Robin Solis: I spent about five hours each day writing original material for my next show. Your description sounded so familiar. I used Boardroom publications…can’t remember the monthly newsletter title. Spin magazine, SF Chron and San Jose paper to inform, educate, localize and write that punchline and at least one artist tidbit and hour. It’s damn hard work, but my PD told me that he couldn’t wait to hear me Crack the mic. I was also paid the lowest full-time salary…which made the work even harder. But when the psychological abuse started, I quit.
Geo: We would have kicked some major ass together Robin because you seem to be like one of my all-time favorite jocks, Bill Gardner. Bill memorized the punch lines of every joke he’d ever heard; then he’d go to the local newspaper to find the perfect beginning. This not only made him very funny but also very local.
Jim Harper: Great blog post, Buddy!
I have always felt the same way about morning prep-service, but NOW the whole idea of a prep service seems like a waste of time and money. They were started years ago before the internet. Now, every civilian under 60 has read every interesting little feature story and showbiz update on Facebook, Twitter and the web before they leave for work, as well as all the local and national news they care for.
WHY would anyone pay to have some 20-something stay up all night on Red Bull clipping stories that they send out to hundreds of stations? If management doesn’t have confidence in their own talent to let them do their own prep, why hasn’t any of the companies hired a couple of people to do a general top 10 list of things to talk about each morning for all their formats? (There really are LESS than ten things that are new to cover each day). Why not a V.P. of morning prep? The big groups have no shortage of Veeps, Captains, and Cluster-Monkeys…why not save a few 100 grand.
Geo: I’ve never been partial to manufactured humor, Jim.
Ron Below: As Midwest Regional Promotional Manager for about a decade for various labels, I never had the pleasure of crossing paths with you until my strange side journey at WNAP. So, as a “once was” record guy, what does it take to get into your exclusive circle of record guys :-)? I only crossed Charlie’s path a couple of times at industry events, but he was very well known to just about anybody, connected to or in the record biz… magnetic charisma, more than gracious host, beautiful women around at his beckon call, quick to pick up the tab and all the perks that record/showbiz (radio) enjoyed. If the perfect Record Man Robot came out of a machine, it would be a clone of Charlie Minor.
Geo: Mr. Below the first record guy I ever knew was Al Mair in Canada who when I was a first time PD, he flew all the way out to Saskatoon to by me dinner. When I asked him why, he said, “Cause I don’t think you’ll be here that long.” I met Doug Chapelle in Toronto where he always brought me good information on a record and never lied to me. Charlie Minor tracked me down when I was at Fairbanks and over the years did me a lot of favors including hiring my daughter Candis as his assistant when she graduated from UCLA. When I also asked him why, he said, “If you’re about to add a record and your choosing it from the three most qualified, and one of them is mine, I want the nod. Jerry Brenner was a good friend of my brother Reg so eventually we hooked up.
Sadly, Charlie and Jerry are both gone but Al and Doug are still standing tall and I’m in touch with both of them.
Steve Eberhart: If the TV networks were located in Dallas, their perception of America would be quite different. How many times do you see a news story that occurred in New York on the national news and think, if that happened here it would never make the national news. They report what they see, and it is often tainted my perspective. (American Airlines learned this concept a LONG time ago when they moved to Dallas and look how they’ve done!)
Geo: Good point Steve, LA, and New York just assume that the rest of the nation cares about what’s going on in their towns. NOT!
John King: George, my favorite Ron Chapman story: he gave away the prize of a 240Z to the wife of a contestant, who called in because her husband, who had entered the contest, was on the flight line and couldn’t respond to call within the required time. Ron asked me, KVIL’s FCC lawyer if that was okay. I said, “Well, no, because the contest rules required the person who entered the contest to call personally.” What did Ron do? He took it to his audience, asking, “Should we take the car away from her?” Then he did the classiest thing: he let her keep it, and . . . Gave another car away! No one ever out-classed KVIL.
