“That prick George Johns” Radio Promotions Blog 3/05/18)

When I left CFTR in Toronto to join Fairbanks Broadcasting in Indianapolis as their National Program Director, I didn’t have a very good relationship with sales departments. (I mean how many times can you be slimed before you say, “Fuck it?”)
Anyway, years later, CFTR actually hired my brother Reg to be their PD and as they were introducing him around, the Sales Manager upon hearing his name said, “You’re not related to that prick George Johns are you?” Hell, even after only being in America a short time the entire WNAP sales staff marched into Jim Hilliard’s office and said, “It’s either him or us.” Jim’s response was, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”
It didn’t take me long to figure out that doing radio in America was very different than doing it in Canada. The sales folks were a lot more driven but what I liked the best about them was the fact the Sales Managers controlled the promotion money. In Canada, the CRTC (FCC) kinda 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 most of the money I would need to do giant promotions, was in Dick Yancey’s office in Indy, (pictured above) and Jerry Bobo’s in Dallas. (pictured on top) All I had to do was figure out a smooth way of how to tie their clients into my new promotion and they were all over it. 
The structure at Fairbanks Broadcasting worked this way, I was the National PD of the company but the local PD of WIBC. Dick Yancey, was the National Sales Manager and also the local SM of WIBC where we loved to run commercials. In fact, we ran so many of them that Mr. Fairbanks could pay cash whenever he bought any new radio stations. Of course, we had restrictions, no remotes, no yelling car dealers, and if you needed a live read, you better come with a boatload of money. The other thing about our commercials was they all fit into the flow of the station and were done by the best voices in the country.
My soft spot has always been promotions so that’s where Dick Yancey and I came together. We prided ourselves in coming up with the kinda stuff that sales thought were sales promotions but the air staff thought otherwise. The “Magic Ticket” I believe may have been our best and was so successful that the FCC investigated it. When it received a clean bill of health, Dick syndicated it and other than the revenue and ratings it gave us, what I liked best about the “Magic Ticket” was that it paid for my very first Mercedes.
When Jim Hilliard was buying KVIL in Dallas for Mr. Fairbanks, I met Jerry Bobo for the first time. (pictured above) Jerry quickly became one of my all-time favorite Sales Managers whom I consider right up there with Tim Reever and Tom Skinner.
Unfortunately for Jerry, when we launched the new KVIL in Dallas he had absolutely nothing to sell. No ratings, no remotes, no air talent, just a shitload of rules about what he could do or not do in a commercial if he was lucky enough to find someone who wanted to buy one. Did I mention, absolutely no remotes? Oh yeh, and a new format which had never been on the radio before. C’mon Jerry, there’s no crying in radio and you do have Ron Chapman.
What made Jerry stand head and shoulders above other SMs was when he discovered that all he had to sell were promotions, he became the best in the world at it. He didn’t bother sitting 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 head down to Ron Chapman’s office to ask him if there was anything that he always wanted to do on the radio that he hadn’t done yet? Ron always had something, so Jerry would scurry back to his office and package it up. I was always for it because if Ron wanted to do it, it never failed.
Once KVIL was cookin’, Hilliard would use Jerry to help with our other stations and one of my fondest memories was when he traveled to Boston to help launch the “Magic Ticket” on F-105 (WVBF) The presentation was being done at a fancy Boston hotel for all the executives and store managers of Friendly’s who were there with their wives. Jerry was explaining exactly how the promotion worked and then said, “It’s impossible to explain how excited your customers are going to be when this promotion hits the air so why don’t I just show you.” With that, he reached into his briefcase and grabbed fistfuls of money and started throwing it at the startled Friendly’s people. Before long they were shoving each other away and crawling around on their hands and knees trying to gather up as much free money as they could.
However as George Harrison said, “All things must pass” and after being at Fairbanks for eight years, I finally left to start my own consulting company out of San Diego. What I quickly discovered was when you’re the V/P of programming, most of your ideas make the airways, but when you’re a consultant, you’re lucky if half of them do. 
Luckily when I left, thanks to Jim Hilliard, Fairbanks became my first client and I’ll never forget my first visit to Dallas as their new consultant. When I listened to Ron Chapman the next morning, he was doing his show from the lot of a shopping mall which wouldn’t be open for hours. What the fuck! Upon investigation, I found out that on one of his trips to Ron’s office, Jerry discovered something that Ron had lusted after for years. He always wanted a tricked out RV with a studio in it so he could visit all the little towns in the listening area that surrounded Dallas and do his show from them. Wouldn’t you know it, Jerry came through and got Ron’s dream done but of course he needed a little help. What he need was for Ron to do a few trial runs around town before he took that beautiful tricked out RV on the road. C’mon Jerry!

I wonder if Jews, Hispanics, Muslims, Native Americans, and Asians feel that they are 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 finally begin to realize that they were never thinking about you in the first place.

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 silence you hear when the crickets suddenly stop?
It’s tough to defeat the enemy who is inside your head.
The time to start worrying about the stuff you don’t control is right after you get what you do control perfect.
Following the well-worn path leads to nothing of 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 every day.
As sophisticated as Shakespeare’s writing appears to be, it was written for the common man as were 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 one more 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 what America stands for, 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 and that’s why we have global warming. 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 any good that it has done? All I see is 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 on the evils of smoking whether we smoke or not? It’s so bad we almost start praying that they start smoking again.
How do we free our politicians from the chains of lobbyist money which would free him to do what’s right?
When I first got a record deal I thought the dealin’ was done, little did I know the dealin’ had just begun.
Have you ever noticed that the evil money that flows from lobbyists to politicians has been criticised by almost everyone except the Democrats or Republicans?
Listen up ladies, what most men want from a woman is unconditional adoration.

Much more @ GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing & Commenting is appreciated.




18 thoughts on ““That prick George Johns” Radio Promotions Blog 3/05/18)

  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 bought KVIL, every other radio station in town was just playing catch up. KVIL owned the promotion category. Mike Bader as you knew was our counsel at Fairbanks and every promotion I came up with he would turn down. Finally, I blew up at Mr. Fairbanks.(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 T’s crossed but in the middle of my presentation you interrupted me by saying, “George George, tell me this, are you planning on giving away the prize?” When I answered that I was, you said, “Then get on with your contest and stop selling it to me.” 🙂

  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 degreg 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 what was to happen was TALENT, creating compelling content. Radio was crippled by short sited, to cheap operators! My venting 🙂

    • Deregulation led to the demise of the great radio stations and the terrible ones Ivan. Rules cause creativity, Howard Stern was much better when he had to overcome rules. All we’re left with now is mediocrity.

      • 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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