After a long flight from San Diego we finally touched down at Logan where I was more than ready to begin my new six month adventure with Jim.
Little did I know that not only would I still not be back in San Diego some twenty years later, but I’d also have a new daughter.
Jim had rented me a place in the Back Bay which was within walking distance of the Prudential Tower where WVBF was located so I had no need for a car. I instantly clicked with Tim Reever the station’s sales manager mostly because like me was an avid runner so we ended up running a lot on the Charles together Tim was a buttoned down kinda guy who was really into systems, but knowing Jim as I did I figured that it wouldn’t be long before Tim would be done with all that and chasing gross billing instead. Systems just didn’t provide enough money to satisfy Jim’s insatiable hunger for big dollars and to this day Tim and I still laugh about the time when we were running together he was begging me to help him talk Jim out of his unreasonable demands. I had to explain to Tim that it was a hell of a lot easier to give Jim what he wanted than to try and talk him out of it. Tim was a quick study though and before long we were dreaming up some money making events that were designed to attract crowds and also taking advantage of some big events that were already going on. One of those money making special events was our involvement with the granddaddy of all races, the Boston Marathon which was tough to get involved with. The finish line was located right near the our building so Tim talked Jim into letting him rent the sidewalk out front which cost an unimaginable $50,000 for one day but he cut Hilliard a check for a half a million dollars. Once you live in that kinda rare air I rather doubt that you could ever embrace systems again.
When Jim and I hit WVBF, our goal was to pump it up as fast as we could so that was gonna take ratings. We already had the great Loren & Wally in mornings (pictured) so we brought Jeff McKee in from Austin to do mid days and Tom Doyle over from WHDH to do afternoons and for nights I found someone very different sounding from Seattle by the name of Delilah.
I’ll never forget Tom Doyle’s very first day when Jim and I happened to be walking by the production studio where he was chatting with Loren & Wally so we pop into the studio to say hi. Jim quickly says … I’ve got a lotta money tied up in all you guys, somebody better make me laugh pretty quick and even quicker Loren says, “show him your dick Wally”
Toney also wanted me to offer up suggestions on what I thought I would make the promotion better so I’m sure my presence at those meetings was a joyous occasion for the staff.
Our last stop on this particular tour was at KLSY in Seattle and I was just wasting time in the board room after the meetings leafing through the Seattle rating book as Toney finished up some station business with the GM. At some point the Gm told Toney that he was going to have to make a change at night and get somebody younger and hipper in there because the woman he had in there sounded too syrupy and not very radio. As they chatted I just glanced at the night time ratings and surprisingly discovered that her ratings were bigger than their morning ratings which is unheard of. Shocked, I interrupted their conversation with … Excuse me but unless I’ve forgotten how to read a rating book it appears to me that your night time numbers are huge. The GM responded with the fact that they used to be even bigger but they were now starting to slip so it was time to move on. Toney who loves big ratings suggested to him that maybe he should get me involved with whomever was doing the show because … Talent love George and George loves talent. That night I sat in with the host whose name was Delilah (pictured yesterday and today) and was simply amazed at how it all went. Her phones were all lit up like a Christmas tree and her show was filled with calls from lonely women who called her to talk about not only their love life, but all kinds of topics and Delilah kinda came off like a street corner psychologist. The way Delilah worked was, she would tape the calls and play back the better ones and the only advice I gave her was that she should play back some of the more controversial calls that she tended to shy away from.
Delilah’s GM was right she didn’t sound very radio and in fact has a certain magic in her voice that makes women trust her. Most radio people who are aware of her have a love hate thing going with Delilah, they love her success but hate her sound. The last time I checked though she makes more money than most of them put together. I think a lot of the reason she’s so successful is because she has lived most of the bad life her listeners are calling about and can spot a phony on her phone in a nanosecond.
Back when she first met me she would send me tapes for me to critique, but mostly I’d just try and get her to push her boundaries as far as she could. All seemed to be going pretty well until I got a call from her GM who fired me because as he said … Since you started working with Delilah she even sounds less radio than she did before and he was right, so of course I hired her for Boston.
Within a few months Delilah became legendary in a town filled with legends and the rest is history. She is now syndicated on over 200 stations and does her show from her beautiful ranch/farm in Washington state where she lives with her husband and a bunch of adopted kids from all over the world. She also spends most of her vacation time flying water and essential supplies to the folks in need who live in very poor 3rd world countries.
I hadn’t seen Delilah since we worked together in Boston, but I bumped into her at the opening cocktail party of a broadcasting convention a few years ago. She had just been signed by Premier Networks so she was there to promote her new show which they’d be rolling out shortly. After congratulating her on her new deal I asked if she still had all those homes she owned in Seattle. She explained to me that her new deal was so good that she gave all her houses to her staff. Hey put that in your pipe and smoke it Mr. Business Man!