Tag Archives: WIIN

We Are the Choices We Make

WSM(15)From my earliest days, I knew what I wanted to do in life. Drive a car, fly a plane and be a disc jockey.

I know, they don’t seem like big hairy audacious life goals, but to an eight year old, they were.

Disc Jockey

You might be surprised to learn that the goal of becoming a professional disc jockey on an AM radio station came first. I actually had to have my mom drive me to the radio station and pick me up after my shift and I’m sure it was a kick for both of my parents to hear their youngest son on the radio.

My mother was a radio listener. My father never was.

Driver’s License

By the time I got my driver’s license and was graduating from high school, my radio work had earned me enough money to buy my first car and head off to college.

My course of study in college was in physics and education. I was on the path to becoming a teacher. My parents didn’t feel that becoming a full-time disc jockey was a career with any future and wanted me to have a college degree and a career I could fall back on.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked to get an FCC license for an FM radio station for my college and became the first general manager of WJJW 91.1FM. Between classes I DJ’d on my college radio station, and on weekends, holidays and summers, earned money working in professional radio.

I never had a student loan and between my radio work and playing a trombone in professional marching and concert bands, I not only paid for my college education but saved some money too.

1968 was when minimum wage paid the most money per hour in the history of the minimum wage law in America. You can’t do what I did on minimum wage today.

Airborne

Flying a plane wouldn’t happen until 17-years later. I was promoted to general manager of WIIN-AM/WFPG-FM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The previous general manager had worked out a trade deal with our local airlines, which also provided our news/talk AM planeradio station with local traffic reports during beach season. When I took over the job, everything was already in place for flying lessons and I took advantage of the arrangement and learned to fly.

Soloing a plane over the South Jersey Shore Beaches in the summer time on the weekends was such a thrill.

Teaching

IMG_3351Whenever people would ask me what I wanted to do next with my life, my answer was always the same, teach. Yes, I wanted to teach at a college or university the very profession that I had spent my entire working life doing, radio.

When Clear Channel was doing major RIFs (Reduction In Force) in 2009, I one day found myself with a surprise visit from my Regional Vice President. For the past year, I had spent being told who I needed to terminate next in my radio stations and I knew this time it was me. It was the worst year in radio I ever had.

The good news was, I saw in Radio Ink that Western Kentucky University was looking for a broadcast professor to teach sales, management, history and other radio/media courses. The position perfectly described my background and because of my two college degrees, both in education, I knew I had found the final path of my professional life.

I moved to Kentucky. Helped Dan Vallie to create the KBA/WKU Radio Talent Institute and over the course of seven years did research on the future of radio, along with creating this very blog, that I’ve been writing weekly for over five years.

Disc Jockey, Second Act

Before retiring from the university, Joe Limardi, then operations manager for WSM 650AM in Nashville, invited me to come to Music City and do a radio shift on The Air IMG_2368Castle of the South. Joe Limardi had been a guest professional broadcaster in my Capstone Class at WKU and it was during his lectures with my students that I learned that Joe had grown up listening to me on the radio back in our hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts on WBEC 1420AM. Joe always thought of me as a disc jockey and little did I know I inspired him to pursue a radio career.

IMG_2352I had not been behind the mic on a radio station in 35-years. I had a 10-minute lesson in how to run the control board from Joe and then was off on my own to do the next four hours on The Legend WSM.

Soloing on WSM that day was a thrill, one I had not had since my flight instructor got out of the plane one day and said, “Take it around by yourself.”

But my disc jockey second act didn’t end that day, I continue to do a VT midday shift (EST) on WMEX-LP out of Rochester, NH and heard worldwide on TuneIn Radio.

One thing is clear, we are the choices we make.

Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.

 

 

 

 

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Memories of Pinky

PinkyShortly after I arrived in Atlantic City to begin my 13-year run as general manager of WIIN/WFPG, I would be interviewed by Atlantic City Magazine about some of the changes I was making at the radio stations.

