Growing up in radio as I did. I was confused by some of the people who also worked there. My first mistake was in thinking that we all wanted to be #1.
I used to waste hours arguing with the engineers about why my station had no highs, why the carts wouldn’t start, and why the mic sounded so tinny, amongst a ton of other technical stuff. However, when I finally got into FM, the part about the highs went away, but not the other stuff.
As I moved from station to station during my career, I discovered that for whatever reason, the more unsuccessful the station, the more powerful the Chief Engineer was.
Unfortunately, the only radio stations that would hire the likes of me were the unsuccessful ones so I got to see a lot of engineers. Not only was I arguing with them about engineering things, at the staff meetings they’d be in my face about the station’s music and promotions.
At some point, I realized that they belong to a fraternity who share everything with each other. None of your secrets are safe with them and the quickest way to get them the hell out of the meetings was to get some ratings. Color me motivated.
The notable exception was Dick Smart (pictured above, 2nd from the right) who was the corporate engineer at Fairbanks. He’d challenge me almost every day to come up with something he couldn’t solve. R.I.P. Chiefy, I miss you, man!
Now salespeople are a whole other animal. My love/hate relationship with them began when I was a production board op at CKY in Winnipeg. One of the sales folks would sneak his orders to the top of the pile whenever I was out of the room. That was bad enough but his stuff was also very difficult to do which was also irritating. However, it didn’t compare to the rage I’d feel when after pulling off one of his more difficult creations, he’d reward me with a single movie ticket
When I became a PD for the first time, after a lot of hard work and a lot of luck, my station went #1. However, the sales folks claimed that they couldn’t sell it so management ordered me to change it back. I chose to walk instead.
Consequently, it feels like I’ve been doing battle with sales and engineering my whole life but at least now my confusion is gone. I finally figured out that they don’t work for the radio station, we just pay them. Engineering answers to their fraternity and sales work for the clients. Don’t get me wrong though, outside the station, most of the sales folks are a lot more fun to hang out with then the air talent, but inside the station #*%^#^%*.
Notable exceptions, Tom Skinner, (just below Dick Smart) Jerry Bobo, (on the left) Dick Yancey, (middle) and Tim Reever. (on the right.)
Courage becomes easier to conjure up every time you use it.
Can you imagine what it must have been like when you had to deliver pizza using a map?
Sometimes the question is more important than the answer.
Hollis Duncan: George, I can understand why you would not remember me. We were in the same room at KVIL maybe twice, once in the production Room with Terry Munn and Jack McCoy, but I don’t think that we were ever actually introduced. Larry Reid & I were like flies on the wall who got to sit back and watch you at work.
Mike Rey, who kept KVIL Programming running and well-organized, is a huge fan of yours and would fill me in on the cool ideas that you had for KVIL – the Daily Sheet, the People’s Choice Contest, and others that I don’t remember. I watched much of the second or third year of KVIL and witnessed the results.
I do know that your visits would inspire Ron and he would be full of new ideas that would involve Engineering. I had a great relationship with Ron and I was always happy to help but was usually stymied by Fairbanks Engineering Politics. More on that in a later episode.
Geo: Sorry Hollis but you’re right, I don’t remember you. However, I sure remember Heather. 🙂 Ron and I also had a great relationship, in fact, we could almost finish each other’s sentences when we talked radio. Case in point, when he’d pick me up at DFW, we’d chat about a lot of things on the way to my hotel. As we chatted about the Cowboys and other stuff, KVIL, of course, would be on in the background and upon arrival at the hotel, more often than not, Ron would point at the radio and say, “Oh, and that will be all fixed by tomorrow night.”
Randy Michaels: The planets are not perfectly round, and fission theory that says that the moon once part of the earth is only one theory. The planets were superheated liquid when they were formed, thus the shape, but the gravitational pull of other plants keeps them from actually being round. The earth is actually an oblate spheroid.
OK, I’d rather discuss a Gretzky plus one. (We’re Becoming Animals)
Craig Hodgson: When I worked for Jimmy, he wore custom made shirts without a pocket so he could come down to the studio floor at some time during the day on his “stroke stroll” and borrow my cigarettes, as he searched for his in his perpetually missing pocket. I was making $200 a week and he had a Lamborghini parked out back. What’s wrong with this picture?
Geo: Craig, you mean like how he used to stand in front of the coffee machine and say, “Does anyone have change for a hun?” (Oh Jimmy Where Art Thou)
Robin Garrett: George you take an awful lot of liberties with misquoting people to fit your agenda. I never said you are raising your daughters incorrectly. What I specifically said is today there are very few young men out looking for a young princess that has to be taken care off. Hell, it’s no longer the time where men have any incentive to get married… they even have kids without marriage. I know plenty of men with kids (even daughters) but NONE go on and on about their daughters the way you do. And I’m pretty sure all those dads love their daughters as much as you do yours. Which brings me to something my dad once told me… sometimes less is more.
We’ve been friends a long time (since before Cami) and for the first few years, you never told anybody she even existed! What I said, for the record, was stop blogging so much about your daughters and start at least giving an honorable mention to your son, Curtis. Yes… impart your wisdom on us mere mortals about raising your son too! (Daughters Are Boring To Some)
Jim and Barbara Hilliard: Cami, from a quiet, little girl, to a shy little lady, an inquisitive and exceptionally bright teenager, and now a beautiful young woman, all in front of our eyes! Take the training wheels off, it’s time to steer on your own! And you’re ready! We applaud your graduation and wish you continued success on your next and exciting adventure. If you were a tree, you’d be a peach. They’re the sweetest! (Camera Anne Johns Summerfield Graduates Today)
Reid Reker: Jack McCoy = Creative Genius! Not only is Jack a good friend but he also resurrected my early fading radio career and put me in the hands of my longtime best friend and programming mentor, George Johns. How fortunate I was to be just a punk kid learning at the hands of these two radio greats!
I also shared the privilege of being in the studio watching Jack perform his promo magic where he said to me, “I don’t work with copy cause the copy is in the music”. We would set out to do promos for the latest contest but end up with 20 imaging promos for KOGO, it all depended on where the music took him. On top of that, Jack could have easily made it on the stand up comic circuit being one of the funniest people on the planet. He had me laughing so hard one night at dinner (or maybe just cocktails now that I think about it) that my stitches from a recent surgery literally burst out.
Jack McCoy is the most futuristic person I have ever met. I will never forget hearing him speak at a Fairwest convention in 1989 where he told the audience that one day all radio stations would have a 2 share and that commercials would be purchased electronically. All I can say about that is WOW!
Thanks, Jack for showing me the definition of the word “BIG” and for being a huge inspiration! (My Friend Jack)
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 GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.