Radio stars (July 1933)

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RADIO STARS 0 Pat Kennedy was fired eighty times IT is Pat Kennedy's silver-toned tenor that you hear, whenever Ben Bernie, the Old Maestro, goes on the air waves. Pat Kennedy, ladeez and gentlemen, of the patent leather hair and Irish face and dou- hle-breasted English drape blue serge. Yowsa! Today, Pat is twenty- seven years old, well fed, and as happy as any tenor has a right to be. A far different fellow from the lad he was when he had just turned twenty. Seven years ago, even five years ago, he was underfed, undersized, ready to fight at the drop of a hat. An East Sider out of New York's famous East Side. His job, because he always could sing a man's heart out, was to pace the streets with a roll of music in his pocket. Race tracks, night clubs, barrooms, they were stopping places where he pulled out his notes and sang his tunes for whatever the kindly fates willed him. At night, he took his earnings home to his mother, with whom he lived. Sometimes, a few pennies were left over after the groceries were bought. From that, he went into a song publishing house as a song-plugger. It was a job—his first. Now, instead of singing anybody's songs, he sang those published by his boss. All around the town—at race tracks, in night clubs, wherever he could get an audience. Luck took him to Ben Bernie one lunch hour when Ben was playing at New York's Hotel Roosevelt. Badly dressed, timid in the presence of the famous Bernie, he asked for a job. lie didn't eactly expect to get it. Ben liked the Irishman. He tried him out. Nowadays, we call it an audition. It was a tough spot. Pat was in a strange place, a class place. He had to learn all over. East Side ways aren't those of a hotel's ball room. Bernie tried to tell him that and Pat's hot Irish head lifted in rebellion. They scrapped fiercely. Ben did the only tiling he could. He fired him. Then he took him back. And they scrapped again. And Pat was fired again. Those first weeks are unforgettable. Pat needed to learn so many things. How to sing with an orchestra. How to stand. Altogether, Ben Bernie fired him eighty times—and took him back the same number. Today, Pat is a radio idol. He knows his way around the Ritz or Roosevelt as well as anyone. The only music he carries is in his head—and in his throat. And his wallet is fat with the pennies he has left over after the groceries—and the English suits—are bought.