WIIN was a news station with a five person news staff, a full-time sports director, even a plane in the sky over the South Jersey Shore doing traffic reports in season. WFPG was the iconic Bonneville Beautiful Music formatted radio station with an hour I.D. that many remember for the sound of ocean waves, sea gulls and buoy bells. During my interview with the magazine I was asked about Pinky and his WOND radio show Pinky’s Corner, to which I replied something to the effect that he wasn’t on my radar and what he did made no difference on my operation; basically a one-liner in a much longer story on South Jersey radio.

By the time I arrived in South Jersey Pinky had been doing his radio show longer than I had been sucking up oxygen as part of the human race.

Sunday morning November 1st I woke up to the news that Pinky had passed away Saturday night at the age of 88. He had retired only earlier this year after heart surgery in May had caused Pinky to call in sick for the first time in his 57-year radio work history.

I have so many memories of Pinky.

As a competitor I remember calling on advertisers that told me they bought ads in Pinky’s show so he would never say anything negative about them. Hard to argue with that reason. I remember Pinky broadcasting his radio show by the cash registers as I was checking out with my groceries at the supermarket. I remember the time when Pinky was without a remote location sponsor to do his show from, so he took the latest technology – a bag phone – and hopped in the back of Atlantic City police cars and did his radio broadcast live on patrol, the kind of thing that COPS does on TV.

My radio career would take me to the Midwest and one day my office phone would ring and it would be Howard Green, the owner of WOND, home of Pinky’s Corner. Howard said to me “Dick Taylor, what would it take for me to get you back to Atlantic City and working for me?” I said, “Make me an offer.” He did. I took it. I returned to Atlantic City.

Because Pinky always did his radio show from a remote location, he was usually never in the radio station broadcast center. One day, I saw Pinky walking towards my 3rd floor corner office. I said “Hi Pinky,” to which Pinky said “I have no confidence your ability to manage this radio station,” then turned around left. It’s always nice to receive that kind of positive encouragement from your team when you start a new job.

I would learn those words were due to that Atlantic City magazine article of over a decade earlier. Pinky had an incredible memory. He remembered everything. He even did his radio commercials from memory for his clients who sponsored Pinky’s Corner.

When we were approaching Pinky’s 45th year on-the-air, I conspired with his remote sponsor to throw a big 45th anniversary celebration surprise party during his live radio show. The casino folks agreed and it was a surprise that I’m sure Pinky never expected to have occurred on my watch.

Another thing I remember about Pinky was that during my time as the WOND manager, Pinky wouldn’t say the call letters or the frequency of the radio station. No matter how I cajoled Pinky he would not change his ways. I commissioned a research study of the people who listened to Pinky’s Corner and found that 60% of the people who listened to Pinky every day did not know the call letters of the radio station his show was broadcast over. But I still couldn’t change Pinky’s mind.

Frustrated I went to the company owner, Howard Green, and asked for advice. Howard’s response was priceless. “Don’t ask me” he said. “Pinky one time had t-shirts made up with his picture drawn on them and the words ‘Listen to Pinky’s Corner’.” Howard said when he saw them he said to Pinky “Pinky, you didn’t put the call letters or the frequency of the radio station on your t-shirts.” To which Pinky replied “and you didn’t pay for the t-shirts.”

Since Atlantic City uses unaided diary recall I decided to put the WOND call letters in every station break and between every commercial during Pinky’s Corner I could squeeze them into. Then Howard Green became ill while on an ocean cruise, lapsed into a coma and died. The next day I turned on Pinky’s Corner to hear what Pinky would say about his friend and employer of over four decades and what struck me most was that Pinky was saying the station call letters everywhere. And that would continue from that point forward. I guess I’ll never know the reason why that change occurred.

I’m happy to say that Pinky and I became friends, who respected one another’s abilities and love of the radio business. I always enjoyed seeing him on my annual trips back to Atlantic City for the New Jersey Broadcasters Association conventions.

For so many people in South Jersey, they don’t remember a time when Pinky wasn’t on their radio. He truly was one-of-a-kind.

Thank You Pinky for making WOND, like the slogan said, “Radio You Can Depend On.”

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