I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of radio legends during my years in radio, but the most memorable has to be Jack McCoy.(pictured with me above) I’ve known Jack since 1972 when I was with CFTR in Toronto and bought his “Last Contest” which necessitated that my counterpart from Hamilton, Chuck Camroux and I having to travel to San Diego in the middle of winter. (oh darn)
Upon our arrival at our hotel in Mission Beach located right on San Diego Bay where Jack had booked us a two-bedroom suite it was warm and sunny and I remember thinking, “Man, I gotta live here someday.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the air conditioner so I called the front desk to ask for help, they said, “Walk over to the sliding glass doors, open them, and then let God do his thing.
Bright and early the next morning, Chuck and I excitedly headed to the KCBQ studios which were located in Santee to meet Jack and get our promos cut. What I remember the most about that meeting was how much Jack reminded me of Clint Eastwood. He wore a leather cowboy hat, boots, and a Mexican a poncho. Hell, he even smoked those small cigarillos as Clint had in those spaghetti westerns. However, his voice though sounded more like Rod Serling’s than it did Clint’s.
Now here’s where it gets a little crazy because after interviewing Chuck and me for a little while about our stations, he completely ad-libbed the promos which blew me away.
A couple of years later when I moved to Indianapolis to become the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting, Jack now owned a research company called Ram Research but before buying any of his stuff, I insisted that he cut me some promos.
Taking no notes, he would begin our sessions by interviewing out of me, just what it was that I was trying to communicate to my listeners? Then he’d have me bring him all movie soundtrack albums I had and after listening to a few cuts he’d say, “Ok, I’m ready … Roll tape.”
As I said, Jack never took any notes, because as he explained to me, “If you take notes, you’re not the consultant, the client is.
It was amazing to sit there and listen to him describe poetically what I wanted to say in the promo. He’s always claimed that the words came to him from the music and even though I’ve seen him do it so many times, I’m still amazed by it to this day.
Jack, since I’ve known him has always been more comfortable inventing things like green yachts, or coming up with some form of new research than he is doing promos which is unfortunate because it’s what he does best. Hey, our industry could use a few great promos right about now don’t you think?
Jack is ambivalent about things that would scare the hell out of most people, but like all gifted people, he is also very vulnerable. This vulnerability may be the reason that he’s always insisted that I stay in the studio with him when he’s recording my promos. He likes to watch my eyes as he ad-libs his way through our sessions because he could tell how the session was going from the look in my eyes.
Almost ten years after our first meeting, I got to live my dream when I moved to San Diego to start my own company. Hell, I even lived in Coronado which was where Jack lived so I got to hang out with him aboard his 65ft ocean-going yacht which was docked near the Hotel Del.
Here’s to Jack McCoy, the best I’ve ever worked with. Love Ya Man!
(To hear Jack adlibbing his way through some promos back in the day, click on the links at the bottom of the page.)
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Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs or to catch up on some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.