Geo’s Media Blog (The Suits) A Prequel to, “Do They Know You’re My Brother?” 5/23/22

While watching the series “Suits,” it reminded me of the rare times that I was treated like one.

When I left CKSO in Sudbury to become the program Director of CFRA in Ottawa, other than some great ratings and the adoption of my son, Curtis, it wasn’t a gratifying experience.
Most of my stay in Ottawa was filled with so much negativity that the only time I ever returned was when my good friend Gary Russell was inducted into the Radio Hall Of Fame there, some 30 years later.

When the Chum group hired me they neglected to tell me that not only was I following the legendary Alden Diehl, but the staff didn’t like the “suits” from Toronto who now owned them.
The reason for their dislike was because they still worshiped the old owner, Frank Ryan, even though he and the Mrs. left them behind when they scooted with the loot after selling the station to CHUM.

In the beginning, I didn’t care that the staff at CFRA treated me like a “suit” because the CHUM folks provided me with a lot of help which included two programming consultants, Ted Randal from LA, and George Davies from Victoria.

I loved it when Ted came to town because he was into concepts and philosophy which were similar to what I learned from my first boss, Jim Hilliard at CKY in Winnipeg.
On the other hand, George Davies mainly was mostly about the mechanics so there was always something wrong when he visited.

Not only did I have Ted and George, but I was also only a phone call away from my old friend from Winnipeg, J Robert Wood who was the program director of CHUM, and Fred Sherratt the VP of programming for the company.

CFRA, with its 50,000 watts had a huge signal, but unfortunately, it sure didn’t sound huge; it sounded just like a phone.
It probably was just a coincidence that the chief engineer used to work at Ma Bell, but when I finally got him to back the compression down it gave us a smoother sound along with a little more fidelity.

As I said most of the staff treated me like I was just another “suit” from Toronto but they didn’t realize that the folks in Toronto were also nervous about me because they knew that I was anything but a “suit.”

However, as pissed off as I was about the attitude of the staff, I didn’t worry about it because I already knew that you only needed five to seven like-minded individuals to kick major ass.
So after smoothing out the technical sound first, I began building my team.

First, I brought in the golden throats of Roger Klein and Woody Cooper from CKSO in Sudbury which immediately made our commercials and promos sound “Major League.”.
Next, I hired Shelley Emmond out of Regina for afternoon drive and then added Sharon Henwood to the promotion department. However, it wasn’t until my now good friend, Joel Thompson came around to our way of thinking that I knew that we were all set.

CFRA was a great radio station long before I came along, and one of the best things about it was its award-winning news department.
I’ll never forget when I was watching the evening news, the Prime Minister of Canada responded to a reporter’s question by saying, “All I know about that is what I heard on CFRA this morning.” How many times do you suppose we ran that little sound bite, “Eh?”

Even though the station sounded much better, I was still a little nervous about my first rating book.
Not to worry though, the ratings were so huge that when you put all the rest of the Ottawa radio stations together, they didn’t add up to CFRA’s numbers. Hell, we even got a 100 share on the weekend.

Unfortunately, even after that excellent rating book and the next one that was even bigger my radio world went silent.
I suddenly went from almost too much input to none.

Years later, someone told me that the owner, Allan Waters had told everyone to back off me because, as he reportedly said, “I don’t want anybody slowing down this kid’s train.”
Unfortunately, Allan had neglected to tell me so my rage began to heat up.

The studios at CFRA were all located on the third floor, and the offices including mine were located on the second.
So in order to get to my office from the studios, I had to take the elevator which opened up in front of the GM, Terry Kielty’s office.

Terry Keilty was the GM, and on this particular day, as I was headed to my office to put away a reel of promos when the elevator door opened, he waved me into his office.
Sitting in his with his sports director buddy, Ernie Calcutt. It turned out that they both wanted to know why I hired Roger Klein knowing full well that as good as he was, he’d just end up leaving?”

Finally, my rage had an excuse to erupt so I yelled my response, “WHEN YOU’VE GOT A CHANCE TO WORK WITH GREATNESS, YOU GRAB IT EVEN IF YOU ONLY HAVE IT FOR FIVE F*CKING MINUTES.”
I then threw the tape I was carrying against his Mahogney wall where it shattered.

I watched in horror as what looked like brown tinsel slowly drifted down on Terry and Ernie, and as they struggled to free themselves, I stormed out.
Terry was right though, Roger did leave, when he left with me for CFTR in Toronto.

GEO’S LIFE-LINERS
Here’s the formula; first, you dream it, then you build it, and then you convince the folks that they really need it.

Unlike fear, courage has to be conjured up.

