was a hippie named Gar
He helped me a lot
as we gathered our stars.
Sebastian & Woody
were part of the gang
Then when we added Ron Doc & Alfie
we came on with a bang
Two things happened almost spontaneously in the late’60s that changed my whole life. My daughter Candis was born and CKY offered me a full-time position as their Music Director. Knowing I couldn’t do both, I decided to leave the Jury. This though turned out to be the right move because less than six months later, I was offered the Program Director’s job at CKOM in Saskatoon and my radio career caught fire.
Now one of the bad things about Saskatoon is that it’s even colder than Winnipeg, I know it because I spent the first couple of days there, hunkered down in front of a heater, listening to the radio in a motel. Management thought it would be a good idea for me to monitor the radio station for a week and then come in and discuss my findings. However, after two days, I was crazed. I didn’t know much about programming, but I sure knew enough to know that what I was hearing would never ever work.
The early mornings started off with MOR music, (Middle Of The Road) until a piano player showed up at 9 to play some sing-along stuff. At 10:00 they switched to Country Music which was followed by top 40 at 4:00 in the afternoon. During the evening, they switched back to MOR again before doing some strange talk shows like schizophrenic anonymous
As I said, I knew none of this would work, so with my notes in hand, it was into the station I go. After being introduced to the staff as the new PD, I sat down in my boss’s office and told him what needed to be ripped off the air immediately. Unfortunately, when all I heard was crickets and looked up from my notes, I discovered that my new boss was just sitting there, red-faced and trembling with anger. That’s when I suddenly realized that I was talking to the guy who put all that sh*t on the air. Oh-oh!
My first meeting at the radio station cost me at least six months so I decided to bide my time by fixing production first. The station was also short an announcer, so based on J Robert Wood’s recommendation; I hired future Hall Of Famer Gary Russell. (pictured with me above) Gar was a good fit and like me, was also once a board op at CKY-FM in Winnipeg but when he arrived in Saskatoon, he only had one question. “What the f**k is all this?”
Wouldn’t you know it, Management loved the new production sound and gave me a raise because of it, but when I tried to convince them that my fixing production wouldn’t be enough to improve the ratings, they just waved me off.
Sure enough, out came the ratings and they’re a disaster. This panics the big guys and all they want to know now is, “How long will it take you to put all those things that you’ve wanted to do, on the air?” It seems that the owner was returning from his winter home in Palm Springs and they wanted to be able to say, “Yes, the ratings are terrible, but as you can hear, we now have a completely new sound.”
Oh, oh, here come, the new ratings are out and they’re killer! Everything was beautiful, or so I thought until the owner popped into my office to ask if I was ready for the big meeting later that day? I just laughed and said that I didn’t need to do much prep for a celebration meeting and that’s when he shocked me with, “It’s not a celebration, in fact, it’s the opposite.” The sales department it seems was getting a lot of resistance from the clients to our new format which also had some new rules about what could run and what couldn’t so they wanted to return to our old ways.
Wow, I was in total shock so I called my mentor Jim Hilliard for some advice. Jim simply said, “All you can do is go into the attack mode.” Then knowing that I was about to rain hell down on everybody, I called my wife to warn her that this may be my last day. She was back home in Transcona with my daughter visiting family, and instead of panicking she told me to do whatever I had to do because we could always live with her folks.
However, if you’re just here to tell me that you want the old ways back, I can assure you that it won’t be me doing it. With that, I walked out.
So far I’ve lived in three countries, Canada, Australia, and America, but I love my family more.
The reason America became the greatest country on earth in such a short period of time was because, great people with great ideas, came from all over the world because they wanted to live in America. I’m not sure that’s true anymore.
In my world, there are two worlds, the one before the Beatles and the one after.
As the Jews discovered shortly after WWII, nobody is going to take care of you so you better learn how to take care of yourself.
Musicians include their original drummer Garry Peterson, vocalist Derek Sharp (he’s NO Burton Cummings with a whiney voice), ex-Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, guitarist Will Evankovich, and multi-instrumentalist Leonard Shaw. Special guests include founding member Jim Cale, ex-Styx Tommy Shaw, ex-Whitesnake Michael Devin, Brent Fitz (ex-Slash, Gene Simmons) percussion.
The previews show this to be a good overall rockin’ album. The good, but formulaic, single is “Playin’ On The Radio”. Maybe they should have called it “Playin’ On The Stream” since terrestrial radio shot itself in the foot-long ago and will likely not support them again. “Give It A Try” would make a good single for Hot AC, and rock, The ballad “Haunted” is also good, with a piano reminiscent of The Commodores’ “Easy”. (I Remember The Jury)
Geo: It’s always about the market leader Jed, they set the rates and everybody tucks in under them. I once talked Joe Amaturo into not going after the #1 station in town because it would not only a tough fight but and all we would probably accomplish was to bring them down. This, I explained would make the bad sounding country station who had equally bad rates, #1. He went country instead
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.