It’s A Shame… (A Billboard & Retro Radio Blog for the week of June 04 /18)

Back in the day when FM wasn’t cool, Jim Hilliard CEO of Fairbanks Broadcasting paid almost two million dollars for KVIL-FM in Dallas which was considered by the local broadcasters to be exorbitant. It later sold for eighty-five million, but who’s counting and only Mr. Businessman gets to carve that up, our only job was to figure out how to get the folks in Dallas to come over to the FM band.
What we came up with was so unique that within a few years, some version of it was heard all over America. What was so special about KVIL was its jingles, the likes of which Dallas had never heard before, it’s outstanding aggressive air personalities, the locals claimed we overpaid them, but seeing as most of them are in the Texas Radio Hall Of Fame, I think not, its promotions, had the whole town buzzing, and even had the listeners sending us money, over a quarter million as I recall, but once again I say, who’s counting, but mostly it was because KVIL simply played classy music for the classy ladies whom we adored. (to hear us finishing up our first year as America’s first Adult Contemporary radio station, click on the link at the end of the Blog) On air, we treated the lovely ladies of Dallas like they were potential candidates for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
The way we chose to promote our new creation was with spectacular billboards because they made our on-air staff at KVIL look bigger than life. All of our billboards were created in Indy by Norm Wilkens who had a great artist on staff by the name of Lotsy. Lotsy not only did our boards in Dallas but he also did some award-winning ones for our stations in Indy, Philly, Boston, and Palm Beach. However, in Dallas, our first big billboard campaign consisted of one billboard. Not to worry though, we placed that billboard right where it would do the most damage, outside the studio window of KLIF so that whenever KLIF’s morning man looked out at the sunrise, what he saw instead was Ron Chapman staring back at him with a shit-eating grin on his face.(1st billboard below)
Of all the billboards we put up though, some of which are shown below, none of them were more controversial than the one promoting our Elf in the afternoon, Mike Selden. (pictured on top) Who could have predicted that his billboard would end up across the street from a nunnery? I mean what were the odds of that?
The Church, of course, was very upset with us and demanded that we remove the offensive billboard immediately. However, KVIL’s mandate was only to do what our listeners told us to do so we asked them for their thoughts which necessitated them driving by the board before being able to comment on it which caused some problems leading to the newspapers and TV covering the situation. Eventually, due to popular demand, we finally moved Mike’s board to another location which the Church was nice enough to publically thank us for doing.
However, the billboard that was the most fun of all was the one that upset all the other radio stations in town. This one appeared in full color on the front page of The Dallas Times Herald with a headline that read, Mayor, Moonlights on KVIL. The billboard featured Ron Chapman and Wes Wise with the slug line, Wise with Ron. On the board, Ron was toasting the Mayor with a KVIL cup of coffee, and the Mayor was handing the keys to the city to Ron.
Oh and don’t get me started on the insurance nightmare we had with our billboard at the freeway exit to downtown Dallas. This one read, “The Big Swing is to KVIL” and featured scantily dressed young ladies taking turns swinging several stories high above the traffic. This was happening during Ron’s morning show, and It turned the exit into a parking lot. The bad news was that before long the police were yelling at us and demanding that we bring the girls down. The good news, however, was that once again we were on TV and in the papers.
Then, there was our billboard that inflicted a lot of damage on one of our fellow broadcasters. In the quest to get the folks to get the folks to move from AM to FM, KNUS were doing their part with the younger crowd, but shortly after KVIL became #1, they made the mistake of putting up a bunch of billboards claiming that they were the Top Banana in Dallas. This pissed off our owner Richard Fairbanks who retaliated by buying up all the locations in front of their billboards to post what you see in the black and white photo below. Sing along with me now or better yet, click on the KVIL jingle link at the bottom of the page to hear them all…

“It’s a shame
what’s happened to radio
but they can’t afford
to do it anymore
.”

“It’s a shame
they can’t hire
a section of brass
be so much class
on KVILLLLLLLL”

“But they can’t afford
to do it anymore
It’s a shame.

Ok Now Back To Radio & Records And Some Juicy Politically Incorrect Bog Stuff…
Perfection is the only unattainable goal worthy of your pursuit.

Even though great acts go out of style, great songs never do.

I wonder what America would be like if we had as many political parties to choose from as we do radio stations and automobiles.

Nobody ever talks about how easy it was for them to become rich. They just whine about how poor they were and how hard it was to succeed, hoping I guess that we don’t notice that they don’t share.

