20 thoughts on “Monitor Guestbook”

  1. I can’t believe that Monitor began 62 years ago.

    I was looking for a way to acknowledge this important day and I came across the montage you put together on The Sounds of Monitor page of your website. It was great.

    It’s amazing what we got to hear on the radio and took for granted when we were growing up.

    Monitor truly was “network radio’s greatest program.”

    The sad thing is due to a lot of different factors, Monitor was a one time only thing.

    If it wasn’t for your tribute site, the airchecks and stories associated with the 20 year run of Monitor would have disappeared a long time ago.

    Thank you for keeping the site going and reminding all of us about the many enjoyable weekends we had listening to NBC Monitor.

    Larry

  2. I don’t know whether George Skinner is the fifth Monitor host Louis Castaing
    is looking for or not, but Skinner was one of the NBC executives who filled
    in during the 1967 AFTRA strike.

    Skinner was the general manager of WNBC AM & FM in those days. One of his
    assignments was to substitute for Frank Blair as the newscaster on the Today
    show.

    The other day, at the bottom of an overstuffed file drawer, I found a 1967
    letter from George Skinner. It was In response to fan mail forwarded to him
    from the local NBC station where I worked in the mid-sixties.

    Skinner wrote, “One of the most sincere rewards for being selected to fill
    in during the AFTRA strike is to get letters such as [these].”

    As I say, I don’t know if this is the name Louis was seeking, but it’s a
    tangible reminder that those NBC executives appear to have enjoyed their
    brief time on the air.

  3. It was just over 50 years ago, March 29, 1967, that AFTRA called a strike against the networks. Everyone remembers that, on TV, Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley both walked out in sympathy with the strike (Chet stayed on the air, however); but the strike affected the radio networks as well. And for two weeks, MONITOR had five temporary hosts from the ranks of management. We’ve discussed this before; and we can only come up with four: NBC Radio president Steve Labunski who did Saturday morning; MONITOR executive producer Bob Maurer who did Saturday afternoon; NBC Radio vice-president of programs Bob Wogan who did Saturday night; and manager of NBC Radio special features Steve White who did Sunday afternoon.

    (I can remember hearing Bob Wogan plaintively urging Henry Morgan on the air to “please come back.”)

    But, unfortunately, neither of us have been able to come up with the name of the Sunday night substitute. So, I think this may be an auspicious time to commemorate the golden anniversary of the 1967 AFTRA strike by opening up this discussion to the distinguished group of MONITOR groupies who regularly visit these pages to see if they can come up with that fifth name. You might think that’s an impossible feat considering I have trouble remembering what I’m looking for in the refrigerator. But MONITOR sticks in the memory. Maybe you could even offer an autographed copy of MONITOR (Take 2) to the Amazing Reverse Kreskin who can predict the past. It’s worth a try.

  4. I just learned that Jim Lowe passed away on Monday.

    You’re right about Jim. He was truly one of Monitor’s best hosts.

    In addition to Monitor, he was heard for years on WNEW New York. The station that wrote the book on how to present standards or what has come to be known as the Great American Songbook.
    He also worked at WNBC.

    Jim did everything on the air in a classy way.

    Years after WNEW was purchased by Michael Bloomberg and the format was changed to financial news, Jim hosted a weekly radio show from a club in New York City.

    He would interview performers and they would sing or play live on the air. It was great.

    We’ve lost many wonderful people we got to listen to on the radio and unfortunately they won’t be replaced.

    Fortunately as another contributor to the Guestbook pointed out, we can remember this time through your site and in our own way pay tribute to Jim Lowe and others who made Monitor the 20 year success it was.

    Larry Stoler

  5. I was an avid listener to Monitor and WNBC AM for many years. A few years ago I met The late Charlie Brown who was giving tastings from his winery at a local Supermarket in Northern San Diego County. I was wearing an NBC Logo T-Shirt and he said, ” I used to work for NBC” I asked what he did and he told me he had a drive time music program and occasionally hosted Monitor.

    We discussed Big Wilson, Long John Nebel, Brad Crandall and others. We visited at wine tastings several times until his passing. We became friends and he is definitely missed!

  6. Hello I am new to this guestbook. But i am one of many monitor Fans I was born in 1967 and i was fortunate to be raised in an area with a Full NBC affiliate which was AM 1270 KTFI in Twin Falls Idaho ( My family lived about 30 miles west of Twin falls out in the country) as a youngster whenever Monitor Was playing on the Radio any given weekend in the house or if i was riding in a Car with my Dear Mother I was concentrated on Monitor and its various Hosts. I loved everything about it. And i love listening to the various audio on this site it makes me feel younger. I was very sorry to see monitor Leave The Air. But i
    have Wonderful fond Memories. And thanks to this site I can enjoy the classic moments again and even listen to the ones that came before my time. It truly was a ” One of a Kind program” and im happy to say that Monitor was one of the radio programs that inspired me and made me want to Get into radio and at age 17 i began my pursuit and after 12 years of making fake shows and similar stuff on tape i finally landed my first DJ gig on May 22 1996 and I am still on the air today 20 years later and Going strong. And i just want to thank you for making this site availiable. And to Thank those who were responsible in every aspect of Monitor ( That includes Everybody.) For the wonderful programming. May God Bless each and Everyone of you. Again Thank You all So Very much for all You have done.

