Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Woman. (Philadelphia Freedom) Chapter XXXIX 3/19/20 Under Construction


thisCuz I live and breathe
this Philadelphia freedom
From the day I was born
I waved the flag

Philadelphia freedom took me
knee-high to a man
Gave me peace of mind
my daddy never had

Flying to Boston to rejoin Jim Hilliard for a six-month project was taking forever, so I decided to order another cocktail. As I sat there sipping it, I started thinking about a few of the projects we’d worked on back when we worked at Fairbanks Broadcasting in Indy.

One of the more difficult ones was when we were trying to resurrect the old WIBG in Philadelphia. What made this project almost undoable was that Jim was the one ten years before had destroyed them when he was the PD of WFIL.
However, now Jim was a businessman, and even though we were mostly an FM company, when he was offered WIBG for pennies on the dollar, he couldn’t resist.

Back in those days, when you were purchasing a radio station, the FCC required you to do an ascertainment first. What this meant was that we had to meet with community leaders so we could understand what the city’s problems were and adjust our programming accordingly.
To help speed this part up, Jim shipped in most of the corporate staff from Indy to help out, and everything was going as planned until Mr. Fairbanks began to argue with the community leaders.

The next thing I know is there we are all gathered in the station’s parking lot watching Mr. F board lift off in a helicopter. I can still see that shit-eating grin on his face as he waved farewell to us.

Dick-YanceyDuring the ascertainment part of the many stories I have about the ascertainment part of WIBG’s story, I believe my wingman, Dick Yancey, (pictured above) had the toughest duty of all.
Most of his interviews took place in the inner city, you know, that part of town where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead at night because you soon would be.

One of Dick’s appointments took place at an old department store, and as he was being escorted to the back of the back by a couple of big black guys who looked like bodyguards, it wasn’t apparent to Dick just what they sold there.
When they finally entered this huge office with only a small desk and two chairs in it. Sitting behind the desk was another large black man who said, “What the hell do you want?” Dick replied, “As soon as I get over being afraid, I’ll tell ya.”
ChuckerWhen we launched the “All-New WIBG,” we stunted for three days by using some of our personalities from our other radio stations. We brought in Chuck Riley from Indy, Big John Gillis and The Magic Christian from Boston, Larry Dixon and Bill Gardner from Dallas, and Chuck Knapp ( pictured on the billboard) whom we just hired from Minneapolis.

I don’t even want to try and hazard a guess about what went on in the apartment where they stayed, but what went on while having dinner was hilarious.
When the dust settled, and everybody had gone home, Bill Gardner and Chuck Knapp remained behind as Co-Program Directors, where they scored a nifty 6.7 share right out of the box. Yes, having the Phillies and 76ers helped a lot, but I was and still am, very proud of them both.
One day while I was visiting WIBG, I was approached by our midday guy Don Cannon (pictured above), who wanted to know if a buddy of his could use one of our jingles in a low budget film he was shooting?
Don told me that it was a feel-good movie about a boxer who was training for the fight of his life and assured me that it was family rated.
The jingle, he said, would be played during a scene when the boxer was preparing his early morning breakfast and was listening to Don on the radio. It all sounded innocent enough, so I thought, “What the hell,” but I did have to ask Don, “Who the hell will want to see a movie about some boxer named Rocky?”







3 thoughts on “Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Woman. (Philadelphia Freedom) Chapter XXXIX 3/19/20 Under Construction

  1. Bill Gardner: Still love the “Rocky” story, George.
    Originally, the movie director called WIBG, where he was transferred to the Program Director, me. Told me his “you’ve never heard of him star” named Sylvester Stallone had requested he call WIBG since Sylvester grew up with his Mom in Philly listening to WIBG. They asked me, the WIBG morning guy if I could do the movie cameo…..for their zero budget. I said “No thanks, but that’s RIGHT up the alley of our 9-Noon guy Don Cannon.”
    And so went MY movie acting career. đŸ™‚ (Philadelphia Freedom)

    Geo: The other good thing about the movie, Bill was, we used the same melody for the jingle from WIBC in Indianapolis. So when “Rocky” played in Indy the folks thought the jingle in the movie was singing WIBC.

    • Hey BG – remember how Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” always annoyed Chapman and he claimed every copy we played was allegedly “off-center”? I find out decades later that the recording studio’s master tape machine had wow & flutter. Thank goodness I don’t have perfect pitch.

  2. Geo – Yancey’s ascertainment story cracked me up!

    Do you recall the year KVIL’s license renewal came up and we were required to interview community leaders and address their pressing issues in our public affairs programs, usually buried on Sunday mornings? The late, great newsman Ben Laurie was sent to interview civic leaders in our city of license, Highland Park, TX. They claimed there were no problems such as homelessness or rampant crime to address in their fair city. Ben comes back empty-handed.

    So while some stations were saddled with hours and hours of boring programs to address D/FW’s problems, KVIL handled our ascertainment requirement with the long-running Sunday morning “gab-fest” known as “Staff Meeting”. An unscripted hour with all our jocks, random guests & passersby, and maybe an occasional celebrity recorded Fridays after Chapman’s show with everyone just shooting the $#!+ and commenting on everything from headlines to local market gossip. Good times!

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