Geo’s Media Blog (The Great Gift)

As the controversy about immigration rages on in America, it takes me back to when I left Canada to become the National Program Director of Fairbanks Broadcasting in Indianapolis. As difficult as it was for me to be able to legally cross the border, I have no wish for it to be any easier for others.
As difficult as immigrating to the United States was, I still didn’t have any idea of what I had gotten myself into. When I worked in Canada I only worked on one radio station at a time, but now I was in charge of programming for a bunch of them. Today this is commonplace, but back then it was almost overwhelming. Hell, it used to take me about twelve hours a day to do one station so I needed to work smarter.

The first thing I did was cut out was the wasted three-hour meetings with the engineer, you know, the ones where you beg him to find me some highs. The next thing I did was put all my responsibilities into two piles. In one pile was all the stuff that affected ratings, the other had everything else. Then I just waited for one of the Dee-Jays to wander in and claim that were very interested in getting into programming. Guess what pile I gave them?
However, with the launch of KVIL on the horizon, and still running out of time, I was starting to panic until Jim Hilliard pulled me into his office one day and said, “Johns I’m going to give you a gift. This special gift will speed everything up because I’m giving you “The Right To Be Wrong. Starting right now, you can do anything you want on the radio. No meetings, no politics, no checking with anybody, just get it on the air as fast as you can.
Oh, and before you as he said, of course, there’s a catch, you have the right to be wrong, but you don’t have the right to live with your mistakes. The moment, what you put on the air doesn’t sound as good as looked on paper, you rip it off the radio right now. And right now I want you to get out of my office and try out your new gift. Make me some great product, I have work to do.”


Women have several reasons to get married, men only have one.

When I declared myself a Centrist, I found out rather quickly that the left thought of me as a right winger and the right didn’t give a shit.

Why do I feel like I’m being conned whenever I hear a Jamaican accent?

The best things in life are free. However they’re not things, but they are free.

Roy Cooper: I always thought talking to Mike Bader was like talking to Fairbanks twin brother if Richard M. had one, not too exciting.  Not sure Bader ever understood why we did promotions that sometimes put us on the edge, but he did know how to do his billing statements.

Geo: That’s why they finally gave me John King, Roy, he understood and liked the challenge of getting our promotions on the air. He’d also been prewarned by Mr. Fairbanks that Bade had burned out the word no with me so I didn’t handle it well.  (This Isn’t For Publication)

Jim Davis: Thinking about Shakespeare’s quote “The play’s the thing”, reminds me that recently I was listening to Herb Oscar Anderson record his weekly show in our Ocean FM studio where he does a weekly Saturday afternoon show.  Herb is 82 and still has that amazing voice, and the great ability to “spin a yarn”.  I always noticed that when he introduces a song, he does it in a very theatrical way with lots of “bravado”.  I said, “Herb, you always make it sound so exciting”. He said: “Jim, I was taught that when the record begins, it’s like the curtain is going up and the show begins”. Shakespeare and Herb must have gone to the same school. (Steve, I Just Said To Slow Down, Not Quit)

Joe Cannon: Great stuff George……god it was great to be a teen rock jock in the ’60s… I was in Cornwall and Kingston Ontario as an 18 -19-year-old jock just at the time you describe…playing the Beatles every half hour…..being a local hero when home town radio was king….exceptional times.

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.)

Cris Conner: When a painting is good, it does not need to be framed. The world, per se, has no idea regarding Jim Hilliard. Of those who made it to the secret handshake level, there isn’t one who would ever refuse him anything. However, one should be cautioned to never ask him why the Sales Manager makes more than the Program Director.

Geo: Amen to that, Moto. (The Brits and the Yanks invade Winnipeg)

Bruce Devine: You’re right, I think a lot of low power FMs do sound better than their big brothers and it may be because if the lack of processing. I suspect the smaller FMs didn’t have the cash have a lot of cash to invest in processors. The beauty of FM has always been that it was clean & quiet with perfect frequency response, never needed all that cooking the old AMs that most of us came from did to get above the noise & stand out. (If you have to explain who you are, then you ain’t)

Jerry Del Colliano: George …All the best to a great guy.
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 wishes and the read Jerry. (It’s Party Time)

Jo Ann Pflug: Belated Happy Birthday George!!!
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.
Jo Ann

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)

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 On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.


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