Gordon Mason: June 18, 1998


President Emeritus of the Southern California Broadcasters Association, Gordon Mason, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at a dinner and ceremony on June 30, 1998 at the Sheraton Universal Hotel. Mason had been President of the SCBA for twelve years following a lengthy career in radio.

Mason's thirty year broadcast career includes numerous sales and sales management positions in both Radio and TV, including ten years as VP & General Manager of KJOI FM in Los Angeles, during which time the station ranked in the top five rated Los Angeles Radio stations. He is a founding member and past president of the Advertising Industry Emergency Fund, past president of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles and a two-time chairman of the SCBA board.



Our dear friend and colleague Gordon Mason died of cancer on December 10, 2007. In true Gordon fashion, he left a last column about his life. We will miss him.

"I was deposited on Planet Earth a little over eighty years ago. (March 26, 1927) and have enjoyed most of my years here thoroughly.

I was blessed with Dorothy, a remarkable mother who gave me her love and wisdom.

And the companionship, love and respect of Muriel, an older sister.

I volunteered for the U.S. Naval Reserve, served as a Storekeeper second class at the Fleet Training Base on San Clemente Island during WWII. America then reciprocated by paying part of my tuition at UCLA where I graduated with a B.A. in English/Theater Arts.

I married and produced a son, Craig, of whom I could not be prouder. I built a sturdy shelter for my family, paid taxes and always voted conscientiously in my country's elections. But it took me three times to finally get the marriage right - believe me, it was well worth it!

I had the good fortune to select the kind of job that I loved and got paid well to do - the kind of job where you had to operate under a license that forced you to get involved in the people and community you served and really mean it. They called it, "Serving in the public interest, convenience and necessity." 

To begin with I trained in radio sales at CBS' Columbia Square. I learned how to teach others how to benefit by using the fantastic qualities of radio. I started in the typing pool, wound up General Sales Manager of KNX a few years later. Where else could you find such fabulous opportunities.

I left CBS to sell radio sports sponsorships for four Golden West Broadcasters radio stations. When Gene Autry bought KTLA Channel 5, I spent two fascinating years as VP/General Sales Manager.

I had three more years in trade publishing and got a whole new outlook -as Associate Publisher, Western Advertising and later VP/Sales MAC/Western Advertising.

I spent five busy years learning to be a VP/General Manager at KBIG with some of the greatest men and women in radio, and applied that knowledge over the next ten years as VP/General Manager of "Beautiful Music KJOI, FM 99. I never felt so good about a job. KJOI was a quaint little family of 26 people housed in an old mansion at the top of a hill - but it was also one of the top five radio stations in Los Angeles, the nation's number one market, for years.

Half-way through my term, the Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angeles bought the station quite unexpectedly. Normally, it's hard to make a little company an effective division of a much larger company but the two blended smoothly with great results. The Coke people were remarkable and I remember them fondly today.

I believe that you're not really serving yourself unless you're serving your community, too. I was fortunate enough to be given a number of opportunities by serving with community groups. I chose an opportunity to help rebuild the Advertising Club of Los Angeles as President in 1972 and found it greatly rewarding.

Again, as a Board Member and Advisor to the Los Angeles County Epilepsy Society the following year I had the pleasure of transforming a rambunctious  bunch of Jr. Ad Club members into an effective campaign-producing ad agency for Epilepsy treatment.

I'm probably the only Past President of The Milline Club of Southern California who is proud of it. Yes, this 100 member group of L.A. males staged 20 raunchy, chauvinistic shows, always sold out at high prices at places like The Century Plaza, Coconut Grove and Palladium, and were roundly condemned by many feminists.

Dismissing the Milline as a "raunchy men's club" is like describing the Salvation Army as "a bunch of religious nuts" or "Hamlet" as "an old play." Milline detractors and even some of its own members failed to understand that the point was never a "put down" of women, but a matter of who could get the biggest laugh in the process of lightening up and poking fun at ourselves. Good things happened in that organization. A lot of its members formed friendships for life. And I couldn't have had more fun writing the book of seventeen of its twenty shows with lyricists Dallas Williams and George Goldman.. (The "acting" and "dancing" were fun, too - even though I never could move to my left!)

