IT’S PARTY TIME ! (Birthday Edition)

Wow what a party year it’s been so far. It all started out with my daughter Candis telling me that she and Cami were going to throw me a big Birthday party. Next we did Cami’s Sweet 16 party followed by the CKY reunion. Candis told me I could choose any city to have my party in but then I had to butt out. I chose San Diego because of all the places I have lived it is my absolute favorite. The only bad part about my choice was it was likely going to be very difficult for some of my friends to attend.

Candis sent a probe out to see how many folks from such far away places such as Florida, Texas, Indiana and Canada were willing to make the long trek to California. Her e mail stated it was going to be a “Toast & Roast” which brought some very enthusiastic responses from people anxious to settle their own score with me.
The party was on but as I mentioned to my friend and Lawyer Betsy Cameron everybody seemed to be mostly excited about the roasting part, I was more interested in the toasting part. Betsy claimed any of them showing up was the toasting part and I thought this party seemed to be headed in the wrong direction already.
Much later at the “Toast & Rost”Betsy looking as stunning as ever at the “Toast Roast” told the gathered guests that when we first met she eventually had to ask because she was definitely not used to it me why I ignored her most of the time. She claimed I responded with “It’s just my way of hitting on you baby”. Her Husband Barry Smith remarked that after meeting me a few times he definitely knew I was going to be an acquired taste. 
Candis early on had wisely decided what with most of attendees coming from out of town and the subsequent wine consumption the party needed to be at a place close to the San Diego Airport and thought the Hilton on Harbor Island right across from Coranado where we used to live would be perfect so she contacted Charles Wolford Conference Service Manager at the Hilton who immediately said … I’m used to Super Stars bring ’em on!

What a great party it turned out to be and a lot of folks from far away places honored me by showing up such as Canadian Radio Hall Of Famers Gary Russell(pictured below) from Vancouver and Chuck McCoy from Toronto. Gary was my first hire in Saskatoon when I became a PD for the first time and had even interrupted his Honeymoon with his new Bride young Joan to attend my party.
Gary’s brother Chuck recalled the day we sat around my office at CKY many years ago trying to think up a new name for him because he was headed to Regina to become a Rock Jock. Luckily for him The McCoys had a hit at the time and a couple of Chucks were our favorite Jocks.
Another Canadian who made the trek to san Diego from the frozen tundra of Canada was former Group Head of Rogers Radio Gary Miles. Gary graciously brought me an old RCA mic which was a very special gift as I’m sure he knew it would be. He recalled bringing me to Toronto to speak to his group to talk about how to handle talent. After my talk he told me that even though he didn’t pay me for my talk he still felt like he had overpaid me.
Candis and Cami managed to talk Radio Hall Of Fame member Ron Chapman from Dallas into MCing the whole affair. Ron was the perfect choice and spoke about meeting me for the first time at KVIL. He remembered thinking to himself at the time … This quiet unassuming guy from Canada is our ratings saviour you’ve got to be kidding! Ron and his bride the ever lovely and humorous Nance unbelievably made it to the party even though she was having back surgery in Dallas the following Monday. ( pictured above)
Jeff and Jer who had sent a “Hell Yes” response to the invite along with Delilah who commented “I’ve been waiting my whole career to roast George Johns” had last minute complications and were unable to attend.
A few great GMs showed up like Tom Hoyt and Roy Laughlin along with Roy’s famous and beautiful wife Ellen K from KISS in LA and their son Calvin who managed somehow to have a shark float around the room. Tom Hoyt brought my favorite wine with him and thankfully left out the best part of his story.
Bob Christy who had actually seen The Jury perform in Grand Forks long before we ever worked together in radio made a very welcome appearance with his scrumptious wife Jan who gave me one of those full body hugs I love so much instead of what I call the Tee Pee hugs you give to Daughters.
I don’t for the life of me know what happened to all the sales folks I guess they were too busy selling to attend. I’ve always as I’ve said love hanging out with the sales types, I just don’t enjoy working with them. David Wolfe was as close to a sales type as we had there and seeing as he brought with him a nice bottle of Champagne I didn’t feel the need to bring up how all the races we ran in together all finished up. Nor did I mention how he lost my Brother’s brand new Mercedes at one of the races when he left the keys on the front tire.
Jim Hilliard my lifetime mentor was present and accounted for. He reminisced about our long radio journey together that started in 1963 and I think even spent a moment or two talking about the day I screwed him when I went into business for myself. Jim brings this up everyday so why not at my Birthday party too. We first met in 1963 but his telling of all our adventures didn’t sound as huge as I kinda remembered them being maybe he was just trying to be humble for the both of us. Jim’s gorgeous wife Barbara who long ago decided long ago she was my adopted sister continued her lifetime of scolding me for my choice in Woman during her mic time.
My old Radio partner Bill Yde who recently sold his company for big enough dollars that I now spend most of my waking hours looking for documents that still link us together was also in attendance.
Gordon Zlot who has always treated me like family was kind enough to come and brought along Bobby Cole and Brent Farris down from Santa Rosa in his Personal Jet.
Bobby Cole had three great stories ready to go but they were rejected by Ron I hear as not being appropriate for some of the tender ears in the room (my Daughters) Thanks Ron!
Brent Farris Morning Man Supreme brought along several bottles of Sonoma County’s finest with him so he definitely got to speak. Hey surprise surprise even the reclusive radio legend Jack McCoy (pictured below) showed and was in brown and not black for the first time. He wondered out loud if anybody noticed what day it was that I had gone from being a very quiet unassuming guy he used to deal with since 1971 to the obnoxious angry person I am today.
My good friend Reid Reker wisely declined to speak at the affair out of fear of retaliation. I’m sure you can only imagine the many novels worth of stories I have about him ready to go if he should ever talk out of school. Reid of course is the only person in the world not telling me I should write a book.
Candis explained during her time on the mic that one of the early lessons in life she had learned was to never use the words her Dad told her she should use even though they sounded perfect for the situation. Every time she had tried it always turned out badly for her an claimed she was still in therapy for having done so. Reid told her later that he had complete sympathy for her because not only did using the words I told him he should use turn out badly for him too but people even started hitting him.
The party was wonderful and thankfully the Roast I was expecting turned into mostly a Toast because of my Daughters and Niece being there I would suspect which was probably too bad because there were some very funny people in attendance.
Cadis and Cami’s presence at the party finally showed what I have always said which is there are two George Johns’ The one they know and the one my Daughters know. The wimp Candis and Cami know was the one who showed up for the party.
My Brother Reg had brought along a few of his peeps like his computer genius partner Hamid Badiozamani plus his CFO Barb Lovenguth along with Sam James. When Reg spoke he simply leaned into the mic and asked if the person who taught his brother to e mail please raise their hand because he would like to kill him.
I understand the party wrapped around 3 am but I was done at 1.

A lot of very kind things were said about me at the party that night and I felt the love in the room but then again these guys are all professional actors so I’m not turning my back. I wont go into all the drama about when making our way to San Diego Cami had to be taken off the plane in Dallas by 5 paramedics. Oh and did I mention we all went to San Diego a few days early so Daddy could hang out by the pool and relax during his birthday week. Instead spent the whole time shopping with the above pictured beauties.
But all’s well that ends well and it ended very well at Auntie Savvy’s beautiful home the next day for brunch. We hooked up with more family and friends which including Keith James and dined on some fresh Salmon and a lot of other culinary delights which I understand Gary Miles who loves to cook had a hand in preparing.
My Daughters threw a hell of a party and I want to thank them for doing so. It’s the best party I’ve ever been at but I’m getting tired of celebrating Birthdays they just make you older. What I never tire of is hanging out with family and all my good friends. I’m ready to do so again anytime anywhere but at someone else’s Birthday. I’m done!

