How did you like working 7 days a week?
I loved it, but always had a side job - communication seminars in
Phoenix for example, running a golf and swim club for four millionaires
in Pittsburgh during the day. I
went to WWSW with my KDKA PD who wanted to start another talk radio
How did the Houston TV deal come about? Was it a conscious decision
to leave radio or a natural career evolution?
I got real bored real fast in Louisville, after changing the format...hiring
and firing (always found a job for the guy let go). I called my
Dad to talk things over and he said, "well, either find another
radio station to put back on it's feet, or go do sports full time...that's
what you're always talking about." My Dad had played what passed
for pro basketball during the 30s and 40s. I knew the old GM on
the television side at KDKA had gone to Houston, so I called him
(I also called Bill Hartman at WBZ but he didn't have an opening.
He just complained that Westinghouse wouldn't let him finish up
at WBAL in Baltimore, his hometown). As I mentioned, Houston asked
me to spend a year being "second banana."
Eventually you ended up in Phoenix. When did you first work with
I picked up the sports director's slot in Phoenix in August of 1977
- it was the best available that year. I worked with my son, Mark.
He did traffic...he's
the best known in town now, though he really runs the Clear
Channel setup in many cities with a partner. I did the sports reports
every 30 minutes on a new all-talk station, while writing airline
magazine stuff and working on a book.
a few weeks after arriving in Phoenix, longtime Arizona State football
coach Frank Kush was fired. It was a huge story thereabouts. I was
the only one who went from the press conference at ASU to Frank
Kush's home to get his reaction. He asked me to wait a minute then
came back out of his house after talking with his lawyer, and asked
me to come inside and talk with his attorney who turned out to be
a real mover and shaker in the community. Mr. Cavanaugh asked if
he could call a press conference, so Kush wouldn't have to repeat
the same answers over and over again. I explained that he would
best be served by calling the wire services and telling them Frank
would be setup in his backyard at 4:00 p.m. for all who wished to
talk with him, and of course the whole world wanted to talk with
him. In return for playing it so straight with Kush, Mr. Cavanaugh
directed that I, alone, would do the opening standing in front of
Kush. It aired on ALL radio and TV stations. The others weren't
pleased that this new guy in town at the ABC outlet was given front
stage, but they couldn't do anything about it. My bosses thought
I was the second coming, of course, and I was just playing fair.
The attorney, Mr. Cavanaugh turned out to be a friend. He had me
at his very, very private golf club. And when one of Arizona's U.S.
Senators was displeased with the 30 second TV Ad the Republican
National Committee in Washington sent, Cavanaugh asked me to try
and clean it up a bit (his words) thus are friendships made.
Phoenix you spread your wings to freelance commercial writing and
that led to a new career in motivational speaking.
had always done public speaking, though I call it "speech-a-fying."
In a town like Phoenix, with so many conventions, they pay well
if you'll warm up the folks for their main speaker. Big sports names
were getting $50,000 to $75,000 for their "motivational" talks back
then. Lord knows what it is now. I moved to working with divorce
groups, then cancer groups in Phoenix.
What brought you back to your native New England, and did you give
broadcasting a shot or pursue new interests?
I came home when I became exhausted and burned out...I guess that's
the usual line, nowadays.
You must have some thoughts on how much radio has changed.
How do I feel about pop radio today? I listen very little which,
I'm sure you'll agree, is an answer in and of itself. Cable television
is where the talkers are today, unless you are in a large market
and son Mark tells me there is no one that teaches anymore...my
love above all else...such a kick to see an air talent grow. Automation...large
corporations owning everything, and doing nothing for their local
make a point about our current election cycle. Historically blacks
wouldn't vote for blacks because they believed the white folk wouldn't
vote for a black American. Times are changing. I get a kick out
of hearing all the news cable people go on and on, about what a
great speaker Obama is (he needs to be careful...when he struts
across a stage, chin held high, he gives people an excuse to turn
him down at the polls...too confident, too cocky). If people only
knew how many great public speakers we have in this country...four
dozen in black churches alone. As for whether the country is ready
to vote for either an African American or a woman (and Lord, is
she bright)...well in television, and in this country's military,
it was FIRST...black men, then women, and last black women. Think
it will be any different this time around?
One other thing...you're obviously Internet savvy. I find it fascinating
how much the Internet has replaced many of the functions radio used
to provide, especially among young people. It is a far more efficient
way for them to stay in touch with pop culture quickly (especially
music exchange), and allows them instant contact with others who
share similar interests. In many ways the Web provides much of the
human interaction disc jockeys used to. Any comments?
No, I spend no time on the Internet. I am not savvy so I cannot
give my reaction to whatever is going on though it seems to be if
most parents really knew their kids, they would place a lock on
the computer till after supper when parents can "view" their activity.
Today's kids have come a long way from having a crush on a radio
jock to meeting people they chatted with on the Internet.