was at WPGC from May of '75 thru the strike of '77. When I got there
it was Columbus in the morning,
Jim Elliott middays, Jim
Collins afternoons, Dan Steele
nights, me, then Kevin James
overnights. Dino Del Gallo
His Early Days In Radio:
I got my first paid radio job on the weekend of Woodstock, at WQWK FM in State College, PA playing Album Rock. I was fresh out of the Army and working to get back in school then. Had my first phone, and they wanted to fire their Chief Engineer, and I walked in, and mostly they hired me because of the license.
Dan Steele & Glenn Potter:
seems the GM Glenn Potter
(who's main claim to fame was being the college room mate of one
of the owners) wanted a block of 50 tickets for an upcoming Diplomats
(Washington's original Soccer team) game. Dan
Steele was the booth announcer for the Dips games, so Glenn
asked Dan to get him the tickets, for free of course. Well Dan
did it. But before he had a chance to deliver them, the ratings
came out and Dan was #1 again, beating his chief rival Brother
Love at WRC.
Dan took the opportunity to ask for a raise. Mr. Potter's response
was to tell Dan if he wanted more money, go find another job.
That night Dan tore up the Dips tickets into little pieces and
put them in a pile in front of Potter's door along with his resignation.
After WPGC Dan became PD of WKBO in Harrisburg PA. He tried moving
to Texas, but the 3 Mile Island thing made it impossible to sell
his house, so he moved back. That's the last I heard of him.
I'm sure someone knows more about this than I do, but in the production
room, right next to the door in magic marker it said, "Don't
hit here, steel stud". It seems Columbus
took karate lessons, and when he was really mad one day (bad show
I guess) he put his fist thru the wall.
And in case you wondered, at the request of John Gehron (then
WLS PD, my college PD, and now GM of Clear Channel Chicago) I
taped Columbus without
his knowledge. John used the tape to get him to Chicago as his
production director. A year later, he resigned, saying that the
production work was getting in the way of his free lance business,
which was (and from what I hear is) quite successful.
Jim Collins & Dino Del Gallo:
remember the night Jim Collins
came in to Dino Del Gallo,
holding a stack of albums. He asked Dino to check thru em and
try to find a single for this group that just couldn't seem to
buy a top 40 hit, but was doing fine in concert. So Dino went
thru the albums, and went back to Jim with his pick the next day.
When Collins realized what the selection was he told Dino, hey,
they already released that and it died. Dino came right back saying....
no they didn't, they released the studio version and it
died... they need to release the live version. So Collins
took the recommendation back to the record company. They released
the live version... "Rock & Roll All Night",
and Kiss finally got their top 40 start.
The NAB Convention was in DC that year. Jim
Collins went, and met up with an old friend (who's name
I won't mention). Anyway this old friend was back in town for
the convention and had called a very pretty and somewhat notorious
radio groupie to be his date. Collins didn't know her, but assumed
she must work in radio... so sometime during the evening he gave
her an invite for a tour of the station.
surprise the following Monday she shows up for the tour. So Jim
gives her the quick once around, but has to go on the air as it's
2:00pm. Well, she asks to 'borrow the phone' in his office. So
Jim tells her to dial 9 to get an outside line and heads to the
control room. Five minutes goes buy and Jim gets a call on the
inside studio line. She can't get her call to go thru, and wants
his help. Jim has a long record on, so he heads for his office
to fix the problem. Just outside the control room he runs into
Glenn Potter and Bill
A brief conversation ensues, and Jim explains the problem as he's
walking down the hall to his office... with the Potter and Prettyman
a few steps behind ready to help. Jim opens the door and there
she is ... NAKED on his desk... legs spread wide... and she says
"Just wanted to give you a preview of what you can have later".
Jim, never missing a beat, pulls the door mostly closed, leaving
his head inside just long enough to whisper loudly... "get
the @#$# out of here"... and then loudly says... "Yes,
It's 9 you need to press then wait for the dial tone". He
then has to almost push Potter and Prettyman back the hall...."No
problem" "Phone is fine" "She wasn't dialing
9" or some such.
no one would ever have known about this.... except that when he
got back to the control room, he realized some naked crazy woman
was in HIS office, and might not leave. So he called Carla
who was working on public service stuff, told her what happened,
and asked her to go throw this woman out. Of course before she
went to Jim's office she called a few others. By the time Carla
got around to it the woman was gone.
my favorite story is about Kevin
James. Seems Kevin was single, and he and his dog Wilbur
lived mostly out of his van. So Kevin ran most of his social life
out of the control room. If someone called in the middle of the
night who sounded interesting, he'd invite them to breakfast.
He once told me you can invite anyone to breakfast... then if
he was still interested he could invite her to dinner and a movie
Kevin didn't know when to quit. Some days he had a date for breakfast,
another for lunch, and yet another for dinner and a movie... and
well, he'd return to the station two hours before his shift, without
any sleep at all. He'd ask me to tell everyone he wasn't there...
then he'd fall asleep standing up, leaning against the cart racks
in the back of the control room. Never met anyone before or since
who could do that... but Kevin claims he still can.
one night this girl calls...and she hims and haws around and asks
me how well I know Kevin, and will I answer a personal question
about him. So I asked her what she wanted to know... She says
"Is Kevin gay?" I nearly busted out laughing. "What
makes you think Kevin might be gay" I said. Her reply was
priceless.... "Well whenever Kevin comes over for dinner,
I want to, you know, mess around, and all he wants to do is sleep"
If she had any idea!
'Bob Raleigh' #5 (Bill Miller):
He lived quite a life. He was a bronk rider at the rodeo in Cowtown NJ, studied at the Ringling Brothers Clown College, and several times his model railroads were featured in Model Railroad Craftsman magazine. He was an expert with an airbrush, and used that talent to design the paint scheme used for the Spirit of 76 diesel that was made for the Bicentennial. I was in a Model Railroad hobby shop not long ago and Bill's name came up. That's where I found out that his widow makes brass locomotives by hand. So he wasn't the only talent in the family. He was a good friend.
'The Great Strike That Struck Out'
the real strike story: The
Marriott brothers owned WPGC... it was the only Union company
owned by the Marriotts anywhere, and they wanted the union gone.
The union minimum in '77 was around 18k. We where hopeful of maybe
20k. The company negotiated everything but salaries, refusing
to do so till 11pm on the final day of the contract. Then with
1 hour to go they offered 7k immediately, 7k more at the start
of year 2 and 5k more at the start of year 3. Thus we would go
from 18k to 37k in 2 years. Wow!
one catch.... we had to give up the 'deem to be live clause'.
What? We didn't know what that was. So in the hour left on the
contract Evelyn Fryman (DC Union chief) explained to us how it
was the clause on which AFTRA was founded. Seems jocks in New
York were being paid for 5 day weeks, but had to record shows
for air on the 6th and 7th days. The clause said, that if you
record a show, and it airs out of shift, you get paid for the
time it takes to record it, and the time it airs.
as they left the room, they told us that with or WITHOUT the union,
the offer was on the table... HINT HINT HINT. Well, we spent the
rest of our hour trying to figure out just how the company planned
to use this. I mean it must be a big deal if it's worth 19k a
year per jock. What were they up to?
it turns out we were missing the forest for the trees. The only
reason the company wanted this clause gone, is because National
AFTRA would not approve the contract without it. They figured
we'd see the light, decertify the union, and take the deal. They
get no union, we get big bucks.
must have known that was what the Marriotts wanted, but she never
said so. She just kept telling us all the awful stuff that might
happen without 'deem to be live'.... and pretty soon our
hour was up... and we were on strike. Oh and once you're on strike...
it's illegal to decertify a union. So to talk the deal then, we
had to cross a picket line, and give up union work forever. As
a result Jim Elliott, who
figured this was his last radio job anyway, took the deal... the
rest of us found new employers.
strike was not about raises or benefits or clauses, it was about
union busting on the Marriott's part, and a bunch of DJ's who
didn't see the light till too late.
