In my radio career, I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people. Pictured with me above are two of them. Sadly, I received word just after Christmas that the silly guy holding the coffee pot, passed away. Richard D. Haase was one of a kind.
Readers of this blog may remember that I have blogged about him in the past. Last year, I posted the following:
Richard was a fantastic mentor to me. His guidance, advice, and coaching made me a better on air personality. His love of humor, bad puns, old jokes, and silliness helped us to become instant friends. I used to love sitting in the Honey Radio office listening to him on the air. I would anxiously await the “Keith Allen” joke of the day. Sometimes there were more than one. “My part time secretary and full time airhead, Lulu, said the last time Keith was on the air he sounded funny. She thought he had a worm in his Adam’s apple!”
Later in the same show he quipped – “I’m pretty sure the year that song came out was the same year that Jon Ray (pictured to my left in the first picture) got kicked out of grade school. He was caught drawing naked pictures of Wilma Flintstone on his Etch-A-Sketch”
In past blogs I have written about Richard:
From the blog “World Radio Day Thank You” written 2-14-2018:
WHND – Honey Radio
Before I say any more, let me say that working at WHND was not work at all. It was like play. We had so much fun. Anyone who tuned in and listened to this station could tell that the DJ’s were having as much fun as the listeners. Honey was the first “Oldies” station in America. I was honored to work here and honored to work with everyone here.
Richard D. Haase: Richard D. remains to this day one of the guys who offered me some of the most amazing advice. I was probably a big pain in his ass. I was always asking him something. I had this want and need to be better. I wanted to be the best. I was forever asking him to listen to my show tapes and offer criticism and advice, which he did always.
One of the things I learned from him, was the importance of talking to one person. To create the illusion that it is just me and you listening to our favorite songs and hanging out together. I understood what he meant, and began to drop phrases like “everyone”, “all of you”, and “out there”. He also connected me with a mentor who would take that premise and continue to grow into a better personality, the late Jay Trachman.
Richard’s show was full of “benchmarks”. Poor Richard D’s Almanac (This Day In History), The Off The Wall Record (a rare song that he played each day), and “The Top 12 at 12” (His countdown of the top 12 local songs from a specific year). He also featured many characters on the show that were sometimes referred to and never heard (another gimmick of old time radio).
His show was also filled with insanely bad jokes. I often kidded him that even Milton Berle (who was known for stealing others jokes) wouldn’t touch his stuff. He often poked fun of the other DJ’s on the station, which I found to be a unique way of cross promotion.
There were many days that we’d sit in his office and talk about radio, computers, and life in general and we’d laugh until tears rolled down our faces and our sides hurt. Richard was a legend who had been on the air for many years, a far cry from being young! Yet, when we worked together, we were like a bunch of elementary kids laughing and hooping it up.
From the blog “Some Old Radio Stories – Part 1” written 8-21-2018:
Richard D was one of the funniest men I ever worked with. He gave me lots of direction and I have talked about him in previous blogs, as well. I was producing his show the Top 12 at 12, which was an hour of his show which featured the Top 12 songs in Detroit from local charts from different years. It was a fun show to produce. It included new stories, TV and movie clips, old commercials, info about how much things were from that year, etc…
Richard had to play the 12 songs and sometimes there was extra time and we’d give him songs that were on the charts from that week to play as “extras” if he needed them. He was doing a countdown from 1966 and I had put a Dean Martin song in there as an extra and he played it. He made some comment about it not being the greatest song or something and moved on. I went into the studio, as I often did, to give him crap.
I said something along the lines of “Why are you messing with Italians! Dean was Italian and so I am I! Look here you Old Bastid (a term of endearment), If I were you, I’d watch what you say about Dean Martin … and Frank Sinatra for that matter!” and left the room as he laughed hysterically. After the next song he said on the air, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I must offer an apology. A little while ago I played (whatever the song was) by Dean Martin and made some negative remarks about it. Well immediately after that, Keith Allen came in here with about 12 goons who roughed me up a bit and told me that my comments were distasteful. So I must now publicly apologize. I really had no idea that Keith Allen was the President of the Dean Martin Fan Club!”
