Geo’s Media Blog (WNAP-Indianapolis 1974) New 4/08/19 #7

Back in the day when I was the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting, we used to have a management conference every year just before Thanksgiving. In attendance at these annual affairs where the mandatory dress code was suit and tie, were our GMs, SMs, PDs, Promotion Directors, and the Cheif Engineers. Cris Conner from WNAP understood that the dress code only meant that he should wear his white mechanics smock filled with racing patches rather than the blue one. Ron Chapman from KVIL in Dallas commented, “Oh I get it, if you get the ratings, you can wear whatever the hell you want.”

These conferences were very futuristic. Our boss Jim Hilliard who ran them talked mostly about where things were going rather than where they were or where they had been. He wanted to take advantage of the situation by being there waiting when the future to arrive. In fact, when the economy was at its worst, we had our best year because we had planned for it.

On the sales side, here’s how it worked. At some point during our sessions, Jim Hilliard would hand the Sales Managers a folded piece of paper on which he had written what he expected them to bill the following year. When KVIL’s Jerry Bobo saw his number, I vividly remember hearing him saying, “JESUS CHRIST,” followed by WIBC’s Dick Yancey of WIBC asking, “But Jim what if we don’t get the ratings?” Hilliard responded with, “Well that may make it a little tougher Dick.” (Jerry, by the way, hit his number less than three quarters the way through the year)

On the programming side, it went like this. A couple of weeks before our meetings, I would call the PD’s and say, “Tomorrow’s your day in the box baby. You need to tape your station and then make a presentation tape out of it. Oh, and good luck; you’ll be playing it for a tough crowd.”

(Featured in the link below from 1974 is Bob Richards (RIP), Tom Cochran HOF, Mike Griffin, Cris Conner HOF, Buster Bodine, and Jay Michaels.)

https://app.box.com/s/zl1rdlcuspm4ng8xx7dtsuypfg3ajjv8

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS
 
Back in the day Fairbanks Broadcasting was one of the best broadcasting companies in America and had a lot of air talent that ended up in the Hall Of Fame along with some great promotions but other than some local news awards; I don’t think we ever won any National awards. We were such a low profile company that only our listeners and the folks who published the rating books knew who we were. 
 
Radio, if it needs to make more money, should not only embed their commercials but also make a couple of their air talents famous enough to do endorsements. That’s where the real money is, ask Michael Jordan.
 
I’ve often wondered if a songwriter can tell right off if he’s written a blockbuster? 
 
It is said that the universe is in complete disorder, but I’m thinkin’ that maybe we can’t get far enough back to see the pattern? 
 
How come they don’t steal car radios anymore? 
 
The best way to figure out if your dreaming or not is to ask yourself if you would really dream about the world that you live in today? 
 
Have you ever noticed that when some folks are having a bad day, they manage to share it so you can have one too? 
 
Why do women think that their drama is the only important drama?
 
Why do rich people always look pissed? 
 
Why do liberals always go silent whenever Arabs do something terrible?
 
Regrets wear you out. 
 
Procrastinating makes even the easiest of things hard to do. 
 
As long as you know it, saying something grammatically incorrect to make a point, is perfectly ok. 
 
In the ’50s and ’60s, people thought they were pretty insignificant. Not only do they think they’re significant now, they actually think that they’re much much more than that. 
 

Men seldom lie when they’ve been drinking.

Woman are generally difficult to deal with unless you’re rich. 
 
The law is black and white, but unfortunately, the world is grey. 
 
When you happily discover that you’re going to have your first child, you have no idea that your life is about to be destroyed. However, when the wee one finally arrives, you don’t care. 
 

Even though my daughter probably tires of all my questions, I still think that’s better than me asking none.

There’s an old saying that goes, “You are what and where you came from.” I’d keep that in mind when you’re voting; if your favorite candidate doesn’t have a similar background as you do, you’re about to get screwed.

The Winnipeg Jets are in the Stanely Cup playoffs. Go Jets!

Speaking of the Stanely Cup, 3 Canadian teams are chasing it this year.

Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs, or some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.

 

Geo’s Media Blog (WVBF Boston 1974 & a few Life-Liners) New 4/01/19

Back in the day when I was the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting, each year just before Thanksgiving we’d have a management conference. In attendance at these suit and tie affairs were all our GMs, SMs, PDs, Promotion Directors, and Chief Engineers.

