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Dedicated in memory of Jim Collins



 

Richmond Brothers Stations
 

WPGC - AM & FM / Washington
WMEX / Boston
KBMI / Henderson - Las Vegas

 

These 3 stations were among the first seven that aired 'American Top 40's first show on July 4th, 1970. After owner Max Richmond passed away, his estate sold WPGC - AM & FM to First Media Corporation in 1974. Outbid for the station, General Manager, Bob Howard bought WYSL & WPHD-FM in Buffalo and hired Harv Moore for mornings.

 

WPGC Air Personality 'Mergatroid' contributes this story:

I am a fountain of useless knowlege of the station from '70-74 as an employee, and as a fan prior to that. However, after '74, Steve Kingston and I were off to Iowa to build KRNA, so I am vague on anything after that.

However, my last hurrah there was a big one. Our attorney for KRNA was Ralph Hardy of Dow, Lohnes, Albertson. That is the same guy that was later a prominent part of First Media. Ralph, a terrific guy, and I had Chinese food together quite often, and the topic came up more than once: "If your were buying a station in the DC area, what would you reccommend?". He seemed to always have a client that was interested. Usually he would have a station in mind (WHMC in Gaithersburg comes to mind), and would ask me about the staff, engineering, signal, etc. They were usually dogs.

WPGC had a great gossip gang, headed by Dee Masano, so I knew the inner workings of the estate of Max Richmond fairly well. It is true that Bob Howard had a first refusal to match whatever other offers the estate got on the station, however there was a "drop dead" date to match those offers. I knew that he had offered the estate about 2 million (YES 2 MILLION! - Talk about deflation). GUESS who calls! Ralph Hardy. It is Chinese time at the Orient in Potomac! We meet! There is NO small talk. (I order the sweet and sour pork, he the chicken chow mein). He gets right to the point,"If you were buying a station in the DC area, what would you recommend?". Then he adds this twist, "And money is no problem". Then, "What about WRC?". I said no, NBC is committed to this new NIS (News & Information Service) thing.

Then I offered up WPGC. I said, "Here's the deal: (funny how loyalties change after you have been fired for throwing a ITC 3-deck out of basement window up on to the street below!). "Ho-Ho offered them 2 million or so. If money is no problem, offer them 6 and there is no way he can match that". Then I asked, "Who is the money?" and he declined to tell me. THE NEXT WEEK, the offer for, yes 6 million (my GOD only 6 million for PGC!!!!), was made, Ho-Ho couldn't match it and the deal was done.

The week after that, Ralph asked me to have dinner with him again. I told him, "Great, the Orient at 7". He replied, "No, meet me in the Giant parking lot on Seven Locks Road; come alone". I must admit the cloak and dagger stuff was cool! So he pulls up next to me right on time, and waves me into his car; off we go. I inquire "to where?". "TO MEET THE MONEY", he said. So we wind around all kinds of dark roads and come upon a house in Potomac near the old WGMS transmitter site. We walk in (and I will never forget this). Ralph introduces me to Mr. Glenn Potter, formerly of WTTG Channel 5. Then like magic from behind the curtain, enters this stately looking fellow, and Ralph follows with, "Rob, this is Bill Marriott". I almost passed out! Here I am 21-22 years old in the presence of the most famous business man in DC, or for that matter the US. And he looks at me and says, "Rob, let's talk about WPGC". And as a free agent, I talked. And that was the birth of First Media.

AND, on top of all that, when I was 'Mergatroid', I was was the last "GOOD GUY" on the air. 'Good Guys Radio' officially ended at midnight. However, Joel and I ran it around to 6 so I could be the last Good Guy (actually, I chickened out and dropped it at about 5, knowing, 'Mr. Soundoff', 'Captain Good-Guy' [General Manager, Bob Howard] himself, would be up soon).


Anita Miller ('April May') writes:

I was sorry too when First Media took over. Boy what a bunch of characters those kids were. They didn't even know what ASCAP & BMI were and didn't understand why we paid them so much every month. I decided to have a bit of a giggle with them so I told Chris Fisher not to explain the rules and she sat there while they decided to discontinue payment of the outrageous fees. Boy did the fines hit the fan! People should know the business if they want to run the shop.

 

 

First Media Stations  

WPGC - AM & FM / Washington
WZGC (Z-93) / Atlanta
WZLX / Boston
KOPA / Phoenix
KFMK / Houston
WUSN / Chicago
KUBE / Seattle
KYAK / Provo

 

The Marriott family's First Media Corporation acquired WPGC in 1974 and named Glenn Potter as the new General Manager. In May of 1977, the Air Personalities walked out on strike over objections to the company's plans to run voice tracks on the AM while the same jock was live on the FM.  The union's threats to advertising agencies in town to pull spots with WPGC air talent on them from other stations was deemed by the National Labor Relations Board to be illegal, constituting a secondary boycott, outlawed by the Taft-Hartley Act.  First Media subsequently replaced the entire air staff (but for one person who crossed the picket line) with staffers at other stations in the chain.  

The station's dominance grew throughout the '70's to such an extent that ABC launched Q107 in 1979 in an attempt to siphon off cume from it, in an effort to protect WMAL's slipping numbers.  A fierce CHR war ensued with both stations claiming victory (in actuality, WPGC's adults along with its still viable teen base surpassed Q107's teens).  

By the early '80's, First Media, perhaps overconfident with the station's Adult appeal made the tragic decision to convert it to a disastrous Adult Contemporary format, thus signaling the end of Washington's most legendary Top 40 station. WZGC (Z-93) in Atlanta was First Media's second acquisition in the chain and was named after WPGC.  

First Media sold all of it radio properties to Cook Inlet, a minority run corporation in Alaska in the mid '80's, which converted the station to a CHR/Urban format and operated it until Infinity Broadcasting, the station's present owner purchased it in the late '90's, pursuant to the Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996.

 

 

Miscellaneous Audio

Harv Moore & Marv Brooks from WXTR on:
Marv coming to town, & 'house' DJ names - 1994
Harv Moore, Marv Brooks& Barry Richards from WXTR on:
Lustine spot & Max Richmond '94

(Special thanks to Skip McCloskey of the WRC tribute site for the audio above).

 

2/29/04 Ed Walker on: WMEX & Howard Levy - :52

 




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