Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (inside the world of radio & records) Chapter XXVIII July/17

DIRTY WATER

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Had a lotta fun
at F-105
Where Austin in Boston
made the town come alive.

Show us a sign
ya wanna win free money.
RKO went talk
‘Cause they ain’t no dummies.
Being a broadcaster and not a format guy, the thing I liked best about working at Fairbanks was that I got to play with several types of formats. WNAP in Indy was a kind of hybrid AOR station which Cris Conner and I were evolving from very esoteric to something with more mass appeal. During the evolution, we were trying to remain as au courant as we could, so we did some ultra hip things like the 25th hour, Fantasy Park, 2093 and The King Biscuit Hour to cleverly disguise the fact that the “Buzzard was becoming squarer rather than hipper. In order to cause some talk, we also ran some huge events like the 50% Off Free Fair and the WNAP Raft Race which ended up rivaling the Indy 500.
1621991_10202883162945550_1929459720271059139_nThe raft race was one of the biggest events ever staged in Indianapolis, had to be disbanded after the 9th running because it had become unmanageable. The crowds circled the event were more than a mile deep and had no hope of getting any closer. Thankfully, Dave Fulton captured a lot of what went on at the Buzzard in his Emmy-winning movie/documentary, “Naptown Rock Radio Wars.
While Cris was busy de-hipping WNAP’s music, I was across the hall at WIBC making theirs hipper. Our efforts turned out rather well for both stations as WIBC soared to well over a 19 share, and for the first time WNAP slipped nicely into 2nd place right behind “Big Mamma.”

1939992_10153605575554307_8488698400039150362_n-1Back in Boston at F-105, GM Jay Williams and PD Bob Christy were running a great promotion called “Show Us A Sign.” The F-105 jocks were in the streets all over Boston handing out hundred dollar bills to anyone who had F-105 written on anything. F-105 was everywhere; you could see F-105 on people running in the Boston Marathon, at all the WRKO events, and even on the roofs of some buildings.
The best of them all though happened on a Sunday afternoon when Jim Hilliard and I were watching the Patriots on TV. Jim Plunkett threw the game-winning touchdown to a receiver who came out of nowhere to grab it right in front of a giant F-105 sign. They must have run that clip a hundred times on network TV, and I saw every one of them.
We targeted everything at WRKO who were the big top 40, and the nastiest thing that we may have ever done was retire them. It started out as an on-air campaign where we were complaining about the fact that even though it was pretty obvious that WRKO was done, the mayor of Boston wasn’t doing anything about it. Shouldn’t he be organizing a special day, didn’t they deserve some sort of plaque for their years of service? Hey, do we have to get Cardinal Law involved, it’s not their fault that AM has gone jive, is it? 

We whined on the air for quite a while about all of this before finally saying, “Hey this is becoming embarrassing,” if the city wasn’t going to do the right thing F-105 would. We decided to throw WRKO the biggest retirement party the city had ever seen. We held it at a posh downtown club and invited everybody to join us to say our goodbyes to a once great station. It was a shame that nobody from WRKO showed up ’cause they missed a hell of a party. 

While all these shenanigans were going on, we also had a very controversial morning man named Greg Austin. “Austin in Boston” did a lot of strange things that gave management fits. During a bike race challenge with his newsman in the cordoned off streets of Boston, where thousands watched in anticipation, Austin disappeared down a side street. Three days later when he finally showed up and was asked, “where the hell have you been?” All he said was, “It has something to do with the Beatles, but I’m sworn to secrecy.” Austin also talked to God every morning (using a wimpy little boy’s voice) “God, I’m having weird thoughts about our receptionist,” but what made Management really nervous was when God began responding (in a loud booming voice) “AUSTIN, GET YOUR MIND BACK TO RADIO!”  
However, the strangest thing Austin may have ever done was when he flew to LA to sing “Mammy” on Al Jolson’s star. Unfortunately, because of the time change, it was the middle of the night in LA when it aired in Boston. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally over without incident until he said, “Hey, I just found a massage parlor that’s open!” he just found a massage parlor that was open. When Austin came back on after the commercial break, he introduced us to his masseuse named Trina. Trina must have been excellent at her job because Austin, who was doing the massage play by play, started making some very strange noises. Then all of a sudden the phone went dead. We all thought that we’d lost the connection until we heard, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Trinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

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