Geo’s Media Blog. (Sales Promotions) 3/05/18) #2 in 2018

When I left CFTR in Toronto to join Fairbanks Broadcasting in Indianapolis as their National Program Director, I didn’t have a perfect relationship with sales departments. (I mean how many times can you be slimed before you say, “Fu#k it?”)
Anyway, years later, when CFTR hired my brother Reg to be their new Program Director I found out that my reputation back home was still intact. As they were introducing him to everybody, the Sales Manager said, “You’re not related to that prick George Johns are you?” Hell, even after just arriving in America, the entire WNAP sales staff marched into Jim Hilliard’s office and said, “It’s either him or us?” Jim said, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”
Doing radio in America was very different than doing it in Canada. Everybody was a lot more aggressive, and the sales folks were also very driven. The big difference between American and Canadian salespeople was that the American Sales Managers controlled the promotion money. In Canada, the CRTC (FCC) controlled it because you were only allowed to give away $5000 a month thus making it a budget item. In America, there was no limit to how much you could give away; you just had to figure out how to get sales to pay for it.
It didn’t take me too long to discover that all the money that I needed to do my giant promotions was already in Dick Yancey’s office in Indy, (pictured above) and Jerry Bobo’s in Dallas. (pictured on top) All I had to figure out was how to tie their clients into my latest promotion, and they were all over it.
How it worked, Fairbanks Broadcasting was, I was the National PD of the company, but also the local PD of WIBC and Dick Yancey was the National Sales Manager and the local SM of WIBC. We loved running commercials at WIBC, and we ran so many of them that Mr. Fairbanks paid cash whenever he bought a new radio station. We’d figured out that you could run a lot of commercials if you had a lot of restrictions, no remotes, no yelling car dealers, and if you needed a live read, you better come with a boatload of money. Oh yeah and we also had some of the best voices in the country doing them, so they flowed right into our programming.
Dick Yancey and I didn’t agree on everything, and sometimes Hilliard would have to flip a coin to solve what he thought was a ridiculous argument. What we did agree on though were promotions that the sales folk thought were sales promotions, and the air-staff thought that were programming promotions. The “Magic Ticket,” I believe may have been our best creation and was so successful that the FCC investigated it and when it received a clean bill of health, Dick syndicated it. I think other than the ratings and revenue it gave us, what I loved about the “Magic Ticket” was that it paid for my first Mercedes.
When Jim Hilliard bought KVIL in Dallas for Mr. Fairbanks, and I met Jerry Bobo, (pictured on top) he quickly became one of my favorite Sales Managers.
Unfortunately for Jerry, when we launched the new KVIL in Dallas, he had absolutely nothing to sell. We didn’t have any ratings, we didn’t do remotes, we didn’t have any air talent yet, so no live reads but what we did have was a shi#load of rules about what he could not do if he were lucky enough to find someone who wanted to buy a commercial. Oh did I mention, absolutely no remotes and oh yeah, we were doing a brand new format which had never been on the radio before? C’mon Jerry, there’s no crying in radio, and we did keep Ron Chapman, maybe he’ll catch on fire, ya never know.
What made Jerry stand head and shoulders above most SMs was that when he discovered that the only thing he did have to sell were promotions, he became the best in the world at it. He also didn’t sit around waiting for me to bring him things like the “Magic Ticket,” “The Checks In The Mail,” “The Prize Catalog,” and “The 50% Off Free Fair,” he’d just head down to Ron Chapman’s office. Once there he would ask Ron if there was anything that he wanted to do that he hadn’t done yet? There was always something, and once Jerry found out what it was, he would scurry back to his office and package it up. I was never against any of this because if Ron wanted to do it, it never failed.
Once KVIL was cookin’, Hilliard would use Jerry to help out at our other stations. One of my fondest moments occurred when he visited Boston to do a “Magic Ticket” presentation for F-105. (WVBF) We did it a fancy Boston hotel for the executives, managers and their spouses of a restaurant chain called Friendly’s. Right in the middle of explaining how it worked, Jerry said, “Hell it’s impossible to explain how excited your customers are going to be when this promotion hits the air, so I’m just gonna show you.” With that, he reached into his briefcase and started throwing money at the startled Friendly’s folks who soon were not so friendly as they began to shove each other out of the way. It’s hard to explain how ridiculous the scene looked as they all crawled around on their hands and knees as they tried to gather up as much free money as they possibly could.
As George Harrison once said in a song though, “All things must pass,” and even though I was still having fun, after being at Fairbanks for eight years, it was time for me to move on so I left to start my own consulting company. However, I soon discovered that being a consultant was very different than being a V/P of programming. When you’re the V/P, most of your ideas make the airways; when you’re a consultant, you’re lucky if half of them do.

