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About the Author
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First, I should clear up the fact that I was born a Trbovich, not a McCabe, in Gary, Indiana. Only my closest relatives know this, but my biological father was Michael Trbovich, a Serb. My mom Margaret Hronec, was a Slovak, and was 17-years-old when I was born (out of wedlock). My parents finally made it legal almost a year later by getting married. My real dad and mom split up after a brief marriage and he moved to San Francisco to take up carpentry as a profession. I talked with him briefly on long distance telephone from Indiana as a youngster, but never really connected. Later, I had heard he'd died in a car accident. No emotion – I'd hardly known him.
I had my name changed legally to my stepdad's - McCabe, when I was ten or eleven years old. Ironically, Bob McCabe (pic' below) used the stage name "McKay" when he had a band and was a vocalist. When I went to work for KRIZ Radio in Phoenix (many years later) they arbitrarily changed my name to "McKaye" because the jingle singers couldn't enunciate "McCabe" easily. I had already for some years used McCabe as my legal last name though.
Bob's dad, a very nice, decent man, named Archie, was with the Muncie Fire Dept. for 39 years, 21 as Fire Chief, passing away at age 64 of cancer. Here he is (below) in the mid-40s with comedians Abbott & Costello at a police & firemen's convention.
As a young lad growing up in the basketball state of Indiana, I dreamed of being a star roundball player. Polio, at the age of thirteen made me severely alter my dreams. My tonsils and adenoids were removed in the fall before I contracted infantile paralysis the next summer. Many people believe (although unproven) that having one's tonsils removed invites the polio virus into your system.
Almost 6 months of hospitalization had left me without the use of my legs from the hips down, necessitating full-length braces and Canadian-style aluminum crutches to be able to walk. Here's a pic' on me (far left marked by xxx) at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis as Ruth Lyons & Santa give out X-mas gifts. Ruth was that era's "Oprah" in the Cincinnati/Midwest area.
It's difficult for people who have not had Polio to understand how it feels.CHAPTER 2
A GOOD SPORT
I had to alter my thinking after I fully realized how a severe case of polio would limit my life's expectations, and career destination. For one thing, my great love affair with sports would limit me to being a spectator. Or perhaps, becoming a sports commentator. I don't believe that I was frightened by my physical condition, but I was certainly concerned. It hurt my feelings, especially when young children would look at me as if I were a "freak," struggling to walk with my braces and crutches. But, after a lot of grueling hard work and determination, I felt (if not "normal") at least adequate. In fact, seeing my reflection in a store window, or a mirror, would actually repulse me. "Who is that gimp looking back at me?" Later, when I got more confident (and even cocky) I'd notice someone looking at me derisively, and I'd condition myself to think, "They may be better physically, but I have a mind ... They can't out-intelligence me." I actually felt sorry for them, in this respect. I eventually taught myself to know a little bit about a LOT of things. This training helped me immensely in my eventual chosen profession. Talking on the radio.
I was extremely fortunate to be born with a God-given set of "pipes." Not the BEST, but certainly more than adequate. If I sound smug and too full of myself, I had to have a certain amount of ego to be able to perform at top efficiency. Believe me, I was aware there were many more intelligent and talented people than me in the world. I just knew I had to get the most out of my God-given ability. I often had to remind myself to remain humble through it all.
I would now study and work hard at becoming a big-time sports play-by-play announcer. Little did I know my career direction would change a bit. Well, I DID (finally) earn my B.S. Degree in Radio & TV from Indiana University and ended up spending over 49 years in broadcasting as an on-air personality and frequently a program director. Unfortunately, not doing sports (like I would have preferred) but mostly as a music jock on radio stations in Indiana, Arizona, Florida and California. I had mostly put aside my dreams of being a big time sports announcer, but I always loved music, having grown up in Muncie, Indiana, living in an apartment above a nightclub, with "live" bands performing as well as jukeboxes all over the place.
I was also very lucky to land my first commercial radio job in my hometown of Muncie, where I helped hire a young grad student from Ball State University. His name was David Letterman.
In the two-and-a-half wonderful years I worked at KRIZ, I worked alongside the late, great newsman Lee Marshall and "Shotgun Tom" Kelly, who I later worked with at Los Angeles' K-EARTH 101. Yours truly, Shotgun, Lee, and ten others were inducted into the KRIZ Hall of Fame in Feb. 2013.
