Geo’s Media Blog. (I got Lucky) New for 6/24/19

When I read Doug Erickson’s Blog this morning about how fear of criticism makes you shy away from what you know you have to do, it reminded me of when I first moved to America to work for Fairbanks Broadcasting.
If it’s true that the definition of luck is where preparation and opportunity meet, then I definitely lucked out. Fairbanks had just purchased KVIL in Dallas for a million eight which the Dallas radio community thought was totally exorbitant.

KVIL was my first assignment for Fairbanks, and as excited as I was about the opportunity, it wasn’t going to be easy. Unfortunately, back then, very few people listened to FM so it made an already difficult task even more difficult. It was going to take a lot of hard work and a ton of creativity to get the job done, but luckily we already had Ron Chapman in place. We also had my boss, Jim Hillard, who was not only a brilliant programmer but also a brilliant strategist on board.
His plan to design a radio station for the coming combined rating books of Dallas and Fort Worth is the stuff a programmer like me only dreams about. One of the many things that I like about Jim is the fact that he has always had a completely open mind about programming and our job was to test that if we hoped to have a chance at winning.
As I mentioned, I lucked out getting to launch KVIL but another stroke of luck was that all my radio buddies lived back in Canada so they couldn’t hear the station which meant I wouldn’t get to hear any criticism or justify my every move.

Speaking of being lucky, I’d never been to Dallas before, so I’d never heard of the mighty KLIF or any of the other radio stations in the market. All I remember about hearing KLIF for the first time was that they didn’t sound that mighty. Of course, none of them had heard of me either so they just ignored us which meant that we could do anything we damn well pleased, unchallenged.

KLIF’s morning man must have noticed us though because put a billboard up right outside his studio window. He had the distinct pleasure of starting his day by staring at Ron Chapman’s mug every morning. (see above)

The only guy who was hip to our shenanigans almost from the start, was my good friend Tim Moore. Tim was over at TM, working his way up the corporate ladder and listening to KVIL every day, but by the time the rest of the Dallas broadcasters heard us, it was already too late.

Kay-Ville was on fire back in those days and the only thing that could put the fire out was CBS swooping in and paying 86 million for her and as I heard Ron Chapman say on the radio one morning, “Hell, Jerry Jones paid less than that for the Cowboys.”

In those early years we did a lot of crazy things and most of them were done to cause a little word of mouth. You know, kinda like the Beatles did when they wore toilet seats around their necks on stage. However, when we finally got to see them, they were in suits and the KVIL staff were wearing tuxes and drinking champagne by the time the Dallas Media woke up.


85% of the reason a man is attracted to a woman is for visual reasons. However, when we fall in love, we begin to go blind.

It remains a sexist world. We still tell our sons precisely what it’s like out here in the real world but lie to our daughters about it, under the pretense of protecting them.

It’s pretty easy to figure out why the one percenters love consolidation. It rids America of pesky competition just as patents do, but it also cuts expenses, which in turn produces a cheap profit. I for one though can’t understand why the rest of us tolerate it? We’re doing shit!

No law will ever be passed that hurts the wealthy.

I finally saw Bohemian Rapsody and having lived a little of that life when I was a kid; I thoroughly enjoyed it as I will Rocket Man because they bring back a lot of memories. However, I wonder what non-musicians get out of it?

Are the folks who went to Harvard mostly successful because of the education or the contacts that they made?

How come I’ve never heard of any of the places who claim that they’re world famous?

I believe that the only reason Trump didn’t strike at Iran is so he can turn that country into glass when they make another bad move. When he does, he’ll just say to the rest of the world, “Hey I tried to be nice, but they made me do it.”

Last year during the World Series the Red Sox spanked the Dodgers, but this year LA is 12 games out front and Boston is 8 games back. What the hell happened?


Tom Snyder: It’s amazing that Fairbanks radio is still being held up as an example of great radio and management excellence. I lived through it in Indy, but unfortunately, I was working for the competition. It was tough competing with the excellence of Fairbanks.

Peter Zolowski: Sadly, George…there WAS a mass shooting of Congressmen at their softball practice last year. And STILL, nothing happened. If that doesn’t tell you that the only thing they’re worried about is getting re-elected and rich, and nothing else. BOTH sides of the aisle.
Geo: I’m afraid you’re right, Peter, both sides of the aisle take money from the NRA. It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing; it’s a crooked politician thing.

Jerry Bobo: Hey George, Jim, You, and Yancey, brought to all of us at KVIL, a new and fresh way of thinking regarding the business of Radio. We simply listened and put our own spin on it and made great things happen.
Geo: You guys were the best Jerry, and the fact that most of you are in the Texas Radio Hall Of Fame proves it. Unfortunately, when CBS brought their own new and fresh way of thinking to the Dallas party, the spinning stopped.

