I just realized that it was sixty years ago when I met the man who changed my life.
He showed me a future so bright I needed to wear shades. I think I was around two years old. 🙂
(See the sixty-year-old photos above.)
His name was Jimmy Darin, and he was the Program Director and afternoon drive dee-jay at CKY in Winnipeg, where I was a part-time board op.
Who would have thunk what now feels like just a short few years later, I would be his National Programming Director when he was CEO at Fairbanks Broadcasting based in Indianapolis?
By this time, he was going by his real name, which was Jim Hilliard, and things were going so well that Jim would take my counterpart, Dick Yancey, and me on a 3-day junket to Vegas every year.
The way it worked was we figured out how to make an illegal connection in Chicago because the Las Vegas gate was right next to our arrival gate.
And the best part was the Vegas flight departed fifteen minutes after our arrival. Sweet!
On one of our yearly trips, sitting in our usual seats up front, having a Bloody Mary, suddenly the pilot’s voice comes over the intercom saying, “Hey folks, you’re in for a real treat today; not only are you going see the Grand Canyon you’re gonna see it from the inside because we’re going down into it.”
Wow, there we are, looking up at the sides of the Grand Canyon in a 747, one of the most giant planes ever built. Unbelievable.
However, what I remember most about our Grand Canyon adventure, was Hilliard, a white knuckler saying to me, “George, tell that fucking pilot to get this fucking plane up and outta here.”
About an hour or so later, we checked into Caesars, where Jim put a bunch of money into their bank before we headed to the tables.
Even though I’m not a gambler (More on that later), I love Vegas, and I just love to watch. Yeah, that too.
What I like to watch the most is the pit boss strolling over to us and saying to Jim, “Mr. H, you and your guests’ accommodations have been comped.”
Now Jim, not being a shy guy, would always manage to say, “How about the airfare?”
After watching Jim and Yance gamble for a while, it was time for me to waander around and check out all the cool new stuff in the menswear and sports shops.
The thing about the clothes in Vegas is you never see them anywhere else, which is very cool if you’re trying to be cool.
Every hour or so, I’d wander back to wherever Jim and Yance were playing, and Jim would hand me a bunch of black chips and say, “No matter how hard I beg, never give these back to me.”
Near the end of the day, we’d usually see a lounge show where one of our favorites was Louis Prima and Keely Smith.
However, during one of our Vegas excursions, we learned that Fats Domino was playing in the big room, and we just had to see that.
Luckily, because Jim was known as Mr. H, we were able to score a couple of tickets.
Now, being from Canada, I had no idea other than radio how things worked in America, but I was about to learn.
Once inside the big room, the usher disappointedly led us up to the back of the theater.
As he showed us to our seats, Jim introduced himself, and as he shook his hand, Jim asked if it was possible to get us a little closer, and the usher said he’d check.
The next thing I knew, we were being led down to our new seats, which were so close that I was almost sitting on the piano stool with Fats.
When I asked Jim why the hell the usher thought we wanted to sit way in the back instead of upfront like this, he said, “I think the $100 bill I slipped to him while I was shaking his kinda communicated where we’d like to sit.”
When our 3-day adventure was over, I would give Jim back all the black chips I held for him.
Now, depending on how many chips I gave him, decided whether we’d have a pleasant flight home or not..
Oh, yeah, what about me and gambling? Jim loved to play poker, so every week, he’d have a bunch of guys over, and because I didn’t gamble, I’d bartend because I liked hangin’ with the guys.
Throughout the night, the guys tried hard to persuade me every week to sit in, and I’d always refuse, claiming that I was too busy mixing drinks for them.
Then, one morning, after one of those late-night poker sessions, when Jim and I were driving to work together, he said, “Johns, you know why you do gamble, right?”
I looked at him quizzically and said, “Yeah, it’s because it doesn’t look like much fun to me. “No, that’s not it,” he said. it’s because you don’t know the rules.
Know this, though, squirrel: whenever the day comes that you decide to sit in, cash me out!
One should always become childlike but never childish.
There are three types: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who say, “What the hell happened?”
Speaking of what the hell happened, I remember when the whole world wanted to live in America.
One of the things I like about California more than Florida is California’s baby Hurricanes.
You choose your future when you choose what you believe and who you hang out with.
I know this is a silly question I know, but I gotta ask: Why is it so easy to buy things but not so easy to cancel them?
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a couple of games out front of the pack in the western division of the CFL, and I think If the lads get up on their tippy toes, they probably can see the playoffs and the Grey Cup. Go, Big Blue!
After he retired, Ron Chapman of KVIL in Dallas told me that even though he’s been inducted into three different Radio Halls of Fame, the thing he was most proud of was being asked by Paul Harvey to fill in for him when he was ill. Ron did it perfectly for a whole year.
Speaking of Paul Harvey, here’s the real thing. Check out why he had twenty-two million radio listeners. ….,https://youtu.be/
Jed Duval: How did you keep the limo perk a secret from Gary Todd or Chuck Riley?
Both would have wanted it or some other perk like it.
I had never heard about it until just now. As Jim Hilliard would always tell me after meetings: “Remember, loose lips sink ships!” (C-Mo or L-Mo)
Geo: Jed, I never communicated much about what was happening at the other stations. When I was in one of our markets, I only wanted to deal with what was best for them. I didn’t want our stations competing with each other; they had enough competition in their own market to keep them busy.
Gary only talked to Jim in Indy, so he would have to hear from him. As for Riley, he didn’t give a shit.
Peter Mclane: Is radio now only a car commute medium? (C-Mo)
Geo: No, Peter, I believe that radio is still big in the office.
Radio Geo’s Media Blog is a politically incorrect inside look at Radio, TV, Music, Movies, Books, Social Media, Politics, and Religion, but mostly about Life, primarily written with men in mind.
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