Tag Archives: WUHN

Great Radio Starts in the Station’s Hallways

Once upon a time, a radio station had a team of people fully focused and dedicated to a single radio signal. Think of the incredible radio stations you listened to in your youth: WABC, WKBW, WRKO, WLS, WPRO, WDRC, KHJ, KFRC, CKLW, etc. These were standalone radio stations with dedicated staffs that numbered ten or more times larger than today’s radio clusters, which are made up of 4 or more stations.

WBEC

When I was on-the-air and in programming/operations for AM1420-WBEC, it was the only radio station I was concerned about. When the owner added an FM signal to our operation, he hired a dedicated air staff and programmer to oversee this new signal.

In my car, in my home, in my office, you could here WBEC playing. I remember the programmer of our new FM station grousing that his station was not being heard anywhere in the building but his own radio studio.

WUPE/WUHN

When I moved into sales at Whoopee Radio, our programming was simulcast on both our AM and FM signals. When ownership decided to split the AM and FM into separate formats, I was promoted to general manager of the AM station and went about hiring air personalities and a sales staff for our new Radio One – WUHN. Only our broadcast engineer and office staff would be shared by both operations.

On my side of the building all you heard playing was WUHN and on the other side it was WUPE.

KOEL AM/FM, KCRR & KKCV

When I got to Iowa as Market Manager of a four station cluster, the sound of any one of the radio stations playing was hit and miss in the common areas, but each station had its own dedicated staff, completely focused on their operation. Again, only office and engineering staff were shared.

Radio Clusters in 2022

People wonder why Christian Radio and Public Radio stations are often the most successful radio operations in markets across America. I don’t wonder. What I see are radio operations that hearken back to the way I started in radio, an entire staff, 100% focused on a single radio station.

In these radio stations, the programming can be heard in the hallways, bathrooms and coming out of every office.

In my Capstone Class at the university, I would take my students to see how different radio and TV stations operated in the area. The differences in equipment, staffing, and facilities were always enlightening. Everyone in these stations could be seen jumping from one station to another, many had programs they hosted on more than one signal.

What never ceased to amaze me however, was when you went into our local public radio station or our local Christian radio station, the energy was palpable. Everyone in these radio stations were dedicated to the mission of the station. They didn’t just broadcast their formats, they lived and breathed them.

Culture always changes in the hallways,

before it changes out the speakers.

-John Frost

When John Frost asked in his weekly blog, “if your radio station went off the air, would anyone care,” it got me to thinking about what makes for a successful operation. Be it a business, sports team, or even a radio station, if you don’t have that spirit of a shared mission with a defined goal that everyone’s working towards, you won’t ever be a success.

Radio broadcasting is an emotional art form. If you don’t feel that emotion in the hallways of your operation, you’ve entered a radio station that is dying.

Radio is not dead, but many radio stations are on life support.

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Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

It’s always been my belief that unless you first build a positive culture in the workplace, nothing else you try to accomplish will ever come to fruition.

So, when I read this famous quote that business guru Peter Drucker was alleged to have coined, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” it came as no surprise that the foundation of any successful enterprise is built on its culture.

In fact, most people don’t quit companies or leaders, they quit organizational cultures.

“The best way to improve the team is to improve yourself.”

-John Wooden

The Learning Never Stops

In my capstone classes, students learned that their time at the university should be considered a launch pad to a lifetime of learning. Leaders never stop learning.

“When I am through learning, I am through.”

-John Wooden

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude

Your own personal culture is your attitude. Whether it is positive or negative, it’s yours to control.

As a hiring manager, I always hired people on their attitude; everything else can be trained.

In life, more than any other factor, your attitude pretty much determines where you will go –  and how far you will go.

Ron Lundy

One of my favorite radio personalities was Ron Lundy. I first heard Ron on Music Radio 77 – WABC and immediately fell in love with the contagious, upbeat, positive attitude he presented on his radio show.

