When my nephew Jamie, (shown with me above) who lives with his beautiful wife Lindsay (also pictured with me above) and their five daughters in Jacksonville, told me that he was remodeling his home, (shown finished above) it brought back some bad memories.
When I moved to the US years ago it was kind of scary because when you grow up in Canada, you believed that the Canadian Government would never let you starve to death. However, after arriving in America, I soon figured out that maybe that wasn’t the case here.
Before leaving for the United States, I was the station manager of CFTR in Toronto where things were going well a but then I received an offer to become the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting in Indianapolis. Hey, in my world if you haven’t played in the States, you haven’t played, so what the hell.
As I said I was a little nervous about leaving the homeland but because we were doing some very creative radio at Fairbanks and the ratings were on the rise, I bought a big new home with a pool plus a couple of fancy cars and relaxed. I stayed relaxed for about 8 years, then I turned 39, and things got scary again.
I don’t know if a mid-life crisis was involved, but suddenly, I decided that not only was I going to celebrate my 40th birthday in California, I was going to move there and start my own consulting company. All of this was very exciting to me, but not so much at home, so it looked like I’d be going it alone.
A couple of months later, I finally realized my lifelong dream of living in California when I moved to San Diego. Upon arrival, I immediately bought a place right near the beach in Coronado, but because it was pretty old, it needed to be brought up to speed.
Thankfully, it didn’t long for my new company to get some traction, not only was I picking up new clients, but my family finally decided to join me in California. Even though things were picking up, I was still a little nervous. Hey, when you’re out here on the skinny branches all by yourself, it’s scary. What I needed to figure out, was how to get some security, so I opened a secret bank account and called it, my f**k you” account. My goal was to save up two hundred thousand dollars as fast as I could, so I wouldn’t have to take any s*it from anybody. Hey with 200 K in the bank, you’d think a guy could at least feed himself for a while, huh?
Once I had my nest egg in place, like a fool, I relaxed again. Does a guy never learn?
As I said, my house in Coronado was very old and badly needed to be brought up to date, so I turned it into a Mediterranean Villa. (see photo on top) I walled it, pooled it, Mexican tiled it, and blew French doors into the upstairs and downstairs of it. When the work was done, my home looked brand new, there was no way you could tell that it was initially constructed in 1914.
As thrilled as I was with the outside, inside, things were beginning to fall apart. The bathrooms were shutting down, the wallpaper was peeling, and the plaster was falling off the wall. Time to remodel baby!
I don’t know how the architect and the decorator found out about it, but before long, my “f**k you” account was gone. All I have left now are these old photos from “Better Homes and Gardens.”
Ron Chapman: On my list of “most unforgettable people,” I have Jack McCoy as second behind Jerry Jones. The first thing I remembered was “he who controls the verbiage, controls the buy.” More to come…(My Friend Jack)
Geo: I, like you, Ron, have many McCoyismns still swirling around in my head. I’ll never forget introducing you to him and doing our first of many recording sessions with him at KVIL. As I remember it, as you tried to explain to Jack the details of the promo you wanted him to record, he said, “That’s already too much copy, I’ve got it.” As he began, you looked at me like I was crazy because we had no idea what the hell he was talking about but it soon became apparent that he totally understood the concept. I hope you’re doing well old friend?
Steve Dinkel: I first had exposure to Jack during my stint as Sales Manager at KSLQ in St. Louis. Part of the Bartell group- KCBQ, WOKY, WMYQ. There was always a lot of talk about “this guy” in San Diego cranking out incredible station promos. Later as VP/GM of KLSI in Kansas City, I sent many large checks to Jack’s company for promotional items such as the “Incredible Prize Catalog.” The checks were large, but the results much larger! And when the audience would call the station asking to hear the promos… you knew he was making “Magic in the Mind” for the listener and that is what it’s all about… Radio as it was meant to be! (My Friend Jack)
Geo: Thank you for remembering those giant checks Steve, and I of course also remember the giant ratings. The prize catalog couldn’t happen today because they don’t care about giant checks heading into the building; they only want to prevent giant checks from heading out.
Candis Johns: Jack McCoy is one of my dad’s coolest friends. I remember when he would visit us in Indiana, as was sometimes the case with various radio types. Even as a young kid, I could see he was smart as a whip, witty, and funny. When he found out I was a gymnast, he proceeded to demonstrate some mad skills right in our dining room, doing a handstand in his dress clothes, which was beyond surprising – and incredibly impressive.Jack McCoy, an epic storyteller, has recounted some of the most hilarious tales I’ve ever heard, which had me laughing so hard that I could barely breathe and which remain part of the soundtrack of my childhood.I still remember them and to this day occasionally retell them to people at parties when unkind swans, heated hotel bathroom floors, or would-be hotel fires come up in conversation.
I had the honor of working for ‘Mr. McCoy’ in my senior year of high school and, as such, witnessed the creation of those amazing promos.
When I had the opportunity to say hello at my dad’s birthday party, he was still just as cool as ever. In fact, they don’t come any cooler than Jack McCoy… always ‘Mr. McCoy’ to me. (My Friend Jack)
Peter Z: When you wrote, “It is said that when the restoration of Notre Dame completed, the only person still living will be Keith Richards.” I said, “Seriously? I think when the restoration of Notre Dame is completed, Keith Richards will be making a birthday cake for Betty White.” (3 Halls Of Fame Baby)
Jed Duvall: George, thank you for the aircheck clips of Chuck. Although we were never close and although he gave me a great deal of grief, I realize now he was training me, as were you, Jim, Gary, and Bake, to adhere and never budge from demanding high standards, which stuck with me in my professional radio, TV, web and print career. I was fired a couple of times for not budging, but at least I could look at myself in the mirror the next morning and go forward. Listening to these clips bring tears to my eyes and re-opens the small hole in my heart. You and others have a bigger gap in the soul because you worked with Chuck longer. He was a talented person that no one could ever forget. (Whatever Happened To My Old Friend Riley)
Jim J: I am SO glad I found this! I have been a HUGE Chuck Riley fan from the first time his voice leaped out of the TV towards me on CBS. I feel Chuck never got the respect he deserved as one of the great voice talents. Ernie was solidifying immortality with The Love Boat liners and Don was….well Don but when you search today and there is very VERY little info on Chuck Riley.
Talk about a double bonus to read that you actually sat on the other side of the booth from him!! Okay, I have to ask you. Did you ever record Chuck in the 1990s? Listen to this flipping promo from 1995.
I just have to know what kind of a mic he was using? Most likely a 416 but I just had to ask if he had his own mics he liked to use. Also, do you remember how close he worked the mic?
Thanks again Geo for giving the man some props on your site! (Whatever Happened To My Old Friend Riley)
Geo: Thanks for the read, Jim. No, I didn’t work with Chuck in the ’90s, by then I was living in Boston. However, when I did work with him, he preferred Neumanns and as I remember, he worked them rather far away because he liked how they opened up and sucked up all his low tones.
The main reason that Chuck isn’t as famous as his contemporaries is probably because he didn’t want to be.
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.