Putting Together a Tribute to Jim Healy Was Not an Easy Job
You couldn’t blame Steve Bailey if in the wee hours of the night he screamed, “This job is not that . . . easy.”
He may end up going “the Leonard Tose route,” but for now he is enjoying every minute of putting together the 90-minute Jim Healy tribute that will be broadcast on the new KMPC next Wednesday at, naturally, 5:30 p.m.
Bailey, a KMPC producer and announcer for 37 years and the station’s executive producer before his retirement in 1991; Bob Rowe, a KMPC producer and announcer for 25 years, and producer John Felz, the jack-of-all-radio-trades at the station for 20 years, have been working on the tribute for more than three weeks.
Healy, a Los Angeles radio institution who was on the local airwaves for 43 years, died July 22 of complications stemming from liver cancer. He was 70.
Of the tribute, Bailey said, “It’s been an all-consuming project. The problem is taking all this material and editing it down into an hour and a half.”
Sounds as if a “Jim Healy, Part II,” may be in order.
Bailey sent along an unfinished, unedited copy of Wednesday’s memorial tribute, and it’s outstanding. Johnny Carson may come out of retirement to proclaim, “I think it’s . . . brilliant.”
Most of the old Healyisms so familiar to his legions are in there, and many of the people he chided over the years are interviewed, along with friends and colleagues.
Tom Lasorda talks about Mother’s Day, 1978, when a young news assistant by the name of Paul Olden asked him, after Dave Kingman of the Chicago Cubs had hit three home runs and driven in eight runs against the Dodgers, “What did you think of Kingman’s performance?”
Lasorda’s expletive-laced response became legendary.
“I just wish I owned the rights to it,” Lasorda says in the tribute.
On a more serious note, he says he never thought it would get on the radio, and he regrets it because, he says, in his 44 years of marriage he has never used that kind of language in front of his wife, Jo, or in front of any women or children, for that matter.
Others interviewed for the tribute include Vin Scully, talking about his “I can’t believe it” comment; Al Michaels, talking about Howard Cosell; former KMPC deejay Dick Whittinghill, Times Sports Editor “Journalist Bill” Dwyre, former Times and Orange County Register columnist John Hall, former KMPC and KLAC general manager Bill Ward, former Dodger catcher and Angel manager Norm Sherry, Glendale News-Press columnist and sports historian Dawin Esper, son Patrick Healy of Channel 4 and many more.
One of Healy’s arch adversaries, Ed (Superfan) Bieler, was tracked down and talked into doing an interview.
Bieler says at first he didn’t mind Healy’s poking fun at him--in particular, playing a tape in which Bieler says, “And what is the name of that river that runs through San Antonio?--the San Antonio River runs right through the heart of downtown Los Angeles.”
But after a while, Bieler says, it got under his skin.
“Back when he was doing the fights at the Olympic Auditorium, I went down there one night to confront him,” Bieler says. “People in the business know about my temper. It would have been horrible.
“When the former publicist for the Olympic (Van Barbeiri)--I believe he’s now selling real estate in San Pedro--warned Healy I was coming, Healy snuck out the back. I’m glad he did.”
Add Bieler: He says that five or six years ago, during his second stint at KABC radio, he ran into Healy at Hollywood Park.
“I’d never met him before and I was amazed how quiet and mellow he was,” Bieler says. “We had a good time, but then the next day on the radio he crucified me.”
Healy played the old Bieler tape in which he forgets the last name of New York Knick center Patrick Ewing and also refers to Manute Bol as Manuel Boat.
Last add tribute: The program no doubt will draw a huge audience. Unfortunately, people listening in their cars won’t be able to tape it. How do you set a VCR for radio?
There have been inquiries about any public release of a tape of the tribute, as well as other Healy tapes. Reader Jack Nelson of Culver City, known on Healy’s show as “Listener Jack N.,” wrote to suggest donating proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
But, for now, there are no plans for marketing any of Healy’s material. Patrick Healy has the tapes but said he doesn’t want to use his father’s name for monetary purposes.
Fox debut: Viewers got a sneak preview of how Fox will televise NFL football during last Friday’s exhibition between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. The most noticeable difference was the score-and-time-remaining graphic in the upper left corner. It was always there, except during replays.
Nothing wrong with putting such a graphic up between plays. The problem in leaving it there during live action is that it becomes distracting.
There have been complaints, but David Hill, the president of Fox sports, says it’s here to stay.
Hill used a similar graphic on soccer telecasts in 1992, when he was the head of Sky Sports, Britain’s all-sports channel.
Maybe it’s OK for soccer, with its continuous action. But football has natural breaks.
“My crystal ball tells me people are going to get used to it and like it,” Hill said. “My mother-in-law and her bridge club in Lincoln, Neb., loved it, and that’s good enough for me.”
Different points of view: Fox was patting itself on the back for the 6.5 rating it got for its first NFL exhibition telecast, pointing out that it beat CBS’ average of 6.4 for exhibition football the previous four seasons. But CBS, claiming Fox’s calculations were misleading, shot back that the 6.5 pales in comparison to an 8.1 it got for a San Francisco-San Diego exhibition game last Aug. 28. The war has just begun. . . . Fox comes back with New Orleans-Green Bay today at 5 p.m. As was the case last week, studio analyst Jimmy Johnson won’t be at this game either. During the early part of the exhibition season, he’s allowed to stay home on his boat in South Florida, where he appears live via satellite. “Winning two straight Super Bowls has its privileges,” Fox’s David Hill said.
Channel 9 will provide live coverage of Saturday night’s Ram-Raider exhibition at Anaheim Stadium at 7, with Rich Marotta and Hank Stram reporting. . . . ABC’s Monday night exhibition football continues next week with Chicago at Kansas City. . . . NBC announced Thursday that Notre Dame football this fall will be shown live to more than 60 million households in 32 countries in Europe, North Africa and parts of the Middle East.
Prime Ticket staff members were thrilled about their recent bonuses after the sale of the regional sports network. Not so happy were free-lance production people who have worked Prime Ticket events for years. They were left out because they are not on the staff. . . . Showtime previews the Sept. 17 pay-per-view rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor in a half-hour special that will be shown Saturday at 3 p.m. and again Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
The Sporting Channel, a new Los Angeles company that plans to launch a cable channel offering rugby and other international sports, has bought time from Rancho Cucamonga’s Channel 30, KZKI, to show California League baseball games involving the Riverside Pilots, beginning tonight. KZKI, a shopping channel, is also carried by most cable systems. The Sporting Channel is headed by a group from the entertainment industry--Robert Crawford, a writer-producer, and actors Brad English, Maura Soden and Geoff Callan.
At 4:35 today, TBS offers triple-A baseball, the Richmond Braves and Norfolk Tides. . . . Satellite TV Week magazine reports that satellite dish owners can choose from more than 150 minor league games between now and Sept. 1, telecasts carried by various regional sports networks. . . . KABC radio will again carry Albuquerque Duke broadcasts this weekend. . . . Minor league baseball can be heard most nights on KMNY (1600), which carries the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The announcer is Joe Castellano, a 1984 USC graduate.
One benefit of the baseball strike is that KABC has brought back “Sportstalk” to fill the nightly void. Steve Edwards and Eric Tracy are the co-hosts of the 6-to-8 p.m. shows. . . . The Little League World Series, which begins Monday, will be carried by ESPN and ESPN2, with ABC showing the championship game next Saturday. The ESPN announcers will be Tim Brando and Steve Garvey.