"How KYW's "Martin and Howard"
Saved the Beatles concert in Cleveland"
While basking in the warm
embrace of a 40 rating at KCBQ in San Diego, I was lured to Cleveland in
the early 60’s by Westinghouse Radio to team with Specs Howard in the
morning. Their station, KYW, a 50,000 watt Midwestern paper giant, was
being trashed by WHK, a real giant in the only way it counts -- the
ratings. Our job was to get to know each other in a hurry, meanwhile prying
KYW out of # 5 to # 1 (echo effect) one ... ONE.
Getting to know each other wasn’t that easy. Specs is an observant
Orthodox Jew and I am not orthodox about much. We were an odd couple
from the beginning. I had never worked with another jock, much less one
who wouldn’t eat shell fish. But how we meshed into a harmonious team is
the stuff of sitcoms.
Like I said, WHK was a leviathan. And to preserve their dominance,
they were bringing in the Beatles.
Specs and I decided to
grab a couple of bootleg tickets and check out our reputedly unbeatable
adversaries at WHK and of course, to catch the Fab Four.
That evening, the concert was to be held at Cleveland Municipal
Auditorium, a hall dominated by a massive curtain that spanned the vast
stage. As we entered we were deafened by the shrill screams of 12,000
young girls driven over the edge just by the idea of being in the same
place as their beloved Beatles.
The apron of the stage
was spanned by some forty cops, their arms linked, to fend off the all
too familiar stampede that these pre and pubescent girls would soon
mount if they were anything like those in the other cities where the
Beatles had played.
It was already too much for the kids to keep their seats. The cops had
been right. Spontaneously, as one, the girls leaped to their feet and
charged the stage to do Lord knows what to the Beatles.
forward, heedless of their lives, screaming like those warriors you see
in the old Samurai films. The cops, no match for those kids, tumbled
like large blue bowling pins. I would pit a gang of dedicated 13 year
old girls against the defensive line of any team in the NFL.
Now, the girls were mauling the WHK jocks who panicked and fled the
building through the stage door. The Beatles were not back stage. They
had learned from experience to arrive just in time to go on.
What else could we do? Instinctively Specs and I vaulted onto the stage,
realizing too late what had panicked the WHK guys and broken the cops
cordon. It was the hundreds of bodies crashing onto the stage like a
tsunami.. We retreated toward the wing where the Police Chief stood in
the shambles that had once been his command post, getting there just in
time to hear him bellow. “Get those little bastards out here. This
concert is shut down.”
“I forget just who it was, Specs or me who got the idea, but we ran to
the chief and hollered into his ear. “No Chief, Don’t do that. Give us a
chance to calm them down.” Without waiting for a reply, we both ran to
the center of the stage heedless of our lives and hollered into the
mike, “Hi there, we are Martin and Howard of KYW Radio. Specs announced,
“We have just spoken to the Chief and he wants to cancel the concert. Do
you want this?” “Noooo!!!” they wailed, suddenly little
I took over. “We told the
Chief that Cleveland girls are the greatest girls in the world and we
promised him that now you will return to your seats so we can have the
concert. Here is how we can do it. Go back to your seats by the time I
count to 3. There was a thunderous retreat to their seats even before we
began a slow count to 3 in unison.
Then Specs took the mike and said ”Tomorrow morning at 6, Hare and I
begin our new morning show on KYW Radio. I want you to tune in at 6,
because we are going to play the very first Beatle Triple Play in radio
history!” They wailed hysterically at his mention of the word “
Then in a stroke of
fortune, we got word that the Beatles were set up and ready and Specs
and I hollered at the top of our lungs, “And here they are….The
The curtain flew open, and there they were, playing and singing, “She
Loves Me Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" Only no one heard them over the renewed
screams. No one ever heard a word the Beatles sang during those
About the WHK jocks: I had cautioned the Chief not to let them
back into the building because they had been the ones who had caused the
riot. He bought it with a conspiratorial wink.
That whole evening went so smoothly that not even Paul has known after
all these years what happened -- that they were allowed to go on after
being told to pack up and leave. I know because I saw Sir Paul recently
in a cable interview talking about the Cleveland concert. He said, “We
had been told that the concert was cancelled because of the riot. Then a
few minutes later, a cop came into our dressing room and told us that we
could go on stage and play. I never did learn what happened -- that they
changed their minds.”
To this day, Sir Paul
still doesn’t know.
In the first Rating book after that, we were number one ( Echo SFX) one
ONE, because we were the guys who saved the Beatle concert.