Mike McVay and George Johns Are Going Old School.

 

OK so it’s on ! Even though we live in the New Media World, Mike McVay and I are going “old school” at the NAB in Vegas this year. We’re going to talk some great radio where most of it used to be talked about. In a great bar. Now we need to find some old school record ducks to pick up the bar tab like they did back in the day. Jerry Brenner are you still out there. Tommy Nast come on down. Where’s George Luthin. Now that Charlie Minor’s gone we need somebody to step up and take a leadership position

No matter how carefully I wander down any avenue with an air talent as I gently try to guide Him/Her towards Fame & Fortune it always ends up or breaks down at the same old place. Show Prep!

Speaking of show prep, I remember meeting Rich Stevens years ago at his first PD job. I remember telling him that show prep is everything and the talent’s only job was to convince us he was just winging it. Rich completely agreed with me and said he even had an old David Letterman script that totally proved my point. Rich was kind enough to send it to me. I have used the memory of that script to make my point to countless people. Today while going through some old boxes I recently got out of storage there was the script. How cool is that!

Last week I read Tracy Johnson’s new book Morning Radio Revisited. This week I’m on to Bill Young’s “Dead Air”and by this time next week I should have enough good stuff amassed to get back on the road again feeling very dangerous.

I think the above mentioned books may have just showed up in the nick of time. I just saw the new upgrade to my car … The E 350 Benz. Gotta have it !

Jo Ann Pflug claimed at the Super Bowl party I was attending that she thought I had a pretty good shot at the beautiful Blonde sitting beside me because she actually seemed to be listening to what I was saying.

When Ron Chapman was at the very top of his game at KVIL he would be approached by all kinds of beautiful Dallas Women. He told me the way he kept himself out of trouble then was with a very simple question. Is she worth paying all her Visa bills for. Now he says … Is she worth raising her two year old for.

This morning I had a short meeting with Buzz Barnett who is in the transition of going from a very good Jock to a very good News Character. Have way through the meeting I suddenly realized who ever coined the phrase “Meeting with Buzzy is like meeting with a Humming Bird on crack” … Nailed him!

I love working with gifted air talent mainly because I am in awe of people who can do things I cant do but If I could do what they could do though I already know exactly what I would do to beat them.

Bob Christy who just recently escaped from our industry said that now that he’s no longer in it, Radio seems to even sound worse than he thought it did.

I think Record Companies trying to stay alive today are to me kinda like The Pony Express trying to keep their delivery business afloat while Jet planes are flying overhead.

A lot of radio stations today sound like they must have used the same research company Ford used to create the Edsel.

I just read an interesting article by Jose Lambiet in The Palm Beach Post about former WRMF Super Star traffic reporter Paul Cavenaugh, turning bad into good. During Paul’s 20 year tenure doing traffic from a Helicopter, he crashed two times. It is said if you can walk away from any landing it was a good landing but Paul hobbled away from the 2nd crash and now finally after painful back surgery Paul’s insurance settlement showed up which has put him in his dream yacht and set him up for life. There was no way Paul’s broadcasting career was ever going to lead to this story book ending but Paul deserves it and I continue to remain his biggest fan.

Tom Cochran reminded me that Cris Conner epitomizes what an artist is supposed to do … Observe Life, Then Comment On It.

When I turned 50 I wanted to try and win some races in my division so I hired World Class Runner Thom Hunt to coach me. A funny thing happened I turned out to be much faster at 50 than I was at 40.

Have you ever noticed that when things are going well at work you don’t think about your life much you just live it. If things aren’t going well at work you usually start thinking you need to spend more time with your family or you need to play more golf or go fishing, take some time off etc. So goes your work so goes your life.

The PPM devices always find the hot radio stations. The rest of the also rans have to spend most of their time trying to find the devices so they can just try and stay in the game.