These annual confabs were mostly futuristic which meant that our boss, Jim Hilliard dwelled mostly on where things were going not where they were. We’d discuss at length how to take advantage of the current situation and be there waiting when the future arrived. In fact, when the economy was at its worst in America, we had our very best year because we’d planned for it.

At some point, Jim Hilliard would hand all the Sales Managers a folded piece of paper on which he had written what he expected them to bill the following year. When Jerry Bobo of KVIL in Dallas saw his number, I vividly remember him saying, “JESUS CHRIST” very loudly, followed by Dick Yancey of WIBC in Indianapolis, who said, “But Jim what if we don’t get the ratings?” Hilliard responded with, “Well that may make it a little tougher Dick.” (Jerry, by the way, hit his number less than three quarters the way through the year)

For programming, it went like this. A couple of weeks before our meetings in Indy, I would call the various PD’s and say, “Tomorrow’s your day in the box baby, tape your station and make the best presentation tape out of it that you can. Oh, and good luck; you’ll be playing it for a tough crowd.

(Below is the tape of how WVBF in Boston sounded in 1974 which not only features Austin in Boston, Mark Davis, Harry Chase, Ron Robin, Charlie Kendall, Harvey Wharfield, a little taste of Benevolent Bill Freeman, and also the first-ever on-air BJ.)

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS
 
QUESTIONS?
One of the many neat things about Canada is nobody including politicians and rich folks, can buy their way to the front of the line. But then again, why would you want to work night and day if it didn’t get you any privileges?
 
Has anybody checked to see what taxes those whiny actors, singers, and athletes pay? 
 
I wonder how the rest of the team treats the “fake athletes” whose parents bought them their sports scholarships? 
 
How the hell did Hillary manage to go from a wife to a senator and then almost the presidency?
Wow, Duke got knocked out huh?  
 
REALITY
62% of the millionaires in America. So much for the self-made man stories huh. 
 
Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody has figured out how to handle it yet. 
 
An idea doesn’t come to fruition on its own. 
 
THINGS I DON’T BELIEVE
I don’t believe that our government didn’t know about Pearl Harbor.
I don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
I don’t believe that OJ didn’t kill his wife.
I don’t believe that a few towel heads brought the twin towers down by simply flying into them. 
I don’t believe that there were ever any “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
I don’t believe that Michael was not a pedophile.
I don’t believe that without rules, Mr. Businessman will do the right thing.
I don’t believe in Socialism, but I also don’t believe in specialism either.
I don’t believe that we need oil from Saudi Arabia.
I don’t believe America wants more people to move here.
I don’t believe that the wealthy need more tax breaks.
I don’t believe that the people who run charities should fly around in private jets and stay in 5-star hotels.
I don’t believe all who claim to be poor are poor.
I don’t believe that Cubans are better off under Castro than Batista.
I don’t believe any country is more important than your family.
I don’t and can’t believe that they dropped the charges against Jussie Smollett in Chicago. Wow!
 
PHILOSOPHICAL

If you get everything you want, pretty soon you won’t care if you get anything at all.

You know you’re getting old when you hear that Mick Jagger just had a stroke or something.

Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs, or some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated. 
 

 

 

Geo’s Media Blog. (Nothing but Life-Liners & Comments) New 03/25/19

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS
 

QUESTIONS
The pictures above? They’re from CKY, CFRA, and CFTR.

I wonder what the news would be like if the media were Centrists? 
 
If politics and politicians were as interesting and exciting as the actors and singers would have us believe, don’t you think there’d be a few more movies and songs about them? 
 
If Russia meddled in our election, what do you call what we’re doing in Venezuela? 
 
Seeing as there doesn’t appear to be any terrorist attacks in China, maybe we should do whatever they’re doing to prevent them? 
 
Speaking of China, they have ten times our population but a 10th of our crime? 
 
Do you find it as strange as I do that the only thing the Democrats and Republicans agree upon is campaign financing, lobbyists, and the War in Iraq?
 
Since the Gulf war began, we’ve sent 650,000 American soldiers to the middle east. Where the hell are all the protesters? 
 
Speaking of protesters, do you realize that since they discontinued the draft, there doesn’t seem to be any? 
 
Speaking of Nam, is there any other band that represents that era better than CCR? 
 
I wonder how many of our politicians are involved with the various Cartels? 
 
