BY SANDY WELLS
It was a bittersweet day for famed Los Angeles morning man Robert W. Morgan at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills Jan. 9. TV entertainment reporter David Sheehan hosted the last "Good Morgan" show, which was broadcast live on K-Earth a year, was seated on stage during the ceremony, unable to stand or walk without help because of to hip surgery - an ailment unrelated to his cancer. Looking distinguished in a black turtleneck and a dark blazer and donning a captain's cap to disguise the baldness caused by chemotherapy, Morgan looked more like a sea captain than a rock radio personality.
News anchor/sidekick Joni Caryl, dressed in a red gown, appeared as attractive as her voice must have sounded to Morgan the day he discovered her. When he heard her on KHJ to join his morning team on Magic 106. Back at K-Earth's studios, Jim Carson, who has been filling in for Morgan for the last six months, kept things lively for radio listeners.
On stage, Morgan heard affectionate words from KRTH-FM General Manager Patrick Duffy, his friend Ernest Borgnine, Mayor Richard Riordan, radio programmer Chuck Blore, Dick Clark, Gary Owens, Monty Hall and football coach John Robinson.Clark jokingly kneeled to address the seated Morgan.
Especially poignant was the glowing tribute paid by Blore, one of radio's legendary top 40 programmers, who recounted how the young Morgan came to him looking for a job as a DJ at KFWB in later with Morgan in morning-drive, KHJ buried KFWB in the ratings.
Also on hand at the celebration were Morgan's wife and daughter, KRTH Program Director Mike Phillips, former traffic announcer Richard Turnage, KIKF-FM former morning man Charlie Tuna, KRTH DJs "Shotgun Tom" Kelly, Bill Stevens, Larry McKay and KRLA/KLSX-FM General Manager Bob Moore.
It's impossible to overstate the influence of Morgan on music radio. His perfect radio voice, flawless timing and dedication to delivering first-class entertainment five mornings a week earned him "legendary" status within a couple of years of his debut on KHJ in 1965. His recalcitrant attitude created a sort of Sinatra effect as he pitched products, intoned time and temp and churned out snappy one-liners. He proffered his signature listener induction ceremonies with the familiar "Zap! You're Morganized!" to the delight of his "Boss Radio" audience. He seemed curiously aloof, keeping his stance as a sort of ironic commentator poised - with an occasional hint of disapproval in his voice - above the swirling cacophony of jingles, sound effects and top 40 hits. If the late '60s were the golden age of rock music, then Morgan was fortunate enough to be on the scene at the right time. His smooth patter respected the music, timing his remarks to the quarter second before the vocal and always in time with the beat. According to his video biography, he preferred the pop standards of the previous generation, a fact that influenced his decision to take a part-time gig on middle-of-the road KMPC following two years of waking up Chicago at WIND and a stint on L.A.'s K-100. In 1979, he succeeded Dick Whittinghill in the coveted AM 710 morning slot. Six years later, he was playing top 40 hits on Magic 106. In 1986, it was back to KMPC, where he was morning host until joining KRTH in 1992.
Over the years, Morgan pursued various sidelines in TV and syndication. His compelling narration of the 1960s version of the "History of Rock 'n' Roll" made broadcasting history. "The Robert W. Morgan Special of the Week," "Record Report with Robert W. Morgan" and NBC Monitor's "Superjocks" took his voice into other radio markets. On national TV, he hosted "The Helen Reddy Show," ABC's "In Concert" and Paramount Television's "Solid Gold." Locally, he was seen on "Morgan's Alley," The Groovy Show," "Boss City," "Everywhere" and "Ninth Street West."
Among his numerous professional awards, Morgan has snared Billboard Magazine's "Air Personality of the Year," Gavin Professional Programmer's "Man of the Year." He was unanimously inducted into the Ohio Broadcaster's Hall of Fame (his home state). Morgan received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993. A replica is on display at the Museum of Television & Radio until the completion of the subway allows the sidewalks' restoration.
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