SIMPLY THE BEST

Almost half a century after it began, a broadcasting era has ended.

Last Friday, radio icon, Alan Magnus, took off his headphones and stepped away from the microphone for the last time. It’s been a blast, right Alan? Alan wasn’t the first but he’s the quintessential Good Morning Man. The first was a legendary broadcaster in his own right, one Desmond Chambers from whom Alan learned everything Desmond knew. If he were still with us, the great Desmond Chambers would proudly proclaim the student far outstripped the Master.

This has got to be the saddest day of my life.
I called you here today for a bit of bad news.
I won’t be able to see you anymore
because of my obligations and the ties that you have.
We’ve been meeting here every day
and, since this is our last day together,
I wanna hold you just one more time.
When you turn and walk away, don’t look back
I wanna remember you just like this.
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

Alan’s many achievements have been chronicled elsewhere but, for me, his greatest achievement was his complete grasp of radio’s true purpose which is companionship.  Alan has millions of friends he never met yet kept their company through thick and thin for 46 years. He NEVER made his listeners feel inferior; never talked down to them. He was a visitor to our homes or a friend getting a lift in our cars with whom we chatted and laughed for as long as we can remember. Listeners set their clocks to “Calypso Corner” and “Under the Law” as they transported children (now adults) to school.

Alan won’t remember me but I remember him.  Alan and I have met. Often. Long ago.  In the 1980s, I was part-owner of a low-tech seafood restaurant on Retirement Road, a hop, skip and jump from RJR, named “Skully’s”.  Our favourite customer was Alan Magnus. Alan would arrive shortly after closing his show (sometimes we swore we saw him at the bar sipping his first beer while we heard him signing off on the radio). He’d sit with us all morning drinking that one beer while regaling us with stories that (mostly) brought tears of laughter.  His wife, who was strict about his diet, would show up at lunchtime with his lunch.  Allan rarely ordered a second beer.

I had to meet you here today
There’s just so many things to say
Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through
This is something I hate to do
We’ve been meeting here so long
I guess what we done, oh was wrong
Please darling, don’t you cry
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

It was at “Skully’s” Alan told me the story of his brush with death due to an exploded ulcer. He had been a heavy drinker and so, basically, had it coming. After emergency surgery, he survived by a whisker (that would be “whisker” not “whiskey”).  According to Alan, the Doctor asked him if he could stop drinking.  Ever forthright, Alan answered “No!”

“Ok then, can you stick to beer?”

“That I can do” Alan assured the Doctor since which time he learned to make a single beer last a long time.  So, the secret of long life? A beer a day keeps the doctor away!

Alan also confessed to me that he hadn’t been able to enjoy a vacation forever due to a syndrome which we’ve all experienced.  He said that whenever he goes on “leave”, expecting to rest, he still finds himself waking up at 3.00a.m every morning ready to head to studio.

(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes
(I’m gonna miss you)
Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy
(I’m gonna miss you)
Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby
(I’m gonna miss you)
Please, don’t you cry
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

At twenty-one, my mother gave me a transistor radio/tape recorder shaped like a tiny suitcase.  The very first song I ever recorded on that tape recorder was The Manhattans’ Let’s Just Kiss and say Goodbye off Alan Magnus’ Good Morning Man Show.  Alan: thanks for keeping my company these five decades. Like HBO, you’re simply the best!

Peace and Love

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