Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women! (California Dreamin’) Chapter XXVI – XXVIII (edited May 16/17)

1236124_10153297966219307_3858604721538737156_nHad a lotta success
and was living well

But turning 40 started
ringing my bell.

California dreaming
was now my game

Cause living in Indy
just wasn’t the same.

Things were going well at Fairbanks, WIBC just had the best book ever with WNAP tucked in right behind in Indy. KVIL in Dallas was now the nation’s sweetheart, F-105 in Boston had just pushed RKO out of the format, and WRMF in Palm Beach was # 1 in its first year. We lived in a beautiful two-story home (see above) in Carmel on a treed lot with a creek running through it. We had a pool and hot tub out back and a Cadillac and Mercedes out front so, just how happy was I? Not! Oh did I mention that I was also turning forty, can you say “mid-life crazies.”
733784_10151835971959307_917910399_nThe first clue that something was going on with me may have been when I grew a beard against my wife’s wishes. My next move, however, was much more dramatic because all of a sudden I decided to blow up life.

Lana and I were sitting out by the pool having a cocktail the evening I turned to her and said … I’m outta here! She asked me, “What the hell are you talking about?” I told her that I was moving to California and I went on to explain that I hadn’t left Canada only to die in Indiana. All she could manage to say was that she wasn’t coming. 
When I was a kid growing up in Winnipeg, I used to watch the Rose Bowl parade every year. I was always very envious of all the folks who were sitting there in short sleeve shirts. I, of course, was stuck inside because it was minus 35 outside.
Rose-BowlThe weird part about all of this is that my daughter Candis now heads up a team who designs and builds the floats for the parade. (award winner pictured above) While watching both the parade and the Rose Bowl itself each year, I used to sit there chanting, “someday man someday.”
Thinking, if not now when? The next morning I headed into work to meet with Hilliard and repeat what I said to Lana. Jim, who is very hard to surprise only asked what my plan was. I told him that the first thing I was going to do was search look for a client somewhere in Southern California where I would begin my consulting career. He then asked if I had any idea how long it was going to take me to get back financially to where I already was. Then he suggested that perhaps I should take the weekend to think about it a little more.
That Saturday morning while watching my son Curtis play baseball, I was surprised by Jim who slid into the bleacher seat next to me. Ok, Johns, he says, you don’t have much of a plan you’re working with, so I put a real one together. You and Lana are flying to Stuttgart Germany where you’re going to watch them build your brand new Mercedes which you’ll use to tour Europe in. When you tire of all the touring, just put your Benz on a boat and fly home. How does that plan look to you, he asks? I told him that it sounded very exciting, but I’m confused about where all the time was coming from to tour? Right now what with all the projects we have going on I hardly even have time to breathe. You’re absolutely right Jim exclaimed, “Just get your ass down to the Mercedes store and order up whatever you want, then get back to work and make me some decent radio!



Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (San Antonio Rose) Chapter XXVII (

10943221_10153527413444307_165080502_n-1I loved living
in San Diego

Hey whats not to like
when you’re creating some new radio

Met my ops guy
by the name of Reid Reker

McCoy had pre-hipped me
that he was a keeper.