From that day on, I always tried to find a way to sneak a Dean Martin song into my show, so I could say I was President of the Dean Martin Fan Club. When Honey went off the air, I received a package from a listener named Sandy (who I remain friends with to this day), who sent me a membership to the REAL Dean Martin Fan Club with a note that read: “I thought you might actually want to be a member of the Fan Club you claim to be President of….”
From the blog “More Musical Memories” written 3-2-2018:
Richard D. used to have a feature called The Off-the-Wall Record. He’d say, “To my right is a wall. On the wall is a peg. On the peg – records. When I take one of the records of the peg on the wall and play it on the air, it becomes a Tricky Dickie Off-The Wall Record”. When he did this feature it usually consisted of rare or obscure tunes. One day I gave him Stormy Weather by the Spaniels to play. He LOVED it. He told me that was one of his favorites.
He often spoke of the group the Hi-Los and told me about the “tight” harmonies that they had. He was right. Good stuff! As a fan of the big bands, I let him listen to The Spitfire Band’s version of Cherokee, which featured an AMAZING trombone part. Again, he loved it and I think of him when it plays on the iPod.
Tying in with the Dean Martin story above:
After his last show on Honey Radio, a listener suggested I play a Dean Song in Richard’s honor….I chose “I Will”. The first line of the song is “I don’t wanna be the one to say I’m gonna miss you, but I will…” it fit the somber occasion.
I found this article was posted on the Motor City Radio Flashbacks page and is from the Detroit Free Press. It is from March of 1981, one year after he took the reigns of WHND.
There were things in that article that I didn’t even know. He mentioned his accident briefly in a conversation once, but he didn’t want to dwell on it. He spoke a lot of his days at CHUM and WXYZ. I loved listening to those stories! I remember the young Keith sitting there in awe of the legend. He spoke of long lines for autographs at remote appearances, hanging with celebrities, and performing magic with vinyl records and reel to reel tape machines. I hung on his every word!
Every day, listeners tuned in to “The Richard D Wireless Act” to hear The Top 12 at 12, Tricky Dickey Off the Wall Record, Tricky Dickey Trivia, facts from the Poor Richard D’s Almanac, and hoped to be Richard D-clared a winner. Watching him work in the studio was like watching a kid in a candy store. He was constantly moving, constantly writing, constantly thinking. He often laughed to himself just before cracking the microphone because of whatever line popped into his head. He was a master.
I’ve said before that the man you heard on the air was also the man that he was off the air. His quick wit and ad-libs were brilliant. I marveled at how his mind was able to come up with those things. In later years, I found myself mimicking his on air delivery because it was just so “personal.” He understood talking to one person and connecting with his listener. I took away a lot from his coaching and from listening to him.
Honey Radio went off the air in 1994. I was lucky enough to keep in contact with Richard through Facebook. As the years went on, life offered many changes for both of us. For me – a divorce, second marriage and new life. For him – the sad loss of his wife Pam. He spoke of her often on the show (calling her “Oldielocks”) and off air, too. In our last phone conversation, it was obvious that he missed her very much.
My heart breaks for his children and grandchildren. As a fellow Honey co-worker stated when I shared the news of his passing, “He is now reunited with the love of his life in heaven.” There is comfort in knowing this.
I hope that his family and friends will always remember the fun he had. I hope that they recall the happiness that filled a room when he was there. I hope that they remember the love that he had for each of them.
Thankfully, there are many recordings of his show available online. His voice will live on. His memory will live on. His jokes will live on (this could be a good thing or a bad thing!). You can enjoy some of them here:
What a blessing it was to have shared the same studio with Richard. I am thankful for the many laughs we shared over the years. I am forever grateful for his guidance and support. I only hope that he knew just how much he meant to me.
I’d like to think that there was an opening at God’s radio station and he needed Richard’s talent for the heavenly airwaves. I am going to miss my friend very much, but I will look back on our friendship fondly.
Rest easy, Richard.