Report To The Nation
Winkly & Nutly MK Records #MK101 (1960)
of the more popular forms of that uniquely American institution known as
the "novelty record" was the cut-and-pasted mock interview, a technique
elevated to an art form by such practitioners as Dickie Goodman, the
so-called "King Of Novelty."
The recipe was simple: take snippets of popular records,
mix in a live "reporter" asking the questions, add a few sound effects
and strike quickly, while the topic (politics, flying saucers, or other
current trends) is hot.
Added to this genre in 1960 was a parody of that year's
presidential campaign between John F. Kennedy (portrayed here as "John
Finnerty") and Richard M. Nixon ("Nick Dixon").
Jim Stag and
conduct the pseudo-interviews as "Willie Winkly" and "Ned Nutly," a
take-off on the popular NBC-TV news anchors David Brinkley and Chet
Huntley. Stag and Mitchell (air name of Michael Guerra) were linchpins
in the Top 40 success of San Francisco's 1260/KYA in the early 1960s.
After KYA, Stag (born Jimmy Pearson Staggs) would go on to his greatest success at Chicago Top
40 powerhouse WCFL ("Super ’CFL"), where he was known as Jim
Stagg. He left radio in 1975, and opened the chain of popular retail
stores known as "Record City" in suburban Chicagoland. He passed away
from complications of esophageal cancer on November 6, 2007.
Mitchell, one of the great lost stars of Top 40 radio, would recruit his old
Philadelphia cohort Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue to KYA before moving
on to RKO General's KHJ/Los Angeles, where he was
known as Bobby Tripp. He died of leukemia in 1968.
Another KYA airman, Norman
Davis — known on the air at this time as "Lucky Logan" — served
as producer for the record, released as "Report To The Nation," with
Part 1 on the A-side and Part 2 on the B-side of the 45-rpm vinyl single
on the MK Records label.
The KYA Air Staff, 1961 (l-r): Bob Mitchell,
Les Crane ("Johnny Raven"), Peter Tripp, Norman Davis and
Jim Stag, from the cover of the "KYA's Golden Gate Greats"
The concoction was credited as having been written by
curriculum vitae included stints as promoter for James Brown and
with the King, Kama Sutra and Buddha record labels. (He was head of
King's San Francisco office at the time of this recording; note that the
MK Records logo includes the silhouette of a knight.) Krasnow would go
on to found both Loma Records (1964)and the legendary Blue Thumb Records
label (1968), and later became chairman of Warner/Elektra/Asylum.
In August 2007, Norman Davis provided his own
recollection of how the project came to be:
Some of us
KYA DJs were sitting around one day discussing all the "flying saucer"
records we had heard. They were called "flying saucer" because the first
ones were on a flying saucer theme, but they were all records with a
narrative and short bits from several hit records.
we could probably put one of these together and we started suggesting
song bits and questions. I liked the idea and wrote some dialogue. We
decided on the bits to use and one evening after work, I recorded Stag
and Mitchell. Then I spent all night in the production studio, whacking
the thing together.
that we had already discussed Bob Krasnow handling the record. I think
he may have been there when we discussed making it. Kraz was a
Cuban-heel-wearing sharpie who was a record promoter. We gave him the
master and sure enough, a few weeks later, he pressed the record on his
own MK label. (I don't think the M stood for Mitchell, but don't
we played it at KYA and so did some other stations that got a copy. We
managed to make the Variety Top 100 records list. I think we were
listed at 91. Kraz had made promises as to how we would get paid
something for our efforts, but we never saw a dime. He kept what he made
on his own pressings, and then sold the rights to Roulette Records. I
think he got $5,000. Again, we never saw a penny. The Roulette version
came out, but it was a bit late and nothing much happened with it.