Being originally from Canada I occasionally get notices from the government. Today I got one that said, because Canadians are healthier and living longer some adjustments are going to have to be made to the Canada Pension Plan unless you live in Quebec. I stopped reading at that moment and thought to myself… and they wonder why there is a little animosity between the English and French speaking Canadians.

Bob Lefsetz says the real secret sauce is “Greatness”

Welcome To America, Now Get To Work!

OK where was I before I was rudely interrupted by all the the noises in my head. Oh yeah I remember now! There I was sitting across the desk from Jim Hilliard shortly after arriving in Indianapolis at the corporate headquarters of Fairbanks Broadcasting from Toronto.
Jim’s office was a just a hair smaller than the owner’s but Mr. Fairbanks didn’t have a button like Jim’s that automatically opened his blood red drapes and let the sun fall on you like a huge spotlight. Mr Fairbanks of course was a very rich man but as I’ve always said, I would rather live like Hilliard because he always had a way more toys. Anyway there I am basking in God’s spotlight on my first day in America with my new career ahead of me as the company’s new National Program Director.

I remember to this day sitting there telling Jim I was ready to start implementing all his great ideas and do what ever else it was he wanted done. The words he used to jump start me back into reality were … “George if I knew what to do I wouldn’t have hired you”! That being said he also informed me that we were soon going to be doing some quick road trips to introduce me around. The first stop was to be Dallas where we would meet with the GM Bob Hanna and Morning Man/PD Ron Chapman of our newly acquired FM station KVIL. But before we do that he said there are a few things right here in Indy that need to be taken care of. He went on to say that he was very concerned about WNAP because he no longer recognize most of the music and the ratings seemed to be going sideways. He also thought I should consider hiring some new blood which may get the Buzzard Boys attention because he didn’t much like the fact that a lot of the jocks were hanging out with the sales folks and they were all acting like they had this very hip and exclusive private club thing they had going on. To him it appeared most of them were more into inner peace than they were ratings.

WIBC on the other hand he felt seemed to be in pretty good shape and was currently on the rise in Arbitron’s new diary method of harvesting ratings. We had Gary Todd as our Morning Ring Master and we had surrounded him with some very well known local morning characters like Jerry Baker, Fred Heckman and Paul Page. Orly Knutson had given up playing drums and was now focused on his midday show. Chuck Riley cantankerous as ever was doing afternoons along with Hockey Bob Lamey and Lou Palmer. Nat Humpheries was our pipe smoking Dude at night. Arbitron’s diary method of ratings was just taking over in America but was old hat to me because it was the way Canada had being doing it since I first started in radio. I felt I had a bit of a leg up in that arena and had brought with me a few sneaky ideas that might just help to further our good cause.

As good as WIBC sounded when I first arrived it was still in a ratings dog fight with an old line station WFBM and top 40 WIFE. Jim strategically wanted to maneuver WNAP more directly against WIFE which would pull their ratings down a little and make room for WIBC to sneak on by. We knew our demos would end up being younger then WFBM so even though they may in the short run out rank us we would beat them in the street then eventually dismantle them completely. His main concern about all this was the music we were currently playing on NAP was not going to aid our cause so he wanted me to fix it and he wanted it fixed without ruining ultra hip image The Buzzard had. Jim thought we could use a few very cool promotions that could add hipness to the station to counter balance the fact that the music was going to be squarer. My first step was to set up a meet with the PD/Afternoon drive guy Cris Conner who referred to himself on the air as “Moto Groove”. I needed to get Cris on board with the new plan as soon as possible but seeing as he was a very intelligent guy I was pretty sure he would see the logic behind some of the changes we needed to make and could bring Tom Cochran, Mike Griffin, Buster Bodine and Major Tom around to our way of thinking.

