Geo’s Media Blog (Fairweather Listeners) New 5/10/21

My old traveling partner, Bobby Cole, who was the National PD of Fairmont Communications, once told me that radio salespeople are all fairweather listeners. (Bobby and me pictured above)
Yeah, I knew exactly what he meant. They hate the music, despise the PD, and also dislike one or two of the jocks. However, when that excellent book shows up, they always claim that they already knew it would be a monster.

Nevertheless, when you have a great book, you can count on them to find something bad in it. Whereas, when I was the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting, Jim Hilliard insisted that I get to see all the rating books for the company’s radio stations first, because as he said, “If anyone can find anything good in any rating book, it’s Johns.”

I’ll never forget the day in Indy when the Arbitron book showed up and WIBC, an AM in an FM world, went from a great 13 share to an astounding 19.3.
As we were all standing around laughing, high-fiving, and trying to figure out where the best place would be to have a rating party, one of the sales guys piped up and said, “Hey, what happened to the 18-24-year-old men?”

I bring this all up because recently, one of my all-time best friends, Tom Skinner, a V/P at KZST in Sonoma County, couldn’t help but show his true colors. (Tom, shown above with me.)

Just last week, we received one of the best rating books KZST has ever had. Can you say, “#1 in every demographic?”
However, as we were pouring over the great numbers, my old friend, Tom, reverted to his origins when he said, “Hey guys, I hate to rain on your parade, but we don’t sell share, we sell average quarter-hour persons, and they’re down from last year.”(Tom and me pictured on top.)
“Fuck it;” I’m celebrating with a large glass of Canadian Whiskey anyhow.

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS

Speaking of ratings, Jim Hilliard used to say, “Anybody can sell great ratings.” However, now that hardly anybody even has good ratings anymore, hows that sales thing working out?

The same people who didn’t “get” Ron Chapman in the ’70s, ’80s, 90s, and early 2000s are the same ones who are running and writing about radio today. Think about that for a moment or two.

Speaking of Ron, I head to Dallas on Tuesday to celebrate his incredible life with a bunch of the folks who worked with him.

Back in the day, did the lady dee-jays troll the hit lines looking for studs?

Oh, so now old Joe finally understands why Trump banned travel from China. (India)

Speaking of the president, I remember when I began to feel old. It was when George W Bush became president, and it was the first time that I was older than the president. Now, Joe Biden and I are about the same age. Should I feel young again, or should he feel old?

Why does Mr. Business Man always think that his part’s biggest part? I don’t think that Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Beethoven, Frank, Elvis, or the Beatles agree.

Like so many others, the only advice I want is that which I ask for.

Other than golf, I believe this to be true, “If you can do it right once, you can do it again.”

Does anybody other than government workers believe that government workers deserve more money?

If you talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.

Things are never as bad as they could be.

We’re so free in America that even though it could hurt people, we can refuse a covid vaccination or wear a mask. Hell, we can even loot and set fire to buildings as long as some protest people are around.

The host determines the rules.

Keep it simple stupid is the best advice one can ever receive.

I liked very few radio sales managers because most thought they had the right to lie to me.

I don’t remember any of my buddies while growing up saying that they were dreaming about becoming fathers.

Was HD just a scam?

Churchill once said, “Americans will eventually do the right thing but only after exhausting all the alternatives.”

Just as radio sales have to find new clients, radio programming has to find new listeners.

There’s got to be one good story out there about a record company?

At my age, why would I want to change my lifestyle when a pill can get everything under control?

I think the Hollywood types should get their own lives in order before telling us how to live ours.

No matter who’s in power, the CIA remains the same. Think about it.

Does anybody know what happened to those folks that Oprah set up in business?

Always remember, every novel you read and every movie you see is at least half true. Scary huh?

When you receive enough money sitting at home instead of working, that ain’t liberalism; that’s socialism.

COMMENTS

Tim Moore: Having left DFW to launch my first ownership experience in Coastal Northwest Michigan (106 KHQ), I committed to doing my own morning show in that highly competitive 23 stations regional market.
I had studied Ron and KVIL while a young exec for TM Productions & Programming in Dallas and through “K-Vill” heard what I came to call “cinematic radio.”

Once back in Michigan on the KHQ morning show (which went from zero to #1 in the first Nielsen (Arbitron), I decided to call Ron on my show; he said, “Tim, can you wait 5 minutes? I want to simulcast this on my show!”

