This reputation is one that The Mob Museum in Las Vegas capitalizes on. The $42 million museum opened two years ago on Feb. 14, 2012.

That date is probably no coincidence. One of the artifacts on display on the third floor is the actual wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.

A Chicago Tribune newspaper clipping reported that gunman dressed as policemen lined seven men of George “Bugs” Moran’s gang up against the whitewashed wall and gunned them down.

“It was the most infamous of all gangland slayings in America, and it savagely achieved its purpose – the elimination of the last challenge to Al Capone for the mantle of crime boss in Chicago.”

Mob Museum - Las Vegas - Wall of Mobsters

The way the museum tells it: “This is truly the underworld uncovered.” It’s billed as “An authentic exploration of the endless tug-of-war between organized crime and law enforcement.”

Last July, my husband and I spent more than two hours in the museum and, truthfully, we could have spent much more time there if we didn’t have a pressing engagement. (No. Forget the scene in Goldfinger when James Bond referred to a dead mobster who was entombed in a crushed car.)

On the second floor of the museum is the courtroom. This is the same federal courthouse where the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held to expose organized crime. Here, you can see film clips of those hearings.

Las Vegas - Mob Museum - July 2013 055

Longtime locals are fond of saying that Vegas was better when the Mob ran the casinos. They felt there was less crime and the mob took care of – policed – their own.

The tour quickly dispels that notion by showing some of the innocent bystanders who were rubbed out by those “connected” to the Mob – along with a few of the bad guys, of course. The focus is not just on the Mob that infiltrated Vegas nightlife, but on major cities throughout the U.S.

Some of the exhibits aren’t for the faint-hearted. There are gory ones that show what happens when you run into the wrong end of a gun. For example, you can see the barber chair that mobster Albert Anastasia was murdered in on Oct. 25, 1957, in Manhattan, New York.

You can listen in on authentic Mafia Omerta induction ceremony or to actual FBI surveillance tapes on wiretapping equipment.

For a more glamorized look of the mob, sit a spell in the theater room and watch clips from gangster movies.

Parting words from philosopher/mobster Al Capone, “You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” This quote is just one of the souvenirs I picked up from the gift shop at the Mob Museum.

Hey! They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. But I took an oath not to reveal it.

Not to be a Wiseguy, but you can get the total scoop on the cost of admission, hours and attractions at The Mob Museum’s web site: http://themobmuseum.org/

Movie Trailer: Casino with Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBjmiE1kf_Q 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video: 60 Years: KLAS-TV Documents Mob’s Rise, Fall in Las Vegas     http://www.8newsnow.com/story/22881346/60-years-klas-tv-documents-mobs-rise-fall-in-las-vegas

Main Photo: Las Vegas – Flamingo Road – Taken April 24, 2012, by curimedia http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/50/Flamingo_road%2C_Las_Vegas_%287314950038%29.jpg/640px-Flamingo_road%2C_Las_Vegas_%287314950038%29.jpg

Photo: Mob – The Skim at the Flamingo – my photo collection

Photo: The Mob Museum – Las Vegas – Wall of Mobsters – Taken Feb. 14, 2012 by Kremerbi http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/72/Las_Vegas_Mob_Museum_Wall_of_Mobsters.JPG/640px-Las_Vegas_Mob_Museum_Wall_of_Mobsters.JPG

The Beatles Pleased, Pleased Me

The British Invastion - The Beatles - Kennedy Airport - February 1964

By Judy Berman

Motown’s soul music and surfer music had me in its grasp. But like any fickle teen, my heart soon belonged to a shaggy-haired mop-top group from Liverpool: The Fab Four.

Parents had no sooner stopped gnashing their teeth over the swivel hips of Elvis Presley and his effect on their children’s morality when their attention shifted to a new threat: The Beatles.

When asked how long he thought the Beatles would last, John Lennon said at the time: “About five years.”

Even Dr. Billy Graham thought the group was just a blip on the screen. “The Beatles … they’re a passing phase: of the uncertainty of the times and the confusion about us.”

Both underestimated the staying power of The Beatles.

For me, it’s been a lifelong love affair. I loved their wit and mischief. But the closest I’ve ever gotten to them was watching their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 8, 1964.

Their upbeat love songs with harmonicas, guitars and drums morphed into complex orchestra arrangements with deeper messages.

Years later, we visited their Abbey Road Studios when we were in London. We walked over the zebra crossing as The Beatles did on their album, “Abbey   Road” – their last recorded album released in September 1969.

This album cover added to the rumor that Paul McCartney had died following a car accident in 1967. That speculation was fueled by his limited public appearances after he married his first wife, Linda, and while he was contemplating a solo career.

I thought it was a hoax, but I was caught up in the mystery. I honed my sleuth-like skills and examined the evidence.

On the radio, a DJ (disc jockey) claimed, that when the lyrics were played backwards, it proved that Paul is dead. Some suggested that in the song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” that band-mate, John Lennon, uttered “I buried Paul.” McCartney later revealed that the actual words were far less sinister. He said they were “cranberry sauce.”

Then, there was the album cover itself. Some interpreted it as a funeral procession. John Lennon, in white, symbolized the preacher. Ringo Starr, in black, was viewed as an undertaker or mourner. George Harrison, in denim jeans and shirt, symbolized the grave digger, and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the other band members, symbolized death, according to sources quoted in Wikipedia.

Fortunately, they were wrong. But the demise of the group took place the following year in 1970.  They went their separate ways and onto successful solo careers.

From my teen years to motherhood, The Beatles were part of the fabric of my life. I recall playing (poorly) the song, “Good Night,” (1968) written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr, to our girls when they were young.

In December 1980, I awoke to the heartbreaking news of John Lennon’s murder on the classic rock station (WAQX-FM, where I worked at in Manlius, New York). His death was devastating, to say the least.

George Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. Paul and Ringo continue their musical careers. I thank all four for the fun, creativity, thoughtful and musically diverse offerings they played for me, my family and all their fans. They did “Please, Please Me.”

Music Video: “Love Me Do” – The Beatles ’62 

Help – The Beatles – movie trailer (1965)

All My Loving – The Beatles – 1964

Please, Please Me – The Beatles (1963)  

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main Photo – The British Invasion – The Beatles – KennedyAirport – February 1964 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Beatles,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg

Lennon and Rev. Billy Graham quotes from: “The Beatles an Illustrated Record,” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler (1975).