The music of the 60s and 70s was groundbreaking and it set the stage for the decades of amazing music that followed it. Milwaukee radio legend and Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Barry spoke with countless musicians and celebrities over the years and collected remarkable recordings of his encounters with these talented people, which he's now sharing with the public in this podcast. He spoke with Sonny and Cher, James Brown, Dolly Parton, and and many others, and they shared their amazing stories about their lives and careers. All the episodes will be available as they’re released at WisconsinBroadcastingMuseum.org. This podcast was made possible by a generous contribution from Terry Baun.
John Cameron Swayze
We’re going way back in television news history for this podcast. John Cameron Swayze had several jobs in radio and TV before moving on to TV news. The first use of the word anchorman was on a show that he anchored called “Who Said That?” NBC appointed John to host its national political convention coverage in 1948, the first commercial coverage by television. Swayze appeared on the “Camel News Caravan” where he was best known at the time for reporting on the Korean War. He got the job due to his amazing memory. He could recite the news without using a script. John was also known for doing the Timex commercials using the slogan, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” His news catchphrases were: “Let’s go hopscotching the world for headlines” and he would sign off with, “That’s the story folks. Glad we could get together.” Dickie Goodman mocked him in a parody recording “The Flying Saucer.”
Mae Boren Axton
August 16 is the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Mae Boren Axton introduced Elvis to Colonel Tom Parker, the man who would manage Presley from 1955 until 1977, the year Elvis died. Mae was one of the first persons to interview the King. The new movie “Elvis” stars Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker.
Mae Axton worked with Johnny Tillotson, Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, and many others. She received an award from the Academy of Country Music for Dedication and service to the ACM. Mae is credited with writing Elvis’s first No. 1 record. She’ll talk about the song and tell us how the idea came about for the recording.
Here is a summertime podcast episode. This group had a hit with the song “Theme from a Summer Place.” Tony Butala was the lead sing of the group “The Lettermen.” He started out performing in a boys’ choir and then became the singing voice of Peter Pan in the Disney animated film. When he was a teenager, he performed in a quartet “The Fourmost,” which included singer, actress Connie Stevens. The Lettermen had many hit records including their first “The Way You Look Tonight.” If you were at the 1970 WOKY Pops festival at County Stadium you saw the Lettermen in person.
The Bee Gees had a string of hits in the 60s and 70s. Maurice Gibb was one of the members of the brother group, the Bee Gees, one of the most successful pop groups of all-time. Maurice’s career started at the age of six in a skiffle rock and roll group named the “Rattlesnakes,” which later became the Bee Gees. His early musical influences included the Beatles, Everly Brothers, the Mills Brothers and Paul Anka. Maurice was the fraternal twin of Robin Gibb. On Dec. 28 1957, the brothers were invited to perform at a local movie theater. They planned to sing along to a 78 rpm record, but they dropped and broke the record so they had to sing live. They sang “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers. The audience thought they were great and they were on their way to stardom.
The Beatles owned the Billboard charts in early 1964. From February to May they had three consecutive No. 1 singles, a record, and held all five sports in the top five in early April, a record. They had a total of 14 songs in the top 100 in mid-April…another record. It looked like the American artists were done. But in May of 1964, jazz great Louis Armstrong, at the age of 63, broke the Beatles’ streak with the No. 1 hit “Hello Dolly.” Satchmo was of the most influential artists in jazz history. He always said, “If it hadn’t been for jazz there would be no rock and roll.” Louis’ recording of “What a Wonderful World” was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. This was one of his last interviews.
Better than the hat trick. Composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch won the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony awards. He was one of only 16 people to do so. And he, along with Richard Rodgers, won all four of those awards plus a Pulitzer Prize. His first job was a rehearsal pianist for “Funny Girl” with Barbra Streisand. During this interview I learned that he wrote a hit song for a top 40 female artist. Marvin was probably best known for writing “The Entertainer” for the movie “The Sting.” He also wrote “The Way We Were,” and “Nobody Does it Better” for the film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” And there were many others including “Chorus Line” and “They’re Playing Our Song” which was based on his relationship with Carole Bayer Sager.
When Bob spoke, we all listened
Omg!! THE man from my teenaged years. He was, and still is, truly the man who spoke to the world, and we all listened with rapt attention. These memories are priceless. Thank you so much for sharing them again.
Still the BEST!
Thanks to Milwaukee Radio treasure BOB BARRY for sharing these fantastic moments of radio history. Whether you enjoy them for the guests, or the snapshots of Milwaukee radio at its best, you WILL enjoy them! Bob Barry really DID “call the world” — and the world always answered!!! 😊🎙🎧🎼‼️
Long over due
What a great flashback and so happy to listen. Can’t wait for the next one.