Last week I posted a story about why there was bad blood between me and CHUM in Toronto, and even though there’s no right or wrong, there are always consequences.
At one point, Reg and me, along with our business partner, Bill Yde, had about 40 radio stations doing the “Class” format and another 50 or so doing “Music of Your Life.”
The answer we figured was to do a merger with the Hicks brothers’ which meant leaving the consulting business behind.
Bill started his own traffic company, which is now worldwide. I went back to coaching talent, and Reg, who was always heavily into promotions that created databases, started his “Rewards Program.”
When Reg sold his company a few years ago, it was on 1600 radio stations worldwide. Wow!
During some of these conversations, he surprisingly told me that he attributes his success to Warren Cosford, who was at CHUM in Toronto.
“I do,” I said, “And I’m still pissed about it.”
“I was so pumped,” Reg went on to say, “but instead of an ‘atta boy, all I got from you was some silence, and then your asking, do they know you’re my brother?”
All I remember saying was that I didn’t know because I was using my air name, Garry Roberts, and that’s who they hired.
Reg then said that I told him not to pack his bags before letting them know because there was a lot of bad blood between CHUM and me when I launched the new CFTR in Toronto.
Sure enough, when he told Warren that George Johns was his brother, the job disappeared.
From that day on, Reg became an ant-Chummer and made sure that every radio station he worked at never sounded anything like CHUM.
Doing so was tough because most of the top 40 radio stations in Canada emulated CHUM, and CHUM emulated CKLW, which was a Drake station, so most of the jocks in Canada copied their style.
“When I ended up at CKGM in Montreal as the Program Director,” Reg went on to say, “It was very stiff and very CHUM sounding, so it took a while to loosen it up.
It turned out that Montreal loved our non-CHUM sound, and they gifted us with some incredible rating books before I moved on to CFTR in Toronto.
Reg said that when he showed up in Toronto, that thought that CFTR’s morning guy sounded like he came directly from CHUM, so he talked management into flying Chuck Riley in for an interview.
Chuck not only was the prominent voice on most of the CHUM radio specials, but he also had a very warm on-air delivery that was nothing like his voice-over work, so he’d be perfect for mornings.
Reg claimed that they almost had him because not only were we going to pay him big bucks, but they’d already sent his commercial demo tape to all the agencies in Toronto, and they loved it.
Chuck, at the last minute, though, decided to move to LA instead, where he would start his very successful voice-over career.
As I said, Reg claims that the CHUM folks were responsible for what he went on to accomplish.
“Had I gotten that job,” he said, “Maybe I’d still be stuck in that room with no windows churning out spots.”
(Reg left out the part where they beat CHUM in Toronto for the first time when he was the Program Director of CFTR.)
What he noticed when he looked at the rating book was that CFTR was already beating CHUM but only in the full coverage area because of their superior signal, but CHUM was beating CFTR in the Central Area. (Metro Toronto)
What Reg did was ignore put together a promotion called “CFTR Is Toronto,” which was aimed at Metro Toronto.
The way it worked was CFTR was offering giant prizes to anyone who displayed a sign that read “CFTR is Toronto.”
The promotion was perfect because, having a large number of apartment blocks in the downtown area, you saw CFTR’s slogan hanging out of windows on bedsheets everywhere.
After beating Chum, Reg took the promotion with him when he left for Boston and toppled WRKO before joining me in San Diego shortly after I had launched the Class Format nationwide.
(Reg, for whatever reason, is reluctant to take credit for his win over CHUM, but as I tell him, “Whatever happens on your watch is your fault.)
RADIO GEO’S LIFE-LINERS
If you weren’t there for your children, don’t expect them to be there for you.
The quickest route to happiness is to stop doing what you don’t want to do.
The only place cash isn’t King is at the grocery stores; they’re too busy doing other things to take it from you.
Show biz has always been about the performers, but unfortunately, the folks who run radio don’t understand why Hollywood’s not looking for cheaper actors.
If a woman is talking too much, bring up sex.
Programming a radio station to me is similar to conducting a Symphony. Specific tempos and sounds can not follow each other.
Does anybody respect the CIA?
Speaking of the CIA, do they or the FBI have to read anybody their Miranda rights?
Do the Democrats think that the continued pounding of Trump is going to distract us from noticing the rising inflation and the price of gas?
The only comfort animal I want is a woman.
We all know the problem, but what the hell’s the solution?
There’s a big difference between a marksman and a sniper, just as there is between a Program Director and a Programmer.
The truth be known, most radio stations in any given market have very few listeners.
I don’t think it’s the Democrats or Republicans who are evil. It’s all politicians.
I hate worrying about all the things I can’t change.
Today, I’ve noticed that women are much more aggressive about talking about the future with their significant others.
