was the Morning
jock and Program
Director in 1958-59. Max
Richmond and I became friends...in fact I think I'm the
only dude to work for all of his stations...Las
Vegas, D.C. and Boston (WMEX) where I was the morning newsguy.
was in Vegas doing the morning drive show. Max
Richmond came out after I had been there a few months and
fired everyone. But he had taken a liking to me for some reason
and asked me if I'd like to go to his DC station.
was at WPGC about a year but can't remember when they named
Director. I think Dean
Griffith (Dean Anthony) was named Program
Director by Bob
Howard when I left for Baltimore.
think I started in mornings then moved to afternoons with the
Director promotion. That's when we kicked off the 'F.
Dudley Dudley' morning news with Eliot
Elliot Paul and 'F. Dudley Dudley':
Paul to do our morning news and told him to call himself
Dudley' and use a British accent, which he did very well.
It was fun.
Kearns' grandmother ran Blair House, the Presidential guest
home across from the White House. I remember going down to the
Blair House with Jerry and spending the weekends in the feather
beds on the top floor where the service stayed when Kings, Queens
and Presidents came to visit. Ike had Cuban cigars in the kitchen
freezer! We washed our cars out in back. I remember spending
hours in the Senate gallery watching JFK (already running for
President). Sometimes both he and Nixon were in there at the
'Mr. PG'story is a radio classic. Fred
Gray took the 'Mr. PG' promo which stated, "If 'Mr.
PG', Color Radio approaches you on the street, show your support.
'Mr. PG' is walking the streets for crippled children. The
guy edited the words "color" and "crippled"
and changed the promo which ran for hours before someone caught
it to,"Support 'Mr. PG', crippled radio, walking the
streets for "colored" children". They tell
me Mac had his first mild attack when he heard it.
Richmond waddled in to the studio one day bemoaning the
cost of the power bill to keep running WPGC-FM (remember this
was in the late 50's so nobody even knew what FM radio was.)
He said he'd sell the FM to me for $10,000! I told him I didn't
have the money...he said I should call my folks. He said I could
put $1,000 down and get it. What's it worth today?
gotta love DC! if you can afford it...that is. DC is a great
place...easy to get around in...and lots of things to see. The
radio station closed down at sundown...even the FM which nobody
listened too as it just simulcast the powerful AM programming.
So...as of about 5 or 6 o'clock I was free to wander along the
Mall...browse the museums sit in the Senate and watch political
stars like young Jack Kennedy...old Eve Dirksen...and on rare
occasions Richard Nixon who was Vice President at the time.
fellow named Jerry
worked at the station and his Grandmother ran Blair House...
the big house across the street from the White House where visiting
dignitaries stayed. Harry Truman had moved into the Blair House
for a couple of years while the White house was refurbished.
This was during the final year of Eisenhower’s presidency
and when it wasn’t occupied we had the run of the place.
We used to wash our cars in the back parking area...help ourselves
to anything in the frig...including the big dark Cuban cigars
Ike kept in the freezer for guests. I even stayed overnight...way
upstairs in the maid’s bedroom in the most comfortable
feather bed I’ve ever been in. Then the next morning I
took a bath in the main guest bathroom where they had installed
a gold plated bathtub for Queen Elizabeth's earlier visit.
was actually in the military at one of the closed mouth agencies
that are to be found (or not found) around DC and he worked
at the station part time. I commented to him one day about something
we did on the air and he smiled and whispered that “they”
probably heard it. I said what do you mean? “Oh...everything
is monitored... they hear everything.” It was my first
glance into the secret world of evesdropping...knowing that
all the radio stations in the area were probably being taped
and listened too. Kind of scary for a democracy like ours....more
like something you’d expect in Russia.
radio station owner from Boston...was a loose cannon with staff
at times. Upon departig WPGC for WEAM, Fred
decided he’d take a contest promo we had running on the
station and do a little tape cutting job which became a classic
Mac story in broadcasting. We had a guy roaming the streets
of DC and burbs as a promotion for the station...called “Mr.
PG...our station call letters were WPGC....and our logo was
“color radio” which I never figured out.
promotion was tied in with the foundation to support the retarded...so
the on the air announcement said: Mr. PG...Color Radio..is
walking the streets for retarded children. If you spot him say
“Hi” and he’ll give you $100 and donate $100
to the Retarded Children's fund on your behalf.”
Well...Fred, using his tape and scissors... spliced a couple
of words and switched them on the promotion which ran most the
the day before someone caught it. 'Mr. PG...retarded radio...is
walking the streets for colored children'!!! A great story...especially
on a big, popular station in Washington DC where the FCC could
a few months of this fun...I got word that someone in Baltimore
at WCBM had heard my PM drive show and might be interested in
my services. A bit of research told me it was a Plough station...one
of a chain of stations owned by the big drug company. As they
also had WJJD in Chicago...I jumped on the idea of joining them.
stay at WCBM there was ever so brief. But I loved cruising Inner
Harbor and eating the best fries in the world (second only to
the fondue restaurant in Germany). I was just a jock (DJ) doing
an early evening show...but there was an opening for a combo
Program Director / DJ at WJJD and I contacted the national program
guy in Memphis...a decent gentlemen (few of these in our business)...Gene
Plumstead and he took an immediate interest and I was soon on
my way back home. So goodbye Edgar Allen Poe and hello to the
I left WPGC, Mac came to town and invited me to dinner. He wanted
to sell me the FM...WPGC FM. He said the power bills just running
the transmitter were driving him nuts...and I could believe
him..Mac was the kind of guy who had the first dollar of profit
in his billfold...and he bragged that he had a code system worked
out with his secretaries so that he could call them and get
his point across without being charged. At about 10 cents a
minute back then..that WAS being cheap.
listened to FM radio in 1960...in fact...nobody could because
few had FM capability on their radios. We fired up both stations
at 6AM each day and the FM just carried what the AM was running.
Then, because the AM was limited to daytime hours only...we
shut both down at sunset and so...he was correct in feeling
the FM was a useless entity “Why don’t I sell the
FM to you?” he said over dessert and coffee. “I’ll
sell it to you for $10,000....pay me a couple thousand down
and we’ll work out the rest.”
replied that I didn’t have the kind of money “Call
your Dad...tell him you want to buy a radio station in DC!”
“Dad still doesn’t like me being in this business...beside...what
the hell would I do with it...nobody can hear FM.” Well...I
know that you know where this is going. Now...of course...no
one listens to AM any more (hardly) and WPGC-FM in the 70’s,
80’s and later became the most valuable FM property in
the entire DC area. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s
worth about $100 million on today’s market...give or take
a few millions. So much for my crystal ball in the broadcasting