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(That Struck Out)

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Dedicated in memory of Jim Collins



On May 2nd, 1977, at 11:59:59PM, the Air Personalities, News Guys & Money Girls 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 from other stations in the chain.



Keith MacDonald writes:

On the central issue of the Strike

Here's 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!

Only 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 Freeman (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.

And 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?

Well 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.

Evelyn 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.

This 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.


Jim Elliott writes:

On the crossing the picket line

The strike was the major stumbling block to the deal with Q107. Of course, having crossed the line in 1977 resulted in my being tossed from the union. They brought me up on charges and I had the head of the National Right to Work Foundation as my attorney. Let's remember that the union used the jocks in 1977 as sacrificial lambs to protect their own interests....

AFTRA never gave a shit about the folks at the 'little station in Bladensburg' as AFTRA's Evelyn Freeman spent much of her time (and gained her power) by dealing with the three network O+O's. I was shop steward at WPGC and the Marriotts actually offered us more money that we asked Evelyn to get us...and she said we could never get what we asked for!! She scared the rest of the crew and they supported her. Could go on for hours on that one.


Shelby Austin wrote:

On driving the WPGC Money Car during the Strike

My most vivid memory has to be the Strike in May of 1977. Truckers trying to run the Lincoln (WPGC Money Car) off the road while I was driving it, watching the picketers out of my apartment window, picking up non-union jocks at the airport...and yes I was on the air doing the Sunday morning was AWFUL.


Dan Mason writes:

On the Strike and its aftermath in 1977

In the beginning it was total chaos...I got into town about midnight just as the strike began...I did morning drive the first morning and Bill Prettyman was reading the news believe it or not.....He sounded pretty good by the way...Little by little we hired new people...Dave Foxx came from our Provo station...we hired Brandt Miller to do afternoons...Waylon Richards had worked with me a few years before in Kansas City and finally Liz Kiley came from Grand Rapids,. I believe she was a former school teacher.....Within 4 months, the staff began to gel and within a year, WPGC had tied WMAL for the number one position in the market....It was quite an accomplishment...I left to take a VP/GM job at KTSA / KTFM in San Antonio and Scott Shannon came in and even made it a better station.




Did the Marriotts ever get their come-uppance?

Yes. Ironically, when Jim Elliott returned to the station to do mornings he was never offered a contract; it was simply done on a handshake. Little did the Marriotts know that single mistake would ultimately lead to the demise of the station five years later which began when Elliott & Woodside left WPGC in 1982 to go to Q107. With no contract in place to enforce, First Media had no legal ground in preventing their departure.



On-Air Line-Up,
PRE - Strike


On-Air Line-Up,
POST -  Strike
Tim Kelly Mornings Jim Elliott
Bob Raleigh (Bill Miller) News Don O'Day
Jim Elliott Middays Dave Foxx
Jim Collins Afternoons Brandt Miller
Big Ron O'Brien Nights Dan Mason
Dino Del Gallo Late Nights Waylon Richards
Keith Mac Donald Overnights Liz Kiley



Print Materials


Click on the title to read the article indicated or visit the publication's website.



WPGC Personalities Strike

WPGC On Air Personalities Strike

© Washington Post



WPGC Is Struck

WPGC Is Struck

© The Washington Star




© Radio & Records


May 1977


NLRB will take on  AFTRA

© Broadcasting


Marriott To Replace Strikers

Marriott To Replace Strikers

© Inside Radio



Secondary Boycott

Secondary Boycott Charged In WPGC Strike

© Broadcasting

May 1977

Collins Resigns At WPGC

Collins Resigns at WPGC, Mason Named New PD

© Radio & Records



Print Ads

Click on image below to see enlargement.


May 1977

WPGC Strike Continues!

© Washington Post




Click on image below to see enlargement.


May 1977

WPGC - The General Store

AFTRA Leaflet



Sound Files

Hear the Strikebound Sound of WPGC, May 1977:

Click on daypart to hear audio or on that person's name to visit their page.



WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977

Afternoon- 1:43

Don Bishop
WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 Morning - 2:26 Don Bishop
WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 Montage - 1:09 Don Bishop
WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 Unknown - :08 Dan Mason
WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 Night - :24 Bill Travis

Special thanks to contributor Steve Willett for the above.



WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977

Tease @ 5:53AM - :11

Bill Prettyman
WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 Tease @ 6:20AM - :17 Bill Prettyman

Special thanks to contributor Steve Willett for the above.


Sound Off

WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977

Supermarket Doors - :35

Bill Prettyman

Special thanks to contributor Steve Willett for the above.



WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977

Win A Country Home - :44

Bill Prettyman

Special thanks to contributor Steve Willett for the above.

Miscellaneous Audio

WPGC Play Audio Button May 1977 'The Great Strike (That Struck Out)'
Parody produced by Dave Foxx
Play Audio Button 05/30/12 Don Bishop on: the above parody 3:15
Play Audio Button 05/30/12 Don Bishop on: The Great Strike That Struck Out 2:39
Play Audio Button 09/25/13 On: The Great Strike & Jim Collins 1:02
Play Audio Button 09/25/13 On: The Great Strike & American Top 40 :58
Play Audio Button 09/25/13 On: Post-Strike Air Staff 1:18


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