Geo’s Media Blog. (Comments) 12/3/18

Jim Harper: This is the most productive and potentially “golden” advice any morning jock could ever expect to receive. And it’s free! Then again…generous. Old Pros do that…never when asked, but when you least expect it, and they sincerely want to help talent. I hope the jox realize that Bob’s phone call script/outline should be stolen and produced with a killer-close…tomorrow! And George’s break-by-break then repeat-outline is a million dollar secret. Nice work, Gentlemen.

Geo: Jim was commenting on a new Blog called “Writing Radio’s Wrongs” that Bob Christy and I are doing about how radio sounds to us today. For a peek at it, Google, Writing Radio’s Wrongs.

Doug Herman: A significant part of Gordon Zlot’s long-term success is on you, George. A top of the line owner with top of the line input from somebody who’s made a bunch of stations #1 is a can’t miss situation. Congrats to both of you! Keep it going!

Geo: Thank you, Doug, I thought it was very gracious of him to mention me in his acceptance speech, but also very Gordon. However, the best part about his speech was the standing ovation he got after he gave it.

Bruce Walker: Excellent blog George. It’s great to see that people like Gordon Zlot still exist. Glad you had the opportunity to help him and his gang out. You must have learned many lessons from him and he from you. Good going.

Geo: He’s a great guy Bruce, and one of the many things I learned from him was that it is much better to fly to meetings in his Jet than it is to go commercial.

Dave Spence: George, I don’t know who Hollis Duncan is, and he certainly doesn’t know me or the story he attaches to me. While I was there, we never charged for parking. What he is referencing was when we went up on the cost of cold drinks (5 or 10 cents as I recall)  from the “Coke” machine. The note was on newsprint which was only used in the- wait for it – newsroom. I agree that Andy was a great newsman. Very well educated, expansive vocabulary, and voice inflection that left no doubt what side of the story he was on.

Bill Gardner: I remember hosting a KVIL morning show in the late ’80s and wondering at 6.15 about our scheduled 6.20 newscast since Andy McCollum had yet to arrive.  When he walked in about 6.19, I hit the intercom and asked if he wanted me to scrub the 6.20.  He said, “No, I’ll be ready.”  I introduced him as my song faded at 6.20, and Andy proceeded to do a newscast that sounded every bit as good and prepared as all the rest!  An amazing guy and fun to work with. Saw Andy last at one of our KVIL reunions, and like Bob Morrison who you mentioned, and even the legendary Ben Laurie, miss them all personally and professionally.

John King: Geo, about Shakespeare’s oft-quoted line, it has been explained: “Shakespeare’s exact line ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,’ was stated by Dick the Butcher in ‘Henry VI,’ Part II, Act IV, Scene II, Line 73. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society.”

Hollis Duncan: Andy was paired with Ben Laurie while I was at KVIL and & he & I enjoyed several lunches and many good conversations.  Andy was so confident in his intelligence that he felt no need to prove it to anyone, so our conversations (with me mostly listening) consisted of stories that showed a high level of knowledge & understanding paired with deep insight.  When we were sitting in a Deli in University Park, Andy taught me the proper pronunciation of Gefilte Fish.  When KVIL started charging for parking, Andy left the memo on Dave Spence’s door with the typed note: “Thank you for helping KVIL make another million.”  Spence went around to all of the typewriters to find the culprit.  Andy was a great newscaster and a very good guy.

Greg Byers: Hi George, This is T.J Byers, son. Yes, he dealt with depression for many years.we as a family did everything we could to get him better, but it was not in the cards.we are so glad people are talking about suicide more open. Dad always had good things to say about you and Jim Hillard and Mr.fairbanks.

Geo: Greg, your Dad and I produced a lot of award-winning promos back in the day. I remember him fondly.

Doug Thompson: Geo wrote: Why don’t they have production people in the Radio Hall Of Fame? What was better on the radio than the promos Jack McCoy created and voiced for the last contest?