I also had pleasant stints at Y-100 (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) Boss Radio KHJ, Los Angeles, KIIS, KFWB, KFI, KRLA and Gene Autry's KMPC in L.A.
Dr. Jerry Buss even hired me to be the SHOWTIME Los Angeles Laker's new P.A. announcer at the Forum in Inglewood. During the three years I was with the Lakers they won two NBA Championships "Magic" Johnson's rookie year 1980, then, again in 1982 ...CHAPTER 3
You might assume being in radio that I have met many celebrities ... and you're right! Call it a perk! Or for some, it would be considered a lifetime event! Imagine your favorite personality strolling into your workplace. What would you do? Grab a piece of paper and ask for their autograph? Become speechless because you're in shock? Faint? Surprisingly, I have never been one to react this way. I have remained relatively calm and focused ... yes, even when I met people like ... Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rogers, Stephen McNally, Teri Garr, Stuart Whitman, Ben Johnson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, Neil Diamond, Bobby Vee, Little Anthony, Wayne Cochran, Rick James, Barry White, Fats Domino, Steve Martin, Will Smith, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal, Mark Harmon, Telly Savalas, Warren Beatty, James Woods, Robert Duvall, Jodie Foster, Richard Pryor, Chill Wills, Rodney Dangerfield, Charo, Pointer Sisters, Vincent Price, Mel Brooks, (Oscar-winning producer) Sydney Pollack, Judge Joe Wapner, Lindsay Wagner, Marvin Hamlisch, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Paul Newman, Ray Milland, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Weissmuller, Jose Ferrer, Jessica Walter, Jackie DeShannon, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Kay Starr, Red Buttons. Harry Mills (of the Mills Bros.) Jose Feliciano, Greg Morris, Barbara Feldon, Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits) John Sebastian, Dick Clark, Lou Rawls, Kenny Rogers, Mac Davis, Bobby Goldsboro, The Smothers Brothers, Andy Williams, Helen Reddy, Mike Love, Carl Wilson & Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Joe Cocker, Cher, Wolfman Jack, Sean Connery, Chevy Chase, Timothy Dalton, Dustin Hoffman, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Gene Autry, Pat Buttram, Harry Dean Stanton, Wink Martindale, Jim Lange, Robert W. Morgan, Charlie Van Dyke, "Shotgun" Tom Kelly, Gordon McLendon, Arthur Godfrey, Johnny Nash, Steve Allen, Garry Moore, Michael J. Fox, Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Wolfgang Puck, Harry Reasoner, Harry James, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Tex Beneke, Connie Haines, Anita O'Day, Larry King, Gary Shandling, Gary Owens, Casey Kasem, Sheree North, Shirley Jones, Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray, Henry Winkler (da' Fonz) Tom Selleck, Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Dan Gurney, George Foreman, Tommy LaSorda, Vin Scully, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Eddie Matthews, Stan Musial, Reggie Jackson, Ralph Branca, Bob Feller, Bob Costas, Frankie Frisch, Paul "Bear" Bryant, and all the Showtime Lakers, "Magic" Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper, John Wooden, Dr. Jerry Buss, Jack Nicholson, Lou Adler, Karen Black, Chuck Connors, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Chick Hearn, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Kevin McHale, Clyde Drexler, Vlade Divac, Larry Bird, Ed O'Neill (aka Al Bundy) Christina Applegate, Ted McGinley, Amanda Bearse, Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Shirley Jones, Dyan Cannon, Heather Locklear, Ellen Degeneres, Emma Thompson, David Letterman, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, actor/accused murderer Robert Blake, plus many more "lesser lights."CHAPTER 4
TRAIN TO NOWHERE
One of my earliest recollections as a lad was my young mom, Margaret, putting four year old me on a train bound for Tucson, Arizona to live with my Aunt Sue, while my mother and step-dad got on their feet financially.
I had an enve lope (with some cash in it) pinned to my little suit, and there was supposed to be an attendant on the train to watch over me during the long cross-country ride. Anyway, for one mysterious reason or another the she didn't show up. I never found out why.
Kindly folks on the train warmed up to me, though obviously not aware of my dilemma, they befriended me, but the jolting reality was that I was going to have to switch trains when we got to Kansas City, Missouri for the remainder of the journey. For some reason there was no one to guide me to the connecting passenger train heading for Arizona.
