March come in like neither lion nor lamb in Cleveland. It came in rockin’.
The newly redesigned Alan Freed Memorial Radio Studio was dedicated March 1 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It coincides with a new exhibit on the life and career of the legendary rock and roll broadcaster.
The event included a catered reception, ribbon-cutting ceremony with Freed’s daughter-in-law and looped playback of classic Freed broadcasts.
Rather than a nostalgic recreation of a 1950s vintage station, the Freed studio is a state-of-the-art broadcast performance room with digital storage technology, an Internet Webcam, ISDN connectivity and a digital console, mounted in custom cabinetry. It is available at no charge to visiting stations for remotes.
Broadcasters General Store played the leading role in outfitting the studio, in particular the company’s Gary Tibbets and Cecile Gibson. Representatives from Logitek Electronic Systems, Comrex Corp., Studio Technology, ENCO Systems, Telos Systems, Gepco, Auralex, McVay Media and other suppliers made the journey to the museum for the dedication. Friends, family and fans were present for the unveiling, presided over by officials of the Hall of Fame.
(click thumbnail)John Grayson and Judith Fisher Freed celebrate the dedication. (Photo by Alan R. Peterson)
Radio World is a corporate sponsor. Rock Hall Donor Relations Manager John Grayson said Radio World Associate Publisher John Casey “has been a champion of this project since its inception.” He credited Casey with the idea of naming the studio for Freed.
Also saluted was the late Scott Beeler, an industry sales executive who supported the project from the start. “While we dedicate this radio studio to Alan Freed’s life and legacy, those of us who knew Scott and loved him and constructed the radio studio, dedicate our efforts to his memory,” Grayson said. Beeler’s mother, stepfather and pregnant widow attended as special guests.
Taking the stage to share their thoughts were Janis Purdy, vice president of planning and development; Grayson, one of the main coordinators of the project; and Associate Curator Craig Enciardi, who related a nostalgic experience on his way to Cleveland.
“I passed the site of the old Paramount Brooklyn theater on the way here, where Alan did a lot of his live shows,” Enciardi said of his trip from New York.
He introduced Judith Fisher Freed as “the keeper of Alan’s flame. Without her, we wouldn’t be here tonight.”
After a swift ribbon-cutting ceremony, Freed strode into the studio and pushed a button on the console, launching a montage of broadcasts made by the self-proclaimed “King of the Moondoggers” and played over the sound system throughout the museum.
She also shared a thought with the builders of the studio. “It’s beautiful, but two things are missing: a phonebook and a cowbell.” Freed kept both within reach during his broadcasts. Sources say both will be added.
Judith Freed also noted the absence of a Diet Coke bottle, which her father-in-law kept close by. “Always empty,” she said. “He’d finish it right away.”
In a nod to Freed’s legacy, the studio includes two concealed turntables for playing back the old stacks of wax. “Oh yes, turntables,” she said. “I want to cry.”
The studio dedication coincided with an exhibit on Freed’s life and career that opened on the ground floor of the Rock Hall. Photographs, posters, Freed memorabilia and documents pertaining to the later payola scandals are displayed on the walls and in glass cases.
However, the ultimate tribute can be found on the second floor of the Hall: Alan Freed’s cremated remains are in a silver box behind glass, presiding over the Rock and Radio interactive exhibit.
The studio is open and can be reserved in advance for remote live broadcasts originating from the Hall of Fame. There is no charge for use of the studio; stations typically are asked to read promotional announcements as part of their broadcasts.
To schedule a broadcast, contact Doris McVay at McVay Media. Fax a request for a broadcast date to (440) 892-8817 or send e-mail to [email protected].
A live Webcam view is at www.rockhall.com