Jim Hilliard recently asked me why I was so anti-sales. Here’s my answer.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the sales folks, even though some of my best friends are from sales.
And although I’m still not a fan, I empathize with those still in the streets trying to sell spots in a digital world.
My mistrust of salespeople may have begun in Winnipeg, where I was the production board op at CKY.
One of the slimy sales guys would sneak into the production studio and move his stuff from the bottom to the top of my to-do pile.
Not only did that Sneaky Pete stuff irritate me, but his stuff was always very complicated and couldn’t be done quickly.
To add insult to injury, whenever I’d produce something he liked, he’d reward me with a movie pass for one. For Fucking One!
A couple of years later, when I became the Program Director of CKOM in Saskatoon and we finally got some decent ratings, the sales department couldn’t sell it.
The result was management ordered me to change the format. I left instead.
In Sudbury, the sales department was wise enough to leave me alone; I guess they noticed that big chip on my shoulder.
When I made my way to Ottawa, as I did in Saskatoon, I had to sit in on a weekly phone call with our national sales reps to discuss sales promotions. You know, the old “Added Value” trick.
On the second call, I finally said, “You guys don’t remember me from Saskatoon, do ya?
Let me refresh your memory; When I asked you back then what I had to do to get rid of this shit, you said, “Get some good ratings.” Well, I’ve got ’em, so I’m gone.
In Toronto, I communicated so well with the CFTR sales staff that when my brother Reg followed me there years later and was introduced to the Sales Manager, he said, “You’re not related to that prick George Johns, are you?”
When I later became the National PD of Fairbanks Broadcasting, the WNAP sales staff hated the changes I was making to the Buzzard and revolted.
They all marched into Jim Hilliard’s office and said, “It’s him or us.” Jim responded, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”
As I’ve said often, I love hangin’ with the sales folks, but I don’t like working with them.
Not only do they lie for a living, but they work for the client, not the radio station; we only get to pay them.
Oh, and I’ll never forget the day Jim Hilliard asked a sales guy why he wasn’t selling anything, and he answered, “The spot rate is too high.” When Jim asked, “What rate do you think you could sell, he stuttered and stammered for a bit before coming up with a number.
Jim nodded and then said, “Ok, that’s your special rate; now get out there and sell a bunch of spots.”
He was fired thirty days later for lack of sales.
However, that all being said, There is no way I could have ever accomplished half of what I did without the help of the sales royalty that I had the honor of working with.
Dick Yancey in Indy, Jerry Bobo in Dallas, Tom Skinner in Santa Rosa, Tim Reever in Boston, and Jim West, who took me nationwide.
Hey, here’s to you guys, and thanks for everything; nevertheless, I’m not taking my eyes or ears off of any of you, even for a second.
(Dick Yancey is shown on top, followed by me, with Jerry Bobo, Tom Skinner, Tim Reever, and Jim West on the bottom.)
The only people who can hurt you are those you care about.
May I suggest making two lists when your whole life turns to shit? One has all the good stuff, the other the bad. If the good things outnumber the bad, celebrate; if not, discover why God created Whiskey, which also works well at a celebration.
I find it hard to believe that the black athletes who ended up in the NBA, NHL, or MLB experienced much racism.
Is it true that Bill Drake, Buzz Bennet, and Jack McCoy are not in the Radio Hall of Fame? How is that possible?
When I used to travel the country making client visits, a GM would inevitably ask if I believed in community involvement. I would answer, “Absolutely, but I don’t believe in remotes.”
Do you find it as weird as I do that its guys who can’t sing or dance who decide who gets into the Hall of Fame?
Hey Canada, when will you get some NHL Teams in Halifax, Quebec City, Hamilton, Regina/Saskatoon, Kelowna, and Victoria?
Personalities became obsolete when radio stations stopped trying to be #1.
Evolution continues, with or without your help.
Some people die before their time because they don’t have a reason to live.
Besides my family, I’m not willing to die for much else.
Doing is much more productive than planning.
Wendy Holmes: George, it is apparent to me that you are a very revered personality within the radio industry! Congratulations on your success! (Things Part I)
Geo: Not sure revered is the right word, Wendy, but thank you.
I listened every night to Wolfman Jack, who took his act to the border when Inter-American Radio Advertising’s Ramon Bosquez hired him and sent him to the studio and transmitter site of XERF-AM at Ciudad Acuña in Mexico, a station across the U.S.-Mexico border from Del Rio, Texas, whose high-powered border blaster signal could be picked up across much of the United States.
Geo: True Dat!
Radio Geo’s Media Blog is a politically incorrect inside look at Radio, TV, Music, Movies, Books, Social Media, Politics, Religion, and Life, primarily written with men in mind.
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Larry Macinnis, Hey George. I’ve been lucky with Sales, I guess. I had (and still have) the great pleasure of working with salespeople who understand and respect the creative process and facilitate great relationships between sales and programming and sales and creative/production.
A lot of that is a result of the CHUM culture I grew up in, but even today, most of the stations I work with have salespeople who can work for the station and the client simultaneously. Keep up the great work George; I look forward to your posts and enjoy them very much. (Sales Savages)
Geo, Thanks for the read, Larry but as you read, I wasn’t that lucky.