My colleague and friend Alan
Fredericks will be inducted into the Travel Industry Association
(TIA) Hall of Leaders in October. As you can read in our news pages
[TIA to honor Fredericks, Norman], he is being honored
for his 40 years of influence in the travel industry, accomplished
in part during his 30-plus years as editor in chief of Travel
Though I have come
to rely on his counsel for matters both industry-related and
journalistic, Alan did not start his career in the travel industry.
Nor, for the first decade of his working life, was he a
I found this out
about 10 years ago when I rented a car at LaGuardia Airport and
headed towards Westchester County. I didnt know Alan then; I had
met him once or twice, had been reading his column for about 10
years and had seen him moderate sessions at industry events from
time to time.
As I turned the car
north, I hunted for a radio station. I heard a voice say, This is
Alan Fredericks, sitting in for ... The voice was unmistakable. I
listened a while longer. There was no doubt: Travel Weeklys Alan
Fredericks was hosting a doo-wop radio program.
When I got to know
him better, I asked what that was all about. It turns out that
travel is Alans second love. His first is rock n roll. He had
become a disk jockey in 1954, the year rock was born, and was soon
hosting record hops in high school gyms on Long Island.
He once introduced
a local band called the Bell Notes, and they sang an original song
called Ive Had It. Alan recalls that it was silly but catchy --
catchy enough that he thought it might be a hit.
He signed the group
to a management contract, bought studio time and produced a demo.
He gave it out to the reps of record companies who had come to his
station to give him records to play. Eventually one label decided
to take a chance on it.
It sold 500,000
copies. The Bell Notes were hot -they went on the road, opening for
Bobby Darin and Frankie Avalon. But the label took over the groups
management, and Alan was out. (And so, it turns out, were the Bell
Notes -- without Alan at the console using reverb to mask the fact
they couldnt sing on key, they never produced another
Alan, however --
now the proud owner of a brand new 1961 Pontiac Catalina
convertible -- decided he had the Midas touch and started looking
for more talent.
Someone told him to
listen to a folk singer named Peter Yarrow in a Greenwich Village
coffeehouse. Alan thought the guy was extremely talented and asked
if he would like to sing rock n roll. The guy said sure, hed give
it a try. But Alan never found the right material for
After six months,
Alan released him from the contract, and Peter resumed singing folk
songs. It wasnt too long before Peter hooked up with two other folk
singers, one named Paul, and the other named Mary.
Turns out Alan had
the right guy, just the wrong genre.
In 1966, the
station where he was spinning records became Spanish-only, and he
decided it was time for a career change. While, selfishly, Im glad
that he did -- his next full-time job turned out to be at Travel
Weekly -- I feel certain that, had he stayed with music, right
about now hed be inducted into another hall of honor.
That one, I have a
feeling, would be the one in Cleveland.