Tribute (Guest Book) Comments from Lan's FriendsBARER, Burl
"I woke up Friday morning thinking about Lan Roberts -- wondering how his health was holding up.
When I returned from a New Years Eve party, I got my answer in an email.
Will you guys please stop dying?
Really -- I would consider it a great personal favor if you would all be well, happy, and prosperous.
I have been blessed to work with the best -- creative radio talents who were mutually supportive, encouraging, and ready to try anything new, fun, and entertaining.
Everytime one of these great talents passes away, it is as if a library has burnt down.
Thank God for airchecks, memories, and good friends!"
TWO memorable Lan Roberts stories come to mind...
I went deer hunting in 1968 on vacation to Eastern Washington, and while I was gone, Lan was all over the airwaves with:
'Buzz Barr went to Eastern Washington to shoot Bambi'
...when I got back I had a huge sack of mail from kids and moms telling me what a no good, dirty-rotten bum I was ... I went back on the air and the phone calls kept coming in for a week - possibly more!
...and on opening day of boating season in the 60's we were fooling around with Lan and his long hair ... so as a result - he decides to play JESUS... there was a dead head, a stump - just outside the opening to the club...so as the fancy boats came out one by one, here was Lan in a white robe (sheet) standing on this dead head - blessing the boats as they went by...
- to all boaters...he was walking on water!
Lan was talented, crazy, creative - - but a loving man...we spent the past years in close communication and the guy never showed an ego that I saw - just heart....a lot of HEART in a humble body.
Pat O'Day called Lan the 'Johnny Carson' of Seattle...
I would say Carson was the 'Lan Roberts' of NBC.
Its been good to know you these many years. Our phone conversations over the past 5 years were fun. I"m sure the Bush administration tapped both our lines because of the things said about the current gang in D.C. I'll try to keep up the good fight in your name. A lot of radio people copied your style and went on the some good jobs, but they never got better than 2nd best. I'll miss our phone conversations and emails. You were certainly one of a kind.
Like probably everyone else who ever knew Lan, I was deeply saddened by the news of his passing.
Lan was not only one of the most outstanding and unique talents I've ever encountered, but a truly outstanding human being as well. I have yet to meet anyone who has known him who wouldn't say the same.
Listening to Lan Roberts on the air was always, and I do mean always, fun and fascinating. His offbeat perspectives, humor and creativity consistently stimulated your imagination, and made you feel as though he was talking directly to you.
If I were to be asked to name my all-time Top 5 favorite radio personalities, Lan would definitely be on that very exclusive list. Radioland has lost one of its most outstanding citizens. Pardon my gross understatement, but he will be sorely missed.
Lan Roberts was not a disc jockey in the current sense.
He rarely talked about the music between records and for that matter rarely even regarded the music; instead he did something truly exceptional and unfortunately unique in radio today: he entertained between the tunes and the newscasts.
He was so adept at this that, like a good stage performer that could get a laugh from just an expression, he could get a laugh with just an intonation.
He had that rare ability to make you feel like you were in on a special version of whatever he was talking about - whether it was UFOs or cats stuck in the bowels of a 707.
And the Lan Roberts version was always a more interesting slant. And slant is an appropriate word here because all who listened to Lan's slanted, whacko, far out way of telling a story felt like they were dancing on the same ground and joined in some almost tangible cult of personality with him. To say listeners were loyal would be understatement.
How fortunate we were to have heard him at the top of his game and for those of us who haltingly followed him, tried to emulate him; how fortunate we were to have him in the vanguard.
Thank you Lan. You were an inspiration.
A big Aloha to Lan...
We worked together at KORL in Honolulu. I was 24, just coming out of Chicago, where I was doing the morning show on WMET.
Lan's ad had promised a "Station Van and a Station Yacht" - - There was no yacht, and the "station van" was Lan's VW Micro-Bus!
I knew this would be a different gig when Lan called everybody to his house to "brainstorm",
and there was a huge bowl of pot on the dining room table!
...He was an original, indeed
Yep...Lan's passing is a giant loss...and I am so glad I got to know him a bit over the last few years. I had never met him...but he began e-mailing me with lots of extraordinarily kind words a few years ago---he would listen to my show on-line from his home in Texas.
