As the controversy about immigration rages on in America, it takes me back to when I crossed the border into the U.S. from Canada to become the National Program Director of Fairbanks Broadcasting. It wasn’t easy getting a work permit so that I could get into the country, and I have no wish for it to be any easier for others.
As I have said before, “If Americans and Canadians spoke different languages, they’d understand each other better.” Hell, it was hard enough adjusting to the culture changes, but after my first week of work was when I wondered just what I’d gotten myself into.
In Canada, I worked on one radio station and even though now I had a bunch of them I still wasn’t worried because I thought it would work somewhat as it did when Jim Hilliard was my boss at CKY in Winnipeg. Back then, Jim would create a bunch of product and I’d put it on the radio, no problem, right?
Wrong! At our very first meeting in Indy when he asked what my plan was and I told him that I was standing by to implement whatever he wanted me to put on the air, he said, “Johns, if I knew what to do, I wouldn’t have hired you.”
Oh oh, In Canada I worked twelve hours a day on one station, but the math didn’t work out for this situation, I was going to have to work a lot smarter
The first thing I did was to cut out the three-hour meetings with the engineer, you know, the ones where you beg him to give you some highs on the radio. Next, I put all my responsibilities into two separate piles. One had all the stuff in it that affected ratings, and the other had everything else. Then when any one of the Dee-Jays would wander into my office to tell me that they were interested in programming, guess what pile I gave them? Unfortunately, though, I was still running out of time until Jim pulled me into his office for our second meeting.
At that meeting, he said, “Johns, I’m going to give you a gift. This gift is extraordinary because it speeds everything up. What I’m giving you is the right to be wrong. From this moment on, you can do anything you want on any of our radio stations, no committee meetings, no politics, no checking with anybody, get it on the air.” Of course, there’s a catch he went on to say, “You have the right to be wrong, but what you don’t have is the right to live with your mistakes. Whenever what you put on the air doesn’t sound as good as looked on paper, your responsibility is to get it off right now. Speaking of right now, he continued, “What I want you to do now is get out of my office and try out your new gift. Make me some decent product, I have work to do!”
Whenever I hear a Jamaican accent, why do I feel like they’re conning me?
What country’s election has America not interfered with?
The best things in life are free, but then again, they’re not things but they are free.
Geo: That’s why they finally gave me John King, Roy, he understood and liked the challenge of getting our promotions on the air. Mr. Fairbanks warned him that Bader had burned out the No word with me. (This Isn’t For Publication)
Geo: It was magical Joe. I was making very little money but couldn’t imagine being anywhere but at the radio station. Why would you hang out at one today, eh? (The Brits and the Yanks invade Winnipeg.)
Geo: Amen to that, Moto. (The Brits and the Yanks invade Winnipeg)
While I was reading your eloquent narrative of the happy day, it occurred to me that when some of the consolidators in today’s radio have their future birthday parties, I wonder how much love will be in the room. To be successful is to be surrounded by friends who love and respect you — and money is nothing without that.
It was a treat to hear about a very happy day.
Geo: Thank you for the good wishes, Jerry. (It’s Party Time)
You said your daughters were giving your a toast and roast birthday celebration and they really lived up to their word by your comments. How wonderful to have so many ol’ friends who love you so much that they flew all the way to San Diego to toast you and be there for you. Now that shows what type of friend you are too!
Congratulations and remember “Age is a number and ours is unlisted.”
See you soon for a birthday glass of wine. Salude, amor y dinero el Tiempo para gustarlos.
Geo: Thank you, pretty lady. (It’s Party Time)
Dick Taylor: I attended a meeting once where the speaker had the opportunity to ask President Clinton why he signed the Telcom Act of 1996 that started radio’s consolidation. Clinton’s answer was that he never knew that was in the bill. He said he found it had been added about 30-minutes before he signed it. The bill was supposed to let the phone companies into the cable TV biz and the cable companies into the phone biz with the goal being that both consumer rates would go down. Oops! That didn’t happen on either my phone or cable TV bills; how about you? *** On another subject you posted today: I think the reason an artist gets a rush from being heard on the radio vs. YouTube is that radio is a curated medium. Anyone can appear on YouTube. *** Today’s blog post was overflowing with lots of mental stimulation along with some great laughs. When I get your email that a new post has gone up, I immediately go to your website. Thank You, Geo! (If Monica Had Only Kept Bill Busier)
Geo: I don’t know about that Nancy, there are a few pretty ones out there that still haven’t come around to my way of thinking. (-: (Are Lew, Dan, & Bob, smarter than Socrates, Disney, & Jobs?)
Dave Martin: Bravos, George! You spin such wonderful yarns, thanks for sharing. Storytelling was always your métier.
Chasing your ending here, Reid went on to achieve great success with his male-targeted format in both Chicago and Dallas.
One of my favorite Reid Reker stories involves his earlier, first run in Chicago at WMET. Reid ran a TV commercial featuring Smokey Robinson and a cast of crying babies which was created by the brilliant Dale Pon (Creator of “I Want My MTV”). The tag line, delivered by Smokey, was “Don’t cry, baby. Listen to 95.5, WMET.” The spot caused such a controversy that it became the subject of an entire morning on the market’s then #1 AM drive program. WGN’s Wally Phillips took calls from listeners who were, in the majority, negative on the spot saying it was horrible and should be taken off the air immediately. Reid got an incredible free commercial for his station on WGN!
Alas, the battle was lost when the general manager folded. He demanded the commercial be pulled. Several of the station’s biggest clients were “concerned” and worried how those precious little babies were made to cry in the making of the spot. Still, for my money, one of the most clever and certainly most talked about TV commercials ever run for/by a radio station.
p.s. It should come as no surprise to readers here that George was behind the scenes during Reid’s run at WMET and was very supportive, vocal about the merits of keeping those crying babies on the air. “Take it off? Are you crazy? How often does anybody get the entire market talking their advertising?”
Geo: Well, you can always count on management to cave Dave, but not much else. (Women Are Not Welcome Here)