How much money do you need to be happy? The answer to that pays more than you’ll ever need. 
 
Don’t you wonder why they keep trying to come up with a way to pay the medical companies that are gouging us? Shouldn’t they be working on how to bring those creeps to their knees instead?
 
PHILOSOPHICAL
You’ll never receive that what you don’t ask for. 
 
Seeing as dreaming is free, you might as well do a bunch of it. 
 
As Ricky Nelson sang, “You can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself.”
 
To have some things you’ve never had you’ll have to do some things you’ve never done. 
 
Sometimes you have to look back to see what lies ahead. 
 
As you improve so does your life. 
 
You spend most of your life looking forward until the one day you catch yourself looking over your shoulder. 
 
No matter how hard you hang on, eventually you lose everything.
 
RADIO
The more specialized radio becomes the fewer listeners it attracts.
 
It’s the things that stand out on a radio station, good and bad, is what makes a particular radio station outstanding. 
 
REALITY
Even though I have more freedom than my parents, they were much safer. 
 
Taxes are not an investment. 
 
Being motivated is good but being a motivated seller, not so much. 
 
Courage and stupidity are confused with each other at times. 
 
Most countries who have peace within their borders are planning for war outside of them.
 
Almost everybody wants to walk through a door marked private. 
 
The good thing about guns is that they make you bigger than the biggest bully. 
 
Lawyers are just like everybody else who is desperate for money. Untrustworthy.

With just 7 games to go, the Winnipeg Jets lead their devision.

You can’t beat the system by just shouting at it.

COMMENTS

Doug Thompson: George wrote: “I believe in and love local radio but what I don’t believe in are carnival barker car commercials and tire store remotes.”
Bad ads have driven/are driving listeners away. Most commercials on local radio are terrible.  My solution is I push the button and move on to another station or switch to Sirius/XM where, at least on the talk or news channels, the commercials are equally as bad if not worse.  Ever hear the Bronx accent guy, Jimmy from Zyppah?  Annoying to the nth degree.  I worked with one of the best writers in the radio biz, my former creative partner Bill McDonald.  I’m embarrassed to hear some of the so-called ads on the radio today.
 
Geo: I was lucky enough to work with Bill in Toronto at CFTR Dougie. His commercials were better than some of the tunes we were playing and the two of you together must have been outrageous.
 
Doug Herman: Loved the story about the “Cri.” In those long-ago days, I think most radio stations had a “chief joint of staff” to which the crew adjourned after work. When I worked WOKY/Milwaukee, the official bar was The Annex, across the street. There was even an extension of the PD’s (George Wilson) office phone over there. Later, at WRIT, where the late Bob Collins and I did PM drive, the next stop was Orlando’s, where we’d usually find half the station staff when we got off the air. Fun times that I’m pretty sure don’t exist in radio any longer.
 

Geo: Ahh yes, Doug. In Indy, it was the Grog Shoppe right across the back parking lot from WIBC & WNAP. I  think the main reason the Grog was popular was because we had trade there and it was the only time you ever saw the sales and programming folks hanging out together.

Jim Harper: Speaking of “shitload,” that would describe my career before we started listening to your wisdom as our consultant. Every great Radio jock needs a Brian Epstein to become a Beatle. That is the best way I can describe, you George. Someone who can see the potential in others, recognize talent and how to optimize it and then, the most important part: How to manage and HANDLE success. Add to that all the Life-wisdom you so generously share with anyone who will listen, and all I can say is: I’m glad I know you, George. And I’ll never stop being grateful.

Geo: I pride myself in quick comebacks Jim, but I ain’t got nothin’ for this so I’ll just go with thank you.

Pat O’Day: Back in my Concerts West days, I was arriving in Oklahoma City with Three Dog Night late on a Saturday night and driving from the Airport listening to WKY.  This guy caught my attention.  Strange, such a talent on so late at night and on the weekend.  Sunday night after the show, on my way to the airport I hear the same guy and I’m impressed.

