Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women! (The Great Gift) Chapter XXII & XXIII (Edited May 14/17)

WIBCWhat a fun trip
Indy turned out to be
Now all we have left
is Fulton’s documentary.

10-70 and the Buzzard
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. 
Had I known all this was coming after just being told that Jim wanted me to do my own stuff instead of his I may have fled back to Canada. Even so, I was still sitting there wondering what I had gotten myself into when Jim said that he had a gift for me. This gift he claimed was going to make my job a whole lot easier because it will take the politics out of everything.
I’m giving you the “right to be wrong” so from this moment on you can do anything on the radio you want whenever you want. Of course, there’s a catch he went on to say, even though you now have the right to be wrong I’m not giving you the right to live with your mistakes. If what looks good on paper doesn’t sound good on the radio you have to rip it off the air immediately, no discussions, no meetings, just off! Now get out of here and take advantage of the gift I just gave you by making me some great radio and oh yeah please close the door behind you as you leave. Jim’s the only person I know who runs an open door policy from behind closed doors.
Being the National Program Director of Fairbanks Broadcasting meant that I worked mostly with all the Fairbanks PD’s and occasionally with their air staff. In Indianapolis, I was the National PD of WNAP which meant I worked closely with Cris Conner but I was the local PD of WIBC, so I worked with the air staff directly.
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.Riley.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
12183703_10154309637824307_3115583021011127626_o 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.”


At Fairbanks Broadcasting one of our goals was to keep Mr. Fairbanks from making a decision because we would have to live with it for years. We were told that if we were ever lured into his office for any reason, we were to blame it all on Jim and get the hell out.
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. 
It was during one of Jim’s selling trips that I’d come up with an idea that needed an immediate answer so a meeting with Mr. Fairbanks’ was unavoidable. (pictured above) The Indy 500 was and still is a very big deal in Indianapolis and if you didn’t carry it live you were deemed almost Un-American. All the stations picked up a feed from the network which was fed worldwide and staffed mostly by WIBC announcers.
Seeing as Arbitron didn’t take ratings around race day my idea was to commission them to do a race day only study which I hoped would prove that most people listened to the race on WIBC. If they didn’t then because the survey was a private study, we could throw it away, and nobody would be the wiser. The only problem with my idea was that it was very expensive which necessitated me meeting with Mr. Fairbanks. After getting all my ducks in a row so I could answer all of his questions, I trudged into his office. 
As I nervously began my presentation, he immediately interrupted me and said, “I agree let’s do it!” Shocked by his response and because I’d prepared a whole presentation, I continued, but once again he interrupted me. This time he says, “George, you already have a yes from me but if you insist on continuing the only other place it can go is to a no.” To this very day whenever I get a yes at any meeting, I’m outta there!



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