Longtime NBC announcer Don Pardo, who passed away August 18 at the young age of 96, was perhaps best known for his television work on such shows as Saturday Night Live and the original version of Jeopardy starring Art Fleming as host.
But he began his broadcasting career, almost by accident, in radio. You see, he wasn’t supposed to be an announcer. He was supposed to be a baker, like his father, and take over the family business. Or a dentist. Or an actor in the theater.
Radio was the job he took so he could support his family. First as an announcer for WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1944 he traveled to New York to take a tour of the National Broadcasting Company studios where he met Patrick J. Kelly, NBC’s supervisor of announcers. Kelly liked Pardo’s voice and hired him to be a staff (booth) announcer on NBC. His first day at NBC was June 15, 1944; his first duties included handling the late shift along with some wartime reporting.
According to David Schwartz, one of broadcasting’s unofficial historians (and who can be found working at cable television’s Game Show Network), among Pardo’s first assignments were voicing the network cues (“This is the National Broadcasting Company,” etc.) for the radio series Hour of Charm. “During the 1940s, his voice was frequently heard delivering the news for NBC Radio; in his 70 year association with NBC, Pardo’s voice has been heard on hundreds of radio and television programs,” Schwartz told me.
Radio programs from the 1940s and ‘50s included The Three Suns, a big band remote; Let’s Go Nightclubbing; The Catholic Hour; The Magnificent Montague; and Dimension X, among others.
Let’s Go Nightclubbing is one of the more interesting radio programs to me, because it essentially is Pardo as the live announcer (sounding very DJ-ish) as he introduces singers and big bands live from Club Zanzibar in Manhattan. If you’d like to hear a sample for yourself, point your web browser to http://tinyurl.com/STSSPardo, and scroll down to the Tribute to Don Pardo on “Same Time, Same Station.” If it’s not there, click on the archives button.
Pardo is said to have been one of two people at NBC with a lifetime contract, the other being Bob Hope. Pretty good company, if you asked me. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch some more Fleming Jeopardy episodes on YouTube. Don: Thanks for all the great memories. You will be missed.
Off by Two
Last week I mentioned that there was only one remaining simulcast of an AM station on an FM signal’s HD digital stream. Reader Mike Dangott write to chastise me for forfeiting two others:
“As one of the few with an HD radio, I disagree with your count of AM radio stations rebroadcast on digital FM. My radio receives THREE! KABC (790 AM) on KLOS 95.5 FM HD2, KNX (1070 AM, as you mentioned) on KAMP 97.1 FM HD2, and KMTZ (1260 AM) on KKGO 105.1 FM HD2.”
Mike is right ... and I have no clue how I forgot the others; it’s not like I have not mentioned them before. But the point is still valid ... not every AM is on FM.
Another (Yawn) Sports Station
Maggie McKay and Michael Shappee signed off the news/talk format on KFWB (980 AM) last Friday night at 7:00. During their last few hours they payed tribute to the history of the station, from the days of Chuck Blore’s “Color Radio” through the transition to news, and finally sports. You can find some of the clips on the KFWB website (www.kfwbam.com) including some old jingles ... one sung by Beach Boy Brian Wilson!
At 7 PM Friday, the station ran with NBC Sports; the weekend was the usual paid huckster programming. It’s all sports now, the fourth such station in town.
Sell it. Now.
They say it’s in a trust, but the fact is: CBS owns KFWB illegally. They have for over ten years, since buying KCAL Channel 9, putting them over the legally-allowed number of stations in Los Angeles.
I am publicly calling for the commissioners of FCC to do their job for a change and force the sale of KFWB once and for all. CBS has stalled long enough, and if a sale is not forced, I will be calling on Congress to investigate the FCC commissioners for allowing CBS to hold onto a property that they were to have sold a decade ago. Is a reverse form of Payola involved? This time to the FCC? Can someone explain why CBS is allowed to break the law?