On the WIBC side Jim thought that it was time to start slowly moving the music a little closer to what I had been doing in Toronto on CFTR and away from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett type sound. The theory was If we evolved the music slowly and carefully Jim was convinced we could make WFBM sound much older than us without anybody realizing we had changed anything. WIFE on the other hand would be forced to go younger to defend themselves against the new WNAP pressure. Our thinking was if WFBM got older and WIFE got younger WIBC could slide right up and in between the both of them and end up with the Lions share of the 25-54’s and all the big blue chip clients that went with them, and thats exactly what happened.

WNAP was always used throughout the years to protect the company’s “Cash Cow”. WIBC was so successful that Jim used the profits to buy radio stations all over America. So goes WIBC so goes the company he often said but we all knew that WNAP played an enormous role as the protector of “Big Mamma” as WIBC was affectionately called. We would and could could adjust The Buzzard’s format the moment any competitor started to get any traction that we deemed may harm WIBC in any way.

At the corporate level of Fairbanks we were all totally into strategy and Jim and I even went to Disney University a couple of times a year just to see if we get a leg up on the Radio Biz.
Dick Yancey my counter part in sales and I used to spend hours dreaming up promotions we could add a little sales twist to which would enable us to take a bunch of money off the table and literly starve the other stations to death as we chased ratings.
One of those promotions we did produced over a 19 share for WIBC and brought in a ton of money. The promotion changed Yance’s life forever and he is still doing some version of it today. Hey it even got me a new Mercedes. Hey maybe I should have switched gears right then like my Brother Reg did rather than chasing ratings for the rest of my life.
Meanwhile back at the ranch Jim suggested I should begin a search for another great jock who could do weekends, production and vacation fill in on WIBC. He would need to be good enough to maybe scare my old friend Chuck Riley because once again Chuck was once again becoming unmanageable and driving the rest of the staff crazy. Oh and George one more thing he said as we started to wrap up my first meeting in America, I hope you still have your old promo chops cause your gonna need them. Jim loved promos and his desire for fresh new ones was insatiable. As I was leaving his office with my head spinning he said … Oh yeah and another thing I almost forgot, “Welcome To America”

Soon it was time to head for Big D Baby! But hey not so fast it seems we’re taking a little side trip first to New Orleans to look at an FM station Jim’s interested in. That was very cool with me because I had never been to Dallas let alone New Orleans. Wow, New Orleans the place where a ton of music that changed my life came from how fun!
I have to stop here for a moment to mention that before moving to Indy I lived in Toronto which by far is one of the cleanest big cities in North America so I was not at all prepared for what I would find in “The City Of New Orleans”. To this day I still can’t get it out of my head. When we arrived in the Big Easy it was cloudy, dreary and the humidity was just stifling. On the cab ride into the French Quarter in a beat up old cab with no AC I noticed a strange sour smell in the air and trash, newspapers and junk were blowing all over the very dirty streets. I noticed that the people were not smiling at all and appeared to be be sad as they were slowly shuffling around seemingly headed for nowhere. I think I felt their pain back then and I still do.

Jim finished up what he wanted to do and shortly there after we were on our way to the home of The Dallas Cowboys. We arrived at Love Field in Dallas to exactly what award winning Jock Bill Gardner claimed about a year later when he did the official weather live on KVIL. “When you live in Dallas Texas you expect sunshine, blue skies, and 80 degrees … You got it more of the same tomorrow” and hit the post. We were met by KVIL’s GM Bob Hanna who had a big ol’welcoming grin on his face as he greeted us. I really liked Bob who had a charming soft southern drawl even though I remember smelling a little too much after shave and he seemed to be wearing a tad too much gold. Anyway we piled into his white on white Cadillac Eldo with two phones and head to the Fairmont hotel to meet up with Ron Chapman for some lunch (Of course I got a red one just like it two weeks later. I Americanized very quickly)

While driving Jim mentions to Bob that I had never been to Big D. He immediately makes a sharp right turn and says OK lets get this out of the way right now. He soon stops the car downtown points up and says, that’s the window where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from, and over there is the famous grassy knoll. So that’s the bad news George but if you look over here you will see the good news. Man oh man oh man! Here was another thing I was totally not prepared for … Breathtakingly beautiful women everywhere who all looked like Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I’ll tell you one thing for sure unlike in New Orleans these ladies weren’t shuffling they were struttin’! Hey how could you not win in this town and as it turned out we surely did. To be continued….