Returning to Seattle where I was the GM of KJR and KISW FM, I had my Assistant call WKY under the guise she wanted to hire the guy for a school record hop.  Now with his phone number, I called him and after a short visit, asked him if he would come up to Seattle and get acquainted.  He said he had a problem. He was still in High School but could maybe come during Easter break. He came, I hired him to do 6 to 9 PM which he did, AFTER HE GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL A MONTH LATER.  HE BECAME A BIG SEATTLE STAR UNDER HIS NEW RADIO NAME, KEVIN O’Brien. (His choice)  Years later, he went back to being Kevin Matheney.  He was a great PD, but he should never have left the air.  Kevin was spectacular with a voice that stunned with its love and charm. Loved ya Kevin and we miss you so!!!

Geo: Kevin worked for me as a PD in Philly, Pat. Wish I’d known at the time that he was also a great jock, great PD’s are a lot easier to find than great air talent. Like you, I also miss him.

Dee McGinn: George, I knew you via Don Garrard (Dandy) back in the late 70s/early 80s. I was married to him while he was in Indy at the buzzard through his stint with you in San Diego. I still have a note you sent him asking, “Don, you haven’t caused any trouble for a while…are you ill?”

I only met you a handful of times, but you were just delightful to talk to, and Don thought very highly of you. I spotted your blog while trying to see what Tom Cochran and buster are up to now, and thought I’d just say hello and wish you well. Take care! Dee (Garrard) McGinn.

Geo: Dee, how nice of you to reach out to me. Don truly was a memorable character which I’m sure you’re well aware of. The thing that helped make me successful Dee was surrounding myself talented people like Don and then trying to handle them as best I could. They, in turn, were very loyal and I remember them all fondly.

Robert Woyna: Hey! Just a terrific blog. I grew up with you guys in the Jury and Burton Cummings back in those great days.  We lost you to the states but got now we have you back again via your blog, witty and smarter. Great on the Canadian shit, keep it up, my friend. Rob Woyna. Transcontinental.

Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs, or some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.
 
 

Geo’s Media Blog with comments about Jack McCoy. New 3/18/19

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…

RC

Geo: I, like you, Ron, have many McCoyismns still swirling around in my head. Also, I’ll never forget the first recording session that we did together at KVIL where Jack used a grain of sand to explain your phone system to the listener. I also still remember the look of disbelief on your face as he was doing it. I hope you’re well, old friend?

Reid Reker: Jack McCoy = Creative Genius!  Not only is Jack, a good friend but he also resurrected my early fading radio career and put me in the hands of my longtime best friend and programming mentor, George Johns. How fortunate I was to be just a punk kid learning at the hands of these two radio greats!

I also shared the privilege of being in the studio watching Jack perform his promo magic where he said to me, “I don’t work with copy cause the copy is in the music.”  We would set out to do promos for the latest contest but end up with 20 imaging promos for KOGO, it all depended on where the music took him. On top of that, Jack could have easily made it on the stand up comic circuit being one of the funniest people on the planet. He had me laughing so hard one night at dinner (or maybe just cocktails now that I think about it) that my stitches from a recent surgery literally burst out.

Jack McCoy is the most futuristic person I have ever met.  I will never forget hearing him speak at a Fairwest Convention in 1989 where he told the audience that one day all radio stations would have a 2 share and that commercials would be purchased electronically.  All I can say about that is WOW!

Thanks, Jack for showing me the definition of the word “BIG” and for being a huge inspiration.

Geo: Reid, I believe that was at that same Fairwest Seminar where Jack also claimed that any one of us could do promos as well as he did. All we had to do was find some great movie soundtracks and start ad-libbing stuff. Right, Jack!

Bill Gardner: Jack was the first Program Director to say “Bill Gardner….you’re a morning man. Come down to San Diego and do mornings for me on KCBQ.” And who wouldn’t? He said all he could do was match my current salary in Seattle, but he’d give me a raise when he could.  My FIRST WEEK doing mornings, Jack increased my salary to what I’d asked for.

We even lived in the same apartment building.  And I remember seeing his black Lincoln Continental with “suicide doors” parked near my car.

Jack taught me something which I later became fairly famous for….an economy of words.  He did it by grabbing a tape of my morning show, a razor blade, and splicing tape and painstakingly editing words from things that I’d said that morning until it was streamlined, sharp, concise, and much more compelling!

And don’t get me started on how he MADE  the sound of a Ferrari from an old sound effects disc of a dump truck but played at 78 RPM, later pinching the tape during playback to recreate the sound of shifting gears. Enzo Ferrari himself heard it and approved it!

Creative? I still have a hand-written letter Jack wrote to me.  Hand printed, but written in total reverse!  You’ve got to hold it up to a mirror to read it!

