Geo’s Media Blog (Be First, Be Best, or Be Different.) New 3/22/21

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Long ago I learned that if you wanted to become successful you had to have at least one of the following in play,”Be First, Be Best, or Be Different.”

Recently, I’d written a piece about the jingles that we used at Fairbanks which were not only the best, they were also very different.
In fact everything we did at Fairbanks Broadcasting was pretty different.
Hell, we even invented a new format just so we’d sound different when we launched our our recently purchased radio station in Dallas.

When Jim Hilliard hired me to be the National Program Director of Fairbanks Broadcasting in the early ’70s, they were in the midst of acquiring KVIL in Dallas.
While waiting for FCC approval, my job was to put a plan together and have the station ready to launch when they combined the Dallas and Fort Worth rating books.

FM was very young at that time, so in order to attract more people to the FM band, we’d have to do something very extraordinary.
What we came up with was a brand new format that later became known around the world as Adult Contemporary and not only was it the first AC in America, everything KVIL did was not only the best, it was also very different.

One of the first things I did while putting the pieces together was scour the nation for some friendly-sounding top 40 jocks who would not only love Dallas, but could also create some clever things to say about it. (Most of these folks are now in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.)

Luckily, Ron Chapman was already at KVIL so all I had to do was get him on board. (Ron and me pictured above just after I inducted him into his third hall of fame)

The way I decided to explain the new format to him was by creating a presentation tape that would not only show off every element, but also knock his socks off.

Seeing as we already had the new Heller jingles in house, all I had to do now was gather up the rest of the ingredients and blend them together.
How tough could that be?

First, I gave the award winning news guys at WIBC, Fred Heckman and Lou Palmer a copy of the Dallas Morning News which they used to create a couple of newscasts.Next, I had our sports guy, Jerry Baker, record a sportscast filled with lots of Dallas Cowboy stuff, and when I got Paul Page using a Dallas street map to do a few traffic reports from WIBC’s chopper, I got very excited.

To round it all out I gathered up a few national commercials mixed in with some great sounding ones from the Dallas agencies along with couple of contest promos from Chuck Riley. Now I was all set.

My plan was to pop into the WIBC studios on a Sunday and spend a couple of fun hours putting my tape together.
Oh, and previously, I had KVIL’s GM to send me some raw tapes of Ron which I planned on dropping in over the fronts of the special music I’d selected.
“This is gonna sound great,” I said to myself as I headed into the studio that Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, come Monday morning, there I still was when WIBC’s production director, TJ Byers, walked in to begin his workday.
There were bits of tape hanging everywhere (see photo on top) and the whole production studio was a mess.

Yes, I did finally get the tape done and after editing it down to twelve minutes, I headed for Dallas.

I’d made arrangements to meet Ron at the station on Sunday morning and after stringing up the tape and hitting the start button, I stepped out of the room.
As I was leaving, I couldn’t help but smile when I heard one of Heller’s magnificent creations burst out of the speakers, ’cause I was pretty sure that I now had Ron’s attention.

Twelve minutes later when Ron came out of the studio, he said to me, “Well, I guess there’s no sense saying I can’t do it because I just heard myself doing it. When does it start?” 


With each and every mistake you make, you become smarter.

So IU, how’s March Madness going for you now that you’ve left the Bobby Kight era and have gone with politically correct coaching?

Culture creates change.

I’ve changed a lot over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at being bad.

Have you ever noticed how excited everybody is in the local car spots on TV but when you go into their stores it’s boring?

Hey Joe, it makes no sense to raise the taxes on rich people if you don’t close the tax loopholes. What’s that you say, you can’t ’cause you use ’em too?

I once dated a woman whose job was to recruit and train bartenders. She claimed that because all bartenders steal, she only hired the ones she guessed would steal the least. Hey, maybe that’s how we should deal with the politicians.

Are black people obligated to just like black music?


