” LOST IN THE 80’s “
Did another tour
in Boston Mass
Ran on the Charles
and became pretty fast.
Shortly after “Radio For Men” flamed out, Jim Hilliard persuaded me to join him in Boston for a project he was doing for Mr. Fairbanks. His plan which he thought would take about six months, was to pump up WVBF and then sell it to the highest bidder. After he told me how much fun it was gonna be and that he was also gonna find me a place in the Back Bay on the sunny side of the street, who could resist? So I packed up my stuff.
After ordering up a cocktail while settling in for my long flight to Boston, I began to reflect back on some of the special moments that had occurred since I last worked with Jim. After leaving Fairbanks and moving to San Diego to form the Johns company, we also purchased Fairwest (a syndication company) from Mr. Fairbanks who was beginning to ease out of the biz. We really liked Fairwest because not only did Jim West Come with the deal so did a couple of successful formats. One of them was “Music Your Life”, which Al Ham designed specifically for AM radio stations. Our goal was to make MOYL as efficient and profitable as we possibly could by putting it up on Satelite and then maybe also go with a satelite version of the “Class” format.However, this necessitated my spending more time in LA. Luckily, the Satellite company was located near UCLA (where Candis went to school), so I rented an apartment in Westwood.
Candis, instead of having to live in a dorm with a bunch of drama queens, was able to move in with me and Dad got to spend more time with his daughter. Hey, how many parents get to see their daughters that often after they’ve left for college? Arriving at the apartment early one afternoon, I found Candis already there. When I asked what she was watching on TV, “She replied, E!, it’s my favorite show.” When I bragged about knowing the guy who created it, she asked If I knew him well enough to get a tour, I put a call to my friend Lee Masters (pictured above) who said he’d be delighted to see us the next day.
When we arrived at the E! studios the next morning, the receptionist gave me a strange look before buzzing Lee to say, “George Johns is here to see you.” Moments later, Lee with a big grin on his face came out and escorted us back to his office where he told Candis that he remembered meeting her when she was just a young girl. “You probably don’t remember but I stayed at your home in Indianapolis a few times back when your Dad was trying to recruit me. Thank God he wasn’t successful Candis because I’d probably still be honking the hits for him on a station in some godforsaken place.” Instead, he went on to say, I chose to go to WNBC in New York which I hated so much that I quit radio. I ended up at MTV where I helped create VH1.
As we began our tour, Lee said to Candis, “I’ll explain why when we get back to my office, but be prepared for some strange looks when I introduce you to some of the staff when they hear your Dad’s name. Candis loved her backstage tour, and Lee was right, we did get a lot of strange looks. Once back in his office, Lee said to Candis, “I want to show you the videotape that is required viewing for all new employees at E! which also contains the reason you got some strange looks today.”
The video showed Lee sitting behind his desk and thanking whoever was watching for choosing to join the E! family. He went on to say, “Long before I even started thinking about E!, I met a very wise man by the name of George Johns who told me something that I’ve never forgotten. To this day, what he told me is still the very essence of my management philosophy and the cornerstone of our company. ‘Whatever’s happening in the halls will eventually make its way onto the air.’ Your responsibility as you join the “E” team today is to make something good happen in the halls and my responsibility is to take care of the rest.”Lee, who now goes by his given name of Jarl Mohn, (pictured above) and heads up NPR, sent me an email recently stating that he just gave the same speech to all the NPR folks. Now there’s another group of people in America wondering who the hell George Johns is.