Fendel is a former jazz disc jockey whose soothing voice was heard on three different Portland radio stations for 28 years until he retired in 2014. His Cedar Sinai Park shows were filled with easy patter and jazz history, too. He aimed during his radio shows to sound as though he had three or four friends in his living room, just sitting around and talking about music. It was the same with his shows at Cedar Sinai Park. An hour of the Great American Songbook punctuated with memorabilia for his audiences to peruse and discuss.
A stack of Sinatra sheet music. Playbills from a Rogers and Hart musical. Or the framed 1961 letter from Ira Gershwin written to a young Fendel. With it, Ira enclosed a photograph of the Gershwin brothers, and a cancelled check bearing George Gershwin’s signature. These treasures – permanently housed on a wall in Fendel’s Southwest Portland living room — made more than one trip to Cedar Sinai Park throughout the decades Fendel performed there.
Fendel, bespectacled and bald with a ring of white hair just below his crown, relishes the story of how, thanks to his mother, he acquired the Gershwin items. Gladys Fendel wrote to Ira Gershwin explaining how much her son admired George Gershwin, the late Jewish composer. She asked if Ira might send her son some memorabilia for his 19th birthday.