On August 3rd, 1981 I became a resident of beautiful San Diego (pictured above) when I was hired by the Shadeks who owned KOGO/KPRI to be their on-site consultant. I loved San Diego, and It took years to get over the feeling that I was only there on vacation. I ended up buying an old home on Coronado Island which needed remodeling and began my search for more clients.
Already in place at KOGO/KPRI when I arrived was Reid Reker (pictured above) who was my ops manager. Reid, who is still one of my best friends appeared to know what he was doing so we got down to work immediately. Reid though says that meeting me ruined his life because when I showed him what kind of toys he could have if he worked smarter instead of harder. He claims that he became addicted to them
The Shadek family who owned KOGO/KPRI also owned KLLS in San Antonio where Reid and I launched the first ever “Class FM.” The format which was a clone of KVIL in Dallas and WRMF in Palm Beach needed to work on KLLS if I hoped to grow my consultancy.
How could you not love San Antonio what with its great weather, Palm trees, the river walk and of course the legendary Alamo?When we put “Class FM” on the air in San Antonio, it quickly became #1 and launched my consulting career. One of the reasons that we were so successful so quickly in San Antonio I think, was because of all the very talented but crazy characters who worked there. We had folks on the air like the Gardner brothers Bill & Al, Bruce Buchanan, Cat Simon, and Harry Nelson only to mention a few.
Harry was always one of my favorites and because he was such an unassuming kind of a guy the ladies loved him. So when he showed up at the station one morning with a black eye, it looked so out of character. When I asked him what had happened, he claimed that he was out having a couple of drinks at one of the local bars where an attractive woman picked him up. When he took her back to his place and was bending over to untie his shoe, she cold cocked him. Lying on the floor dazed, she stood over him and said, “You’re not gonna take that shit from me are you?”One of my most memorable days in radio occurred in San Antonio the day I flew in there with Ed Shadek, the company’s president. Once at KLLS, we headed to the GM’s office for a quick meeting with Jack Collins before going for lunch. Jack got my attention the day he figured out how to get number one billing even before we were #1. 
He got this done by doing a special Arbitron zip code run which showed that we were already #1 in the northern half of the city. Then he printed up a bunch of maps that proved our claim and distributed them to the all the agencies and clients. We got money instantly because most of the malls were located in the northern part of the city and it was also where the affluent lived.
Meanwhile back at our memorable meeting with Jack who had greeted us warmly. He said that he was so happy we were there together because he needed some help with something. He then asked if we could join him in the production room and all I heard in my head was CLANG CLANG CLANG. Usually, when the GM wants to meet in the production room, it’s about a rejected commercial. Sure enough, the spot he plays for us is just borderline so the production guy must have got up on the wrong side of the bed or something. Nevertheless, I’ve gotta back my guy but I’ve got nothing, and as the commercial comes to a close I’m still thinking of something to say. All of a sudden Ed puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “May I handle this one George?” I, of course, am more than happy to turn it over to him. 
He begins by telling Jack that the Shadek family have owned KLLS for five years now and in those five years nothing good happened until met George Johns. Now we are #1, so if George Johns or any of George’s people don’t like a commercial, either do the Shadeks. Can we go for lunch now?

Meanwhile, back home in San Diego, we were doing another new format which was called “The KOGO Radio Magazine.” To win mornings, everybody has the name(s) of who does the show, so you have to make them famous.
Luckily I had a shot at a movie star by the name Martin Milner (pictured above) who lived nearby and was up for trying radio. Martin had previously starred in a couple of big TV series called Route 66 and Adam-12 plus a ton of movies. I knew we had our work cut out for us though mainly because Martin had never done radio, but I was very excited about the project.
The first thing we had him do before launching him was to host a big cocktail party up in LA for all the agency queens. They instantly threw money at us just because they love famous people who are also pretty.
Martin had such a  positive attitude that it made all of our meetings fun and very refreshing. I think my favorite part may have been that he didn’t argue with anything and loved it all, so I decided to launch him early. On the morning of his first show, I went down to the station before he went on to show a little support. When I walk in, he’s panicked, and when I ask him what’s wrong, he says that he can’t find his script and nobody seems to know what he’s talking about. Now I can proudly add “script writer” to my resume because that’s what I did for the rest of the morning.



Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women. (It’s My Party) Chapter XXVIII.

The_Beverly_Hills_Hotel_and_Bungalows_usn_1Celebrated my 40th
at the Polo Lounge

Most of my friends
all came around.

Even my wife Lana
decided to show

But her moving to Cali
was still a no go.

We’d made a lot of progress in both San Diego and San Antonio, but now it was time to take a break and celebrate my 40th dude! The Polo Lounge was the best place to do my birthday because nothing was more California. Not only was I celebrating my birthday I was also celebrating the fact that I finally lived in California. I had always dreamed of living in California, but it took me going through mid-life crises to make it come true. Hey if the Polo lounge was good enough for Bogart and Bacall, then it was good enough for me.
I’d sent a note to all my friends inviting them to join me for a birthday drink and the first person to respond was my old friend Charlie Minor. Charlie wanted to know what arrangements I had made at the Polo Lounge. I told him that I didn’t think I needed any because it was just going to be an informal affair. Charlie claimed that Saturday was when all the celebrities liked to hang out there so my friends wouldn’t be able to get in.

He was then kind enough to tell me that he would meet me in front of the Polo Lounge on the morning of my birthday. My only job he said was to slip the Maitre D’ fifty bucks when we were introduced. 
How’s the tune go, “Oh What A Night Early October 1981,” I couldn’t have had a better Birthday Party where they put up red velvet ropes which led to my table. Each time someone would show up looking for me, the Maitre D’ would loudly announce their name for Mr. Johns’ table. One of these announcements was for a singing telegram from Russ Morley at WRMF. The woman who sat on my knee was very beautiful but she didn’t sing worth a damn, and you’d think in Hollywood they’d be the best. I found out later that when Russ found out that my wife showed he managed to cancel what she was really the best at. As the night progressed and the announcements continued the movie and TV people who were gathered at the bar were now all standing up to see who the hell I was.
It was a stellar night for a kid from Transcona who years earlier had sat around shops class with his buddies just “California Dreaming.” I just wished all of them could have been there to celebrate the fact that one of us finally made it.





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