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Airwaves: February 17, 2012

Pardo Birthday Wishes

Today he may be better known for his work on television, but he actually started on radio way back in 1938 when he took a position at WJAR/Providence, Rhode Island. His association with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) began in 1944. And on February 22, Don Pardo celebrates his 94th birthday.

Pardo “retired” from NBC in 2004 after more than 60 years as a staff announcer based out of New York. But fans know he never really retired - he stayed on with NBC’s Saturday Night Live as the shows announcer, a job he began with the show’s debut and a job he still holds today. Other than one season (one of the bad ones), he has been the show’s announcer during its entire run.

Yet his early start at NBC came as a surprise even to him. Still living in Providence in 1944, Pardo took a trip to the NBC studios in New York to take a tour and meet the staff announcers of the time. Announcer supervisor Patrick Kelly arranged a pass to visit the production rooms and watch the announcers in action.

After the backstage tour, Pardo went back to thank Kelly, who asked if he would like to audition for NBC. At the time NBC required a college degree and five years experience; Pardo had neither. But Kelly insisted, telling Pardo that he wanted to record him in case he wanted to consider applying in the future.

Upon his return to WJAR that Monday, Pardo had an offer, quickly accepted after some initial concern over moving to New York with a pregnant wife, to become one of the announcers on the hugely popular radio network.

When television came calling, Pardo answered. First as an announcer for color-television demonstrations via closed-circuit productions, and later as an announcer for numerous programs. Many fans of the original NBC-TV daytime version of Jeopardy (1964-1975), for example, equate Pardo with the show every much as they do host Art Flemming.

Pardo was the first NBC staff announcer to read the bulletin that President John F. Kennedy had been shot on November 22, 1963, later stating that his first reaction upon reading the wire reports was one of “horror.” To this day he does not know how he was able to maintain his composure.

He is the true voice of Saturday Night Live, the one consistent voice of quality through the ups and downs of the long running program, and it will be a sad day indeed when he decides to fully retire. Not that he wouldn't deserve the extra time off. Happy birthday, Don!


Even though Clear Channel executives like to hype that KIIS-FM is consistently among the top-grossing stations in America, having the most money wasn’t enough to keep a helicopter in the air. So Commander Chuck Street, synonymous with the morning program back to the days of Rick Dees, is officially grounded.

What actually brought this on was the loss of their sponsor, Pepsi, and the fact that Clear Channel is too damn cheap to do anything unless it is sponsored. Unless it is covered, it will not run. Broadcasting in the public interest is just not a trait of Clear Channel ... unless someone else pays for it.

Street had been doing airborne traffic reports for KIIS-FM since October, 1983. Not a bad run.

Leykis Talk

Tom Leykis has been under a noncompete contract with CBS even though he has not been on the air since KLSX became AMP Radio (KAMP, 97.1 FM) in February of 2009.

That contract runs out in March; Leykis says he is ready to go on line with a new internet-based talk program at 3 PM local time Monday, April 2. For more information, a link to hear the show and an official countdown to the launch, go to Of course you can read about it right here as well, as the launch gets closer.

Prager in Torrance

KRLA (870 AM) late morning weekday (9 AM to noon) talk host Dennis Prager will be at the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation on Sunday, February 26th at 7 PM to talk about happiness in a program called Happiness is not a feeling, it is a moral obligation.

Tickets are $37.50; $34 for season subscribers at The Foundation is located at 3330 Civic Center Drive, 90503. Phone 310-781-7171.


Copyright © 2012 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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