” I’VE LIVED EVERYWHERE MAN “
Not done yet
got a couple of chapters to go
About some magical people
I was honored to know
As these ramblings draw to a close, I’m just beginning to realize how good radio has been. I’ve met some brilliant people, traveled all over the world, and have lived in a variety of cities. Some of the places that I’ve lived were more intriguing than others, but all of them taught me something.
Despite growing up in Transcona, I learned that a kid from a small town could make it. While working in Winnipeg, I figured out that if I opened my ears and shut my mouth, maybe I could make a living doing this radio thing. I found out in Saskatoon, no matter what management says, they much prefer evolution to revolution. Sudbury taught me never to be intimidated by anyone. Ottawa was where I discovered that you only need to be surrounded by five to seven like-minded people to become successful. In Toronto, where they made me the station manager, I quickly figured out that you are whoever the guy who signs your check says you are. In Indy, I learned out how to get the sales department to pay for most of the promotions. I discovered while living in San Diego (pictured above) how to do radio without getting my hands dirty. In Austin, I found out that if you bring major league talent to a minor league town, you can overthrow it. Boston taught me how to do country for a city that didn’t want it, and in West Palm Beach I learned how to be a better Dad.
As I look back at my radio career, what I liked to do the most was create the stations’ promotions. Some of them were so unique that I had no idea how the public was going to react to them. For the bizarre promotions, we printed “get out jail free” cards for the GMs. Printed on the cards were the following words, “We never imagined, nor did we anticipate, the public would overreact, as they have, to our fun promotion.” We recommended that the GMs memorize the words so that, when the TV cameras showed up, they could convincingly say them.
One of my favorite promotions was Fantasy Park which we broadcasted on WNAP in Indianapolis. Even though Fantasy Park was a make believe concert that featured live cuts from dead groups, 100’s of people drove all over Indiana trying to find it. Fantasy Park was such a hit that someone from Dallas put it into syndication and won promotion of the year. Across the hall at WIBC (in anticipation of the feds printing new money for the new year), we tried auctioning off the old money. Finally, we had to shut it down because the people wouldn’t stop bidding more than the money was worth.
In San Diego, while doing the Prize Catalog on KOGO, Don Walker (pictured above) needed a promotion for the Double Tree. I suggested doing a drop off party. We told the listeners, “For a final shot at a prize, mark your name and phone number on your catalog and drop it off at the hotel Friday after work. I was hoping for a little foot traffic for the Double Tree and a way to wrap up the Prize Catalog. Damn, now here’s where I needed that “get out of jail free” card. By 4:15, the Double Tree’s parking lot was slammed, their lobby and bars were overflowing, and the highway out front had come to a complete standstill. According to the TV news choppers hovering overhead, Highway 8 looked more like a parking lot than a highway. By the time the police ordered us to shut it all down, it was already too late.
After bringing in Buster Bodine in as PD of KPRI (pictured above), we came up with what we thought was a brilliant TV spot. It featured a beautiful model named Peggy dressed in skin tight orange shorts and a yellow sweatshirt. As the camera zoomed in on Peggy, she said, “Whenever I hear KPRI’s music, I have to dance.” Bam, the music started and so did Peggy. When Peggy became frenzied and started stripping her shirt off, we did a freeze frame on the call letters just as it hit her breasts. We also ran a crawler under the commercial which read, “Peggy takes the shirt off in her new commercial.” What a great TV campaign. There was only one problem, none of the San Diego TV stations would run it. They claimed that it was too risque, but when their news departments heard about the ban; they ran it in their newscasts. Even the newspapers wrote about it and showed a few pictures of Peggy at the freeze frame. Don Walker and his crew quickly took advantage of the controversy and sold “Peggy Watch Parties.” They’d load up a trailer with a giant screen and bunch of giveaways, then hit the bars with Peggy, We’d run announcements all day saying that It should be the public who decides what’s too risque. Then, of course, tell them where they could do it that night.
Oh yeah, and the other commercial where we promised Peggy would take it off? It featured her beautiful bare back.