KCRW's former General Manager was a long-time friend of the late Ernest Fleischmann. Their initial meeting was a dust-up -- not too surprising for two such powerful and headstrong figures -- but they developed a great admiration and affection for one another over time that lasted until his death on June 13, 2010 at age 85. This tribute was written at the request of Stephanie, Ernest's eldest daughter, as part of the memorial held for him at Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 24, 2010--a building whose creation was one of his many lasting impacts on Los Angeles.
He is so vivid in my mind…
I think of him at the center of so much that was happening. He always had something to say about music, about culture about politics. He was a man or the world who was alive to the world.
We met in the early 1970’s when I worked at the Pacifica station in town. Ernest was on the air during one of our fundraisers. He was scheduled to offer tickets as premiums for subscribers. Instead he was promoting the Hollywood Bowl season.
I was the new program director. The subscription drive was my responsibility. I didn’t know Ernest. In fact, I didn’t even know who he was. All I knew was that he wasn’t raising money for the station.
I stood outside the studio window and motioned for him to stop. First he ignored me; then he glared and went on talking.
I directed the board operator to fade him out and put on music.
Ernest stormed out, furious. By now I was also outraged. We engaged in a fight that could be heard throughout the building.
I believe that neither of us forgot that first encounter. For several years we avoided each other. When we finally met again we had come to respect and admire the work we were each doing. We had met; we had clashed; we were ready to be friends.
We found that we genuinely liked each other and took pleasure in our conversation. We spoke about the things that mattered to us, about family, our children, the dramas that were taking place in the organizations that we headed.
It was intimate conversation that only people who trust each other have with each other.
I think of Ernest’s intellect, his humor, his gift for charming people, his loyalty to friends, his openness to the new, the experimental, the cutting-edge.
I doubt he ever questioned why he was on this good green earth. He was here for music.
-- Ruth Seymour