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WPGC - Rob Norton

Robbie Norton was the Owner of KZIA, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He perished in an automobile crash on 01/29/18. More details here.


Mergatroid! wrote:

As a native, I started listening to WPGC as a kid. So my interest in the station is much more that just working there. Just for the record, I started at the "PIG" as a engineer at the transmitter site in 1970. Was a jock at the same time at WINX, and WEEL. Got friendly with the jocks and played on the charity basketball team. Big Wilson and I became close, and he later hired me as a jock. This was back when the AFTRA contract stipulated part timers could work no more than 25 hours a week. So Joel Denver (Gentleman Jim Madison #4), and I split the all night show. He did midnight to 3, I did 3 to 6am,but never more than 25 hours!

Did that for about a year, then got fired for telling a friend at another station Graham Richards was coming in to consult the station. 'Captain Goodguy' (General Manager, Bob Howard) had a short memory however, and I was back as Assistant Chief Engineer from 1973-1974 under Chief Engineer Bob Wooden.

I lost that gig when I tossed a 3 deck cart machine I was working on, on the floor. By the time Monday rolled around, I had "thrown it out the window to the street below". However the 'PGC studios of course were down from ground level on the studio side!! (at the Parkway Building in Bladensburg).

'Bob Peyton #3' was actually Dave McKay. Dave left WPGC and went to WCAO in Baltimore. He later founded MAP promotions, an independent record promotions firm in Kansas Ciy. He has since retired from that, and owns and operates a Spanish language station in Kansas City.

Bob Raleigh #4's real name was Dewitt Robert Raleigh. I was there when he was hired. It was really funny to see what Ho-Ho (our pet name for Bob Howard) was going to call him. Obviously he used 'Bob Raleigh' on the air at his previous stations. Ho-Ho I think wanted to call him "Johnny Danger" or something equally as insipid, but came up with the brilliant idea of keeping Bill Miller as Bob Raleigh, Senior, and the new Bob R. Dewitt as Bob Raleigh, Jr. Meanwhile over at WWDC, the original Bob Raleigh (#1 - Rolle Ferrar) was billing himself as the real Bob Raleigh. It was hilarious!

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).

AND, did you know that Bill Miller (Bob Raleigh #3) filled in for
'Mr. Soundoff' under the moniker, "Lieutenant Tweety"!?

GOD! WPGC, and all the STUPID names, including, 'MERGATROID'!



Good Guy Jim Madison #4 (Joel Denver) writes:

Very sad loss -- Rob was my room mate along with a few other DJs while we worked overnights for slave wages at WPGC.



L Double O (Loo Katz) remembers:

So shocking. Terribly sad. One of my favorite memories of Norton - we’d drive over to 'PGC during Dino Delgalo’s shifts (at the Parkway Building) and we’d honk on the horn each time he’d do a break. Classic Norton.



Steve Kingston recalls:

There are way too many Norton stories to tell. I can say he, and his passion for The Real Don Steele and the Drake format, made him a mentor and a friend. The fact the original KRNA airstaff were all transplants from Washington, DC is proof of the deep loyalty and respect we all had for Rob. Ed, Pope, Keany, and myself traveled half way across the country to be apart of Robbie Norton’s Army.... KRNA FM, Iowa City. And for a mere $80 a week!

Let’s remember the WOHN, Herndon after midnight transmitter tests in memory of Rob. Hello Ohio!

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