Thursday, January 12, 2006

John Frogge

First off, the name rhymes with "brogue." But shoe leather was NOT the guy's M.O. He used the telephone.

John was a radio news director. And although he spent most of his life in New York, he was born a Kentucky Colonel and never left the bluegrass, at least not completely.

Lived into his 90s. Big person, probably 300 pounds and over six feet tall. Big hat. Big car, a Chrysler Imperial.

Walked through the door, once. It was made of glass and was closed at the time.

Never took a drink after that.

Totally polite.

One day he was doing a tape recorded interview on the telephone, a call from a woman who wanted an end to nuclear testing. Sweet talked her for maybe 20 minutes of tape.

At the end of which he slammed the receiver back down onto the phone and muttered "commie bitch."

Disliked Jews. But all (not some, but ALL) of his best friends were Jewish. Your correspondent among them. His colleague Gene Gugic. Others, galore.

Disliked Negroes, as they were called in the 1960s. Blue gums. Cro Magnon Jaws. All that. But he understood the need for equal opportunity and fought for it from his perch as a radio newsman and a Republican.

Smoked. They did that in Kentucky.

Held the door for women, never swore in front of them.

Ate. That 300 pounds didn't come from nowhere.

One day, he walks into the studio and says to the Kid "You are the only one around here with half a brain. You're going to be my vacation replacement. I'll show you how to write.

Jots a few words on a 3x5 card and that's the whole style book. Haven't needed anything else, since.

Didn't sink the ship during his off time, so the "lessons" continued.

Election night, 1965: traveled all over with a tape recorder. Got the winners and the losers. Returned to the station at maybe two or three in the morning. Wrote and recorded a two hour "election special," put it on the air at seven in the morning and went home for the day.

Out for breakfast at the all night diner and then home for the day. Like a day off.

It wasn't the Luckey Lindy flight, which he'd covered. But it was SOMETHING.

They don't make guys like this any more. Brash, but with good eyes and ears.

They don't make guys like this anymore. Barfly, bunch of wives, part time track announcer at the trotters.

He wasn't' one of a kind. He was one of a breed, an endangered species.

You have to wonder what he would have thought about Brian Williams or Elizabeth Vargas.

Probably not much.

Could have had Dan Rather for lunch.

For, not to.

Somewhere, that grey Imperial is still heading for work and for the telephone.

Crabbing about blue gums and Jews. And the Commie Bitch.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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