After leaving a good thing in Toronto and arriving in Indy just when Nixon was exiting the White House I had no idea that some bad times were ahead.
Unfortunately, when Jimmy Carter became President, interest rates skyrocketed, and the Oil Barons claimed that we had a gas shortage.
Couple that with just being told by Hilliard that he expected me to do my own thing not his, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into.
As I sat in Jim’s office thinking about it all, Jim interrupted my thoughts with, “I have a gift for you”.
Jim’s gift he claimed would speed everything up because it would eliminate the politics.
“What I’m giving you,” he said, “Is right to be wrong, but of course, there’s a catch, I’m not giving you, is the right to live with your mistakes.”
When you leave this office, today you can do anything you want, but the moment something doesn’t sound as good as it looked on paper, get it off the air immediately, no meetings, no thinking it over, get it off now!”
Jim’s the only guy I know who runs an open-door policy behind closed doors.
Being the National PD of Fairbanks meant that I worked with all the company’s Program Directors except at WIBC, where I was also the local Program Director.
Having an album rocker in the house, you would think that it would be the long hairs at WNAP that would be the ones that were hard to handle.
Nope, at the two-story brick on North Illinois in Indianapolis, it was the WIBC folks.
What a bunch of characters and one of the crazier ones was Chuck Riley whom I have known since I was a radio rookie in Winnipeg. (Riley shown above)
Not only did Chuck teach me how to do decent production back in the day, 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 other one that he used behind closed doors.
The one you didn’t want to be around was the man who was holding court by the coffee machine, that one was a mean bear. Luckily, for me, the other 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 and traffic girl in tears..
Tiring of his antics, Jim finally had a come to Jesus meeting with him which I was forced to attend.
Jim immediately said, “You’re absolutely right Chuck, this may be the most important meeting of your career.”
Chuck with his shit-eating grin of his on his face then turned to me and said, “That’s very comforting, George.”
If your ratings even slip a hair,” he continued with, “The staff is going to come for your head and I will be forced to serve it up to them.”
“Yeah,” Chuck said, “Tell those pricks who are waiting not to hold their fucking breath,” and with that, he walked out.
Why do the police always seem to be where they’re not needed?
Does anybody know the stats on how many women became successful without the help of a successful man?
I wonder what the dollar per hour is that will stop the whining?
People in love are as blind as those who vote as their grandparents did.
What fool would go into the southside of Chicago without a gun?
Why do people in love think that their being in love is a good excuse for doing bad?
I’m more suspicious of judges than I am of the police.
Men will do anything for the women they love including for those who don’t deserve it.
Speaking of love, why do men suddenly like everything that the love of their life likes?
Here’s what I’m thinking; if athletes make more for over-performing shouldn’t they make less for underperforming?
When people think that they’re untouchable, it’s time to attack.
What would you do if your daughter or granddaughter was raped, I know what I’d do.
I think employers are having a rough time adjusting to the new employee’s world.
The only time I feel compelled to dispense unasked-for advice is when I’m with family.
When I became a father I discovered that it wasn’t just about me anymore.
I just realized that all the teen idols named Bobby are gone. Darin, Vee, Rydell, and Curtola.
Books may make you more intelligent but they can’t make you smart.
What happened to the fear of Gluten?
When I was growing up, my folks held politicians in high esteem now they’re ranked even lower than used car salesmen.
When I’m asked if I’m a sexist, I answer, “Yes but only with those who deserve it.”
Most companies in America are so yesterday that they haven’t noticed that it’s an employee world today. Good luck with your bonuses.
Watching Dave Letterman’s Netflix series, “My Next Guest is,” I find it very revealing that he’s an arrogant smart ass with everyone but black folks. Hmmm.
Are there any countries more racist than Japan? What’s that you say, “How about, China, Iraq, Iran, and France?”
Most people’s biggest competitors are themselves.
If you think something is good or bad, it is.
