Chapter XXV (The Great Gift) 2/07/23 (25)

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What a great move
Indy turned out to be
But now all that’s left
 is Fulton’s documentary.

Hello pressure, my old friend; I was hoping not to see you again.
After leaving Toronto and arriving in Indy, Nixon was exiting the White House, and I had no idea that some bad times were on the way.

Unfortunately, when Jimmy Carter became President, interest rates skyrocketed just as I was buying my new home in Carmel, Indiana.
Then the Oil Barons claimed we had a gas shortage, and Jimmy bought it.

Couple all that with just being told by Jim that he expected me to use my own tools, not his; I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into.
As I sat there thinking about everything, Jim interrupted my thoughts by saying that he had a gift for me.

The gift, he claimed, would make things much easier because it would speed things up by eliminating the politics..
“What I’m giving you.” he said, “Is the right to be wrong, but what I’m not giving you is the right to live with your mistakes.”

“When you walk out of this office today, you can do anything you want on our radio stations, but the moment something doesn’t sound as good as it looked on paper, get it off the air immediately, no meetings, no thinking about it, get it off.”

“Ok, Johns, I’ve got work to do; it’s time for you to take your gift and make me some great radio,
Oh, and close the door behind you, please.”
Jim’s the only person I know who runs an open-door policy behind closed doors.

Being the National PD of Fairbanks meant I worked with all the company’s Program Directors except at WIBC in Indy, where I was the PD.
I handled all the WIBC air talent except for the morning man, Gary Todd, who worked directly with Jim.

Having an album rocker down at the end of the hall, you would think that it would be the long hairs at WNAP who would be hard to handle.
Nope, at the two-story brick on North Illinois in Indy, it was mostly the WIBC folks.

They were all characters, and of the crazier ones was Chuck Riley, whom I have known since I was a rookie. (Riley shown above)
Not only did Chuck teach me how to do production in Winnipeg, but he also produced my first record when I was with The Jury.

Chuck had two personalities, the one he used in front of a crowd and the one he used behind closed doors.
The one you didn’t want to be around much was the Chuck who was holding court by the coffee machine. That Chuck was a mean bear, whereas the one who showed up in my office was mostly a Teddy bear.

Unfortunately, at least once a week, the bad bear would show up, and before the day was done, he’d have the switchboard or traffic girl in tears.
Tiring of his antics, Jim finally had a come-to-Jesus meeting with him, which I was forced to attend.

Riley was already seated on the couch in Jim’s office when I arrived, and as I sat down, he sarcastically said, ” Wow, this must be an important meeting to have this much brass in the room.”

Jim immediately responded with, “You’re absolutely right, Chuck, and in fact, this may be the most important meeting of your career.
Oh, and George is here is to bear witness, he will be able to repeat everything I say here today, lest you forget.”

Chuck, with that shit-eating grin on his face, turned to me and said, “That’s very comforting, George.”
Jim then said, “Riley, you’ve been acting like an ass lately, and your behavior has become intolerable.”

“So here’s how it’s now going to work, he continued with, “From this day on, if your ratings even slip a hair, the staff is going to come for your head, and I will be forced to serve it up to them.”
There was complete silence until Jim asked Chuck if he wanted to say anything.

“Yeah,” Chuck said, “Tell all those pricks waiting for my ratings to slip not to hold their fu#king breath,” and with that, he walked out.

Good to see Cris
inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I loved being back in Indy
and seeing Little Linnie again.

Almost from the time we met, Jim and I have been able to finish each other’s sentences.
Unfortunately, this dragged me into the middle of meetings where Jim would only say, “You’ll pick up what’s going on.”

Usually, I could, and surprisingly sometimes, I even helped bring the meeting to a successful conclusion.
Hey, but even the smoothest-running machine has the occasional glitch.

One day, Jim’s secretary, Judy Ramsey, came to my office and said that Jim needed my help immediately.
When I got to Jim’s office, Cris Conner, the Morning Man/PD of WNAP, and Jim were in an intense conversation.
(Cris, pictured above with me at his induction into the Radio Hall Of Fame)

As I sat down, Jim turned to me and said, “George, It seems that Cris here has recently discovered that his sales manager makes more money than he does, so I need your help explaining why that is.”
“Hell, Jim,” I said, “I wanna hear the answer to that myself.”

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