Lifestyle: The radio world of Tom Bernstein

Lifestyle: Tom Bernstein continues to provide  us with his tales of radio life in Los Angeles, Ca. 

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Working in radio allowed a lot of opportunities to interact with clients. At KRLA, a top rated rock ’n roll station there were many. One of my accounts, the So. Cal. Drag Racing Association set up a drag race at the Winter Nationals, in Pomona, with me facing off against the then Funny Car champion, Kenny Bernstein in a Bernstein vs. Bernstein show down. We both drove identical, tuned up, stick shift, Mercury Cougars and in front of a full house, 40,000+ spectators, I won. I had a few practice races at other tracks to train myself in the car. Another sponsor, Black Angus Restaurants, would have a hot air balloon promotion when they opened a new location. Working at another station I remember the morning man (Sweet Dick Whittington) shouting at his producer, “never book me on a hot air balloon again” after a crash landing in the Valley. With this in mind, it was my turn, so on the first day we did traffic reports from a tethered balloon above the 210 freeway. The station engineer wanted no part of it, so I and the traffic reporter did the freeway reports from the balloon. After the traffic reports, they untethered the balloon and we went on a free flight across the San Gabriel Valley. Everything went well. We landed safely on a commercial parking lot next a grammar school. The next day our morning man (Dave Hull) took his turn. I went in the chase truck and took pictures. Sure enough they missed the landing, ending up next to the school yard fence. There was no damage, but it was more embarrassing with the entire school looking thru the fence. Dave Hull has the pictures, which he published in his book. Another sponsor was the the U.S. Air Force for recruitment. My contact calls me to invite me to March Air Force base to be part of a SAC refueling mission. We took off and flew out to The Great Salt Lake, Utah and refueled a flight of F-16s and F-105.s From there the flight navigator took over and from a dome in top of the plane guided the tanker back. using the sun as reference. We flew over Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, down the Peninsula over Southern California back to March Air Force Base. During the approach and landing I sat on the flight deck with head phones monitoring the precision performance. Every move from take off to landing was graded by SAC command. My contact, a captain, was also a pilot, had offered to take me up in two seat F-80, but got promoted and transferred before he could arrange it. An obvious one was Goodyear Tire and Rubber. which was my account at KNX. One of my earthbound clients said she always wanted to go up on the Goodyear Blimp. They regularly take people up in their famous blimp, so I called my contact there and set in up. Another KNX employe also was a blimp fan and she went along too. We took a spectacular ride over Palos Verdes and the harbor where the battleship Missouri was docked. 

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