Reluctant (and probably afraid) to ask, I kept my mouth shut and started walking toward downtown just as the sun was setting. Completely lost and disoriented, with tears running down my cheeks, I kept walking, aimlessly. Thankfully, a Kansas City taxi driver noticed my plight and pulled over, patting me on the back, saying everything was going to be o.k., while putting me next to him in the cab. Not knowing exactly what to do, this kind man drove me to a local home for orphans. To this day, I still don't know if I had an I.D.
My only remembrance of the establishment is that it was a large building with bars on the windows, which cast an eerie glow from the moonlight filtering through that first night. I was put in a large, deep old-style crib, which was demeaning to me and made me feel like a baby again. I also recall going through a cafeteria-like line, past large metal vats of flavored jello. I can't remember the other food served.
Fortunately, my Aunt Sue's husband Lee, worked for the railroad I had traveled on, and he tracked me down in a few days. My aunt, after she discovered my whereabouts, booked reservations on a train and came to Kansas City to pick me up and take me back to Tucson, where I had a happy, normal life for about two years.
My dear aunt whom I got real close to was wonderful to me. She made sure I was clean, well-dressed and well- mannered, at all times.. She would let me lick the rotors on the electric mixer she'd made a cake with. And, she was a wonderful cook. I started calling her my "Mama Sue," which stuck.
I lived with her and my Uncle Lee around two years 'til my mom and stepdad got married and settled financially. My aunt then returned me to Muncie, Indiana, my mom and stepfather to start school in the first grade at Royerton. Here's a photo of Aunt Sue and me (less than one year old) taking my first steps in Gary, Indiana.CHAPTER 5
An early incident that shaped my life was a tragedy which occurred when my mom was driving our family's Buick convertible on icy roads in the winter of 1947. Mom lost control of the car and skidded off the road into a ditch (on the left side) hitting a fence post.
Her girlfriend, Dorothy Moulton, whom she was driving home, crashed through the windshield on the passenger side (there were no seatbelts then) suffering severe injuries. Just an eleven-year-old child, I was standing in the back seat. The sudden impact jammed my mom into the steering wheel post smashing her knee badly. The front seat crumpled on top of me, knocking me unconscious momentarily and slightly injuring my ear.
I regained my senses, checked on my moaning mom, and noticed Dorothy was lying halfway out the car's front window partly onto the hood, and in bad shape, unconscious and bleeding badly.
Knowing I had to go get some help, I painfully climbed out of the wrecked car and trudged through the snow toward the front door of a nearby mansion. I knocked on the big door 'til someone came. I quickly blurted out details of the accident and that my mom and her friend were injured, needing immediate attention. A call was made for an ambulance and police.
Little did I know, thirteen years later, I would be hired by the owner of Claynole, William Craig Sr., to work as a morning "drive" air personality at his radio station - WLBC. At the time of the accident I didn't know that the Craig's and my folks were acquainted. The Craig's had dined at the Candle Lite, my parents' Restaurant and nightclub on a number of occasions.
At the time my step-dad Bob McCabe was involved in basic training at Great Lakes Naval Center and couldn't come to our aid until he obtained an emergency pass.
The Craigs were so kind ... They made sure I was bathed, fed, and well-clothed (mostly in Bill Junior's hand-me-downs) and that I caught the school bus to Royerton Elementary every morning.
At first doctors said my mom would never again walk properly with her knee crushed. But they were able to wire it up (surgically) and eventually she was able to walk normally. But she was left with a big semi-circle scar on her knee.
Unfortunately, her good friend Dorothy didn't fare so well. She died of injuries and loss of blood a couple days later at Ball Memorial Hospital. Upon reflection, this tragedy could have had much to do with my mom's increasing problem with alcoholism.
My earliest memories of the Candle Lite are as warm as its glow. The Candle Lite was like a big, colorful, musical wonderland to me. The outdoor dance floor was surrounded by light blue neon lighting atop a white wooden fence. There was a huge, old catalpa tree, bedecked with large multi-colored Christmas-type lights, surrounded with a soft-drink (or "set-up") bar at the base of the trunk.
