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The case of a popular radio DJ who was thought to have committed suicide in 1958 gets a second look when new evidence shows someone was in the recording booth with him at the time of his death. Meanwhile, Scotty learns his brother has been having troubles since Scotty asked him about an old coach of theirs weeks earlier.


August 29, 1958

An ad jingle for Happy Beer can be heard as John "The Hawk" Hawkins walks through the hallway of the radio. Two girls rush up to him and ask him to play "Summertime Blues" for them. One of the girls, Gloria, flirts with Hawk as he signs an autograph for them. As Hawk enters the radio booth, he tells his assistant, Tim "Bones" Hamlin, that the microphone is starting to pick up the creaking door. Bones apologizes and says he's called maintenance 50 times about it. Bones shows him him the newest Roy Hamilton single that "sounds like it's in 3-D." Hawk says he's heard about "that new thing called stereo" but he'll only play it if he likes it. Bones says someday, he'll buy a Gibson guitar just like the one in the song. "Hold on, Elvis." Hawk says with a chuckle. The show is about to start. In a wild, booming voice, Hawk greets his Philly listeners and tells them to "turn up that rock 'n roll music." With a howl, he introduces the first track "Say, Mama" by Gene Vincent. All across Philly, kids dance, play, and party to the music.

Sometime later, Hawk comes back on. "Let's slow it down for a sec for a little ballad called 'Scarlet Rose'." The song plays for a bit until kids notice the song is skipping, with the line "Scarlet Rose" repeating over and over. In the recording booth, the record playing is covered in blood, as Hawk's lifeless body lies slumped over the desk. There's a gun in his hand, and a bullet hole in his head.

A coroner finishes his report, marking Hawk's death a suicide.

Present day: John Stillman tells Lilly Rush that a filmmaker is making a documentary on the Hawk. Lilly's heard of him. Her mother used to go to his sock hops and said he was pretty wild. She asks if Stillman was a rocker. "I had a radio,” he says, evenly.

Stillman introduces Lilly to Tom Bergin, the filmmaker being watched over by Nick Vera. Bergin, who seems more interested in his computer than anything else, has been listening to a recording made in the booth seconds after Hawk died. Lilly thought Hawk killed himself on the air, but maybe not. Stillman explains that when Hawk slumped over, his hand hit a control starting an in-studio tape recorder, since Hawk taped his shows for reruns. Bergin says people heard the tape years ago "but no one's heard what I've heard." No one had the audio equipment he does. After giving an technical explanation that goes completely over their heads, Bergin starts the recording. He then filters out the sound of the record, leaving only the ambient sound in the booth. After a few seconds, footsteps can be heard, then a creaking door. They realize Hawk wasn't alone. Bergin tells them it's quiet again for 30 minutes until the janitor ran in. "So either Hawkins woke from the dead and walked out of there," Stillman says. "Or his murderer did." Lilly finishes.

Looking over programming from old concerts that Hawk MC'ed, Scotty Valens is surprised that Hawk got top billing over the musicians. Stillman explains that back then, radio DJs were as big as the rock stars; there was Alan Freed in New York, Wolfman Jack in L.A., and the Hawk in Philly. Scotty says he can't even name a DJ on the air today. Stillman says back then, they were the taste-makers. They picked the songs and made or broke careers.

Scotty suggests Hawk could have been the target of a wannabe rock star. "Or some record company suit," adds Will Jeffries. It was the time of "payola," when record companies bribed radio DJs to play their song. As far as they know, however, Hawk never took a bribe. He was a big fan of the music and wasn't afraid to play black artists to white teens. Scotty asks Jeffries if he was a fan. To their surprise, Jeffries tells them he prefers country music. He was even a DJ in college! "This is Will Jeffries comin' at you live. Here's Hank Williams with 'My Son Calls Another Man Daddy'."

Hawk's death looked self-inflicted but they didn't have the same forensics back then. Hawk divorced at 24 and his ex inherited his money. "Good motive," says Jeffries, "except he was broke." Stillman suggests she found out after the fact. Either way "first wives know all the dirt." As Stillman talks, Scotty notices his sister-in-law, Alegria, walks in to the squad room.