How come nobody asks what happened to WBEB in Philly?
If you’re gonna write the blues, ya gotta live ’em, but why the hell would you wanna to do that?
The only thing politicians do well is to run for office.
According to my friend, Tim Moore, no amount of mind-shaping can offset a poor product.
Sometimes genetics are just too tough to overcome.
Some 300 years ago, a few rich white guys who were tired of fighting with each other created a democracy. Their plan was to let the ordinary folks vote for the rich guy they’d prefer to rule them. We may need to review that ancient plan; I don’t think it’s working?
Does anybody believe that Putin would make any move if Reagan were in charge?
Have you noticed that Biden only seems to only work on the things that he can’t fix?
Is it true that Brady’s coming out of retirement?
Chuck Knapp: What a crew. What a wild ride. The Delaware Valley noticed WIBG rising from the ashes and standing strong among Philadelphia’s finest radio stations. I’ll always believe that the “All-New WIBG” was one of the most incredible sounding stations in America. Working with you, George, helped me immensely when I moved on to take the reins of KS95 in Minneapolis. (Philadelphia Freedom)
Geo: Had All-New WIBG been on FM, Chuck, the radio landscape in Philly would be much different today. However, my memory of the greatness was me getting the hell out of the way. I salute you and Bill.
Bob DeCarlo: George, it’s a shame that the highest interest rates in the history of the United States put a crimp in the Shadeck’s budget and cut our run short. When we started getting listener calls from L.A., and as far as Santa Barbara, we knew we were onto something. The Radio Magazine was a blast! Thanks for the memory. (For The Good Times)
Geo: The Radio Magazine was one of my favorite projects, Bob, but unfortunately or fortunately, the “Class” format exploded, so I didn’t have the time it needed.
Doug Herman: George, re your statement that “Unless you’re going to get your Master’s, college is just a waste of time and money”:
A lot of the value of college, even without earning a Master’s degree, is who you meet as fellow students. In my case, that included Roger Dodson, who got me my first “real” radio job and grew up to be a very key figure in RAB; John King, who, as an attorney in FCC practice, probably kept us both out of jail, and Jack McCoy, who requires no introduction. The tuition I paid to the University of Nebraska was very well spent. (Tattoo You)
Geo: That’s exactly what Harvard’s all about, Doug. </strong?
Angela Manfredi: WONDERFUL! Another amazing chapter. I laughed. I learned. (I’ve Lived Everywhere, Man)
Geo: Thanks for the read, Angela.
Bill Gardner: Thanks for reviving some great memories of Texas’ greatest city, and “worst to first” in under a year…..record time! Great fun, and after two and a half record-breaking years there, you rewarded me with a transfer to San Diego and OUR home on Highway 1 in Del Mar.
Do you think radio revenues will ever support the lifestyles we enjoyed back then? I’m guessing “no.” (“Class”)
Geo: Bill, those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d never end but end they did.
Geo’s Media Blog is a politically incorrect inside look at Radio, TV, Music, Movies, and Life. For a peek at some upcoming Blogs, or to see some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio.Sharing and commenting is not only encouraged; it’s appreciated.
If you’d like to subscribe to Radio Geo’s Media Blog, simply send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reg Johns: You are correct in that not getting the job gave me spirit in finding a different sound than the CHUM (drake format) sound. I loved CHUM in those days, everyone did, but I needed a new sound to learn from, and lucky me, found KCBQ and the production of Jack McCoy.
Also, the offer was not Production Director, but one of the Producers.
I don’t know why Warren likes to go off on this every so often, must be a Winnipeg thing, but as I said to J. Robert when he brought up this long-ago story, “the best thing that could have happened to a 22-year-old”. He agreed. Not getting that job allowed me to pursue other interests in promotion, programming, research, etc.
Geo: Proud of what you accomplished, Bro, and I know that your journey had its breathless moments both good and bad.
Bruce Devine: Well as the sign in your office said: ‘1050 CHUM SUCKS’ orange background…their logo:)
When I asked you about it, you said that it was for all the record reps who visited CFTR and then head up the street as you knew would and tell J. Robt. which would drive him nuts….all is fair in love & radio. (Do They Know)
Geo: Very intense times, Bruce.
Bill Gardner: And how lucky am I to have worked with, and to call both George AND Reg Johns “friends.” Love you guys.
Geo: Thank you for all those pretty ratings, Mr. Gardner.
Greg Tantum: Thank you, George! I got to play in both sandboxes. The Radio Magazine on KOGO and Class on FM. Oh yeah then for added fun trusted Joe Gillespie to build an all news format from the ground up! (all fueled a bit with our after work “conferences” in your office) (Do They Know?)
Geo: I believe we did our best work in those after five conferences, Greg.