Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Magnificent Montague


In 1974, Billboard published an article claiming that as of that year, the Magnificent Montague aka Nathaniel Montague, had worked at 80 radio stations. He was a radioman among radiomen. He brought his style and personality with him everywhere, for better or worse. His career began in 1949 by his own recounting which means for 25 years he was on an average of 3.2 radio stations per year. It seems impossible. It might not even be true. By his own recounting in for that 1974 article, that he couldn't remember all the dates and places. He went on to say:
"For years I never lived in any one city more than six months. I was the original rebel and I had to move around the country because I was always getting fired for moving my mouth... trying to bring in unions, and things like that...  That's why I consider myself a leisure time executive rather than a disc jockey."
 And that' swhat most of the press blubs say as well. In Ebony magazine they plainly state that KSAN fired Montague and described him as "uncontrollable." But in that same 1974 issue, IBS was taking out two full pages to advertise his shows syndication. He was huge.

He's used so many different names on air: Rodney Jones, Georgie Woods, Fat Daddy, Chatty Hatty, Charlie Brown, John Hardy, and it was on WWRL-AM where he became the Magnificent Montague.
In 1965 he was blamed for the riots in Watts. Mobs of rioters in the primarily black neighborhood chanted "burn baby burn," a signature line for Montague. He had used it in reference to "hot" records. The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story explaining where the "hep" slogan came from. The mayor and the police chief pressured KGFJ to fire him. Instead they cut his hours and banned his catch phrase. Then they cut his hours a bit more. Then whittled him down to nothing. It was no problem to Montague. He just moved onto another city and another station. Supposedly that scene repeated more than 80 times. I read everything I could find and I came up about 60 stations short. If you can add one please do leave a comment.

WVOM-AM Brookline, MA 1949
WHAT-AM, Philadelphia 1952
KCOM-AM, Beaumont, TX 1953
KTLW-AM, Houston, TX 1953
KCOH-AM Houston, TX 1954
WGES-AM, Chicago, IL
WAAF-AM, Chicago 1955-1957
KSAY-AM San Francisco, CA ? (apocryphal)
KSAN-AM, San Francisco, CA 1957-1961
KGFJ-AM Los Angeles, CA 1958 -1959
KXLW-AM St. Louis, MO 1960 - 1961
WWRL-AM, New York , NY 1962
WVON-AM, Chicago, IL
WEEJ-AM (apocryphal)
KGFJ-AM, Los Angeles, CA 1965-1967
XERB-AM, Tijuana, MX 1968
KYNO-AM / KPHD-FM Fresno, CA 1971
XPRS-AM, Tijuana, MX 1972
KPLM-FM Palm Springs, CA 1990

In 2003, Montague published his autobiography through University of Illinois Press. Think of it as an early Christmas gift to yourself. History matters. You can read about it here.