Occasionally, someone special comes into your life. A great friendship then blossoms. Time can go by in the blink of an eye and you might not see that person for years, but when you do, it's like yesterday.
Such is the case with my radio sister, JJ Kennedy. Her real name is Maryanne and that's what everyone else calls her.
We started corresponding in sometime in 2003, when I first started planning the WNBC-WYNY Reunion. I called her up at WLTW-FM in Manhattan and invited her to it. She told me that she didn't work there long enough to warrant an invite and I told her time didn't make a difference.
She stood fast, and didn't want to attend. I dropped it, but I continued to stay in touch with her by phone and email. We learned about each other over time and as she has a son named Matt, we had a connection. When I told her how old I was, she replied, "You're too old to be my son, but you could be my brother."
It was our thing that we were siblings and that came to a head one night when she was at a radio event and mutual friend of ours, Dave Plotkin, the production director at WINS-AM. He introduced himself to her, saying he knew her brother.
JJ didn't think I told anyone about our brother-sister joke. She told Dave she didn't have a brother. He kept insisting and, finally, he mentioned my last name. A light when off in her head; she finally realized what was going on.
JJ later said in a quote from my Grub Street Interview, "It was at that moment I realized Matt truly was my brother."
Early in her career, Maryanne used the name "Beth Marshall." Whenever we had a special occasion in the family, such as a birthday or anniversary, whatever, JJ would always dedicate a song to us from "Auntie Beth," if it were for the kids, or "Your sister Beth." I have all of those dedications recorded.
Speaking of air checks, I have many of Maryanne from early in her career and I gave her a CD of them. To this day, she still hasn't listened to it. She was glad I didn't share them with our mutual friend and avid air check collector, Bob Gilmore.
The last time I saw my sister was three years at our almost annual summer BBQ. She came with her husband Charlie, who is retired from the Metro North railroad. Charlie and I share the common pain of back injuries.
I called Maryanne about three or four weeks ago, just to say hello and told her we weren't having a BBQ this year. She said that she might put something together, would I come. Of course I would, I only need some notice.
A week later, I get not only an email, but also a printed invitation, announcing her First Annual Rock and Roll Party. She invited many of her former WLTW-FM coworkers, and our mutual friend Bob. She called it for 3 pm and I told her that Marcy and I wouldn't be there until six.
The ride up to Westchester County was very nice and Maggie Magellan, our GPS, got us there without any problems. When we walked into her backyard, I was pleased to see so many familiar faces!
My old friend, Herb Barry, who I hadn't seen since the early reunion, in 2004, greeted me with a big handshake and hug! I finally met Al Bernstein and Rick Hunter. Don K Reed and his wife, Dee, were there. Marcy spent most of the night talking to Dee. Bob Tarsio, the former Chief Engineer of WLTW-FM, was also there as was Bob Gilmore.
The funniest conversations of the night were the stories about former radio programme director Larry Miller. JJ, Al and I had worked for him; we agreed he was crazy. It turns out the interviews he had with each us were casual, crazy and made no sense.
My interview for WWHB-FM in Hampton Bays consisted of driving around town in his Jeep smoking pot, then going back to his house to hang out. JJ's interview was many years earlier; he asked her to meet him at his apartment in New York City, which was overrun by ten dogs. Larry actually gave JJ a dog, which he said needed a one-dog owner. “Oh yeah, you can have the job,” he said.
With Al Bernstein, it was at the office, of Larry Miller, at what was to be the WQIV-FM, a new rock station to compete with WPLJ-FM and WNEW-FM. Miller offered Bernstein weekends, which ended up being full time on overnights. How did that happen so quickly you ask?
Larry had hired the "other" Larry Miller away from WPLJ-FM, made him change his name and fired him a week later. Bernstein then took over, full-time, as host of the overnight shift.
Fast forward. The corporate suits from Starr Broadcasting, which owned WQIV-FM, descended on NYC. They called a meeting without Larry Miller, the programme director. Seems they heard rumblings and grumblings about his management style. They wanted to hear from the employees and find out if the rumblings were true.
Bernstein said, with seventy-four complaints issued, Starr Broadcasting Larry Miller fired a few days later. The only complaint Bernstein had involved shoddy turntables in the air studio. Bernstein needs to write a book about his radio career, I said.
I think if was had a few more hours to sit around and shoot the breeze, more stories would have been told. By 10:30 pm, everyone was tired and some of us had to go to work the next day.
There is nothing better to do than to party with radio people. The stories told are out of this world, even the true ones.
I can't wait until next year!
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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