By Frank Barron
A salute to some of Southern California’s best-known radio personalities had a great turnout of 300-plus broadcasting industry professionals at the first Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters luncheon for the new season. Sharing funny and poignant personal on-the-air anecdotes of their days at the microphone were the best in the business. The folks behind the golden voices being honored were Bob Eubanks, Wink Martindale, Charlie Tuna from KRTH, Mark Wallengren of KOST, Keri Tombazian of KTWV, Bill Handel of KFI, and “Sweet Dick” Whittington. Many reported that they never expected to go into radio; they were just in the right place at the right time— albeit with the right voice.
“It was the first time we’ve done a dais with a big theme like this and all the honorees, and it was a big hit,” said entertainment chair Jeanne DeVivier Brown, who brought the stellar dais together. PPB’s past president, Chuck Southcott, the award-winning programmer and on air personality who specializes in “the timeless sounds of true standards,” emceed the affair.
Chuck was preaching to the choir when he commenced with the revelation, “Radio is very much alive.” He also acknowledged the other radio notables sprinkled throughout the ballroom— Bill Moran, Ray Briem, DJ Johnny Hayes, Larry Van Nuys, Shotgun Tom Kelly, among others. And there was a shout out to Peggy Webber, who has been bringing outstanding radio plays to life with her CART, the California Artists Radio Theatre, for more than 25 years. It’s a treat to check out their new website at www.cartradio.com.
Usually at each of the PPB luncheons, five times a year, a notable individual in the field of broadcasting is honored with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award, named for the respected founding member of PPB. There is also another honor bestowed on someone who has made an important contribution in the development of broadcasting— induction into the Diamond Circle. It’s for a member of the PPB who must be age 75 or older, hence the appropriate “diamond” label. At the last luncheon the Diamond Circle Award went to a living legend in broadcasting, and super-nice guy, Monty Hall.
While making the presentation, PPB’s second vice president, Larry Vanderveen, remarked how delighted everyone was to see Monty’s Emmy-winning wife of 64 years, the very talented Marilyn Hall, on hand. Also there to prove the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree was Monty and Marilyn’s daughter Sharon Hall Kessler, executive vice president of Sony Television, and her husband Todd. The only reason their producer son, Richard Hall, and their Tony award-winning daughter Joanna Gleason, were not at their dad’s table was because Richard was shooting a show, and Joanne is currently appearing in Sons of the Prophet on Broadway
Monty Hall was born in Winnipeg, Canada, got into show business doing college shows, and was an emcee for Canadian army shows. After graduating the University of Manitoba, he went to Toronto to begin his enduring career as an actor, singer, sportscaster, and emcee. The multi-talented man went to Hollywood and sold a show to NBC. The sale of a second show quickly followed, Let’s Make a Deal in 1964, which had a remarkable fun-filled 22-year run.
He also headlined in Vegas and hosted variety specials, but Monty has greater pride for his charity work. As chairman of the board of Variety Clubs International he has raised more than one billion dollars to help those in need. The 90-year-old broadcasting icon thanked everyone for his blessings, saying, “I’ve been in broadcasting for 71 years, and boy am I tired.”
The next PPB luncheon on Nov. 18 will honor the much-loved Florence Henderson with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award. And for those who would like to join the festive event, PPB president Sam Lovullo announced that the PPB is reaching out to boost its ranks and they want to invite new membership. It is open to anyone who has worked in broadcasting or a related field for 20 years or more. For a short time the PPB is waiving the $50 initiation fee through Nov. 30. Applications are available by emailing membership@PacificPioneerBroadcasters.org. And you can request to join the Florence Henderson tribute at The Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City.