Dave Charles: Gypsy JOHNS eh! Well, that could be a song, George, you never know. Glad to see you rave on about radio greats like Bill Gardner. What a team you put together at KVIL. Impressive.
We’re in lockdown until at least the end of February. Damn Covid.
Safe travels, and I’ll keep the radio on for ya! (Damn Gypsys)
Geo: Thanks for the kind words and the read, Dave. Please keep the Motherland safe for me.


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 Geo’s Media Blog @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog (This Diamond Ring) new 2/22/21

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When I left CFTR in Toronto to become the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting based in Indianapolis, one of my first projects was to launch a brand new format on KVIL in Dallas.

Being that Dallas was the jingle capital of the world, my boss, Jim Hilliard, ordered up some very expensive jingles out of LA, which Hugh Heller created. Not only did they sound great, but they also sounded nothing like the jingles on the other radio stations, which made us sound different.
Hugh used the Ron Hicklin singers and the Wrecking Crew and they just popped out of the radio. (hear them at the bottom of the page)

The local radio stations claimed that just like everything else we did, they were too long, so they wrote us off.
We lucked out because they’re ignoring us allowed us to do anything we wanted with no blowback so they were completely unaware of the Tsunami that was on the way.

The rest, as they say, is history. However, my thinking about those great jingles reminded me of an interesting side story.
I recently found out that a record producer from Texas named Snuff Garrett also used Ron Hickland on some of his projects

Snuff, who was a former Dee-Jay in Texas, had moved to LA to start producing records, and one of the first acts he discovered was a band called The Playboys.
However, when he found out that their drummer was Jerry Lewis’ kid, he decided to take advantage of the situation.

The first thing he did was renamed the group Gary Lewis and the Playboys, but when Gary tried to explain that he couldn’t sing, Snuff said, “Don’t worry about it, I can fix that.”
How Snuff fixed it was by bringing in Ron Hicklin to sing all the songs and then have Gary sing along with him repeatedly until Ron was completely covered up. This technique gave birth to a million-seller called “This Diamond Ring.”


Great leaders are born that way, they’re not created.

Any son who grew up having to call his father sir is probably pretty fucked up and capable of doing some serious damage.

One of the ways to get noticed when you’re on the radio is by doing an exaggerated emotional break about something unusual you saw while driving to work.

I wonder how long foreign aid would last if we got to vote on it?

We’re all gifted, but unfortunately, not all gifts pay the same.

I wonder if this is how it goes in real life? In the movies, the cops are always waving their guns around and shouting, “C’mon out, we just wanna talk.” Who the hell believes that?

What’s the one thing that the leaders of every country have in common? They all become rich. 

Bob Christy’s father told him, “Don’t treat the hired help like the hired help.” Mine said to me, “Stay away from the bad girls.” Looking back, I really think Bobby had the easier task.

When somebody picks up a gun, sooner or later, someone gets the bullet.

When you become an actor in Hollywood, one of the first things you learn is, don’t fuck with the lighting man.

It’s all your choices, not luck that chooses your destiny.

If Washington becomes a State it should be named the Great State Of Welfare. Washington is already taken.

Why are women filled with energy after sex whereas men would just like to go to sleep?

Radio and Pro Football have one thing in common if you load up with future Hall of Famers you’ll become successful.


Doug Herman: George, I’ll bet there is a large herd of us who got into radio while creating very concerned parents.  I know I did.  Mine got to old age, still wondering when I was going to get a real job.  They didn’t live long enough to see that in the end, after 50+ years in the trenches, radio had made a comfortable retirement possible and provided a hell of a lot of fun along the way. (It Was A Very Good Year)
Geo: Doug, when my Mother heard me on the phone turning down the GM’s job at a brand new bowling alley because, as I said to them, “I’m a radio guy now” (15 bucks a week), she cried. When my Dad got home, and she told him, he said, “Betty, it’s the only work I’ve ever seen him do that he actually likes; let’s see how he does.” Thanks, Dad.