Scotty asks her if everything is all right. She tells him his brother Mike stopped going to work and hasn't gotten out of bed for three days straight. He's not sick according to the doctor, but he hasn't been the same since Scotty stopped by a few weeks ago. Scotty promises he'll stop by later that day to look in on Mike.

The detectives go to speak to Hawk's ex-wife, Dottie. She remembers a kid, coming to the studio, upset that Hawk wasn't playing his song on the radio.

Flashback: Bones enters Hawks booth angry that he had people lined up to hear his song, Hawk told him he only played what he liked, at which the kid angrily offered to get his Dad to buy him a car to play it, Hawk stated he didn't take pay for playing songs. The kid saw Hawk's gun in a locker and made a veiled threat to lock it up.

Present Day: The detectives go visit Bones, who is now doing well as a record producer - saying he didn't have enough talent himself but learnt to recognise it in others. He states he returned the next day apologetic and was forgiven. His alibi was DJ-ing a party. He stated a potential enemy was a father who accused Hawk of messing with his teenage daughter.

Flashback: Hawk and Bones are at a hall DJ-ing a party and begin to play lively music, making the teens there dance - eyeing off Hawk. One man approaches Hawk and states his daughter, Carly Chester, is out there "dancing like a whore". He states she's 16 and in trouble, informing her father Hawk impregnated her. Hawk denies this claim.

Present Day: The detectives bring in Carly's father Lloyd for questioning. Lloyd reveals his daughter lied and her boyfriend, now husband, knocked up Carly. Lloyd states a few months before Hawk died, he saw Hawk at a diner with a young girl.

Flashback: A girl, Jenny, approached Hawks booth at the diner and they talk about her future dreams. Jenny says she wants to be a singer. Another man , Skiz, approaches their table and demands Jenny leave with him, when she refuses Hawk backs her up and he leaves. Hawk and Jenny laugh.

Present Day: The Detectives bring in Skiz for questioning. He's been in trouble with the law since, however, claims he was at a Bowling Club at the time of Hawk's death with 100 others all hearing the record skipping.

Flashback: Hawk is at a party introducing Little Richard, Jenny and Skiz are in the audience. Jenny asks Skiz to help get her to Hawk, offering to go 'park' later. Skiz helps her get backstage and Jenny gives him a record called Scarlet Rose. She then walks off, leaving Hawk stunned staring after her.

Present Day: Valens goes to see his brother, who is in bed with the curtains drawn. Scotty asks what's going on and Mike says he's just tired. Scotty tells him the pedophilia case against his former youth boxing coach is going south as the one victim willing to testify is getting nervous. Scotty asks if he remembers a night when they were kids that Scotty remembers vividly.

Flashback: Scotty and Mike are in their bunkbeds; Mike had come home late from boxing practices and climbed into the top bunk still in his clothes. He's crying. Scotty asks what's wrong, did something happened at practice. Mike doesn't want to talk. Scotty suggests they play a game called "Guess" and starts humming a song for Mike to guess the title. Mike says he's tired but promises to play the next night. He continues crying.

Present: Mike swears he doesn't remember that night at all and just wants to go back to sleep. As Scotty leaves the bedroom, he hears Mike whistling a tune, the same song Scotty wanted him to guess.

Present Day: The Detectives have Jenny in an interrogation room and play "Scarlet Rose" over the speakers. She asks how they got the record, and gives an alibi of being at home with her sisters. She states she snuck into the station to see him one day and saw him being bothered by a record executive.

Flashback: Jenny is outside the door of Hawk's DJ booth when the Record Executive, Ben, throws a wad of cash on the desk. Hawk states he is not for sale. The Record Executive says Bones took money to play one of his songs, Hawk states that his one pick a day. Hawk is angered by this, and states he is a fan of the music and will not be bought. Jenny states she gave up the singing career then and there, and that Hawk looked crushed.

Present Day: The Detectives go to speak to Bones again, stating he hadn't meant to betray him. He says Jenny and Hawk were planning to go away together.

Flashback: Hawk approaches Bones, who is in a restaurant with two attractive women on either side, introducing them as Gigi and Lulu. Hawk asked them to leave and tells Bones the women are hookers. He tells Bones he knows he took money to play that song and he could be arrested. He says he is planning to leave Philly for while as he has something more important: Jenny, who is more than just a fan.