He was my first guest on my first day on KJR FM a couple of years ago...by phone. And then, I finally got a chance to meet him in person when I had breakfast with him at a cafe on Queen Anne last year.
Clearly, he wasn't just a great creative person---but an even greater human...with a remarkable generosity---and a love for the medium that never subsided even to his end.
The true greatness of Lan Roberts to me was always his humor. He was in the graduating class of air personalities Bobby Simon, World Famous Tom Murphy, and Pat O’Day....all guys who paved the way for the rest of us.
While going to college, I remember in 1969 sitting around for hours with radio rats at EWSC and dissecting all air checks that came our way from Seattle.
Lan in particular stood out because he could care less about the music. He was all about being your friend and making you laugh. He could make anyone laugh and laugh out loud all through any show. He and Jack Morton have always been my two favorites. He did it with being on top of current events, impeccable timing and his warped down home view of life.
We all got to chase after aliens, Hollywood gossip and little green things. Whenever he’d go off on a tangent we’d be right there with him.
Seattle was the melting pot of great radio jocks on the West Coast and Lan Roberts was at the top. I remember his consumption of his favorite green herb, went right along with that old leather cowboy hat he’d always have around.
I announced The Who show at the Coliseum and when I came back to my set, I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was Lan. He paid me a couple of compliments and said he enjoyed KISW when he visited Seattle. We passed a few back n forth and had a great evening of rock and roll. That was a great final memory of one of my idols.
RIP Lan - you inspired all that have followed in your great foot steps.
Lan came to town when I was 8 years old and throughout my "formative" years, everybody I knew listened. He often was the talk of the day at school. I have vivid memories of Phil Dirt and the Hollywood Reporter, Major Wayne Aho and shutting the transmitter off so the Aliens could communicate on channel 95, (I loved Dick Curtis' story about fooling Lan on the inside) pig trolling at Golden Gardens, inviting women to spend a weekend in an ice cave on Mt Rainier just to mention a few of his legendary moments.
What a thrill when about 25 years ago, while in Honolulu, Lan invited me over to his spot on the beach below Diamond Head. Interesting that he lived on the beach when he told me once he hated to be in the water. I remember sitting on the couch, sharing some of the local plant life, and being in disbelief that I was actually sitting next to the most talented guy I had ever heard on the radio. Lan is one of the big reasons I went into this business and like so many others, think the world is a lesser place with him gone.
Although it may have been expected with all Lan had been through over the past few years...it still floors me to hear about the loss of Lan.....Lan and I first came in contact with each other in the 70's when he was working at KJR-AM and I right out of high school at 17--working my first on-air shift at KQIN and then moving onto KEZX, I rented a little house behind his house in West Seattle--kinda kewl having him as a landlord--he was a good one!!! I remember his dog---a doberman named "Blue," and that white VW Bus of Lan's, him skydiving and me chickening out--didn't have the guts to do it, but watched him skydive....He and I have exchanged e-mail semi-regularly since 1998 and I consider it a true honor to have known him......a great guy and absolutely fabulous on the air.....and even though it's a new generation of radio, I consider it a privilege to say "KJR" on the radio in Seattle......
Lan---you were one of a kind and definitely one of the best to have graced the airwaves of Seattle......Thanks for being you!!
WOW....Phil Harper, Jerry Kaye, Bwana ... Now THIS!!
2005 wasn't a good year to us old-time radio announcers, was it?
I never had the pleasure to know Land and I never heard him on the radio, but I met him a couple of times and he was very complimentary to me. I know who he was of course -- a Seattle radio legend, so it meant a lot to me.
My best friend for 35 years in Seattle also passed away in Phoenix (on December 1st). It gets difficult to comprehend all this.
May Lan rest in peace.
Lanner will be remembered for many legendary gambits that grabbed Seattle by the ears;
The 'Lan Roberts International Slug Festival' was one of the greats.
Lan taught me the way you promote something on the air is 9/10th's of the battle. The first Slug Races were held in the parking lot of White Front on N. Aurora in Seattle, sponsored by Morton's Salt of course. The winning slug crossed the finish line in about 3 hours and 42 minutes.
