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Not a day goes by without a skeptical radio professional asking us, "Who is this Dan O'Day guy, anyway?"

"Who appointed HIM as Mr. Expert On Personality Radio And Other Stuff?"

Frankly, we don't know, either. So we asked Dan to try to justify his existence for our Web visitors. Here's his pathetic attempt at self-justification....

Dan O'Day
Dan O'Day
(artist's rendition)

I'm an old, broken-down disc jockey who got tired of getting up each morning and who (perhaps more importantly) is constitutionally unfit to work for other people. (I finally decided that if I had to work for an idiot, I might as well work for myself.)

When I was 18 years old, I escaped from Michigan State University (apparently there at the same time were John Leader, John Records Landecker, and Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling) and hitchhiked the couple of thousand miles to Hollywood, where I was determined to write for THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR.

I checked into the Hollywood YMCA ($3.50 per day) on a Saturday evening. On Sunday I walked around Hollywood, convinced I was nearly choking on the famous L.A. smog. Only later did I learn there IS no famous L.A. smog in March. One of the movie theaters on Hollywood Boulevard was premiering the Elvis Presley western, CHARRO. (Not to be confused with The Hoochie Coo Girl of a similar name.)

On Monday I hitched a ride to CBS Television City. (My first big Hollywood disillusionment: It's not a city at all. It's just a TV studio.) I didn't know anyone at CBS. For that matter, I didn't know anyone in Los Angeles. But a quick reconnaissance of the premises revealed two entrances: "Guests" and "Artists." Because no one had invited me, I couldn't be a guest. So I must be an artist.

Of course, they wouldn't let just anyone wander in the "Artists" entrance. In fact, there was a security guard stationed on a stool, just inside the door. (These days there's a glass-enclosed case that seems considerably more imposing than some guy trying to stay awake for eight hours.) I had brought with me a manila envelope that contained several pages of lame comedy scripts that I hoped would get me employed at the funniest, most influential show on television. I stood outside the Artists' entrance, took the pages out of the envelope, took a deep breath, threw open the door and walked hurriedly past the guard, looking up from my obviously important "script" just long enough to glance in horror at my watch, redouble my pace, and throw a wave at the guard as I rushed forward to whatever stage or office I was late for.

The guard waved back.

This incident confirmed what I had long suspected: You can get away with anything if people think you belong there.

I wandered around quite a bit until I found the CBS offices. (I was in the "concourse" - you can see I've been in too many airports since then - that housed the sound stages and rehearsal rooms.) Somehow I managed to find the Smothers Brothers office. I walked in, approached the receptionist and said, "I'd like to see Tom Smothers, please."

"Do you have an appointment?" she inquired.

In what has to have been one of the worst ad-libs of my life, I said, "Well, not exactly."

The reason that's a bad ad-lib is there obviously were only two possible answers to her question:

1) Yes, I did have an appointment

2) No, I did not have an appointment.

Embarrassed, knowing I was about to rejected (and probably ejected), I added, "But I want to write for the show."

"Well, I'm afraid that Tom is all tied up today," she said.

Just like I thought: Total humiliation.

"But," she continued, "I'll be glad to make an appointment for you to see him. How about Wednesday of next week at 10:00?"

Gee, let me check my calendar. Yeah, well, I guess I can manage to carve out the time to see Tom on Wednesday.

I couldn't believe it. No, I was not leaving with a job writing for the Smothers Brothers, but I WAS leaving with an appointment to see Tom nine days later.

Elated, I left that office and wandered around CBS some more, eventually finding myself in front of a door that said, "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour - Writers."

What the heck. I had bluffed my way past a security guard and talked my way through an encounter with a nice secretary; how rough could the writers be?

I don't remember if I knocked (I probably did), but I entered. Immediately a (long since deceased) staff writer named Murray Roman greeted me by launching into a long, breathless tirade having to do with some huge government plot against him and certain unspecified others. I recognized Carl Gottlieb (how? maybe he had appeared on-screen?), who later went on to win fame & fortune as the screenwriter of JAWS.

A young, brown-haired guy - around 22, as I recall - asked if there was something I needed (i.e., "Why are you here?"). I told him why I was there, and we ended up chatting for 15 or 20 minutes. He said this was his first TV writing job; Tom Smothers had seen him performing a comedy act at The Ice House in Pasadena and hired him for the show.

And the name of that friendly young writer was...Steve Martin. And that's why he owes all of his subsequent success to me.

So far, this entire Smothers Brothers episode is pretty positive. But the ending was anti-climactic: The day before my scheduled appointment with Tom, CBS cancelled the show, illegally, in mid-season. (The network later had to pay the Brothers $900,000 in damages for breaking their contract.)

A year or two later, for reasons I have long since forgotten, I enrolled in The Bill Wade School of Radio & Television on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Wade was a KHJ "Boss Jock;" I never met him. During the four-month course, I learned how to cue a (vinyl) record. Personally, I think I could have mastered that skill in a shorter time period.

Then I signed up for another four-month course at the same school so I could get my First Class Radio-Telephone Operator's License. Theoretically, this was to be a crash course in electronics complete enough to enable me to pass the F.C.C. exam. The reality was different.

The First Class exam consisted of 50 multiple-choice questions. The F.C.C. had 13 different 50-question tests, one of which they would administer on Testing Day. The school had acquired all 650 questions and answers; all we had to do was memorize them.

On testing day, I couldn't help but notice that the students from Ogden (located in some beach community south of L.A.) really seemed to understand this stuff; they stood around swapping technical talk and drawing diagrams while we waited to be admitted into the Testing Area.

