” PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM “
Cuz I live and breathe
this Philadelphia freedom
From the day I was born
I waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom took me
knee-high to a man
Gave me peace of mind
my daddy never had
After what seemed like forever my long flight from San Diego finally landed in Boston where I was hooking up with Jim Hillard again to begin work on a new project. As our plane taxied to the terminal, I started to think about some of the more memorable projects Jim and I had done together over the years.
One of the more difficult ones was in Philadelphia where we tried to resurrect WIBG. What made this task so difficult was that Jim had destroyed WIBG ten years ago when he was the PD of cross town rival WFIL. After beating them to a pulp back then, he was now back in Philly buying it for pennies on the dollar.
During the late 70’s, the FCC required new owners to meet with community leaders to ascertain what the city’s problems were and to adjust their programming accordingly. To help to speed up the ascertainment part, Jim shipped in most of the corporate staff from Indy. Everything was going as planned until Mr. Fairbanks started to argue with the community leaders. Finally, Jim talked him into going home. I can still see him lifting off from the station parking lot in a chopper with that a shit-eating grin on his face as he waved farewell to us.
Dick Yancey, (pictured) who was my wing man at Fairbanks on the sales side, had the toughest duty of all. Most of his interviews took place in the inner city. You know, the part of the city where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead at night.
One of Dick’s appointments took place in an old department store, but what it was they were selling wasn’t apparent. He was escorted to an enormous office in the back of the store by a couple of big black dudes. The only furniture in the entire room was a desk and two chairs. Sitting behind the desk was an even larger black man who asked Dick, “What the hell do you want?” Dick replied, “As soon as I get over being afraid, I’ll tell ya.”
When we launched the “All New WIBG,” we did it by stunting for three days using some of our best personalities from our other radio stations. We brought in Chuck Riley from Indy, Big John Gillis and The Magic Christian from Boston, Larry Dixon and Bill Gardner from Dallas, and Chuck Knapp ( pictured on the billboard) from Minneapolis. We put them up together in a huge apartment, and I don’t even want to try and hazard a guess about what went on there. All I know is that having dinner with them every night at the Hungry Pilgrim was hilarious.
When the dust settled, Bill Gardner and Chuck Knapp remained at WIBG as Co-Program Directors. Right out of the box, they scored a nifty 6.7 share. Ok Ok, having the broadcasting rights for the Phillies and 76ers may have helped a little.
One day I was approached by Don Cannon (pictured above), who asked if he could use one of our jingles in a film his buddy was shooting. Don claimed that the film, which would be rated PG, was a feel-good movie about a boxer who was training for the fight of his life. The jingle would be played during a scene when the boxer was preparing his early morning breakfast while listening to Don on the radio. It sounded innocent enough, so I thought, “WTF.” Although I did have to ask, “Don, who the hell wants to see a movie about some boxer named Rocky?”