My greatest opportunity to serve my core community came with Presidency of the Advertising Industry Emergency Fund in the '70's. This remarkable organization raised money from contributions and spent it to address the misfortunes of local ad people suffering catastrophic illness. If the hospitalized A.I.D.S. patient was too ill to travel to say a final goodbye to his family, A.I.E.F. brought the family here. In some cases they paid the rent of people who could no longer work, bought food coupons, fought with doctors, got toys for the kids, got adjustments on hospital bills,  kept things going until the situation was straightened out. And, nobody made a dime. I was involved in a small way but make no claim on starting the A.I.E.F. -- but I'll always be proud that I left my footprints there.

The Southern California Broadcasters of the '70's, '80's, and 90's were a different breed and here again I was lucky to have served them as volunteer Chairman of the Board and later - for ten years - in the paid position of President. Their integrity, enthusiasm, humor, sincerity made my job a pleasure. Look around today - professionals say, "The business has changed. It's not the same any more."

And yet, at the first sign of a Southland fire, an earthquake rumbling in a distant volcano, or a tragic South American passenger plane crash, the very same people and their successors put together collection centers for disaster victims and use the airwaves to raise millions of dollars for the victims.

Lastly, there was something awesome in presiding over weddings for my friends. I loved it so much I did it forty-three times.

I felt the same way about teaching radio management all those extension semesters at UCLA. I met so many warm, bright, responsive people so eager to learn.

So, dear friends, that's my story. No funeral services or celebrations, please.  Thanks for your patience in reading this. And to so very many of you - thanks for such a wonderful time!

(And, it wouldn't have been half so wonderful without twenty-seven years with Bette.)"



At a final celebration of his life (sorry Gordon, too many people wanted to say goodbye), over 100 of his friends, colleagues and family spent time sharing stories of how much Gordon Mason,  impacted their lives, made them better people, made them laugh and just plain astounded them with how good and solid a person he was.

The event was held at the Marina City Club. People came from Washington DC and San Francisco, San Diego and all over Los Angeles. Chuck Cady and Marsha Purcell produced a 15-minute video tribute to Gordon, complete with pictures from his “racy” days in costume and in drag for the Milline Club productions of the 60s and 70s. 

Bette Mason, his wife of 23 years, and son Craig Mason were there and shared memories with the crowd. Gary Owens and Norm Epstein gave tributes to Gordon. The walls were covered with stories submitted by friends about Gordon.


One from Ira Laufer summed it up nicely – “He was a lovely man and a great talent. In the words of John Wooden describing Lewis Alcindor: He was also quite tall.”

 

 

 




Gordon's friends remember:

Gordon and longtime friend and radio personality, Gary Owens celebrating at Gordon's Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner.

Robert Richer
When Able Communications acquired KCBH (who remembers what those calls stand for?), and we changed the name to KJOI, it was my mission to find a new GM.

Gordon and I met, and I told him that I was very interested in bringing him in as General Manager. He said that was nice, but that he wouldn’t take the job unless he could bring in his own sales manager, Bob Boccaccio. I told Gordon that I wasn’t looking for a sales manager, but in his quiet, persuasive way, he indicated that he and Boccaccio were a team; take it or leave it.

I took it, and never regretted the decision.

Under Gordon’s tutelage, KJOI prospered. He never missed a budget and invariably exceeded them. He was quiet, unflappable and handled the job with aplomb.

What most amazed me about Gordon, however, was his ability to walk into virtually any advertising agency in Los Angeles, and to have people at all levels come out of their offices, merely to say hello.  And this included agency presidents. Coming from a radio background in New York, where we were ranked slightly above the people who sold ads on matchbook covers, this absolutely staggered me.

His association with the Milline Club was merely an extension of his ability to motivate anyone who was exposed to his unremitting charm. Milline events were outrageous, but they did a lot of good and were never vicious. And I must confess that I still have in my files the program from Gordon’s production of “Fegalah on the Roof.”