I think that it may be time to rethink the, “It’s better to have a 1000 bad people go free than lock up an innocent man.”
If it really is supply and demand then both wine and gas should be less than a buck a gallon.
Nobody has the strength nor the wherewithal to deny their destiny.
Paul Ski: Hey George:
Wonderful story. Of those early years. Thanks for not taking ALL the great staff that you hired for Sudbury and Ottawa – the two places I followed you to!! (The Suits)
Geo: I noticed that you too robbed Sudbury, Paul when you brought the great Mr. Drake to Canada’s Capital with you. :)Can you imagine how tough it was for me when I first hit the States and couldn’t bring anybody with me?
Dave Charles: Morning George,
How did you handle gender bias in our business over your many years in radio? Curious to know. (The Suits)
Geo: I never thought about it much, Dave; I was all about the ratings. When I found Delilah, I didn’t give a damn if she was a man or a woman; I just liked how she sounded.
Jed Duvall: George: Your thoughts about the comments of CFRA’s G.M. and the Sports Director about hiring great talent that will likely be hired away reveal’s much about managers that are comfortable in their ruts. Your intensity to hire talent that would make a difference and make things happen is what critical factor between winning and losing. While continuity is a winning virtue, so is achieving higher performance and a greater ratings footprint. Yes, better, more demanding talent brings more issues to the forefront of management, the opportunity to do great things on a larger scale is worth the risk of flying too close to the sun. In the words of the late, great Jean Shepherd, “Excelsior, You Fathead !” (The Suits)
Thank you for your comments, Jed, but the truth be known, I would have no idea how to do radio without “Hall of Fame” talent.
Bill Gardner: Did I miss the results of that Indy 500 survey? I was guessing a 90+ share for WIBC, or did the omission mean it was tossed? Loved the story. Even with many years at Fairbanks Broadcasting and friendships with you and Jim Hilliard, it’s one more I hadn’t heard until now. 🙂
Geo: I can’t remember the exact numbers, Bill, but when the word got out, a bunch of radio stations in Indy stopped carrying the race.
Eugene Ferraro: Hello George, enjoy your blogs…I grew up in Philadelphia and still live here…as a youth, I enjoyed listening to Top 40th stations not only in Philly but also nationwide…I always gave equal time to all of the stations I heard–WFIL, WIBG, and WIFI-FM…I listened to the major flamethrowers –WABC, WLS, CKLW, WKBW, and when I could get them in–WRKO, CFTR, WCFL, CHUM, and some other mid-market stations.
I know that Fairbanks Broadcasting put a lot of capital into WIBG, but they were, in my opinion fighting a losing battle because AM radio was in the early stages of listener decline, and this also held true for WFIL… F.M. was gaining in popularity…lastly, I feel if Fairbanks had bought WIBG at the beginning of the ’70s, they may have finally toppled WFIL.
Lastly, you were the P.D. at WIBG, corrected? Also, I know that Phil Garner is still working on-air at a Christian radio station in Ft. Wayne, In, using his real name…is anyone else who worked in the Fairbanks chain, still doing on-air work?
In closing, I did enjoy some of the DJs I remember working at WIBG–the Magic Christian, Chuck Rielly, and Big John Gillis, among others. Thanks for your time and consideration.
Geo: Thank you for your comments, Eugene. WIBG was one of the finest sounding stations in the Fairbanks chain, but alas, we were in an F.M. world. We were an F.M. company back then, but Jim Hilliard couldn’t resist buying WIBG, a station that he had scorched when he was the P.D. of WFIL in the mid-’60s, for pennies on the dollar.
Very few of the Fairbanks crew are still alive, Eugene, but Bill Gardner and Chuck Knapp who were the Co-PDs are still doing well, in fact, Bill is an airline pilot now in Las Vegas (not a Christian jock in Ft. Wayne) and Chuck is hanging out with his beautiful wife in the Ozarks.