Geo’s Media Blog (The Big One)

While trading Gordon Zlot stories with Tom Skinner the other day, he told me that when he first went to work for Gordon at KZST in Santa Rosa, he was only 27. (shown on top with me)
Unfortunately, when he arrived on the scene for his first day as the new Sales Manager, he didn’t have anything to work with. It seems that the former SM had not only left Gordon high and dry, but there were also no sales brochures, no leave-behinds, no rate cards, no nothing.

Gordon, who is an engineer, had put KZSY on the air with his bare hands so Tom wasn’t quite sure how to approach him about all this. Finally, because he needed something to work with, he just blurted it out and Gordon not only said yes; he asked if he could help?
How cool was that, getting to work side by side with the owner during your first week on a sales kit? The first thing they did was get a creative agency involved who sent over a few ideas and before long, Gordon and Tim agreed on the concept and things were rolling. Unfortunately for Tom, who of course, needed the stuff yesterday, the project then went into slow motion. Unbeknownst to the new guy, Gordon was very detail-oriented and needed to see all the different shades of every color that ever existed, plus he also wanted to study all the fonts that were available.
However, as Tom looks back at it now from semi-retirement, he’s so glad that Gordon was so into it because it set the standard of what KZST was going to become.
When the project was finally completed, not only did everything look superb, but the local advertising community were full of compliments about how professional it all looked. In fact, even though the programming or much else was in place, KZST instantly became the “Big One,” because they already looked like they were.(shown above)

GEO’S LIFE-LINES

Why do we care about the rights of people who don’t think we should have any?

It’s never too late to be what you should be. Seeing as drummer Don Henley is the only original member of the Eagles left, I guess that makes them the best tribute band of all time?

Speaking of drummers, can you imagine Ringo calling his All Starr Band the Beatles?

Buying smart water is a dumb thing to do.

Is it true that some cities in California are beginning to look like they are in third world countries?

I wonder how many so-called poor people are scammers?

The reason more women aren’t running things may be because they don’t want too?

The problem with music research is lots of women love the Stones, but none of them want to hear them on their favorite AC station.

COMMENTS
Jed Duvall: George: When you and Jim promoted me from a producer to assistant program director for WIBC-AM in 1978, when you sent Larry Knight to Philadelphia to succeed Kevin Metheney at WZZD-AM (You were in Philadelphia, so it was Jim whom broke the news and told me to remove anything that even remotely sounded like “disco” off of WIBC’s airwaves (which I did in less than 24-hours as it was pretty easy since all of the music was on Fidelipacs and LPs (the B.M.F. M.-O.-R. songs that WIBC aired right after the newscasts), Jim told me NOT to report WIBC’s music adds to “Billboard”, “Brenneman”, “Bill Gavin” or “Radio & Records”.  Larry Knight had been getting pressured from outside to do so but refrained, being the good soldier and beacon of integrity that he was.  After all, just like KVIL, the trades and other radio groups wanted to crack the Fairbanks shell and treasure trove of secrets that must have been in hallways of 2835 North Illinois Street, with both WIBC and WNAP at the top of the Arbitron rating heaps.  Jim told me of his most significant “coup” when he flipped WFIL-AM from his take on a traditional Top 40 to Drake-style “Boss Radio” before consultant Paul Drew landed to put the format on WIBG-AM, all because a record person had a big mouth.  Jim admonished me, saying the old W.W.-2 naval admonition, “Loose lips sink ships.”  I think the only record that I ever added that wound up being reported to the trades, and not by me, was “Morning Dance,” by Spyro Gyra. Gary used it to time-out into the newscasts, occasionally, until it finally charted into the Top 20 in Billboard! (A Few More Life-Lines)

Jim Harper: Like most kind and wise men, you never asked or seemed to want anything but to engage in interesting conversations and see people succeed. Maybe THAT’S the point? I could never repay you for the success you’ve helped me achieve.
My FAVORITE Georgeism:
“OK…let’s stop discussing this great idea before we talk ourselves out of it.” (Write The Wrongs)

Michael O’Shea: Good read, Geo. No wonder Joe Amaturo likes you so much. (Racist)
Geo:Joe is one of the great ones as you well know, Michael.

