Gordon McLendon bigraphy, stories - Founders

Gordon McLendon : biography

June 8, 1921 - September 14, 1986

Gordon Barton McLendon (June 8, 1921 – September 14, 1986) was a radio pioneer and pirate radio broadcaster. He was nicknamed "the Maverick of Radio." McLendon is widely credited for perfecting, during the 1950s and 1960s, the commercially successful Top 40 radio format created by Todd Storz. He also developed offshore pirate radio broadcasting to both Scandinavia and the British Isles. In addition, he was active in circles of conservative business-political power in the 1960s until the time of his death. McLendon co-founded the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He was a member of the Suite 8F Group.

Background

McLendon was born in a hospital in Paris, Texas, and spent his early childhood in Oklahoma. The family moved to Atlanta, Texas where he attended high school and began to develop his interest in broadcasting. He covered sports events and broadcast commentary over the school's public address system. He graduated from Kemper Military Academy. He won a nationwide political-essay contest judged by journalists Arthur Brisbane, Henry Luce, and Walter Lippmann. After being accepted to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, he decided to attend Yale because it was the only school that didn't offer him a scholarship. At Yale, he was editor of the Yale Literary Magazine and a member of Skull and Bones. McLendon fought in World War II and was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the Office of Naval Intelligence. He was later reassigned, giving him the opportunity to extend his style of commentary to political events over a United States Armed Forces Radio Service station. He then briefly attended Harvard Law School but left prematurely to buy an interest in a station in Palestine, Texas, KNET.

McLendon was married in 1943 to Gay Noe, daughter of James A. Noe, former governor of Louisiana; in 1973 he married Susan Stafford, a syndicated columnist, radio talk-show host, and actress.

McLendon was known for his elaborate practical jokes, orchestrated on such notables as sitting President Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover both of whom he called friends. He was a member of the board of stewards of Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas and the board of directors of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Texas chairman of the March of Dimes, and an honorary chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Poppy Drive. In 1964–65 he served as a communications adviser to the United States Peace Corps. In 1971 he conducted a month-long all-expense-paid broadcasting course for nine minority-group members, including African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexican-Americans.

Movies and theatres

In 1959, McLendon co-produced two sci-fi monster movies filmed in Texas, The Killer Shrews and The Giant Gila Monster. Both are now considered cult classic b-films and were even featured on the show Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in the 1990s. He produced over 150 motion-picture campaigns for United Artists from 1963-1966. At one point, he became the largest shareholder in Columbia Pictures. He was the executive producer of Escape to Victory, directed by John Huston and starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, and Max von Sydow.

Broadcasting

Liberty Broadcasting System

McLendon, who nicknamed himself "The Old Scotsman", is also noted in radio history as the founder of the Liberty Radio Network (noted for its daily national broadcasts of Major League Baseball) in the 1940s. Liberty was the second largest radio network in the U.S. at the time with over 458 affiliated stations. Most of Liberty's MLB broadcasts were re-creations of games, utilizing McLendon himself and future sportscasting stars such as Lindsey Nelson and Jerry Doggett on play-by-play.

Interestingly, it was a live, not recreated game that provided McLendon and Liberty with their greatest career moment. The Old Scotsman himself was behind the Liberty microphone at the Polo Grounds in New York for the October 3, 1951 finale of the three-game National League play-off series between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers). Bobby Thomson of the Giants swung at Dodger Ralph Branca's 0-1 pitch in the last of the ninth with two runners aboard, and McLendon barked:

Living octopus

Living octopus

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