Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ira Cook - 1964


Ira started his Los Angeles career at Classical KFAC, but his success and long-term longevity came at  710/KMPC.

He began at KMTR in 1938 as a record librarian and sometime announcer. He had just graduated from Stanford with a degree in basic medical science. His love affair with radio started at age 8 on a
visit to a local station with his father. Ira was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota. "During World War II, I was at the Battle of the Bulge and we lost 10 – 15 guys in my platoon," said Ira in a detailed interview. After World War II service, Ira hooked up with Frank Bull to broadcast boxing and wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium. He went on to host Lucky Lager Dance Time on KFAC. He also had a fascination with being a songwriter.

In a 1957 Newsweek story connected with a payola probe, Ira made the following comment about being a DJ: "It's safer than stealing, more legal than gambling, easier than loafing, and it beats working!"

Ira made a career out of his association with Hawaiian music. He played one Hawaiian song an hour and brought Don Ho to the Mainland at the height of Ho's career. "In college I became intrigued with Hawaiian music and I went to the Islands for 12 years straight." Another of his popular features was "Star of the Day," in which Ira featured one track from one artist every half-hour. Ira hosted over 3,000 AFRTS programs "It was really fascinating getting letters from servicemen in Iceland asking about Hawaiian music. It seemed to be as popular there as country music."
He had an extraordinary relationship with sponsors. Wallichs Music City sponsored his
program for 20 years and Felix Chevrolet for 10. In 1968, Ira appeared in the Gene Barry tv series, Name of the Game. About the same time, he was broadcasting a show called "Lunch With the Stars," from Universal Pictures' lot, each day at noon.

Ira retired in the early 1980s. "The music really turned bad. I don't know how I could exist.
Since retiring, I haven't had a dull day." He loved golf and shot 6 holes-in-one at the Los Robles course. "At Simi Valley I shot a hole-in-one on a 170 yard hole. "The very next week I'm playing with Red Skelton,Art Gilmore and AFTRA's Claude McKeen and I shot another one on the very same hole."

Ira died May 15, 2007. His wife for 58 years, Virginia had preceded him.

From 1964, here's Ira