An Idaho Broadcaster’s Career Got a Boost From a Pop Music Legend
Herbert was a curious boy with a love of music. It was instilled by his father, a Maronite Catholic immigrant from Lebanon. The older man had come to America and met a young Jewish immigrant from modern-day Belarus. They were married and their son came into this world exposed to a variety of music. He would go to the library and read sheet music, often making copies and bringing them home to reverse.
His father bought him stringed instruments and the boy became proficient with guitar and ukulele. He played one right-handed and the other left-handed.
Herbert was an indifferent student. It upset his mother when he began playing at nightclubs and bars. But his adoption of old Tin Pan Alley and show tunes caught on with the folk scene. Unlike many of the hippies who came to dominate pop culture, he remained drug-free, mainly due to his devout Catholic faith. As his career ascended, he made friends with unlikely entertainers, such as John Wayne.
By the early 1970s, Herbert was a wealthy man.
Fifteen years later, a young man was struggling to make a career as a broadcaster. He had taken a job at a small radio station but grew disillusioned as ownership paid him less than the amount agreed upon when he took the job. Frustrated, one day he called the manager of a radio station in a much larger city. The manager said there were no openings, but said the young broadcaster could get a tour. On the drive the next day, the newsman passed a restaurant when he saw Herbert Khaury leaving the place. The newsman rounded the block and caught the musician as he was getting into a Cadillac. Hebert agreed to an interview. Then the young broadcaster was mortified. His cassette malfunctioned. The older man reached into his glove compartment and produced a cassette. Smiling, he said, “Use this!” They chatted for 15 minutes and then said farewell.
After he toured the radio station, the newsman said he had a nose for news. He hit play on his recorder. The manager’s eyes grew as big as saucers.
The next morning, the manager called the young man and told him the news director had quit. Within two weeks, yours truly was settling into a new job.
The following summer, a guest visited the radio station. Herbert Khaury was again passing through town. We sat down and recorded a lengthier interview. Sadly, the reel-to-reel and the old cassette are lost to history, but I did tell the musician our previous interview had landed me my current position. He admitted he didn’t remember our previous talk but offered congratulations. My manager came into the room and Herbert, known to the world as Tiny Tim, cut a promo for the radio station while singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips, his signature song.
Before he left, I asked him about something he was known to say. Johnny Carson Doesn’t call me anymore was a joke he would share about his brief rocket-like ascent to the top of pop culture before he became a novelty act working for a circus. He told me he didn’t bellyache because Johnny Carson never called most people even once.