Here's my dear Hollywood-looks mom, Marge, who was the cook (I was the chief bottle, and dishwasher) in the front, restaurant portion of the Candle Lite.CHAPTER 6
WEDDING BELLS & POLIO
My mom and Bob McCabe were married in June 1941, and divorced S eptember 1948. Then my mom and I moved to my Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob's house on the west side of Muncie, where I enrolled in the 7th grade at Wilson Jr. H igh School.
In the summer of 1949 I contracted Polio (probably from bacteria while swimming in a polluted area of White River) but also from strenuous activity of a paper route, push-mowing a huge lawn at the American Legion Post 19 downtown weekly and overtaxing my bod y playing little league baseball and basketball.
The strain of Infantile Paralysis (Polio) I had was of the lumbar variety, and not bulbar, which affects the lungs. I could breath o.k., but was paralyzed from the waist down, with no control of my motor nerves. This meant I could still feel sensations in my legs, but my motor nerves could no longer let my mind know which individual muscle to move, or activate. Soon, from inactivity, my leg muscles became atrophied, and lost their muscle tone. I was transferred to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis for long-term treatment. This wound up being around 6 months. I received physical therapy, swimming and whirlpool treatment at Riley. It was determined that I'd need full-length braces and that (shorter) forearm-length aluminum Canadian style crutches would serve me best. I was released shortly before Christmas, as I recall.
I taught myself, thru perseverance and repetition, how to walk again, with aids. I passed 8th grade with the help of a private tutor and graduated 9th at Wilson Jr. High, going on to my sophomore year at Muncie Central High School.
My junior year, my mom and I moved back to the Candlelite apartment and the Royerton (County school district) rent-free through the graces of my step-grandmother, Irene McCabe. I enrolled back at Muncie Central for my senior year (even though we still lived in the Royerton district) because my mother and I thought I'd get a better education there. It was as a senior student manager of the Bearcat baseball team that I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a superstar entertainer.
Bob Hope was still in his prime and doing a one-night show at the North Walnut Street Fieldhouse in Muncie in the mid-'50s. Les Brown's "Band of Renown," Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna and the rest of the regular Hope troupe were there to rehearse. The Central baseball team had just finished practice on the field near the fieldhouse and I, being one of the student managers, had come to see what was going on inside the spacious arena.(Continues…)
Excerpted from ""Lar'-On-The-Air""
Copyright © 2018 Larry McCabe.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Sign-On, 1,
Chapter 2 A Good Sport, 6,
Chapter 3 Stay Tuned, 10,
Chapter 4 Train To Nowhere, 14,
Chapter 5 Fatal Crash, 18,
Chapter 6 Wedding Bells & Polio, 22,
Chapter 7 Hoosiers, 26,
Chapter 8 Rookie Dj, 31,
Chapter 9 Ella, Fella, 36,
Chapter 10 Fired, 38,
Chapter 11 Genius Of Soul, 45,
Chapter 12 I Went To Werk, 50,
Chapter 13 %#¥#In' Dick Clark, 60,
Chapter 14 "RJ", 63,
Chapter 15 The Werk/Krew, 66,
Chapter 16 "Cassidy" (And, More Werk), 69,
Chapter 17 Egos, Aside, 72,
Chapter 18 Godfather Of Soul, 73,
Chapter 19 "Jimi", 75,
Chapter 20 Two Tragic Losses, 78,
Chapter 21 Jerry Lee, 80,
Chapter 22 White-Haired Soul, 83,
Chapter 23 Police Chase, 86,
Chapter 24 1St Boy!, 89,
Chapter 25 Go West, Young Man, 91,
Chapter 26 Grrrrreat!, 94,
Chapter 27 Bye-Bye Desert, 99,
Chapter 28 Hooray For Hollywood!, 104,
Chapter 29 "Hang Down Your Head", Etc, 109,
Chapter 30 Bullitt, 113,
Chapter 31 Deja Vu, Fired (Again), 116,
Chapter 32 1150AM, 118,
Chapter 33 Reggie Dwight, 124,
Chapter 34 I Dreamed Of Jeannie, 127,
Chapter 35 Purple & Gold, 130,
Chapter 36 Dodger Blue, 137,
Chapter 37 Fired-Again?, 143,
Chapter 38 Back In The Saddle, 146,
Chapter 39 Voice-Over Luck, 154,
Chapter 40 Margarita, 158,
Chapter 41 Put Out To Pasture, 161,