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June 2012

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Grilled by Mike Wallace!

By Ed Scott

Well, truthfully, the toughest question Mike Wallace ever laid on me was, "How are you doing, Eddie?"

In fact, he wasn't posing challenging inquiries to anyone in early-50's Chicago radio! His news activities totaled zero. This blossomed in New York, after he'd turned 38. In ChiTown, Mike was a very successful recorder of commercials! His clients, national brands like Frigidaire, knew what he and his distinctive voice could do. They simply called him to set recording dates. I was involved in many auditions there. None included him. Mike needed to prove nothing!

Frequently, these recoding sessions were conducted at the Wrigley Building in a large studio, which was part of the CBS-WBBM complex. It's the place where Mitch Miller frequently produced sessions with Columbia Records stars, such as Gene Autry. National commercials were also recorded there. Mike's total greatly exceeded mine.

Not far down the hall was the WBBM Announcers Lounge. I was the youngest of a 20-man staff! Long periods between our assignments necessitated such a place. So, when Mike had completed a session, and wasn't due at another studio for couple of hours, he often plopped into one of these comfortable chairs. I or others would enjoy a pleasant visit. In case there would be no one with whom to chat, Mike always had a newspaper at hand.

I should have been mad at him! He took an important assignment away from me while he was in the Windy City, and I was still at KLZ, Denver. During the summer of '48, CBS' Spike Jones Show was to originate at Pueblo. Tryouts were held among the local staff. Such competitions often designated me. I was excitedly looking forward to selling Coca Cola on prime-time radio! When I tuned in later, the sponsor had flown a guy into Colorado to work the show I had craved. His name was Myron Wallace!

Mike's work didn't end with recorded advertising. He played the lead role on an unusual detective series, The Crime Files of Flemond. He was often heard as the announcer on live shows such as Curtain Time, The Green Hornet and You Bet Your Life. With then-wife Buff Cobb, he co-hosted a late-day interview/call-in show at the Chez Paree Nightclub. In time, they - relocated to New York.

During Mike's Chicago-days, he regularly emceed a feature staged on the city's west side. This event attracted many young ladies having Polish surnames. It was the Miss Tavern Pale Beer Beauty Contest!

I never saw an updated version of this on 60-minutes!

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