Bill Gardner: Great stories on Mr. Fairbanks! Having been a long time employee in Dallas, Philly, and Boston, I now know why he and I never had dinner together or even met. 🙂 But come to think of it, same for Les Moonves during my ten years at CBS!
One story you shared that I always loved was when you told me that back in the ’70s, every year Mr. Fairbanks would request a list of all the employees whose salaries were above $25,000 a year. I always loved that one, true or urban legend?
Geo: Very true Bill. He didn’t think that anybody who lived in Indy needed more than $25,000 so Hilliard would have to justify everyone making more. We corporate people were paid a base 25 grand which kept us under the radar. However, we also got two bonus checks a year which before long dwarfed our salaries. Unfortunately, our family had to live on our salaries but when bonus time came around, we all bought new homes and cars.
Oh, and the dinners you never got to have with Mr. F, I envy you.
James Ford: I love this blog. I remember KLZS in Wichita using the “The station you are helping to build” approach. It was a great concept.
Geo: Thank you, James. The original concept was conceived in Dallas where we were stalling the launch of the new KVIL until they combined the Dallas and Ft. Worth rating books. It turned out so well that I used it at a bunch of different stations all over America including a station I owned in Portland called K103. The folks were so into the concept, that years later some of them would call back and say things like, “I was the one that told you that you should do some news, now I’ve got another idea.”
Doug Erickson: “The only way to be right is by not being afraid to be wrong.” I’ll keep and repeat at some point.
Geo: Help yourself, Doug and thanks for the read.
Don Walker: George, something I learned in a timeshare. If you ask a room full of adults what they like about vacations, their answers will vary. However, if you ask a roomful of kids they only have one answer…Because they’re fun! When I was a kid I loved radio because it was fun…Can anybody say that today?
Bruce Buchanan: Kvil was the only station in which I worked that had an engineer on duty over the weekend during the rating period. I remember having a turntable failure one weekend but one call down the hall and repairs were on the way. I have no complaints.
Geo: No complaints and your name don’t go together easily Bruce.:-)
Xrey: I worked for George Wilson for five years. The KIQQ morning show of Bruce & Tony was better than Rick Dees, but Outlet B’castg didn’t give us the promo $$$ like Gannett had. No TV, no billboards. Just T-shifts & bumper stickers. Very frustrating.
To me, generally, LA has always had mediocre radio. Growing up with Gordon McLendon’s KLIF 1190 as a kid I was glued to my transistor because the music was great, the news, talent, and events were compelling too. By taking those elements to KVIL like Ron did made us great and beat them at their own game on FM. KVIL didn’t have a traffic service. We heard about unusual delays from listeners. I’d use a reverse phone directory to call a business in front of, or near the action. Chapman would put the eyewitness on the air and they’d give us a PxP of the accident scene. Jingle out into “Daniel” or “Seasons In The Sun”. The end. That’s how we did traffic before Suzie & the KVILecopter era.
We *never* ran 15 spot sweeps like pre-Entercom, CBS, and Cumulus. 2:00 MAX, then a song. We were almost always sold out, but the spots flew by before you could punch out because we always teased something. Half the time our follow-up promos teased “the next big something”. (xrey:) “What will it be, Ron?” (RC) “Oh, we’ll figure that out later!”. Some of the greatest promotions happened with random phone calls. We’d put two or three modest ideas together from them and come up with something great.
PS: in my 8 years we didn’t have a “promotions & marketing department” or road crew, or an “HR dept.” or corporate “risk management officer” to tell us how crazy we were and not to do something that turned into something brilliant. “The Man In The Carpeted Office” knew better than to f*** with us or he’d suddenly be working for some daytimer in Mineola.:-)
Geo: When I showed up at KVIL, Xrey, one of the few rules that I brought to KVIL was the one that said, “Thou shall have a new promo on the air every Monday announcing that something special was on the way.” Also every Monday, something new had to begin. As they say X man, “Necessity is a Mutha!”
Jan Hall: Great NEW blog George
Geo: Thanks, Janny Cakes.
Duane: We need to make radio more of a social media form of entertainment. If some genius could create a radio version or Facebook with music, you would be on to something big.
Geo: That will take a real genius, Duane.
Doug Thompson: What amazing memories George. When Donny Burns came to Toronto, was he doing radio? He got to CHUM, if I remember correctly, about 1967.
Geo: No, when Donny left The Phantoms (later called The Jury) in 1964 Dougie, he went to Toronto to record a Christmas record for Arc Records called Cool Yule. When Donny and I played in the band together, we used to be booked by a dance promotor by the name of John Wood. (J Robert) However, none of us had any idea at the time that we’d all end up in radio.
A couple of years ago I got a voice over demo from Donny, it was one of the best I’ve ever heard but I haven’t heard from him since.
Dan Shively: Gordon Zlot and I grew up in Vallejo and both started working at a 250-watt daytime, KGYW/KNBA when we were 12 and 13. I was more interested in on-air work; he was more interested in engineering, although he did on-air work as well. Even at that age, he built a carrier current station at home and we broadcast to the neighborhood from his bedroom. No one deserves the Hall of Fame induction more than Gordon.
Bruce Walker: Maybe it’s just me, but I find that there is now too much advertising cluttering up radio and even more on TV. I just hit the mute button or change stations when it comes on. It seems that many radio jocks are getting lazy and just picking up stuff that has already been done on social media.
I like the deep dive. Things are getting tough when I am actually noting that CBC radio is doing a FEW really interesting stories and great humour programming.
Geo: Yep, radio has turned into just another utility Bruce.
For some sneak peeks at some upcoming Geo’s Media Blogs, go to GeorgeJohns.com or you can google Writing Radios Wrongs to see a brand new Blog that Bob Christy and I are writing together about ths state of today’s radio. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and comments like those above are greatly appreciated.