Geo’s Media Blog (KLIF vs KVIL) 11/18/19

Ever since recently attending a KVIL reunion in Dallas, a ton of back in the day memories started coming back like when I was hired out by Fairbanks Broadcasting to be their National PD. Fairbanks had just purchased KVIL in Dallas so it became my first project.

When we launched KVIL we did a very soft opening with a new music system plus a few great Heller Jingles. (Hear them below) Next, and ever so slowly we started adding the air talent beginning with Ron Chapman, one at a time.
The reason we did it so slowly was because we were stalling. We were waiting for Arbitron to combine the Dallas and Fort Worth rating books which would put D/FW in the top 10 and add millions of dollars to the market place. Surprisingly though, the “build your own radio station” concept, which we used as our stalling technique, became so popular that when I became a consultant, I used it to launch the Class/Classy format across North America.

Once the rating books were finally combined, KVIL caught everybody flat-footed when we started unveiling our giant promotions. Our specific target was 30-year-old women so we did very well with the 25-34-year-old ladies. However, they didn’t translate into big 12+ numbers so the trades didn’t write about us. This though ended up helping us because the rest of the radio stations just ignored us. We could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, and we could do it unchallenged.

Our main competition back then was KLIF who had us at a big disadvantage because they were on the AM band back in the day when FM wasn’t cool.
Slowly but surely though, women of all ages began to join us, and before long, if you pulled up at a stoplight, then rolled your window down, you’d hear KVIL drifting out of the other cars at the stoplight like a massive echo.
KVIL was becoming so popular with women of all ages that I’d even win free drinks when I claimed that I could predict a flight attendant’s favorite radio station. I, of course, only did that when I heard that Dallas accent.

The day I’ll never forget, though, was after hearing KLIF launch their big rating contests called “The KLIF Call Girl” and “The Big Snatch.” I thought that we would kill them. However, when the ratings came out, they killed us and it was pretty apparent that I didn’t know anything about ratings or radio.
Thank God cooler heads prevailed, and Jim Hilliard, who not only my boss but also a lot smarter than me, said, “Johns, don’t touch it, it’s perfect.” Sure enough, when the next rating book came out, KLIF went from first to worse and KVIL had doubled its audience and never looked back for over 20 years.

We found out much later that KLIF had started doing music research during that survey, and one of the none musical questions they asked was, “Has anybody contacted you recently to ask about your radio listening habits? If the respondent answered in the affirmative, they won a brand new TV that would be delivered that day by one of the KLIF News guys.
Not only would he set it all up, but he would also show them the correct way to fill out your diary. Talk about community service. 
 

GEO’S LIFE-LINES

The only land America has ever demanded from the countries it defeated in war, was the land where its soldiers lay in rest. 
 
Occasionally you have to fire the bad clients. 
 
Being comfortable is very comforting until it enslaves us. 
 
Sometimes all you need to get through life is a great smile. 
 
Everybody loves to walk through the door marked private. 
 
Folks only pay attention to what you say or write if you generalize. 
 
As the Stones sang, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” However, if you focus and work hard enough, sometimes you can get what matters.
 
I think college athletes should be paid to do endorsements that would back the cheaters a way off. 
 
There are two ways to become successful. Change what people want or change how they get what they want. 
 
The only thing you learn from your victories is how to celebrate. 
 

Genius secretly yearns for fame.

Your rights end right at the tips of my daughters’ noses. 
 
When a man starts losing weight, he’s having an affair with a younger woman. When a woman loses weight, she’s recently divorced. 
 
Do we want to go all-electric with what’s going on in California? 
 
An expired ID doesn’t change your date of birth. If it did, I’d let everything expire. 
 
What memories are you making today?
 

My friend Bob Christy claims that the only reason Jerry Jones isn’t on the sideline coaching the Cowboys is only because they won’t let him drink down there.

Bobby Orr, the world’s greatest hockey player, calls Sportsnet’s firing of Don Cherry, disgraceful.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to the Grey Cup. Go Bombers!
 
