Tall Ted still turns the Turntable
with Timeless Tunes
Ted was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania on October 2, 1927, the son of a steelworker. He is the oldest of four sons, two of whom are deceased.
Before completing his senior year in High School, Ted enlisted in the Navy. He entered the Navy just about the same time the bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered.
He spent three years in the Navy, the first two in an office and "finally in the third year I was put on a ship." Although he skipped his senior year he had acquired enough credits to graduate. He was discharged the day before his 21st birthday.
His first job was on his hometown paper, The Ambridge Daily Citizen, where he stayed as a writer until he got an offer from the larger paper in Beaver Falls.
Ted then went to Duquesne University. Since he was interested in writing he took journalism courses and wrote for the school magazine and newspaper. Then Duquesne began building a radio station and Ted was curious.
They issued a call for an announcer and "next thing you know I was on the staff. I found myself spending a lot more time with the radio then the newspaper or magazine." Ted was bitten by the radio bug and is still under its influence over 50 years later.
When Ted left Beaver Falls he went to Youngstown and finally Cleveland. His first job in Cleveland was for WGAR; a job that lasted 9 years. That was followed by 4 years at WHK; 6 years at WQAL and 6 more years at WDOK.
In the meantime he married and had three sons, George, David and Jason. He now also has 5 grandchildren - 4 girls and one boy.
In 1987 things were looking pretty bleak. He and his wife divorced and he was fired from his job. "It was a bad time in my life and I had to start at the bottom again."
He went to WELW, a small Lake County station in Willoughby. But it was work in his field and he stayed there three years. By 1990 he was back in "the city" and on the air for WRMR.
At the time WRMR was doing all oldies from the golden age of radio. But after 5 or 6 years WRMR was sold and became WKNR - an all sports station. The entire staff was fired, and re-hired by Bob Conrad at WCLV. In 2001 the station was sold and "I have been retired ever since."
He can still be heard on the air since he volunteers his time for FM 91.5. "It's an interesting station. The license belongs to Kenston High School in Bainbridge and is funded by individuals with the proviso that the play list be all adult music." Students use the station as a learning tool.
He likes the 91.5 atmosphere and likes being able to pick and choose the music he plays, rather than playing off a commercial driven play list. "It's not rock n' roll, that's for sure. It's middle of the road adult music with people like Patty Paige, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and, of course, big bands."
Rosemary Clooney with Ted Hallaman
at WGAR in 1961
"What was a hit then is an oldie now." Ted spends about an hour and a half preparing his four hour show.
"There have been a lot of changes in radio since I first entered. For one, radio used to be much more personality driven. DJ's all had their own style and people chose the station they listened to, in large part, because of the disc jockey."
"There was more star power in those days. People like Ed Fisher, Tom Armstrong, and Ronnie Barrett were listened to more because of who they were than what they played." He feels that all the morning shows have turned to talk shows and would love to do a talk show himself "now that I have mature judgment."
Many of the stars from the beginning age of radio did in-studio appearances, and Ted got to meet a lot of them. When he was on the radio in college he worked with Patty Paige, Tommy Dorsey, Dick Ames and Spike Jones.
Later, when working in Cleveland, it was very common to have a big star perform at Musicarnival. There would be a party afterwards and Ted would take the star aside and do an interview with them, on tape, for a half hour show.
Ted Hallaman at the mic at WRMR in 2002
He remembers interviewing Robert Goulet, Carol Lawrence, Jack Benny and Sid Caesar. He found Liberace to be "very interesting. I learned things about him I didn't know. He talked about his antiques and it was enlightening."
At the time Ted's son Jason had just been born and Ted was passing out cigars. Liberace saw this and publicly congratulated him on the birth of his son.
He interviewed George Carlin and Joey Heatherton after they did a show together. He remembers asking about her debut on Hullabaloo and how her career skyrocketed after that. "She said 'Well, I guess we're getting into the nitty-gritty now' I'll always remember that."
There are only a very few tapes of Ted's time on the air "It goes out over the air and disappears."
Ted Hallaman in 2006
In the late 80's Ted starting writing "Hallaman's Hot Line" for the Sun Newspapers, a gossip column of sorts listing who was seen where. "Eventually they gave the job to a staffer so they wouldn't have to pay me for it."
Ted still enjoys writing and "I feel guilty about not writing more. I feel that I am a pretty good writer, but there is just no opportunity." He would like to write, but not novels. "I'd like to write about the truth." He is toying with the idea of a memoir.
Ted went to his High School class reunion in Pennsylvania a few years ago and met a widow, Pat, whom he did not know in school. They started spending time together, she moved to Cleveland to be with him and in 2003 they were married.
Pat has three grown children of her own. Both enjoy sports and especially the Indians. "How could they be so naïve as to think you could loose three good guys and not feel the brunt of it? This year has been a huge let down."
Ted is of Greek descent; his father was born in Greece, his mother was born in this country but of Greek parents. He attends the services at Sts. Constantine and Helena each week, thanks in large part to the influence of his wife. Pat tells him how nice it is to be able to go to Church with her husband and he enjoys the special time with her.
They are basically home bodies. "My wife is not demanding at all. I've seen enough Broadway shows to last a lifetime and I make a really big deal out of it if I have to get dressed up and go downtown. So my wife suffers. But she doesn't act like she's suffering."
"I never set out to make a lot of money and I guess I didn't. But I was never in debt. I raised my family and maintained a good reputation. I never talked dirty on the air or used bad language or jokes."
Ted believes that when someone turns on a radio they are inviting the host into their bedroom, living room, or car and you have no right to "bruise their ears with questionable stuff."
He is not the least bit surprised with the Howard Stern phenomenon. He likens it to the television news coverage of Channel 19. "There are some people that don't want to rise above that standard and they play to those people."
He is in favor of satellite radio and the doors he thinks it opens. "It provides a lot of diversity. Maybe it's a place for guys like me to go."
Ted's nickname "Tall Ted" came about from a WGAR promotion. "Tall Ted Turns the Turntable" was a way to differentiate him from all of the other "Teds" on the air.
The name stuck and he is always surprised when someone meets him in a store or someplace and points out that they have family members taller than him. "It's good to still be considered a local celebrity and have people remember me."
Ted Hallaman in 2006
It's not hard to believe people remember Ted. On a personal level he is a man of principal and integrity. On a business level he plays the music so many of us remember and identify with. And it is obvious that his personal integrity flows over into his business.
Whether it is Patty Paige singing "The Nearness of You", Frank Sinatra recalling "The Birth of The Blues" or Glen Miller "Stepping Out with My Baby," with Tall Ted turning the turntable, we will be transported to a gentler time.
Profiled by Debbie Hanson
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