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Nat Hiken, creator of the hit TV shows, The Phil Silvers Show and Car 54, Where Are You?, died in 1968 at age 54. His widow, Amber, passed more recently. Their daughter, Dana, going through some family memorabilia, came up with a published notice of her parents wedding in 1941, adding a small but telling fragment to the newlywed’s history and the WNEW story, even though the notice got Nat’s first name wrong and miss-spelled his last name.
How did it come to pass that we should have received the above wedding notice from Bill Diehl? Bill got it from Nat Hiken’s daughter, Dana, whose married name is Buscaglia and whose husband, Frank, is the brother of Bill’s wife, author, Lorry Diehl. That’s how. Frank was in broadcast engineering at both WNEW and ABC.
To read more about Nat Hiken, click on link below.
To read more about Lorry Diehl’s most recent book, Over Here! New York City During WWII , click on link below.
Gary McDowell, who was WNEW Operations Manager ( 1971-1974) sent along this photo of himself in the middle of Bill Hickock, Gene Klavan, Dick Shepherd and Julius LaRosa. He dates the photo to 1971, soon after answering the call from WNEW GM George Duncan, to give up his job as Program Director of WIP, Philadelphia (a Metromedia station) to become Big W OM.
For life-span pictures of Jerry Graham, visit:
Posted: 04/30/2013 06:17:23 PM PDT
Starts in Indiana
Graham was born Gerald Granowsky in Indianapolis. He changed his name for professional reasons at his first television job as a staff announcer for TV stations in Evansville, Ind., and Binghamton, N.Y.
Graham moved from Binghamton to New York City, where he worked as a radio news writer for Metromedia’s WNEW. After rising through the ranks at the station, Graham bought and ran his own radio station, WGRG, with partner David Gordon. He returned to WNEW in 1974 as general manager, then hosted the TV show “Pacific Currents” on KPIX Channel 5. He also anchored weekend news for KRON and was general manager at radio station KSAN.
Throughout his career, Graham maintained a strong sense of humor. He even got demoted for having an on-air laughing attack in Binghamton, a fact his son Jefferson Graham said doesn’t surprise him. “He liked to laugh … the fits continued for years,” Jefferson said. “There were many instances where the laughter was contagious, and we just laughed and laughed, uncontrollable, with tears, falling on the floor.”
Once he moved to Santa Cruz, Graham wrote eight travel guidebooks with his wife Catherine Graham, including “Bay Area Backroads,” “More Bay Area Backroads” and “Bay Area Backroads Food and Lodging Guide.”
“It was terrific in the sense that we could each write a section, then edit each other’s work,” Catherine said. “We called the books our first babies. We couldn’t remember who came up with what line after a while.”
Even when Graham became well-known for his work in television, he always remained humble, said Bob Klein, the executive producer of “Bay Area Backroads.” ”In the Bay Area for a while, he was it, he was the anchor,” Klein said. “But it wasn’t like people were running up for his autograph; it was like, ‘Hey, Jerry.’”
Graham was known in Santa Cruz for his television column for the Sentinel, which he wrote in the early 2000s. ”He was loved in the community, and he loved Santa Cruz,” Jefferson said. In addition to teaching English as a second language at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz, he also played basketball every Sunday in Santa Cruz and tennis twice a week at the Chaminade. Over 6 feet tall, he won a gold medal with his basketball team the Nor Cal Sharks at the California State Senior Olympics in 2009.
“His local team was important to him,” Catherine said. “It was going to the church of basketball.” A lifelong dog lover, Graham took his 5-year-old dog Chicolini to the park every afternoon. ”I am a cat person who married a dog person,” wrote Catherine, also a Sentinel columnist, in an article published Aug. 4, 2002. “Before we met, Jerry went public with his disdain for felines on his San Francisco Bay Area TV show called ‘Pacific Currents,’ with a segment called ‘Why I Hate Cats.’”
After meeting in 1984 in San Francisco, the two married in 1986, continuing to build a strong relationship throughout their 27-year marriage. ”He started this thing just recently where every morning, he’d sing a song I didn’t know,” Catherine said. “We’d gone through at least 100, and he still had more in his head.”
Family marks birthday
Jefferson visited his father during the weekend for an early birthday celebration. Graham would have turned 79 Tuesday. ”I was sitting with him on Saturday and Sunday morning, and he was reading the Santa Cruz Sentinel,” Jefferson said. “He read it every morning.” Catherine planned to take her husband out for a pedicure on Tuesday, as well as bake him “fudgy” brownies.