And personally, a hell of a man. When he and I left San Diego for temporary jobs at WMYQ Miami, Jack said: “I want to introduce you to a great company for your long term plans….call this guy: George Johns at Fairbanks Broadcasting.”

PLEASE keep me up to date on one of my true heroes! I wish Jack the very best.  He deserves no less.

Geo: I’m so glad that Jack got you to call me Bill, I’m not sure how many tours we ended up doing together, but there were a bunch.

Linda Duffy: I still remember the day George ask me to send you one of his one-liner zingers.  It was supposed to read “are you still short,“ only I typed “as you still short,” I thought he was going to shoot me.

Geo: I loved the part, Linda, how you would imitate his voice when you’d buzz me to say that he was on the phone … GEORGE, JACK-MCCOY!

Sharon Henwood: One of my earlier memories, in a long career in various media and communications forms, was doing The Last Contest in Toronto at CFTR. What a blast to have a job that paid me to ask people their greatest dream then figure out how to make that a prize package – even with our limited Canadian budgets. I was in awe of the guy that thought it up, and although I never met you in person, still feel a buzz when I think of that time. Thanks, Jack.

Geo: Very exciting times Sharon, I’ll never forget them.

Art Vuolo: Jack… After a couple of knee replacements and other invasions of the body, I’m still kickin’ and hope you’re well also.  I have yet to win The Last Contest, and KCBQ is but a distant memory for this Michigan boy.  Be well bud, and my best from “Radio’s Best Friend.”

Bruce Buchanon: Jack, you are the very best which is why during radio’s 75 anniversary you were placed in the top 50 of radio’s most influential people.

Geo: I agree with you Bruce, but I also remember you cutting some damn fine promos when we launched WRMF in South Florida.

Bobby Rich: I first shook hands with Jack McCoy at KSTT Davenport, IA in 1972. I didn’t know who he was, but he was on a trip pitching the syndicated version of The Last Contest. A couple of years later when I landed in San Diego (at KFMB-AM and K-FM B-FM and flipped it to B100), we reconnected. He was done with KCBQ and doing RAM Research then, and we bought (one of?) his first call-out projects for the station. He was still tweaking so there was a lot of hands-on oversight and training with me and the B100 staff.

We were starting a big contest at B100, “100 Ways To Have A Ball.”  I asked Jack to voice the promos. This was HUGE since Last Contest had taken the market by storm on KCBQ just a couple of years prior. And of course, radio freaks all over the country had to have dubs of Jack’s “work” for B100. He not only did dozens of takes for the individual prize packages (the whole thing was a total rip of Last Contest) but also did teases for the Major Announcement, the “announcement” itself, and a highlight on top of highlights for me was… he gave me a dub of THE GONG (anybody who knows Last Contest knows what I’m talking about. It was so unique that no one was able to duplicate it even though the sound fx library had very similar takes.)

Jack, your inventiveness and development of major radio stations, promotions and ground-breaking research has brought numerous memories to listeners and broadcasters. We will always remember you and your super cool manner and voice.

Geo: I wonder how many other broadcasters Jack influenced Bobby because he sure influenced my brother and me.

Russ Morley: I have had the pleasure of working with Jack in West Palm Beach, Memphis, and Dallas. Our association was one of sensei and student. His creative genius was so very evident in broadcasting with his ability to transport the listener into an imaginative dimension through words, tone, pace, and inflection. But Jack was so much bigger than radio, as his mastery of other unrelated endeavors proved.

I used to marvel at his ability to come down to my level to communicate with clarity and precision and watched him do so with reluctant GMs and Sales Managers. He captured their imaginations as well, rather than try to sell the sellers. Jack also has a remarkable talent for staying in the shadows and allowing those who championed his projects to take the credit for their success. I miss our association and our conversations as I now do things well outside the bounds of broadcasting.  I have sincere gratitude for having worked with Jack and have tried to emulate but a morsel of his character.

Geo: I second that emotion, Russ.

Barry O’Brien: I remember meeting Jack when I was at WVBF in the mid-’70s and many times after that when I was at R&R.  Not sure if I ever sold him any ads in R&R, but I always liked him.  Please say hi.

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 70th 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.

Geo: You’re right honey, Jack’s stories have always been hilarious

For some sneak peeks at some upcoming Geo’s Media Blogs, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is much appreciated.

