|Dave Delage, WCBS, 1967 |
- Dave Delage (former WCBS technician) 5/13/08. I joined Newsradio 88 as a studio and maintenance technician in its second week on the air (on FM, that's another story) when I returned from my honeymoon with my first wife. Previous experience included Chief Engineer at WGSM, Huntington. I was prompted to tell this story by J. David Goldin, another tech and friend at the time, with whom I reconnected just last year after four decades apart. He is both a significant character in the story and has no memory of it. He has challenged me to tell it and see who's right. Other characters include Ralph E. Green, Director of Operations, Jack Cavanaugh, Reporter, Abba Eban, Israel's Foreign Minister at the time, and Mark Rudd, student dissident at Columbia University.
Unknown and therefor unnamed news writers with the possible exception of Ted Feury and the relatively new invention, the Xerox machine also played major roles. The story is from memory and thus not fact checked and probably wrong is some small details. Others memories or corrections are welcomed.
Because Newsradio 88 (how it was spelled was an ongoing and separate controversy) was located within "Blackrock", there was a weekday dress code of sorts. But on weekends, if you were a tech cutting tape in F or reading meters in Master Control, nobody cared or at least nobody noticed. Thus it came to pass that one suddenly busy Saturday, Abba Eban was going to speak at the Plaza Hotel and the News Director wanted to cover it. He assigned Jack who (union rules) needed a tech. The only available tech was J. David dutifully dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. Off they went.
Jack subsequently wrote Ralph rightfully expressing some dismay at the image of a WCBS employee so poorly dressed in the Plaza Hotel. I never saw the contents of that letter. Ralph, a firm believer in management by flaming memo, followed up with a missive to ALL technicians essentially relating the details of the event, calling all technicians unreasonable slobs and laying down a dress code reminiscent of a parochial school. Call it Memo 1.
Posted everywhere, Memo 1 was read by a few creative and perhaps bored news writers, not to mention frustrated comedy writers. Thanks to the Xerox and the creative writers, Memo 2 was issued complete with the WCBS letterhead and Ralph E. Green signature. It essentially flipped Memo 1, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, crediting all technicians with being overdressed in white tie and tails while interviewing Mark Rudd at Columbia. It was a work of art.
And it inspired Memo 3, another flaming management by memo from Ralph. After commenting on Memo 1 and Memo 2, Ralph castigated the anonymous writer (not knowing it was writers!) and promised that, when found, the anonymous writer would be fired.
Which inspired Memo 4, in which I participated both as part of the writing team and the guy who made multiple copies of all the memos and distributed them widely including under the doors of the executive offices. As an overnight maintenance tech I had discovered both the easy access to the Xerox copier and the relative emptiness of the building. The copies I retained have since been lost to history.
Memo 4, masquerading of course as having been written by Ralph, claimed that Memo 1 (Eban-Plaza-tee shirt) was a forgery but in good fun. Continuing the fun, Memo 2 (Rudd-Columbia-tuxedo) was claimed to be genuine and in the spirit we want to encourage here at WCBS. Memo 3 (fire somebody) was thus a forgery and completely unacceptable. In fact, according to Memo 4, "I, Ralph E. Green, will fire the writer of that memo!"
For some reason, management by flaming memos disappeared for a while, but unfortunately not forever.
Other stories include: 1. Filing the heads on the Ampex. 2. The Yankees and Variety. 3. The Times Square subway fire. 4. The "Emergency AM Antenna" 5. "Use Listerine" 6. "It'll cost you." 7. Tubes in a solid state studio. and maybe others if I think awhile. No bad for working there only one year. Picture courtesy of J. David Goldin.
Thanks for your work on the site, it's been fun reading and seeing some young old friends.
Dave Delage Madison,TN