WQXR Staff Remembers Lloyd Moss
Monday, August 05, 2013
WQXR hosts share their favorite memories about Lloyd Moss, the WQXR announcer from 1955-2006 who died on August 3.
Elliott Forrest, Midday Host
In the early 1980’s I was living in Kansas City, MO and on the radio at KXTR, the then classical radio station in that area. One of the national radio shows we aired was “First Hearing”, hosted by Lloyd Moss. This was a great program and heard around the country. We all learned a great deal about new classical recordings and got a weekly glimpse into the New York music scene. We also got to hear the charm, warmth and classical knowledge of Lloyd Moss.
I was in my early 20s and was program director. I decided to write Mr. Moss a letter to ask him to voice a set of promos for his show on our station. In addition to my cover letter, I mailed (yes, this was before email) a list of promos I wanted him to do:
“This is Lloyd Moss and you’re listening to First Hearing on KXTR.”
“I’m Lloyd Moss inviting you to listen to First Hearing, Monday nights at 9pm here on KXTR, Kansas City, MO”, etc.
But I decided I'd push my luck and went on to script possible "slug" lines for the station itself:
“This KXTR, Kansas, MO.”
“You’re listening to Classical Radio in Kansas City, MO, KXTR”, etc.
We were all in awe of Lloyd and his great voice. He was also the gold standard for classical announcers. While I dreamed of him being the “voice” of our little station, which was literally in horse pasture, I didn’t really expect him to do the additional lines. I had already heard him voice national television commercials. Why would he do this for free? So I mailed off my request and waited.
In fairly short order a small reel-to-reel tape arrived. I strung it up on our Ampex tape player and Lloyd had read every line I requested. For years we used Lloyd’s voice, not just on “First Hearing”, but daily.
Only after 18 months in KC, I made the big move to New York. Within a few months of landing in the Big Apple I was producing a corporate video project, with many voiceover talents needed. We held auditions and who should show up, but Lloyd! I was shocked and honored to see him and to meet him in person for the first time. Of course we hired him. I’d have done anything for him to return his previous kindness.
By the time I got to WQXR it was almost surreal to be around Lloyd. He wasn’t just a voice or a radio personality, but a friend and mentor. From the beginning, he was always kind and giving. My friends and I attempting to break into the voice-over business used to talk about the "Five Guys" who got all the work. In those days, it seemed, there was a set of deep voiced, stentorian types that got everything and Lloyd was one of them. I had heard his Listerine add for years. Lloyd did the tag for scores of Listerine ads. You'd hear him at the end of the commercials saying, “Listerine, twice a day."
I’ll claim up front that this is probably slightly apocryphal, but there was a rumor going around that Lloyd bought an apartment and created his family college funds with just those four words!
Lloyd had been on WQXR for 50 years. Not consecutively. There was a brief period when he left to pursue voiceovers and acting, but he then returned. But all told, he was heard on WQXR for a half a century. What a legacy. His tone was conversational and friendly. And if you listened carefully, he was also irreverent, at times.
For a few wonderful years, my wife owned and operated a children’s bookstore in Nyack, where we live. It always brought a smile to my face to see Lloyd’s children’s books on the shelves. I remember going to some outdoor summer festival, where authors would read stories and Lloyd came and read Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. What a great combination: that amazing voice, a fun story and kids hearing about classical music.
I could not help remembering that first letter I wrote him so many years before and how bizarre it felt to now be taking over his time slot. As always, he was gracious and kind. Years later, Lloyd was honored by the Music Conservatory of Westchester and the family asked me to speak about Lloyd and present him with their award. I jumped at the chance.
I have had many role models and mentors in my blessed life. I will always consider Lloyd Moss at the top of the list.
Jeff Spurgeon, Morning Host
My ears pricked up. "That's remarkable," I thought. "There's an English Suite by John Ireland AND and an Irish Suite by John England?" Well, there wasn't, but the announcer's tiny piece of wordplay made me listen more carefully the next time he spoke – what would he say this time? – and the next, and the next, and for years after. Of course, it was Lloyd Moss.
Lloyd was associated with WQXR for 53 years as staff announcer, interviewer and program host. He was witty – in the old-fashioned sense of wit – not just funny, but intelligent and clever. He was skilled with foreign languages, and utterly professional in every sense.
Humor on the radio is mostly ephemeral, and there are thousands of brilliant things Lloyd said that I can't remember. They were all delivered in the same clear, dry tone that he used to introduce a work by Vivaldi or Beethoven, and often they went by unnoticed. But Lloyd made you listen for them. My favorite example is something he tossed off one day after a cheese commercial. The spot ended, and Lloyd opened the mic and said, "What a friend we have in cheeses." And then he simply gave the weather forecast and introduced whatever piece of music came next, never even winking an eye to the audience as he made a silly, but also brilliant, pun. That was Lloyd's wit – if you weren't listening carefully, you might have missed it.
Lloyd had deep respect for musicians and the music he played. He made fun of lots of things, but never insultingly, and he never made fun of the music itself.
People ask me if Lloyd was as funny in person as he was on the air, and the answer is no. Lloyd was even funnier off the air – zinging conversations with great puns and clever observations. He wrote children's books and clever verse, and he never cheated poetic rhythm and never made a false rhyme. He was honorable craftsman of words.
He was a gentleman, too – polite, charming and caring. I learned some things about manners from Lloyd.
Lloyd Moss was one of my radio mentors. When I first began listening to WQXR, and found Lloyd, I never dreamed I would one day become his colleague. He was very supportive of colleagues at WQXR and had no airs about himself. He offered coaching, and was always kind in his corrections of my mistaken pronunciations, and had good suggestions for improving copy when he recorded announcements or programs.
Lloyd Moss was perfect for WQXR, and WQXR was perfect for Lloyd. But what I will remember most about him was the warmth, the kindness, the humor and the decency of the man himself. His listeners were lucky to have had the great announcer for so long, but his friends and family were luckier yet to have known the man.