So there we were, Ron and I talking about our shows and stations!

A few years ago, while on a NAB planning board, I was asked if I cared to nominate someone for the Hall: “Ron Chapman!” I said. “The most remarkable talent I’d ever known!”
GEO: Well said, Tim, thank you.

Jed Duval: When I was a WHO-AM in 1984, through WHO-TV’s consultant (Magid), I got access to what was going on inside WGN-TV and Radio. Of course, I was tremendously interested in WGN’s top three programs, Wally Phillips (mornings), Roy Leonard (mid-days), and Bob Collins (afternoons). I don’t know why Wally Phillips was so opposed to minimal basic changes. Bob Collins was the most contemporary of the trio and would have been Wally’s successor if he had not died in the plane crash.
Bob Collins had zero problem cross-promoting and, most important, giving the call letters frequently. Roy had a tough time remembering to give them, but Wally, as great as he was in other things, would only say “WGN, Chicago” at the top of the hour. If he had given them several times an hour, think how much bigger WGN’s ratings might have been. (P O I)
Geo: The thing that amazes me to this day, Jed, is how the trades ignored Wally Phillips and Ron Chapman, which resulted in very few radio people getting to study what it was that made them successful. Now it’s a lost art.

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 @ GeorgeJohns.com.
On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is encouraged and appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog (More Memories Of The Legend, Ron Chapman) New 4/29/21

 

Another one of my favorite memories I have of Ron Chapman occurred when he was being inducted into the NAB Radio Hall of Fame.
What a great evening, hell; even Jerry Jones flew in for it.
My date​ for the affair was the beautiful, Lorenda Rae who is pictured with Ron above. Not only, as you can see, is Lorenda beautiful, but she’s also a very talented on-air person at one of the Christian Radio groups.
Anyway, the next morning, when we were all having breakfast together, Ron turned to Lorenda and said, “Not only are you beautiful, you’re also very smart.” “How would you know that, queried Lorenda?” Ron replied, “Well, while two legends were chatting, you were smart enough not to interrupt.”
Another story that I only heard about because I wasn’t asked to attend, was when Ron was stupidly banished from KVIL. He was being sent to their oldies station, and at that meeting, I am told, executive Dan, after telling the GM of KLUV that his new morning man was Ron Chapman, asked, “Can you hit your f**king numbers now?”
“Yes, sir,” replied the GM, who immediately went out and bought a bigger house. I wonder if KVIL’s GM downsized? I’ll have to check with Bob Cooper; he’d know.
Another great story that shows just how tough Ron was, happened a few years ago when I talked him and his wife Nancy into visiting the wine country and all expenses would be taken care of by KZST if he would do one tape session with Brent Farris.
KZST has been a client of mine for well over 35 years. (I’m not bragging, but I guess I am, the new ratings just came out, and KZST is #1 in every demographic.) Anyway, luckily, Brent adored Ron because when I started the tape, about 10 seconds in, Ron yelled, “THIS IS UNFUCKING ACCEPTABLE,” and the tape session went down from there.

Oh, here’s something I can’t understand. Gary Donohue told me that he’d once done an analysis of the DFW market and discovered that Ron was not only the P1 leader but also the P2 and P3 leader. According to Gary, this had never occurred before in any market.
So my question is, how can Ron do something that has never been done before, be inducted into three radio halls of fame, the Texas Hall of Fame, the NAB Hall of Fame, and the National Hall of Fame and yet never win a radio award? I guess he was too busy getting ratings and didn’t have time to suck up to all the trades.

Ron’s ratings were enormous, but if you ever broke out just the females, you couldn’t count that high; they adored him. So I once asked him how he resisted all those beauties, and he replied, “As they walk towards me, I say to myself, is she worth paying all her Visa bills? The only one that’s passed that test so far is my wife, Nance.

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 @ GeorgeJohns.com.
On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting are encouraged and appreciated.

Geo’s Media Blog (Special Ron Chapman Edition) 4/26/21 #6 All-Time

I’m sad to report that an old friend of mine has just passed away. Not only was he a good friend, but he was also one of America’s greatest broadcasters.
I met Ron Chapman (shown on top and with me below at his induction into the NAB Radio Hall Of Fame) for the first time at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, where we had breakfast in 1973. Ron was with his GM, Bob Hanna, and I was with my boss, Jim Hilliard.