Graham decided to retire at age 60 to help raise his daughter Lily Graham, now 22. While he had a long and prolific career, Graham always put his three children first, his wife said. ”I just had to go through his wallet for filling out paperwork, and it’s crammed full of pictures of Lily,” Catherine said. “I don’t know how they all fit in there.” And while his family was of utmost importance, Graham always knew how to connect with anyone, Jefferson said. ”He was Jerry Graham, always the smartest, smoothest guy in the room,” his son said, “the one who could start a conversation with anyone and make it interesting, and have them laughing and enjoying the company.”
Andy Fisher — When I started at WNEW as a copy boy at the beginning of the newspaper strike in 1962, Jerry Graham was the guy I wanted most to be like. He was smart, funny, always impeccably dressed (remember, this was the early 1960s), and always in the middle of what was going on. After I overslept two work days in a row and Jack Pluntze got Lee Hanna to tell Dick Merson to fire me — and Nat Asch moved me to afternoons — I showed up for work on Monday afternoon and Jerry nearly fell out of his chair laughing.
“You know,” he finally managed to say, “you were fired this morning.” I turned to go. ”No!” he said, starting to laugh again. “They fired your replacement!” It was true. Merson had fired the kid who showed up in the morning, Roy Fleischmann, who walked out of the newsroom, bewildered, saying, “I thought they liked me…” Jackie Regan, a Hunter College junior, was the impossibly beautiful blonde receptionist. Every straight man in the place had designs on her. One night, she asked me if I wanted to go to see Dame Judith Anderson in her solo performance of Medea at Hunter. It was, I reckoned, the best night of my life so far.
“Why are you so happy?” Jerry asked when I showed up for work the next day. ”I had a date with Jackie Regan last night,” I said. ”Yeah, right,” he scoffed. The same thing happened after Jackie and I went to the circus on a couple of comp tickets from Ringling Brothers. One night, Jackie and I — and Jerry and Judy — went to Carnegie Hall for a concert of the Symphony of the Air, whose managing director was Marlene Sanders’ husband Jerome Toobin. Afterwards, we had a late supper at the Russian Tea Room. Jackie and Judy went to the powder room. Jerry leaned over toward me. “Pretty nice,” he said.
In 1965, after Jerry had become news director, I graduated from Columbia, and started an on-air job Pluntze had set up for me at WIP in Philadelphia. Jerry wrote a wonderful memo that ended, “So long, Andy, and take your hand off your ear.” Harvey Glascock had taken over as general manager at WNEW a few months before I left. He was known for, among other things, his brutal memos. I wrote a parody of one, and taped it to the window in the newsroom. Glascock didn’t see it until some time after I had left for WIP, but when he did, he exploded.
“I want the man who wrote that fired!” he roared. ”Mr. Glascock,” Jerry proclaimed, solemnly and truthfully, “the man who wrote that will not be working here tomorrow…”
I tend to judge people by their senses of humor. Jerry had one of the best. He was also a wonderful writer, reporter, and manager, and we are all diminished by his death. A.F.
Alan Walden — I first met Jerry Graham in May of 1964, just as he became news director of WNEW. I was the new kid on the block “who’d been “discovered” by Jack Sullivan while he was driving across Ohio. Sullivan had called me and asked if I’d consider moving from Cleveland to New York and, when I replied in the affirmative (It was, after all, the ultimate “no brainer”) he suggested that I fly east on my next day off from WERE and drop by. The following Sunday I made my first visit to the “Big W,” was welcomed by John Dale and, the next morning, was introduced to Jerry and Lee Hanna who was about to make his move to television. Jerry conducted most of the interview and, after I wrote and recorded the obligatory newscast, asked me to write a five minute analysis of the situation in Vietnam from memory; no notes, no research, just write it. I did and after he’d read it he looked up, rubbed his nose, and said, “Pretty good.” “And…?,” I asked. His face broke into a lazy grin and I knew I’d gotten my dream job even though I was never quite sure he was completely happy with that decision.
Jerry and I never really interacted socially. We saw one another at WNEW events, at Basin Street East, etc. He was closest to Promotion Director Bernie Ruttenberg. Reid Collins and Jim Van Sickle were the stars of the news staff and I was just one of the late-comers with good pipes and diction who helped fill the schedule between drive times. I was, therefore, pleasantly startled when my photo turned up on the cover of the new WNEW style book and one of the lines I had written was used as an example of how we did what we did. Jerry was easy to work for; a thorough professional with a rather puckish sense of humor albeit tinged with what seemed to me a world-weary cynicism; a bit odd I thought since he was not yet 30 when we met.