COMMENTS

Jed Duval George:  When I worked for you at Fairbanks, you rarely dropped names.  Whenever you spoke, it was to put something into motion or make a relevant comment about the direction you wanted to take the next task forward.  Your blogs fill in the missing pieces of your fantastic journey thus far, but you generously credit all of those who made such an impact in your life. Thank you for the narrative, and keep them coming! (Hollywood Knights)

Craig Walker:
Hi George, Please let Bob Hill know that I remember getting the baseball from him over 40 years ago. I still have it, and I’ve added many Hall of Fame names to it. I have Mays, Mantle, Berra, Aaron, DiMaggio, and several others on the ball. It’s one of a kind. It will be passed on to my son and grandchildren. I have always appreciated his help in getting it to me.
Concerning my advancing years, I’m just elated that I’m still here.  I just wish radio was as healthy as I am.
Stay well, George. (Whose Caddy Is That?)

Geo: Glad to hear that you’re doing well, Craig.

Nick Alexander: George
Your Eldorado story reminded of Charlie Van Dyke, who came to KLIF the Mighty 1190 in 1977 to do mornings for one last gasp for a formerly AM legend. He bought a beautiful black Biarritz when he got to Dallas.
I worked mid-days, and when we looked out the window to the north, there was a KVIL billboard with Ron, Larry, and Seldon. Taped to the window of our studio was a sign with an arrow that pointed toward the billboard. It simply said, “Get ’em.”  :o)  After KLIF, I moved with Edd Routt to Mobile to program WKRG-FM. I took all the knowledge I had learned from KLIF and from listening to KVIL and applied it. We went from a 4 share to a 20.8 12+ in our first book. Flipped the market leader WABB on its ass. A year later I came back to Dallas as Production Director of WFAA/KZEW. That lasted a few years and finally, Dave Spence called me and offered me my dream job, working at KVIL as Operations Manager. That lasted until Mel bought the place and the economy went to hell. Billing dropped significantly and my job was eliminated 2 weeks before Christmas 87. I left radio for advertising, production, and jingles. Best move I ever made. Much more lucrative. But I miss what radio used to be. Thanks for your column. I enjoy it. (Whose Caddy Is That?)

Geo: Ain’t it fun beating up the leader of the market, Nick? When we first launched KVIL, we were chasing KLIF, but before long, they had to chase us. However, we never noticed because we didn’t have a rearview mirror. 🙂

Ron Chapman: I expected a couple of dozen, “It became a “happening.”
Jerry Bobo, Jack Schell, George Johns, Cat Simon,
Terry King, Bud Buschardt, Xrey, Becky, and Heather….. different zip codes and states.  

GM’s and SM’s, DJ’s, Engineers, the “tape cart ops,” and the group from Sales, all wedged together in one enchanted hotel bar. You pulled it off, Jack, and thanks to all! (KVIL Reunion)

Geo: Great seeing you, old friend. “Oh What A Nite.”

 
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 Geo’s Media Blog @ GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.

5 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog (KLIF vs KVIL) 11/18/19

  1. Wow. First I’d heard this story of how unscrupulous KLIF was. Too bad I didn’t know this at the time, because Arbitron would have been VERY grateful to know they were committing diary distortion, or if they technically weren't, maybe ARB would have modified their rules. This is how lame KLIF was in the mid-70s: Driving around one day Becky & I heard the Mighty 11-90 play James & Bobby Purify, I’m Your Puppet. We were talking, not really paying attention to the radio when we were suddenly distracted by the song JUMPING A GROOVE about 2/3 into the song. Now remember, their music was on cart at the time. (How did they not catch this?) So we used to call at various times of the day to request Puppet We requested it numerous times over a year until they finally noticed. Talk about attention to detail. No wonder we beat them.

  2. Fairchild (KLIF’s owner) hired RKO’s Paul Drew to Craft “one last dance” in 1977. I was fortunate enough to be the PD at that time. I was surrounded by a magnificent staff and great leadership under Edd Routt Who was a friend until his passing. while the end was inevitable, it will always remain as one of the text book examples of what a great staff can do when they play to win.

  3. I grew up in Dallas and for me personally there was a big difference between KLIF and KVIL. When I was a kid I’d stay up after my bedtime and listen to KLIF on my transistor radiio under the covers. When I was a young adult I’d listen to KVIL on my bad ass stereo system and on top of my covers. Long live radio!

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