Sunday, April 29, 2007

What are the odds???

The best career choice I ever made was getting out of radio and into television writing. Well... actually it was all the radio stations that fired me that helped nudge me in that direction. But in between my long stretches of unemployment and pleading for all-night shifts in Fresno I did have a lot of fun... and compiled a lot of stories.


There once was a time when Clear Channel didn’t own every radio station in America. There used to be such a thing as “competition” (an arcane word you may have to look up in the dictionary). In the mid 70’s in San Francisco there was quite a battle raging between KFRC and KYA. I was a disc jockey at KYA at the time (as Beaver Cleaver), working the coveted 10 pm – 2 am shift. Across town, KFRC countered with Beau Weaver (pictured). Despite this “heated” rivalry, Beau and I were friends and I would usually meet him for a bite after we got off the air (unless I got a better offer from one of the hot young listeners. In other words, I met Beau every single night.)

KFRC’s playlist was very rigid. At KYA I could pretty much play anything except “the Unicorn Song”. One night I had an idea and called Beau on his hotline. I had him tell me the songs he was going to play that hour and in what order. I then played the same songs at the exact same time. The phones at both stations went nuts. People were breathlessly telling me that KFRC was playing the same songs I was playing. I told them that was ABSURD! I hated those motherfuckers! Beau told his flabbergasted callers the same thing. Why would he play the same songs as those pathetic losers at KYA?

We got a good chortle out of this and decided to repeat the stunt…every night from midnight – 1:00. The listeners were just going bat shit!! One called the Guinness Book of Records. Another sent the probability tables. Eventually, the KFRC program director found out about this, blew a gasket, and that was the end of that. It was great fun while it lasted.

And then the ratings came out. From midnight - 1:00 Beau Weaver creamed me. And I thought to myself, Jesus how bad am I when we played the exact same damn records???

It’s a lesson I learned in television, and when I was on MASH and we were up against THREE’S COMPANY, no matter how much they begged, I wouldn’t give them any of our sucking chest wound jokes. I like to think it’s the reason MASH lasted 11 seasons instead of six. Thank you, Beau Weaver.


Hennell said...

Why were people listening to both radio stations at the same time?

? said...

Hilarious. That radio stunt really made me laugh.

Jason said...

I think that it is particullarly amazing considering that Beau Weaver is apparently a rare sub-species of California brown bear.

VP81955 said...

One night I had an idea and called Beau on his hotline. I had him tell me the songs he was going to play that hour and in what order. I then played the same songs at the exact same time. The phones at both stations went nuts.

This apparently was not uncommon in the industry; when I was living in Syracuse about 1969 or so, I recall Top 40 rivals WOLF (where future WCBS-FM jock Bob Shannon worked in his Don Bombard days) and WNDR played three songs back-to-back simultaneously...and IIRC, one of them was an oldie, so it wasn't simply just what was on the charts.

Anonymous said...

My music director was a real nerd. He would go nuts if you went off the play-list. But every so often, when you were putting the 45 down on the old puck-driven turntable a big chunk would come off, and this he had no problem with.

So soon we were all "accidentally" breaking 45s we hated. The MD never caught on.

My favorite memory was the day the Morning guy, "Marty" decided to try and crack up the morning newsman "Lloyd". Marty had the board, and all Lloyd had was his mike switch and a cart player.

Marty hits the news stinger - Lloyd starts the news - Marty jumps up on the consol, pulls down his britches and presses his bare ass up to the glass in front of Lloyd. Lloyd looks up... says "and that's the news, back to you Marty"

Marty hollers, "You @#&^* bastard!" - jumps off the consol trying to hit the extro - lands on the chair (with wheels) and crashes to the floor with his pants around his knees.

Lloyd sat with a smile of unique satisfaction, while the afternoon drive guy and I practically wet ourselves laughing.

Frank Strovel III said...

Opie & Anthony recently were dropped by a Dallas station after registering a rating a 0.0.

That's right 0.0.

CBS must be proud.

Unknown said...

Meeting up with 'hot young listeners' is never a good idea. In this case, it could have changed your career path.

Such a meeting might have left you scarred for life, sexually deviant, and writing for Three's Company.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, there's still a few rivalries out there. Right here in L.A. you have KROQ and Indie 103. Though Indie isn't able to compete, they still play much better music.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, when simulcasting was a no-no, KIIS-AM and KIIS-FM used to do this. Two stations, with identical playlists and stopsets. All that was different were the jocks. Jerry Mason on the AM and Mike Wagner on the FM. It was SO close to a simulcast...

JessyS said...

Ken, this might make a good Weekend Post.

Also, maybe add another feature by turning Tuesdays over to guest posters.