Broadcast Announcer Don Pardo RIP
By Jerry Del Colliano
My first break in television was as a booth announcer at the ABC affiliate Channel 6 in Philadelphia.
The program director, Tom Jones, gave me my break. Unfortunately he died a few weeks later at a very young age.
My first two times in the booth were meant to be a one and done situation but I stayed on at the station and also worked in radio.
So when Don Pardo died the other day, I mourned.
I loved him.
Forget the “Saturday Night LIIIIVE” introduction.
Forget that he did quiz shows and other shows during his long career.
Pardo died as we all wish we could in his sleep at the tender age of 96.
And except for missing a few weeks in March due to a fall, he was and will always be the voice of SNL.
Imagine being 96 and still being able talk let alone pronounce the names of the newfangled music groups that took him far from the 1920s and 1930s.
And he was good – very good even until the end.
Lorne Michaels isn’t the genius he is just because he discovers a few hundred talented “not ready for prime time players”. He could also pick announcers.
Imagine being 96 and still working.
Imagine being 96 and not using Depends – we could only dream.
I always wanted to be an announcer more than anything else.
I have a good voice but you need a great one, which is why I used to hire Charlie Van Dyke to do my radio station breaks.
But the death of Don Pardo is sad in other ways.
He had a lifetime contract with NBC – only Bob Hope had the same thing.
A lifetime contract in radio will cause a hernia because just the words alone make radio people laugh themselves silly and hurt themselves.
I’m sad for the day when we actually cared about talent.
Today, the talent still cares.
The audience still cares.
It’s the owners – those greedy bastards who front venture capital money to treat entertainment like it is a department store looking to cut the workforce.
Part-time workers so you don’t have to pay health care.
And then the cowards blame the Kenyan President for forcing it on them, which is disingenuous to say the least.
I miss when talent could actually grow and mature.
When young and old worked together for the sole purpose of making audiences happy.
That’s the job we signed up for.
That’s the job Don Pardo did with dignity to the very end.
And if his death juxtapositions what has happened to today’s media business with the way it used to be, then so be it.
Broadcasting people are better than the institutions they work for.
TV is now failing.
Prime demographics are fleeing from primetime network television to Netflix, Hulu Plus and their tablets.
Radio is over for 95 million Millennials which means its curtains for the radio industry no matter how Erica Farber’s RAB and The Southern California Broadcasting Association spins it.
Newspapers were dead when they were used for cat litter.
I am loathed to over simplify things but it’s all about talent.
The one thing Millennials like about radio is morning show personalities. In fact, they can’t even tell you which station their favorites are on but they can tell you their names.
Don Pardo was one of my idols and I am sorry to see him go but he worked at a better time when the focus was on you not Wall Street.