Bruce Walker: Well, this is good.  After all these years, I was not aware of how you got your job at CKY.  I came in late to the group and just assumed that you worked there.  I must admit I was pretty impressed with the staff of DJ’s. They were excellent guys. (It Was A Very Good Year)

Bill Gardner: “Some gypsy called,” was spoken by my father-in-law long ago, but that story STILL makes me laugh out loud!
And I guess if you look at my resume page at, in reality, I think I’m more qualified to be the gypsy! Stay well, brutha and thanks again for making me laugh. (Damn, Gyspys!)
Geo: And thank you, Bill, for always being there when I needed you.

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 Geo’s Media Blog @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog. (The Sting) New 2/8/21

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When I started my radio career, I was a board op at CKY-FM in Winnipeg when FM wasn’t cool. I had to play a whole bunch of Montovani and Ray Conniff while across the hall at CKY-AM, Jimmy Darin, (Hilliard) Chuck Dann, (Riley) Gary Todd, Daryl ‘B,’ and Mark Parr were all playing the Beach Boys.

Luckily for me though, the PD Jimmy Darin (Hilliard) took a liking to me and the next thing I knew I was the AM production engineer.
Not only did I get to hang out with all my favorite Jocks, but I also got to attend all the jock meetings which was very, very cool. (Me pictured above at CKY-FM.)

While working in production, I learned all the tricks from the very best, Chuck Dann. (Riley) I loved Chuck, but as brilliant as he was, he wasn’t the most dependable guy in the world, so I soon was named CKY’s Production Director.
I just loved being in production, especially when I was doing promos, and deep down, that’s who I still am, I’m a production man.

I learned a lot while I was doing production and one of the things I learned was that the sales folks don’t work for the radio station; they work for the client, we just pay them. 
The salesforce wants what the client wants and what a lot of clients want is to be interviewed.Can you spell b-o-r-i-n-g?
Years later after doing a lot of stuff I ended up becoming a programming consultant which meant that I got invited to more promotion meetings than I ever wanted to attend. I guess it was because I’d done a few good ones in my day.
In fact, at some point I even became Toney Brooks’ personal promotion taster. Toney was the President of Sandusky radio and every quarter we would travel to all the Sandusky stations to listen to their promotion plans. My job was to make them better.

Anyway, on this particular day, I was at a promotion meeting being held in the conference room at KKOB in Albuquerque. In attendance was the GM, the SM, and long-time morning man and ratings magnet, Larry Aherns. (pictured on top)
When they got to part where they told Larry that musical composer and orchestra leader Marvin Hamlisch (pictured above) would be coming by the next morning to be interviewed about his upcoming concert, I couldn’t help myself, I had to say, “Boring!”

The sales manager, of course, explained to me that to get on the buy, it was a requirement, and I responded with, “The need for money doesn’t make it any less boring.” Ok, he said, “What would you suggest, smart guy?”
I responded with, “I’d get a piano and wheel it into the studio.” The SM, who was now redfaced, said, “You expect us to ask Marvin Hamlisch to play the piano for us?”
My response was, “You won’t have to” was my response, “He won’t be able to resist.”

The next morning bright and early, when Marvin stopped by the KKOB studios for the first of his multi-station interviews, Larry told me later, “You were right, George, as soon as Marvin walked in and saw the piano, he said, may I sit here?”

I heard the whole show, and it was wonderful. Marvin was very animated and was telling great stories while tinkling the ivories.
He even played some cool intros like “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” into sports and “Blue Skies” while going into the weather.

Larry recently told me that it was the best interview he had ever done. Oh, and Marvin was having so much fun that he stayed all morning and never made it to the other radio stations. 

How ’bout dat Tom Brady, Eh!

When they first get married, all men are Kings until the little Princes and Princesses show up. 

I think most men would like the end of their days to be at home, but first, they must decide where home is.

When do we get to the part where all the politicians stop sellin’ and start helping?

You can’t change how your life begigins, but you can sure change how it finishes.

