Radio Veteran Barry Freeman Passes

Industry vet Barry Freeman passed away on Friday, Jan. 10 in Palm Springs, California. He was 83.

Freeman enjoyed a multifaceted 52-year career in the music industry. Freeman had over 1,000 radio interview tours and radio concert specials under his belt, plus countless Number One singles as a promotion man.

A native of Paterson, New Jersey, Freeman was born the son of Martin “Ticker” and Esther Freeman. Ticker rose to fame as musical director for Dinah Shore and Andy Williams, and penned the hit song for Shore’s hit, “So Dear To My Heart,”— the title song of the 1948 Disney film of the same name. He instilled a love for music in his son, and Barry Freeman parlayed that passion into a career which began at Coral Records in 1956, where he learned the ropes of radio promotion plugging singles for Debbie Reynolds, Rosemary Clooney, Buddy Holly, and numerous other stars of the era.

Between 1958 and 1969, Freeman worked his way up via regional positions for United Artists Records in Los Angeles, Harmon Records in New York, legendary Kapp Records in Chicago and then back to the West Coast as an independent promoter, driving songs including Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA” to the top of the charts.

He eventually landed jobs in radio promotion first as Head of West Coast Promotion for Capitol Records in 1970. Instrumental in the careers of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Steve Miller Band, Helen Reddy, Linda Ronstadt, and others, Freeman was lured away in 1974 by Atlantic Records to head their West Coast promotion. While at Atlantic, Freeman notched hits for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Bette Midler, AC/DC, Foreigner, Bad Company, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and many more.

By 1981 the industry executive shifted to radio, being named Head of Talent Acquisition for Westwood One. Responsible for securing programming for their live radio shows and interview tours, Freeman inked deals with multiple artists for special-event broadcasts. In 1984 Freeman pivoted to Entertainment Radio Networks as Head of Artist Relations, booking two syndicated radio shows of the 1980’s and 1990’s: Hitline USA and Countryline USA. In 1994, Freeman segued to Nashville during the early 90’s country boom, assuming the role of Bureau Chief and VP/Country for upstart trade magazine Network 40. After a two-year run growing the trade magazine, Freeman returned to radio, remaining in Music City to helm the Mid-south office of ABC Radio Networks in 1996.

After three years at ABC, and after a run on the road as an independent promotion rep for Warner Music Group comedy acts including Bill Engvall, in 2000 Freeman formed FM Entertainment, a company focused on booking morning show radio interviews. Following his retirement in 2008 Freeman battled a long run of health challenges.

Freeman is survived by his daughters Felicia Maliani and Debra Goelz, sons-in-law Dave Goelz and Michael Maliani, grandchildren Vincent, Marissa, Gianno, Benjamin, and Amy, and brothers Robbie, Michael, and Richard. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Los Angeles home of friend Lark Baskerville on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. Those wishing to attend should notify Debra at [email protected].

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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary

About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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