NEW 3 Under Construction

Ever since attending a KVIL reunion in Dallas recently a ton of back in the day memories began showing up. When I was hired by Fairbanks Broadcasting to be their National PD, they had just purchased KVIL which became my very first project.We kicked off our soft launch with a new music system that I’d come up with while working at CFTR in Toronto, plus some great Heller Jingles. Then ever so slowly we started adding in the air talent one at a time starting with Ron Chapman.

The reason we did it this way was because we were stalling. We were waiting for Arbitron to combine the Dallas and Fort Worth rating books which would take the market into the top 10 which would add millions of dollars to the revenue.

Once the rating books were combined, we went full-tilt boogie and caught everybody flat-footed. Our target was 30-year-old women and even though we did very well in the 25-34-year-olds almost immediately, that didn’t reflect well in the 12+ numbers so the rest of the stations ignored us.

Our main competition in the Dallas area was KLIF, who had us at a 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 started to come over to us, and a lot of them even brought their husbands. In fact, if you pulled up a stoplight and there any women in cars, you would hear KVIL drifting out of them like a huge echo. I’ve won many a free drink on the airlines by predicting what radio station was the flight attendant’s favorite, whenever I heard that Dallas accent.

I’ll never forget the day KLIF started running the “KLIF Call Girl” and the “Big Snatch” as their rating promotion, and I was sure that we had them. Unfortunately, when the new rating book was published, they killed us, and I just threw up my hands in disgust because It was pretty apparent that I didn’t know anything about radio. 

Thank God cooler heads prevailed, and Jim Hilliard, who was my boss and a lot smarter than me, said, “Johns, don’t touch it, it’s perfect.” 

Sure enough, when the next book came out, KLIF went from first to worse, and KVIL doubled its audience and never looked back for over 20 years.

We found out later that during that rating period, KLIF had started doing music research. However, besides music questions, they also asked, “Has anybody contacted you recently to ask about your radio listening? If the respondent answered in the affirmative, they won a brand new TV. That TV would be delivered to your front door by one of the KLIF News guys who would also show you 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 was the land where its soldiers lay in rest. 
 
Occasionally you have to fire 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?
 
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: Great to hear that you’re doing fine, 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.

One thought on “NEW 3 Under Construction

  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.

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