One of the things I love about the Facebook Memory Feed is every now and then something pops up I forgot about. Today is one of those instances.
I am sure that I have the letter referenced in this writing somewhere in a box at home. I don’t know where it is off the top of my head because it is a letter of recommendation for a radio job. Since I am no longer working in radio full-time, I packed it away as a reminder of a good friend.
11 years ago, (7-1-2010) I wrote the following:
He’s Been Off The Air For Years, And He Still Makes Me Laugh
Cleaning up the basement, I found a box of old cassettes. Most of them are my old radio shows from my Honey Radio days. In the box was one labeled, “Another Crappy Richard D. Show” – I probably labeled it. You must understand that Richard is a legend. He was one of the greatest bosses I ever worked for. The atmosphere in that building was constant fun, mainly because of his attitude. We all joked with each other, and each one of us was the butt of someone else’s jokes. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
I had to go to the college today and so I brought the cassette with me. In listening to it, I was reminded of a time when radio was fun. It was brilliant magic, and Richard was the magician. Richard knew personality radio and was a master at it. As a listened, I heard many of the familiar phrases he’d use:
“I’ve got the monocle on my mind’s eye, and you’re looking good today”.
“I brought my cerebral compass, which is here in case I lose my train of thought, I can find my way back”
“I’m the silly DJ from Savage, Minnesota….where they just decorated the town square….they bought him a suit”
“To my right is a wall. On the wall is a peg. On the peg, records. When I take one of the records off the peg and play it on the air, it becomes a Tricky Dickie Off The Wall Record”
“If you will allow me to open up Poor Richard D’s Almanac…” (which looked at famous birthdays and This Day In History). After reading his facts (and jokes) it would be followed by some kids saying, “Wow, we didn’t know all that stuff Richard D”…to which he would respond, “Of this (long pause) I am aware”
Then there were references to his family and residence.
“Hurricane Hazel” – his mother in law
“Bee-Bop” and “Doo Wop” – his boys
“Oldielocks” – his wife.
“Lack of Drive in Warren Michigan” – where he lives
And of course, there were plenty of Keith Allen jabs…..”That was Drag City by Jan and Dean…Keith Allen went there once in a dress”, for example.
Radio brilliance from a time long since gone.
During my time at WHND, I pestered him constantly for advice and for stories from his CHUM and WXZY days. I was probably a big pain is his neck, however, I never had to wonder what he thought of me again after reading his letter of recommendation for me. Honey Radio was going off the air and I asked him to write something I could use in my search for my next radio gig. Here is his letter:
November 29, 1994
To Whom It May Concern:
In contemplating what I might write about one of the best employees ever to pass through these doors, my mind focused on qualities one might use to measure any worker. Some, though not all, are listed below.
Attitude: Keith Allen is one of the most cooperative, cheerful, and positive people I have ever encountered in the workplace. I never had to talk to him about attitude adjustment. He seems to be upbeat by nature, and is a pleasure to be around.
Work Habits: Keith is self starting and self directed. Rarely, during his tenure here, did I have to steer him. He accomplished voluminous amounts of work in short time spans, and his energy level was high. He always did what I asked him to, without complaining, even when the task was not something he enjoyed.
Dedication: During Keith’s time here, his total focus was on Honey Radio, and how to make it better. He displayed a fierce pride and loyalty toward WHND. More often than not, he came in early for his shift, and stayed hours after it, contributing in whatever area he was needed. One of Keith’s strongest assets is his total love of and commitment to radio broadcasting.
Talent: Unless Keith Allen’s motivation level changes, he will be one of the great radio personalities of the future. He has the innate tools to master the art: a sense of what’s funny and what is not, great timing, a fantastic music background, and a good voice. If Keith doesn’t become a major talent someday, I’ll be very surprised.
Add it up: A person with a great attitude and disposition, a self starter with a high energy level, a person who loves the medium, an individual who is dependable and reliable, and a person with enormous talent. The sum is someone, I’m sure, you will want to add to your operation.
Richard D. Haase
Program Director, WHND
Richard is still working in radio … as a tech guy now. I’m sure the atmosphere in his presence is still the same. (Very rarely was he in a bad mood.) He is like a 12 year old trapped in an adult body! Perhaps that’s why we got along – neither one of us have grown up. I’m honored to have worked for him and more honored to call him a friend.
Over 20 years later, and you still make me laugh, pal. Thanks!
11 Years Later – 2021
Richard is still around, though retired. Life has certainly changed for both of us over the years. I think of him often, and recently caught up with him on the phone. Though he is a bit older, his voice is still as strong as ever. In the time we chatted, it was obvious that his wit was quick as ever. It was great to just pick up where we left off.
Amongst the many boxes of radio stuff, I have some of Richard’s old WHND shows. The last time I listened to them was probably about 7 years ago. A mutual friend and co-worker and burned them to CD for me and I listened to them on my way into work. With every Keith Allen joke, every bad pun, and every silly laugh, I found myself back in 1994 and laughing at jokes he probably wrote in 1964! I’m sure if I popped those shows in today, I would still laugh….all these years later!