Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Premiere: The Early Years

We started Premiere Radio Networks in 1985. My partners included Steve Lehman, Tim Kelly, Ed Mann and Kraig Kitchin. We had three shows. They were The Plain Rap Countdown (later changed to Plain "Wrap" after it was deemed we were far too white to rock the other spelling), National Lampoon's True Facts (a mini feature) and The Cla'ence All My Children Update, (starring Brad Sanders)

Virgie Chica, circa 1986, holds an archaic data storage device known as "the floppy."

We had no employees and two interns. Bob Borquez and Tony Hudson. They both went on to become our first employees and they were followed, to the best of my recollection by Cathy Cogan, Dave Price, Paul Paradiso, Melinda Ruben, Virginia Tavera and others I am forgetting.

Bob Borquez and Pyp, circa 1985, demonstrate the ancient art of "juggling land lines."

That little company went on to become a monolith, now a gigantic arm of Clear Channel with nothing on its website to reflect that we were there. I don't know a lot about who works there now. It must be sort of like going to High School and giving no thought to the kids who went there before you.

But at High School, there would at least be a display case with a photo or a trophy. People began their careers at Premiere. That means a lot. My last original partner, Kraig Kitchin, recently stepped down. It's a good time to remember.

If you clicked on the link to Premiere above, please note that our little web site was created and launched by Eric Canale in 1998.

Eric created Premiere's original web site in 1996 using a 28.8 modem and some of his will to live.

And now, here we all are, out on the internet with blogs and
My Spaces and facebooks and podcasts and You Tubes, creating and writing and recording and viewing and listening and sharing and noticing that life has a way of spinning us around so that sometimes we land facing backwards and longing to pull some of our past into our future. That's what this blog is about.

Pyp circa 1989, looking very much like he had just narrowly escaped from Wham.

That's what happened when Melinda Ruben visited her local Verizon store last week and found Paul Paradiso (who we call Pyp, short for Pretty Young Paul). Melinda and I had been searching Google to find Pyp. We found him the old fashioned way. By accident. He has been living, for the past nine years, two blocks away from Melinda! (of course, we must give some credit for this find to technology, since she did find him at the Verizon store.)

Shocking? Yes it is and there is more. they both have the exact same kind of dog! Only Pyp dresses his dog, Joan up in stylish outfits which he claims she loves.

Melinda at the Premiere Christmas Party, circa 1990, torn between two dates.
Does she chose the dazzlingly gorgeous actor... or the tall dude? (young Gabriel Damon, from "Newsies," is the son of longtime Premiere Radio man, Dave Price.)
And so it was that we planned the reunion which inspired this blog. Melinda, who we call Mel wanted to bring Virginia who we call Virgie Chica (even though it's longer than just saying Virginia.)

They all came over with three dogs. Mel has two and Pyp has one. We talked and laughed over the din of the dogs. They were snarling, yapping and wrastling all night long. And then they suddenly all darted down the hall towards my office and bedroom. We were later to discover that either one dog took two dumps or two dogs took a dump apiece, but suffice it to say, I found a dump in the office and a dump in the bedroom which nearly scared the dump out of me which would have brought the total to three.

Mel, Pyp and Virgie, circa 2008.
After cleaning up after the dogs, the reunion then inspired me to begin looking through old photographs of which I had taken loads because back in the early days of Premiere, we published a weekly newsletter called The Premiere News and World Report and we would fold and staple and label and send this pithy little rag to radio stations and record companies and celebrities we had interviewed who would then either dump it in the trash and/or, in the case of Rob Schneider, actually call and tell us to stop sending it to him.

Doggie gone wild.

That having been said, it was a very funny and inventive publication (rivalling this blog) and one of my proudest moments came when we received a fax from Herb Sargent (Great Veteran Saturday Night Live Writer) asking to be placed on our mailing list because he dared not open Dana Carvey's mail while Dana Carvey was on vacation) I pinned that fax to my bulletin board.

Why am I blowing a whale, circa 1999? The fax from Herb Sargent is on that bulletin board... somewhere.

