Payola in the Hub (was Maynard thread)
Fri Feb 24 14:41:39 EST 2012
Prescott literally blew the lid off the scandal. As the lead-off witness,
he told a Congressional committee it was "the American Way of LIfe," and
revealed that the record companies put together a sort of national network
of paid-off jocks which furthered the "prime function of this business to
get a record on the air." There was no federal law against it; in a letter
to the *Los Angeles Times* a couple of years ago, Prescott's son noted that
his father declared everything he got on his income tax forms. Prescott
also told the committee he was "ashamed" and "quit in disgust" over the
practice, but he gave the committee what its members wanted when he tied
the rise of rock and roll to pay for play. The BZ general manager said he
was fired and Prescott told the committee that was a lie.
It is important to note that the committee at first was only consequently
interested in the facts of payola; the real object of the hearing was the
rock and roll menace, which was held responsible for fornication, truancy,
delinquency and hot rods. Remember, this was soon after the McCarthy era,
and it was still the practice in Congress to hold hearings with explosive
testimony to boost a member's public image.
Group W accused of Prescott of lying in his testimony when he claimed he
had worked at stations that also got payola, in the form of advertising
that was tied-in to record sales. A pretty good businessman who was
founder of what became Northeast School of Broadcasting, Prescott quit BZ
and became VP for music with Embassy Pictures, produced some animated films
and helped start Filmation.
Maynard and Alan Dary were suspended by WBZ then put on probation. Maynard
said he was only paid to promote records outside the station, while Dary
said he was given a few hundred dollars worth of Christmas presents,
something that was pretty much standard in corporate America at the time.
Dary told the congressional committee he always tried to present 'adult'
music on his program and associated payola with being a way to get bad
"raucous" music on the air -- and that's quite credible considering that
Alan Dary was associated with adult standards for decades.
The saving grace for Dary and Maynard was that it apparently was not really
pay for on-air play and Group W didn't develop the kind of license problems
that hit Nelson Nobel (WILD), Judge Tarlow (WHIL), Pilgrim and
Buckey-Jaeger (WORL) or Richmond Bros. (WMEX) who had to go explain
themselves to the Commission. Keep in mind, too, that the biggest name
involved after Freed went down was Dick Clark and part of his defense was
to redefine where payola ended and legitimate outside record promotion
Mac Richmond was said to have received $1400 for making one promoter's
records the Gold Platter of the Week for 13 weeks, and was told flat-out by
members of the committee he put WMEX's license on the line in taking it.
Unfortunately, some people were stained by a rather wide brush and their
own industry's lack of standards for what they did on their own time. Arnie
Ginsburg was reportedly paid, but he was hired by record companies to do
record hops away from the Broadcast House. Similarly, Joe Smith's deal was
for royalties on sales in the market -- he later became an important exec
with Warner Bros. Labels and promoters may well have trusted his ear and
paid him to "consult" on which of the hundreds of releases that flooded the
market in a given month had a chance to make it.
Through it all, the committee bagged one prize. They got who they were
looking for -- . Alan Freed, the man they blamed for the whole rock and
roll fad, was fined 300 bucks for breaking a NY state bribery law, fired,
blackballed and left to drink himself into an early grave.
Ex-WEZE jock George Carlin may have summed up the consequence of the
scandal at Wonderful WINO, referring to playing "the boss hits from the
boss list that the boss told me to play."
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