Man From Mars Productions
second time you stayed with WDRC for six years (1961-67).
Did you remain long enough to see the studios move to 750
Yes, we account executives had to drive around and around downtown
location trying to find a vacant parking meter, wasting time and
gasoline. Bill Crawford had a huge general manager's office filled
with primitive antiques. The entire floor plan was in the design
of a "Big D". You'd have to remove the roof of the building to see
the Big D but Bill thought it was great. Electrical interference
from a dentist's office floors below was an issue. The architect
and construction fees and the much higher overhead apparently led
to Crawford's demise. It was a power play to give us the prestige
of actually, as well as symbolically, looking down on WTIC.
You managed WCCC, which I think was owned then by Hartford jeweler
Bill Savitt. How involved in the day-to-day was Savitt?
WCCC was above Savitt Jewelers, but I did not work for Bill. When
you got off the elevator the smell of the material used to make
dentures made you want to hold your breath until you were down the
hall and safely inside the offices and studios. Savitt told me he
sold the stations quickly, "like a kettle of fish." My employer
was a very interesting guy and the founder of Electra Records, Jac
Holzman. I was the general manager. When I met Jac in New York City,
mounted on the wall outside his office were the understated, modern
aluminum letters "el supremo". I remember he was wearing a Nehru
jacket. I was hired to work for Jac by Erny Tannen, a consultant
who owned WDMV on the Delmarva Peninsula and WEEZ, Chester, PA.
The relationship between Erny and Electra was short lived.
left Hartford to launch a 30-year career in station ownership.
Why start in Munising, Michigan?
It was what I could afford. My father and my wife's father
both died in the space of five weeks early in 1969. I came
to the realization that life can be short and I vowed to have
my own radio station before year's end. Munising was one of
a few properties I considered. One was in California, another
in Arizona, another in Tennessee. The weekend I was to visit
the west coast station my dad died. I closed on WGON December
Give us the Rand McNally version of your ownership journey.
(1) WGON, Munising, MI (average annual snowfall 186"),
built WQXO-FM which is now 10,000 watts. Then to (2) KGRI
A/F, Henderson, TX. The Santa Claus Christmas parade had the
jolly gentleman arriving in a convertible with the top down.
End of snow. (3) WDGS, New Albany, IN (thought I'd like to
return to a major market. The station was part of the Louisville,
KY metro). I went news/talk there and had five full-time broadcast
journalists on the air. Loved the programming. I sold the
station for 60% more than I paid for it off the air. I took
a course on professional burnout at the University of Louisville
and went to work for the National Association of Broadcasters
as regional manager responsible for 1,000 radio and TV broadcast
stations in PA, TN, KY and WV. It was on one of these calls
that I learned about the forthcoming satellite programming
technology. I could see my problems with the care and feeding
of staff would greatly be reduced so I bought my final station
(4) WIKI, Carrollton, KY where I stayed for almost 20 years.
Freeman at WGON in 1972
later became quite an expert on early radio apparatus, including
many of the devices invented by Franklin
M. Doolittle; had you ever heard of him prior to working at
Did you ever meet Doolittle?
Yes. I'm guessing it was in 1960. He was in the traffic department
office at Blue Hills Avenue. He was dressed
very differently from the attire of the day. His clothes were all
darkůmaybe even black. Somehow I knew who he was. He was quite distinctive.
Something about his hat. He was not gregarious, not outgoing, but
matter of fact. He had built this building so he was not uncomfortable
surrounded by these strangers. He may have been looking at sales
materials when I discovered him. I made it a point not to stare
but I knew I was in the presence of someone very special. I've made
the acquaintance of his son, John.
We've exchanged information many times. John is a former U.S. Navy
commander. His e-mail
address makes reference to a beached whale. I've treasured our
relationship and our correspondence over the last few years.
What does George Freeman do today in retirement?
I married a college classmate from our 1954 Radio Workshop about
six years ago (I had been divorced for 28 years). We spend most
of our days in her hometown, Tiffin, OH. Janet was the first and
only female Seneca County Commissioner serving for 12 years. We
formed the Johnson's Island Civil War Roundtable and have 58 members.
The name honors the Civil War prison on nearby Lake Erie that housed
some 10,000 CSA officers. Janet has a
family that has been accepting, supporting and helpful; two daughters,
a son and their families including seven grandchildren. I'm teaching
the youngest grandchildren a little Russian language.
Freeman in 2000
been an officer of several vintage radio clubs. I write a
quarterly column on vintage microphones for Antique Wireless
Association (AWA) entitled Mics and Men. A recent article
was on Bob Steele. I've authored articles on radio and TV
history for the Indiana Historical Society, Mid South Antique
Radio Club, and other clubs. I serve on the Alumni Council
of Heidelberg College, Tiffin, OH. I'm rehabilitating the
1890 Tiffin Savings Bank building and did two Certified Historic
Rehabilitation projects on commercial buildings in downtown
Madison, IN. I belong to at least six preservation and historical
organizations in IN and OH.
all the stations I've worked WDRC has turned out to
be the most "sticky". The long time friends, the station's
legendary history have all enriched my life more than any
other broadcast affiliation.
reason I started up my column on vintage microphones was because
WDRC GM/VP Wayne Mulligan
sent a 1959 picture of me in front of the perennial RCA 77-DX microphone
you see all of us posing with in publicity shots. He sent it to
my WIKI operations director, another WDRC alum, Ken
Trimble. He asked that Ken forward it to me. I looked at that
picture, realized I never noticed any of the microphones I had used
at any of the stations where I worked. All those microphones had
meant nothing more to me than a lead pipe. I felt a burning need
to go back and look at the places where I had been and learn what
I missed while working in the trenches.
years ago I made contact with Kurt
Russell's daughter and wife. Kurt paid for all the provisions
at one of our parties on Tunxis Avenue in Bloomfield just so we
could party in my log-lined-den. When I was with NAB I briefly checked
in with Jim Nettleton
in Philadelphia. I'm delighted to read the recent interview with
Jim on this same website. Jim and
I had been discussing extraterrestrials when the lights went out
during the 1965 Northeast Power Blackout (at WIKI I invested thousands
of dollars to build an emergency generator backup system because
of my experience at WDRC during that blackout). We were at
Manny's Delicatessen up the street on Blue Hills Avenue. Manny ran
out into the middle of Blue Hills shouting "The Russians are
coming! The Russians are coming!" The eerie nature of the experience
was sharply enhanced by our conversation re: ET's. Driving home
I could see only occasional candle light. John Jaeger was trapped
on the 75th floor of the building rented by Buckley-Jaeger
and provided phone call descriptions of the situation in New York
City to WDRC. John was a former WNEW newsman; his stage name
had been George Brooks. He must have enjoyed the opportunity of
being at the right place at the right time. Most all radio stations
were off the air from Boston through New York and Philadelphia.
WDRC had an emergency generator and we were on the air! A
listener wrote weeks later she was ready to take her life until
she found WDRC on her radio. We were received in Ireland
because of the paucity of radio signals coming from America's east
coast at that time.
to compete with Ed Brouder and the Doolittle family on all things
WDRC showing up on E-Bay. Just kidding!