Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 23:56:18 EDT
From: "Barry A. Popik"
Subject: Radio Jargon; Jazz


This is from SONG HITS, vol. 3, no. 2, July 1939, pg. 25:

The Killie Loo bird has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Ornithologist
don't know a thing about this one because the Killie Loo was a rara avis to
the radio studios.
The Killie Loo (circa 1929) was an old NBC tag for a flighty coloratura
soprano who sang in florid style. Well, the Killie Loo is an extinct species
today. All of which is a way of leading up to the fact that broadcasting
lingo, like crystal sets and battery sets, can become obsolete in radio's
march through the years.
Take a term like "Down in the mud." That used to mean low reproduction
volume. The up-to-date expression is simply "low level," or "not enough hop."
"Scratches" once referred to noise caused by faulty equipment. Today,
"frying" is the more descriptive term.
"Cross-fire" was the expression for telegraph code interference on the
program lines. At NBC today, it is simply called "leak."
"Wooden voice" described a voice lacking expression. A more modern
expression is "cold as ice" or "sings like a statue."
Listed below are some of the more recent additions to radio jargon:
_Woofer_: A breathy singer.
_Weaver_: A restless performer who continually changes his distance from
the microphone.
_Clinkers or Cinders_: Noises heard on long distance transmission lines.
_Drooling_: Padding a program with talk in order to fill the time
allotted for the broadcast.
_86_: No good.
_Going Up the Golden Stairs_: Auditioning for a prospective sponsor.
_Carbon Cats or Snitchers_: Musicians who purloin musical ideas.
_Whacky Willies_: Youngsters who applaud by whistling and stomping.
_Dead Head_: An unresponsive studio auditor.
_Shaking the Script_: Ridding scripts of grammatical errors.


This is from SONG LYRICS, vol. 1, no. 1, November 1937, pg. 1:


IT IS a wonder that the rude beginnings of jazz are not better known.
The historians got busy about fifteen years after jazz was in full swing,
and hence much valuable data about the pioneers in this field have been lost
New Orleans, Memphis, and the Mississippi bayous are alleged to have been
the locale where hot rhythm emerged from the mystic darkness. This area has
recently been combed for every shred of evidence about the early jazz
movement, but much of the investigation came too late. The evidence is gone.
Once in a while you encounter a fellow who participated in those epochal
events that took place in the Delta when the historians were too busy to give
this movement toward a new music their time or thought. And if this fellow
happens to be in a mood of fond recollection, you may be treated to a first-
person story that bears wide repetition.
Recently, your correspondent met a veteran band leader who had as much to
do with the origins of jazz music as any person you can name. He is Nick La
Rocca: hale, hearty, and fellow-well-met after almost thirty years of busy
life in music-making.
I caught him on the fly a few weeks ago, just after he and his Original
Dixieland Jazz Band had made a special guest appearance on a network program
over the National Broadcasting Company. He unfolded his story with a rush of
memory that made you think that he was reliving his career in song and music.
"The Dixieland played its first professional job as a jazz band in 1908!"
said Nick.
Back in New Orleans, about the middle of 1914, The Dixieland was playing
ballyhoo music for a prize fight when Harry James, a Chicago cafe manager,
heard and hired them at once for the Boosters Club, located in the Hotel
From the Boosters Club the band went to the Schiiler Club, a place on
Chicago's South Side. And it was there that La Rocca and his melomaniacs
became a front-rank sensation. The police reserves were called out to control
the nightly crowds that came to hear the weird harmonies and cacaphonies that
make jazz out of music.
"It was at this place," said La Roccas as he observed the magnificence of
his NBC suroundings, "that I heard the word 'jass' (later spelled 'jazz') for
the first time. It happened this way: A dance-crazed couple shouted at the
end of a dance, 'Jass it up boy, give us some more jass.' Promoter Harry
James immediately grasped this word as the perfect monicker for popularizing
the new craze."
If La Rocca's memory is correct, James was the first man to use the word
'jass' in connection with an orchestra. He called his headliner the "original
Dixieland Jass Band."
(_Continued on page 27_) (col. 2-ed.)
"There is no doubt in my mind," said La Rocca, "that the word 'jazz' is
Northern in origin, for I had never heard the word before that specific night
at the Schiller Cafe in Chicago."

Nothing new here, but I don't think this article has been cited. I'll
weigh in on Jazz (and Murphy's Law) with more after the December MLA in San