At 9 a.m.: Day 2 of Public Impeachment Hearings

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Honored by Temple, John Oates stays true to Philly roots

 John Oates, musician and songwriter of the Hall and Oates duo, performs at Temple University's Mitten Hall after being inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

John Oates, musician and songwriter of the Hall and Oates duo, performs at Temple University's Mitten Hall after being inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Temple University’s School of Media and Communication has honored a list of alumni who went on to accomplished careers in journalism.

This year’s Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Award went to a man who never worked as a journalist. Instead, he became one half of the music duo Hall and Oates.

Like lots of young people in the ’60s, John Oates enrolled in college without a strong idea of what he wanted to do. All the kid from North Wales, Pennsylvania, knew was that he wanted to be in the big city, and that he was a pretty good writer. So he studied journalism.

“I thought of myself as a writer,” said Oates at the award luncheon Friday in Temple’s Mitten Hall. “That writing, of course, translated into songwriting. But even to this day — for you journalists out there — I still use the inverted pyramid concept for my pop songs. Because if you can’t grab them with a title and a hook, what do you have?”Oates never worked in a newsroom. At Temple, he met Darryl Hall, and together they sneaked into the campus radio station WRTI — late at night, when nobody was there — to record a song they had written. That song was terrible, remembered Oates, but for Hall and Oates it was a start toward huge pop hits including “Maneater,”  “Sara Smile” and “Private Eyes.”

“Everything I do has Philadelphia at its root. Everything. And I mean that,” said Oates, who now splits his time between Aspen, Colorado, and Nashville, Tennessee. “The core of what we do is this unusual hybrid of Philadelphia urban R&B and traditional American music. Which all was happening in Philadelphia, in the ’60s, when we were here.”

Oates is not writing music with Hall anymore — he writes solo material — but the two still tour extensively. Hall and Oates also have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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