I was rather surprised when Jerry was chosen by Harvey Glascock, who became GM when Sullivan moved up the corporate ladder, to become Program Director of WNEW. For one thing I didn’t know he wanted the job. For another, I expected it would go to Nat Asch, nemesis of the unwary and unworldly back then: my good and trusted friend during the more than 40 years since. But, since Nat’s creativity and boundless energy was by then directed toward the transformation of the FM station from stepchild of “The World’s Greatest Radio Station” to a fully independent entity with its own unique and eclectic personality, he went there. In any case, when Jerry moved to non-news programming he was, for all intents and purposes, out of my life.
Jerry and I had little in common other than “the business” and the fact that, at the time, we were both married to women named Judy. Our world views were poles apart. But we were of an age (Jerry was less than a year older than I) and his loss has, therefore, jolted my awareness of our mortality. It also brought back to full flood the flow of memories of that wonderful place and that extraordinary time when all things were possible. A.W.
Nat Asch — I will, until I die, be in debt to Jerry Graham for extending the two happiest periods of my life on Metromedia’s payroll. Let me explain.
Harvey Glascock came from Philadelphia’s WIP to be the GM of “the world’s greatest radio station” at the same time that WNEW’s PD, Varner “behold a pale Norse this way comes” Paulsen had accepted his ascendancy as GM of KNEW in Oakland. Glascock, endlessly shooting his Paul Stuart made-to-order-and-initialed shirt cuffs, asked me to lunch where he told me that I would be his PD after Paulsen left. Three weeks later and again at lunch, Glascock said he had decided instead to name Jerry Graham as his Program Director. The news devastated me.
My intention to leave WNEW became known to the new president of Metromedia radio, Jack Sullivan, who asked me to stay because he anticipated naming me the PD of the newly minted WNEW-FM which, thanks to Jerry Graham’s decision, enabled me to embark on the second part of the best years of my life in broadcasting. But no good assignment goes “unrewarded.” Jerry had to work with Harvey Glascock who was convinced that what was good for Philadelphia radio audiences was also good for the Big Apple…(from the picture, “FAT CHANCE.”) Glascock was, in my opinion, “anal retentive, “as well as somewhat paranoid. He admitted feeling that he was disliked by the staff he inherited…and not without reason. His concerns, his standards, especially for WNEW radio, almost always depended on the proof provided by polls, (Billboard, et al) polls that were laughed at by the rest of WNEW’s staff since the station was “top of the heap, A-number one in the city that never sleeps.”
The music, the on-air personalities, all had to measure up to the imposed standards provided by those polls that Glascock insisted on following. (This may also be the moment that I admit that I tilted the studio-side long hallway’s hanging pictures every morning…something that drove Harvey into near apoplexy.)
Jerry Graham was a well read, witty, insightful young executive who had great difficulty with those programming impositions. Jerry also pitched for WNEW’s Big W’s softball team…and, one year, went undefeated; not a small thing for a gangly Program Director and a former News Director of the “world’s greatest radio station.” There was the time that we and our wives attended the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room opening night of a Steve and Eydie run. It was formal and we were dressed for the occasion. Jerry said to me that I looked good in a tuxedo. I responded that he looked better. He gave me that Graham grin, a bright eyed Shakespearian Bottom, making subtle mischief on a higher plane.
He was really good at that. N.A
Al Wasser –My memories of Jerry are uncomplicated and positive: I found him to have sharp journalistic instincts despite his generally non-news background, and to be fun to work with and for as well as in our occasional social contacts.
One incident in particular stands out as a life-changer for me. Jerry had a strong interest in theater, and was aware that I had made small investments in a series of Broadway shows, including the recently-opened Fiddler On The Roof. At the time, WNEW’s theater reviews were provided by a number of celebrities. At the time, I was the editor on the 11am-7pm shift. One afternoon, Jerry (who I think was still Assistant News Director) called me in and told me that Arlene Francis was sick and unable to review that night’s opening of Saul Bellow’s first play (a failure whose title I don’t remember). Editor’s note: the play was “Last Analysis,” which opened in October, 1964 and soon closed. Jerry suggested that my theater investments indicated I had a measure of expertise. He said that, if I would be willing to provide a substitute review, he would arrange for me to get out of work early so that I could make the opening curtain. I had strong immediate doubts about my ability to do an adequate job, but swallowed hard and agreed to do it.