But you can't have a Slug Festival unless you have an official coronation of a Slug Queen.
The next year at KOL, Lan presented the Slug Queen Cannon Shot. Practice sessions shooting the Slug Queen into Lake Washington taught Lan trajectory - based on windage.
A huge crowd gathered near Andy's Diner & KAYO (on 4th Avenue) to witness the SLUG QUEEN CANNON SHOT at the Pacific Iron & Metal parking lot, while THE SALVAGE ARMY BAND played 'Closer My Lord To Thee'.
Being at KOL when Lan joined in as the PD, I was in awe of the guy’s talent. Under Lan I was 'let go' - Later, I returned to KOL as Lan’s 23 year old PD. Eventually, Lan returned to KJR and I hated to see him go.
I joined O’Day to launch KYYX in early ’77. Lan was PD at KORL and on AM Drive naturally. It was a thrill to spend time with him at his place on Diamond Head and have a truly collaborative relationship. When Lan moved to Taiwan, I called him up around 1985/86 (one of those years).
I reached him at the station, and he was thrilled just to hear from me. It was just a couple of old friends getting caught up.
I was flattered (by many fans) to be asked to join Lan's OFC - an elite group of former Seattle radio guys being gathered. I felt privileged that he even thought of me.
I miss Lan, and look forward to gathering as much of his audio as possible for my next website.
MURPHY, Tom (
Lan was always 'convinced' that Aliens from Venus were trying to contact 'HIM' while flying over Seattle. He used to 'shut down' the transmitter so they could use the 95 frequency to broadcast their message - not only TO Lan but to all of Seattle. Somehow 'THEY' never took advantage of this opportunity.
Later Lan thought maybe THEY would like to land, but perhaps didn't want to use SeaTac or Boeing Field. He thought maybe the Issaquah Airport might be more 'venusion friendly', so he urged his listeners to drive out the airport, park along the runway and put red cellophane over their headlights so the pilots of the 'space crafts' could see the landing strip land safely.
Of course there was Lan sky diving nude into a Nudist Camp..don't think he actually was 'nude' though...
Phil Dirt 'filling in' for Lan on the morning show and listening to Buck Ritchie on KAYO because Phil liked Country Music and Buck; When Phil was on the air you could hear KAYO and Buck playing in the background.
Then there was the 'Easter Tarantula' filling in for the ailing Easter Bunny. You could hear the Easter Tarantula moving slowly and 'spitting out' Easter eggs!
Lan telling all the little boys and girls in Seattle that Santa Claus was being held political prisoner in Peru and that Santa needed 'Guns'...
Lan playing the sound of frogs mating on the air: 'Today frogs - tomorrow PEOPLE'...
..and there were many, many more....give me an 'AHHHHHH WOOOOOO'!
During the Seattle trip Mike Phillips and I spent two evenings with Lan and had a wonderful time retelling Lan stories which he seemed to enjoy hearing as much as WE enjoyed telling them.
What a privilege it was working with and knowing Lan Roberts - TRULY one of a kind."
Lans passing has hit me so hard! He was part of that magical team of broadcasters that took Seattle radio to the dizzying heights of total greatness. He was setting standards of broadcast humor and communication that inspired so many. His work will never be forgotten. God designed Lan's mind for radio. He designed a mind that was childlike, adventuresome, with a burning compulsion to make people laugh. He added to that, a warm, charming voice that was so identifiable and so loved. God has to be so pleased with what Lan did with those gifts.
I stated that Lan's passing hit me hard. I think the reason I'm so stunned, is that I often dreamed of somehow, re-uniting that incredible KJR Team for one last stand. For one last opportunity to show today's broadcasters how totally involved, totally funny, and totally gripping radio can be. Now we face the reality that we that remain, as individuals, must never cease to preach the knowledge of what radio can be. That's what Lan tried to do every day, and let us continue that great work. Yes, oft time to deaf ears, but never in vain!
Lan, we loved you and didn't really know how much until we came to grips with the fact that your gone from his earth but never from our hearts. You were one of the true greats in the history of the radio industry. Thank you dear Lan, and Aloha!
