Monday, January 23, 2006

Pat Walsh

Mr. Walsh passed away over the weekend and I have been stewing about what to say. Pat Walsh was one of the more important people in Arkansas broadcasting and his office was, for the longest time, right down the hall from the ACLU. He and I talked more than once and he was always polite. The problem with radio is that folks act one way to your face and another behind your back, and I have no idea what he said when my back was turned. It really doesn't matter.

Walsh is part of a dying breed that needs to be remembered and appreciated. Now, I don't happen to think it took the brain of a nuclear physicist to run KAAY back in the heyday of rock and roll. He had a clear channel 50 thousand watt playtoy when there were no FM stations and the baby-boom kids like me were forming the largest youth culture movement in world history. We had the British invasion and big buying power. KAAY was a legend and he had the happy circumstance to be captain of the team.

I never worked for him, so I can only imagine that he had the typical mix of prejudice and childish peevishness that characterized most station managers. LIN Broadcasting was by the standards of its' day a big radio outfit. I imagine it owned 6 AM stations. SIX. Today, Clear Channel has a total fleet of over a thousand.

Radio was more regulated back then and stations cared more about community service and local news. Back in Mobile, I listened to KAAY, Emperor Webber, and the infamous "ear on Arkansas." There is hardly a radio station in any size market that would dare produce such an ambitious weekly program of political satire. They were obviously having some fun.

Pat Walsh was an old fashioned broadcasters. Whether or not he was a fan of mine, I prefer his breed of no good dirty rotten managers to the bunch that seems so prevalent now.

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