In those days, critics went to the official opening night and went back to their offices to write reviews that were quickly printed or aired. Broadcast reviews, including ours, were aired on 11pm newscasts. Despite my extreme nervousness, I rushed back to the ‘NEW newsroom and wrote and taped my review. Jerry call immediately to say he liked it. The next day, presumably after consulting with his bosses, Jerry told me he was firing Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf and our other celebrity reviewers. For the next year, I reviewed every Broadway opening (and several off-Broadway shows).
Jerry provided constant encouragement and, most important, constructive feedback that helped me refine and improve my reviews. At the end of that year, Jerry told me he needed me to switch to the morning editor’s shift, with a 4:00 am start time that meant an end to my career as a critic. Jerry’s confidence in me had increased my own self-confidence, as well as providing a unique and exhilarating experience. A.W.
A Book Notice from Bill Diehl
New York City Radio by Peter Kanse and Alec Cumming. Published by Arcadia. It’s a fun read from the early days of NYC radio right up to an Internet Radio Station in the East Village. Some photos we’ve seen before along with station promotion ads. But a few are new to me.
Broadcast historian Peter Kanze, who has worked at WHN and the ABC Radio Network, also produces WABC “Rewound.” And with his background, there’s lots of WABC in the book. Co-author, Alec Cumming, is billed as a pop historian and television writer/producer who has worked for NBC, USA, Syfy, the History Channel, Rhino Records and Nickelodeon. Currently, he serves as a history consultant for NBC Universal. In the back flap notes, Kanze, a lifelong collector of broadcast memorabilia, writes that he culled many of the images in this book from his personal collection and a good number I had never seen before.
News gets short shrift in the book, and I guess that’s understandable considering that it’s geared more to ‘personalities’ who became so popular on New York City radio stations. However, near the end of the book’s 126 pages, there’s a shot of three of what’s billed New York’s “Legendary hardworking radio newscasters,” Rich Lamb, (WCBS) Stan Brooks (WINS) and Mitch Lebe (WBBR) WNEW is represented with a few photos including, of course, William B. Williams, Martin Block, station GM John Van Buren Sullivan (don’t you love that name) and station manager, Bernice Judis.
From the early 60′s. Pete Myers is on hand in a car. There are a good number of shots of WABC personalities, WMCA, WHN, WMGM, WINS and WOR. There’s a chapter on the FM stations and their personalities, some of whom like Alison
Steele moved over from the AM side. Some shots of WINS newsroom (on the eve of it’s transfer to all news–April 18, 1965) Also photo of Jim Donnelly and Lou Adler on the air at WCBS. There’s Imus, Howard Stern…of course.
I got through the book in less than half an hour…photos have some captions and a bit of background. The cover by the way is Long John Nebel broadcasting his all night WNBC talk show out of NBC’s ultra-modern Monitor studios, also known as Radio Central on the 5th fl. at 30 Rock. Nebel’s real name, which I did not know til I read the book, was John Zimmerman.
Anyway, quite a bit to chew over…definitely worth the price if you like to add a book like this to your collection. B.D.
H.V. Kaltenborn’s round-the-clock reports on the Munich crisis of 1938 established him so firmly in the public mind as the voice of crisis from abroad, it’s recalled by his biographers that many American radio listeners were not fooled by Orson Welles’ panic-inducing “War of the Worlds” broadcast because Kaltenborn was not on it and surely would have been had the crisis been real.
Like many American correspondants who investigated reports of Nazi brutality as Hitler came to power, such as beatings of Americans who wouldn’t give the Nazi salute, Kaltenborn was known to suspect that the reports were exaggerated. Some biographers suggest his mind was changed when his own son suffered such a beating. H.V.K. acknowledged in later writings that he was slow to alter his view that Hitler was too radical and unstable to achieve power or long hold it.
Among the few American journalists to interview Hitler in the early 1930′s, Kaltenborn was the only one to interview Hitler several times. A few photos from Kalenborn’s book “Fifty Fabulous Years,” published in 1950 by G. P. Putnam Sons, and sent along by Bill Diehl, were recently published on this site. Bill has now sent a long a few pages about those Hitler interviews. Here they are.
End of excerpts from “Fifty Fabulous Years”
From Bill Diehl, comments and photos from the memorial service for Rudy Ruderman, March 17 in Larchmont, N.Y.
It was a wonderful farewell to our beloved Rudy and the Larchmont Yacht Club was a beautiful setting. A good crowd was on hand, family, friends, and former broadcasting colleagues.
