Lifestyle: Tom Bernstein chronicles radio land in Los Angeles

Lifestyle: Tom Bernstein’s continues to give us the real story of Los Angeles’s radio. Tom’s accounts on how things worked is an interesting chapter of behind the scenes doings.

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Expense Accounts, Favorite Bars and Restaurants 

Working in the advertising media I was exposed to all the famous, and some not so famous restaurants in the L.A area and depending on my status, in ranged from Norm’s to Scandia. When I started in the CBS Script Department, with no expense account, Norm’s with the daily radio specials was our favorite. Working the night shift, when the radio special was a steak sandwich, can’t remember the low price, we all jumped in our cars and headed for dinner at the Norm’s on La Cienega. Across the street, from CBS, on Gower St. was Naples, the after work and Friday watering hole. It was also the favorite restaurant of my landlord, a famous character actor from New England who would come down from Laurel Canyon when the owner flew in special New England Mussels and would call him. Things changed dramatically when I was promoted to the HPL job with a full expense account. Monday was the most important day of the week. The first thing you did was fill out your expense account and submitted it to finance and got reimbursed in cash. Later, in the ‘80s when I returned to CBS as an Account Executive (time salesman ) we were issued American Express Green cards. Before I actually started the new job my predecessor took me aside and explained the expense account protocol. He had turned in his first expense account for about half the allowed maximum and listed restaurants such as Denny’s and Copper Penny. The boss called him and he thought he was going to be fired for over submitting but was told you file for just under the maximum and you don’t go to Denny’s or Cooper Penny. We’re CBS and it’s Scandia, Perino’s , Tail ‘O The Cock, etc, and if you need receipts, I have a desk full. 

Scandia was just about everyones favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner, especially the bar – frozen Stoli vodka and steak tartar. When I worked of KCOP-TV, we had our own section in the main dining room with the same captain to serve us when ever we came in (by reservation of course). KRLA Radio on the other hand had a special table in the famed Viking Room, were numerous celebrity members had their names on large straight glasses, that allowed station executives and sales people to come in without reservations and get served anytime. There was similar arrangement in the Ship Room at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena were the station was headquartered. Scandia also had small wine cellar where a limited number of sales and advertising friends held an annual Christmas lunch – aquavit and gravlocks. 

Later on, The Palm on Santa Monica Blvd., became a regular Friday lunch and beyond scene. Another radio station I worked for’s General Manager arranged for a communal, no host table there, where those in the know sales people and media buyers could come and go without reservations. 

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There were many others, all with special appeals. Martoni’s, favorite of the music industry and DJs. The Tail ‘O the Cock on La Cienega, the Brown Derbys (the Record Room at the Vine St. Derby and the hat on Wilshire), Nickodell’s on Arygle and Melrose (next to Desilu studios, KHJ Radio and TV), Lucy’s Mexican Restaurant across the street – favorite of Gov. Jerry Brown, The Polo Lounge were I once had lunch with David Frost, The Cove, The Cock and Bull – famous for introducing the Moscow Mule, Musso Franks and El Coyote, both featured in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, plus a lot more I can’t remember. Too bad Chasen’s never opened for lunch. 

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