Geo’s Media Blog (The List) New 6/07/21

I stumbled across an old interview with my friend and former colleague, Keith Elshaw.
At some point during the interview he was asked,”What was it like to work for George Johns?” Keith responded with, “The talent loved him, Dee-Jays hated him, sales folks despised him, and management was afraid of him.”

After contemplating Keith’s reply, I started thinking about what it was like to work for Jim Hilliard.
I met Jim at CKY in Winnipeg, where I was a part-time board op, and Jim, who used the air name, Jimmy Darin, was the station’s program director. Luckily, he took me under his wing, which changed my whole life, but then he was gone. (see a photo of Jimmy Darin above)

Unfortunately, Jim, being an American, didn’t stay in Winnipeg long and ended up becoming the program director of WFIL, which changed his life.
However, for me, after Jim left, radio just wasn’t the same anymore, and I was thinking of doing something else.

Fortunately, Jim and I had stayed in touch, and before I knew it, he was flying me to Philadelphia to talk about me joining the staff of WFIL and doing promos for him again like I used to do at CKY.
I was excited about the opportunity, but then we found out that I couldn’t walk across the border; my name would have to go on a very long immigration list first. Unfortunately, the names on this list moved very slowly, and in fact, by the time my name got to the top, Jim was the CEO of a group out of Indianapolis, and I was the Station Manager of CFTR in Toronto.

However, the timing was perfect. Jim, running the group and doing everything himself, had just purchased KVIL in Dallas and needed some help.
When I moved to Indy to become Jim’s National Program Director, the fuse was lit.

Over the years, we’ve had some incredible successes, but the problem is, once you work you can’t work for anybody else.
In fact, when I left the company about ten years later, I had to start my own company because I couldn’t imagine working for anybody else.

Jim was like a father figure and could inspire you to do more than you ever thought you were capable of doing.
Jim was much more fun than any father, though, because when you said to him, “Jim, I’m thinking of getting a new ‘Eldo,’ ” he’d say, “I think you should, you deserve it.” Whereas your real father would probably shout, “Are You Out Of Your F#cking Mind?

One of the many things Jim would do to motivate you was to do one-on-one sessions with you occasionally.
They were kind of like therapy sessions, I guess, but you never thought of them that way; you were just happy to have the big guy’s attention.

At one of my sessions, Jim started by saying, “Johns, you realize that everybody in the company doesn’t love you, right?” I rep[ied, “No, Jim, I wasn’t aware of that, and who are these people?” Jim said, “That’s not important and doesn’t matter; I’m just trying to make a point here.”
I responded with, “Well, it matters to me, Jim, so if you could just give me that list, we can get on with whatever it is that you want to talk to me about.”

The banter about the list went on for about thirty minutes until Jim finally said, “Johns, I can’t waste any more time on this, get out of my office and get me some ratings.”
Now some forty years later, (see photo on top of Jim and me) Jim is still complaining to me that when I left Fairbanks to me to start my own company, I screwed him and I’m still trying to get that list.

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS

Why do I think that North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un is just Biden his time? (pun intended)

Usually, I’m not too fond of most of the advice I didn’t ask for.

Other than golf, I believe this to be true. If you can do it once, you can do it again.

Wow, it looks like the Superbowl Champs re-signed everybody. Bring it, Brady.

When Biden shut down the pipeline, it’s obvious that he pissed off the oil companies because they immediately raised the gas prices, knowing that we’d blame him.

If not asked, the answer is always no.

How come the only time you hear about corporate conspiracies is in the movies?

Street smart ain’t so smart on Wallstreet.

Do we have the name of the wealthy contributor who, even though we were in the middle of a pandemic, persuaded Biden to take time out of his busy schedule to sign into law that guys who thought they were girls could play female sports? Whomever it is, I’m betting that they have a girly guy living at their place.

You learn very little while talking.

Hey ladies, guys are fixers, so if you don’t want it fixed, whine to your girlfriends.

Pursuing perfection doesn’t have a happy ending.

Change has never been popular.