Agreed George, Jack McCoy certainly deserves his place in the Radio Hall of Fame…and why isn’t radio writer extraordinaire Bill McDonald in as well? The Beatles Story, The Evolution of Rock, The Elvis Presley Story and many more radio specials that he wrote plus all those award-winning commercials working with Chuck Blore. Even Chuck Blore isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Travesty.

Geo: Then there’s Doug Thompson, Dougie, he’s the best and is also not in there. I think all these Hall Of Fames are rigged, hell, even the one in Indianapolis funded by a trust from the former owner of WIBC/WNAP, Richard M Fairbanks has had very few inducted from those great stations, even though we ruled the town for a couple of decades. I may be biased, but I think Texas may have the best HOF, and deservedly most of the staff I was honored to have worked with at KVIL, are in there.

Jed Duval: In 1972, at Indiana University’s Radio-TV journalism courses, the standard was 75 five-letter words-minute, with all numbers spelled out in words.  I have always tried to adhere to that standard ideal.  Fast-talking seems to be the standard today.  Then, if it does not fit into a: 59-1/2-second time frame, the production people digitally-process the voice track to make it fit, which speeds up the delivery after the pitch of the voice is corrected! Can you imagine enforcing WIBC’s Fairbanks Broadcasting / Chuck Riley production standards in the electronic media world today?  As I learned from you, George, less copy (but more colorful, descriptive, picture-painting words) is much, much more.  Then the best voice in the station can shape and create an image…something you can’t do when you’re trying to “beat-the-clock”!
One additional comment: The only time I would “rush” the copy would be the times the station had to air the full attorney-approved contest rules disclosure announcement, which usually aired only once per day at carefully selected times at the end of the last stop-set just before going into the news.  We did not have websites then, so we had to essentially read the rules on the back of the direct mail piece to satisfy Mike Bader and Dick Fairbanks. Did any of the stations either of you gentlemen managed or consulted ever receive complaints about the contests and the rules?

Geo: Jed, as you well know, I dreamed up so many wild and crazy contests that the only way our FCC attorney Mike Bader, could handle me was by saying no. When I finally threw a hissy fit in Mr. Fairbanks office I was given John King as my own personal lawyer and his job was to find a way to say yes to me. He did, and I still adore him for it. As far as complaints go Jed, does the Mayors of a bunch of cities calling the radio stations I was involved with, to demand that we stop our on air promotion immediately, count Jed? I guess they were a little upset thatwe blew out the city’s phone system.

Duane Zimmerman: Love the new email format. Much more engaging. Makes me want to click n look immediately.

Peter McClain: JackMcCoy…….remember RAM? Recycling the quarter hour, etc. etc. It was over when “branding” replaced call letters.

Geo: I think a few of those old tricks may work wonders on the PPM devices that they’re currently using to harvest ratings with, Peter.

For some sneak peeks at some upcoming Geo’s Media Blogs, go to or google Writing Radios Wrongs for a brand new Blog that Bob Christy are doing together about the state of radio today. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and comments like those above are greatly appreciated.


9 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog. (Comments) 12/3/18

  1. Dave Spence said: “George, I don’t know who Hollis Duncan is and he certainly doesn’t know me or the story he attaches to me. While I was there, we never charged for parking.”

    Well, let me refresh Dave’s memory. He hired me in 1976 at the behest of Charles Crossno supposedly to do the engineering, but actually to play politics with Crossno & Dick Smart to frustrate Ron’s engineering needs. That lasted about 6 months and led to many stories but not much benefit to KVIL. Thanks to George, I now know that Ron gained control of the engineering budget and I’m sure that KVIL was better for it.

    Highland Park Village forbade KVIL employees from parking in their main lot. The alternative was to pay for parking under the Village or to pay for parking across the street. Andy wrote a complaint, Dave did his detective work, and Len Mailloux told me all about it.

