Geo’s Media Blog. (The Genuises)

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 help them with any of it. However, they only had to do one radio station at a time whereas today’s PD unfortunately, has a bunch, so he needs to be a GP.
Back in the day when I was a PD, I worked about 13 hours a day on my station, but when Jim Hilliard (pictured above) hired me to be the National PD for Fairbanks something had to change.
At Fairbanks, most things that we did on all of our stations were created and fine-tuned in Jim’s office in Indy. My job was to take them to Boston, Dallas, Philly, and Palm Beach, where with the help of the local PD, we would install them.
Jim pretty well held me responsible for the sound of all our stations, so I was very hands on back then. Although, I only touched the things that affected ratings and have no idea who did the other stuff? 
However, when I began my consulting career, my clients all used me differently. Jim Hilliard, who was one of my first, only wanted me to keep my ear on his stations, and advise him when I thought they were off track. John Dew needed me to make his station in Houston sound as close to KVIL as I could without him having to admit that he had changed formats, as did Vic Rumore in Nashville. The Shadeks hired me to be totally hands-on in San Diego, plus do whatever it took to make their radio station in San Antonio as successful as KVIL. Toney Brooks wanted the same at his stations in Kansas City and Seattle, as did Bill Lacey in Oklahoma City. Later, Toney used me mostly to help with the rating promotions when we traveled to all the Sandusky properties. Frank Osborn wanted me to do whatever it took to get him some decent numbers in San Francisco so he could move on and buy his own stations, as did Jack McSorley and John Hayes.
A lot of my clients though like Ed Christian, George Francis, Gary Stevens, Tom Hoyt, and the Moffat group in Canada, just wanted to cherry pick my ideas, so I had to bring a menu. Mark Hubbard had me attend the meetings he had at all the Fairmont stations so I could tell him afterward, who was jivin’ him.
The Hicks brothers who wanted to merge my company with theirs, needed me to pump up their Austin station’s numbers so it was worth as much as our’s was in Portland. Gordon Zlot in Santa Rosa only wanted me to persuade him to do the right thing, as did Joe Amaturo.
Luckily when I started my radio career in Winnipeg, my boss was Jim Hilliard and he taught me to think big. This helped out a lot when I went on to program many different kinds of formats in Canada, I just made them sound big.
As I said earlier, a PD needs to be a GP today, not a specialist, so I guess I’d be what you’d call a GP consultant huh?
 
COMMENTS
 
Doug Erickson: Every great Radio jock needs a Brian Epstein to become a Beatle. That is the best way I can describe, you George. Someone who can see the potential in others, recognize talent and how to optimize it and then, the most important part: How to manage and HANDLE success.
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)     
 
Bob: George, you should give Candis a pair of golden bracelets on her birthday, because she is certainly Wonder Woman. Truly, an inspiration to women everywhere and you have the well-deserved right to be as proud as you are of your family.
Geo: Thank you, Bob. Do you mean my pride was showing? Shame on me. 🙂 (Hey There Nathaniel)

Buster Bodine: Ask Big Jim about Chuck going to Viet Nam in 1960.
Geo: I will Bo. (Whatever Happened To My Old Friend Riley?)
 
Jerry K: Jim Hilliard was a prince and an inspiration to me and many others.  Although he climbed the ladder thru programming, he was a Hell of a fine salesman with a pretty keen knowledge of engineering.
Geo: He always bragged about having his “first” whatever the hell that meant Jerry.(3 Halls Of Fame Baby)
 

Chuck Knapp: Fabulous tribute 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.”

Me: Repeat

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 went on for an hour, when it was over, Chuck put on his smiley face and went on the air, 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, I have no idea what I’d be doing right now if I hadn’t met Chuck Riley. Probably 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.

 

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