Jerry: I’ve seen stations pass over a great weekend talent and hire a new full-time guy when they had an opening. Reason being, it was quite often harder to fill the spot of a good reliable part-time position than the full-time gig. (Super Star)

Joan Vidler: Got a candle lit here Georgie for you and your neighbors’ safety. (Hurricane Mathew)
Geo: Miss you and Gar so much, “Young Joan.”

Mister Below: Speaking at a broadcasting class at Butler University recently, I told them that when they get to do the radio station tour in a few days, the BMW’s Cadillac’s, Audi’s, Lexus’ and so on… in the parking lot, belonged to the sales folks. (faster Cars

John Walton: Some undeniable truths posted here.  Some bromides that don’t pass the litmus test of “real world”.  Here’s my truth… I have had a fairly successful radio career for 45 years…and a very successful morning program for 35 straight years now…if we had blindly accepted and implemented even half of what was “strongly” recommended by a dozen big-name consultants, we would have most assuredly joined the post Telecom 96 off the air club. But, I have always read it all there is because there is so much left to learn. (Nuthin’ on but the radio)
Geo: You’re right John, sometimes just being curious is the key to success.

Dick Taylor: FABULOUS story Geo!
My greatest success was being a father to two wonderful men.
My greatest joy is being a grandfather to a “baker’s dozen” of grandkids.
We are lucky radio dudes. (Hey There Nathaniel)

Tom Hoyt: George, I love ya man…..but as I see this weekly, I am bemused by your always referencing Canada and Fairbanks. Great stories those but what about KFROG and the stuff Joe asked you to do?  Every once in a while I see a reference to Joe and Betsy, but KFROG was also a big success. Joe w’ the investment $ and yours truly, executing the plan…..I was there for 16 years, with Amaturo, American Radio, and CBS and many of the folks I put in place are still there today. Scott of The Frogmen in the Morning, Leslie Bischoff the Marketing/Promotions gal, Michael Valenzuela, a sales guy I hired from XEROX who is Entercom’s Market Manager today and 3 or 4 AE’s still selling. You have had a hand in all of that….ever think of a column on KFRG/KXFG/KVFG/KEZN? They deserve some props…..just my view. (Classy)
Geo: The Frog was very good to both of us Tom and not only did we win big in the Inland Empire, we had a lot of fun plus also a few memorable adventures. Things started to spiral down when CBS bought it, but now that Entercom owns it they have sunk to new lows. Not only have they taken the Frog names off, but I hear they program it out of San Diego.

Dee McGinn: George, I knew you via Don Garrard (dandy) back in the late 70s/early 80s. I was married to him while he was in Indy at the buzzard through his stint with you in San Diego. I still have a note you sent him asking, “Don, you haven’t caused any trouble for a while…are you ill?”I only met you a handful of times, but you were just delightful to talk to, and Don thought very highly of you. I spotted your blog while trying to see what Tom Cochran and Buster are up to now, and thought I’d say hello and wish you well. Take care! Dee (Garrard) McGinn (Comments)

Steve Eberhart: If the TV networks were located in Dallas, their perception of America would be quite different.  How many times do you see a news story that occurred in New York on the national news and think, if that happened here it would never make the national news.
They report what they see, which is often tainted by perspective. (American Airlines learned this concept a LONG time ago when they moved to Dallas and look how they’ve done!) (The Great Motivator)

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.

2 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog (The Big One)

  1. George, another of the great lessons that you and Jim taught me along the way at WIBC-AM was that if there was a personnel problem that could not be fixed within the station that was jeopardizing the “Plan”, no matter how inconvenient it was for the staff and for me, the program director, take care of the problem immediately. Don’t string it along, don’t orchestrate it out to make excuses while waiting to hire the right person for a replacement. Root out the problem, terminate the employee if rehabilitation (or retraining) is out of the question. Then hire the best available “athlete” for the role, be it the weekend person or whomever…because there are always good coachable people if you look hard enough. You and Jim also taught me by example to make a list and build a “recruitment” file for the cultivation of talent. I won’t say that every decision I made was great, but my batting average was better than Ted Williams (.406). – Jed Duvall

    • Jim taught us all well, Jed. Can’t understand why he’s not in a few Halls Of Fame, especially in Indy where he totally redesigned radio. When Jim was in charge, nobody had a shot.

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