Doug Chappelle: Like most bands playing in Toronto during the late 50’s & 60’s, ours played mostly the R&B music of the day (nobody played what was on the radio) Stax/Volt, Chess Records and of course those on Fame, the label of Rick Hall who later formed a house band for Muscle Shoals Studio. We played music by Clarence Carter, Eddie Floyd, Percy Sledge, Little Milton and a lot of Wilson Pickett. We were just a bunch of white boys trying to sound like the black musicians who played on those records. Imagine my surprise watching the documentary “Muscle Shoals” to discover that the band “The Swampers” who played on all those records were WHITE !!! So we white boys who were trying to sound black were only emulating a bunch of white guys.
If anyone has not seen the documentary, it was on Netflix and well worth the watch, some great music came out of that place.
Geo: Great documentary Doug, and not only were the musicians white, but they were also hillbillies. I think this proves my theory that when you blend black artists with whites, the music they make is timeless.
Take a listen to “I’ll Take You There,” what could be any funkier than that? Even Aretha’s biggest hit records had mostly white guys playing in the band. Ray Charles used white musicians and singers on his experimental album, Ray Charles Sings Country & Western to keep it from getting too funky. It became his biggest-selling album of all time, but in the movie about him, they showed everybody being black at the recording session, which was an insult to his genius.
Ken LeMann: Forgive me, but I don’t read your blog/memoirs/therapy sessions as often as before. But, in the past, shaming the Right was not something I remember you doing as often as you would ridicule the Left. Maybe you can fill me in.
I agree with you regarding Hillary. She makes my skin crawl, and I wish Bill would disappear as well. Bernie is too far Left, which might make his philosophy unworkable in our country’s present form. Trump picked the perfect time to run, right? And you can expect him to come out of the White House richer than when he went in as well.
Democracy isn’t supposed to move in a straight line. It wobbles down the road – a little to the Left, then a little to the Right. All civilizations inevitably move steadily forward. Conservatives are there to slow it down a little. I’m all for that – to a degree. Both parties (and maybe a third) are essential to do what they do to keep America on track. Too bad they can’t find a way to do it together.
You hate politics you say, join the club. Unfortunately, the name Trump happened to be in the title of your email this time, and I read on. It riles me up when somebody like Liz Crokin tries to convince me that Trump is anything but a clown. Sorry.
How are you, George? Does anyone under 40 still listen to local radio? “Local” used to be the primary ingredient in our recipe. Now, nobody seems to pay much attention to anything but their devices. Then again, I could be wrong. Don’t much care anymore. Let someone else figure it out!
Geo: Wow, one of America’s best mid-day guys who was #1 on WRMF for over 20 years talking smack about politics.
Ken, now that I seem to have so much to say, Jim Hilliard, claims that his biggest mistake was not putting me on the air. I told him that I could never be a host because I’ve only got something to say if I’m irritated or provoked and that’s what politics does to me. I hate all politicians equally but I must admit that the Democrats do stir me up a little more often, so I’m quite sure it looks out of balance.
Jonathon Hayes: It was indeed an honor for me to work at KVIL. I will never forget the lessons I learned and the fun that I had. It is really sad to listen to the radio in the age of voice tracking. The fun, the spontaneity, the excitement….are gone. We had a great TEAM, and in today’s world, there are no teams…just individuals. Thanks, George, for creating a “listening experience!”
Geo: And thank you for your comments, Jonathon. The fact that most of KVIL’s air staff is in the Texas Hall Of Fame explains the “magic” of Kay-Ville and is the reason that every other radio station in town, really only had a shot at #2.
Doug Erickson: George, this is your best post ever! Thank you for sharing such personal, tender, vulnerable memories.
Geo: I’m pretty cold-hearted about most things Doug, but not my daughters. Thanks for the read.
Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs or to see some that you may have missed, go to On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.


Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy S8.


9 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog. (I got Lucky) New for 6/24/19

  1. Every great Radio jock needs a Brian Epstein to become a Beatle. That is the best way I can describe, you George. Someone who can see the potential in others, recognize talent and how to optimize it and then, the most important part: How to manage and HANDLE success.
    Jim hit the nail on the head, George. Wish I'd met you earlier in my career. I met Jim Hilliard when he visited KIMN in the early 80s. Wish I'd met you then too.

    • Now you’re making me blush, you’re an evil man, Doug. 🙂 I too wished we had met in the 8o’s, we could have melted a few cities.

  2. When you first came to KOGO in San Diego, you put me on a plane and sent me to Dallas to listen to Ron and KVIL. Thanks to you, I finally found out how great radio was done. And those George Johns lessons paved the way for a very rewarding 25 more years in our industry. You truly are the wizard, George.

  3. That KVIL staff — and I mean the whole staff, news people, traffic reporter, side kicks — may have been the best air staff ever assembled in one station. There were some WLS staffs that would be up there with you, but daypart by daypart, major and minor roles, there just wasn’t one weak link.

  4. Shame on you George. You didn’t even scratch the surface of Ken Lemann’s remarkable abilities. Some talents are good. Others are brilliant. Ken is amongst the latter.

    • Paul, Ken LeMann is one of my all-time favorite mid-day jocks but he is also the only air-talent that I know who was #1 for over 20 years on WRMF and yet nobody knows his name and of course that’s just how he liked it. I remember teasing him at a jock meeting one day by saying that because of his latest ratings he was going to be the one who got to introduce Fleetwood Mac t at Sunfest. Everybody laughed and Ken said, “George if I could do that I wouldn’t be working here, I’d be in New York.”

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