Present Day: The Detectives go into a room with blackboard where Vera has deconstructed the lyrics to the Scarlet Rose song. He states there were unsung lines that change the meaning of the song. Hawk wrote the song as a lullaby, Vera guesses Hawk is Jenny's father. They question Jenny again, and ask her why she didn't mention this before. She states she told Hawk on the night of the Little Richard dance that she was his daughter.

Flashback: The party is over and Hawk sits at a piano playing Scarlet Rose, Jenny approaches and states she is Jennifer, her daughter, and she was afraid to tell him. She states she never forgot him and he explains he had to leave as his lifestyle at the time wasn't what his family needed. He offers to take a road trip with her.

Present Day: Jenny states Hawk could line her up some gigs as a backup singer in California. The Detectives ask if her Mum knew about this and Jenny states she never told her.

The Detectives bring in Dottie again, asking her why she left out that she and Hawk had a child together. She states Jenny was adopted by her second husband and Hawk wasn't much of a father. They bring up her own father, who lived on the road doing gigs until he committed suicide in their hotel room one night. Dottie explains Hawk invited Jenny to California to sing, and she didn't want that life for Jenny. She admits she went to the studio the night of Hawk's death, but just to talk to him.

Flashback: Dottie goes to the studio and demands Hawk to stay away from Jenny and stop filling her head with nonsense. Dottie insists Hawk will ruin Jenny's life, but he assures her he wants to be there for his daughter. Hawk begins to play "Scarlet Rose" on his show so Dottie and everyone can hear Jenny sing. Dottie reaches into the locker and picks up the gun pointing it at Hawk. He tries to talk her down but she fires. As he falls back on the DJ Booth, his hand hits the controls, recording the room. "Scarlet Rose" plays on repeat.

Present Day: Dottie signs her confession and is arrested. Hawk's case box is refiled with closed written on it. Jenny plays her piano at home. She imagines Hawk sitting next to her and smiles.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]



  • Jeffries mentions he likes country music and was a DJ in college; Thom Barry is, in fact, a real-life country music fan and was once a country-western DJ.
  • Stillman mentions two real-life DJs who were supposedly contemporaries of Hawkins; Alan Freed in New York and Wolfman Jack in Los Angeles, though Wolfman Jack's DJ career didn't begin until the 1960s.
  • 1958 is also mentioned as "the time of payola." "Payola" is a term in the music industry for record companies bribing radio stations or DJs to play their songs, which is illegal in the U.S. Alan Freed's reputation and career were destroyed because of a payola scandal.
  • This is the third episode to end with original music recorded specifically for the show (after "Best Friends" and "Beautiful Little Fool"). In this episode and in "Beautiful Little Fool", the song is an element in the plot and is discovered to have been written by the victim.
  • Hawkins and Bones talk about "that new thing called stereo." The first sterophonic discs were made available to the public in the summer of 1958, though stereo recording had already been widespread in the music business since the fall of 1957. An insider like Hawkins probably would have heard of it before most people.
  • This episode was Robert Symonds's final on-screen appearance.
  • Despite beginning with the show's usual disclaimer "The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event," it does in fact depict a real person briefly, namely a young Little Richard.
    • Little Richard would not have been playing rock 'n roll at a dance in 1958, as he had quit rock 'n roll music the previous year, become a born-again Christian, and would focus on gospel music until 1962.
  • The tune that Scotty hums for Mike to guess is that of the song "Our House" by Madness.
  • Despite Dottie and Jenny's relationship being a central theme of this episode, they are never seen together.
  • When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, actor Charles Esten, who played Hawk, actually became a special DJ at his own home and interviewed some fans online.


Opening Song[]

Almost all of the songs used in this episode are from the 1950's music genre.

Alongside Songs[]

Closing Song[]

Season 4 Episodes
Rampage | The War at Home | Sandhogs | Baby Blues | Saving Sammy | Static | The Key | Fireflies | Lonely Hearts | Forever Blue | The Red and the Blue | Knuckle Up | Blackout | 8:03 AM | Blood on the Tracks | The Good-Bye Room | Shuffle, Ball Change | A Dollar, A Dream | Offender | Stand Up and Holler | Torn | Cargo | The Good Death | Stalker

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