Thursday, December 20, 2012

The scam of the century... or at least bicentennial

Yesterday I talked about about my days teaching radio at the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop. This was during that period where my writing partner, David Isaacs and I were churning out spec scripts and getting rejected by RHODA every other week.

The school was somewhat shady. I mean, what is there to teach really? This is how you announce the time? Seven ways to turn off your mic? But I did all that and more. I discussed programming philosophies, rating book strategies, and which records were long enough to go to the bathroom during.  ("Hey Jude," "Layla", and "El Paso".)  I also helped students make their audition tapes.

One of the big selling points of this school was that they offered a placement director who would (in a perfect world) get you that coveted first job (in Elephant’s Breath, Ga.). This was a tough assignment because (a) there weren’t that many entry level jobs, (b) the ones that were generally were weekend all-nights and paid minimum wage so it was hard to justify moving to Elephant’s Breath for that, and (c) a lot of the kids were God awful.

So the pressure was always on.

And then one day a gift from God. This was 1975. Our placement director was contacted by a gentleman from the Ford Foundation. As part of the upcoming Bicentennial celebration the Foundation was hiring several young women to be ambassadors of sorts. They would drive around the country, guest on various radio shows, and talk up the Bicentennial and history of America. It was a one-year job that paid $50,000 and all travel and expenses were paid for.

Now bear in mind the other employment opportunities paid $850 a year – maybe.

So the placement director notified the student body and posted a sign-up sheet for interviews. The Ford Foundation exec would be in town the following week. I think every woman in the school signed up.

The Foundation exec came to Los Angeles, the interviews were conducted in his hotel room at the Hyatt, then the exec left town. A couple of weeks went by. No word. Our placement director made some follow-up calls and couldn’t reach him.

Then the truth surfaced. He had slept with probably six of the women – promising them the job. It was all a giant scam. The women were irate. I believe there was even a lawsuit or two against the school. I liked the placement director very much, but honestly, he should have vetted this guy before sending starry-eyed gullible coeds his way.

When I found out about this I was incensed. As an esteemed member of the faculty I placed no greater value than that of our integrity. Plus, I was sleeping with one of the students who banged this guy for a job.

I left the school shortly thereafter. I didn’t want my good name associated with such a sullied institution. And we sold a JEFFERSONS script.

I broke up with that girl as well. Was she just using me to get an ‘A’ in Record Cueing?  Not that I care but I'm curious. 

I don’t know what happened to the sleazeball – whether he ever got caught. I tend to think he didn’t. I tend to think he’s still out there. Donald Trump is looking to hire young ladies to go around the country and speak on various radio stations about President Obama’s passport information. The job pays $250,000.

19 comments:

Rich D said...

Other good records to play for bathroom breaks are Don McLean's "American Pie," Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," Eric Clpaton's "Layla" and the 12-minute long version of "In A Gada Vita." (The live version is clocks in even longer at 15 minutes.)

Jeannie said...

Have you ever pitched a series based on your radio and broadcasting school (emphasis on "broad" in today's post) adventures? It seems like it could be a gold mine of story ideas, not to mention the wardrobe possibilities (mutton chop side burns for the guys, crochet vests for the women)? It wouldn't be too hard for the set designer to find a Farrah poster, either. Maybe just take the one from your house?

Freep Willy said...

Another good tune to play for a potty break is Beethoven's 9th. You could not only take a leisurely pee, you could remodel the john.

What is the sleezeball's name? If he's still around we could probably flush him out now...see how's been dealing w/a lifetime of herpes

MikeBo said...

More than one station I worked for had a morning man who frequently overslept. At thee station in NY we were 24 hours. No fear of dead air, but....The 6 a.m. newsman was caught between the all night guy who left as soon as he intro'ed the news...and the morning man who wasn't there when the news guy wrapped up his five minutes. So the newsman created a new feature, "Album Time." He'd fire up a 60 PSA and dash into the main studio to throw on an LP that would track for at least 20 minutes. If the guy hadn't shown up, he'd flip the disk or segue to another LP. The morning man avoided getting canned for a couple of months because of that compassionate, creative newsguy.

PBurns said...

This story is why I love this blog.

Ken Fisher said...

Can't forget Rare Earth-Get Ready. Took up one side of the album, at least 20 minutes. Long enough for one good bathroom break or to conceive a child.

Nancy Plum said...

At KRTH I occasionally had to change the ribbon on the news machine back in the 91 olden days. The pd gave me 2 choices either Like a Rolling Stone or Papa Was a Rolling Stone both about 5 minutes!

iain said...

The live version of "In The Cage" by Genesis was always a college dj's best friend, good for some qualty bathroom, cigarette & coffee time.

badhatharry said...

The video game Ken Levine is doing an AMA on reddit. Everybody go ask that guy what he learned about breaking stories from Larry Gelbart.

Cap'n Bob said...

What a great idea. With all the matchbook universities advertising on TV these days a man without a conscience could make out like Flynn.

Steve Kessler said...

I once played Inna Gadda Da Vida (17 min.& 20 sec. by the way) then jumped in my car and drove around so I could listen to my own show on te car radio.

Pamela Atherton said...

And don't forget The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald! Perfect for when you were sliding into the booth at 5:58 and needed prep time.

DBenson said...

An ancient Playboy cartoon had a deejay removing his coat and tie (yes, that ancient) while a disrobed lady sat nearby and a stack of 45s waited on a record changer. "And now, fifteen minutes of uninterrupted music."

Wayne said...

Was the sex a Bicentennial Minute?

Wallis Lane said...

For a convenient break, I'd suggest the LP version of "Time Has Come Today" by the Chambers Brothers. Not only does it give you 11:06, but you also get the helpful "tock, tock, tock, TIME!" as a handy reminder to rush back.

Alan C said...

These kinds of stories are one reason I rue the advent of automated stations without DJ's.

Anonymous said...

Ha! The Riot, er, Hyatt was a dead giveaway for sleazy activity.

BMR

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and yeah, I had a radio show back in Bible College...and told all my friends, if they heard the following songs, don't call. I was three floors down in the bathroom(no elevator!)..The Stone Was Rolled Away(acoustic Remix-6:30 minutes) by Three Crosses...Hands in the Air by the Waiting (about 6 minutes) and my personal favorite, a cover of Zepplin's "Nobody's Fault" by the 77's. I often dream of meeting these people and thanking them on behalf of my bladder...Would that be wrong?

Matt Patton said...

The uncut version of The Eagles' Lying Eyes, which runs close to six minutes, is also a pretty good bathroom song as well. Problem was, the "single" edit of the song left out the second verse, which pretty much describes the married woman in the song jumping into bed with a younger boyfriend, and in 1975 or so, when I first heard the song, that was the only one you could get away with on the air, so, DJ's would just have to cross their legs and look for their old copy of El Paso.

As for the scam, it sounds like a story that Annette O'Toole's character relates in the movie Smile, about a horny old dermatologist who rents a room at the Disneyland Hotel and holds a private "best complexion" beauty competition (she won and apparently got a year's worth of free pimple cream for her efforts). Funny movie.