See the movie/documentary “NAPTOWN RADIO ROCK WARS” on the big screen at a film festival near you soon.

Grammys are for the fans Oscars are for the Actors

Isn’t it interesting that the Grammys are for the Viewers and the Oscars are for the Actors.

How free can you truly be if the Army is running your Country.

I believe the term Charismatic describes a person who so strongly believes in what they are doing that others get caught up in the, cant fail wave of confidence that exudes from them, and gets swept away in the excitement of their “Cause”

Who do you suppose the new Radio Legends are.

Speaking of a Legend, Mike McVay and I are thinking about doing an impromptu session at some cool bar in Vegas during the NAB. Over the years Mike and me have done a ton of projects in opposition of each other but this would be the first we have ever done together. Might prove to be very interesting or maybe we’ll just hug, have a nice glass of something very red, and be on our way. I cant help but think we should have done a station or two together long before now but I have a feeling they would have created some law against it. It probably would prove too dangerous for the industry by getting in the way of consolidation. Damn!

Tim Moore claims that the saying … “It’s easier to get to the top than stay at the top” is just a myth.

Speaking of Tim and the NAB, he is putting together a panel in Vegas this year where we are going to discuss whether or not we think the Big Promotions and Antics of “Radio’s Glory Days” would work in this PPM age.

Thinking about antics I remember when I was working with KKOB in Albuquerque and was attending a promotion meeting where the GM was explaining that Marvin Hamlisch was popping by the station early the next morning for a short interview. He was going to all the stations in town that day to promote his concert later that night and we were the first one he was going to hit. I piped up with … Boring ! Everyone looked up at at me kinda startled and the GM sarcastically asked what I would do instead. I told him I would put a piano in the studio because no one I wouldn’t think, would ever buy a ticket to hear Marvin talk. We cant ask him to play the piano was his stern reply. I don’t think you will have to was my optimistic response, it’s what he does. When Marvin showed up he excitedly asked if it was OK to sit over here at the piano.(we had a mic all set up there just in case) What a show, he played the news intros, the weather intros, take me out to the ball game under the sports, back ground music for the live spots and he even played all the themes from movies he had written while talking about what went on at the set a Oh by the way he was having such a good time he stayed the whole show and forgot to make it to the other stations.

I believe more great entities are toppled from the inside than by their outside competitors.

Most Women have fantasies about Men they don’t know. Most men have fantasies about Women they do know.

Women only seem to remember five lovers in their lifetime and no 1 night stands.

It is better to leave something to the imagination was never said by a Man.

My dear friend Jo Myers who looks like Sinead O’Connor currently is I understand considering switching to the Pamela Anderson look. We all anxiously await her decision and are praying for a show and tell.

Speaking of Jo, if I had her strength I would be terrifying.

I was sitting in a sports bar tonight listening to some wimpy white guy telling three black guys how un racist he was. I almost wanted to ask the black guys if we could flip a coin to decide who was going to beat the s**t out of him first. It was almost sounded as wussy as some Western Canadian Dude trying to speak French to someone from Quebec.

I went to watch my 6 year old Grandson Nathaniel at basketball practice the other day. He’s the best dribbler on the team so of course that’s all he wants to do. He looks like a midget Harlem Globe Trotter. I told him he better learn to shoot if he wants a shot at the chicks. He asked me what chicks were.

Why does it take forever to get a YES but NO is always instant.

I just got through reading Tracy Johnson’s great new book, “Morning Radio Revisited”. The only thing I cant figure out is why Tracy is giving away a Million Dollars worth of secrets for $29.95.