When WABC switched formats from music to talk, Ron Lundy found himself out of work, but would eventually be hired by Joe McCoy at WCBS-FM.

Every air shift on CBS-FM was already filled, so in order to create a time period for Ron, Joe McCoy would need to shorten everyone’s air shift, and convince his general manager why this hire would be beneficial to the radio station.

As I heard the story, Joe’s pitch to his GM was that Ron wasn’t just a powerful personality that would attract more listeners to CBS-FM, but that Ron was the type of guy that provided a positive culture inside the radio station, inspiring everyone to do their jobs better.

Attitude in Managing

One of my radio mentors was Phil Weiner (WBEC/WQRB/WUHN/WUPE). When I departed for my first solo general manager position in Atlantic City, he shared with me the most important thing he learned as a general manager, “Whatever your attitude is, when you enter the radio station each day, that will become the attitude of your fellow employees. Keep your problems to yourself and always maintain a positive, upbeat, enthusiastic attitude.”

It may have been the most important advice of my forty-year radio management career.

In my second career as a college professor, knowing that one’s attitude is contagious, I brought that same positive attitude and energy into the classroom.

“Attitudes aren’t taught, they’re caught.”

-Margaret McFarland

Everyone You Meet Can Teach You Something

No matter how far in life you’ve gone, or how many degrees, medals or trophies you’ve earned, stay humble. Every person you meet carries knowledge about life that you can benefit from. Stay curious and be willing to soak up the wisdom from everyone you come in contact with.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

-John Wooden

Radio is a People Business

All of my life, I’ve invested my energies in the development of people. Many of them today are owners and managers of their own broadcast operations. As a general manager, I was proud to work with some great and talented individuals.

“You handle things. You work with people.”

-John Wooden

When it comes to managing people, one size does not fit all. I treated each member of my team for the unique personality they were, valuing their talents, and skills, as well as understanding that we all come with our own issues, problems and demons.

Great radio stations, full of talented people, can be an exceptionally exciting workplace.

“The worst things you can do for those you love

is the things they could and should do for themselves.”

-Abraham Lincoln

It’s important to have a culture that allows people to fail. Often the greatest wisdom comes from things that go wrong. As long as you have given your best effort, you are never a failure.

Great managers and teachers are great coaches of people.

The Big Four

Consider these four things when creating culture in your organization:

  1. Culture is created by the behaviors you tolerate.
  2. Change starts with YOU. You can’t expect your people to change if you won’t.
  3. Leadership gives you a voice at the table, not the voice.
  4. Listen to everyone and take their opinions into account when you make the final decision for moving forward.

“Much can be accomplished by teamwork

when no one is concerned about who gets the credit.”

-John Wooden

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My First Radio Broadcasting Mentor

William Mahan/Berkshire Eagle, 1957

His name was Dana Jones and he was the original disc jockey when radio station WBEC (Berkshire Eagle Company) signed on the air in 1947. I wasn’t even born until 1952.

In this picture, Dana is holding his news copy between his teeth, while he cues up his next record, adjusts the volume on his control console and begins his morning radio program.

I got to thinking about Dana on this Labor Day weekend, because growing up, a new school year for me, always began after this holiday weekend.

Dana Jones would have twenty years of radio broadcasting under his belt before I would finally meet the man I grew up listening to on the radio. That happened when WBEC’s management approached the Junior Achievement organization in Springfield, Massachusetts about creating a JA radio company. I interviewed for, and was selected to be a part of this new Junior Achievement service-oriented educational learning experience in broadcasting. We would broadcast every Saturday morning over AM1420 WBEC, and that’s how I finally met Dana Jones.

Dana Jones

Dana was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 14, 1922. His family moved to West Stockbridge, Massachusetts in the early 30s and in 1940, Dana would earn his high school diploma from Williams High School in Stockbridge.