There is no such thing as Adult Contemporary Music.

I wonder how much bad is being done for the greater good?

I also wonder how much incompetence is being covered up with, “Our main concern is your safety?”


COMMENTS
XREY: Let me speak for Ron for a moment and express that the term “Kay-Vil” was *** N E V E R    EVER EVER EVER *** used on the air on 103.7fm / 1150am (or in the halls if you knew what was good for your career).
After December 25, 1969, when the Hanna/Francis/Chapman era began, “Kay-Vil” was equivalent to the “n-word” to Ron, which represented the late ’60s “David & Goliath” era when the nifty 1150 was an awful top 40 loser. Please remember our meteoric rise and great decades as K-V-I-L.
Geo: Well said, Xrey, but at corporate, if we used call letters of our stations, we only used the last three letters, RMF, VBF, KOX, JNO, etc.
However, when we talked about WIBC, it was Big Mama, WNAP The Buzzard, WIBG was Wibbage, and just like blacks can use the “n-word,” we always called K-V-I-L, Kay Ville, because we could.

Ken Barnett: Check with a que….You can take the boy out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the boy. Good blog, as usual. (Where America’s Headed)
Geo: Thanks for the read and the observance, Ken. Seeing as Jim received his ratings bonus in Canadian dollars, it was only fair to refer to it as a cheque. 🙂

Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs or to see some that you may have missed, go to Geo’s Media Blog @ GeorgeJohns.com.
On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting are encouraged and appreciated.

5 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog (The List) New 6/07/21

  1. George….Like most of us, I have worked at a number of stations and, therefore, for a number of management types. I have worked for the mediocre, the invisible, the know-it-alls, the worst of the worst, etc., but I have never worked for anyone for whom I had more respect than Jim Hilliard. I, too, have had those “therapy” sessions and come out of them feeling like a million bucks and ready to jump through hoops for him and the station. The problem is, as you suggested, once you have worked for and alongside such a leader, you are spoiled for the rest of your career. I dearly miss the day to day grind of radio and the constant pressures of battling for numbers and always attempting and hoping to make the next day just a little bit better in my performance, but most of all I miss the quality people Jim put together that made the magic I felt so honored to be a part of.
    By the way, I still have my F-You account and it has served me well! (The List)
    Geo: I miss working with you, Jerry. Can you believe we had three sports guys at WIBC and still made tons of cash? That will never happen again.

  2. George – As my former intermediate boss and supervisor at WIBC-AM, I quickly learned that any directive, recommendation or suggestion that came from you was as important and urgent as any thing that might emit from Mr; Hilliard (as Pat Chappell would correct me), “The Man in the Carpeted Office”, as Chuck Riley would call him. Jim worked through his key people, like you and Dick Yancey. As I learned from the masters (Hilliard, Johns, Yancey, Bobo and the talented air staff / production people), looking back at working around you and your people, I would say that people whom do not like or respect you, George Johns, really don’t and never did matter in the whole scheme of things. – Jed Duvall

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  3. I will never forget the meeting with Jim and Chuck Riley, they weren’t speaking at the time…the three of us were together in Jim’s office.

    It went like this, “Bob would you tell Chuck, that he is not going to have 5 Neumann mics in the studio for the proposed 6 PM show.”
    I’d turn to Chuck and repeat what Jim said.
    “Bob tell Hilliard, it is impossible to do that show without adequate equipment.”

    We went around and around for at least a half-hour, this is how it ended.

    “Bob would you tell Jim to go fck himself.”
    I turned to Jim and said, “Chuck wants you to go fck yourself.”
    Jim smiled, slid his chair back, “Bob tell Chuck, the same to him.”

    The meeting ended, the show proposed show never aired, about a week later Jim and Chuck were talking again. Thank God, the 24-year-old me never had to serve as interpreter again between two giants

  4. Bruce Munson: This blog is a glimpse into the radio equivalent of King Solomon’s mines. (The List)
    Geo: Bruce you need to take a few deep breaths or get out more. Love ya, old friend.

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