Thankfully, when I left Fairbanks, they became one of my clients, and I’ll never forget my first visit to Dallas as their brand new consultant. When the clock radio went off the next morning, Ron Chapman was doing his show from the parking lot of a shopping mall which was bad enough but the fact that it wouldn’t be open for hours made him sound lonely. What the fu#k? Upon investigation, I found out that Jerry had found out that Ron had lusted after a tricked out RV with a studio in it for years. Ron wanted to do his show once in a while from the towns that surrounded Dallas as a sorta, thank you for listening thing. Jerry came through with Ron’s dream studio but of course, needed a little help. He needed Ron to do a few trial runs around town before he took that beautiful tricked out RV on the road to make sure it all worked well. C’mon Jerry!


I wonder if Jews, Hispanics, Muslims, Native Americans, and Asians in America feel better treated than black folks?

When you’re young, you worry about what people think of you. When you’re middle-aged, you don’t give a damn, but as you grow older, you realize that they were never thinking about you.

My nephew Jamie Boychuck who is an executive with CSX Railway got to ring the bell to begin trading on Wallstreet last Friday. How cool is that?

Your destiny isn’t about your getting lucky; it’s about your ability to choose what it is you want it to be.

Each dumb mistake you make gives you another opportunity to become smarter.

Is there anything louder than the crickets suddenly stopping?

Defeating the enemy inside your head is tough.

The time to start worrying about the stuff that you don’t control is when what you do control is perfect.

Following the well-worn path leads to nothing of any consequence.

It’s not the all the great things that you do now and then that makes the difference, it’s the everyday things that you do.

As sophisticated as Shakespeare’s writing appears to be, it was written for the common man as were all the Beatles compositions.

The difference between winners and losers is, the winners are the ones who got back up one more time to give it another shot.

Unfortunately, we only get to elect our presidents but not our kings who are the wealthy big business guys.

The rest of the world may not like America, but they sure love our benefits.

Why is it so much harder getting the generic medicine out of the container than the original?

In this politically correct world that we live in, people only want to communicate with those who agree with them thus leaving the planet running in place.

What if Mother Nature intended us to screw up the planet. Maybe she’s hoping that we’ll eliminate ourselves and then she could get on with whatever is next without her having to send another comet.

Why do politicians once elected work on everything except what we elected them to work on, “The economy and jobs?”

Having enemies is a good thing claimed Winston Churchill because it means that at one time in your life you stood for something.

The only thing more irritating in South Florida in the winter time than a person from Quebec is an even ruder New Yorker with a horn.

Any person who is not a little wiser today than they were yesterday is on a fast train to nowhere.

Since deregulation began, can anyone point out anything good? All I see are radio groups going into bankruptcy, and people losing their jobs.

I dislike negativity so much that I get excited whenever anything positive shows up like waking up and realizing it’s Friday. Even though the days of the week stopped being a big deal to me when I got into radio, Friday still feels special.

Isn’t it weird when somebody quits smoking they immediately start lecturing us all on the evils of smoking? It sometimes gets so bad that I start praying that they start smoking again.

How do we free our politicians from the chains of lobbyist money so they’d be free to do what’s right?

When I got a record deal, I thought all the dealin’ was done. Little did I know that the dealin’ had just begun.

Have you ever noticed that everyone except the Democrats and Republicans criticizes the evil money that flows from lobbyists to politicians?

Listen up ladies, what most men want from their woman is unconditional adoration.

The sales side of #KVIL, #LifeLiners about #Winners and #DeregulationLosers, plus #Radio are above. Comments about many other things are @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing & Commenting is appreciated.