A few surprise guests included WCBS business editor Ray Hoffman and Bill Stoller who is the webmaster for the ABC Radio News site. Bill had only a brief remembrance of Rudy from the early 1970’s, but it was a delightful one. He told of how Rudy helped him get a part time job as a WNEW reporter that lasted for a few weekends, and later gave him a glowing reference for a correspondents slot at ABC Radio News. Mike Stein (once WNEW News Director) was at ABC as a network manager and said, “if Rudy Ruderman says he’s good, then he’s good for us.” Because of Rudy’s endorsement, Bill didn’t have to audition.
I told the memorial gathering of an incident in 1967 when I was new to WNEW. One night, after my news-casting shift ended, Rudy invited me to go with him to the upper east side to a bar called Malachy’s, where he introduced me to this big, funny, lovable Irishman, Malachy McCourt. When we left after a few beers Rudy said, “there Bill, now you’ve gotten a real taste of New York.”
I read messages from Edward Brown, Mike Eisgrau and Carolyn Tanton-Walden-Giatras, which was a real crowd pleaser. There’s was lots of laughter about how Rudy wired her bra with a hidden microphone and sent her to do a story about shoplifting by actually shop-lifting at Kleins Department Store. She got caught. Rudy had told her not to worry about getting caught because that would make an even better ending than if she got away with it.
Rudy’s sons, Jim and Dan and sister Anita all spoke. Jim began with delightful remembrances of his dad, funny ones, too, including the time Rudy was ‘wounded’ during WWII when he was knocked off a tank. Jim said he hit a tree branch while riding outside the tank. Anita, in her version, said, “What really happened was that he was looking at two pretty girls, and didn’t see the branch. Rudy suffered some head injuries in that incident, not bad enough, however, to send him home.
The memorial rooms were filled with Rudy memorabilia including his WWII dog tag. There were photos of him in uniform, with his beloved late wife, Tully, and on-the-job shots including one with Harry Truman.
photo above appeared December 23, 1960 in the Journal American
Did you know Rudy co-wrote a song? — Gee, But You Gotta’ Come Home –Guy
Mitchell recorded it. The sheet music cover was on display. Lots of
recordings were played of Rudy’s work reporting business news, reviewing a couple of plays, and one that I provided of an October 1968 newscast in which I switched to Rudy in Times Square where he would get public reaction to President Lyndon Johnson’s decision to halt the bombing of North Vietnam.
Rudy had two ten year old cats, a brother and sister, in good health, someone at the memorial adopted them on the spot. There were some emotional moments as brothers Jim and Dan spoke. it even happened to me as I closed my remarks. I thought I’d be fine, but toward the end, it got to me.
The memorial gathering for Rudy yesterday was, by turns, enlightening, funny, and deeply touching. We gained a new appreciation for Rudy by meeting his family, so clearly touched by his unparalleled graciousness. We met his eloquent and witty sons and their beautiful wives; his devoted sister; his handsome and charming grandsons; and his stunning granddaughter Sophia.
No one who spoke was able to avoid twinges of emotion. Rudy’s impact on us all was that profound. Carolyn Giatras’ remembrance about doing a report on shoplifting shook loose a memory of just how persuasive Rudy could be and was. Rudy could get anyone to do anything. As I listened to Bill Diehl read Edward Brown’s testimonial, I was reminded of my days writing Ed’s 6:00 newscast, how Ed wanted the copy clean, and concise, allowing the news to make the impact and not drawing attention to the writing itself. It was a challenge for me, because clever lead sentences were always my forte. Still, when New York University — whose teams were “the Violets” — canceled its basketball program because of financial problems, Rudy somehow managed to convince Ed to lead the story like this:
Budgets are red,
Violets are blue.
That’s all for basketball
At old NYU.
For years, I had been trying to get a mention in the “Leads I Liked” section of the news director’s weekly memo. That one did it, not in the least because of Ed’s impeccable reading of it or of Rudy’s persuasion in getting him to read it.
I told Rudy’s son Dan that his father had always reminded me of one of the heroic characters from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Style and class came so naturally to him, more naturally than to anyone else I ever worked with in broadcasting or journalism. Rudy was everywhere in yesterday’s gathering in the Gilded-Age surroundings of the Larchmont Yacht Club. My wife, who never knew either Rudy or my own work at WNEW, had tears in her eyes. I was privileged to be there. I was especially privileged to have known Rudy Ruderman. A.F.