If females are so wonderful, how come mothers won’t let them anywhere near their young sons?

I loved that 15-year-old Brynn Cartelli won The Voice. I was beginning to think that I’d I lost it because the judges only seemed to love the singers who howled and did runs.

Speaking of The Voice, I wonder if Ed Sheeran would have any chance of making it through the blind auditions?

I wonder who it is at the networks who decide what we see and hear on the news and maybe even more importantly what we don’t? I’d like to tell them about how Walter Cronkite would do it because I believe he’d kick their ass.

The smartest thing a good director can do is stay out of the spotlight.

Laws aren’t about doing what’s right; they’re just laws.

All that counts is who gets to call the shots not who gets the credit.

Jim Hilliard once told me something that is very evident today. “It doesn’t take any brains to buy a radio station, just money.”

Does it offend you as much as it does me to subscribe to something only to discover that they’ve automatically jacked up the price because you had the special introductory rate which you were never aware of?

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it bad.

One of the realities of consolidation is that when you add up the ratings of the radio stations a company may own in a given market, more often than not they don’t equal what one of their stations used to have.

I see that the Red Sox still have the best record in baseball. Go, Sox!

For a sneak peek at upcoming music blogs, sports blogs, romantic blogs, retro blogs, satire blogs, business blogs, lifestyle blogs, and past radio blogs, politically incorrect blogs, manly blogs, family blogs, and some sex drugs and rock & roll blogs, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter@GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.

 

14 thoughts on “It’s A Shame… (A Billboard & Retro Radio Blog for the week of June 04 /18)

  1. What a great piece of historical creative entertainment! From the clever contests and promotions to the jingles and the jocks! I remember it so well…we could sure use it today. Thanks for sharing George!

  2. Atta Boy, Geo……..what a rush all this creativity produced, making Our “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” feel so special & loved…….

  3. Remember the all night news guy Bob McNeil at WVBF? Bob loved the Red Sox, he went to every home game, using his press pass he got audio from the locker room and became the players favorite reporter. The Red Sox played the Reds in the 75 series. Before the series started the Red Sox front office called and asked how many tickets do you need for the World Series? I asked for and got 20 pairs per game and got them. We were the only Boston station with World Series tickets, you remember because you and I went to the Carleton Fisk home run game. Later when I was at WHDH, Dave Croninger asked me, “How the hell did you get those World Series tickets?” WHDH was the flagship of the Sox network and didn’t get any.. I said to Dave, “Did you ask for any?” Old Dave thought for a minute and said, “No.” When we gave up the Sox at WHDH, we did keep the flagship station seats, the box seats where you could put your feet up on the Sox dugout, but that’s another story and similar to WIBC keeping the Indy 500 suite after Sconnix bought the stations.

  4. Remember Z97 in 1978? We found out how good KVIL was. But we made a great attempt. We stung you a little bit for a little while. Chapman was trained by one of the best , Gordon, on KLIF. We trained under the other best, Todd Storz.
    I think Fairbanks and class ran together in all their markets.

    • Thanks for the read Peter. You’re right about Todd and Gordon, they were the best. Without them, as bad as radio is today, I doubt there’d be any. They saved it.

  5. George, I remember when Hugh Heller delivered the 1974 WIBC and WNAP jingle packages to 2835 North Illinois. After his meeting with Jim (and maybe you) in the middle of the day, Hugh migrated downstairs to the WIBC production studio where I was carting up the new jingles. (Of course, Hugh always had so many variations, you, I think, had marked the box with the first choices). There were two 10-inch reels at 15-i.p.s. Hugh and I carted them “flat” as he had talked to Dick Smart about WIBC’s (and WNAP’s) equalization / processing, so they really did not need any tweaking. They were perfect even the short logos, and blew away any record, any commercial, and if the announcers were not outstanding, the jingles would blow away the talk. The best of the bunch were “It’s A Shame What Happened to Radio”, “When You’re Leading The Parade”, and “It’s A Nice, Little Sound”. Hugh said “It’s A Shame…” was an homage to the big band radio days of his Golden West days at KSFO and KMPC. I do not think he could imagine the horrors of what was to come after the ownership limits went away. WIBC’s 1974 Heller-Hamilton package was great, but “Big, Bad, Better K-V-I-L” was superior to the Indianapolis versions.

    • A couple of reasons for that I think Jed. The singers can spit the K out where a double You has too much of a fun rhythm to it. Also stereo opened KVIL’s jingles a way up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *