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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Houston's Morning Show: The True Story of Hudson & Harrigan by Randy Hames

Randy Hames, aka "Irv Harrington," opens up about famous 100.3 KILT morning show in Houston's Morning Show: The True Story of Hudson & Harrigan

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Randy Hames aka "Irv Harrington" at Edgewater Recording Studios.

My blog is quickly becoming Randy Hames central, but for good reason.

Yesterday, I showed you how half of 100.3 KILT's long running Hudson and Harrigan morning show now owns Edgewater Recording Studios and is building a legacy for his family.

Today, we look back at "Irv Harrington's" past and I'm talking even before Hames took over the role. For the last five years, Hames has been writing a book about the beloved characters and show which aired across Houston for many decades.

"Houston's Morning Show: The True Story of Hudson & Harrigan" chronicles the beginning of it all and offers many behind the scenes looks into a show that had been running years before Randy Hames and Fred Olson became the last folks to play the famous duo. Just thing about it, in all of its years, that one show existed under a Top 40, rock and country format.

Hey Groove Dawgs, 101 KLOL fans will remember that Stevens and Pruett tackled the roles in the mid-1970s and you'll read how the future shock jocks were already pretty shocking even back then!

Hames let me pre-read the book this summer and I highly recommend it. The following is our conversation about the book which hits Amazon, November 1, 2015.

Mike McGuff: What made you want to write a book?

Randy Hames: I didn't really start out trying to write a book. The day Fred Olson (Hudson) and I were fired from KILT, I went home and just wrote what had happened. It was originally a cathartic exercise, intended to relieve some of the tension the events of the day had created. After all, I hadn't just lost a job, I'd lost part of myself - a persona I'd spent 30 years building. Most people in Houston didn't even know my real name - Randy Hames - they simply knew me as Irv Harrigan. So, without trying to sound too terribly maudlin, stripping that away was pretty emotionally draining. The effort to chronicle that day became the epilogue for the book. As it began to take shape I realized a lot of misinformation (and I do mean a lot) had been written, spoken and circulated about how the show was born and grew into one of the longest-tenured, continuously aired major market morning shows in American broadcasting history (43 years). I decided I wanted to set the record straight, so I embarked on what I thought would be a few months work, which turned into a five-year labor of love. In the process of carefully researching the subject through hundreds of interviews with dozens of the principles, I discovered even some of my own conceptions about the show's history were just dead wrong. That's the reason the subtitle is "The True Story of Hudson & Harrigan."

MM: Do other shows exist around the United States that ran as long and with a rotating cast like Hudson & Harrigan?

RH: I can find a handful of other shows in the US that have run as long (and even longer) as H&H, but not continuously, on the same station and certainly not in Top Ten markets like Houston. Ron Chapman was a very successful morning man in Dallas for longer than H&H, but he was on three different stations and a TV station, during that time. So, H&H is a terribly unique brand, especially given the fact there were at least four entirely different sets of cast members over the decades. Hudson Roach and Paul Menard were the original H&H, Mark Stevens and Jim Pruett reinvented the wheel with their risqué version, Tommy Kramer and Beau Weaver were brief contributors with Fred Olson and me as their partners, before Fred and I became the last H&H in 1980. There were others in between, but they never lasted more than a few days or weeks at a time. Add to that the fact KILT was #1 in the ratings as both a Top Forty and a Country formatted station, and it all adds up to a one-of-a-kind situation that just simply hasn't ever occurred anywhere else in radio history.

MM: Which Hudson & Harrigan character or segment was your favorite?

RH:  Given all the different bits and characters we created over the decades, it's impossible to narrow it down to my one-and-only favorite segment, but among them would include the many different parodies we did on former Mayor Kathy Whitmire (Driving Miss Kathy, alternate lyrics to the Country classic song by John Anderson "Swingin', etc.), our sports commentator Tyrone Tyrone Tyrone and of course, The First Book of Aggie by Jim Bob Jumpback. Jim Bob's contributions literally made the show, and without his twisted, distinctly redneck view on current events, we would never have been as successful in the ratings as we were. I used to introduce Jim Bob each morning as, "...the real star of the Hudson & Harrigan Show..." and that was as accurate a description of him as was ever uttered.

MM: Do you miss doing Hudson & Harrigan each morning?

RH:  I do indeed greatly miss doing the H&H Show every morning! It was my dream job come true. I grew up listening to George Carlin as a DJ on KXOL in my native Fort Worth, doing one hilarious bit after another. As such, I wanted to be a DJ like him when I was as young as 11 or 12. The H&H Show was the perfect opportunity for me to fulfill those aspirations, and I miss it a lot! Most of all, I miss working with Fred Olson, who was a masterful voice impersonator and comedic genius. He and I have been like brothers for forty years, dating back to when we worked together at KNUS in Dallas, and the creative exchange and comedic chemistry between us was nothing short of magical. Fred and his wife Beverly live on "Rattlesnake Ranch," just outside Columbus, and he still uses his amazing talents to do voiceover work and audiobooks.

MM: Was Gordon McLendon (former KILT owner) one of the best radio operators of all time?

Gordon McLendon was without a doubt one of the greatest radio minds of all time. It would not be an exaggeration to say he perfected the Top Forty format, and some of the most talented and wildly successful broadcasters in radio history learned at his feet, while working at his stations. Fred and I were privileged to be among them, and I simply would not have enjoyed the kind of career I had without his influence on me, when I worked at KNUS in Dallas. He and his son Bart McLendon propelled me into a lifetime of laughter and accomplishment, and I owe them both a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.

I hope that fans of H&H and radio history buffs will enjoy the book, which I think is fun and entertaining. It was never meant to be a "tell-all," it's just a light-heartedly romp throughout the golden years of radio - may they rest in peace!

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