18 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog. (Sales Promotions) 3/05/18) #2 in 2018

  1. Thanks George for the kind words. As you know, Jim, You and Yancey brought to all of us at KVIL a new and fresh way of thinking regarding the business of Radio. We simple listened and put our own spin on it and made great things happen.

    • And what a long great ride it was for all of us, Jerry. However, I wish we could have skipped CBS’s fresh new way of thinking that they brought to the table though.

    • How did that work out for them and what are the new call letters? Hell Jerry, they paid what like 85 million for it and now I doubt that they could get “stick value” for. That line for who was responsible for KVIL was a long one for the longest time but it’s real short now. 🙂

  2. George, my favorite Ron Chapman story: he gave away the prize of a 240Z to the wife of a contestant, who called in because her husband, who had entered the contest, was on the flight line and couldn’t respond to call within the required time. Ron asked me, KVIL’s FCC lawyer, if that was okay. I said, “Well, no, because the contest rules required the person who entered the contest to call personally.” What did Ron do? He took it to his audience, asking, “Should we take the car away from her?” Then he did the classiest thing: he let ‘em keep it, and . . . did a do-over: he gave another car away! No one ever out-classed KVIL.

    • You’re right John until CBS purchased KVIL, every other radio station in town was only playing catch up because KVIL owned the promotion category. Mike Bader as you knew was our counsel at Fairbanks but unfortunately, every promotion that I ever came up with, he’d turn down. Finally, I blew up at Mr. Fairbanks about it (how ballsy was that?) and the next thing I knew I got to deal with you. I’ll never forget the very first promotion I ran by you, I had all my I’s dotted and my T’s crossed but in the middle of my passionate presentation you interrupted me and said, “George George, tell me this, are you planning on giving away the prize?” When I answered yes, you said, “Then get on with your contest, stop selling it to me, sell it to your listeners.” 🙂

  3. “Magic Ticket” was that it provided me with my very first Mercedes… once again proving the best cars in the parking lot belonged to the sales staff.

  4. George, I believe looking at deregulation as the killer of radio is surprising, especially for you. Radio was slow to adapt to new tech and opportunities and most importantly, not fully understanding that their only way to survive was with TALENT and by creating compelling content. Radio was crippled by short sited and cheap operators, not deregulation! My vent. 🙂

    • I hear ya Ivan but it was deregulation that attracted the cheap operators to our business which led to the demise of the great radio stations. I for one wich Monika was a little better in the sack so she could have kept Bill too busy to sign the communication act. and the terrible ones Ivan.

      • George, I am surprised, creative can be fostered with in the rules! Case in point Ron Chapman, he was never anything but compelling! And never outside of the rules. Creative costs $$$, the ownership were more focused on pushing the bottom line. That’s when I left the business. I started Hipcricket truly because I thought it could save radio. I would argue the point that it every well may have been able to lead the charge bringing in tech, early, not trailing! Love to have a deeper discussion with you on all this 🙂

        • Hell, I never even started to got creative until I heard the word no Ivan. In fact, when we had a shot at hiring the Mayor of Dallas to do sports on KVIL, we were turned down because he was too expensive so Ron and I added a spot an hour to morning drive and paid for him ourselves.
          Always available for deep discussions with you anytime.

  5. George, when I worked for you at WIBC, I thought you were the Zenmaster, because you never yelled, even when displeased or tired from all of the traveling. You led by example. You were like a wise rabbi, as if you had seen and heard it all, because you could communicate in few, well-chosen words. If I asked you a question, usually, you responded in a short, pointed question that provoked thought and insight…simple and direct. When I worked for Jim in Tampa, I, too, enjoyed working with Jerry Bobo, whom was in many ways, very similar to you…simple in expectations (to be the best) and always direct. I do not recall that you lost your temper upon your return when “Wild Willie” (Bill) Hennes occupied your office before going to Philadelphia to join Burt Sherwood to be his “Ernie” to Burt’s “Bert”. You may have expressed your feelings to Jim Hilliard, but you kept your countenance and stayed cool, to wait for the inevitable collapse of the Sherwood / Hennes regime at WIBG. I don’t recall hearing a discouraging word on that sorry situation. That is very much in contrast to some of the consultants and grand poohbahs’ at R.K.O. General that I encountered in 1980, whose rants and raves were inversely proportional to how successful they were.

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