Friday, March 8, 2013


When I was in Las Vegas for a couple of years and more recently in Los Angeles I learned something about radio and television.  In Vegas and LA the radio is on, programs are running, talk is talking, music is playing, but no one seems to care.  In general the people on the air are very good.  Professional.  Under the ratings gun.  Formatics are tight.  Playlists are strict.  Everyone reaching for listeners.  Television personalities in those cities are the same. Moving fast, looking cool, and after the ratings.

Detroit has always been different.  Oh the ratings battle is the same, formats are strict and have been over the years; but there is something different about the people.  I don't mean people on the air.  I mean people who listen and watch.  In the Detroit market, in the past and to some extent now we hold those on the air to a different standard.  A standard generally held for people who are our personal friends.

I have been around long enough to appreciate this difference.  Many of the people we hear and see every day are our friends.  We may never have met them face to face, but they are more than voices and faces. They are there in our ears, radios, TVs.  They ride with us to and from school and work.  They are not strangers.

The list of examples I can think of would take most of Google's space, but I'd like to mention a few.  JP McCarthy wasn't just some roving air personality reading the cue cards.  He was our friend.  What he said and what he did made a difference to us.  We could depend on him to be there every morning.  "Good Morning World".  JP (Joe) was a personal friend of mine but his "on the air" friends were legion.  People cared about him.  The day he passed,  the city basically shut down.  We all mourned.  It was a personal loss to thousands who had never met him face to face. 

All the years that Bill Bonds was on the air.  Controversial, outspoken, unafraid to tackle the tough subjects he was Detroit.  He was our friend.  A personal friend.

And who could forget Ernie.  No need to even write the last name.  He was not the machine gun sports guy giving "brought to you bys" every minute.  He was right there with us on a warm summer day.  He was everywhere.  In our back yards, cars, work place.  No need to worry about missing anything when you went shopping.  There Ernie was in every store.  Even if it wasn't  loud enough to understand what he was saying, the voice was there.  The unmistakable voice,  a warm and close trusted friend.

There are scores of others.  It depends on your age and era if you remember them.  But if you, do each name brings back a memory.  A mental picture.  Robin Seymour, Don McLeod, Clark Reid, Paul Winter, Fred Wolf, Dave Diles, Dave Shafer, Dave Prince, Dick Purtan, Bob Green, Erik Smith, Ralph Binge and Joe Gentile, Marc Avery, Joel Sebastian, Dick Osgood, John Kelly & Marilyn Turner, Soupy, Bud Guest, Lou Gordon, Bill Kennedy, Sonny Eliot, Don Zee, Jim Davis, Fred Wolf, Arthur Pennhallow, Jim Harper, Mickey Shorr, Ed McKenzie, Deano Day, Jac Legoff, Jerry Goodwin, Byron MacGregor, Jim Hampton, Tom McIntyre, Jim Rockwell, Ross Mullholand, Bob Maxwell, Tom Clay, Barney Stutesman, Rita Bell, Johnny Ginger, Bud Guest, Charley Park, Deano Day, Johnny Randall, and the list goes on.  I know I have missed a few hundred.   All friends who were,  or are part of our lives and who made personal impact with us.

Not so in other cities.  Most of them have names that are quickly forgotten. I honestly do not remember the names of more than one or two in Las Vegas and that's only because I worked with them while producing The Frank Sinatra Story on the radio there.

Things are rapidly changing for radio and television these days, but its always been that way.  The stations have always had formats, rules, operational procedures for everyone to follow.  However those people we remember and became friends had the unique ability to follow all the rules, stay within the format, and somehow still reach out through the speaker or tube and invade our souls in spite of all the rules.

Other cities and states have a marvelous Hall of Fame for radio and television people who have made their special lasting mark.  Not as personal as our "Detroit Friends" but they have a Hall of Fame that recognizes their talent and work.

Not so in Detroit.  Oh the Michigan Association of Broadcasters has its Hall, but they are mostly managers, sales people, owners, VPs, etc., rarely recognizing the on air talent that made it all happen.  It might be a good idea for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters to consider adding some more of those most memorable "friends" to their Hall of Fame...before it's too late for them to know the honor.  

Unlike almost any other  city - they were.. .are our  Friends
See This Site:
Thanks for "Listening"
Lee Alan

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thomas L. Washington - American

There is much talk and great debate these days concerning the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution.  Almost no one knows the reason it is there and shall remain. 

Tom Washington was a true friend of everyone in Michigan. For decades he was the reason that the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) even existed. He was a lifetime advocate of the wise use of our natural resources and in his capacity as  Executive Director of MUCC Tom almost single handedly was responsible for initiating and getting  "The Bottle Bill"  issue on the Michigan ballot in the 1976 election.  It passed and as a result vacuumed the state of throwaway carbonated beverage container trash..

I was proud to work with Tom and the team that helped to win the vote and pass the issue. Tom was personally responsible for much of what Michigan Outdoors is today. We worked together on many other issues.  I  MCd MUCC's Outdorrama Show and handled the advertising and marketing for him nearly 15 years.  He was the definition of an outdoors man and a Constitutional scholar. I once asked Tom what was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

He answered: "Simple Lee,  the purpose is to protect us from the Federal Government".

In a pamphlet urging ratification of the Constitution and of the 2nd amendment Noah Webster said:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe."

In a widely reprinted article by Tench Coxe, an ally and correspondent of James Madison, he described the Second Amendment's overriding goal:

"as a check upon the national government's standing army: As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

For many years as a conservation leader Tom Washington was a member of the NRA.. There came a time in the mid 1990s  when he actually became the President of the NRA. He was a moderating, level headed voice and influence in the organization.

In May of 1995 it was Tom who received the letter from former President George Herbert Walker Bush resigning from the NRA. In the letter President Bush said in part:

"I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs. To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms and wanting to attack law abiding citizens is a vicious slander on good people."

Although the letter was written in the first week of May it was published in the newspapers on May 11, 1995.  Read the entire letter  Here

Tom Washington, whose unpaid N.R.A. position was largely honorary, was not always as outspoken as some N.R.A. members would have liked.  Some would say he was a moderating voice.  Still, he did his duty. As President of the NRA it was Tom's  task to answer the former President and point out  the reasons for the NRA rhetoric and government's vicious intrusion time and time again on innocent people. Thus demonstrating the purpose and reasons behind the framers of the 2nd amendment.

Thomas L. Washington will forever be known for his eloquent, pointed, yet respectful answer to former President Bush.

This was his letter:   The Letter

P.S.  Tom Washington lived in Lansing, 70 miles from Southfield, Michigan. He had never met my mother or father. During the memorial service for my Dad when I lost him in March of 1985 I turned around to look at those attending.  There,  at the back of the church all by himself was Tom.  Six weeks later when my mother passed there was a memorial at the same church.  There,  in the same seat in the back was Tom. 

Six months after his reply to the former president while hunting with his son in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan my friend suffered a heart attack that a few weeks later took his life. He was 58 years old. I spoke through tears at his funeral in Lansing, Michigan.  May God Bless him in Heaven.