26 thoughts on “IT’S PARTY TIME ! (Birthday Edition)

  1. A belated happy birthday, George. While I am certain there are many juicy stories out there about you inside your circle of closest friends and associates, to me, other than E. Karl Foulkes and maybe Bob Henneberry, you were the most cerebral programming and promotional gurus out there. (Of those two, you achieved much more lasting success in terms of spectacular station ratings over a long period of time.) I think what has always made you unique is your ability to thoroughly listen, so that when you finally speak, you concisely determine where things need to go. Here’s a toast of cranberry juice (for urinary tract health) and wishes for good health and happy days. …Or, in the words of James C. Hilliard, “Pass the apple butter !”

  2. I’m really sorry I didn’t get to make it to the toast and roast but I’ll bet it was a whole lot of fun and i’m reminded of a taping I once did for a national pubic radio show called “Earplay.” They took new stage plays, and one I performed in at the Dallas Theater Center and at The Kennedy Center, and shortened them for a one hour radio presentation.

    As you know I began my professional career in radio as a DJ before imbarking on a long and strange trip in music, film and television …but….I loved the radio biz and always liked that name “Earplay.” From all I know of your illustrious career in radio you most certainly were the ‘ear player’ they’d bring in for the tough games and to ‘get the job done’ and done well. As Bogie said (sorta) in Casablanca, “Here’s listening to you kid.”

  3. Belated Happy Birthday George!!!
    You said your daughters were giving your a toast and roast birthday celebration and they really lived up to their word by your comments. How wonderful to have so many ol’ friends who love you so much that they flew all the way to San Diego to toast you and be there for you. Now that shows what type of friend you are too!
    Congratulations and remember “Age is a number and ours is unlisted”

    See you soon for a birthday glass of wine. Salude, amor y dinero el tiempo para gustarlos.

    Jo Ann

  4. When Son Sammy brought me straight from the airport to your party at Reg’s I thought it was a nice surprise, as I hadn’t seen you in quite a while.
    Thanks for a nice evening…and by the way,
    “Mr Johns you have some lovely Daughters”.


  5. Belated happy birthday, now you have to do what Shatner does these days collect the lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees. Good reading from Bill it’s Shatners World we just live in it..and you can guess where he’s from..

    • Thank you Lou, Yes Mr. Shatner is also from the Motherland. Seeing as we Canucks couldn’t play Basketball we needed to be able to do something else to to chase that pot of gold rumored to be in America.

  6. George …

    All the best to a great guy.

    While I was reading your eloquent narrative of the happy day it occurred to me that when some of the consolidators in today’s radio have their future birthday parties, I wonder how much love will be in the room. To be successful is to be surrounded by friends who love and respect you — and money is nothing without that.

    It was a treat to hear about a very happy day.

  7. Sounds like a blast, George! I’m sorry I didn’t make it, but I’m perilously navigating treacherous routes to MY next birthday let alone others..;-) Be welll….


    • You would have had a ball Chris, a lot of folks were there that you know real well. I’m going to quit birthdays now they just make you older.

  8. Congratulations, George, in doing what Paul Simon once described as “hanging one more year on the line.”
    Did you divide the crowd into “butt kickers” and “butt kickees?”
    Nice that Ron, King of the Butt Kickers, would MC. But frankly, I’ve always thought that Ron still looks for opportunities to get in front of a microphone. I think I heard him the other day on the Tom Thumb grocery store P. A. announcing that crackers with fake cheese and small pieces of some animal hoof were being served on aisle 7.
    To be fair, with Ron saying it, it made my wife and me hungry!


    • Thanks for checking in Tommy, Ron was just great but also a little nervous. Working in front of your peers is a lot harder than working to your fans. I think Ron still loves the Air Work part but he sure doesn’t miss the 4 am wake up call.
      As far as the butt kickers go I know they all wanted to kick mine, thank goodness my first line of defense were my beautiful Daughters.

  9. George, Always known you to make the best of any situation and it seems that talent runs in your family! Congratulations and a very happy belated birthday. If I need party planners in the future, its your daughters for sure! Amazed that a roast for you lasted only one night. 🙂

  10. Happy Birthday George. You’re one of a kind and all of our lives are better for the experience of working with you and knowing you. I’ve always referred to you as that “Crafty Canadian” which I always mean that in the nicest possible way. (Now where the hell was my invitation?!) 🙂

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