Thursday, July 13, 2017

The LuLac Edition #3552, July 13th, 2017


Our “13 Questions” logo


When L.A. Tarone passed away on June 25th there were a number of questions regarding my friendship with him via the e mail and FB/Twitter messaging. I am answering them today, combining answers with some multiple questions. I had 36 questions all told but many were along the same subject lines. Thus the consolidation. The response still gives me the impression that L.A. Tarone was one popular guy.

1. What was Tarone like in private?

Very kind and responsible. When I went to WYLN TV he was very cognizant of my walking issues. He’d make sure the set was easy to access and when Mrs. LuLac came up, he was always very courteous and dare I say even gentle.
He extended kindness to many and raised his nephew and niece. There was bombast but also a side that was (and he’d kill me if I ever said this when he was alive) sweet.

2. What did you see as his strengths and weaknesses as a broadcaster?

He knew his stuff and did his research. But a few times he’d dig in and refuse the fact that his memory failed him. You’d have to pull it up or give him a source and when he saw it there was a grudging acknowledgment. (One was about Ray Shafer the former Pa. Governor).
Tarone respected his audience but also knew who the stupid ones were. To his credit, they came from both sides of the spectrum. If someone told him 911 was an inside job, he’d scream “Get off my phone!” which I believe his idol Bob Grant used to say.
He’d get real annoyed when I would say, “Just because you say it loud, doesn’t make it necessarily true”.

3. Were there conversations where the two of you had total agreement?

God yes. Traffic was one. We’d bitch about drivers who were too slow in passing lanes. Both of us felt strongly that the root of many social problems was the breakdown of the family. We agreed on welfare reform but he was taken aback when I’d give him my three babies, two daddy thoughts.
Religion was another where we both agreed that the hierarchies sometimes over shadowed personal faith.
On the Sunday before he died, we watched a Pirates game and were appalled at the baby blue colors both teams wore because of Father’s Day.
On WYLN we agreed that we’d scream and yell on the show and laugh about it afterwards. In the summer we’d go outside and he’d smoke and we talked about what we should have talked about. We always felt we missed something.
On convertibles there never was an argument about the fact that there was never a bad convertible made!
He was a Rolling Stones fan, I’m a Beatles guy. But we agreed that this song from a group from Canada was something else. The first was “Stay Awhile” by The Bells and the second was “This Heart”.

Tarone made me CD retrospectives of Perry Como and Tony Martin. Mrs. FB said that we were the only two guys in LuLac land who not only owned them but played them.

4. Do you think L.A. could have gone national?

Absolutely. Every time I hear Scott Ferrall on CBS Radio, I cringe because L.A. could enunciate and project better on any given day. But he was a hometown boy who loved his town and his family.
Time, luck and chance denied him that chance.

5. You met L.A. early according to you and his account. But was there a gap between then and when you became close?

Yes. I met him in ’78, we got close in ’81. From ’81 to 2001 there was no communication whatsoever because of our respective lives. But then we reconnected when there was a Radio Board forum on line. We’d go back and forth on the Sunday Night Hall of Fame and Radio. Then we met up a few times when he was at The Standard Speaker. We were very close when I came to WYLN after WYOU ended their Interactive News in 2009. Working with him every week for those 5 years was a gift that I will always treasure.

6. Funniest and angriest you’d ever seen him?

Election night 2009 on WYLN TV. The voting in Luzerne County was coming in slow and L.A. had to get the results denying him the chance to be on the air for the whole show. He’d march onto the set, a scowl on his face and then put the papers down in front of anchor Don Pachance.
But he got in on the last segment and made the most of it. It was funny to see him strutting in, his facial expressions reminded me of Forrest Tucker on F Troop when he got poised at Captain Parmiter.

7. Did you ever dine with l.A.?

Yes at Fridays on a few occasions and Jimmy’s Lunch in Hazleton. He was a burger man at Fridays, well done, cheese and onion. At Jimmy, loaded dog.

8. What type of driver was he? Did you ever ride with him?

Once at a remote for WYLN TV in 2011 or ‘12 at a car show downtown. He was careful but quick and drove within the speed limits. It was in his Sebring.

9. You had your share of health issues, when you discussed it with him, what was his reaction and did that carry over when he was ill?

He was sympathetic but usually sighed and said, “Oh boy”. That was the extent. When we talked about his health during his battle, he was confident he’d be back on the radio.

10. Did you ever get dressing advice from him?

He said I should go with more color. He did like my purple double breasted suit. One time I wore a Leather jacket on Topic A and I could tell he didn’t approve but never said anything.

11. How about oldies. Ever try to top each other?

All the time. I only got him once on a Hamilton Camp song. He always wanted me to bring only instrumental bumper music on WILK. I did sometimes. Here was one of his and mine favorites.

12. The best thing about Tarone as a person that you admired?

He could always take a compliment. I learned that from him. When he was praised, there was no “aw shucks ma’am” self deprecating humor, just a strong “Thank you very much”.

13. How will he be remembered?

As a consummate professional who gave up a lot for his broadcast career. I know there were one or two personal relationships he could have grown but his life was broadcasting and the news.
He’ll be remembered as a great broadcaster by his listeners. As time fades and my generation and his die off, he’ll be a distant memory. Like all of us.
But as long as his contemporaries think of him and certainly through the magic of the internet, future generations (if they are interested enough to seek his life out) will be impacted by his style and body of work.


At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LA was a great radio host with that unique voice, like Harry Kalas. I remember The Bells, but not the other 2 songs. What was the name of the song he closed his show with? That had some interesting combinations. Thanks Dave.

At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly his memory is already fading at WILK. A previous poster had a great idea, something about keeping the name as The LA Tarone Show hosted by whoever.
I really miss Tarone, his callers, not so much.


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