Why do government workers need so much time off? Do they look tired to you

The only female capable of changing a man is his daughter.

Ponder this, California has already collected a billion dollars in taxes from marijuana sales, but the homeless continue to live in the streets.

Is Infidel a prejudiced or racist word?

Unless you love them, most women are only wonderful the first night.

I’m pretty sure that China is out to destroy America, so I’m hoping slow Joe has a better plan for them other than loving them to death?

When I moved to America in the early ’70s, the whole world, it seemed, wanted to be an American. Now, even the polite Canadians are laughing at us.

Speaking of the ’70s, that’s when San Francisco was one of the most beautiful cities in the world; which ruined it, the people or the politicians?

According to my son, Curt, the folks fleeing California for Texas will eventually become more like Texans than the other way around.

Do you find it as strange as I do that the things you don’t give a shit about never seem to break?

Guns changed everything because bullets are forever.

When you’re writing a song, you’re creating something that never existed before.

You’ve got nothing to fear when you’ve got nothing to lose.

Intuition always has your best interests at heart. 

Only when you master the fundamentals do you have any shot at greatness. 

I may not be as “connected” as some,  but I may know a guy.” 

Is it true that around the same amount of people died in the US in 2019 as did in 2020?

When you’re on the air, your listeners are probably already aware of everything you’re saying, so you’ve got to say it in a way they’ve never heard before.

Your technique is not natural; it’s a learned thing.

The only mysterious women to me are those who don’t want children. I wonder what the purpose of going bald is? 

Someday your life may depend on your knowing the difference between a Marksman and a Sniper. 

Being a Centrist, I’m curious what the almost 75 million folks who voted for Trump are gonna do? Are they going to throw as much hate at Joe as the 63 million who voted for Hillary did at Trump? Buckle up. 

The bigger the conspiracy theory, the bigger the people involved.

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 Geo’s Media Blog @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog (Damn Gypsys!) New 1/25/21

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The other day for whatever reason, I started thinking about a phone call I got from my old pal, Bill Gardner when he was vacationing at his in-law’s place in Hawaii.

Bill and I first met when I interviewed him in Dallas to discuss the possibility of his joining us at KVIL.
I was launching a brand new format and thought Bill would be perfect for middays.

It was the middle of January when I picked Bill up at Love field, where he had just flown into from Minneapolis. Luckily, it was a balmy day in Big D, which I doubt the same could be said for Minneapolis.
Later that evening, we dined with Ron Chapman at a brand new restaurant called TGI Fridays and shortly thereafter, Bill became our new midday guy.

Just as I predicted, Bill was perfect, and in fact, sounded so good from the git-go that Billboard Magazine soon named him the “Radio Personality Of The Year.” Oh, and did I mention that he’s also been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall Of Fame recently? (Bill pictured on top and with me at a recent KVIL reunion)

Anyway, back to the phone call at hand. Bill had called to berate me about not returning his phone call even though he left a message saying that I needed to get back to him right away.
When I told Bill that I, in fact, had called back and left a message with the guy who answered the phone, he said that it must have been his father-in-law who was usually good with that kind of stuff and that he’d get back to me after checking with him.

When Bill called back he was laughing. It seems that his father-in-law definitely remembered my call but didn’t pass the message along because, as he said, “I didn’t think you’d wanna talk to any damn Gypsys.”
Surprized, Bill asked, “What makes you think George is a Gypsy” Bill’s father-in-law responded with, “Everybody knows that most Gypsys use Johns as their last name.”

Come to think of it he could be onto something: I’ve lived in three countries, four provinces, five states, and seventeen towns and cities, that is a little Gypsy like, ain’t it? 


With disaster comes opportunity.

I understand that our new President signed about twenty things into law on his first day in office. One of them I read was if I guy thinks he’s a girl he can participate in women’s sports. I’d like to see him get that one by the Olympic Committee where they still count chromosomes.

Speaking of the Prez, where the hell’s my check?