  7. Dennis,

    I was saddened to learn of the death of former Monitor host Joe Garagiola at age 90. Joe was an unlikely Monitor host in that he was not a typical polished broadcaster with a mellifluous voice. You could tell he was boyhood friends with Yogi Berra in St. Louis. On the other hand, he was himself on the air. His trademark self-effacing humor was always welcome on a Saturday afternoon. I think Pat Weaver, who wanted recognizable personalities like Fred Allen as hosts, would have approved.

    Of course, he wasn’t a great baseball player. He once said: “Each year I don’t play, I get better. The first year on the banquet trail, I was a former ballplayer, the second year I was great, the third year one of baseball’s stars, and just last year I was introduced as one of baseball’s immortals. The older I get, the more I realize that the worst break I had was playing.”

    But he was always a lovely person who was able to project that warmth over the Monitor beacon.

    Louis

  8. Hi Dennis and Fellow Monitor Fans,

    I just heard that Joe Garagiola passed away this morning. He was 90 and had been ill for a while.

    In addition to working on the Today Show and doing baseball play-by-play, he was a host on Monitor for a number of years.

    We’re losing the best people in broadcasting and entertainment in general and they’re not being replaced. This is sad.

    RIP Joe Garagiola. We’ll remember you especially from your time as a Monitor host.

  9. As someone noted earlier, I, too, am a Monitor baby, born in 1955.

    The program was an unusual oasis of stability for me as I grew up during the 60s-70s. I loved Cleveland AM radio in my childhood…the standards my friends and I shared such as WIXY1260 (“Super Radio”), WHK (“Color Channel 14”) and NBC’s KYW/WKYC/WWWE (variously marketed as “Radio 11” and “3WE”).

    My parents’ divorce had moved me to New England when I desperately wanted to be in Cleveland more than, as the song says, “six weeks every summer, Christmas every other year.” For a lonely, scientifically-curious boy it was natural I’d eventually discover “atmospheric skip” on AM and the ability to listen to the Cleveland NBC Radio affiliate. I also discovered Monitor. It was great for a kid’s imagination that I could listen to Monitor wherever I was. I could at least fantasize I was back in Cleveland with my dad.

    So much the better later when I discovered the voice of another Cleveland native, Big Wilson, was a Monitor host.

    Monitor, in fact, was one of those factors which eventually led to my studies – learning about the limitations of those Ma Bell 5KHz lines, studio/audio engineering – and early career in broadcast TV and production. As a side note, one of my early bosses was named Pat Weaver (no relation) and, at least in our studio, held in the same regard.

  10. Just a quick note about the latest Sounds of Monitor. I really enjoyed the Benny and Allen segment. It made me realize that Benny and Allen were funnier on radio than on TV. A lot is said about radio being the theater of the mind; but I think radio is the theater of the ear. When I was listening to Monitor and hearing the hosts talking to me, I didn’t have to see them. If I had, I don’t think it would have been quite as personal.

    Sometimes, I think production interferes with human contact. Bob and Ray knew it.

    Louis

  11. Dennis,

    I’m getting older by the minute. Another Monitor host dies. There are very few of them left. Frank Sinatra, Jr. was 72. I’m 70. That means when he was hosting Monitor he was 29 or thereabouts. It’s strange that we have Frank, Jr. hosting and a segment hosted by Barry Nelson for Frank’s birthday that mentions the famous Frank, Jr. kidnapping.

    Of course, he never really emerged from is father’s shadow. Perhaps, if he hadn’t gone by the name Frank. Jr.

    Louis

    Speaking of who’s left, the only names I can come up with are Jim Lowe, Joe G., Monty Hall, Hugh Downs, Bill Hayes, Cindy Adams, Don Imus, Tony Taylor (?), Dan Daniel. Anybody else?

    I also noticed that Jim Simpson died recently on January 13 of this year.

  12. Hi Dennis:

    Sorry to read of Frank Sinatra, Jr. ‘s death—another Monitor host is gone.

    Is Monty Hall the last remaining Monitor host still alive?

  13. Dear Dennis,

    I don’t know whether you have heard this sad news, but I want to forward to you an obit of Beryl Pfizer, beloved former writer at Monitor. I worked with her for years at Monitor and then kept in touch with her ever since. This obit was forwarded to me by Joel Spector, also a former Monitor worker. She will be missed.

