were the best back then
Wish Moto Jim & me
could do it again.
When I moved to Indianapolis Nixon was just exiting the Whitehouse, and Gerald Ford was getting set to replace him but bad times were on the way. When little Jimmy Carter became our new president, interest rates skyrocketed, and the Oilers claimed that we had a gas shortage.
Most of the talent who worked at any of the Fairbanks stations were real characters, but the crazy ones (shown above) all worked at WIBC.One of the most talented but bizarre characters was Chuck Riley ( pictured above) who did afternoons on WIBC. I’d known Chuck since I was a kid back at CKY in Winnipeg where not only did he teach me production but he also helped produce my first record. The problem with Chuck was that he had two distinctive personalities, so you had to know which one you were dealing with at any given time. In front of a crowd you could always count on him being a bear, but sometimes if you got him one on one, you had a shot at the other one who was still a bear but mostly all teddy.
At least once a week the mean Chuck Riley would show up, and before the day was done, he’d have the switchboard and the traffic girl amongst others in tears. Tiring of his antics, Jim finally called a come to Jesus meeting with him, which I was invited to. When I arrived, Riley was already seated and sarcastically said to me as I sat down, wow this must be an important meeting if this much brass is at it. Your absolutely right Chuck Jim immediately responded, this just may be the most important meeting of your career and the only reason that George is here is to bear witness. He’ll be able to repeat everything said here today lest you forget, then with that shit-eating grin of his on his face, Riley turns to me and says, “that’s very comforting George.” Jim said that he’s been acting like a complete ass lately and that because his behavior was becoming intolerable here’s how it’s going to work. If your ratings even slip a hair Chuck, the staff is going to come for your head, and I will be forced to serve it up to them. Jim then asked him if he had anything to say for himself and Chuck said, “yeah tell all those pricks who are waiting for my ratings to slip not to hold their fucking breath.”
It seems from the get go Jim and I always had the ability to finish each other’s sentences which frequently got me pulled into meetings already going on. Not only was I expected to pick up on what was going on but also contribute. Occasionally a glitch is bound to show up like the day I was summoned to Jim’s office to meet with him and Cris Conner. (pictured with me at his recent induction into the Indiana Hall Of Fame)
When I arrived at Jim’s office, Cris was sitting in a chair across from Jim’s desk with a disturbed look on his face, and Jim said that he was glad I was there because this was a tough one. Cris, he went on to say has just learned that his sales manager makes more money than he does and I need your help in explaining why that is. As I sat down, I responded with, “hell Jim I wanna hear the answer to that myself.”
Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (To Meet Or Not To Meet) Chapter XXIII
Whenever my radio buddies in Canada asked me what it was like working in the States, I’d brag about the fact that my boss picked me up for work everyday. The real truth was that I dreaded those rides, they just were just another meeting where I couldn’t win for losing.
The way it worked was if we listened to WIBC on our way into work then it would be WNAP on our way home and the reverse the following day. Cris Conner and I at this point were in the middle of evolving WNAP’s music, but there were still a lot of deep cuts in there, so I was always nervous the mornings it was WNAP’s turn in the box. Whenever I would hear one of these deep cuts come up, I would start talking louder and faster and as I did Jim would be turning the volume up while nodding along to whatever nonsense I was saying. When I’d finally run out of gas, he’d say to me … What the hell is this Johns? As I said, there was no win waiting for me in those car meetings which was proved one morning when we were listening to Gary Todd. Jim personally handled the morning show so on those mornings I got to relax a little until one morning he turned to me and said, “Johns, I can’t understand why you’ve got Todd talking so much lately.”
Very few people realize that at one time Hilliard not only ran Fairbanks Broadcasting but was also the president of the Indiana Pacers when the ABA and the NBA finally merged. The way the NBA got their revenge on the remaining ABA teams was by not cutting them in on the TV rights right away so it would be years before the Pacers could make a profit. The Indiana investors decided to try and sell the team which put Hilliard on the road and out of touch for a while so things slowed down a little.