Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guest Blogger, Bob Raiford

I pointed out the story I had written titled, "Fired for Interviewing CHS Students," to Bob Raiford and offered him the opportunity to respond and/or make any additions or subtractions that he wished to as a GUEST BLOGGER on our website.  -Ed

A listener asked me a few years ago how I would have reacted today to the WBT/Nat Cole incident that you wrote about on your blog.

My answer was, and is, probably the same way.

Nat Cole was not one to ever play the race card and was criticized by Negros (which is what they were called back then) because he wasn’t in their fight.

Cole didn’t perform what was then called “race” or rhythm and blues music. His stuff was American popular songs, “white music.”

People often asked me if I ever heard from Nat Cole for taking a stand in his behalf. No, I didn’t.
And I didn’t expect it.

That was a broadcast of conscience, not a publicity balloon, as one New York newspaper critic charged after the publicity the broadcast generated nationwide and did give me an in to NBC where I went to work on the announcing staff a couple of weeks after that.

It was there that I first met Nat King Cole. It was in the coffee shop of the NBC building in Rockefeller Center in mid afternoon. He was sitting alone having a cup of coffee. So was I.
I went up to him, introduced myself, “Mr. Cole, I’m Bob Raiford. I’m the DJ who came to your defense after the attack on you in Birmingham.”

He said he was pleased to meet me and asked what I was doing now.
I said, “Well, I just started to work on the NBC announcing staff.”

Know what he said?
“Well, you got a better job out of it, didn’t you.”

I could have popped him in his mouth when he said that, but I didn’t.
I just walked away….thinking if that was his attitude, why did I bother.

On the air, I remained a bleeding heart liberal because I felt it was the right thing to do and continued that mindset for twenty more years working in radio and TV in Washington, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

You may ask why did you change.

And I say succinctly, “because I saw so many of the causes I championed turn to…..well, turn to…garbage.”

 -Bob Raiford

(Bob Raiford is heard regularly on THE BIG SHOW, a syndicated radio show heard nationwide in over 100 markets.)