Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (I left My Heart In SFO) Chapter LIV 4/08/20

I’ve worked with a lot of great owners and GMs, but the worst had to be Bob Price, what a prick. Bob was similar in attitude to a lot of Harvard graduates that I’ve met. You know the type, within ten minutes of meeting them, Harvard always manages to come up. With Price, though, it was his table at “21.”
Old Bob never liked me much, and the feeling was mutual, but the way he showed his genuine affection for me was by firing me several times. Unfortunately, for him, I just wouldn’t stay fired.
FRANK-1

The Price saga began the day Frank Osborn (pictured above) called to ask if I could meet with him at K101 in San Francisco. Once we were seated in the conference room, Frank said that he was very concerned about the station’s lackluster ratings and wanted to know if I could fix them? Seeing as I’ve always loved the Bay area, I told him that I’d like to try, and he said that he’d get back to me.

A few days later, he called and said that we were close to a deal, but I had to meet with him and the owner in New York first.
The owner’s name was Bob Price, and after Frank got through singing my praises, Bob’s only comments were, I was too expensive and that he’d already paid Frank to do whatever it was Frank wanted to do. Then he threw his hands up and said, “Whatever, Frank,” and with a wave of his hand, we were dismissed like Hop Sing at the Ponderosa.

OK, back, I go to San Francisco to meet with Jack McSorley, who was the station’s charismatic GM and put a plan together.
Taking advantage of Jack’s personality, I talked him into doing our TV commercials, which would buy me some time to fix the music and find some talent.

The TV commercials were entertaining; they showed Jack hanging out at various neat places in the city where he was saying that he was remodeling K-101 but needed help. Then he would point to all the cars, boats, and vacation stuff gathered around him and say that these were only some of the gifts he was going to use to thank them for their help.

With all the TV time we bought and Jack’s relaxed style, it didn’t take long for him to become a star. He was now welcomed with open arms at all the agencies where the lady time buyers always found him a bone or two, proving once again that ratings are only one of the ways you sell radio time.

Our plan worked out much better than we ever imagined because before the remodeling of K101 was even half-finished, the ratings at K101, exploded.
When Frank hired me, he told me that, hopefully, I wouldn’t see very much of him because he only visited a market to deliver bad news. True to his word, the next time I saw him after congratulating me on the ratings, he told me that he was leaving to start his own company.

With Frank’s departure, Price decided to move Jack McSorley, to New York to replace him. Jack, who was not excited about leaving San Francisco, told him that he’d do it on the condition that he could have me do the programming for 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.Harper

Working with the Fairmont group, I got to meet some pretty amazing people. Some have become life long friends like the legendary Jim Harper from Detroit (pictured above) Bobby Cole from San Francisco and Mark Hubbard from Cincinnati, whom I would soon meet. (pictured on top with me)

We were having a ball, and things were going well when all of a sudden, Jack does a Frank.
With Jack also leaving to start his own company, I guess tiring of training guys to be owners; Price puts the whole group up for sale. I think that I was probably one of the first people to hear about it when he excitedly called to fire me.

A few days later, though with hat in hand, he had to call and say that Jim Hilliard, who was buying the company, insisted that I be put back on the payroll.
Wow, how exciting and everything was rolling along until the money guys started piling on more and more fees, so Jim walked from the deal.

Once again my phone rang, and once again an excited Bob Price was on the other end telling me that I was fired. I’m sure Bob must have had some really bad Karma going on because he couldn’t win for losing with me. The new buyer was Frank Osborn who also insisted that I be put back on the payroll.
When Bob had to call me back again, he couldn’t resist asking what kind of pictures I had of these guys.

John-Hayes
When Frank’s deal went through, he hired John Hayes (pictured above) to run the group, and I never talked to Price again.
John was a no-nonsense buttoned-down kind of guy, and even though he was very different than most of the guys I’d worked with, surprisingly, we got along well.

One of the first things John did was tour all the stations which were located in Detroit, Nashville, Albuquerque, and San Francisco. When he hit KKOB in Albuquerque, legend has it that when John told the driver to take him to the downtown area and was told that he was downtown, he said, “Then take me back to the Airport.”
Unfortunately, just like those who came before him, John also left to start his own company, so Frank put Mark Hubbard, who ran the small market division of the company, in charge of it all. (pictured on top)

Mark and I hit it off immediately, which was vital because we traveled together a whole lot and I’ll never forget our first visit to KKOB in Albuquerque. While there I was surprised to learn that Art Schreiber, the GM, had traveled with the Beatles as part of the news pool when the Beatles first toured America. Wow, how cool.
When I quizzed Art about how the Beatles managed to resist the charms of all the pretty things that were throwing themselves at them, he just laughed and said, “They didn’t, in fact,” he said, “We were amazed that they could still play.”

Our next stop was the K101 Christmas party in San Francisco, and I can still see the look on Mark’s face as our married with two kids News Director, slow-danced his way by us with one of his fellow newsmen. Then when the music director who was holding our sweet young receptionist in her arms floated by, Mark leaned over and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here before this place gets struck by lightning!”

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (I left My Heart In SFO) Chapter LIV 4/08/20

  1. Jim Harper: Thanks for the memories, George. You tell that story so well I could “see it” in my mind. But then again, that’s what you encourage: GREAT storytelling.

  2. Pixel Fairy: Oh lord. Jack McSorley was one of the grouchiest curmudgeons I’ve ever met. Such a sourpuss. Doing business with him was hellish. (I Left My Heart In SFO)

    Geo: Wow, Pixie, this is the first time I’ve heard a disparaging word about Jack. Are you sure you don’t have him confused with the Captain of the Edmund Fitzgerald?

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