Lan was Lan before it was COOL to be Lan - He was the real deal.
He made "old school" sound like "new school".
Lan was one of the few people who knew how to be himself on the radio. Surrounding himself with memorable characters was a listener bonus.
Radio has lost another original.
SMITH, Robert O.
"Lan was a very inventive air personality and fans adored him - note I didn't say 'liked' or 'enjoyed' him... It went well beyond that ...he had FRIENDS not listeners ...he had followers not just fans...
Lan was one in many million...a true communicator of the theater of the mind experience... When you heard his show you saw the people he portrayed and felt the comic situation as a stone reality!
His style was hip but also translated to the common man...he believed in all the things that fascinated me too.
The flying saucer thing to him for a while was very big...like Lan I wanted see one o' those grey little suckers before I pass to the neon envelope.
Lan loved his radio brothers and had genuine concern when any friend he knew was ill or teetering toward the dirt nap..
He pitched in to get encouraging notes out to those friends from all in our old circle... and he was the single best fighter in his many bouts with cancer...
Courageous and positive to the fault a warm and loving man with a delightful sense of the absurd...I'll miss him very much..
He was very cool into the cosmic wallpaper... If anyone can get us a message as to what 'the other side is like', it'll be Lan....
Knock twice on the table Lan!... ..or make it so nothing but 'Louie Louie' plays on the radio for weeks... ...give us a sign man!"
I've gotten a few emails to post a message here over the past few days, but really, how do you sum up a man who was just simply and joyously wonderful. From the first day he signed on in the biz till the day he passed away, Lan Roberts was a jock's jock and a man's man. To those who worked with him knew that every day going to work with Lan, ya knew the day would bring laughter...sometimes a lost commodity behind the scenes. To those who knew him personally, knew the warm and caring person .... with a slice of zany on the side please!
I felt much sorrow when learning of his passing. Ya see, I was a fan who grew up listening to him. How lucky I was to get into radio and become the jock that I am thanks to the many talents that Seattle radio gave us. I learned from them all.. asking questions and then executing those answers into my show.
I missed Lan by an hour when he came up for a visit to KJR FM. I was pissed at myself the whole day as I recall (damn I-5 traffic). As I was considering the option of moving here to Aberdeen, I was nervous about making the change from the Emerald City. I sent off an email to Lan many many times.........and ya know what? He answered every single one, we had a few phone conversations as well. It was like talking with a big brother who cared about my future and my success. He told me "sure you're leavin' Seattle, but you're trading it off for a better quality of life for you and your children.
Then of all things.........he offered up pointers to make sure I made it here in a smaller community on the air...and by damned, IT WORKED! With his guidence, still to this day I can go outside and it doesn't take long when I hear someone holler "Kacie Sommers, How are youuuuuuuuu!"
Lan knew his stuff.........and we all know he had a lotta stuff in many areas in his life that he was soooo generous to share with us all.
Lan was the real deal...and as far as the person he was... I can only hope that I could possibily achieve an eighth of it someday.
Lan, you are a "ku'uipo" to me.
And lets just say "Aloha, till next time"
I luv ya
I first met Lan when Dick Curtis hired me to be the KOL Chief Engineer in 1969. As I recall, Lan had just gone back on the air after leaving KJR and waiting through a non-compete period.
What a pleasure it was, to be able to work with one of my idols!
One of the projects Lan wanted me to build, which I wasn't smart enough to do in those days, was a variable color lighting system in the KOL control room so that he could set the mood each day at the twist of a dial.
Lan had a natural sense of humor; he was real; he was spontaneous. Although he never got me to jump out of an airplane, at least he tried!
Our friendship was renewed several years ago; I would tell Lan what I had in mind for programming my radio stations, and he would help me refine my thinking. My wife and I had the pleasure of dining with Lan a few years ago in Dallas, and I was surprised and honored when he and his son showed up for my client picnic in Aberdeen (some distance from Bonham, TX) about 18 months ago.
Even though Lan aged rapidly in the past few years, once he opened his mouth he was the Lan we all remembered.
Today's news hit me hard. I wasn't ready for this one. Lan, I love ya ... you will be truly missed!
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