    • Hollis, Ron didn’t have control of any budgets, only Jim Hilliard did. What Ron had was a lot of influence about any budget that affected programming and engineering was certainly one of those. Parking I don’t know from.

      • I’m glad to hear that KVIL eventually had a budget for engineering – that didn’t really exist when I was there.

        • The only budgets we had at Fairbanks, Hollis, was how much sales were expected to bill each month. If you wanted something you had to ask for it.

  2. You humble me with your comments George. And I’m a Leo (but on the Cancer cusp, so it’s sort of balances out). You and I started out as board operators, then moved into production, but while you moved on up into programming, then management and consulting. I could never have done what you did George, so I stuck with what I knew (expanding into television documentaries as well)….so here’s to production people everywhere…often the unsung hero of any radio station.

  3. I worked at KVIL for 8 years starting at the Park Cities Bank Bldg. Our beloved “Man In The Carpeted Office” Dave Spence didn’t control the parking. During banking hours only customers were supposed to park in the 8 marked spaces on the street level under the bank’s 2nd floor. The wide open Highland Park Shopping Village never charged for parking, nor ever forbade anyone from KVIL from parking there. Unlike these days, I don’t think they had time restrictions and “meter maids”. Sure it was challenging at peak times to find a space there or on a side street.

    As far as an “engineering budget” is concerned, there definitely was not one. Rarely did we purchase any new equipment. The only new gear added between 1972 and late ’79 (before Jerry Klabunde built the Capitol Bank studios) was the distorted audio chain Fairbanks installed with that awful Fairchild spring reverb that made us sound like a 60’s Mexican border blaster. [Now that the statute of limitations has expired, I can freely admit I’d turn that ‘boing-o-matic’ waaaay down unless George or Hilliard were in town. ] Consultant Chuck Crossno also acquired a used Bauer 707 transmitter to back up the ‘nifty 1150′ AM. I also got rid of the old traded-out Sony electret condenser mics that got its phantom power from AA batteries that always died, causing distortion, and replaced the main studio mic with a loaner Shure SM-5B which lasted thru several owners. We cut Whalen’s Pro Audio Sales a check and said we were never returning his mic because the jocks loved it so much. Those now fetch big $$$. Steve Eberhart’s excellent hometown radio station KGAF/Gainesville now has several we sourced & he re-foamed that look brand new.
    Consultant Chuck Crossno purchased a used Sparta/Bauer 707 transmitter as a back-up for the “nifty 1150 AM’ site.
    Not budgeting or planning for a back-up FM transmitter, antenna, or negotiating space at another site (like they now have) bit us in the @$$ one day when the Jampro antenna and a bunch of transmission line over 1,000 feet up on the Cedar Hill tower melted down and we were off the air for 3 days. That lost revenue could have built a couple of new transmitter sites. With the often violent weather, and later, planes & gin pole accidents that toppled several towers, it’s a MUST to have an aux site in North Central Texas. Luckily the Arbitron diary system didn’t reflect this outage. Perhaps because we gave away a new car to the first caller listening on the AM who could come closest to determining the time the FM would return to the D/FW airwaves! (insert my highly over-produced promo here). I don’t believe anyone else in radio has done something as creative in a crisis since.

    As far as vending machines go, I’m “a Pepper”, and the Dr. being their big local competitor, the machine only carried Coca Cola products. I do recall a price hike being one of Andy’s many crusades for freedom, justice, and the American way. I really miss those glory days. We made Fairbanks lots of money, had lots of fun, and the listeners were royally entertained and informed. We truly served the community, not Wall Street.

    • Great hearing from you XRey even though I didn’t understand half of what you said. However, I don’t think Ron would have been half as big without you hanging around the halls of KVIL.

      • Also, what cheaper personality should we have gotten, what Billboard should we have taken down, what jingle should we have eliminated, and what promotion should we have cut back on so we could spend more money on being technically pretty?

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