I understand that there’s a standing offer at Amazon of a million dollars for the employee who can make it easier to buy stuff from Amazon or figure out how to deliver it quicker. Can you imagine anybody in the radio biz having that kind of foresight?

Is there anything sexier than your lady private dancing for you?

The words “no priors” used in court doesn’t mean there’s “no priors.”

You can ‘B’ your way to success: Be First, Be Best, or Be Different.

Why do politicians think that they’re experts?

Cowards love to hide in gangs and also on Facebook.

I know a lot about radio, but only a little about most things but have more opinions about the other stuff than I do about radio.

When you’re up against a stronger opponent, change your game plan cuz he ain’t changing his.

How come there’s no video of cops doing good things?

Most folks know why something fails, but few know why it didn’t.

Sometimes to get what you want, as most politicians already know, ya gotta do bad things.

If you get too busy thinking about where you’re going, you’re gonna miss the ride.

The only place that there’s freedom of speech is in the middle of a field, but of course, you better own the field.

Because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s any good. The Monkees were popular, but they sure weren’t the Beatles.

Most of what we learn comes from trial and error.

Why the hell do government workers need so much time off? They sure don’t look tired.

When women talk about equality, are they talking about having the same opportunities as beautiful women? Good luck!

You’re better off using the word progress nobody likes change.
If you’re lucky enough to have a hit record, then what?

Being “Politically Correct” is just a smoother way of lying.

Women speak: Oh, that’s cute. (she likes it) Oh, that’s so cute. (she’s gonna buy it) Oh, this is just so cute; you need to come over here and see just how cute this is. (she’s gonna buy it but needs your  financial help)

According to the Asians and the Hispanics who are also trying to get into good schools, blacks are now the only minority that receives help.

Who decides what’s politically correct?

Did any bad cops ever hurt good people?

“Blood Harmony” is an instrument nobody can buy.

No matter what happens today, you get a fresh 24 hours tomorrow.

Being pissed off beats being scared every time.

According to Brent Farris, when your wife asks, “Does this make my butt look big? If you say no, are you lying, being politically correct, or just practicing self-preservation?

Freedom = Choices.

There’s nothing healthy about fame.


Timothy Moore: George, for all the good fortune I’ve experienced, in the later innings of my career, I confess I can count on perhaps two hands, colleagues I would truly consider “gifted. “On one hand, those I’d endorse as “genius.” You occupy a place in both. Your friendship means more than you can know.
Geo: You are too kind, my learned friend.

Don Walker: So many things I learn and so few years left to use them… (1st Ya Gotta Fall)
Geo: I feel your pain, Don.

Peter Zolnowski: Related story: My ex-wife sold her wedding gown on eBay. The ad said, “worn once. By mistake”. (Scam Alert)

Al: Mair: Interesting reading the late Doug Chappell’s comment. If you read his obituary, you will see in the last paragraph where we often disagreed. BTW, I also ran into my 60ies but had to stop because of knee problems. I never ran a marathon but got my ten K down to forty-two minutes… (The Christmas Fun Run)
Geo: When I was about to turn 50, Al, I hired Thom Hunt, a world-class runner, to coach me. I wanted to get my 10K time down to under 40 and perhaps get some medals when I entered the 50+ division. I raced on my 50th birthday and did a 38:20.

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 Geo’s Media Blog @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog. (It Was A Very Good Year) New 1/18/2021

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So far I’ve had some pretty special years but none of them compare to the memories I have of 1964.
1964 was a very good year; I married my childhood sweetheart, saw the Beatles, signed a recording contract, met my life-time mentor, Jim Hilliard, began my radio career, and built my first house at 67 Brighton Court in Transcona.