Geo: You’re right John until CBS purchased KVIL, every other radio station in town was only playing catch up because KVIL owned the promotion category. Mike Bader as you knew was our counsel at Fairbanks but unfortunately, every promotion that I ever came up with, he’d turn down. Finally, I blew up at Mr. Fairbanks about it (how ballsy was that?) and the next thing I knew I got to deal with you. I’ll never forget the very first promotion I ran by you, I had all my I’s dotted and my T’s crossed, but in the middle of my passionate presentation you interrupted me and said, “George George, tell me this, are you planning on giving away the prize?” When I answered yes, you said, “Then get on with your contest, stop selling it to me, sell it to your listeners.” 🙂
Doug Erickson: George, I had the most delightful conversation with Jack Schell earlier this week. We had never met. Bill Gardner gave Jack my number. From the instant he answered the call, he had me laughing. Half an hour with him provided more entertainment than I’ve heard on all American radio stations I’ve heard this year combined. Pick the market, pick the talent — Jack would draw higher ratings within a month. That airstaff you assembled at KVIL will never again be duplicated. Simply the best talent ever collected on one radio station.
Geo: With that lineup Doug, it would have been harder to lose. Winning was easy!
Ivan Braiker: George, I believe looking at deregulation as the killer of radio is surprising, especially for you. Radio was slow to adapt to new tech and opportunities and most importantly, not fully understanding that their only way to survive was with TALENT and by creating compelling content. Radio was crippled by short sited and cheap operators, not deregulation! My vent. 🙂
Geo: I hear ya Ivan, but it was deregulation that attracted the cheap operators to our business. This, of course, led to the demise of some great radio stations and I for one wish Monica were a little better in the sack. If she’d come up with a few more special tricks like her cigar number, maybe she would have kept Bill too busy in 1996 to sign the Telecommunications act.
Jed Duval: George, when I worked for you at WIBC, I thought you were the Zenmaster, because you never yelled, even when displeased or tired from all of the travelings. You led by example. You were like a wise rabbi as if you had seen and heard it all because you could communicate in few, well-chosen words. If I asked you a question, usually, you responded in a short, pointed question that provoked thought and insight…simple and direct. When I worked for Jim in Tampa, I, too, enjoyed working with Jerry Bobo, who was in many ways, very similar to you…simple in expectations (to be the best) and always direct. I do not recall that you lost your temper upon your return when “Wild Willie” (Bill) Hennes occupied your office before going to Philadelphia to join Burt Sherwood to be his “Ernie” to Burt’s “Bert.” You may have expressed your feelings to Jim Hilliard, but you kept your countenance and stayed cool, to wait for the inevitable collapse of the Sherwood / Hennes regime at WIBG. I don’t recall hearing a discouraging word on that sorry situation. That is very much in contrast to some of the consultants and grand poohbahs’ at R.K.O. General that I encountered in 1980, whose rants and raves were inversely proportional to how successful they were.
Geo: Jed, I wasn’t always calm and collected and did lose it occasionally, especially in Boston where sometimes I would get so mad at the sales staff, I would start yelling and throwing stuff. Jim who would be on the phone in his office would just get up and close the door. When asked later why he tolerated my, he would say, “I hate it when he does it, but when he’s done, something wonderful always happens.”
Warren Cosford: George Johns and I grew up in Radio together. But we were always apart. He was at The Rock station…CKY in Winnipeg, I was at The MOR station….. CJOB. Competitors …..but not really. George even invited me over once to taste his father’s Chili.
George played guitar in one of Winnipeg’s best Bands. I played drums in a couple of Winnipeg’s worst Bands. But I won all the awards in Toronto for Commercial Production.
I was at CHUM when George launched CFTR which grew into CHUM’s toughest competitor. Then he went to help create The Fairbanks Chain which became one of America’s great Radio Companies. Yet….every time CHUM produced a Rock Documentary, George was just fine with us using one of his Jocks, Chuck Riley, for the narration.
A few years ago, George invited me to The CKY Reunion in The ‘Peg as an “honourary” Employee.
Today, mostly in retirement in Florida, George keeps us up-to-date on his life through a Blog featuring a series of “truisms” on life. I thought of George the other day when I came across one that, for all I know, he may have composed. Journalism is printing what someone else does not want to be printed. Everything else is Public Relations
Here’s to you George. Let’s not wait to get together until all we can do is have a wheelchair race at the next Reunion.
Geo: Back at ya Warren!
For some sneak peeks at some upcoming Geo’s Media Blogs, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is much appreciated.