” I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO “
The worst person that I’ve ever worked for as a radio consultant had to have been Bob Price. Bob was similar in style and attitude to a lot of the people who went to Harvard. You know, within ten minutes of meeting them how they always manage to work the Harvard fact into the conversation. Except with Bob, it was his table at “21.” Price never liked me much, and the feeling was mutual, but he showed his affection by firing me several times. Unfortunately, I just wouldn’t stay fired.
This not so sad saga began when Frank Osborn (pictured above) CEO of Fairmont Communications asked if I could meet him at K101 in San Francisco. Once seated in K101’s conference room Frank told me that he was very concerned about the station’s lackluster ratings. He then asked me if I thought I could fix them? I told him that I’ve always loved the San Francisco area, so my only question is, when do we start? Before we can do that he said that I needed to join him in New York where we would meet with the owner and get his approval.
The owner’s name was Bob Price whom we met with at his downtown Manhatten office. After Frank had got through singing my praises Bob’s only comments were that I was too expensive and hadn’t he already paid Frank to do that job. Then he just threw his hands in the air and said, whatever Frank and with a wave of his hand we were dismissed like Hop Sing at the Ponderosa.
OK time to put a plan together to turn K-101 around, so I met Jack McSorley, the station’s charismatic GM and just like that the plan fell in place. I talked Jack into doing our TV commercials which would buy us time to gather an on-air staff and fix the music. The TV spots showed Jack hanging out at the Bay Area’s neatest places saying that he was remodeling K-101 but needed their help and was willing to pay for it. He would then point to all the new cars, boats, and various other exotic things that he was going to use as a thank you gifts. Soon Jack was a celebrity and was welcomed with open arms at all the agencies where the the lady time buyers always found him a little money. Proving once again that ratings are only one of the ways to sell radio time. Our plan worked better than we ever imagined because before the remodeling of K101 was finished, the ratings exploded.
Frank had told me that hopefully, I wouldn’t see very much of him because he only made a market visit when he was delivering bad news. True to his word, the next time I saw him he told me that he was leaving to start his own company. With Frank leaving, Price decides to move k101’s GM Jack McSorley to New York to replace him. Jack, who is not excited about leaving San Francisco tells him that he’ll do it if he can have me involved in the programming of the whole company. I bet Jack’s request was the last thing Price wanted to hear because I’m pretty sure that he was getting ready to waste me the minute Frank was out the door.
Wouldn’t you know it, with things rolling along fairly well, all of a sudden Jack does a Frank. Now with Jack also leaving to start his own company the real dance with Price begins. I guess tiring of training his group heads how to be owners he puts the whole group up for sale. I was probably one of the first people Price told about putting the group on the block when he excitedly called to fire me. A few days later though slightly humbled, he called to say that I was back on the payroll because Jim Hilliard who was buying the group, insisted on it.
Like those who came before him, John also left to start his own company, so Frank put Mark Hubbard in charge. (pictured with me at the top of the page) Mark ran Frank’s other group, so they decided to combine both jobs. Mark and I hit it off immediately which was great because we toured the stations together a lot. It was while visiting KKOB in Albuquerque that we were surprised to learn that GM, Art Schreiber had traveled with the Beatles as part of the news pool. When I quizzed him about how the Beatles managed to resist the charms of all those pretty things? He just laughed and said that the Beatles never resisted any of them and in fact, we were amazed that they still could play.
Our next stop on tour was SFO where we were attending the K101 Christmas party in the ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel. Even today I can still see the look on Mark’s face as our married with two kids News Director as he slow danced by with one of his fellow newsmen. Then when the music director who was holding our sweet young receptionist in her arms went by, Mark leaned over to me and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here before this place gets struck by lightning!”