Even More Comments From Geo’s Media Blog. New 3/12/19

COMMENTS
 
Robin Solis: I spent about five hours each day writing original material for my next show. Your description sounded so familiar. I used Boardroom publications…can’t remember the monthly newsletter title. Spin magazine, SF Chron and San Jose paper to inform, educate, localize and write that punchline and at least one artist tidbit and hour. It’s damn hard work, but my PD told me that he couldn’t wait to hear me Crack the mic. I was also paid the lowest full-time salary…which made the work even harder. But when the psychological abuse started, I quit.
 

Geo: We would have kicked some major ass together Robin because you seem to be like one of my all-time favorite jocks, Bill Gardner. Bill memorized the punch lines of every joke he’d ever heard; then he’d go to the local newspaper to find the perfect beginning. This not only made him very funny but also very local.

Jim Harper: Great blog post, Buddy!
I have always felt the same way about morning prep-service, but NOW the whole idea of a prep service seems like a waste of time and money. They were started years ago before the internet. Now, every civilian under 60 has read every interesting little feature story and showbiz update on Facebook, Twitter and the web before they leave for work, as well as all the local and national news they care for.

WHY would anyone pay to have some 20-something stay up all night on Red Bull clipping stories that they send out to hundreds of stations? If management doesn’t have confidence in their own talent to let them do their own prep, why hasn’t any of the companies hired a couple of people to do a general top 10 list of things to talk about each morning for all their formats? (There really are LESS than ten things that are new to cover each day). Why not a V.P. of morning prep? The big groups have no shortage of Veeps, Captains, and Cluster-Monkeys…why not save a few 100 grand.

Geo: I’ve never been partial to manufactured humor, Jim.
 
Ron Below: As Midwest Regional Promotional Manager for about a decade for various labels, I never had the pleasure of crossing paths with you until my strange side journey at WNAP. So, as a “once was” record guy, what does it take to get into your exclusive circle of record guys :-)? I only crossed Charlie’s path a couple of times at industry events, but he was very well known to just about anybody, connected to or in the record biz… magnetic charisma, more than gracious host, beautiful women around at his beckon call, quick to pick up the tab and all the perks that record/showbiz (radio) enjoyed. If the perfect Record Man Robot came out of a machine, it would be a clone of Charlie Minor.
 
Geo: Mr. Below the first record guy I ever knew was Al Mair in Canada who when I was a first time PD, he flew all the way out to Saskatoon to by me dinner. When I asked him why, he said, “Cause I don’t think you’ll be here that long.” I met Doug Chapelle in Toronto where he always brought me good information on a record and never lied to me. Charlie Minor tracked me down when I was at Fairbanks and over the years did me a lot of favors including hiring my daughter Candis as his assistant when she graduated from UCLA. When I also asked him why, he said, “If you’re about to add a record and your choosing it from the three most qualified, and one of them is mine, I want the nod. Jerry Brenner was a good friend of my brother Reg so eventually we hooked up.

Sadly, Charlie and Jerry are both gone but Al and Doug are still standing tall and I’m in touch with both of them.

Steve Eberhart: If the TV networks were located in Dallas, their perception of America would be quite different.  How many times do you see a news story that occurred in New York on the national news and think, if that happened here it would never make the national news.  They report what they see, and it is often tainted my perspective. (American Airlines learned this concept a LONG time ago when they moved to Dallas and look how they’ve done!)
 
Geo: Good point Steve, LA, and New York just assume that the rest of the nation cares about what’s going on in their towns. NOT!
 
John King: George, my favorite Ron Chapman story:  he gave away the prize of a 240Z to the wife of a contestant, who called in because her husband, who had entered the contest, was on the flight line and couldn’t respond to call within the required time. Ron asked me, KVIL’s FCC lawyer if that was okay. I said, “Well, no, because the contest rules required the person who entered the contest to call personally.” What did Ron do? He took it to his audience, asking, “Should we take the car away from her?” Then he did the classiest thing:  he let her keep it, and . . . Gave another car away! No one ever out-classed KVIL.
 

