Thursday, November 03, 2011

Vanilla Bean

Ten years since the great WFMU jock Frank "Vanilla Bean" Balesteri passed away. After some length of absence, Frank had made a surprise appearance at the 2001 WFMU Record Fair. We were all so pleased to see him. At the close,  I said "Seeyah Frank." Station Manager Ken Freedman came over as I was packing up the dollar tables, mentioned in passing he had asked  Frank if he needed a place to stay,  Frank had  said no. We thought nothing of it at the time.  That night Frank died alone in a motel room. 

Frank had his issues, to be sure. But on radio he was brilliant & dangerous.  He was suspended more than once. He broadcast the most hilarious, lewd bit I ever heard on WFMU. Let's just say it involved a cheap hooker in a parked car.  Personally, he was one of the friendliest people on the staff.  He also suffered one of the worst miscarriages of justice that could befall someone. It dragged on for years & cost him a fortune  before he settled it in his  favor.  I think it's what killed him. He was a small guy with a big heart, just wore out.

Frank could do the most outrageous things & still be liked by the station manager, even as he being reprimanded.  He could also do a straight up free form  music show when he was in the mood. Former manager Bruce Longstreet used to tap Frank on the head & ask, "Hello, who's in there today?"

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