This had to be a very soft meeting because Fairbanks Broadcasting had just purchased KVIL, but until the FCC approved the sale, we couldn’t discuss anything about the station.
Being recently from Canada, I had no idea who Ron Chapman was, and he, of course, had never heard of me.

As we chit-chatted about radio, in general, Ron recalled much later at a KVIL reunion in 2019 what he was thinking at the time.
“This quiet Canadian is going to be our rating savior?” But he did graciously go on to say, “However, we did manage to make a little magic together, though.”

KVIL was magical, but most of that magic came from Ron’s attention to detail, and my job was to make sure that nobody slowed him down.
What amazed me, though, was as good as KVIL sounded, and even though the ratings were on the rise, none of the trades noticed us. I guess it’s about how much suck-up you give? However, when KVIL hit #1, they had no choice, so they treated us like an overnight sensation.

Before long, KVIL became the darling of the industry, and folks from all over America were flying in to steal what they could.
We were ok with all that because, by the time they figured out what we were doing, we’d already moved on to our new thing.

In 1981, I left Fairbanks to start my own consultancy and thankfully was retained by Jim Hilliard to continue working with Ron.
Then in 1987, Mel bought it, and like all money guys, he, of course, thought he was all-knowing, so I was done. However, I did get to watch from the sidelines as they ripped KVIL apart.

The first stupid thing “All-knowing Mel” did was move Ron from KVIL to their oldies station, KLUV. Where were you, Dan?
The next stupid thing they did was even stupider; they let Ron promote where he was moving to for thirty full days.

A couple of months later, the rating book showed that Ron’s listeners had moved with him.
Kay-Ville was done, but Ron wasn’t; he ended up in three Radio Hall Of Fames

“Bill Figenshu” said it best when he said, “KVIL’s PD at the time was a young preppy research guy who loved to wander around the halls and refer to  KVIL as KVI-Elderly. He also liked to whine about how Ron Chapman was killing him.”
“Well,” Fig said, “He was absolutely right about Chapman because when that first rating book came out after Ron went to KLUV, Ron did kill him, and I finished him off by firing his ass.”

Rest In Peace Ron.

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS

If you talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.

Things are never as bad as they appear to be nor as bad as they could be.

We’re so free in America that even though it could hurt some people, we can refuse a covid vaccination or wear a mask.
Hell, we can even loot and set fire to buildings as long as some protest people around.

It’s the host who determines the rules.

Keep it simple stupid is the best advice anyone can ever receive.

I liked very few radio sales managers because most thought they had the right to lie to me.

I don’t remember, while growing up, any of my buddies dreaming about becoming fathers.

Was HD just a scam?

Churchill once said, “Americans will eventually do the right thing but only after exhausting all the alternatives.”

Just as sales have to find new clients, radio has to find new listeners.

There’s got to be one good story out there about a record company?

At my age, why would I want to change my lifestyle when a pill can get everything under control?

I think the Hollywood types should get their own lives in order before telling us how to live ours.

It’s tough to get rich, but even tougher to get rich cautiously.

It’s a helluva lot more fun being the Puppeteer than the Puppet.

Damn, this is no time for the Winnipeg Jets to be falling apart.

#5 All-Time, Friday.

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 @ GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting are appreciated.

Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (Wild Thing) Chapter XVII 2/11/22

Moved to Sudbury
which was only a four-month stand.
‘Cause Ottawa came calling
and changed all my plans.

Upon arrival, I learned to get ratings
which we got in abundance

Before CFRA
all I had were my hunches.

Growing weary of all the drama in Saskatoon, I took a sideways job as the program director of CKSO AM&FM in Sudbury.
My thinking was, even though Sudbury was about two hundred and fifty miles north of Toronto, it was still in the eastern part of Canada, so maybe I would get noticed.

Sudbury is a nickel mining town and is not the prettiest place on the planet.
Early mining techniques had scorched some areas around town so badly that nothing could grow. In fact, the U.S.astronauts used to use the scorched areas to practice their moonwalks. (see on top)

Unlike my arrival in Saskatoon, I was pleased to discover that CKSO sounded pretty good.
Already in place were some great weapons like G. Michael Cranston, (shown below) Roger Klein, and Bill Drake so I figured that all it needed was a little fine-tuning and some sizzle to take it from good to great.
As I began working on my plan, a Van Morrison look-alike would occasionally appear outside my office door and just stare at me for a while before moving on.
Figuring him to be some sales guy from the TV side, I just ignored him.