However, not too long before any of that happened, I was still living at home. At our place, my Father’s house rules were King, and one of those rules if I wanted to live there was, I needed to have a job.
Even though I made decent money playing with my band called The Phantoms (pictured above), my Dad said, “Son, the Johns men work; we don’t play guitar for a living.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at finding jobs, mostly because I couldn’t find anything I’d liked to do. My Dad’s job-hunting skills were much better than mine because he didn’t care what I liked to do, so he got me many jobs, but I hated them all.
I made Ice Cream, cleaned floors, installed furnaces, and even became
 the Assistant Manager of Loomer Lanes in Transcona even though I didn’t know much about bowling.

Being an enterprising kind of guy though even back then, I decided to see how far my assistant manager’s title would take me. Hence, I applied for a GM position at a new bowling alley in Winnipeg that was still under construction.
What made this particular bowling alley so cool was that it would also have a pool room. Now I may not know squat about bowling, but pool I knew after being educated at a pool room on my way home from school each day.

My interview with the owners went very well, but they couldn’t consider me for the job until I was a certified bowling instructor.
However, the good news was they would pay for me to go to bowling school, where I crushed the course and got certified and waited for their call. (see below and on top)

However, that call wouldn’t be coming until the new bowling alley was still under construction.
As I said earlier, I wasn’t hurting for money, so I just sat back and relaxed because my folks were finally off my back about my finding a real job.

Early on, I’d learned that sometimes fame leads to fortune. So with that in mind, I’d always suggest that the venue hire a dee-jay from CKY as the MC, which would result in our getting an enormous amount of on-air publicity all week.
The dee-jays would kick off the evening by throwing out a bunch of records to all the folks at the dance, introduce us, and then they’d be gone before we finished our first song. Come Monday, there I was at CKY delivering Mark Parr (pictured above) his take from the weekend dance.
Embree McDermid (pictured below), who was at the front desk when I got there, told me that Mark was expecting me, so I should go right into the FM studio.

Mark was filling in for the FM board op for his lunch break, and after we got the business part out of the way, we chit-chatted a little, and at some point, he asked if I’d ever run a radio board before?
When I told him that I hadn’t, the next thing I knew, I was in the chair doing it. Wow!

It all seemed simple enough and was going well until all of a sudden; he spotted Deno Corrie, who was two studios away in the production studio and said, “I’ll be right back.”
Can you spell PANIC? Everything was running at once, and I had no idea what was on the air and what was coming through the cue speaker. I was frantically waving at Mark, but he too busy yucking it up with Deno to notice.

To make matters even worse, suddenly, several “suits” walked in. (I was told later that one of them was the owner)
One of them was obviously someone important because he was proudly showing off the brand new 360,000-watt radio station to the group. I bet he would have freaked out had he known that the kid piloting his new flame thrower only had about ten minutes of radio experience?

It seemed like an eternity, but they finally left, and I took a deep breath and began to sort things out. By the time Mark finally got back, everything was running smoothly, and all he said was, “See, I knew you wouldn’t have any problems, kid; you’re a natural.”
I’m forever grateful to Mark because from that moment on, he pestered everybody at CKY until they hired me as a part-time board op. It didn’t pay diddly, but I loved it and had no idea that I’d be doing radio for the rest of my life.

My good news was bad news for my Mom because when the Bowling Alley owners called to say that I was hired and she heard me say, “Thanks but no thanks, I’m a radio guy now,” she cried. (me on the job below)


When and who decided that it didn’t matter if you lose a war, rich people never lose anything? Oh, and how come Cuba and Israel didn’t buy into that concept?

The only thing good about having a crisis like Conid 19, it unveils how incompetent most politicians are.

How long do you suppose it will be until using the word “racist” finally burns out?

When you stumble, make it part of your act and keep on dancin’.

Is it just me, or do the folks who are in charge of how much everybody makes tend to overpay themselves?

What successful company bought out by someone ever become better?

Women used to know their place, but I never had to tell my daughters that their place was upfront.

Does anybody know in days, hours, or minutes how long coming soon is?

For the last decade or so, we’ve been fighting the war in the desert door to door, yet the military still wants more money from congress to build faster airplanes and bigger warships. What are they for?

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 Geo’s Media Blog @ On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting appreciated.