Friday, May 20, 2011

Joel A. Spivak, RIP

I'm a little late with this but just recently came across the news myself.

The Washington Post obituary.

This is not a name familiar to many today, probably, but if you were around Houston radio in the late 50s early 60s, especially if you were a teen and listened to KILT, you'll remember Joel. I remember him doing evenings on KILT; he was my favorite jock of all the voices brought to town by Gordon McLendon when he purchased KLBS. Later he did mornings before being demoted again to evenings and then leaving town. I believe he left once in the late 50s to join Eliot Field at KFWB in Los Angeles from what I've read. He was low key, funny, weird, sardonic, in an era before boss jocks. There's one anecdote in the obit about his career in Houston and I'll have a few more in an upcoming article from a former co-worker. I remember the time he joined the Salt Grass Trail Ride, broadcasting his show each evening from along the trail, one night from the studios of KWHI, Brenham, after it had signed off. I lived to hear his faux commercials, especially a running series about Polly Pelham Pizza - "look for it wrapped in old newspaper in the freezer section of a grocery near me."

ETA:  Here is another obituary and resume from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, which Spivak worked for in his final years.  The link includes not only more detail on Spivak's antics in Houston but also an embedded link to an extended excerpt from Marc Fisher's Something in the Air:  Radio,  Rock, and the Revolution That Shaped a Generation with much about the launch of Top 40 radio, Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon.  The excerpt is worth reading even if it didn't mention Spivak or KILT.


Dave said...

I do remember him, he was witty, sarcastic and always fun to listen to. He also made personal appearances where he'd sell KILT Scotch Dollars (you may remember that long running promotion) for 98 cents.

Carolyn Blake said...

I never forgot him. I used to listen to him late at night, with my little transistor radio tucked under my pillow. I was in Jr. High and he talked me to sleep every night. I was so sad when he left Houston, and I listened to his last radio broadcast on KILT, and shed some tears. I can still hear his theme song.

Anonymous said...

He would make me laugh so hard I would cry. The station was doing a fund raiser and the DJs were auctioning of lawn care when Joel commented, "X will cut the lawn, X will water the lawn and I, Joel A Spivak will fertilize the lawn."

Bill Cherry said...

Joel had an affectation with the fugal horn. Don't ask me why, but he constantly inserted a mention of the fugal horn in whatever joke he was making.
Actually of the KILT original DJs, he was, by far, my favorite. I listened to him in the mornings before school, when I was a student at Galveston's Ball High.

Bruce said...


Paul Bottoms said...

Joel's dad was big band leader Charlie Spivak. I worked for Bill Weaver at KONO San Antonio. He told me that Charlie had a love hate relationship with his dad, something I understood cause that's what I had with my dad. Bill told me that when Joel worked for him at KILT he went with him to see his dad who was appearing somewhere. I loved to hear Joel on the air, first in Philadelphia, then at WRC DC and one time in San Francisco. "This is Joel A. Spivak speaking."