2015-10-17-16-40-43-1380780411After being at CKSO for about two weeks, my boss, George Lund (pictured above) asked if I was ready to meet the big guy yet?
Surprised, I said, “George, I thought you were the big guy?” He just laughed and said that he only ran the radio division but Ralph Connor ran the whole company.

Ralph’s office, was at the other end of the building and after arriving at his outer office, his secretary told us that Mr. Connor was on the phone but would be with us shortly.
While waiting, I couldn’t help but peek over her shoulder, and sure enough, there on the phone was the Van Morrison look-alike.

When we were ushered into Ralph’s office, Ralph motioned me to the only other chair in front of his desk which was the only other chair in there.
As I sit down, Ralph says to George, “Mr. Lund, you can stand and while you’re standing there, perhaps you can explain to me just what it is your new genius programmer is doing with our radio station because whatever it is, I can’t hear it.”

George told him that I was busy putting a plan together which I would be presenting shortly and that I was also familiarizing myself with the station’s policies.
At that point, Ralph turns to me and says, “George, you don’t know me yet, but do you think that you could find it in your heart to do me a small favor?”

Before I could respond, he gets to his feet and yelled, “DO NOT EVER FOLLOW THE STATION’S F*CKING POLICIES. IF THE STATION’S POLICIES WERE ANY F*CKING GOOD, THE F*CKING RADIO STATION WOULD SOUND GOOD,” and with that, he dismissed us with a wave of his hand like we were Hop Sing from the Ponderosa.

As we leave Ralph’s office, George tells me not to worry about what went on in there because it will all blow over soon enough.
Seething, I reply, “I don’t want it to blow over George; I wanna bring that f*cker to his knees! You can forget about a presentation; I’m gonna tear this puppy apart right now.”

However, to do what I wanted to do, I needed my guys, so I convinced Woody Cooper, Doc Harris, (pictured above) and Gary Russell (pictured below with me) to join me in Sudbury.

After streamlining the music and changing some of the formatics, it was time to create some buzz.
The first promotion we did was bring summer to Sudbury.

We threw a massive family-style picnic on the local lake with free food, face painting, balloons, clowns, and street magicians.
Then right at the stroke of summer; the Canadian Airforce flew a squadron of jet fighters over the lake straight at us. Can you spell W-H-E-W?

Thankfully I hadn’t seen Ralph since our first meeting, but just as I began to relax, his secretary calls and says that Ralph would like to see me.
As I walk in, I immediately notice that George Lund is not there, which makes me a little bit nervous.

Sensing my discomfort, Ralph puts me at ease by saying that he loves the new sound of the station.
Then he
says, “I think we need to promote the new sound so I’m giving you a TV budget, and a camera crew. Now all you have to do is come up with a great TV spot. (me above editing the TV spot )

When I told the guys about it they were very excited, and before long, we produced an outstanding TV commercial.
Wanting to get it on the air as quickly as possible, I rushed to Ralph’s office but when he slipped the cassette into his VCR, I noticed that he turned the volume down.

As we’re standing there watching it, he asks, “George, what the hell is this spot about?”
Sarcastically, I tell him that if he had the audio up, he’d know because the sound is killer.

Ralph lets my sarcasm slide and then says something that has saved me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years, “George, people don’t listen to TV; they just watch it.”
After fixing the TV spot, things continued to go well, and the station is sounding better and better every day, once again I’m summoned to Ralph’s office.

This time, he starts out by saying that he’s really a New York kind of guy and the only way that he can handle living in Sudbury is by bringing a little New York to the market.
“George,” he says, You have CKSO sounding as good if not better than most of New York stations so I’m throwing you and your whole crew a big celebration at a fancy resort just north of here.”

What a weekend! A bus filled with booze and food picks us all up at the radio station, and by the time we got to the resort, the party has already started.
I don’t remember too much about that weekend, but I’m told that we had a great time.

Ralph, I guess was right about how good CKSO sounded because shortly after the party, CFRA in Ottawa hired me away.
I’m pretty sure Ralph would have paid me almost anything to stay, but when the “Bigs” call, ya gotta go, man.

Ok, you can get off your knees now, Ralph.

Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women (A Suit) Chapter XVIII edited 2/11/22

When the Johns’ arrived in Ottawa,
we were a family of three
My wife Lana, my daughter Candis,
and of course me.

But a man needs a son
so we added one more

So when we hit Toronto
The Johns’s numbered four

When we left Sudbury for Ottawa, other than the adoption of my son, Curtis, it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience.
In fact, the only time I ever returned was when they inducted Gary Russell into the Radio Hall Of Fame there some 30 years later there.

Initially, I was hired by the Chum group to be the new Program Director of CFRA in Ottawa.
However, they neglected to tell me that not only was I following the legendary Alden Diehl, but the staff didn’t like the “suits” from Toronto nor anyone they hired.

For whatever reason, most of the CFRA staff still worshiped the old owner, Frank Ryan, even though old Frank and the Missus left them behind when scooted with the loot.

In the beginning, the Chum people provided me with almost too much help; I had two programming consultants, Ted Randal out of LA and George Davies from Victoria in BC.

I loved when Ted came to town because he was into concepts and philosophy, whereas George mainly was about mechanics. I was also only a phone call away from my old friend from Winnipeg, J Robert Wood, the program director of CHUM in Toronto.

CFRA, with its 50,000 watts, had a huge signal, but it sure didn’t sound huge; it sounded like you were listening to it on the phone.
It probably was just a coincidence that the chief engineer used to work at Ma Bell, but I finally got him to back the compression down, which gave us a little more fidelity.

When I was in Ottawa, most of the staff treated me like I was just another “suit” from Toronto.
What they didn’t know, though, was that the folks in Toronto were also a little nervous about me too because they knew that I was anything but a “suit.”

However, I didn’t worry about any of the adversity because even then, I already knew that you only needed 5-7 like-minded individuals to kick major ass.

After smoothing out the technical sound, it was time to build my team.
First, I brought in the golden throats of Roger Klein and Woody Cooper from Sudbury which immediately enhanced our produced sound.

Then I hired Shelley Emmond out of Regina and added Sharon Henwood to the promotion department.

However, it wasn’t until my old buddy Joel Thompson came around to our way of thinking that I knew we were all set.

CFRA was a great radio station, and one of the best things about it was its award-winning news department.
I’ll never forget watching the evening news when the Prime Minister responded to a reporter’s question by saying, “All I know about that is what I heard on CFRA this morning.”
How many times do you suppose we ran that little sound bite, “Eh?”

I think my favorite newspaper ad may have been the one Roger Klein came up with to promote Lowell Green.
It showed Lowell trudging up the Parliament steps with a slug line below that read, “When Lowell Green Has Questions, He Knows Where To Get The Answers.”

I was a little nervous when my first rating book came out because we’d made many changes to the station. 
Not to worry though, it was huge, and the next one was even bigger.

If you added up all the other stations in the market, they didn’t even come close to CFRA’s numbers.
Hell, we even had a 100 share on one of the weekend dayparts.

Unfortunately, after that excellent rating book, my radio world went silent.
I went from almost too much input to none except from the old guard.

Years later, someone told me that the owner, Allan Waters, had told everyone to back off because, as he reportedly said, “I don’t want anybody slowing down this kid’s train.”
Unfortunately, he neglected to tell me, so my rage began to heat up.

The studios at CFRA were all located on the third floor, and my office was on the second.
So to get to my office from the studios, I had to take the elevator which opened up right in front of the GM’s office

Terry Keilty was the GM, and on this particular day, as I walked by, he waved me into his office.
Sitting there with him was his sports director friend, Ernie Calcutt.

When Terry said he had a question for me, I told him to fire away.
He then said, “Ernie and I want to know why you hired Roger Klein, knowing full well that he’s too good for our market, so he’s only going to end up leaving?”

My rage, which had been festering for a while, finally boiled over. Then doing my best, Ralph Connor (See Chapter XVII), I yelled, “WHEN YOU’VE GOT A CHANCE TO WORK WITH GREATNESS, YOU GRAB IT EVEN IF YOU ONLY HAVE IT FOR FIVE F*CKING MINUTES.”

I then threw the tape of promos I was carrying against his mahogany wall; it shattered. 

I watched in horror as what looked like brown tinsel slowly drifted down and covered Terry and Ernie completely, and as they struggled to free themselves, I stormed out.

Terry was right about Roger, though, because he did leave when he left with me for CFTR in Toronto.