John Harlan Rook
10/9/1937 - 3/1/2016
It is with great sadness that I pass this
on from Charlie Van Dyke. Charlie reports that John Rook, former KQV and
WLS program director has passed away. John passed away Tuesday 3/1. John
was 78. He died in Coeur d'Alene, ID with his sister Dot and his adopted
son Jason. There will be no funeral. Instead he will be cremated and his
ashes spread in his beloved Coeur d'Alene. A memorial gathering for his
friends will be organized in the near future. RIP John!
John Rook was one of the
most influential program directors ever hired at KQV.
J. Harlen Rook came to KQV
from Denver, Colorado in January 1964. Originally from Chillicothe, Ohio,
John started out as a reporter for the Omaha World Herald before going
into radio. He was a record producer and appeared on a number of television
shows as well. John appeared in the "Wild Bill Hickok" series as well as
in the movie "My Man Godfrey" with June Allyson.
Among John's contributions
to KQV were . . . "Fun Lovin' KQV" "Fun Lovin' Five",
and "Groovy QV" "The Beatles arrival .... I worked that out with promoter
Tim Tormey" . . . "Brinkman's "disc derby"
in 1963. I hired Al Julius, Dex Allen and Big Steve Rizen from my former
station in Denver, KTLN ... Jim Quinn from WING Dayton, Wendy Williams
from State College, Pa., and Hal "The Emperor" Murray from KDWB-Minneapolis.
How did John Rook
orchestrate the Beatles KQV appearance?
Beatles arrival ... I worked that out with promoter Tim Tormey. Bringing
the Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, etc. to Pittsburgh came about when I made
a deal with concert presenter ... Tim Tormey ... he was a Pittsburgher
... Those remote mic's that ABC sent us to cover the Beatles was another
idea I had ... Tormey said the Beatles would not allow a "live" broadcast
of the concert ... I knew that KDKA was planning on taping it and playing
it back an hour later ... so, we just broadcast live from the arena ...
back to the studio ... then a 30 second delay tape ... so we didn't cover
the concert live on KQV ... it was 30 seconds later ... but 29 1/2 minutes
before KDKA got it on the air. They finally gave up and didn't finish the
concert on KDKA"
The Beatles impact on
KQV's Finest Forty and Hit Parade Surveys was unprecedented.
|Variety covered the battle
between KQV and KDKA over the Beatles September 14, 1964 arrival and concert
in Pittsburgh this way ...
the Beatles came to the US, KDKA with it's Group W connections was airing
complete reports from Jim Stagg and Art Schreiber who were on the Beatle
plane for the whole tour. The station went out and bought 100 tickets for
the show here and gave them away in various contests on the Clark Race
show. Four reporters were assigned to cover the Beatles once they
arrived in Pittsburgh but Race went on ahead to meet them in Baltimore
when he ran into the buzz saw of the "Fun Loving Five."
Allen and (Chuck) Brinkman arrived at Baltimore on Sunday morning and met
operations manager, John Rook, and together they planned their strategy.
Armed with an introduction they had an easy time meeting Bess Coleman,
personal secretary to Brian Epstein. Allen confessed that he wanted to
ride back on the special plane to Pitt and that he wanted to get some interviews
for KQV. She was able to oblige with the interviews which were on the KQV
air almost immediately afterwards. The two stayed for a party backstage
at the show and all the while were trying to wangle an invitation from
Miss Coleman to travel on the special plane. It was at this point that
some dirty pool entered into the proceedings. Race was scheduled to ride
the plane but was bumped when Allen and Brinkman insisted on getting equal
space. When Race came back to Pittsburgh, he went on the air complaining
about this part of the gambit.
the day of the arrival, all the Fun Loving Five were out at the airport
in helicopters and cars and interviewing like mad but they were being battled
toe to toe by the KDKA news team. All day long, KQV carried beep interviews
with KDKA holding interview sessions for regular time periods. At the actual
press conference at the hotel where all news media were represented, (Tim)
Tormey said that no live interviews would be permitted. KQV pulled a sneak
on this one by recording on a tape recorder that sent the story to the
station on a seven second delay on special ABC equipment that was recently
developed. These transistors wireless microphone aids were also used that
night at the Arena. KDKA was still in there slugging but they played
by the rules but with "Front Page" Fun Lovers there was no rules - only
a story to get.
stations played Beatle records all day long with KDKA giving interviews
attention during scheduled spots but KQV dramatically interrupted any program
on the air to bring one of their Beatle Specials. All in all, the
two stations went right down to the wire with KQV laying in close after
KDKA had taken a strong and impressive lead.
at the stretch when thousands of people filed into the Arena, there were
four banners around the score board and one big banner strung above the
stage reading "KQV AUDIO 14" and then when the preliminary acts were over,
Brinkman stepped up to the mike and very proudly said, "KQV presents the
this went out over the air live, there was no longer a contest."
Beatles on Arena Stage
article by Lenny Litman 12/23/1964
Click here to see a recap
of the Beatles on KQV's weekly music surveys.
Got 'Em - We've Got 'Em - Who's Got The Beatles !
John Rook was responsible
for many of KQV's Beatles exclusives. Through John's contacts, Beatles
records were sent to KQV first and then sent through out the ABC chain
to WABC and WLS. KQV had an 8 day head start on the rest of the country
with "Yes It Is" and "Ticket To Ride" according to an April 14, 1965 edition
Welcomes the Beatles Poster
The Beatles' Rubber Soul Album
November 30, 1965
|| Dave Scott
Aircheck - Rubber Soul Premier (6:34)
|| Chuck Brinkman Aircheck
- Rubber Soul Premier (12:40)
In March of 1965 during the
height of the British Invasion, John sent Chuck Brinkman to England to
interview the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five and others.
Later that year Chuck was
also sent to the Bahamas to interview the Beatles during the filming of
their second movie HELP !
Chuck with Producer Walter
! KQV Welcomes the Beatles Again Poster
Another of John's ideas was
gave birth to the KQVehicle in the early spring of 64 ... a big flood hit
Pittsburgh ... I called ABC and asked for a boat / car ...
one like my old competitor in Denver had .... and sure nuff ... they had
the damn thing shipped to us .... three or four months after it was needed
for the flood .... so after using it that summer ... we gave it away in
John Rook remained at KQV
until December 1, 1967 when he was transferred to co-owned WLS in Chicago.
|On August 10, 2001, John
Rook was featured in the Legends
with Bob Shannon series in Radio & Records. An excerpt of
that article included is the portion explaining how John was hired for
Pittsburgh, the bringing of The Beatles to Pittsburgh and John's promotion
to John Rook's Picture Page
is writing his autobiography "Passing Thru" - excerpts are at Johnrook.com