Monday, January 03, 2011

804 Click Dark

804 Click, Dark

Enough downtime, already. This is new for 2011.

Dick Clark is an icon and a hard man to work for, even for those of us who did so but never saw, let alone met him. As head of UniStar Radio, he had people in place to run a tight ship. Typical newsroom hours. Typical newsroom chaos. But plenty of comradery, much of it left over from the days of its previous owner, the RKO Radio Network. These news people were mostly friends and long time colleagues. We were shielded from those Clark temper tantrums laced with swearing, something his viewers would be shocked to know of, let alone hear.

At one point, word spread that the whole UniStar shebang was moving from 40th and Broadway to Washington, D.C. At that point someone -- can't say who, at least not with a straight face -- scotch taped a little sign beneath the newsroom light switch. It said "Click, Dark." It took management about two weeks to realize what the word play meant before they took it down. And by then, it was in the air as a daily funereal laugh.

We never even heard of him being in the building, if ever he was. Today, UniStar soldiers on as a second tier broadcast syndication outfit. And Dick Clark soldiers on as a broadcast personality, but should he?

Dick had a stroke 2004 just before his annual Times Square New Year ball drop broadcast, which he was unable to attend. A year later, he was back, sort of, and has maintained that position ever since. Conveniently, ABC has a Times Square studio, usually used for "Good Morning America." "Sort of" means he sat behind a desk. You saw movement only from one hand. You could barely understand him.

So Dick sits in the nice warm studio, about one floor above pavement level and Ryan Seacrest does the real work outside. Six years after his "comeback," he has motion in both hands, mobility in his face. And his speech remains slurred, but not nearly as badly as at first.

You have to figure that the guy has both a strong constitution and the time and money to take advantage of the best (read "most expensive") rehabilitation, physical therapy and speech therapy available.

So why, at the age of 81 does he continue this ordeal, and make no mistake, doing this show HAS to be an ordeal? It isn't for the money, though Clark has made no secret of his reasons to be in the rock 'n' roll business: Money. It probably isn't to show other stroke patients that life can go on. He's doing it because he's Dick Clark. And "Rockin' New Year's Eve" is what Dick Clark does.

For those who want him to go away, it'll be "Click, Dark" soon enough.


--Holiday decorations still up? When's the right time to take them down? Ever think of keeping them in place for the rest of the year?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2011

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