In the mid-'70s my exposure and experience as a producer in the recording industry was to begin. Co-producing an album with Tommy Monte, a boyhood friend and business associate, who played electric bass and a composer of songs locally in the tri-state area. " Live at The OBL" was our first album release on MOLLY records. This album contained a variety of popular top-40 tunes that were arranged and played with a jazz flavor featuring The Lyrics of whom I had worked and traveled on the road early in my career as a musician.
Although distribution for the album was accepted by many one-stop wholesalers and local record stores, it was very hard to get radio air-play on the local stations because of the rotating schedule order (RSO) that was allocated to Motown, A&M, Budda, and other major labels that had top artists on their roster. In order to increase the marketing potential and sales, a decision was made to produce a video commercial to be aired as a late-night marketing tool that would enhance our promotion for future sales. Although I had little experience in knowing what went-on in front of the cameras. What took place behind the cameras was an area that was completely new to me.
At the time, the only person I knew in the television business was someone I had met during a media gathering in center city Philadelphia.
Guy Galante was production manager and director at WKBS Channel-48 in Philadelphia, a station owned by the one and only Henry J. Kaiser. Kaiser Broadcasting was the only UHF station during this period to have a network of five stations in major markets, Guy was responsible for all studio operations, commercials, plus live and taped shows that were eminating from the Philadelphia market. To his credit he produced and directed various film segments for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences "Emmy" Awards Dinner in 1971 also the "Warner Bros. 50th Anniversary Special" which was aired nationally. He also attended production meetings with Jerry Lewis for the annual MDA TELETHON remote cut-a-way segments that was under his direction at WKBS-TV. During the ten years he spent at Channel-48 he not only gained much due respect from his peers but most-of-all he was regarded and commended as a highly competent professional in his field by Mr. Kaiser himself. With all these accolades, busy production schedules, and meetings with major movie and recording stars such as
Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston, Agnes Moorehead, Elke Summers, The Four Tops, Glen Campbell, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Lou Rawls
. . . and many others just to name a few, that came to Philadelphia to do interviews and promotions with movie-buff Bernie Herman, the host of "Memorable Moments In Movies" a daily mid-afternoon show featuring many movie classics. Guy, always found time to extend a helping-hand when needed... And believe me; at that time . . .I really needed some help.
One afternoon I showed-up at his office with a box of record albums to be distributed as added promotion. At that time, Being a novice at television production, I wasn't aware of all the hidden costs and amenities that was necessary to produce a one- minute commercial to be aired on a late night schedule. After a long discussion with Guy, I finally realized that it was virtually impossible for me to afford such a complex production because of the limited budget that was allocated from our investors.
With this in mind, I proceeded to leave his office until . . .
Guy personally said, "Let me show you how it's done."
*** He took me through the studio and explained how we could cut costs in production and buy a block of air-time that was directed to our market. He introduced me to the production crew and cameramen that would be lending their expertise to the project.
- - - I'll never forget a funny thing that happened with one of the senior cameramen, his name was Hank Bielecki. In order to gain attention around strangers who came into the studio, while standing in a crowd he had a tendency to accidently drop a note that he had written previously from his pants pocket or out of a folder that he was carrying, hoping that the stranger would pick it up and read it and be impressed by what was written in the message. The note would always say Hank, your doing a great job! - Keep-up the good work. Hope to see you soon. Signed Henry J. Kaiser or some other famous personality that happen to drop by the studio to promote their up-coming films that were being released in the theaters. I happened to become a victim to his practical joke, we laughed and talked for a while about some of his favorites in jazz. They both assured me that all the crew members would give their full support to the project. At another humorous occasion channel-48 had the movie "The Invisible Man" to broadcast. That night an hour before air-time the film had not shown-up. Guy asked, the then announcer, (who has since joined the national ranks in a No.l market) to make an announcement that the movie that was scheduled to air would not be shown. He rushed to the announce booth and ad-libbed this announcement "due to technical difficulties the Invisible man will not be seen tonight." It was quite awhile, that the announcer would be let off the hook for that ONE.
Shortly thereafter Guy contacted me explaining that the commercial was ready for preview and that a block of air-time would be reserved, sold and allocated to us so that we could meet our limited budget. The commercial ran for quite sometime and we able to have a successful mail order product making it possible to do other promotions in a targeted area. If it wasn't for the help extended by Guy Galante I'm sure that the album project would have fell by-the-wayside where we could have lost a lot of investment capital.
Over the years Guy and his wife Elaine and myself have maintained a close relationship that has enabled us to co-produce a pilot shows that included Bobby Vinton, Buddy Greco and Grammy Award nominee vocalist Billy Paul hosted by Philadelphia radio personality Joe Niagara plus other TV shows and live concerts that have included Maynard Ferguson, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Bobby Rydell Show, Sylvia Syms and a Big Band Dance Party featuring vocalist Fran Warren and her notable conductor, trumpeter Joe Cabot who has been responsible for many of her swinging jazz arrangements of popular songs.
I often have ask Guy how he feels about the present jazz scene of today and why it is almost impossible to get major sponsorship for a television series highlighting many of the young jazz musicians that have roots in traditional jazz.
"As you know I'm a jazz fan... always have been... STAN KENTON is a favorite of mine, and always felt a great amount of respect and gratitude towards the musicians down south who at the turn of the century gave birth to Jazz ... It is unfortunate that the current sponsors of TV programs feel the jazz fans, the would-be viewers, are a much older demographic range of the buying audience they prefer and consequently have little or no desire to sponsor jazz shows on TV."