Wednesday, June 4, 2014

“Schoolhouse Rock” interview: co-creator/producer Rad Stone

Introduction to the Schoolhouse Rock interview series (including the list of interviewees).

What was your role on Schoolhouse Rock?

At McCaffrey & McCall, I was the “suit.” Everyone else was a “creative.” The original idea was to make a Multiplication Rock remedial education LP. When Tom Yohe, my hero, heard the “Three Is a Magic Number” song, he drew a storyboard on it. When I saw that I felt it might be a possibility for my client the ABC Television Network. Saturday a.m. was a goldmine then.

1977, after winning second Emmy

How old were you when you began working on Schoolhouse Rock?


What else were you doing professionally at the time?

Senior VP Account Supervisor on ABC.

Where were you living at the time?

New Canaan, CT.

What did you think of the
Schoolhouse Rock concept when it was pitched to you?

Nice…for an LP.

How were you hired?

McCaffrey hired me away from Ogilvy to run ABC.

Did you have any say in which topics the series covered?


Did you propose any songs/topics that were rejected?


How long would it take you, on average, to produce a
Schoolhouse Rock song?

Two weeks for a song and track. Two months for the video.

Schoolhouse Rock song/video was your favorite and why?

“Figure Eight” [sung by] Blossom Dearie; “Fireworks” with parts for Radford, Ian, and Charlotte Stone [his children].

Any funny stories from the recordings?

Not repeatable.

What did you think of the finished animated musical shorts?


Any controversy over
Schoolhouse Rock?

Only on the business/ownership side.

What are your most cherished/funniest Schoolhouse Rock stories since (a reaction when someone you meet discovers you had a role in it, seeing its influence in an unexpected way, hearing a celeb you admire sing its praises, etc.)?

Celebs talk about “I’m Just a Bill,” “The Preamble,” “Conjunction Junction,” etc. all the time.

What do you consider your career highlight to date?

Four Emmys wasn’t too shabby (Yohe made me a producer).

Newall, Stone, Yohe, 1978

Where do you live?

North Carolina.

If you have kids/grandkids, what did they think of your Schoolhouse Rock role?

Lotsa T-shirts!

What did you think when you first heard from me?

What’s Charlotte up to? [Charlotte is Rad’s daughter, who connected me to him.]

Has anyone else ever interviewed about this? If so, when and for what publication?

Tom and George [Newall] had several.

Do you still have any ongoing connection (professionally or personally) to
Schoolhouse Rock?

Digital distribution of Schoolhouse Rock. George and I run it. Couple of octogenarians. Bobby [Dorough]’s 90! ABC/Disney own it.

Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?

We have and would.

What is your perspective on the longevity and legacy of Schoolhouse Rock?

It’s pretty secure with the two musicals with 300 performance dates a year.

How do you look back on the experience?

Pretty favorably, since I retired in 1991!

11/10/21 addendum: Today I learned that Rad passed away 3/29/17.

Next: Bob Dorough.

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