A Farewell Tribute & Parody
Played at Rick Sklars Promotion Party in 1977
Glenn R. Morgan
Midway through 1977, Rick Sklar and I received our ultimate promotions at ABC when Rick was named Vice President of Programming for the ABC Radio division, and I was upped from Program Director to Operations Director of WABC Musicradio 77.
In keeping with the tradition Rick was renown for, it was now my turn to write and produce a parody tape recounting his life and career. For years, anytime an important person in the ABC radio division either retired or was promoted, Rick created a half-hour parody tape, which was always the highlight of going away parties. Ricks skills were unparalleled. His spoofs of the careers of Hal Neal, Wally Schwartz and Cousin Brucie were talked about for years.
Rick had a sharp, sophisticated wit, was a master wordsmith, and was a showman in a league with P.T. Barnum. In fact, one might say Rick Sklar was the P.T. Barnum of radio. He had an uncanny knack for sensing what the public wanted and giving it to them with a grand presentation that was without a doubt, the greatest show on radio.
My task at hand was an awesome responsibility. Ricks radio skills carried over to his parody tapes where he could also showcase his repressed comedy writing ambitions. Writing and producing a tribute about the life and career of the man who had mastered the art, science and business of Top 40 radio was a monumental undertaking. There were so many stories to tell about Rick Sklar and his station, it could take hours, even days. How would I ever do justice, let alone hold a candle to his parody tapes? Rather than taking a comedic approach which was not my forte, I decide the direction should be more of a tribute, chocked full of production value.
After weeks of research, combing archives, writing, rewriting and then days in production studio 8C, my work was done. Rick Sklars parody tape was in the can. Every time I played it to myself, it brought a smile to my face, a tear to my eye, and a chill ran up and down my spine. These were the exact emotions I had intended to evoke at the outset and I was pleased with the outcome of my efforts.
The party for Rick Sklar leaving WABC for our corporate coffers was perhaps the most lavish in the stations history. Everyone who ever worked with Rick was there. His wife Sydelle was there. All the corporate brass were there including Hal Neal, Chuck DeBare, Alan Shaw and Mark Ross. Our Director of Advertising and Promotion, Pat Pantonini, had taken a picture of Batman and Robin and enlarged it to life size. Ricks face was substituted for Batmans, and mine for Robins.
I was apprehensive as I waited in anticipation for the time to come when my parody tape would be played for the most important people in radio. As much as I tried to enjoy the celebration, I kept reviewing the tape in my head. This indeed was a critical moment in my corporate political career. Equally important, Rick and I were almost like father and son. We had spent six close years together, behind closed doors, weekends and evenings, plotting the strategies that had created the most-listened-to-station-in-the-nation.
It was like the lyrics from "Last Night I Didnt Get To Sleep:" "the hours seemed like minutes, the minutes seemed like hours." Finally, in an instant, my moment of truth had arrived. Show time! I quickly got another Dewars and soda and studied the assembled crowds reactions. Bingo! It was a hit! While the closing credits were playing, I got another Dewars and soda and graciously accepted the accolades including the most important one which came from Rick himself. My body went limp as I sighed with relief and reflected on this work which was a labor of love and respect for the man and the station.
To those of you who listen to this parody of Rick Sklars life and career, there are many inside bits which you may not understand or appreciate. But overall, much of the history of the legendary WABC Musicradio 77 has been captured here. You will hear airchecks, promos and contests that will bring back memories. There are many clips of Ricks actual voice in the program. Ron Lundy is the voice of Rick in the scripted segments. Dan Ingram is the narrator. Dont be misled by the credits. Dan listed Bob Cruz as the narrator in the closing as a joke because Cruz was our Ingram clone. I hope that through this production, the memory and stature of Rick Sklar and the radio station he created will be immortalized and live on forever in the hearts and minds of radio fans everywhere.
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