The days of the “Genius” program directors like Jimmy Darin, Ron Jacobs, Chuck Blore, Buzz Bennett, Jack McCoy, and Scott Shannon are over. Those guys were specialists; they always knew exactly what to do, and when to do it. They didn’t need research to tell them anything. Hell, I can still remember when they put the researched music on the Pirate in LA and ruined it. However, to be fair about it, the legends only had to work on one station at a time whereas today’s PDs have to program a bunch of them.
Back in Canada, where I was a Program Director, I worked on my station for about 12 or 13 hours a day. However, when Jim Hilliard (pictured above) hired me to be his National PD, something had to change because the hourly math didn’t work. Almost everything for Indy, Boston, Dallas, Philly, and Palm Beach, came out of Jim’s office so I had to free up some time so I only worked on the things that affected ratings, I have no idea who did the other stuff?
When I began consulting, I had to adjust again because my clients all used me differently. Jim Hilliard, wanted me to keep my ear on his stations and then let him know when I thought that they were off track. John Dew at KRBE in Houston wanted me to make his station sound as much like KVIL as I could without his having to admit that he’d made a format change, as did Vic Rumore at WLAC in Nashville.
The Shadeks hired me to be hands-on with KOGO/KPRI in San Diego, and also try to make KLLS in San Antonio as successful as KVIL. Toney Brooks wanted the same with KLSI in Kansas City, and KLSY in Seattle, as did Bill Lacey at KZBS in Oklahoma City. Later though, Toney mostly used me to help with the Sandusky stations rating promotions. Frank Osborn wanted me to get him some decent numbers on K101 in San Francisco, so he could move on and buy his own radio stations, as did Jack McSorley and John Hayes who followed him at Fairmont Communications.
A lot of my clients like Ed Christian, George Francis, Gary Stevens, Tom Hoyt, Bill McMartin and the Moffat group in Canada, mostly wanted to cherry pick my ideas so I had to bring a menu. Mark Hubbard had me attend his meetings at all the Fairmont stations and then tell him who I thought was jivin’ him.
The Hicks brothers, Tom and Steve, wanted to merge their company with mine and then take our new company called Capstar to Wall Street. First, though, they wanted me to get them better ratings at KEY 103 in Austin so it was worth as much as our K103 in Portland was. Gordon Zlot at KZST in Santa Rosa just wanted me to try and persuade him to do the right thing, as did Joe Amaturo at KFRG in Riverside and JILL FM in LA.
Luckily when I started in radio, my boss at CKY was Jimmy Darin. (Hilliard) Jim not only taught me to be a broadcaster, but he also taught me to think big, which helped me immensely when I moved into programming. When in doubt, just make it sound big.
Today’s Program Directors have to wear many hats, so they too need to become broadcasters and to think like a GP rather than a specialist. I guess that makes me a GP consultant, huh?
KZST in Santa Rosa California just had another good book. #1 again for the umpteenth time.
Wow, Loren Owens is out at WROR in Boston. I Heard him about a month ago and he still sounded strong. He must be making too much money and in today’s radio, only the executives are allowed to make too much money.
Hey, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are still in first place in the western division of the CFL. Go Big Blue!
I like all religions where the killing of those who are not part of a certain religion, is frowned upon. Although, maybe they need to be killed?
Jim hit the nail on the head, George. Wish I’d met you earlier in my career. I met Jim Hilliard when he visited KIMN in the early 80s. Wish I’d met you then too.
Geo: Now you’re making me blush, you’re an evil man, Doug. 🙂 I too wished we had met in the 8o’s, Doug; we would have melted a few cities. (I Got Lucky)
Geo: Thank you, Bob, was my pride showing? Shame on me. 🙂 (Hey There Nathaniel)
Geo: I will, Bo. (Whatever Happened To My Old Friend Riley?)
Chuck Knapp: Fabulous tribute to Riley, George. Thank you for telling me he wasn’t doing well. I immediately called him, and we had a long conversation, our last. He was a big voice from the small town of Duncan, Oklahoma. Chuck and I were roommates and had so many fun times together. He was “big Chuck,” and he called me “little Chuck,” a truism in body size and vocal ability. While some will remember him for his “worst of times” attitude, I’m with you. Chuck’s “best of times” is beyond description and so damn entertaining. Rest in peace Charles Daniel Hanks Jr. I can only imagine. Lol. (What Ever Happened To My Old Friend Riley)
Bob Christy: After you left Indy for fame and fortune, I had the pleasure of being the guy in between Chuck and JCH. Chuck and Jim were in non-speaking mode, and there I was in Jim’s office, Chuck and I sitting across the desk from Jim. The conversation went like this:
JCH: “Bob, tell Chuck that the equipment he is demanding for the show isn’t going to fly.”
Me: Repeat Jim’s statement
Chuck: (in a super low movie trailer voice) “Robert, please inform Mr. Hilliard that without the proper equipment the fucking show isn’t going to work and without the proper studio equipment, I will not, I repeat, will not do the show!”
Me: Repeat Chuck’s statement
JCH: “Bob tell Chuck that he doesn’t need 6 Neumann microphones to do a three-person show.”
Chuck: (in his slightly out breath Orson Welles voice, with all the proper moments of silence used as punctuation) “Tell Mr. Hilliard, that we will have guests from time to time and we need to accommodate them with the proper fucking equipment. Or maybe he no longer cares how the god damn station sounds to the listeners or possibly he has forgotten what got him his lofty position in the first place.”
This conversation went on for almost an hour, and when it was over, Chuck put his smiley face on and went back on the radio, leaving JCH muttering, and me sitting there going, “WTF did I just experience!”
I loved the guy, but he could be…
Tom Snyder: When I was a young boy (16) considering a career as a disc jockey, I had the pleasure of visiting Chuck one night in the control room at WIBC (same as the above pic). I don’t remember whether he encouraged me or not, but it was a wonderful experience to meet my VO hero. Later I did become a disc jockey, and later an advertising producer and used Check many times for spots after I moved to Florida. He was my secret weapon. My spots were fantastic. He was the greatest personality and voice actor I’ve ever encountered or ever will.
Jed Duvall: George, thank you for the aircheck clips of Chuck. Although we were never close and although he gave me a great deal of grief, I realize now he was training me, as were you, Jim, Gary, and Bake, to adhere and never budge from demanding high standards, which stuck with me in my professional radio, TV, web and print career. I was fired a couple of times for not budging, but at least I could look at myself in the mirror the next morning and go forward. Listening to these clips bring tears to my eyes and re-opens the small hole in my heart. You and others have a bigger gap in the soul because you worked with Chuck longer. He was a talented person that no one could ever forget.
Geo: Chuck, Tom, Bob, and Jed, If I hadn’t met Chuck Riley, I’d probably be working in a car wash in some small town. (Whatever Happened To My Old Friend Riley?)
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.