It was painful when we sold KJOI to Coke LA, but as Gordon said in his last note, the transition was relatively painless, due in large part, to the charisma of Coke’s chairman, Tom Kemp. The two of them got along just fine.

Gordon was a one-off.  A dear guy who went through life with a smile on his face.  I will continue to think nothing but good about him.

Bob Fox:
Gordon Mason was a close friend of mine. We go back many years and all of those years with Gordon were more than enjoyable. He was decent, sensitive, funny, intelligent and compassionate. What a guy. In the late 60's I brought him on to the Board of Directors of the Milline Club and he ultimately became president. It was a great group of guys who added a lot of fun and enjoyment to the media/advertising community. Many of us became close friends through our involvement with that organization. Later, he told me of his interest in becoming involved with the AIEF and he joined the organization and  became President. In 1986 while I chaired the SCBA, it was necessary to bring in a new president. Bill Sommers, Bill Shearer, Stan Spero, George Green and I got together and we unanimously agreed that Gordon was the person for the job. We were lucky that he was available. He rebuilt the organization.

Gordon was a great manager and leader. He never raised his voice or belittled others. He knew how to make things work. He was wise and had a fabulous sense of humor. I will miss him more than I can express. I was lucky to know him and count him as a friend. I learned a great deal from him.



The SCBA Radiofest was one of Gordon's favorite events. He loved to see industry and ad folks having fun with their families. Here he is pictured with his wife, Bette, at the 2000 Radiofest in Burbank at the Equesrian Center.



To the right he is seen with former KNX General Manager, George Nicholaw, enjoying an earlier Radiofest.


Bob Ridzak
Gordon was one of a kind not only a great broadcaster but a great man in many ways.

John Squyres
I am so saddened, he was such a ray of sunshine for all these years, I looked forward to chatting every chance I got because he never lost his sense of humor…..God Bless him.

David Howard
How sad. I just had lunch with Natalie Krugliak and we were talking about the "Pillars" of our business that are not around anymore...Time moves on.


Gordon, celebrating at his 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner with another former SCBA Chairman of the Board and CBS Radio Market Manager, Pat Duffy.




Mary Baxter
So very sorry to read this news. Gordon will be dearly missed.

Mary Hawley
I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I remember that I met Gordon when I first moved to Los Angeles.  He suggested to me that I take the radio course at UCLA with Harry Spitzer - and the rest is history. He certainly was a fine man and he built a wonderful organization. You honor him everyday with your diligent work ethic on behalf of the SCBA - and all of radio, for that matter. May God Bless Gordon and may he rest in peace. Please let his family know that he will be missed.

Sharon Benoit
I'm so saddened by Gordon's passing. He was always so kind to me, before, during and after my days at KMPC Radio, MAC/Western Advertising News and Adweek. I always enjoyed visiting with him every year at the Radio Fest (miss those days immensely). I will keep Gordon in my prayers. Thank you for letting me know of his passing.

Bob Griffith
A true gentleman...sorry to hear.

Dan Mitchell
Life and death are a mystery wrapped in a paradox; all we can do is love and forgive one another over and over. Every time a person who has practiced this in life passes, they are missed with intensity. It is so with Gordon.

Erica Farber
What a sad day this is. I remember meeting Gordon in the early '70's was when he was the General Manager of KBIG and I was a salesperson at KIIS-AM. There was a strong rumor that KBIG which was owned by Bonneville at the time had a special studio that no one was allowed to enter as it was set aside in the event that Jesus was resurrected so that he could have his own studio with which to broadcast. Of course I believed it; why wouldn't he want to use radio as his primary communication vehicle? When I met Gordon I of course asked him about it. He graciously invited me to visit the radio station to show me that although they were very proud of their studios they did not have an extra studio set aside for that special guest appearance! A very dear man indeed. And to the end so believed in the power of radio.

Frank Saxe
...with the heart of an editor...Making that final deadline.

Harriette Spero
I am so saddened to hear of Gordon's passing. He and Stan were good friends and I enjoyed meeting and visiting with him whenever we ran into him at various radio functions. He was indeed, a wonderful man. I hope that somehow, if possible, he and Stan can connect up in heaven.
 