More about our newsletter next week when I have a chance to scan a copy for you. Right now, let's celebrate the wonderful team that created Premiere Radio Networks. The first 15 years were rare and special and I treasure that time and what we achieved together.

Premiere founding partners, Ed Mann and Tim Kelly (with Kelly Aquino and Michelle Cabral lurking)

Premiere Founding Partner, Steve Lehman, circa 1998, eating one of a drawer full of Power Bars.

Premiere Founding Partner, Kraig Kitchin struggled for the will to share his gift basket with Susan Gold Kovinsky, circa 1989.

In the photo above, circa 1988, I see Steve Lehman, Ed Mann, Tim Kelly, Joe Cipriano, Me, Brad Sanders and Cathy Cogan. Please Click Here for more Vintage Premiere Photos.

In this photo, circa 1992, I see Dave Price, Cathy Cogan, Chris Schell, Will Kohlschreiber, Susan Gold, Me sitting on Bob Borquez, Kelly Aquino, Ed Mann, Alan Wenkus and Danny Lang (I could be wrong about some of the faces.) And why were we wearing shorts? Maybe it was extremely casual Friday.

Help me identify us and remember what we did together. It was a blast.


Blogger Eric C said...

For posterity, we launched premrad.com in August of 1995. I think I'd been on the job for about two months. Pretty cutting edge, considering netscape.com launched in Dec 2004. I think we were one of the first dozen or so sites to stream audio content. I remember getting hired on my birthday after responding to an ad Weezy had posted on the Usenet using AOL. I am pretty sure this was before you could even browse the web through AOL.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering if you have an email address for Virginia Tavera - Saw her at the Sting concert, May 20008
Worked with her at the Gary Group.
Liz Peel

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,
I believe I met you around 1989 at PremRad offices when I was down to see Steve (we've known each other since 1972, he was instrumental in my getting me into radio)Oh, could I share some stories about Lehman (back in the day when he used to own all the best nightclubs aka discos in Reno)! Anyway, in one of your early comedy programs you guys played short clips from comedians at Laugh Factory. I'm trying to remember the name of a comedian who did a bit about an oriental used car salesman that was just slapnuts funny but I just can't remember the guy's name ( I think I'm having a senior moment) Any idea who that might be? Hope all is well with you. Ciao
Bob Carnahan

10:21 PM  
Blogger Weezy said...

Hi, Bob. My blog is now hosted at louisepalanker.com, on Tumblr, so I'm not sure how long ago you posed your question.

In answer, I'm thinking Bob Marley.

And everything he says is just that funny.

2:06 AM  
Anonymous Bob Borquez said...

Hi Louise, it's great to relive some of the old pics and memories. It's true, I was the first Premiere Employee; but before I was officially hired, I remember doing production (Plain Rap Countdown)and National Lampoon's True Facts up in the KIIS studios on Sunset Blvd; at night, of course, when we could sneak in. The year was 1986 and at the time I was Operations Manager at KFSG 96.3 FM in LA and you arranged a meeting btween me and Tim Kelly...I still remember the day I met you Louise at the KIIS studios one afternoon when I had stopped by to have a meeting with Engineer George Riggs and you were in the studio interviewing Feargal Sharkey, he had a hit called "A Good Heart is Hard to find". Well, the short story is that I believed in what we were doing so much; that I volunteered my time and expertise for about 6 months to help launch this thing. Those were the very early days before Kraig Kithin was there. Oh, another thing, remember that first little 8 X 10 office where Ed Mann was making phone calls up on the 23rd floor of the Motown building?
I still wonder if the builing manager even knew we were there. Thanks again for opening the door to a great adventure Louise; you made this happen for me.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Weezy said...

Hi, Bob. I remember it all very vividly too. Especially the part about how you would get called in the middle of the night to fix the signal at KFSG!

How are you? Send me your email!

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Bob Borquez said...

Hi Weezy! My email address is bobborquez@yahoo.com
Good to hear from you.

3:13 PM  
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