    Angela Ladas Vierville
    Former Monitor Production Assistant

    Beryl Ann Pfizer, writer, producer, and director, died of natural causes in her beloved mid town Manhattan brownstone. She was 87, born March, 28, 1928, in Morristown NJ. She is preceded in death by her father, William R. Pfizer, who was Vice President of The Panama Line, and her mother, Isabel Morin Pfizer. She grew up in Mt. Lakes, NJ, graduating from Mt. Lakes High School in 1945 and from Hood College in 1949, with a BA in music. Ever since she was young, she wanted to live in the city and she moved to Manhattan after college to begin a long and varied career in the radio and television industries. She worked with Dave Garroway on both The Home Show and The Today Show, where she was a Today Girl (1960-61). She wrote for Monitor Radio and The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. She received three Emmy Award nominations and won an Emmy in 1980, for producing “Ask NBC News, with John Chancellor”. She also produced medical and health stories for the NBC local television affiliate in Manhattan.

    She was the author of “Poor Woman’s Almanac”, a compendium of humorous and pithy quotes published by Ladies Home Journal. Beryl was an avid athlete, and enjoyed playing tennis and running. She was proud to have completed a NYC marathon, and used to love the Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve in Central Park. She is survived by her sister, Joan Pfizer Sussmann, and by her four nieces and nephews, and five grand nieces and grand nephews. The family will hold a private memorial. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity.

  14. Dennis,

    I was sorry to hear that Bob Elliott of Bob and Ray died. It would be hard to imagine early Monitor without Bob and Ray. Somehow their comedy was a perfect fit for the program that was going places and doing things. Most of it ad-libbed. They blended in well with the other low-key personalities like Dave Garroway, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and Walter Kieran. Comedy and social satire was such an important part of the early days of Monitor with Art Buchwald, Ernie Kovacs, Jonathan Winters, Nichols and May. Bob and Ray were the self-proclaimed puncturers of pomposity, perhaps a counter-balance to the sophisticated grandiosity of Pat Weaver’s Monitor concept. Weaver was in on the joke, however.

    And so we’re Bob and Ray. As Bob once said: “By the time we discovered we were introverts, it was too late to do anything about it.” Or was that Ray?

  15. Hi, Dennis: It’s been a while since we last touched base. Hope you’re enjoying retirement as much as I am. Sad to note this week the passing of Bob Elliott. Bob and Ray were before my time listening to Monitor, but I did later learn to follow their legendary radio career. They were essential to shaping monitor’s flavor and character in its early days. Another Great One gone.

    Also, here’s a link to Russell Wells’ “Birmingham Rewound” site where he lists a Saturday Birmingham radio log from 1966 which, of course, features the Monitor schedule (and plugs your website!). Scroll down, about halfway on the page for the log. Note, even then, Monitor was getting interrupted for local programming, sports, and the legendary Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, sponsored back then, and for so many years, by Texaco.

    The link:

    http://www.birminghamrewound.com/features/1966-02.htm

  16. Hi Dennis,

    I just finished listening to the podcast where you were interviewed about Monitor. It was fantastic.

    Radio continues to change. This is especially true in the case of the AM band where many stations have been sold, become filled with brokered programs or will go dark in the future.

    While major market stations will survive such as WCBS-AM and 1010 WINS the two all news stations in New York, it will be interesting to see what the state of the band will be in ten years.

    It’s too bad someone with the wisdom of Pat Weaver isn’t with us today and if he was, would he be given the opportunity and time to create Monitor and make it viable?

    Thank you for a website that gets better all the time.

    Larry Stoler
    Stamford, CT.

  17. Listening to Monitor in 1961, I seem to remember two songs played frequently , “Moon River” and “Tonight, Tonight, I’ll See My Love Tonight.” I remember them being sung by vocal groups, perhaps the Ray Charles Singers. Is my memory serving me correctly? Were the Ray Charles Singers recordings often played on the Monitor radio show?

  18. Happy New Year !! (a couple of hours early)
    I was almost four years old when when Monitor first began broadcasting, but it is one of my earliest memories. Every weekend, especially in the late 1950s thru the late 1960s, Monitor would be on in our house. Mom always had it on and it won any ratings contest in our home, even against Saturday morning cartoons on TV.
    I remember hearing news reports form a NBC Radio reporter from Saigon in the late 1960s. His name is Stan Majors. Many years later, our paths crossed and we became very good friends. Stan passed away in later part of this past September in Tamarac, FL. Stan had celebrated his 80th birthday just a couple of weeks earlier. Was th\inking of my friend today, searched the Internet and found this website. a belated thanks to Monitor for great memories and a great website.

  19. On a 1968-69 era Monitor playlist was a delightful number entitled “Happy Birthday.” Exhausted research on my part (and I mean “exhausted”) finds the song was from a 1968 Broadway musical, “Zorba.”

    However, the recording played on Monitor was by a young female vocalist who gave it a really bright and happy feel. Would anyone here happen to recall that song and the then-young lady who recorded it?

    Thanks.

    Hugh Christopher Henry
    December 2, 2015

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