On the other hand, it took those Ogden whizzes a lot longer to finish the exam; I was done in about six minutes. I didn't even have to read the questions; I simply RECOGNIZED them and their corresponding answers. The hard part was sticking around for another 20 minutes to make it look like I was figuring out the answers.

So now I was ready to enter the radio marketplace.

I took out a "Job Wanted" ad in BROADCASTING magazine: "DJ, First Phone, Tight Board, Good Commercials." Surprisingly, the ad brought inquiries and requests for audition tapes. Even more surprisingly, it brought a job offer from far away (and very tiny) Chatham, Virginia.

Convinced that no one else would ever offer me a radio job, I jumped at it. Once I moved across country, a few more job offers came my way as a result of that ad. One was from Oceanside, California....within driving distance from the apartment I had just given up in Los Angeles.

I had been hired by the station's General Manager, and I don't think the program director was all that thrilled with the new recruit upon my arrival. My first assignment was to dub some commercials from the agency reels to cart (cartridge). This, alas, was a skill I had not been taught at the Bill Wade School of Radio & Television. They had taught me how to push a button to PLAY a cart, but not how to record material onto one.

And that's how it all began....

During my three years in small markets, I did just about every job EXCEPT for Engineer, Receptionist, and Sales Manager. I ended up as a jock in San Francisco, making what at the time seemed like a whole lot of money. (Even more than I had made during my unhappy week as a Meter Reader for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.)

For the reasons given in the first paragraph of this compelling document, I decided to support myself by launching my own radio comedy service. (There were other factors, including wanting to finish my long-delayed psychology degree. But, frankly, I'd rather you finish reading this and hurry on to our WHOLE O CATALOGUE and purchase many, many books, tapes, software & CDs.)

Being too naive to know I couldn't support myself with a comedy service, I did just that for the next 15 years or so. Actually, I had two services: OBITS and O'LINERS.

OBITS was very unusual for its time. I vividly recall how, in the sales copy that accompanied the samples we sent out to jocks, I had to explain just how and why anyone might want to use such long comedy pieces. I mean, these things ran 60 seconds or longer! At the time, everyone else was doing one-liners.

The big comedy service at the time was THE ELECTRIC WEENIE, published by a guy named Tom Adams. Tom ended up despising me after I started my own service. I could say more about The Weenie, but without Tom around to defend himself and to attack my character, it wouldn't seem right.

Another service - one that I liked a lot - was Joe Hickman's CONTEMPORARY COMEDY. Joe still publishes it out of Dallas, Texas. (It was Joe who once said, "Remember, if it weren't for this great land of ours, we'd all drown.")

And a service that had a big influence on me was Ed Hyder's HYPE INK. This probably was where I first was exposed to long-form radio comedy. Ed was a former disc jockey turned TV variety/comedy writer. (I assume he still is.) I thought some of his stuff was quite usable. He recycled an awful lot of it, which bothered me as a subscriber. But it provided me with good comic inspiration.

Anyway....I started OBITS in December, 1975. The first issue of O'LINERS was April, 1976. O'LINERS, as the name implies, provided one-liners. I wrote the entire first issue (8 pages) over a single weekend. Everything else I've ever written, alas, has relied on torturous work rather than a burst of energized inspiration.

Skipping over the details and finishing this portrait with very broad strokes now:

1977: I launched THE WHOLE O CATALOGUE, a mail order source for the kinds of radio programming & personality tools I would have wanted as a jock & PD. The first two big items we sold were:

CHEAP RADIO THRILLS, which at the time was a single LP produced by Terry Moss and the gang at L.A. Air Force. (L.A. Air Force now is part of my company, O'LINERS.)

SUPERJOCK, a terrific book by Chicago radio legend Larry Lujack.

1984: RADIO & RECORDS' managing editor, John Leader, asked me to create the industry's first column devoted to radio personalities. They gave it the fascinating title of "AIR PERSONALITIES." While never an R&R employee (I was a guest columnist), I wrote that column for the next nine years.

1987: I got a call from a woman who identified herself as Mary Catherine Sneed, vice-president of Summit Communications. Here's what she said:

"We are gathering all of our program directors and morning show hosts for a weekend this summer. We took a poll, asking them who they would most like to come speak to them. And to my surprise, your name was at the top of their list."

I didn't know whether to say "thank you" or whether to be offended.

I ended up conducting a two-day seminar for the group. Flying into Chicago, I clearly remember not wanting to get off the airplane. I had no frame of reference for what I was about to do; I had never seen anyone conduct a seminar for jocks.

It turned out to be a ton of fun for me; it gave me a chance to return to performing. And the feedback from attendees was quite positive. The event itself - bringing all of the key jocks from one group owner together for a seminar - was so unusual that INSIDE RADIO wrote about it...carefully omitting any reference to me.

1988: I held my first "Open To Anyone" radio seminar in Orlando, Florida. Since then, I've conducted hundreds of seminars for radio stations, groups & associations and given countless keynote addresses at private & public radio gatherings all over the world. For a "Who Cares?" listing of some of the more exotic places I've been invited to, please check out Dan O'Day Seminars.

1991: I stopped publishing O'LINERS, which by then I was writing during airplane flights to & from seminars.

2023: I completed my surreptitious takeover of the governments of all the world's Really Important Countries, and now I devote myself solely to smiting my enemies and persecuting those I happen to dislike.

No, wait, that's not supposed to be there. That's from my 5 YEAR PLANNING CALENDAR.

Please ignore this last entry.

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