Pearl Harbor

When America was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, Dana would enlist in the Army and served in New Guinea, the Philippines and Morotai rising to the rank of sergeant. In the 50s, he enlisted in the Marine Reserve.

WBEC Signs On-The-Air

When Dana left the Army, he first went to work in Pittsfield, Massachusetts at its largest department store, England Brothers, but with a voice destined for radio, he was hired away by the Berkshire Eagle newspaper to anchor mornings on its latest media venture; radio broadcasting.

When WBEC went on-the-air on March 25, 1947, Dana Jones was the first voice heard, and he would anchor its morning show until 1980.

Dana did news, weather, sports, interviews with visiting dignitaries and politicians, remote broadcasts, farm reports and even hosted a children’s show called “Storytime.”

1950s in The Berkshires

In the 50s, if a family in the Berkshires owned a television, the only TV station they could receive was the General Electric Company television station out of Schenectady, New York. WRGB was one of the very first TV stations in the world, tracing its roots back to a GE experimental television station founded in 1928.

GE’s television station didn’t begin its broadcast day until 4pm in the afternoon and Pittsfield’s major daily newspaper, The Berkshire Evening Eagle, came out each day around 4pm, so when you woke up in the morning, if you wanted to know what had happened while you were sleeping, it would be the radio that would bring you up-to-date.

Storytime

Every school day morning at 7:45am, Dana Jones would say “Good morning boys and girls, it’s story time,” and for the next fifteen minutes families would be treated to stories about Wilber the Whistling Whale, Johnny Appleseed and many other stories that showcased radio’s “theater of the mind.”

Snow Storms

When snow covered the Berkshires in white, those tubes on the radio could not warm up fast enough to tune in and hear what schools would be cancelled that day on the account of snow. It would also allow kids more time to listen to Dana Jones and his “On The Sunny Side of the Street” music show that came on after mom’s got their kids off to school.

The Life of a Morning DJ

Dana Jones rose every morning at 3am. Monday through Saturday, he would arrive at the radio station at 4am, where he first would turn on the transmitter to warm up its tubes, go through the Associated Press teletype for the latest news, weather and sports, and write and record the comedy bits that would be a part of his radio show featuring two iconic characters he had created; Grampa Crabgrass and Uncle Ephraim. Sign-on was 5:30am.

Saturdays

On Saturday mornings, my mother got up early and drove me out to the radio station by 6am where I would sit in the studio with Dana while he did his radio show. Our Junior Achievement company members usually arrived by 8:30am and I would then join the rest of the JA members to prepare our weekly sixty minute 11am radio broadcast.

Every weekend, I couldn’t get to the radio station early enough, to be enveloped in all things radio, and will always be grateful to both my mother and Dana Jones for catering to this high school kid’s passion to be on-the-air.

Seems Like Old Times

While radio had paid for my college education, it had not been as kind to Dana having been shown the door at both WBEC and later at the Berkshires first radio station WBRK, becoming very discouraged about the radio business.

I remember sitting at his kitchen table and putting together the deal to hire Dana, a man I so respected and admired to become the morning anchor on my new radio station.

I was launching a new radio format on 1110AM WUHN in Pittsfield that would feature Al Ham’s “Music of YOUR Life” big band and standards type of music, the very songs that Dana played when he began his radio career as a disc jockey. I wanted Dana to do everything he excelled at, including his comedy routines with Grampa Crabgrass and Uncle Ephraim. My vision for mornings on this radio station made Dana’s eyes light up and he got excited about radio once again.

I would leave Pittsfield to take over as general manager of WIIN/WFPG in Atlantic City in 1984. Dana continued working at WUHN until 1988 when the station’s owners decided to change its format to something that would appeal to a younger audience. Dana would retire from radio broadcasting at age 66.

He died at the age of 83 of a heart attack on November 25, 2005.

He was a gentle giant in the industry and in person, and he possessed a voice that was undeniably Dana Jones.

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