His Days After WPGC:
After leaving during the strike in 77, I spent the summer on WYRE in Annapolis, and in the fall joined the staff of WCAO in Baltimore doing mid-days. Then it was a brief stint as morning man at WKTK Baltimore (now WQSR) with fellow ex-WPGC talent Dino Delgallo as our mid-day host.
As the story goes my newsperson, Brenda Carl, was fired because she interviewed with another station, mostly in hopes of getting a small raise. Her replacement was a young lady who believed her job was strictly news. The concept of a morning team escaped her. I realized B104 was going to launch soon, and would likely pass us quickly in the ratings due to their sharp management, and much larger promotional budget, and frankly our lack of a cohesive morning show. By the way the news woman was Robin Quivers. You may have heard of her.
My next stop was WPKX / WVKX, KIX 106 in Alexandria VA doing country music. When AM and FM split, I became Operations Manager of the AM side doing Music of your Life. A year later the law changed, AM and FM recombined, and I was left looking for work. A few months later I was picked up by WMZQ where I had a 10 year run, and the number one afternoon show in the DC market for 7 straight years. The station itself was number 2 or 3 throughout the period.
But Charlie Ochs became General Manager in the early 90s, and decided country music was appealing to a younger crowd and well you get the idea. We were replaced two at a time about 6 months apart, until the entire full time air staff was replaced. Ratings fell and the station went back into the teens in market placement. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Bob Cole had come over from KIX-106 and he wanted to bring Jim London with him. Jim, was not interested, until he found out the GM was trying to get him to sign a no cut deal, so he could move Jim to afternoons, and replace him. Paul Bottoms, Jim's newsman (a former Viet Nam Armed Forces Radio news guy who sounded like Paul Harvey, and knew Pat Sajack when he was Viet Nam morning guy Pat Sadjack.) found out about it just after he signed his no-cut deal. Jim bailed and went to 'MZQ, Mary Ball followed and Bob Cole teamed them up. I did 10p-2am for a while, then was moved to afternoons about a year later.
After WMZQ, I did some part time work while looking for a full time gig. For a while I was heard on WPOC Baltimore, WBIG, and eventually WASH FM. From there I picked up a morning job with what had been, and soon was to be again, WGAY in Washington. Then WGAY became a Jam'n Oldies station as WRMR. As luck would have it this was during the time radio was beginning to go computerized, and I was the only DJ they had who had been a computer hobbyist for a decade, so I became production director. One of the voice trackers we used was none less than Big Ron O'Brien, who was then in Philadelphia.
From there WRMR became, Hot 99.5 WIHT. I stayed on as program director but it was not to last. After 10 years and 4 sets of call signs, Clear Channel's GM in DC, Bennett Zier, who had been great to work for, left to start the Redskin's Football Network for Dan Snyder. As soon as he left, Clear Channel decided to lower employee salaries, and with a few months WHIT had only one DJ left from the folks I had worked with. I was first to go. I was over scale, and was shop steward for AFTRA at Clear Channel Washington. Need I say more.
So, realizing I was only a few years from retirement age, and that I had worked just about everywhere in the market that might use my talents, I opted to get into computer work full time. A few years later I retired. My wife and I still live in the Bowie house I bought in 1981 when I moved back from Baltimore. Today I'm 75, and I still spend a lot of time working on radio. Only now it's Amateur Radio, a hobby I've had since I was 18, and the one that got me into the radio business as an engineer during my college years at Penn State. I am involved in several amateur radio clubs, and teach free courses yearly for the three levels of Amateur Radio license available. So now you know where I am, and how I got there.
I got out of the business in 2006, so 1969 to 2006 is 37 years. Now if I count campus radio I go back 5 more years, for a total of 42. I like to describe my career this way. I was number one in my daypart, on two different stations, with two different formats, in two different decades in Washington DC. I don't know of anyone else who's done that.
As for radio, it was fun while it lasted. Radio isn't the same now. The big corporations all seem to believe they can tell people what they like and that everyone will believe them. They also think the DJ should be part of the advertising and not part of the entertainment. Me, I think they are nuts. AM's are pretty much turning out the lights, and with older folks on XM and younger on the Internet, there isn't much room for FM radio to make money any more either. Pity.