I was telling Brent Farris that I think The Prize is the thing not the Technology you use to give it away with.

Score Boarding is a term used to describe what a person is doing when they buy a lot of pretentious things to show the World how hot they are. It is the same term used to describe the actions of people who tell you they could buy all that stuff … “But they are not into pretentious things”

The thing most rich guys have in common is they think they did it all by themselves.

I hear a rumor that Wolfman Jack is hiding on the radio in Northern California putting his new act together for the rest of the World.

A friend of mine said if he was a Minority he would own most of the Radio Stations he applied at because of how he was treated

 

Reid Reker and I were very lucky attendees of a Super Bowl Party with great looking Cheerleaders. Lindy Rome was there looking as fine as ever with her friend the always delicious Margo Hunt. Too Tall Hall also showed up sporting some very nice new accessories.

Speaking of the Super Bowl I loved hearing radio playing the Shangri Las Leader Of The Pack in honor of Aaron Rodgers’ MVP Award

Tracy Johnson has a new book out called Morning Radio Revisited he wants to send me a copy because he claims he mentions me a few times. OH OH !

If it’s true that supply and demand is what sets the price shouldn’t Wine be about 50 cents a bottle.

What you think your image is, what your position used to be, and where you used to work has little to do with where you’re going in radio today. You might as well just get the job you always loved doing and become the best in the world at it.

Air talent need to go through 3 steps to become somebody but most start right at the 3rd step ( entertaining ) and fail miserably. You know, folks who have never told a joke in their life start telling bunches of them on the air.

Sports Dynasties are real good for the city where they occur but real bad for the league. Hence the creation of free agency.

The year after your Super Bowl win is when the real coaching begins. (Sung to the old Elvis tune “That’s When Your Heart Aches Begin” ) Come on Sean work with me now.

Jack Collins GM of the first CLASS FM station in America once told me … George what you don’t get about radio sales people is they don’t work for the radio station. I said Jack what you don’t get about me is I don’t work for the radio station either. I work for the listeners.

Sometimes I just feel like the Shop Steward for the Listeners Union.

I think every mans quest should be to become the man his 4 year old daughter already thinks he is.

In a day filled with decision making I think the person who is not paying the bill should be the one deciding where we are eating.

My Daughter Candis while growing up said she was always confused about whether or not I was sexist. Her conclusion … I was, but just not with her.

I remember going to a radio convention in Vancouver with my Brother Reg. At the time we owned a couple of Radio Stations, were consulting almost 40 other stations who were running our CLASS/CASSY stations and were putting another format up on Satellite. So of course we were staying in a nice suite in one of Vancouver’s finest hotels. An old radio buddy of mine Doc Harrispopped over for a visit and after a lot of conversation about the places we used to work at together he said, George I never read about you in the trades, I guess your move to the U.S. didn’t work out for you. Eh ?

If it’s true most talent comes from the dark side, how come I’m not more talented.

Most people don’t want to listen to the radio to further their education nor do they want to be preached at just ask Glen Beck.

The device used to get the product to the consumer soon becomes yesterday’s news. The product if any good lives forever.

A real good friend of mine who is looking for a radio position said if he were a Minority he would own most companies he was applying at because of how he was treated. Names and Places coming soon.

My brother has often told me that I should give up the A** Hole part of my personality because I’m not very good at it. He claims he has met the best and I’m not in their league. But now as I sit here thinking about how radio is now treating good folks not to mention the listeners, I think I just need to get a lot better at it.

Have you ever noticed that commercials that sell some form of entertainment don’t sound at all like commercials.

Jerry Del Colliano says in the PPM World of drive by listening AM Radio is dead meat unless it can attract passionate listeners.

John Picano told me that growing old is inevitable but growing up is just an option.

My old friend Mark Hubbard once told me that radio should be run like the World’s oldest profession is run … Ask the customer what they want, how they want it, then give it to them exactly that way. How Mark knows all this is none of my business.

