John Reichard spent many years with the Company, starting on WBTV's floor crew, then serving as a salesman for WBT, and later for WBTV and still later for Jefferson Productions.

First Person | Letter To Loonis

This is a letter I wrote to Loonis McGlohon when he was in his last days and confined to bed. The story happened in 1967 or '68.  — John Reichard

Dear Loonis,

I was sitting around thinking about you and all the good times my life has enjoyed because of you. Tells you I don't have enough to do, doesn't it?

Anyhow, what still came to mind first was that number you and Julian Massi pulled on me regarding the jingle you wrote and "produced" for me and the Ivey's account for radio.

Loonis McGlohon

"Come on down to the studio, John," you said, "It's ready." Down I trot to hear the great epic production that was going to at long last get Ivey's on WBT radio. Irv Jackson, married to the granddaughter of J. B. Ivey was the GM at Ivey's. He was always thinking of the image of their stores and how to attract only the right people through their sophisticated and tasteful advertising. "Mighty Whitey" knew good music.

Into the studio do I trundle and there you are with John Burchett. You start in on me selling the greatness of the melody and how thrilled you were to get just the right singer to perform this ice-breaking epic. Pitch, pitch, pitch. It was as if you had taken the Harold Hinson salesman course.

Came the big moment. Half a dozen others from radio sales had come in to hear the presentation. Julian, Lovell, Harold, and various other enthusiastic fans.

I'm nervous as hell knowing that Mr. Jackson is big buddies with Crutchfield and the results of all this were surely to be communicated to Crutch at the City Club later. Burchett rolls the tape. There's not a dry ear in the place, or something like that.

The always-a-pleasure-to-listen-to Loonis & Company instrumental opens and the anticipation builds. Intro done, here comes the vocalist.

From the tradition of Motown to the Cotton Club in Harlem. From Second Ward to South Tryon, the soul of the singer began singing, "From the moment you walk through the door, you'll know that Ivorie's is your kind of store." The room freezes. No one moves. I go to a minus three on the wedgy scale. As my young and shaky career passes by my ears, all I can think about is "Mighty Whitey" sitting at the City Club telling Crutchfield about this smart-assed kid from his radio station presenting this "knee-grow" rendition of the lyric he liked so much. I don't think I even heard the remainder of the 60-second version as I was frozen in my tracks thinking about going back to work at Park-N-Shop. ("Help you with those bags, sir?")

At last, it seemed to be over. You, Loonis, were once again raving about the performance and trying to get me to sign on to the cheerleading. Everyone in the room shared your enthusiasm. Way-to-go’s abounded. Loonis had done it again.

You were now asking for my reaction. I rambled on about what a great contemporary piece it was and just right, no doubt, for the new WBT sound and format. But, is this exactly what the Ivey's group had in mind to attract the old line Charlotte money crowd? No doubt that this would play well on our air but even though the singer was truly "unique,, would she be right for Mr. Jackson and others whose best talent was to inherit well.

Faces were serious and staring, led by you. "But, John" rang out from all corners. "But, John, it's"............

And then,

Julian broke up, followed by the entire crowd, which by then had grown to a small mob. The one laughing the hardest was you. For maybe five seconds I didn't understand the explosion and then it hit me. I knew I had heard that singer before. It was Julian Massi in his finest “soul sister” voice with you and your band complimenting his every Moms Mabley note.

Yep, 'ol friend, you got me best I was ever got. I think I was red faced for a week. Thank goodness the real version of the music brought warmth to Jackson's heart, the only acceptable thing black in his body.

So feel better and I hope this brings back a grin you deserve for making me, at age 22, feel important enough to have a guy like you go to all that trouble to make us all laugh.

I'm older than 22 now so pulling one over on me may be tougher now but I sure would love if you would try.

I love you, pal. Shine on like the star you are and will always be.

  John R.