Friday, February 13, 2015

A Bad Day for L.A. Media: RIP Gary Owens

And as soon as I finish one post, another familiar name shows up "trending" on Facebook. Gary Owens died yesterday at the age of 80. Most famous, perhaps, as the announcer from "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and still heard as the voice of Antenna TV, Garish had the 3-6 pm shift on KMPC 710, the radio station I listened to the most growing up.

"The Nurny Song" (not only sung by the "staff" singers, but by just about every recording artist of the '60s and '70s, including The Carpenters and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir); the words "insegrevious," "fnork," and "krelb;" an autographed picture of the Harbor Freeway; Krellman; Earl C. Festoon; the "Gary Owens Rumor of the Day;" "The Story Lady" (nearly 300 episodes are currently available at that link); speaking to or of "Wayne Doo" (KMPC engineer Wayne DuBois); and the Zookmeister Broadcasting System. Good music, news and traffic reports, and plenty of promotions with Dick Enberg, announcer for the (then) California Angels -- KMPC and the Angels were both owned by Gene Autry, who also owned KTLA channel 5. Ending a finance company commercial with, "and there are 29 offices within the sound of my voice. And now," speaking much louder, "there are 57 offices within the sound of my voice."

Yet in all that non-stop zaniness, he was also a consummate professional. Here's an aircheck, unfortunately it begins a bit wobbly, from his Sept 17, 1970, KMPC broadcast. (Note that in air checks the middle of songs and commercials are frequently cut out.) Oh, the memories this brings to me!

Stan Chambers, Gary Owens... I hope I'm not back in a krenellemuffin.

RIP: L.A.'s TV Reporter Stan Chambers

On a Friday afternoon in the spring of 1949, 3½-year-old Kathy Fiscus fell into an abandoned well in San Marino, California, and a rescue attempt was begun. Newspapers and radio stations covered as an anxious city (and eventually the nation) followed the story. At some point during the rescue, someone at KTLA Channel 5, the first commerically licensed TV station in the western US, thought to send a camera crew. And for 27½ hours, Stan Chambers stood before and beside the camera telling viewers -- this was the early days of television, so perhaps 20,000 people were able to watch at home -- what they were watching on their screens, including the sad news that Kathy had died long before her rescuers reached her. This was the first on-the-scene live TV coverage of a breaking news story. It would not be the last, for television or for Stan Chambers. Sales of televisions skyrocketed.

While it would be several years before KTLA had a regular news broadcast, they'd broadcast special news events live and Stan Chambers was usually the guy on screen reporting. The testing of an atom bomb in Nevada. Brush fires all across the Southland. Floods, earthquakes, riots. He covered the assissination of Bobby Kennedy and broke the story beating of Rodney King. And Stan reported good news, too, not the least of which was the Rose Parade (which, if you cannot be there in person, is still best watched on KTLA [Thank God for the internet!]). I saw him report hundreds of stories on Channel 5's News at 10 living in LA. And he continued this until he retired in 2010 at the age of 87, after 63 years at KTLA and in the homes of Angelenos.

A little while ago, "Stan Chambers" started appearing on the "trending" portion of my Facebook page, dying today at the age of 91. A true television pioneer. RIP, Stan Chambers. Here's one of KTLA's tributes.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

My Ultreya Talk

At the invitation/encouragement of some parishioners, I made a Cursillo in 1994. I've remained part of that community ever since, even as we also started Via de Cristo, a Lutheran version of the Cursillo, here in the Heart of Illinois in 1997.

The Cursillo begins as a 72-hour "short course" in Christianity in a retreat-like setting, with 15 talks by laity and clergy, each followed by small group discussion, with time for prayer, worship, etc. And comes the Fourth Day, that is, the rest of your life. Part of that is the monthly Ultreya, which the Peoria Cursillo website describes as "reunions of the Peoria Cursillo community at-large and are open to invited guests. They afford Cursillistas an opportunity to meet, pray and socialize with others who are dedicated to living a Christian life. They also provide support for a Cursillista's efforts to bring Christ's message to others in His environment."

Part of that "support" is the Ultreya Talk, usually given by a lay person or couple, witnessing to their faith journey as they continue in their Fourth Day. But occasionally, a clergy Cursillista gives the talk, and at Saturday evening's Ultreya that was me. And if you'd like, you can listen to it beginning about 11:45 into the recording embedded to this post. ¡De colores!

Thanks to Fr. Terry Cassidy, pastor at St. Ann's Church.