Andy Mars
Wow, what a horrible loss. Gordon was a mentor, leader, and inspirational friend to a guy growing up in the radio business in the 80's. He was always available to answer questions, teach, and just be an ear to listen. He helped through the challenges of CBS and inspired me to take on management responsibilities. His honesty and sincere heart made him a real role model for the up and comers. We need to thank god for angels like Gordon Mason. He will be missed.

Roger Nadel
So sorry to hear about Gordon Mason passing away. He was one of the truly "good guys" of our industry...someone who always had a smile and a story.
Gordon will be remembered for understanding, early on, the importance of the Southern California radio community speaking with one voice to the business community...and the advertising community in particular. He was a uniter, and his service to the SCBA and to its member stations lives on to this day.

Paul O'Malley
He was great to me from the very first day I arrived in LA in 1997. I will always remember his class and genuine regard for people. I will say a prayer for his family and will be thinking of you.

Lynn Christian
I shared nearly 6 years in the same office suite with Gordon and continued
to see him after he left SCBA and I left RAB for lunches. He was one of the most articulate spokespersons for Radio that I have ever known or had the pleasure of working with. I will treasure my memories of Gordon along with some wonderful pictures of all of us at his retirement luncheon from the SCBA.

Thomas Martz
In 1990, I was asked to become President of the Northern California Broadcasters Association. I had a lot of contacts in the business and advertising world from over 30 years in the magazine business, but had never been in radio. I flew down to see Gordon Mason and told him, "before we start...I want you to know I've never been in a radio station and never run an association." He responded, "those are the two best things you could have said."
 
Through the years I asked Gordon seemingly a thousand questions and he always was friendly, helpful, and gave me great advice. We became wonderful friends, and I stayed in the job as NCBA President for 14 years, retiring in 2004. They're not making Gordon Masons anymore, and I will miss him.

Stan Statham
Broadcasters with the legacy of Gordon Mason are rare indeed. His personal broadcasting history from KNX to his last column make him a "lifelong" broadcaster who will always be remembered.

Mark Powers
Sorry to hear that. I know he was a great radio advocate and even better role model.

Joe Berry
He was one of those broadcaster icons that you think will always be there.

Murray Fleck
Gordon was my brother-in-law for 27 years, and I can honestly say that Gordon was always a joy to be around. His premier standing in the Radio industry is well known, his standing in our family was equally superb. I will miss him very much.

Ira Laufer
Godon was one of the good guys who made being part of the radio industry a joy in the years we were all active. I know of no other business where "competitors" were truly colleagues that enjoyed each other and developed long and lasting friendships. He was a lovely man and a great talent. In the words of John Wooden describing Lewis Alcindor: He was also quite tall.
 
Tom Bernstein
Gordon gave me my first real break at CBS when he was General Sales Manager at KNX. I too started in the script Department (fresh out of the Army) from where Gordon and, his later MAC partner, Phil Hillman (then Director of Advertising and Promotion at KNX) promoted me to the Sales Promotion, Research position. He taught me how to write sales presentations, work with the various rating services for KNX  and we put together the first S.C.B.A. Southern California Radio Presentation that was made to Advertising Agencies all around the country. It was a big project. My time in Sales Promotion really started my 42 year Broadcast sales career. My first and last jobs were at KNX, from where I retired 7 years ago. I also am a proud, past president of the Milline Club, and participated in 12 of the "raunchy" shows. Those were some of the best, fun, times I had in the business. Here's my favorite Milline pic of Gordon. Thanks for all the good times!!!! 

Al Gottfried
I started working for Gene Autry at the old great KMPC AM 710 in 1976......I was 28 years old and a rookie salesperson, (now Im 60 years old still selling radio time)...my fondest memory of Gordon, was the fact...that at my first SCBA meeting, not knowing me, he took the time to set me apart and aside....and welcome me to the industry...he offered me all the unsolicited unbiased help and encouragment, in helping me realize my dream of a successful radio sales career.....I enjoyed that relationship with him for many ensuing years.......obviously its a sad time......losing Gordon.....a great tallk lanky giant of our beloved radio industry..... 
 

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