Geo: You’re right John until CBS purchased KVIL, every other radio station in town was only playing catch up because KVIL owned the promotion category. Mike Bader as you knew was our counsel at Fairbanks but unfortunately, every promotion that I ever came up with, he’d turn down. Finally, I blew up at Mr. Fairbanks about it (how ballsy was that?) and the next thing I knew I got to deal with you. I’ll never forget the very first promotion I ran by you, I had all my I’s dotted and my T’s crossed, but in the middle of my passionate presentation you interrupted me and said, “George George, tell me this, are you planning on giving away the prize?” When I answered yes, you said, “Then get on with your contest, stop selling it to me, sell it to your listeners.” 🙂

Doug Erickson: George, I had the most delightful conversation with Jack Schell earlier this week. We had never met. Bill Gardner gave Jack my number. From the instant he answered the call, he had me laughing. Half an hour with him provided more entertainment than I’ve heard on all American radio stations I’ve heard this year combined. Pick the market, pick the talent — Jack would draw higher ratings within a month. That airstaff you assembled at KVIL will never again be duplicated. Simply the best talent ever collected on one radio station.

Geo: With that lineup Doug, it would have been harder to lose. Winning was easy!

Ivan Braiker: George, I believe looking at deregulation as the killer of radio is surprising, especially for you. Radio was slow to adapt to new tech and opportunities and most importantly, not fully understanding that their only way to survive was with TALENT and by creating compelling content. Radio was crippled by short sited and cheap operators, not deregulation! My vent. 🙂
 
Geo: I hear ya Ivan, but it was deregulation that attracted the cheap operators to our business. This, of course, led to the demise of some great radio stations and I for one wish Monica were a little better in the sack. If she’d come up with a few more special tricks like her cigar number, maybe she would have kept Bill too busy in 1996 to sign the Telecommunications act.
 
Jed Duval: George, when I worked for you at WIBC, I thought you were the Zenmaster, because you never yelled, even when displeased or tired from all of the travelings. You led by example. You were like a wise rabbi as if you had seen and heard it all because you could communicate in few, well-chosen words. If I asked you a question, usually, you responded in a short, pointed question that provoked thought and insight…simple and direct.  When I worked for Jim in Tampa, I, too, enjoyed working with Jerry Bobo, who was in many ways, very similar to you…simple in expectations (to be the best) and always direct.  I do not recall that you lost your temper upon your return when “Wild Willie” (Bill) Hennes occupied your office before going to Philadelphia to join Burt Sherwood to be his “Ernie” to Burt’s “Bert.”  You may have expressed your feelings to Jim Hilliard, but you kept your countenance and stayed cool, to wait for the inevitable collapse of the Sherwood / Hennes regime at WIBG.  I don’t recall hearing a discouraging word on that sorry situation.  That is very much in contrast to some of the consultants and grand poohbahs’ at R.K.O. General that I encountered in 1980, whose rants and raves were inversely proportional to how successful they were.
 

Geo: Jed, I wasn’t always calm and collected and did lose it occasionally, especially in Boston where sometimes I would get so mad at the sales staff, I would start yelling and throwing stuff. Jim who would be on the phone in his office would just get up and close the door. When asked later why he tolerated my, he would say, “I hate it when he does it, but when he’s done, something wonderful always happens.” 

Warren Cosford: George Johns and I grew up in Radio together.  But we were always apart.  He was at The Rock station…CKY in Winnipeg,  I was at The MOR station….. CJOB.  Competitors …..but not really.  George even invited me over once to taste his father’s Chili.

George played guitar in one of Winnipeg’s best Bands. I played drums in a couple of Winnipeg’s worst Bands. But I won all the awards in Toronto for Commercial Production.

I was at CHUM when George launched CFTR which grew into CHUM’s toughest competitor.  Then he went to help create The Fairbanks Chain which became one of America’s great Radio Companies. Yet….every time CHUM produced a Rock Documentary, George was just fine with us using one of his Jocks, Chuck Riley, for the narration.

A few years ago, George invited me to The CKY Reunion in The ‘Peg as an “honourary” Employee.

Today, mostly in retirement in Florida, George keeps us up-to-date on his life through a Blog featuring a series of “truisms” on life.  I thought of George the other day when I came across one that, for all I know, he may have composed. Journalism is printing what someone else does not want to be printed. Everything else is Public Relations

Here’s to you George. Let’s not wait to get together until all we can do is have a wheelchair race at the next Reunion.
Warren Cosford.

Geo:  Back at ya Warren!

For some sneak peeks at some upcoming Geo’s Media Blogs, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is much appreciated.