So Putin, how’d that May Day Victory Parade go for ya?

Speaking of Putin, when he started warring he had Italy and Japan on his side whose Putin got?

The only thing that makes people perfect is their imperfections.

Doing what people want and doing what’s right is a tough choice. decision.

Only the wisest of people know how to enjoy the things they have.

Promotion/Contesting is 25% of the reason folks listen to the radio, so if you’re wondering why radio’s cume is fading, look no further.

At the moment, Florida’s real estate market is hotter than a pepper sprout which is causing me to get tons of emails and texts from real estate agents claiming that they have cash buyers for my condo. However, when I respond with, “Where the hell would I live?” All I hear are crickets.

Speaking of “cash” buyers what else would you except, Turkeys?

Data that won’t help you make a decision is useless information.

Going along with the masses only creates more of the same old thing.

In order to become bigger, you’ll need to have insiders and outsiders on your team.

The real problem with America is that the far right and the extreme left are too noisy. Eliminating both would go a long way in making the whole world a better place.

Speaking of negative noise, there’s a theory that had the farmer shot chicken little, who was running around screeching, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” the farm would have been a better place.

As my friend Bobby Cole recently said, “Those who say that money can’t buy happiness spent their dough on the wrong shit.”

A sure sign that you’re growing old is when you’ve never heard of the players in the current lineup of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band.

When I flew my grandson from LA to West Palm Beach, I did so for two reasons, it was non-stop, and the fare was cheap. Unfortunately, the fare was bogus because you had to pay to check luggage, but you also had to pay for any carry-ons. Now, who the fuck would fly from California to South Florida without a bag?

Making more laws trying to prevent racism doesn’t fix it, they only make it worse.

The only thing most rich people care about is their legacy, so the way to get at the bad ones, all you have to do is to make sure their legacy is correct by including the bad parts.

According to most religions, if you’re not a part of theirs you’re going to hell. Well, if that’s true there’s nobody in heaven.

To change the world, one must change themselves first.

 
COMMENTS
Wendy: If some black ops guy blew up a few buildings in Moscow it would serve no other purpose than to inflame Putin who would in turn start flinging nuclear warheads at the West and life as we know it would be finished. Not a pleasant thought! (It Was A Very Good Year)
Geo: I hear ya, Wendy, but unless they let Putin have Ukraine that’s always going to be a threat

Jay Williams: Hi George,
I must tell you the real story of the Rolls Royce and Mr. Fairbanks, just for the record.
RMF was up in Boston for his annual visit (supposedly a requirement of ownership in the day), and as a few of us were preparing to go to lunch at a mediocre Framingham seafood restaurant he liked, morning man Dale Dorman was walking out of the radio station door at the same time. Dale’s freshly washed, plum-colored RR was in the pole parking position next to the front door, and Dale was (deservedly) proud of it. So as Mr. Fairbanks glanced at it, Dale opened the passenger side door, told him that this was his car, and politely asked Mr. Fairbanks if he’s ever ridden in a Rolls. Mr. Fairbanks, thinking that this was, perhaps, the dumbest question he’d been asked that day, said, “Yes, but never in the front seat.” We were all speechless for a few seconds after that. (It Was A Very Good Year)
Geo: However, Jay, I’m sure the next call was to Hilliard saying, “How the hell does somebody who works for us afford a Rolls Royce?”

Michael O’Shea:1964 was also MY radio kickoff year. After being a jock wannabe starting in ‘61 or ‘62 in high school, I got my first REAL gig in Jan ‘64, still, a teen, doing mornings at KNEM, Nevada, Missouri, where the newbie always got the morning shift ‘cause no one else wanted to get up that early. (Smile). I started on Jan 24, 1964, the very DAY that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit number one on Billboard. I always looked at it as if both The Beatles and I started in the US the same day. $64/week to jock, do News, sell a little and be a real radio dee Jay.
PS I love your life-liners. Reid shoulda read them before his first marriage. Uh, me too. 🙂
Geo: I began as a part-time board op, Michael,and as you later lucked out by working for Gordon McClendon, I lucked out from the git-go by getting to work for Jimmy Darin (Jim Hilliard) when my brain was nothing but a big ol’ sponge.

Geo’s Media Blog is a politically incorrect inside look at Radio, TV, 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 is not only encouraged, it’s appreciated.
.

&nsbp;

3 thoughts on “Geo’s Media Blog (The Suits) A Prequel to, “Do They Know You’re My Brother?” 5/23/22

  1. 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 about 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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 reveals 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)
    Geo: Thank you for tour comments, Jed, but truth be known, I would have no idea how to do radio without “Hall of Fame” talent.

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