How come Men have to ask for permission to have a “Boys night out”. Women just inform us when they are going out for the evening with their Girlfriends.

Is there anything more exciting than being invited by the person you are buying a Valentines gift for at Victoria’s Secret to join her in the dressing room.

You Can Change The World By Just Fooling Around!

I had lunch today with Jarl Mohn ( Lee Masters) who was looking very “spiffy” in his Brandon Wheat Kings Jersey. Jarl told me he was very lucky that I was unsuccessful in hiring him those many years ago. Had he joined us he reasoned he probably would have had a way too much fun and would never have gone to WNBC in New York. WNBC it turned out wouldn’t let him do any of his stuff so he quit and started E ! Entertainment.

Speaking of Jarl, he told me that Bob Pittman the new big guy at Clear Channel is absolutely the best Presenter he has ever seen. Jarl claimed agency folks cant resist buying what ever he’s sellin’.

I understand the fans in Chicago were burning Jay Cutler’s Jersey out in the parking lot after the Bears loss because they finally figured out like the Denver folks did a while ago that he’s a wimp.

Speaking of Cutler, Josh behind the bar at Duffys Sports Grill says Jay better have an operation on that leg or he wont get out of town alive.

Boy this is as low profile as ever seen from Randy Michaels. Be afraid be very afraid. But then again maybe he’s just sitting out a “no can talk” part of his contract.

Everything you do on the radio should sound like you don’t quite have enough time to do it.

I predict American Idol will still be big but definitely not a phenomenon anymore.

I think a good marriage is only possible when both parties not only love each other but also like each other.

In most relationships the woman thinks her man would be better with a few changes The man prays that his woman never changes. The reverse is what usually happens.

3 legends that I know of Elvis, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis produced a whole new style of music while taking a break from what they were in the studio specifically to do. During the break they each started fooling around and their “fooling around” changed music and perhaps the whole world forever. I would suggest that maybe we should all take a break and fool around a little.

The only music that sounds too loud is music you don’t like.

I love the on air talent who have a little off air swagger. Most management folk though seem to prefer the “needy” types.

What I like best about Running is the more you run the Lighter and Stronger you get which is a very powerful combination. OK, and hey the free drugs ain’t bad either.

Speaking of Running the math is very weird, skip 1 day and you get better, skip 2 days in a row and it takes you 4 days to get back to the same fitness level.

Somewhere between the Owners and the Unions lies the truth.

Keith James after reading my comment about how Jaguar XKE’s now just look funny on those skinny tires said we all looked funny and skinny back then.

Speaking of back then I used to love the 4 week books because I got to play Santa Clause. I was The National PD for Fairbanks Broadcasting and would show up at the pre book meetings in D/FW at KVIL with some very nice gifts for Ron Chapman. These special gifts would include things like a new Heller jingle package, some wonderful art work for a big new Billboard showing, a couple of huge bags of cash for the giant contest we had dreamed up, a limo that would take Ron to work in the morning, and even sometimes a great new sounding swing jock who was a way too good just to be doing weekends. None of Ron’s on air talent though ever seemed to get sick after his arrival so we hardly ever got to use him.

Women are born with what men want, unfortunately we have to become what they want.

Just once I would like to see how women would handle all of their natural instincts becoming illegal.

OK I’ll check again ! Nope It’s till the same … It’s what’s above the line that causes the bottom line according to Socrates but what the hell did he ever know he never had a MBA.

Radio sales folks don’t want product they just want ratings. (See above)

Have you ever noticed that big companies don’t take chances on us being computer savvy when they want our money. Huge, click here signs. Little companies must think we are all geeks maybe because they are. Good luck on figuring out what to do on their pages, I wonder how much money that’s costing them.

I find myself lately working on so much free stuff for some folks that I don’t have any time left over to work on the things which produce money.

So if your called prejudiced if you think someone is bad just because of their race, what are you called if you think someone is good just because of their race.

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