presents . . .

Glenn Morgan and the story of . . .


(ED: Glenn Morgan was Mutual's Music Director from 1980 to 1983, after many years at WABC New York. He was responsible for creating "The Dick Clark National Music Survey."
What follows is his story, in his words, sent in an e-mail to MBSTS.
)

Just to set the record straight, (Mutual President) Marty Rubenstein did not embrace the thought of adding Dick Clark to the network. The concept was mine before even going to the network because I had toyed with talking to Clark about launching the show myself.

My first week at Mutual, Marty called me into his office and asked how I was going to put Mutual on the map with music stations since they were a news and sports network. With some build-up about "American Top 40" being the only national countdown and how it got phenomenal ratings, I told Marty it was time for Casey Kasem to have competition. What better way than to hit the ground running with an established, brand name: Dick Clark. Marty’s reply was, “next idea.” I said, "what do you mean, 'next idea?' I just gave you a multi-million dollar idea!!!" He said, “Dick Clark is a has been.” I said, "Marty, if that is true, why does your alma mater and mine (ABC) still have him hosting 'American Bandstand?'"

Marty refused to see the light, so I asked what he had in mind. He wanted to do live National Symphony Orchestra concerts. I told him that’s all well and good, but classical music is probably the lowest rated, lowest billing format. Plus, it would be costly to produce because of paying all the unions – musicians, stage hands, electricians, etc.

For the next year, I enlisted political support from the rest of the brass at Mutual, all of whom liked my Dick Clark countdown concept. After a year, Marty eventually said “OK, I’ll give it a try.” Well, the first week on the air, we had over 550 stations and the show was sold out. I still have the napkin from when I met with Dick Clark and showed him my ideas for program titles. That’s the inside story about how "The Dick Clark National Music Survey" was born.

FYI, the photo was from 1982 at Mutual's Arlington studios. Clark's show was normally produced at his offices in L.A. Normally his staff produced the show with my supervision. This particular time we had Dick appear before the Washington Press Club so he needed to record the voice tracks at our studios. I actually wrote & produced the original demo for affiliates & advertisers at the old Wally Heider studios in L.A. When Marty finally approved the program, Dick asked me to move to L.A. and produce the show. But the offer was not good enough.

If I'm not mistaken, Dick may have taken a stab a radio programs (not a countdown) on his own years before I approached him (ED: this is true - Clark had a feature on ABC Radio around 1963, and had done a couple of syndicated shows in the early '60s and '70s). But he didn't have success and the big bucks were in TV anyway. He had not thought of doing a countdown. The funny thing is, nobody had at that time, certainly not with Dick Clark as host. It seems so obvious! Everybody, including Dick, thought "AT 40" had the market sewed-up. But my pitch to Mutual & Clark was that in every major market, which advertisers are most concerned with, there is more than one Top 40 station. "AT 40" got great ratings & the other stations needed something strong to program against it. Some stations even took both shows! In smaller markets, stations loved having a big-name celebrity host a show on their little stations.

The other problem I had was convincing Dick that Mutual was a viable network for him to be on. Remember, it had an "also ran," stodgy reputation and had no music programming at the time. So first I had to convince Marty, then I had to convince Dick. Yes, I did know him from my WABC days but not well. He was on the other coast. He'd give me a call once in a while & ask me to plug one of his TV specials.

TV was where the big bucks were and are. Dick also needed to be reassured a weekly 3-hour radio show would not get in the way of his TV endeavors. As I recall, the only time that happened was when he had a last minute TV conflict with a radio special interview. It may have been our first 3-hour special. I had worked hard pulling strings with my record company contacts to let us do a special with Crosby, Stills, Nash when they released a new album. Once again, "Glenn I know you, but who the hell is Mutual?" I made arrangements for Dick to interview CSN when they were in concert outside Washington, DC. But Dick called me a few days before the interview telling me he could not do it because he had to go to London for a TV pilot he had been trying to get for months. So after some persuasion and confidence building from Dick, I recorded the interview myself! Dick's producer then edited out my voice and edited in Dick asking my questions!

I was at Mutual from 1980 to 1983. It lacked the fast NYC paced professionalism I was used to, so I left to form my own production company, Master Audio Productions, Inc. based in northern New Jersey. Mutual was my first client with me producing "Lee Arnold On A Country Road." That was a 3-hour country music program hosted by Lee Arnold from Mutual's station WHN in NYC. I also produced year end country countdowns, 3-hour country artist interview specials, and Mutual's simulcast of the Country Music Association Awards. After about a year, Mutual and I parted ways for good. Since I had won several CLIO awards for stuff I had written and produced at WABC, I changed direction of my studio and went after ad agency and corporate business. That lasted 20 years and there's a wall full of more awards. Even though at the time I was probably the most state of the art studio in NJ (Pro Tools, Studer, ISDN, audio for video sync, etc.) the industry was changing. Major studios were folding. Digital meant constant reinvestment in equipment much like how a home computer is outdated as soon as you buy it. Many clients had gone out of business (in spite of award winning commercials!). So I sold just about all my equipment on eBay. Then I said, what now? Follow the money - real estate! Sounded like a good idea at the time. For the past 11 years, I've been a real estate agent. Boring.

(ED: "The Dick Clark National Music Survey" premiered Memorial Day weekend of 1981. Clark stayed with the show for four years, leaving at the end of October 1985 to take the helm of a similar show, "Countdown America," for his United Stations Radio Network. Ironically, Clark and Mutual had signed a renewal of the show earlier that year. Mutual relaunched "National Music Survey" in November 1985 with Bill St. James and features by The Beach Boys' Mike Love. St. James was later replaced by Charlie Tuna, then by Bill Meyer and Sylvia Emerita.)


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